Thanksgiving, 2013!

The family's all here and ready to eat.

The family’s all here and ready to eat.

A couple weeks ago, Shefali, Kaya and I had the good fortune to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, my sister and her family and Shefali’s mother and sister.   This was our first Thanksgiving since we moved back the West Coast, so it was a real treat to be able to spend it with both sides of our families.  In addition, our good friends, Simon and Jen and their kids, and PK (and his two crutches) also joined us for what proved to be a delicious and nutritious (calories are nutritious right?) feast.

As usual, we spent several hours preparing and cooking the requisite T-Day food – stuffing (sausage stuffing from me, oyster stuffing from my mom), turkey (grilled in record time on the Weber by my dad), mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts (prepared by Cameron and Cheryl) and three different desserts (apple galette and cheesecake from Jen, pumpkin pie from Shef).  Also as usual, the eating/ inhaling food part took all of about 15 minutes and left us all slouched uncomfortably in a haze of culinary  excess. Another year and another successful Thanksgiving.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Watch the two part documentary masterpiece which so compellingly captures our Thanksgiving, 2013!

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Jason’s Mom’s Jook

Hi all! Long time, no blog (as usual). Alright, let me cut to the chase: jook, aka congee   = Chinese soul food. It doesn’t get any more basic than this: water + rice.  The thick rice porridge provides a blank canvas upon which other ingredients – 1000 year old eggs and salted pork (my personal favorite), fish and lettuce, dried scallops and peanuts, etc- can be applied, so in the end you can have an endless variety of delicious tableaus and landscapes.  For me, it’s comfort food, plain and simple.  I crave it when I’m under the weather, when I’m homesick, and when I just want to eat something I know is going to be absolutely satisfying to my body and soul.  My mom used to make it when I was a kid and I remember the way the whole kitchen would steam up and smell of cooking rice. When I visit my grandmother in Hong Kong, the first meal we have together is at a nearby jook joint.  Quite simply,  jook tastes of home and family.

But because jook is so basic and near and dear to my heart, it never occurred to me to post a recipe of it.  Enter my friend Jason. Thankfully, he filmed his mom making her version of jook and was kind enough to let me post it here.  Not only does her version look delicious but watching the video I was also glad to see the special place the dish occupies in her family. That’s how soul food is: universal but also entirely personal.

Alright, enough from me. Here’s Jason:

Last week, my wonderful mom came over to teach us the steps to making her version of congee.  I grew up calling this Chinese porridge “jook” but have recently learned the new name as it is served every day at my Grandma’s nursing center.

The day of this shoot, we had a surprise visit from her brother, Ben Fong-Torres, and his wife.  This put my mom and her brother at the stove together–a sight I had never seen before.  This must have brought back memories for them as they grew up in the family restaurant together helping their father.

I am proud to present our third cooking video: Mom Makes Congee.  I have been so lucky to grow up with my mother’s version of this dish in my life and hope you find time to make it for a loved one.  Enjoy!

-Jason

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