Murray Family Farms
from Bakersfield, CA
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Paletas vs Popsicles

Aren’t they the same thing? One is just the Spanish word for the same thing in American English? I thought they were both frozen fruity icy pops, but apparently, paletas and popsicles are very different.

A popsicle is any old frozen fruity icy thing, usually water or juice-based, with a lot of added sugar that stain your mouth and hands because they’re filled with neon food coloring and dyes. I never liked popsicles as a kid, and though I don’t remember the specific reason why, I am guessing that I found popsicles generally too sweet, too messy, and somewhat unsatisfying compared to creamy, full fatty dairy ice cream. I always ate ice cream out of a neat little cup with a tidy little spoon.

Paletas, as I learned in the last couple of weeks, look exactly like popsicles, are a kind of popsicle, but are nothing like popsicles. Because they just aren’t. They are a Latin-American frozen refreshment on a “palo” (stick) made from fresh fruit, either in a water/juice base with pieces of fruit, or a cream/milk base with chocolate, vanilla, spices, and nuts.  Though they may seem “everyday” to anyone who grew up eating paletas, flavors and combinations like cucumber (unsweetened!), tamarind, hibiscus, and mango with chili powder are new and exciting and way more interesting than the artificial neon cherry, orange, grape, and “rocket” flavors I grew up with in the Midwest.
mateo's paletas on fresh fruit platter

Mateo’s Ice Cream and Fruit Bars (Paletas)

I have only ever tried Mateo’s paletas. Mostly because there is a location on the west-ish side of LA.

A Paleta/Popsicle Serving Idea

It’s summer. You’re probably going to throw a party. Or go to a party. At the very least, be involved in a social gathering that involves food and at least one person other than just yourself. Here’s an idea.

Make or buy paletas. Serve the paletas on a platter of fresh cut fruit that matches the paletas in color. I like multi-color, but if you don’t want anyone to fight over flavors, offer one, maybe two, flavor(s); the serving platter will still look pretty. Soak and absorb the glory.

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There are 93 days of summer this year. Because I’m a weird, obsessive compulsive freak about lists, here’s a list of summery things to eat, drink, do, and wear, one for each day of the season, in no particular order.

Lies. Of course they’re in order. You just don’t know what that order it is.

Get crackin’. There are only {xo} days of summer left.
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It’s Pi(e) Day

If there is anyone who would appreciate a punny holiday, it would be me, right? So celebrating March 14th, or 3.14, as Pi(e) Day is happening here with Chicken Pot Pie… {{click for full recipe below…}}

balls out. seared baby bok choy + ginger scallion meatballs + roast chicken stock.
My version of Ginger Scallion Chicken Meatballs was inspired a year ago by Bon Appetit magazine. Their recipe is neither the original nor remarkably unqiue, but it was the first one that caught my attention because of they way it’s served — in a shallow pool of light stock rather than smothered in a sticky sauce.

I added grilled baby bok choy to the bowl my second attempt, then shiitake mushrooms on a third attempt, and finally soba noodles with double the soup. With all of that, Ginger Scallion Chicken Meatballs becomes a light, yet filling (God, I hate that qualifier) meal. I might stir a little spoonful of miso into the next iteration, but let’s just take it one step at a time here ok?

The key to my version is that you’re supposed to make a generous batch of Ginger Scallion Sauce for something else first. If you happen to have Ginger Scallion Sauce leftover from whatever this other first thing is — I’d be shocked if you did, but there is a chance — and you need a way to use it before its phantom expiration date — though again I’d be shocked if you didn’t consume all the leftovers in their entirety the very next day because you can use Ginger Scallion Sauce for pretty much anything including massage oil and currency in some countries — you stir a few spoonfuls of it, drained of most of the oil, into a bowl of ground chicken or turkey, add minced garlic, maybe some tamari, and go from there.

If you don’t have the patience to chop 742 bunches of scallions and grate a dozen “knobs” (almost as hateful a word as “moist”) of ginger to make the Ginger Scallion Sauce first, then entertain the idea of making the meatballs by following the Bon Appetit recipe, which I’ve directly copied and pasted word-for-almost illegal-word here, but with a link so that makes it ok. Then suck it up, loser, and make the Ginger Scallion Sauce anyway because unlike 2/3 of the decisions in your life, you won’t regret it.

Then, follow the Bon Appetit recipe for the rest of the dish, which is just to put the meatballs in a bowl with warmed stock. Add grilled baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and cooked soba noodles.

Of course, I highly encourage you to make your chicken stock yourself instead of using “2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided,” which sounds like it comes gurgling out of a $2.99 box from Whole Foods, NOT THAT THERE  IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT CHEAP, CHEATER SUBSTITUTE.

