As usual, my posts are too far apart to really cover everything that occurred in between. Just a couple of months to go until my weekends will be free and I can do as I please—including posting to Feast. In the meantime, I will do the best I can to remember the key moments.
I recently had my Spring Break (Jonji didn’t have a break because, well, it’s med school) so I took the chance to visit Santa Cruz to go venue-searching. I flew home Sunday morning, feeling slightly haggard due to me and Jonji’s brash, but rewarding, decision to spend the previous night out watching Beauty and the Beast at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood with friends. The movie started at 10:30 pm, which meant we didn’t go to sleep until 2 am. Despite the late night, I made it to the airport without issues. All was well on the flight until the descent, during which the pilot decided to give the flight a bit of a roller coaster flavor—I was one more swoop away from vomiting all over the seat. But we made it safe and sound and without any projectile anything.
Dad and I arrived home to a huge brunch made by Mom and Emma, which included raspberry muffins, bacon, eggs, scones and lemon curd, kale salad, sausage, mimosas, and coffee. A good example of the usual O’Regan constraint. Cara also brought beet tacos to add to the plentiful spread. Needless to say, we were soon stuffed. The rest of the morning was spent lounging on the patio with the chickens.
That afternoon, we visited the UCSC Hay Barn, which was having an Open House specifically for weddings. The Barn is beautiful, with tall ceilings and wooden beams, and it’s right next to the USCS farm. I nabbed a Buttercup cupcake despite my still-bulging stomach, then we hiked up to the farm to look around.
Monday saw Mom, Dad, and I driving along the coast toward San Francisco. Our mission: food, food, and food. We first stopped at Omnivore’s, my favorite little book shop that sells only cookbooks and some food-related writing. We spent some time perusing the books, and I finally ended up with Gather by Gill Meller. Very excited to try some of those recipes. At Tartine we consumed four delicious pastries, a salad, and a coffee each. Dad was startled that we had ordered so much, considering our next stop was Tartine Manufactory. After dropping into Bi-Rite we made our way to the Manufactory, where we ordered a couple sandwiches and another salad. One man tried his best to walk into us multiple times as he distractedly talked into his phone, until finally Dad released the bear on him. Mom threatened to get even more food to go as we sat down to eat, but Dad and I put our collective foot down. Our drive home was cloudy, both in terms of the weather and a food-induced stupor.
We got back to Santa Cruz in the pouring rain. Mom and I rushed to spin class with Bailey and Emma, where we spent an hour attempting to keep up with the unbelievably energetic instructor. Afterwards, one older man took it upon himself to tell Bailey not to bring a glass jar to class and then, even after that, complained to the teacher about it. He was clearly that kid in grade school.
Tuesday was dedicated to wedding business. We journeyed into the hills to look at one place, which looked really pleasant but didn’t have a great catering situation. Next came Aptos, then Corralitos. Happy with our discoveries and ready to call it a day, we went back home to make dinner and cocktails. Bailey, Matt, and Emma joined us, and the night ended with a few competitive rounds of Bananagrams.
My trip ended Wednesday, after a lovely walk in the redwoods with the whole family. Dad led us on a round-about path through the woods and, we soon saw, plenty of poison oak. Pip didn’t understand our slow pace and kept bounding back and forth to make sure we all kept up. Bailey got strangely excited over some roots, and we all marveled at the banana slug coloring of one downed tree. As always, it was hard to say goodbye.
The rest of the week passed by quickly enough, homework consuming most of my time. Sunday started out very pleasantly; the street was closed for a bike event, so the birds were the predominant noise in the morning. Frank, the guy I get a lot of my produce from at the Farmer’s Market, gave me a free bunch of sweet peas because I was “a loyal customer.” I left the market, smiling, with my nose pressed into the fragrant purple bunch, the sun gently warming the delicate blossoms. I cannot quite explain it, but my stress and worries seemed to melt away, and all because of some friendly farmers, fresh herbs, and a bunch of purple flowers.
Forty minutes later I was on the gym floor, unable to move because of a sharp pain in my upper back. Oddly enough, it came about through stretching and then attempting to pop my back, not anything related to a CrossFit movement. A few days later, it’s still bugging me, though I’m much more mobile than I first was. Hopefully, the silver lining will be that this forced rest will heal my low back—you never know.
In cat news this month: Kitty and Babs are doing a tiny bit better! We’ve been letting Babs out more and monitoring them, and she doesn’t immediately go for Kitty like she used to. Kitty still hates her more than anything but, still, it’s a big improvement.
Finals are around the corner! In an attempt to finish strong, my dinners have been less complex than I would prefer so that I can spend more time on homework. But that doesn’t mean that our meals have to be any less delicious. This stir-fry is super quick but also really satisfying—the soft crunch of cashews is phenomenal with the chicken and broccolini. And I’m not even normally a huge cashew fan!
Chicken, Broccolini, and Cashew Stir-Fry
serves 2–4 / adapted from Eat by Nigel Slater
2 boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
a few hefty handfuls of broccolini
1/2 cup cashews (salted and roasted is preferable)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp gochujang
1/4 cup water
1 cup basmati rice
Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks. Toss in a large bowl with the sliced garlic, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce, and several good cracks of black pepper. Set aside to marinade while you prep everything else.
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Once the water boils, add 1 tbsp coconut oil and the rice and cook at a gentle boil for 11 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but not mushy. Drain, then add butter and salt or simply leave it plain.
Heat a large pan (or wok, if you have one) over medium-high heat. Add a couple spoonfuls of coconut oil or olive oil. Once the oil’s super hot, add the marinaded chicken. Cook for a couple of minutes, undisturbed, then stir. Repeat until the chicken is opaque and the marinade has turned into a lovely sticky coating, about 8 minutes. Scrape the chicken into a bowl and set aside.
While the chicken cooks, whisk together 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp gochujang, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl, then set aside. (This will be the sauce you add at the end.) Clean and trim the broccolini.
Add another tbsp of cooking oil to the pan, followed by the broccolini (and any other veggies you want to add—I sometimes add spinach). Stir fry for a few minutes, until the broccolini is bright green and slightly tender.
Toss 1/2 cup roasted cashews and the reserved sauce into the pan. Mix briefly, then cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for a couple of minutes. Uncover, stir, and taste for seasoning. Serve over the hot rice. Enjoy!