Thursday, March 26, 2015

Glory and dusk

Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
- excerpt from The Cloud, Percy Shelley

We've all heard the saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining". BUT, I recently found out that some clouds, not all, have glorious rainbows too!

As I flew back home to snowy Minnesota, still adrenaline-filled from the thought-provoking sessions from the conference in Denver, I found myself not working, not sleepy, and not reading on the airplane. That in itself is rare, but even moreso is the phenomenon I caught on my handy-dandy iPhone: a rare rainbow halo from the clouds.
Apparently, this is called a Glory - a majestic, yet elusive optical phenomenon! It is a rainbow of concentric rings (or halo), which forms on a cloud of water droplets around the shadow of an object (our airplane). This article had an even better picture with the plane's shadow. Since there was a snow/rain storm from Denver to the midwest, I was treated to this great view.  While I was at it, I also took pictures of dusk as the plane started its descent.

Dusk from above

In the misty clouds

Dusk from below
Amazing what you see, when you actually look!

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.
 - excerpt from The Cloud, Percy Shelley, 1792-1822


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Not your bubba's hamantaschen

A few weeks ago, I took my oldest to a playdate with her best friend at an indoor playground.  While taking a break at the water fountain, one kid around the age of 8, approached me and asked me if I was Mexican.  I said no.  She proceeded to ask if I was Chinese.  I smiled and said no, and was wondering if she was going to continue with her guessing game.  At this point, Tamar hugged me.  The girls eyes widened, and she incredulously asked, “That’s your daughter?!” I said yes, and admittedly,  a bit annoyed by the question. She ended her prying with:  “Is she adopted?” I simply said no, and left her to her confusion.  I mean, did it really matter if the answer was “yes” to any of her questions?  But that lesson was not mine to teach.  
It’s been a few weeks since that happened, but I still find myself wondering if I’m teaching my kids enough about diversity and tolerance.  I certainly hope so. With their blue eyes and my youngest’s light hair, neither one of them look like me nor my husband, but they are half-Filipino.  While we don’t eat rice 3x a day, you’d find us celebrating Shabbat with dishes I grew up with – noodles, soy-sauce stewed chicken, and lumpia.  It’s a bicultural home.
With one of the most joyous Jewish holiday coming up, I realized that the story of Purim is about opening ones eyes and embracing diversity. So, I thought it appropriate to celebrate my bicultural kids on this holiday. In keeping with the time-honored holiday custom, I baked Purim's ultimate pastry symbol, hamantaschen. But this time, I used 2 different fillings - the traditional poppyseed, which my husband loves, and my homemade red bean filling. Yes, that's the kind that you normally find as filling in mooncakes, rice cakes, and hopia. It's the very same azuki beans (a.k.a. pulang munggo in Tagalog) that I found during the summer market. 

The verdict? YUM. The kids actually preferred the bean over the poppyseed filling! (as long as I don't call it "bean", and used "azuki" or "hopia" instead. As a bonus, since there's  leftover poppy seed filling, I made some yummy poppyseed cheesecake with lemon curd glaze. Happy Purim!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Healthier donuts and my sparkling new kitchen toy

With Hanukkah around the corner, I've been thinking of healthy-fying the holiday menu a bit. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the Hanukkah tradition celebrates the miracle during the rededication of the Second Temple when the menorah’s candles burned for 8 nights even though there was only enough olive oil to keep it burning for a single day.   So, oil is a must, and oily food has been the tradition serving as a true symbol of the holiday miracle.

But really, with traditional latkes (potatoes deep-fried in oil) already planned for 2-3 of the 8 day long celebration, something's gotta give... And I decided that it'll have to be in the dessert section.
So, a week before hanukkah, I started planning our holiday menu. The dessert menu would include baked donuts instead of the traditional sufganiyot.  After all, I'll still be using a bit of oil in the batter and spraying the pan with non-stick spray. That should count for oil! But as luck would have it, I also found 3-in-1 cake pop, donuts and cupcake maker that would make treats more interesting year round, and the kitchen less messy, making for a much easier life! The gadget has 3 different plates that you can interchange to make mini-donuts, cakepops and cupcakes. I was hemming and hawing at first on whether I should get it, but decided that 1) my daughters love cake pops, and I can make a healthier and cheaper version than Starbucks' cake pops with this new gadget 2) and hubby  just got himself a new car, so yeah, I deserved a new toy too.


I stumbled upon a paleo donut recipe online, which I tweaked ever so slightly. Mind you, I'm not on a paleo diet, but I do love high-protein treats, which this recipe was.  A must-have for making donuts is, well, a donut mold. Or, a sparkling red multi treat maker like mine! Seriously, I'm sold on this new toy. I can churn donuts like I'm in a restaurant business!

And I got these beautiful, healthier donuts that my kids and husband couldn't stop eating. This recipe is flourless, and sugar-free. I made 2 batches with the intention of freezing half, but had to defrost it the following day because my cuddly monsters devoured them like they haven't seen donuts before. I also added a heaping scoop of protein powder to make it an even greater protein-packed treat after my workout, but alas... I've only managed to enjoy a few. I swear I'm sneaking in spinach, carrots and kale (gasp!) the next time I make these.

So, the recipe is as follows:
1.5 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (Ghirardelli preferred; but if you find parve cocoa, it's even better)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened pure organic applesauce
pinch of salt
6 eggs (it's ok, it made 42 mini-donuts! Also, maybe try flax eggs next time for the vegan version?)
2 tbsp coconut oil (Hanukkah-required!)
6 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional)
Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil
Instructions: You can buy almond meal, or you can grind almonds with Vitamix, which I did. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spoon into sprayed donut tin or in a sparkling red multi treat maker! If using the sparkling red mini-donut maker, bake for 4 mins and 44 seconds.  Why? Because I'm too lazy to push other numbers in my timer. If baking in regular donut tin, bake for 15 mins. Remove and cool on wire rack. Make the glaze by melting chocolate chips and mixing with oil. Put glaze in ziplock, and cut one corner (very small). Drizzle over donuts over the sink to make cleaning even easier.
Other comments: I don't think this recipe will work as a "drop" because the batter is very runny.   This is super moist because of the applesauce and doesn't taste like cardboard-textured passover treats. But I bet it can be made into one for passover season.  Enjoy!