Benjamin Caro

Tag "spices"

Hipcooks class

After realizing I was living next to the Best Thai grocery store in Los Angeles, I decided it was time to make use of it. Scouring the net, I found the Hipcooks “Thai Two On” cooking class (Their most popular class was “Thai One On,” but after cringing every time I read the name, I just couldn’t do it). Luckily class seemed geared toward culinary idiots like myself, so I grabbed my friend Rosey, we strapped on our aprons and wrong-turned our way downtown. (Rosey is definitely the name of the girl you want to put an apron on and take to a cooking class with you. If you don’t have a friend named Rosey, Suzy, Judy, or possibly Joyce will do).

What did I learn? I learned how to make my roommate uncomfortable by filling my pantry full of bottles of fish sauce, galangal spice, and a massive block of tamarind, all of which I have little plan but the best intentions for. So far, everything tastes great in eggs. (Except the tamarind, which I’ve been pulling apart and eating raw). But really, you should read the article on LA Weekly where you might learn a bit about the class rather than a bit about my avant-garde home eating habits. Really, I’m ahead of my time.

  A few classmates pretend they're okay with using their pinky fingers to taste things.
A couple of my classmates pretend they’re okay with using their pinky fingers to taste things.

Since spices are so prominent in Thai cooking, we spent a lot of time slaving over a massive mortar and pestles to grind up the raw ingredients, looking like an army of miniature apron-wearing Gandalfs. The food turned out delicious:

By far the best dish was the Chiang Mai sausage skewers, ground pork patties seared into compact, little sausage shapes. Another highlight was the Thai me up! rum cocktail, a bright, creamy concoction of mint, coconut milk, ginger beer and a secret weapon, vanilla bean paste, more raw and flavorful than vanilla extract.

Chiang Mai "sausage" skewers
Chiang Mai “sausage” skewers. Just look at that sear. Look at it.

Really, I was blown away by those little sausage guys. The sear provided a delightful crunch which lent itself to a fatty, complex flavor reminiscent of salty-sweet potato chips. Check out the full article for more details on the class, as well as a recipe for a rum drink so good you won’t even mind that it’s called “Thai Me Up! rum cocktail.”

 LA Weekly – “Hipcooks: Where to Make Friends, and Cook For Them (Recipe)”

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The Book of Daniel - Daniel Plan

You know, from The Book of Daniel.

I wrote about The Daniel Plan, a new faith-based diet based off the biblical story in the Book of Daniel, for L.A. Weekly’s Squid Ink blog. A companion book was released just last week, so any new followers of the diet are up for a challenge: Christmas. Ironically, celebrating Jesus’ birth is going to be their first hurdle. Here are the five tips I mentioned, using the diet, to defeat Christmas:

5. Get your relatives in on the plan
The website touts that “sustained lifestyle change works best in groups or with a partner,” and while that may sound like a pyramid scheme, research backs this up.

4. Focus on fat to avoid sugar
The sound of the word “fat” may cause you to recoil, but grass-fed butter like Kerrygold is filled with a healthy amount of Omega-3’s and other micronutrients — and research has shown that olive oil can be tremendously good for you. Sugar, on the other hand, may cause food cravings, insulin spikes and can be damaging to your hormones.

3. Keep exercising
Many think they need a gym and hours of free time for exercise to be effective. Not true, research shows. All you need is seven minutes and a chair; there are apps to help you. Schedule your workout before eating, and you may have the added benefit of funneling extra calories to your muscles instead of your stomach.

2. Cook with spices
It’s easy to make foods taste good by pouring sugar, fat or salt all over them, but it’s more healthful, and possibly interesting, to use spices. Many spices have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties while remaining virtually calorieless.

1. Pray
“Please God, don’t let me get fat.” You know, when all else fails.


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