Cooking for the Soul: A Second Helping

In Chinese culture, we eat noodles during birthdays as it symbolizes long life.

When I watch T have instant noodles or spaghetti, two of the handful of things our selective eater will have, I joke it’s my life force he’s slurping away.

I often write about the importance of self care in the marathon journey of special needs parenting – be it diet, exercise, proper sleep, alone time, hobbies, connecting with loved ones, counseling.

Cooking is an activity I enjoy during alone time, picked up during the pandemic.

It’s fun, low pressure and if the meal doesn’t go to plan, it comes out later the same way as a Michelin star meal.

Thinking about my next cooking therapy adventure provides mental respite in my busy day.

There are so many recipe inspirations, whether they’re bite-size videos on Instagram or wonderfully-detailed blogs.

I also inherited cookware – such as a claypot and a steamer – from Ma after her recent departure, as well as nice plate and bowls from my late sister.

Browsing supermarket aisles for inspiration is also fun, such as my recent outing at Asian grocer T&T and daydreaming in the long ramen aisle.

Look at all that ramen options! We recently tried the Tonkotsu ramen with black garlic oil. Yum!

I also started to learn about plating techniques. According to top chefs, I can charge my family more for supper if it’s nicely plated. 😆

T gets annoyed when I’m in my cooking headspace, because it takes away from our Everest time. “Stop taking pictures of food,” he’d scream.

Maybe one day he’ll join the fun. But I’m honestly ok if it’s just time to myself.

Here are a few recent cooking therapy adventures:

Lamb and arugala salad. My original plating had three pieces of arugala and two dried cranberries but the hubby said it looked pretentious so I added more arugala. 😂

Lamb curry with garlic naan. The naan was store bought and I brushed it with butter. I hope to bake fresh garlic naan one day.

Spicy tan tan ramen was so satisfying to make. Who knew sugar free oat milk was key to that creamy savory spicy broth?! I’m also happy I’ve learned to make “ramen eggs.”

I made this French onion Salisbury steak with a pouch of onion soup mix long sitting in the pantry. A pleasant surprise! It also inspired me to learn about plating, because this looked messy.

Steamed egg and shrimp was so easy to make, using my mom’s steamer, and went well with rice!

Another steamer recipe – ginger scallion chicken.

Chicken congee is my go-to comfort meal. I garnished it with fried shallots, commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine, and chili oil.

Hot and sour soup. It was fun to demystify the process of how to make egg ribbons.

I made this Mexican-inspired dish with a pouch of taco seasoning also long sitting in the pantry.

Caprese salad is one of my fave salads.

Spicy peanut noodles.

Spicy peanut noodles topped with crushed nuts.

Lemongrass chicken dressed with green onion oil.

Curry cauliflower dressed with curry yogurt.

Spicy green beans. I used a lot of dried red chili and Sichuan peppercorn.

Cypriot potatoes garnished with dill and dipped in a lemon honey yogurt sauce. I learned that cinammon can be used for savory dishes!

Other Cooking Therapy Adventures

37 thoughts on “Cooking for the Soul: A Second Helping

  1. You’re cooking looks beautifully presented and delicious ( I thought you were showing photos from a restaurant at first, before reading), fantastic 😋 🍜

    1. Thanks Cherryl. That is very kind.

      I think it’s important to have hobbies that feed our soul, like painting does for you. 🙂

  2. Had you not told us, I would’ve assumed you took photos of some of those dishes at fancy restaurants. Cooking is indeed a nice therapy. It’s doing the dishes afterward that I don’t really enjoy doing. Keep making more delicious food, Ab!

    1. Thanks Bama, that is very kind of you. 😊 It is one of my therapies for sure along with outdoor hikes. In fact, I’m looking up recipes for my upcoming week now before I head out to do groceries. 😆 Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  3. Wow 😋🤭🤭 that food looks mouth-watering! I did not know you were a good cook in your zone away from T. Teach him how to take pictures of food if he enjoys photography

    1. Thanks Faith! Cooking is one of my therapies. 😊 I like to try different types of cuisine from different cultures. Jollof rice is on my wishlist to try making one day!

    1. Thank you! That is very kind of you say. 😊 I love the low pressure hobby of cooking and do find it very soothing for the soul!

  4. It seems cooking therapy agrees with you. It’s great that you’ve inherited some cookware and dishes from your family, which I’m sure is a great reminder of them whenever you use them. A+ with the food presentation. Hope work wasn’t too bad yesterday and that you’re able to enjoy the rest of the weekend and this summer weather.

    1. Thanks Linda. It’s nice to cook with ware that also provide personal sentimental reminders. 😊

      While I don’t like to give up weekends to work, it was a great day. My colleague hosted a fantastic event and made the day a wonderful one.

      And hanging onto the summer weather while we still have it! 🙏 Enjoy yours too!

      1. I’m off next week so looking forward to it. Staycaytion and I hope I don’t get sick this time. 😆

    1. Thanks Margie! That would be great although as I said in the other comments, I am a very slow cook that follows recipes. 😆

    1. Thanks Gary. I am glad you have that time to yourself. It is so so important. As much as we love our children, we also need sanity saving time to ourselves! And I’m not on any level. Just a hobby I enjoy but I do appreciate the comment! 😊

  5. Besides your plating , your food photography is pretty good, too! I read an article about how hard food photos can be to take and look delicious! If you have any Asian stir fried ( not Spicey ) recipe, I would love it!!! Bon appetit’ my talented friend

    1. Thank you! I think this comment is from Vickie? 😊 I’m pretty lucky we have a generic black table and the hubby helps light up the photo with his phone camera.

      I will share a few recipes by email this weekend! 😊 You can adjust the spice level based on your comfort level.

      Take care!

  6. These all look so delicious! And it sounds like it was fun, which is always a bonus. Also, you just reminded me how excited I was when I first learned to make egg ribbons – way simpler than I had imagined.

    1. Thanks Erin. It was so wonderful to learn and yes, it is so simple! 😆 But I still feel like I can wear a chefs hat now cuz of it. 🤣

  7. Oh my.goodness your pretentious comment had me laughing. You make Amazing dishes! When can i come over? I think by you cooking new recipes T will have a wonderful palate as he gets older!

    1. The funny thing is the plate with the less arugula will probably have charged for more. 😆 T is a selective eater at this time. I do hope he’ll have a diverse palate as he gets older.

  8. My gosh Ab, when do you open the restaurant and can it be near me in Washington USA please!

    I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a noodle aisle that is so extensive and I loved and laughed at this: “I also started to learn about plating techniques. According to top chefs, I can charge my family more for supper if it’s nicely plated.” I think you are so right and I hope they leave a substantial tip to recognize all your effort 🙂

    1. I laughed about that line too! And that T is slurping away your life!

      Since Deb and I live near each other, you’ll get two dedicated customers when you open your restaurant here! 🙂

      I love your pictures – and also caprese salad. The Mexican pasta dish looked great. Really they all do! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Thanks Wynne. He slurps the noodles with such gusto too. 😆

        I will gladly make a meal for you both. I am just very slow. 😆

        The Mexican pasta was fun and easy to make and turned out well! And captured salad is always a treat. I’ll need to get fresher softer mozzarella next time!

    2. Thanks Deb! That is very kind of you. 😊 I am a very slow cook and I follow recipes, I won’t stay in business for long. 😆

      Isn’t the ramen aisle wonderful? If you have an Asian grocer in your city, chances are the noodle aisle will be this lengthy!

      And yes, the plating lesson has been wonderful to behold. 😊 I’ll be happy with someone doing the dishes in lieu of tip. 😆

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