You say, “What’s cooking, good looking?” And I’ll say . . .

HELLO . . .Hello . . hello.

That’s the echo I imagine if these words were being communicated out loud and you could hear them as if I’m across the canyon. Yes, across the canyon or maybe on the other side of the galaxy.

Is anybody out there?

I just checked and the last post I wrote was in November 2017. To say I’ve been distracted is sort of true but not what you might think. I could say, “I’ve been distracted by life!” [Back of hand gently lifted to forehead as if I might faint.] Too dully dramatic for my taste.

If I had to say why I’ve been gone, it would be that this blog has un-distracted me. What I mean by that is I got tired of the routine of creating a new dish, taking photos while cooking it and writing down the recipe for it, then trying to make the photos half-way decent despite not really having the right equipment and posting it.

And to some degree there is that distraction called “life” in which I have been very busy and my cooking has become very simple. Which I like very much in life but it doesn’t make for an exciting blog post, does it? How many times would I get away with showing you lightly boiled kale?

If you look at cooking blogs or YouTube cooking videos, the creator is usually showing you something special or something you might not make on your own or something for a holiday or a party. I actually love those YouTube videos and I admit that I have gotten into the habit of watching a few of them. Maybe I’ll blame them for why I didn’t write in my blog.

I am just not in the mood for creating a bunch of special dishes. That is all.

HOWEVER, I am never out of ideas of what I want to write about! I have lots of ideas and they get put on the back burner as soon as I consider how I would illustrate the post or add a photo or two. I consider that you won’t want to read the post if it doesn’t have pictures. I’m hoping I’m wrong about that. If you bear with me on this, I think I will come up with illustration ideas eventually.

Then there’s the whole dilemma of my blog title – “mycookinglife.” If it’s my cooking life, shouldn’t it have cooking in it? Not necessarily! It is my cooking life and I do have a cooking life because I love to cook and have paid attention to cooking for sixty plus years and I still pay a lot of attention to cooking but now we can talk about it on broader terms because I also have a life that is still “cooking.”

It would be a lot of trouble to change the name of the blog and I really don’t want to anyway. I mean really! What would I say? My Endless Life? My Unretired Life? (Not bad) Six Decades of Growing Up? (I’ll have to remember that one.) If I did something like that I would be trying to sneak cooking into it anyway. You know I would.

(By the way, did you notice in the beginning I said something was too dramatic “for my taste?” Does talking about taste count as being broadly about my cooking life?)

No? Okay what about this – what about if the word “cooking” is modifying life as in my life is still “cooking” in a non-literal sense? Like if you asked, “What’s cooking good looking?” and I told you about my latest adventure creating a costume for a party or about my upcoming dental surgery.

You’re hoping I will never tell you about dental surgery. I’ll try not to. But if I did, I would also tell you how to make stunningly delicious and satisfying soft foods and liquids to consume right after the surgery. That’s right! When you are me in my cooking life, anything can be about cooking literally or otherwise.

To my surprise, while I was off doing other things and not writing posts, other people were still visiting this blog. I was very surprised when I looked at my statistics. This month alone – almost a year a half since my last post – there have been 75 visitors to mycookinglife,com. Go figure!

It is encouraging to say the least. And just for your information, many of them visited to see how to cook lotus root. In case you want to see that too, here it is.

It turns out I have a lot more to say and with your encouragement, you 75 wonderful, kind, brilliant, intuitive and totally hip people, I’m going to say it. I’ll probably throw in some recipes and photos sometimes, too. You know I will.

So that’s what I’ve been up to on my side of the canyon galaxy, how about you?

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Cooking With Lotus Root

A frog sits upon its leaves to quietly observe the world around him. Koi play hide and seek beneath its flowers and stems. A proud gardener rejoices to see its big white or deep pink flowers in the pond. But me, I simply enjoy the beauty and variety that the lotus plant brings to my dinner table.

The lotus plant is mostly edible–leaves, blossoms, seeds and roots. Today I’m talking about the lotus root which is a wonderful addition to any vegetable dish, soup, stew or stir-fry. Lotus roots can be purchased in Asian groceries and in some natural food stores and they look like this:

Lotus rhizome (Nelumbo nucifera)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or, they can be purchased dried after which you can re-hydrate them and cook with them. (I mail order mine from Gold Mine Natural Foods and while I’m at it, I usually order dried lotus seeds as well.)

Fresh lotus root is crispy and refreshing with a delicate taste. It stays fairly crispy even when cooked and it’s best to infuse lotus root with sauces or flavors which will enhance it. Like other vegetables, if I find organic lotus root, I don’t peel it. I simply trim off the tough end where these underwater rhizomes grow attached to each other. Once you cut your lotus root, either cook with it immediately, or keep it in a slightly acidic bath so it doesn’t discolor–such as a little lemon in some water.

Truth be told, I thought of lotus root because I had the flu last week and wanted to ease some coughing. See how the vegetable has holes running end to end? They resemble lungs and traditional eastern medicine teaches that the lotus root is an excellent remedy for helping the lungs and quickly breaking down mucous. I made lotus root tea.

That is wonderful!

See how interesting lotus root is with its wheel or flower-like shape when you slice it? You can stuff those cavities with delicious things! You can float them delicately into an asian broth! You can deep-fry or tempura the slices, too!

Using dried lotus root, I made my tea and then I made a stir-fry dish with the rest.

Assemble all your stir fry ingredients before starting to cook.

Assemble all your stir fry ingredients before starting to cook.

LOTUS ROOT STIR FRY WITH  KUZU GLAZE (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup fresh sliced lotus root or re-hydrated dried lotus root
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and julienned fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup scallions, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon traditionally brewed soy sauce (I recommend Nama Shoyu)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon kuzu (dried root starch)
  • 1/4 cup spring water
  • sea salt
  • roasted black sesame seeds

Wash and slice all the veggies and keep them separate. Heat up a wok, heavy skillet or cast iron pan with sesame oil. Use medium high heat but don’t let the oil smoke. Add the veggies one at a time starting with the carrots and a pinch of sea salt and toss them around, stir-frying them quickly for about 2 minutes. Add the lotus root and another pinch of sea salt, and stir fry another 2 minutes. Add the celery and another pinch of sea salt and saute until they are bright green, and add the ginger and chili flakes and stir fry. The cooking time is quick depending on how thick or thin you have cut your vegetables. You want everything to retain some crispness. At the last minute, add the scallions and stir them in with a small amount of soy sauce.

Dissolve the kuzu in water until it looks like milky water with no more lumps. Pour the kuzu water into the stir fry and keep stirring. The kuzu will thicken and become clear instead of milky and will make a nice glaze for your vegetables. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the dish and serve.

We served the stir fry with creamy salomon and corn soup, and red kale with fried tempeh.

We served the stir fry with creamy salmon and corn soup, and red kale with fried tempeh.

Lotus root is guaranteed to add interest and an exotic touch to your menu. What can you imagine making with this unique and decorative food?