corn coconut-curry ramen

8.26.2015

Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work, and was written by my darling boyfriend, Adam. 
No, no—we're not talking about the instant noodle packets you bought by the case during your most frugal college days. Rather, this recipe pays homage to the Japanese culinary phenomenon that's gaining serious momentum here in Philly and other cities across the country. Though there are regional variations, the main theme always center around a delectable broth, dense chewy noodles and an array of tasty toppings. Ramen represents everything we love about good food: it's deceptively simple, addictingly delicious and takes great talent to master.

Lacking rather substantially in the latter, we used store-bought fresh ramen noodles (found at your local asian supermarket) and focused our efforts instead on the broth.  We took a departure from the traditional pork and miso flavored broth and went with a Thai curry profile. We based it on this week’s garlic from SIW Farm in Chadd’s Ford, long hots from Linvilla Orchard in Media and corn from Sunny Harvest.

The foundation of this broth uses corn stock, which we make every time Greensgrow grants us corn in the CSA share. After you chomped the kernels from the cob, or cut them away for use in salsas or salads, save those cobs! There's so much flavor left in them. All you have to do is simmer them in water for an hour or so. Strain them out and freeze the for later use. Once you've experienced the sweet, corny virtues of a good corn stock you'll mourn all the flavor you’ve ever tossed in the compost heap.
Cook time: 1 hour
Prep time: 35 minutes
Serves 5

Ingredients: 
2 large onions
4 cloves of garlic
4 ears of corn, kernels removed from cob 
2 long hots
2 inches ginger
2 quarts of corn stock
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
2 limes, juiced and zested
1 bunch of chopped cilantro
2 Tbl muchi curry powder
1 Tbl turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala 
¼ cup (approx.) sesame oil
5 eggs
1 package (16 oz) tofu
1 package fresh ramen noodles

Directions:
Chop the onions, garlic, ginger and long hots. Then, in a 5-quart stock pot, saute the vegetables in a generous amount of sesame oil over medium heat.
Season the vegetables with curry powder, tumeric, garam masala and a pinch of salt. After about 5 minutes, add the corn stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. 
Meanwhile, place the eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water. Place the pot on high heat and bring to a boil. Keep a close eye on the eggs. Allow them to boil for 1 minute then transfer to a bowl of ice water to shock them. Peel the shells and set aside.
Refill the pot with new water and bring to a boil, preparing to cook the noodles.
Cut the tofu into small triangular pieces and pan fry in sesame oil until they brown on both side. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to sop up any extra oil.
Now, back to the broth. After it's been simmering for 20 minutes or so, add the corn kernels and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and finish with the fresh cilantro, lime zest and lime juice.
Now that the both is finished begin cooking the noodles. Drop them in boiling water one bundle at a time, stirring them constantly to keep them from sticking. They only require about 3 minutes to cook. Using a small mesh strainer, pull the cooked noodles from the water and place in soup bowl. Ladle the broth over the noodles and garnish with a soft-boiled egg, tofu and extra cilantro.

4 tips to actively slow life down

8.22.2015

Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work.
You’re in the thick of it, summer. The season when life is like a semi-truck, barreling down a hill at 90 miles an hour. The speed is all good and great, it’s thrilling in fact, but problems arise when there’s a deer crossing at the bottom of the hill and you have no way to avoid a crash. Not to mention, you’re going so fast that you miss the road signs telling when you need to turn or watch out for traffic ahead.

That speed, aka summer, can easily create a life that is out of balance — a life that pushes you forward with such immense force that you need to actively remember how to slow down. It’s up to you to pump the breaks, and it’s important to do so. Slowing down to school-zone speeds will enable you to get more enjoyment out of the highway joy rides. It teaches you to find control and to know when you’re exiting the fun zone and entering into dangerous territory.

Here are tips for actively slowing down, and taking time out. Now, more than ever, it’s important to teach yourself how to do so.

1. Walk, Bike, or Take Public Trans: I recently got rid of my car, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for my piece of mind. Not only did it take away the extra stress of money, but it created space in my life. I find that I’m walking more, riding my bike more, and taking public transportation. The empty time to think, read, and listen to music does wonders for my brain. It clears my head like a meditation, and allows me to unwind from my day (or settle in before my day starts). It’s also forced me to do less and to prioritize. Because I can’t zip here and there, I have to think about what I really want to get done. I do less running around like a crazy person, and more intentional activity. If you’re in need of a slow down, I urge to go even one day without using the car. Every little bit counts.

