Midweek Delicacy Time: Cauliflower, Potato, Cannellini Bean & Cheddar Soup

Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar

Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar A pureed soup is a great way to use up extra vegetables. I still had the Peruvian potatoes to use up from last week. Adding the cauliflower and beans makes this a very tasty healthy soup. The cheddar cheese gives it a wonderful richness without being to heavy. I topped it off with crisped up sage in butter.

This is a meal you can have ready within 20 minutes. Your kids will love this soup and be none the wiser they’re having veggies. Serve with a nice piece of bread and top with a little extra cheese.

Happy eating friends!


IngredientsPureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar

Serves 6

1 14 oz packet Vegetable Broth or low-sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup Water
1 head Cauliflower (2 pounds), trimmed and chopped
1 lb small Potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 14 oz can Cannellini Beans, rinsed
1 small Onion, cubed
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tsp Sage, finely sliced – divided
3 tbsp Butter, divided
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, grated


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add oil, onion, garlic, and 1/2 the sage; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, but not browned, about 7 minutes.Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar
  2. Increase heat to medium-high; add water, stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover and reduce heat to medium low, return to simmer, and continue to cook until cauliflower and potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar
  3. Stir in beans, salt and pepper and cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute.Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar
  4. Transfer half the mixture to a blender with half the cheese and puree. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower mixture and cheese.Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar
  5. In small frying pan melt 2 tablespoons butter. Fry remaining sage. Once sage is crisped up, serve over soup, about 2 minutes. Pureed Cauliflower, Potato & Cheddar

Stop Neglecting Your Garnishes!

garnish rice

Basil sitting on a pile of spaghetti. Parsley topping a mound of mashed potatoes. Rosemary twigs interspersed among roasted chicken and vegetables. These are all delectable herbs that I have repeatedly seen eaters deliberately push to the edges of their plates, writing them off as ‘garnishes’ as though that implied they were not meant eaten.

crab cakesCulinary news flash: herbs are flavoring! Yes, the garnish adds to the appetizing presentation of any dish, but chefs don’t throw green leaves on their plates willy-nilly. The reason that your gnocchi is served with sage and not cilantro is that the herb complements the entrée’s hearty flavors. As a home cook and self-proclaimed gastronomist, I get extremely frustrated every time I see someone instinctively remove garnishes like a child picking out vegetables. Only slightly less annoying is the diner who tastes the garnish by itself and then proclaims he/she doesn’t like it. Herbs are usually too intense for most people to enjoy eating them straight-up – that’s the whole reason they’re served in small quantities with other food.

I urge, nay, challenge you to try your garnish with a forkful of your main meal the next time you get the chance. Not only does laying it by the wayside waste a perfectly delicious plant, but it deprives you of a chance to marvelously enhance your meal. Do yourself a favor and allow yourself to experience all that these little plants have to offer.


Midweek Delicacy Time: Latin Roasted Chicken with Poblano Peppers & Peruvian Potatoes



This week I wanted to share my weekday comfort dish. For those long days, I can hunker down with this meal, and my day is brightened. Over the years this dish has developed from how I saw my family prepare chicken to what always accompanied it, rice and lots of vegetables.

It is a super easy dish to put together and very well-rounded. The Peruvian potatoes have become popular, but if you can’t find them, use red potatoes. I usually use two Habanero peppers but the farmers market had other options equally tempting. Serve with rice and a basic salad of lettuce and tomatoes with a simple dressing of olive oil and lime.

Happy eating friends!



