Black Soy Sauce

Black Soy SauceBlack Soy Sauce

Black soy sauce is an ingredient often used in Chinese recipes for cold noodles, such as Barbara Tropp’s Tangy Cold Noodles. Its Chinese name, according to Tropp, translates to “old-head” soy. Black soy sauce is aged longer than other soy sauces. Toward the end of the fermentation process, molasses is added, resulting in a darker, more caramel-hued soy sauce. Black soy sauce is also used to season red meats and any dish in which you want a darker, fuller color.

You can find black soy sauce in Asian markets. Store it away from light and heat. I doubt you will use it often, but it is indispensable for the dark color and slight molasses flavor it adds to dishes. It may become sludgy towards the end of it’s life, but the flavor remains intact.

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Barbara Tropp’s Tangy Cold Noodles

Barbara Tropp's Cold Noodles

My friend, Barbara Tropp, left us all too soon. Barbara was a Princeton Chinese scholar studying Chinese poetry when she arrived in Taiwan in the 1970s. Her experience there transformed her into an avid taster and translator of Chinese cuisine. My copy of her 1982 cookbook, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, is stained, marked, and worn. Every time I pull it from the shelf my heart warms, as I relive my wonderful memories of her through her recipes. Continue reading

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Toasted, Peeled Walnuts

Toasted, Peeled WalnutsToasting nuts is a lovely way to deepen their flavor and firm their texture. They don’t actually become crispy, but they develop a firmer texture. After they are toasted, the skins become loose and you can rub them off in a towel. The tannins, which are bitter, are located under the skins. So, when you rub off the skins you remove some of the bitterness from the nuts. Continue reading

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Boy Scout Beef Chili

Boy Scout Chili w/ Cheese

The first weekend of December, MM participates with his Boy Scout troop in the annual lighting of memorial luminaria at Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland. It is an extremely moving event. If any of you live in the area I urge you to check it out. It is always held the first weekend of December. Continue reading

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Roasted Root Vegetables

Roast Root Vegetables

Roasted root vegetables are so simple to prepare. They add a deep, earthy heartiness to a meal. The vegetables above graced our Thanksgiving table. I recommend them as a satisfying side for roasted meats, such as turkey, ham, or beef. Our vegetarians guests found them filling and comforting, too.

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Thanksgiving Recipes

Tukey Illustration
As you might imagine, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Here is a selection of my recipes that will complement any Thanksgiving table. Just click on the links to go to the relevant recipes on the blog.  Continue reading

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Good Ingredients


A dish is always a product of its ingredients. When creating a dish from a small number of ingredients, this adage rings especially true. In salads, the ingredients really shine, so, when you can, spend more for top quality vinegars and oils. Continue reading

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Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini and other summer squash are very prolific. Therefore, one can never have too many delicious, quick recipes for them. This one is a family favorite. I’ve found that even finicky kids and hesitant adults are willing to try these tasty zucchini fritters; and unsurprisingly to me, they always love them. Continue reading

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How to Choose Zucchini and Other Summer Squash

Summer Squash

A selection of squash: yellow patty pans, dark green zucchini, and striped zucchini

The first thing you need to know when choosing zucchini, or any other summer squash, is to look for the smallest ones; they will be the sweetest and most tender. In the photo above, there are yellow patty pans, dark green zucchini, and striped zucchini. Note that I have large and small examples of each type.

Summer squash has thin, edible skin. Look for squash without blemishes or bruises. The skin should be firm, brightly colored, and have a bit of a shine to it.

Summer Squash Halved

The photo above is of the smaller and larger striped zucchinis cut in half. You’ll notice in the smaller zucchini the seeds are much smaller and closer together.

Pulpy Center of Squash

When summer squash get large, the center of the squash becomes soft and pulpy. Pushing a thumb into the center reveals its spongy texture. Smaller summer squash have a firm texture throughout, which is why you want the smallest available. These can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

However, if you are a gardener and you find that one or more of your squash has grown to a very large size, don’t despair. I recommend that you scoop out the pulpy center of the squash before you cook it. You can always use it for soup. Slice or dice the firmer, outer section of the squash to add to a mixed vegetable soup. Or, create a puréed soup with it.

Summer squash will last four to five days in the refrigerator. Store it unwashed and wrapped tightly in a plastic bag. Summer squash continues to breathe after it’s picked; wrapping it will help to preserve its flavor and nutritional value.

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A Fast, Simple Way to Cook Corn on the Cob

Microwaved Corn

My favorite way to cook corn on the cob? In the microwave! This technique could not be easier. Place your unhusked ear of corn in the microwave and cook it for two minutes per ear on high. That’s it!

You can check if the corn is done by pulling back the husk to check if any raw kernels remain. Cooked corn is moist and more vibrant in color. In the photo above, the ear at the top of the photo is uncooked. The deeper colored on at the bottom of the photo is cooked. If you find your corn isn’t completely cooked, put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds or so. Continue reading

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