Gosh, and to think I said that there wasn’t going to be some sort of tie-into my life.

Happy Birthday, Mama! Happy National Meatball Day, Everyone Else!

Bon Appetit’s and my recipes in full, below. Links to some other versions after.
ginger scallion meatballs

Ginger Scallion Chicken Meatballs, Baby Bok Choy, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Soba in Broth {recipe}

The Delicious Life, March 2015

serves 4


½ cup Ginger Scallion Sauce, as much of the oil drained off as possible {recipe}
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 lb ground chicken, with some dark meat and fat
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari
4 cups rich chicken stock {recipe}
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking
6-8 small baby bok choy
6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 ounces soba noodles, cooked
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
For serving: chili garlic sambal, sweet chili sauce {recipe}, extra Ginger Scallion Sauce, light tamari


Gently stir together Ginger Scallion sauce, garlic, and ground chicken in a bowl. Form into 1-inch diameter meatballs, about 1½ tablespoons per meatball.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook until brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess cooking oil.

Turn down heat under skillet to medium. Add a little extra cooking oil if necessary, then add sliced bok choy, cooking until slightly charred. Remove bok choy to plate and cook shiitake mushrooms. Divide Ginger Scallion Meatballs, baby bok choy, shiitake, and soba noodles among serving bowls.

In a separate pot, heat chicken stock. Season stock with salt and pepper. Ladle boiling hot stock into serving bowls over meatballs, vegetables, and noodles.

Serve along with Chili Sambal, Sweet Chili Sauce, extra Ginger Scallion Sauce, and light tamari to season each individual bowl at the table.


~ Ginger is at the very top of my Anti-Inflammatory Favs List
~ Choosing ground chicken over beef for the meatballs isn’t necessarily a “healthy substitute.” Red meat can, and is, healthy depending on the person’s individual health needs. Chicken has a different fat content and of course, very different flavor — generally milder so it means you can use a lot of ginger and scallions to flavor the meatballs.
~ Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable so it has similar nutrition profile as broccoli, cabbage, and kale
~ Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D.


~ Ginger Scallion Sauce: recipe coming soon
~ Chicken Stock: recipe/how-to coming soon
~ Sweet Chili Sauce: recipe coming soon
~ Chicken: ACA Butcher Shop, Santa Monica
~ Tamari (a type of soy sauce without wheat): San-J organic, gluten-free tamari
~ Buckwheat Soba: normally, I use whatever soba I find at the market, but note that most “buckwheat soba” has some wheat flour in it. Buckwheat soba that is 100% gluten-free is brittle and breaks down easily, but a soup/broth preparation is probably the best place to use it with more success (still going to be mealy/soft). The gluten-freesoba I’ve used in the past is from Eden Foods.
~ Chili Garlic Sauce: Lee Keum Kee (has gluten from the rice vinegar ingredient) or Huy Fong (has sulfites as preservative). They taste the same to me; you pick your poison.
~ Produce: from local farmers’ markets, or organic from Whole Foods Market


Ginger-Chicken Meatballs With Chinese Broccoli {recipe}

Bon Appetit, March 2014


1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 lb ground chicken
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 bunch Chinese broccoli, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper


Using your hands or a rubber spatula, gently mix garlic, chicken, soy sauce, ginger, 4 scallions, and ½ cup broth in a medium bowl just to combine. Scooping out by the tablespoonful, form mixture into 1”-diameter meatballs.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Combine broccoli and red pepper flakes in same skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add meatballs and remaining 1½ cups broth. Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and broccoli is tender, 5–8 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with more scallions.

sesame ginger meatballs


New York Times, December 2009: no ginger, adds cilantro (blech)
Food & Wine January 2015: adds breadcrumbs (also blech)
It’s All Good, Gwyneth Paltrow: garlic and ginger, serve with bottled hoisin sauce


Hold up.

Let’s take more than a few steps backward first.

The first guy I went out with after signing up for online dating was actually not someone who had winked, poked, nudged, or otherwise digitally harassed me. He was one of several friends of several friends who I had never even heard of before but who seemed to have materialized out of nowhere as soon as I went online. Where were these guys before I went and spent three months’ salary on a subscription that would hopefully end up in a ring, huh? Now all these guys suddenly decide to show up? Wait your turn, buddy. Get in line. Behind the throngs of guys who, um, you know, haven’t actually hit me up online yet.


I agreed to meet him even though he was, of all things… [click to continue…]


"I found you when I searched for 'Gjelina'..."

It’s the kind of opening to emails that I used to receive, not necessarily often, but enough times that it was wasn’t unusual. Someone would google a restaurant, then end up on my stupid little blog… [click to continue…]