Serves 4 – 6

5 – 6 Whole Chicken Legs, 4 – 5 lbs.
2 Hot Peppers – Poblano, Habanero, or Jalapeño, seeded & roughly chopped
1 medium Onion, roughly chopped
2 medium Peppers, seeded & roughly chopped
5-6 small Potatoes – Peruvian Purple or Red, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 Garlic cloves, divided
1-2 Beer – Corona or other inexpensive kind is good
1 tablespoon Cilantro, chopped & divided
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1/2 tablespoon of Salt
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon Cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon Adobo powder


  1. Rinse the chicken and place in a medium-sized container. Sprinkle with salt and add pepper to taste. Add 1/2 tablespoon cilantro and 2 whole garlic cloves smashed. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hr minimum. Hint: The longer you leave it the better it will taste.IMG_2607
  2. Set oven-rack to lower middle. Pre-heat oven to 450°.
  3. In a medium-sized baking dish add vegetables. Drain the chicken and arrange among the vegetables. Mince the last of the garlic and sprinkle on top with the rest of the cilantro. Season with adobo, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Pour oil over chicken and vegetables.  Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until chicken skin is browned and cooked through. Baste halfway through at 20 minutes with remainder of beer, about 2 tablespoon. Latin Roasted Chicken IMG_2654

Bite sized wisdom: from roots to fruits


Every seed holds undiscovered potential. It is a chance at new beginnings and new life.

In order for this possibility to unfold we first need to place the seed in soil – a dark matter that we know little about.

Aside from the fact that we walk on land, we have no idea what minerals and living organisms hide beneath our feet. And once we plant a seed all we can do is water it without knowing the changes manifesting inches below.

saynotofoodwaste.bitesizedwisdom.plants.dreams.soil.water.faith.hope.grow.belief.patience.love1So without peeking at what we sow, we keep praying that something will grow. We focus our attention on taking care of the seed. We shower it with water, give it love and hope that our efforts lead to something rewarding. We imagine that in time we will see the fruits of our labor and even get to taste them.

This process is true for all seeds, no matter how tall or short the plant grows, and whether or not it flowers once or bares many yields.

In our daily lives we forget that our own relationships, projects and dreams follow a similar path. Once an idea is planted in the dark matter of our minds we invest energy and time into its development. Guided by blind faith we agonize over our goals without any guarantee that they will come true.

Those who have patience and strong belief keep trying and toiling over their seeds and ideas for as long as it takes until results start appearing. Unfortunately, the current lifestyle values quick results, immediate reactions and satisfactions, and that is just not natural. For anything meaningful to grow it must be given time and love. It takes hard work before the bounty can be harvested and enjoyed.

Our daily lives take us away from our plants. Sitting behind a desk, maintaining our friendships over social media and telephone screens, and craving immediate results, we forget and then get jaded about the ways of our world.

In my own life, I strive to go back to basics. I make conscious efforts to be good to myself and to others. And most importantly, when I find something that I truly love and want to realize I remind myself that all good things take time. That for any seed to grow it must first develop roots which expand at their own pace, away from my sight, and that all I can do is to keep trying, to keep caring for the idea until it shows me some signs – good or bad.

Of course, in bad moments the seeds we plant never break open their shells and the soil lacks nutrients for growth. In those situations we must find new ground and new seeds to plant. But only time can reveal our future. The only power we have is deciding the type of seeds we choose to plant and making a conscious effort to care for them in the face of the unknown.

Let’s remember that it takes roots to grow fruits and we must be patient.

Let’s start planting!

Midweek Delicacy Time: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms in Cream

Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/Mushrooms

Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/Mushrooms

This dish is an old favorite I used to make at the request of many friends, and clients alike. Roasting the Brussels Sprouts brings out their nutty flavor, which pairs well with the mushrooms. I can’t remember where I saw the original recipe. I only remember it suggesting more woody mushrooms such as chanterelles, which can be very expensive. I have since adapted it to a mix of chanterelles, cremini, and shiitake. The latter two are more readily available at your local grocery store.

If you are buying loose Brussels sprouts, select those that are about 1½ inches long. Quarter Brussels sprouts longer than 2½ inches; don’t cut sprouts shorter than 1 inch.

Happy eating friends!



