Tag Archives: summer

I’d Be Peachy Keen

In these fleeting days of summer, I find myself drawn to the light.  The last rays before the sun drifts behind a hillside.  Don’t go, day, don’t go.

As a chill presents itself in the evening air and the day end creeps dangerously close to dinner time, before we know it, it’s winter.  Under the cover of nightfall, we find ourselves holed up, hunkered down, and ordering in.  In these final days of summer, I refuse to submit.  I’ll keep the picnic dream alive with one last summertime favorite.  Chicken salad — with peaches. Double down or walk away.

I still remember the day of the epiphany.  Apparently pulling one over for years of my youth, I found my mom in the kitchen, passing off canned “chicken” with mayo as the real deal homemade.  Living under the pretense that an aptitude for recipes such as chicken salad came only by way of a generation gap and an arsenal of secret ingredients, I was appalled.  The thought of a dressing untempered by even so much as mustard nearly brought tears to my eyes.  What do you mean that’s all it is? Just, just…mayonnaise?

Appalled at the simplicity, I developed a leniency towards recipes bulked out with cranberries, almonds and the like.  A balanced tang countered with a delicate sweetness.  Not to mention a limited quantity of mayonnaise.

This time looking for something a bit different, I took to the internet.  I landed on a recipe that incorporated Dijon and capers in addition to fresh fruit.  I substituted peaches for fresh grapes, timidly mixed in the capers…and was delighted!  Perfect for those endless summer nights.

Chicken Salad with Peach, Nuts and Capers

Adapted from epicurious.com

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast

5 cups water

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup diced peach

1 cup (3 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, macadamia, whatever you have on hand

3 tablespoons drained capers, chopped

Bring water and bouillon cubes to a boil in a large saucepan, then add chicken and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Drain and cool, then dice into 1-inch chunks.

Meanwhile, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Stir chicken and remaining ingredients into dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

(This is, of course, best when eaten alongside a blended margarita.  Keep the summer dreams alive!)

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Teeny Weeny Tahini Bikini

Swimsuit season is upon us.  Pick your poison – what’s the diet of the year?  Is it Atkins?  Oh no, that’s right, that guy died of a heart attack.  Not a good indicator for my bacon and ranch meal plans.

The cabbage soup diet?  It seems I may have struck gold for this one.  Kimchi pots swarm beneath my window sill.  It would take nothing more than a covert night mission, a large pot, water, and I could be simmering away to abundance!  Tempting, yes, but I’ll admit I’m a little scared.  And not of getting caught by my landlord. The combination of cabbage, spice and fermentation sounds dangerous, and I’m nervous about what it might do to my intestinal tract. It can’t be good.

 They say it takes 28 days in sequence for something to actually make a lasting change.   It’s a shame we didn’t face the music 27 days ago. We may have been able to actually reduce the amount of fat on our body.  Since we didn’t, it’s all about pretending and making ourselves feel thinner.

My go-to is the Swimming Departure-Day(S. D-Day) method.  It’s really quite simple.  Just refuse all sustentence on day of set swimming escapade.  Around 2 pm, while lying in the hot sun, you MAY feel a little lightheaded.  No worries!  Dehydration is the perfect scapegoat for your delirium.  We also all know you weren’t actually going to walk around.  Your stomach looks a hundred times flatter kicked back. 

Alright, alright. I’m not entirely serious.  I may have embraced this method at one point, I may still draw upon it on occasion, but I’ve come of age.  After trials and tribulations, I’ve come full circle back to seventh grade health class.  The only thing effective for healthy weight loss is the combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise.  Spontaneous fat-burning ab-belt, why couldn’t you have worked!?

[May cause static cling]

Begruddgingly facing the facts, I embrace “everything in moderation.”  I consider dieting a balancing act.  I load up as much as possible on a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.  I’m not one to turn down chocolate cake, however, and this is where the balancing comes in.  If I happen to (on occasion) consume, say, three or more (ten) cookie packages intended for individual consumption, I make up for it the next day.  I’m extra strict with the calories, or I ratchet up my work out.  It’s just not practical to deprive yourself of chocolate.  BBC, you’re SO in my corner.  Check it out: Chocolate ‘may help keep people slim’

With summer impending, I figure it’s about time to get on that wagon.  Day 1 of 28, here goes nothing.  I had some chick peas from a recent trip to Suwon, and it seemed a good time for some crisp veggies and hummus (hello, protein!).  This recipe comes to me from my father, by way of The Mediterranean Cookbook by Betty Wason.  It starts with tahini, which you then combine with chickpeas to make hummus. Your biggest challenge is going to be figuring out how best to mash your chick peas.  I’ll go ahead and give you my blessing.  Use a fork, eat an extra cookie, and we’ll call it even as “cardio.”

Tahini Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup sesame oil (I substituted soybean oil)

6 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1-3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped

“The easiest way to make the sauce is with a blender.  Place the oil in the blender first; add, with blender in motion, water and lemon juice alternatively until the mixture is the consistency of thick cream.  Crush the garlic separately in a mortar or bowl and work in the salt.  Add the garlic-salt  mixture to the Tahini.  Do not overbeat.”

Or, chuck everything in the blender and give it a whirl.  That’s what I did.   Emulsion, schemulsion.

Appears smooth and creamy to me!


Makes about 2 cups


100 grams dried chick peas OR 1 large can chick peas

1/2 cup Tahini Sauce

lemon juice

salt, to taste

Since dried chick peas seem to be the most readily available to those of us in the land of kimchi, I’ll start there.  Place the chick peas in a medium-sized bowl and cover with plenty of water.  Allow to soak at room temperature overnight.  

They plump while you sleep

After soaking, transfer chick peas to a saucepan.  Cover with water and simmer, partially covered, over medium heat about 25-30 minutes, or until chick peas easily smash between the fingers. Drain and cool.

If using canned, ensure the chick peas are drained.  Now, choose method of mashing.  I happened to be equipped with a potato masher which worked just fine.  Otherwise, use food mill, blender (make sure Tahini is poured in to provide some lubrication), or a fork.  Mix Tahini Sauce with mashed chick peas, and add lemon and salt to taste.

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