Talking with my Teen: Guavas, Tomatoes, Blueberries and Vegetables

My teenager and I, Hawaii 2016

My oldest daughter is officially a teenager. Suppressed memories of my awkward and frightening teenage years have come flooding back. Middle School and High School are times in my life I want to forget. Thankfully, my two dogs, Tippy and Tuffy, helped get me through those years. I hope our cat, Minnie, helps my daughter successfully navigate her middle school years. Communication with my teen daughter is "tense", some reasons  could be: the constant glares I receive when I try to engage; i.e. "the Claire glare" my teen doesn't feel comfortable communicating verbally and expressing feelings my fear of reliving middle school years affects my ability to listen My daughter is able to verbally communicate when she wants me to do … [Read more...]

Grapes, Grandma and Methyl anthranillate

IMG_6299

My grandmother died last month. She's been in my thoughts quite a bit. In fact, just last week, while preparing grapes, I thought of her. Grandma showed me how to prepare grapes by cutting them into little bunches. She said little bunches are handy for grabbing, packing in lunches, and as snacks. Every summer, I spent at least two weeks at her beach house in Laguna playing in the ocean. After a few "wipe-outs" in the  waves, cold grapes were a good snack. This summer, while vacationing in southern California, I kept with tradition and prepared grape bunches for beach snacks. My kids loved the grapes as well as the ocean and boogie boarding. My last conversation with my grandmother was about my beach vacation and I told her my girls … [Read more...]

Cheesecake flavor

last piece of amateur's cheesecake

I baked my first cheesecake Christmas day. The recipe seemed easy enough, but I got distracted and missed the instruction not to over mix. My family was forgiving and loved it none-the-less. In fact, they said it tasted better than the usual dense cheesecakes. Long story short, I am an amateur when it comes to baking cheesecakes, but I have plenty of experience making cheesecake flavors. Food companies that make yogurt, ice cream, white chocolate or baked goods often look for cheesecake flavors. In order to formulate a good cheesecake flavor, a blend of butter acids is important.  Some recommendations: Butyric acid (FEMA 2221)-a component of butter and cheese-smells like rotten milk iso Valeric acid (FEMA 3102)-a component of … [Read more...]

Cactus Jelly

Cactus Jelly

The best part about traveling is trying new foods. Some memorable food experiences I have had include: gjetost in Norway turtle soup in New Orleans street tacos in Tijuana aperitifs in Italy okonomiyaki in Tokyo poke in Maui barbecue in Kansas City Still, there are a million more places to visit and foods to try. My flavor chemist career had me traveling the globe, but since I have had children, my once fast paced life has changed. Now, when I travel, I look for places with amusement parks and kid friendly meals. Unique food from other regions are gifts I receive from globe-trotting friends or family members. More recently, my brother-in-law gave me a jar of cactus jelly that he got in  Arizona, a place I would love to … [Read more...]

Grandma’s legacy-Bourbon Whiskey Flavor

Grandma's Bourbon Balls

My grandmother turned 103 last weekend. It is difficult to imagine living to be 103.  By 103 years old, your health declines and you have outlived most of your friends. The reward is that you become the matriarch. Matriarchs are dominant, fair, tough, feminine leaders. I feel lucky to have a matriarch as a role model. This year, my family felt it was important that I get some of my grandmother's things. Included was an antique hall table, an antique pitcher and Grandma's cookbook. The hall table evoked memories of playing cards, since the second drawer down on the left was the place she kept the playing cards for the family's favorite game Tripoly.  Other valuable memories were stored in her cookbook. Memories of tamale pie, persimmon … [Read more...]

Imitation Vanilla Flavor and Bibingka

Bibingka

Filipino food isn't as popular as Chinese or Thai food, but it is just as good. One Filipino food my family is particularly fond of is Bibingka. Bibingka is a rice cake style dessert which has a milky, vanilla coconut custard flavor. It is rich and creamy like pudding, has a crunchy top coat and is chewy. We have never seen it at the supermarket, but are fortunate that have relatives or my husband bake it for us. The ingredients for Bibingka vary, and my husband uses butter,sweet rice flour, sugar, evaporated milk, egg, coconut milk and vanilla to make it. My husband has baked so much Bibingka recently that he ran out of real vanilla extract; so he picked up some imitation vanilla flavor at the supermarket. As you can imagine, I was … [Read more...]

Mothers and blogging

Mom and daughters

There was a moment during the birth of my first daughter, when my only hope was that both my baby and I survived. Since that point forward, my mothering mantra has pretty much stayed the same. My children have had life threatening experiences and have had emotionally challenging experiences. Every pain they feel, I feel. Every fear they have, I feel as well. My vision of motherhood was not what  motherhood turned out to be. What I have found out is that mothering is emotional rollercoaster and it demands great responsibility. Even though there is responsibility, I enjoy my children and the experience. Like any good experience, the years since my eldest was born have flown by. We have had close moments when I share myself and my hopes, … [Read more...]

Flavors, oh how I love thee….

Essential oil with orange peel

Much like stashing a box of love letters from an old boyfriend, I have kept a box of essential oils and aroma chemical bottles. These small bottles contain the aromas that I need to create perfumes for foods. Like any true love affair, I'm filled with mixed emotions as I contemplate whether I open the box again or throw it out. For many years, formulating flavors was a dream job. Once one acquires the basic knowledge of materials and the confidence of a creative, one can blend the scent of about every flavor imaginable. Never was there a dull moment in such a job where trends ruled the industry. One day Peach Mango was popular and the next Asian Pear Green Tea Mint was at the top of the list. It is not an easy job to re-create entire … [Read more...]

My Agricultural Roots

My childhood; family's barn & holsteins

Farmers paid my way through college. I majored in Food Science at UC Davis and finished with no student loans. Food Science is an agricultural study. Associations like Tri-Valley growers, Women in Agriculture and National Food Processors gave me scholarships to pay for school. Food is grown, gathered or raised. I have struggled with my background. It was embarrassing in junior high to have chores like cleaning the chicken cage and composting the garden while other kids went to the mall and on vacations. Nine years of 4-H taught me that it is much easier to buy jam than make it. Three years working at an orchard for "farm wages" motivated me to find easier work for higher wages. Orchard work is uncomfortable, hot and requires long hours … [Read more...]

Changes

Posioned

My husband would not watch Steel Magnolias or the Notebook with me. He tried his best to watch a few scenes, but eventually retreated to the computer room and came out for a snack towards the end of these movies. When he saw me bawling my eyes out, he asked "is the movie good?", to which I quietly replied "yes". His response was head shake and a nod in disbelief. The book Poisoned had a similar effect on me as the movies. I found myself crying as I read  it. Again, my husband queried, "do you like that book?". My answer was yes. When I shared some of the details about the children in hospitals dying from food poisoning, he replied "doesn't sound good". Poisoned, by Jeff Benedict," The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That … [Read more...]