Serves 6

1-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise (5 cups)
5 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Water
Kosher salt
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 lb. Mushroom mix divided 1/4 lb. Cremini, 1/4 lb. Shiitake and 1/4 lb. wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles or hedgehogs, halved if small or cut into 1-inch wedges (about 4-1/2 cups)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, water, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in large bowl until sprouts are coated. Transfer sprouts to rimmed baking sheet and arrange so cut sides are facing down.Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Mushrooms & Cream
  2. Cover sheet tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until Brussels sprouts are well browned and tender, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and set aside.Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Mushrooms & Cream
  3. Heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms in an even layer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden-brown and tender and the mushroom liquid (if any) has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and transfer to a plate.Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Mushrooms & Cream
  4. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter has melted, add the shallot, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 3 to 4 minutes.Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Mushrooms & Cream
  5. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Return the mushrooms to the pan and add the Brussels sprouts and cream. Stir in a few grinds of pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream thickens and coats the vegetables nicely, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/Mushrooms

Mixed Feelings (Sentimientos Encontrados)

cured ham

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently studying in Madrid, Spain! The culture is fascinating, the city is incredible, the people are wonderful, and the food is fantastic. In addition to offering delicious dishes such as paella and croquetas, the country’s food culture hinges on generosity and hospitality, best demonstrated by the customs of menus del día and tapas. Tapas are so famous that they probably don’t need explaining, but, just to reiterate: they are small plates of finger food that come free with any purchase of wine or beer in most Spanish bars or eateries. The foods can range from simple figs or pitted olives to croquetas (fried dough balls filled with béchamel, cheese, and/or ham) or patatas bravas (potato wedges in spicy sauce). Tapas are available basically any time after breakfast, whereas menus del día are traditionally lunch specials – though many places offer them at dinner, too, to appeal to tourists who are used to larger dinners than lunches. The menu del día (“menu of the day”) is a three course meal for €10-12 consisting of a starter, main course, dessert, and beverage. In addition to choosing the elements of your meal from a short list of options, you will typically receive bread and, if you ordered alcohol, tapas. All in all, Spain makes it easy to find a satisfying meal for a low price.

Spain mixedThe limited-budget college student side of me loves all of the free food that accompanies minimal purchases, but I cringe internally whenever I see a waiter take a way a platter of unfinished or wholly untouched tapas. You have to approach your meals anticipating to consume more than what you actually order, or else there will be a lot of leftovers. While I was happy to see one family doggy-bagging their dinner remnants on my very first night here, I think that taking tapas or bread home is frowned upon as greedy or desperate since the foods are so small and, technically, free. It’s a shame that there seems to be a cultural hypocrisy in this country that celebrates food as a social instrument but in doing so enables a lot of it to go to waste. Solidarity fridges have emerged in some cities to allow individuals and restaurants alike to make unwanted leftovers available to the public, but unfortunately that tends not to include plate waste, aka food that has been served and partially eaten. While I understand all of the health and hygiene arguments against sharing ‘touched’ food, I can’t help being frustrated by it.

DSC00779editI was able to get a little peace of mind from the fact that Spain only wastes 2% of the food it annually produces, according to Eurostat data from 2006. However, the fact that this waste still constitutes over 7,695,000 tonnes of food (44% of which comes from sectors other than households or manufacturing) is disheartening and says something about just how much food Western countries produce. I would also be curious to see data on what percentage of Spain’s annual food waste is solely tapas, but an investigation of that nature seems virtually impossible to administer.

Hasta luego,


Bite sized wisdom: finding nature’s balance


The word ‘balance’ can be used to describe many things, from a position of a body in its physical state, to a description of an ecosystem. While its application varies, lack of balance always means one thing – something isn’t harmonizing.

Currently, working in the development field I get a chance to interact with bright minds that have seen and experienced the realities happening in many parts of the world. As the main focus of my job is geared towards irrigation and agriculture, one concern that always arises is – use of water.

saynotofoodwaste.bitesizedwisdom.nature.balance.take.give.crop.seeds.grow.water.Climate change, development and improper use have significantly decreased or jeopardized our access to this resource. It’s felt most by farmers (and we don’t have to travel to the ends of the world for an example – take California).

