Sharing the Love (of Okra)

Beef Recipes, Others, stew

Cooking and writing actually calm me down. And lately, I think I would not be the only one needing to simmer down. With the news being like they are, from here and there and everywhere, it is hard to disengage from it and not be angry at the world. But anyway, today is a new day and I will do my best to contribute love by cooking and writing more.

I fell in love with Okra because of Leena, a dear friend of mine in Chicago. Many years ago, Farah and I came by Leena’s house for dinner. She had prepared her fabulous Syrian stew made of okra and beef in this tomato broth (bamya). I was hooked and I would always order that stew whenever Jeff and I went to Mediterranean restaurants. I asked Leena for a recipe a while back but I never got a chance to make it. A few weeks ago, after a year of moving back to Indonesia, I began to miss all sorts of non-Indonesian cuisines. I thought of bamya. Found that recipe in my email and it was dated December 2013. That felt like a lifetime ago. Before Jeff and I bought a house in Michigan, before we had our daughter, before we sold the house, before we moved back to our homeland. Why does time move even faster once we hit 30, 35, or 36?

Anyway, I dedicate this article to my beloved, beautiful, fashion-inspiration source, Syrian friend, whose friendship I treasure, and whose homeland has been on my mind.

Below is her Okra Stew recipe, with a little bit of my touch

1 bag of fresh okra (here in Surabaya, the stores carry them fresh. One bag contains maybe 10-15 okras.) – Chopped into little cuts.
1 lb. (or 1/4 kg works too) beef stew meat
1 small onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
3 fresh tomatoes – diced
Salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
Jasmine rice
I added: a handful of parsley, a pinch cumin powder, coriander powder, and chili powder.
Prepare beef stew :
  • Heat up a little bit of canola oil, add onions. Cook for two minutes.
  • Add beef and cook to well done. Set aside.
  • In a deep saucepan, heat some oil and saute the garlic until pink.  Add okra.  With a wooden spoon, gently toss on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until “slimy strings” disappear.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beef and tomatoes to the okra pot. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • I add chopped parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chili powder to taste and let simmer for another 15 minutes more until everything is cooked and melded together. The okra should be so nice and tender once they are done cooking. Serve hot and with rice.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!



Sweetness: Cheddar Covered Grilled Banana

Dessert, Others


Banana: a simple, reliable, and nourishing fruit. Good to eat raw or cooked. What I love about cooked banana is its natural sweetness. Pair it up with a sharp cheddar and you get a great dessert in no time.

This dish is Jeff’s favorite. I had written about it a while back, but this time I grilled it on a stove top instead of inside the oven.

Here’s all you need:

  • 4-6 bananas (find ones that still have greenish color near the stem)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter


  • Peel the bananas and slice and cut in half (1 banana into 4 cuts)
  • Heat up a non-stick pan, low to medium heat
  • Add butter and let it sizzle
  • Add bananas and let them cook until the bottom part turn into golden color, flip them over (about 1 — 2 minutes each side)
  • Turn off the stove, move the bananas to a plate, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top



Sweetness: Mung Beans in Coconut Milk

Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Others


It has been, what seems to me, like a million years since I last posted on my beloved blog. Let’s just say that life has been a bit eventful.We had a baby! (who is now almost a toddler), and we bought a house, then we sold the house, and then we moved across the ocean :D. A change can do you good, they say. So we, the three of us, huddle, stick together, and embrace this adventure with open arms.

Our future house is still in the works. So I am sharing a kitchen at my mom’s house. After months of eating out, I started missing cooking. Now, I have been returning to it little by little. It feels good to cook, to create, to produce again. I hope to resume and sustain this good habit here in our new world.

Last night, I cooked up a storm. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the main dishes. I did remember to take pictures of the desserts. Oh well, let this post and the next be about sweet stuff.

Mung Beans is pretty popular in the South East Asian countries. I love having it cooked in coconut milk mixed with palm sugar. You can have it hot or cold. Either way is delightful. So here is my simple recipe for 4 people:

We need:

  • 2 cups of mung beans
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (if using the light coconut milk, you can use the whole can)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 or 2 inches of ginger
  • 6 cups of water


  • In a medium size pot, bring water to a rolling boil
  • Add mung beans and ginger. Let it cook for 5 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and cover the pot.
  • Let the mung beans sit for an hour in that covered pot
  • After an hour, see if it needs a bit of water. If so, add enough to immerse the beans
  • Turn on the stove again and add sugar. Stir well
  • While stirring, add the coconut milk. Keep stirring until it starts to come to simmer again
  • Turn off the stove, let it cool down, and enjoy
  • Refrigerate the rest and try it cold for the next dayIMG_20160615_204919




Container Gardening and My Nemesis


Like many people, I get excited over the arrival of spring. I relish the longer and warmer days and I plan to be outside as much as I can. Also like many others, I plant in the spring time. Due to space limitation I stick with container gardening, which I have been doing for a few years now. I started with growing flowers and chili peppers in containers outside of my apartment windows in Chicago. Now that we live in an apartment with a patio that opens up to a grassy area, I have a little bit of space for more plants.  This year I focus on herbs and vegetables that I use a lot in my cooking. So far I have:

parsley and rosemary,


Cayenne peppers, sweet basil, Thai and Serano peppers, and another tomato.

I also have jasmine, impatiens, lavender, citronella mosquito plant, mums, and a couple of other flowers.

The nemesis eating my tomato

Of course like many of those who garden, I also have a nemesis. I caught him eating my tomato one day. A few days later, my sweet upstairs neighbor confessed that she’s been feeding my nemesis recently. She thinks that feeding the chipmunk will make it full and stop eating my young tomatoes.  But I am thinking that it might invite more chipmunks to party on her patio.

Meanwhile, I am sprinkling cayenne pepper powder around my tomato plants. A tip I found online somewhere. Let’s see if it works. So far so good though.

PS: If you a name suggestion for my nemesis, I am all ears.

Stuck on My Mind: Chicken Pot Pie

Others, Poultry Recipes

Have you ever thought of one specific thing and all of a sudden you started to see it everywhere?  It could seem like the thought was following you and catching your attention every chance it got. Well it happened to me the other day. On one cloudy morning I thought about how great it would be to have some chicken pot pie. Sure enough when I checked my email I got an update from this food blog I subscribed to about… chicken pot pie. Then when I tuned into Cooking Channel later on that same day I saw two different shows presenting…chicken pot pie! I guess the chicken pot pie goddess must have wanted me to make the dish badly.

So I surrendered to the chicken pot pie calling and found a few recipes online and decided to  follow Rachael Ray’s: (click the link) Creamy Chicken and Mushroom One-Pot with Pie Toppers.

I did a little tweak to the recipe:

  • I used a frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, green beans, and peas)
  • I opted out of using butter, heavy cream, and wine
  • Instead, for the broth, I mixed the poaching liquid, chicken stock, three tablespoons of flour, and a tablespoon of dijon mustard in a bowl. Whisked the broth well (until, as the author said, it “thickens to a light gravy consistency”) and then returned it back to the pot where the vegetables were cooking. Then I added the chicken back to the pot along with some salt and pepper

The meal was delicious, full of flavors, and fragrant. I especially enjoyed the peppery taste that came from the dijon mustard and the sweet aroma of sage. What a perfect winter meal!

So plan a movie night at home with loved ones, cozy up on the couch under a blanket, and enjoy a nice bowl of chicken pot pie. Have a good Monday!