13 April 2012

Clam and Radish Egg Drop Soup

"Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May."

I've been hearing this line going through my mind today, relishing the rain we're getting, but also soberly reflecting on the deeper message, that even though we may face gloomy skies (literally or figuratively) now and then, how good it is to keep up hope for the beauty that will come.  I tend not to share too personally in this space, but friends, I wanted to let you into what's been on my heart and mind the past couple days.  I hope you don't mind.

Life certainly throws you some surprises sometimes, doesn't it?  Like this cold rain-and-thunder-and-lightning storm that comes of the heels of a gloriously warm and sunny Easter weekend.  Or like the sudden illness that hospitalized my mother thousands of miles away from home yesterday.  Or like my brother being hit by a car as he was bicycling, also yesterday.  There are the happy, carefree days, and then there are the days when you realize how fragile life is and you just want to gather your loved ones together and thank God for them.

I'm so thankful today for the safety and health of my family.  And, I'm even more thankful that even if they weren't safe or healthy that things would still fundamentally be okay.  I'm reminded of something so comforting:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more... Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."


My father, or Papa, as I call him, has also been pretty under the weather, and with the storms going on outside--and in the life of our family--a soup, simple but nourishing, just felt like the right thing for him and for me.  I'd made this soup once before, as a variation on a Korean recipe I'd read, and I was so pleased with how it turned out that I made it again, this time to share with Papa.  He liked it, by the way.

It's so easy to make, the flavors and textures are clean and light, and it's quietly comforting.  At the base is a savory broth made from chicken broth, garlic, and clam juices.  And then there are chunks of daikon radish and tofu, delicate bite-sized clams, tasty green onion batons, and the flowery strands of egg-drop.  A delicious spoonful of flavors and textures every time.

I talked with my brother last night over the phone, anxiously trying to figure out the extent of his injuries.  While I was worried, he seemed up-beat, and then good news also came from the hospital that my mom could be discharged.  But overall it had been a bizarre and emotionally exhausting day.  Finishing dinner, I took some time, just sitting there at the table for a while in silence.  I'd already picked out all the goodies from my bowl of soup, so I sat there, looking at the warm broth, offering up silent prayers.  Then I lifted up my bowl and drank.  It was good.  And I'm looking forward to the flowers that will come.

Clam and Radish Egg Drop Soup
Makes 2-3 servings

1 1/2 cup daikon (or Korean radish, 무/mu) in 1/4-inch slices, cut into half-moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 (5 oz.) square tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and then into bite-sized pieces
1 (6.5 oz.) can clams and their juice
2 Tbs. Korean soy sauce for soup (국간장/guk ganjang)
1 tsp. roasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Place radish, garlic, broth, and water in a medium-large pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until radish is not quite fork tender.  Reduce heat and add tofu, the clams and their juices, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Stir gently and let tofu heat through, then slowly drizzle the egg into the hot soup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  About a minute before serving, add the scallions and let them heat up just until they begin to wilt.  Serve soup with steamed rice and kimchi.

09 April 2012

The Monday Mixed Drink: Pimm's Cup

Happy Monday, everyone!  Today I bring you this, a harbinger of summer.  Simple, elegant, and refreshing, you're definitely going to want to mix up a Pimm's Cup soon.

The recent summery weather here in Santa Barbara has been making my spirits soar!  Gorgeous sunshine, lemons hanging fragrant in the garden, sleepy weekend naps on the patio.  Plus, with the dissertation writing moving along according to schedule, I've been feeling much more light-hearted these days.  This is a happy season, even in the midst of demanding work and the question marks that surface when I think ahead to post-graduate life.  And as the days go by, sometimes there's nothing so nice as a little drink to celebrate the milestones.

This tasty long drink is such a breeze to make, that even if you're pressed for time, there's no reason why you wouldn't be able to fit one of these into your day.  It's a classic for good reason!  Here I mix Pimm's No. 1, a gin-based fruit cup, with some bubbly ginger ale and garnish it with lemon, mint, and cucumber.


With temperatures heating up all over the country, this long drink would be the perfect way to cool down.  And to keep things on the lighter side (yes, this heat means bathing-suit weather is here), use diet ginger ale and watch those grams of added sugar! 

Pimm's Cup 
Makes 1 serving 
Adapted from Gourmet, August 1957

1.5 fluid oz. (44 ml/1 jigger) chilled Pimm’s No. 1
12 fluid oz. (354 ml) chilled diet Ginger ale
4 ice cubes
1 strip cucumber
1 slice lemon
1 sprig mint

Pour Pimm's No. 1 and chilled ginger ale into a double old-fashioned glass (16 oz. capacity).  Garnish with ice cubes, cucumber, lemon, and mint.  Enjoy!