The Reason for Happiness

Since arriving in California to spend Winter break, I’ve felt awkwardly sluggish. I don’t know if there’s something in the air or if my body is taking on the persona of a geriatric patient with back pain because sitting in a flying tube for 6+ hours without food is upsetting, but it’s taking me 3x as long to edit photos. I have a thousand photos to get through–no exaggeration, I’m serious–but it feels like work so I keep taking breaks. Even the thought of posting a recipe seems so daunting to me, yet I posted two effortlessly last night, at 1 AM. None of this is so bad, I think my brain reverts back to being an annoying teenager whenever I’m in my room. None of the things I do for the website is even difficult besides the coding, so I’m just complaining to complain…like a teenager. This doesn’t mean I’m an angsty teenager who’s glum, I’m anything but – I’m quite happy, but full of complaints concerning the fog in my brain. Note to self: you’re in your 20s, be a real adult.

In any case, like a wealthy parent who’s too busy to spend time with their kid, I’m going to buy your love & forgiveness–for neglecting the blog & not socializing with you for the last month–with two new recipes & gallery updates. Two weeks ago on Instagram, I posted a photo of Sesame Peanut Noodles. If you wanted the recipe, here it is. A month ago, I posted a photo of Falafel Salad with Tzatziki & if you wanted the recipe for Tzatziki, well here it is. I find being productive via TB is really rewarding, yet my brain is still yawning. At least I work with a smile on my face, regardless. My reason for happiness is simple really: food. Food always manages to make me happy & the company I surround myself with makes enjoying the food even better.

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Winter is Coming…

This year has been a whirlwind of new & exciting adventures, so when I have some downtime, I either spend it eating, cooking, binge watching Netflix, reading, or bonding over a new show with Josh. Thankfully Josh & I now live in the same time zone, which makes watching a show simultaneously easier with our busy schedules. With the invention of, what we see on screen is synchronous. I’ve successfully convinced him to watch Game of Thrones, which we both thoroughly enjoy, but we made a pact: no secretly watching the show without one another. Since my ISP gives me access to HBO Go & Josh doesn’t have it, he can’t watch it without me. If you haven’t started watching GoT–because you’re a Slowpoke like us–& you love fantasy shows with amazing storylines, you need to start, because folks, winter is coming.

For those of you who are freezing your booties off, my new Cauliflower & Tofu Vindaloo recipe will surely warm you up. Add extra heat to it by using red chilies, jalapeños, or cayenne. Before heading off to Florida for the holidays, I gave a huge tupperware of this to my best friend Lacey. She ate it all, within 3 days, for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. She has 6 roommates & she shared it with herself because, “it was so good & if I shared it, then I’d have less of it.”

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& the Stuffing of Food Begins

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love food that’s been thoughtfully prepared like hidden treasure such as dumplings, wontons, casseroles, & stuffed vegetables. Thanksgiving’s traditional turkey is not traditional without its stuffing & my mom made the best kind: a Vietnamese French fusion stuffing featuring pork, peas, carrots, onions, bean threads, mushrooms, & a whole lot more. I was so used to this stuffing that whenever I ate the traditional stuffed turkey, my body secretly yearned the “porkloaf” my mom made. Last year, I made one of the best stuffings I ever had & no animal was involved. Well, that’s not entirely true because I stuffed the turkey with my stuffing, but the point is the stuffing was vegan. While it doesn’t hold a candle to my mom’s “porkloaf” (oink oink!) made with some secret part of pig, my stuffing was still quite delicious.

While these hidden gem meals are more time consuming to prepare, I find that I would much rather have a well prepared bowl of dumplings & noodles than a simple grilled fish with a side of vegetables. No hard feelings if you disagree, but for all of my vegetarians/vegans/pescetarians/people who just want a nice Meatless Mondays meal, invest in stuffing! This recipe for Nutty Stuffed Peppers can easily be altered to one’s tastes & is naturally low in calories, bad fats, cholesterol, & low carb! It’s also gluten-free, so if you’re the 1% of Americans suffering from Celiac’s disease, have at it!

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Just in time for Halloween, Tea Time Thursdays gets an added layer of sweetness in the form of pumpkin chocolatey goodness. Guess where this inspiration came from? Pinterest. I have this love/hate relationship with Pinterest – the photos I pin from my own website barely get any pins, but when more popular pinners pin my photo, well, my site gets a flurry of views, but no new followers. I’m going to break this 1k follower barrier somewhere eventually! I’m looking at you, Instagram.

As I’ve mentioned previously, more pumpkin delights will be shoved in your eyeballs. Forgive my inappropriate coffee mug – I stupidly left my teacups at home, but they’ll be back in Boston with me in January. So, let’s dive right into pumpkin goodness.

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Spring rolls, also known as egg rolls, are deep-fried rolls of goodness that are often made with meat & accompanied by a sweet & sour sauce. However, the Vietnamese adapted the Chinese Spring Roll a bit differently & pair their rolls with fish sauce. Fish sauce is absolutely essential in Vietnamese cuisine & can found in nearly every recipe–even dessert, I kid you not–the way soy sauce can be found in many other Asian cuisines. Spring Rolls are not to be confused with Summer Rolls, which are also called Salad Rolls. If you’re on the Southern Hemisphere or in an area that is still experiencing summer, try a Veggie Summer Roll recipe or a Baked Cod Summer Roll. These are perfect for the trending Meatless Mondays & very filling. Cheap, efficient, fresh, what’s not to love?

But it’s not summer in Boston, so I can’t appreciate a Summer Roll in this climate as much as I would in the summer. I need something warm & in a bowl, so I made Bun Cha Gio Chay: Vietnamese Noodles with Vegan Spring Rolls. It’s a bit time consuming, but well worth it, especially when you’ve made extra spring rolls you can freeze & enjoy at a later time. This recipe is excellent for autumn – freshly boiled rice vermicelli, fresh herbs & vegetables, & deliciously hearty spring rolls. I’ve made this recipe vegan friendly, I don’t yet have a vegan fish sauce available, but you can try out Vegan Miam’s Brilliant Fish Sauce. I like that she used pineapple juice, but the key component to making a vegan fish sauce with a tang is vinegar, which wasn’t used in Rika’s recipe. I’d recommend adding vinegar, especially because fish sauce is sweet, tangy, & pungent.

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