Aside from improper use however, we are faced with a loss of information. Looking at the demographics of farmers we find that many are being replaced or bought out by big corporations. And since the bottom line for any company is profit, we quickly realize that farming is no longer about feeding and learning how nature interacts with us, but the focus shifts to producing more and learning to ‘domesticate nature’ to suit our needs.

Unfortunately, we all know that it is not us who control nature, but rather she controls us. In the fields of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Nepal and other developing nations, farmers are being taught to value water and use it in moderation. Tactics such as, paying for improved water distribution and learning water crop cycles can ensure that water is used intelligently.

After all, crops also have varying needs for water intake. Factors such as soil conditions, climate and type of weather, all play a role in how much water needs to be applied. To master a ‘balance’, farmers, researchers, scientists and even consultants (like me), need to study how these factors influence each other and find a point where they all harmoniously meet.

The more we know about the world and the laws of nature the more we come to realize that finding a ‘balance’ does not mean putting things on a scale and hoping that they balance out. Instead, it’s about realizing that our world is like a jigsaw puzzle and in order to solve it we need to take our time, study each piece and fit it accordingly until we find the ‘balance’ when we see the big picture and come to realize that everything is interconnected.

I personally have come to accept ‘balance’ in my own life through the lens of the jigsaw puzzle. In my own schedule it means learning my natural state of energy and building my daily routine through what comes easy. This means meditation, yoga and journaling in the mornings when I first wake up, and connecting with friends in the evenings after work.

Of course, every morning is different, but this natural flow makes it easier for me to make time for things I love and find this illusive ‘balance’ in working and living.

Happy balancing, friends!

Bite sized wisdom: go down to go up


To grow we must challenge ourselves.

saynotofoodwaste.grow.tree.up.down.sustainable.learn.wisdom.nature.2Take plants for instance, in order for them to reach more sunlight they must go deeper into the ground (the root goes down and the stem shoots up).

What about animals? The different species we have of same family of mammals is due to environmental challenges that each group adapted to. Even fruits and vegetables have different varieties.

Nature wouldn’t create options if one was enough to address all challenges and fit all needs.

As humans we too must adapt to challenges. This is not done by running away, it’s done by facing the problem, studying it fully and finding small solutions until we overcome our obstacles. Here are three TED talks that provide solutions to common challenges of life.

  1. Face your problem.

Many times we are afraid to make mistakes. This is because we don’t like accepting that we’re not perfect. Sometimes these thought processes lead us astray and not being able to control what comes our way scares us. Yet, if we avoid problems and lead comfortable lives we will never develop. Learning to accept mistakes, face fears and turn problems into lessons will help us grow upwards, just like plants.

2. Study the challenge. 

Once the problem is isolated we try to get rid of it as fast as possible. But like weeds that grow stronger roots, stomping out problems on the surface won’t take them away. Instead, we should look deeper and resolve them from there. For many of us, learning to cook and eat mindfully in our busy lives doesn’t leave us much time to address these issues. One physical symptom of this is weight gain. To address this many turn to extreme diets and then gain the weight right back, but they don’t learn to control their cravings.

3. Set your mind to look for solutions. 

To accomplish anything we must have the right attitude and really want it. Willpower can get us moving, but it is our passion and emotion that keeps us invested even in the face of challenges. These are the things that make life worthwhile, because we know that attaining the goal will be for our own benefit. Being invested in wanting to change means you’re more likely to do it. And even if things don’t go your way, you won’t give up easily because you will know that development requires trial and error. But one thing you can be sure of is: once you do find the path to change it will definitely be a sustainable and a long-lasting one.

In a life that keeps changing we must keep growing. But, before we can run we must walk, and sometimes before we can walk we must begin by crawling, either way – keep going forward. To see more inspiring videos on growth check out this playlist on becoming “A better you“.

