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Cooking as a TCK in Texas, an introduction…

I grew up in SouthEast Asia (the Philippines) as the child of missionaries but I currently live in Houston, TX.

A “TCK” or third culture kid, is a person who spent a large number of their formative years in a country that is not their parents “home” country. The child learns the cultural norms of both the “host” country and of their parents “home” country, and typically form a third culture that they adher to which gleans aspects of both.

Because of where we lived, my mom almost exclusively cooked from scratch, and rarely used a microwave (we didn’t have one until I was in my teens!). I was also surrounded by expats from a variety of countries,including but not limited to- South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Canada, Switzerland, Korea, Columbia, and Honduras. And of course the Americans living there from all regions of the country. You may see some of these influences, and especially Filipino influences in the things I share.

At university I was able to hone some of my skills in cooking classes and by working for some of the best restaurant companies in Houston.

Like my mother, I tend to cook from scratch, using what I have in my pantry or by combining various recipes until I have it just right. Most often I simply just make something up. I rarely write anything down, which means I tend to forget what I did the previous times I prepared a particular dish. I mostly cook my meals at home; opting to bring my lunch to the office rather than eating out, though I definitely have no objection to letting myself enjoy a restaurant every once in a while.

A coworker challenged me to do a “food detox” to start 2014. For me this is more a challenge to my cooking, to see what I can do with out and how i can do things differently. So this blog is my experimental forum for that…and a way for me to push myself to actually write down the recipes I make up. My favorite aspect of cooking is sharing that food with others, and since I am mostly cooking for myself this is a way to do that too!

Baked Curry Chicken

My pre-made dinner for the week: Baked Curry Chicken.

I usually make a variant of this using honey or sugar in the base so there is a combination of sweetness and spice, but since I am starting my “sugar detox” this week I left it out. Based on your palate add 1-3 tablespoons of honey or brown sugar if you want that sweet/savory component.

To make the tomato base for this recipe, I used half of what I prepared for a beef and vegetable stew (to be posted later).

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For a multi purpose tomato base.

In a small bowl mix:
Half can tomato paste
2 tbs minced garlic
4 tbs lemon juice
4 tbs soy sauce, gluten free
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

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To customize for curry chicken, add:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (I like things spicy, so adjust for your needs).
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
black pepper to taste

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I use one package of chicken breasts for most of my chicken recipes. But since most chicken breasts are so large I cut them into thirds to make them last over a number of meals. 

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Depending on the consistency you want, or flavors, you could add more or less butter, oil, or soy sauce. I’ve grilled the chicken previously, and in that case used less liquid components so the marinade “stuck” to the meat better.

I baked this at 375F for 30-45 minutes. Checking it for temperature (165F) at 30 and then at 45. Ovens vary, so keep that in mind when using other’s recommended cooking temperatures and times.

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I will serve this with white rice, quinoa, or some sautéed mixed veggies made the night I want to eat it. But I find it easier since I work eight hours a day (not including my commute time) to cook my proteins for the week on Sundays. As usual I set aside about one or two portions in a separate container to freeze- this means that for at least one night or even one week of any given month I have meals already prepared and in the freezer for thawing and eating!

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Results: Flavor seems about right…I do miss my sweet element (honey or brown sugar) but otherwise the chicken came out nice and juicy!