2. Cook: Making time at the end of the day to cook a meal and share it with the ones you love, is a great way to take time. The beautiful thing about food, is that it can’t be rushed. Watch it cook, smell the aromas, and taste test it along the way. Evenings spent unwinding in the kitchen are a great way to clear your mind, and to get you back to a well-grounded place in life.  

3. Wake Up 20 Minutes Earlier: Rushed mornings are sure to make you feel out of control. It’s not a good way to start the day. Do yourself a favor, and wake up just twenty minutes earlier than you usually do. Take the extra time to read in bed, sip coffee, or simply stare off into space. The slow start to your day will make getting to work that much easier. You’ll find you feel more ready to take on whatever comes your way. Craziness or not, you have the balanced mindset to tackle anything.

4. Treat Yourself: Once in a while, you need to drop it all, and focus on you. Book a massage, stop in for a pedicure — or if you can’t spend the money — create an at home treatment. Whatever you do, it’s important to give back to your body and thank it for all of the brutal stress that you put it through. If you want it to perform when the going gets tough, you have to give it the TLC it deserves. 
And there you have it, four tips to actively slow down. I hope you’ve found some tools that help you feel more balanced and in control. Life is really beautiful, we need the fast moments and the slow ones, it’s just important to remember how to create a bit of both. 
What tips do you have for slowing down?

24hrs in chicago

7.22.2015

Note: A version of this post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work. 
When you find yourself in Chicago with 24 hours to spare, what do you do? Well, I happen to have spent a little over 24hrs in Chicago this past month, and I have some things to recommend…

BRUNCH
The Flying Saucer is a modern brunch spot with an old school vibe. The ambiance feels like your classic diner joint. The menu follows suit with traditional egg breakfasts, but throws a twist with vegan options and Mexican-inspired breakfast flare. Don’t know what to order? The huevos volando is one that you won’t want to miss. The menu is also extremely affordable.

SHOPPING

Humboldt House is a bohemian woman’s dream. The space is filled with unique artisan jewelry, wall hangings, and other home goods. Everything has a free-spirit vibe, but with a clean un-cluttered aesthetic. Little touches here and there, whether it’s a geometric earring or a hand-thrown mug. It’s hard not to go crazy in here.

The aesthetic at General Store is a lot like Humboldt House – clean, white, soothing – however the product itself is a bit more simplistic. The assortment is great for unique, high end home goods, and their hat assortment is off the chain. Even if you can’t afford anything here, do stop in for the visual stimulation. It’s a beautifully curated space.

EXERCISE
It’s really important to keep your exercise routine up while you’re traveling. If you have a minute to do so, I highly recommend booking a class at Shred 415. The class alternates between 10 minutes on the treadmill and 10 minutes of bootcamp-style weights. The instructor changes it up, moving between intervals, to keep you entertained and pushing yourself the entire time. The satisfaction afterwards is extremely rewarding. I promise your clothes will be drenched with sweat, and you’ll feel like you’ve just torched a million calories. Ok, maybe not a million, but definitely enough to go out and enjoy that Chicago restaurant scene. Another plus? The endorphin release keeps you smiling all day long.


DINNER
Save your money for dinner, because you’re definitely going to want to eat at Momotaro, and you’re definitely going to have to spend money. Sadly, this is the truth of the matter for a nice dinner in Chicago. The city isn’t home to the James Beard Awards for nothing. Chicago takes its fine dining seriously. Momotaro itself serves a menu much like Japanese tapas; you order small plates to share as a table, and then you top it off with the restaurants artisan sushi. The small plate format allows the chef to flex his muscles in crafting the perfect bit. Each forkful (or chopstickful) artfully melds flavors, changing in your mouth throughout the tasting experience. The drinks at Momotaro are also a must try. The options are peppered with Asian influences – matcha, cherry blossom, and wasabi. Myself, I tried the Lucky Peach, made with George Dickel 8yr Tennessee whiskey, Stirrings peach liqueur, shiro miso, orange, and lemon. It was one of the most inventive and delicious drinks to touch my lips in a long time. 

So there you have it, 24 hours in Chicago. A big thank you to my girl Chelsi for hosting me and showing me around. You. Are. The. Best.