After all, even the tall tree under the sky was once a small seed buried in soil.

Happy growing, friends!
– Hokuma

Midweek Delicacy Time: Miso Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)

Nasu Denganku


Often when I think of eggplant, I go to Italian or mediterranean dishes, how about a unique Japanese dish. You will find this recipe easy to follow, and for little effort, you will produce a culinary master piece. Nasu Dengaku is most like a creme brûlée. The eggplant becomes creamy and the Miso glaze gives it a savory caramelized top.

Eggplant is in season, making the different varieties abundant, and easy to find. You can make this recipe using the larger varieties, but you have to add cooking time when cooking in the pan. The smaller varieties are easier to cook and achieve that creamy texture. Serve as a side with rice or as an appetizer at parties.

Happy eating friends!


IngredientsNasu Dengaku Ingredients

Serves 2

1 tbsp Mirin
1 tbsp Sake
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp White Miso
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
2 small Eggplant (or one medium/large)
2 tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Sliced Green Onions


  1. Place the mirin and sake in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the miso and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, and reduce to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while you cook the eggplant.Miso Glaze
  2. Slice eggplant in half and using a knife, score the inside in small squares. Brush the scored side with sesame oil.Nasu Dengaku
  3. Pre-heat oven to broil. In a pan over high heat, add Canola oil and put the eggplant skin facing down.Nasu Dengaku
  4. Cook for a few minute until skin is brown. Turn the eggplant over and cover with a lid. Cook until eggplant is cooked through (about 3 to 4 minutes).Nasu Dengaku
  5. Cover a cooking tray with foil and place the eggplant on top. Brush miso Dengaku mix on top of each eggplant until all the surface is coated.Nasu Deganku
  6. Put in the oven and broil for 4 minutes. The miso mix should be bubbling and starting to caramelized when you take it out of the oven. Remove from heat, rest for 5 minutes and enjoy with sesame seeds and green onions!Nasu Denganku

Tip: For bigger eggplants score the inside even deeper so it will cook through more evenly.







Today, I have no news, science, or advice to share. All I want to do is rave about the sustainable paradise I’ve been in these last two weeks, so pardon this post if you don’t like reading personal blogs.

editDSC006092I’ve been living with a German couple, longtime family friends, for the last couple of weeks in a small village near Frankfurt. Don’t let the word ‘village’ fool you: it’s not a rustic, technology-barren settlement of self-reliant farmers. It’s just one of several small, suburb-type towns peppering the Hesse countryside. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, with vast crop fields and pastures surrounding the towns and the highway stretches between them. Everything is quaint and simple but not lacking modern luxuries like gyms, convenience stores, restaurants, etc. The best part, though, is the food.

My hosts are all about sustainable and healthy food. Their garden is currently full of tomatoes, blackberries, currants, apples, and pears, and I can tell from their massive supply of homemade preserves and jams that they grow many other fruits throughout the year as well. They store most of their food in the refrigerator and freezer to extend its shelf life, and they buy bread in just the right quantities so that they can keep the loaf at room temperature and still finish it before it starts molding. My host-dad also boasts about how much locally-produced food he can buy at the store, namely honey and cheese, and insists on only buying meat or fish that is certified ‘bio’ – organic. He even shares my aversion to added sugars! Instead of buying sugary granola mixes and flavored yogurts, we make our breakfasts using unsweetened bio yogurt and mixing spelt, flaxseeds, chopped nuts, homegrown fruit, and other flavorful additions like coconut shavings. Oh, and anything inedible is composted, not thrown in the garbage.DSC00664

Yes, this is the life I want! Buying and eating locally and organically as much as possible, minimizing processed food in my diet, and preventing waste. My hosts don’t eat nose to tail, but they don’t eat that much meat, either, and at least that which they do eat is sustainably raised. This has been a wonderful way to conclude my summer and segue into my next adventure: being in Spain for the semester!

I’ll make sure not to neglect my blog duties, no worries.