Photo credit: J. Yeh

Photo credit: J. Ng

So who’s the ABC Chef?

Hi! I’m Megan. It’s nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by my blog! As you can see, I’m always  cooking or eating…

I am an ABC (American Born Chinese) whose parents were born in Taiwan as overseas Chinese wai sheng ren (外省人). As an ABC who cooks daily for herself and her husband, I find myself in a food dilemma of sorts: we might have leftover lu rou fan, red curry, and lentil salad– all in the course of one dinner.

How did this blog come to be?

Some of my fondest memories from my childhood revolve around food and my mom and sister: counting the coins in the van and seeing if we had enough to buy ice cream at Thrifty (now Rite-Aid)…making no-bake cheesecake with my sister (we’ve come a long way), mixing up cookie dough in the serrated rim old plastic bowl with handheld beaters, getting boba and yan su ji after school, and the best birthday parties with amazing salad, homemade Mexican milk jello and DIY pizza.

I’ve always been a procrastinator; still am in many respects. When I was in elementary and middle school, my way of taking a break (a.k.a. procrastinating) was to meander to the kitchen (Hey, can you blame me? My room was right around the corner) and see what my mom was making for dinner.

Ring, ring! The person on the other line was asking to speak to “Peggy”. Hmm…there are meat and vegetables on the stove. Better stir it around for her so that it doesn’t burn!

 

Me: Mama, can I slice those carrots?

Mom: It’s really hard..they have to be really thin, otherwise they won’t taste good

Me: I can do it! Let me try.

 

Me: Mama, can I help? What can I do?

Mama: Here, you can pick the roots off the soybean sprouts. Let me show you. To be a great chef, you have to start with doing the small things right.

My mom is the food magician. During our YOYO (you’re on your own) dinners, I would always follow my mom around and watch her take a bunch of things from the fridge and pantry, then make something delicious. Seeing the longing look on my face, she would ask, do you want some of mine? I would nod emphatically, and she would lovingly share her portion or make more so there’d be enough for me.

My mom’s food is the best. So much that, in middle school, there was a period of time where I brought three lunches to school: one for me, one for Whitney, and one for Steph. These friends were previously envious of my delectable lunch time goodies, so we worked out a nice agreement: Mama’s lunch of the day, for some money.

My mom is my cooking hero. My adventurous spirit to try new foods was inspired by her foray into

Our family has had a progressive nutritional journey as well: Kraft singles and shelf-stable Parmesan were the only ‘cheeses’ we ate, and Country Crock margarine was a staple for ‘butter’ in the fridge. Sometime when I was in my upper single digits, my mom transitioned us from white rice to brown rice, and soon we had real Cheddar cheese! We now proudly only use butter in our baked goods, and make as much food from scratch as possible. Eliminating hydrogenated oils from our diet was a commitment we made long ago, that we stand by today.

My philosophy on eating is that God didn’t make bad stuff, but we can’t gorge ourselves. I want to eat food that is grown or raised, not made or synthesized in a factory or lab (sorry, chemistry..). I read labels on everything because I want to as much as possible, avoid stuff like polysorbate 60 (in cream) or TBHQ (in Reese’s cups).

I love seasonal produce, classic dishes done right, hazelnuts, macarons, dan dan mian, anything pork (can you tell from the recipe index? 🙂 ) anything spicy, and talking about food with fellow taste-minded friends.

My pet peeves in the culinary world include, but are not limited to:
– recipes claiming to be “Asian” just because they have sesame oil, Mandarin oranges, soy sauce, water chestnuts, or scallions.
– non-Authentic interpretations of (often ethnic) dishes that claim to be authentic
– shortening. use real butter. seriously.

TL;DR: I love food. I love eating it, cooking it, sharing it, thinking about it, and troubleshooting it. It’s impossible to talk about my food journey without including the huge role my family, especially my mom, played in the development of my relationship with food.

Please write me at theabcchef@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog – I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading.