Two Years

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It must be serendipity: last year, I posted a tomato tart recipe to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my blog, and this year, without even planning to do so, I have another tomato tart recipe!

…Or maybe September is tomato season, and I’m deeply unoriginal.

Well, it’s a certainly at least a little comforting that despite the difficulties of the past year, there are parts of me that remain unchanged. I still love tomatoes, I still adore pastries and butter and learning to cook, and I am still writing about it all.

It’s been two years of discovering that my love for food extends beyond desserts and sweets, and that I may not be as useless in the kitchen as I first thought. Two years of learning family recipes from my dad, exploring new cuisines, gaining confidence with each success, and learning from failures.

Well this is a horribly cliché post, but honestly, I (and everyone else I know) never thought Kitchen Whimsies would make it past its first year. In ancient times, if a baby lived past two years old, parents could begin to believe that their child might actually make it to adulthood, or at least adolescence. I don’t know how to measure the lifespan of a blog – in dog years? In blog years? – but hey, what matters is that somehow, we’re still alive.

I think this year’s tomato tart turned out a little better than last year’s, and I certainly had fun trying out a totally new and totally easy way to make tart crust. Enjoy :)

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One Year Later

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It has not been one year.

No way.

Well, apparently it’s my blog’s one year anniversary. I feel compelled bake something cute to commemorate this. But for today, we’ll just have to make do with a tomato tart recipe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a delicious (and super easy!) recipe, but if you know me, you know I like (to celebrate with) cake and everything sweet.

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Zebras a.k.a. the most photogenic animals ever.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking about my last post and what exactly I wanted to express. I felt some kind of unease in Africa, some embarrassment about my lack of cultural understanding, and guilt over what felt like exploitation of an entire country. Part of what I so ineloquently expressed is summed up beautifully by Spectra on her blog.

Part of what Africa made me realize was that yes, I am privileged. There’s no pretending that I, and most people I interact with, are affluent. And by going to Africa and donating some small sums of money to schools, and giving large tips to the service, I wasn’t saving anyone. I wasn’t changing anything. It’s unfair how much Africa affected me, and yet how little I could do in return. But I can’t pretend otherwise.

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Lil baby lions :)

Another aspect of my discomfort comes from the fact that as an Asian, I’ve faced cultural appropriation, whether in the form of white people flashing peace signs in photos with me, people wearing kimonos at Halloween, or people asking me to say something in Chinese, as if I must speak Chinese because I look Chinese. I understand what it feels like to be the token minority, like some kind of trophy.

And yet, in Africa, I felt that I was taking advantage of the Africans. When we visited the Maasai village, our tour guide specifically told us to visit because we would pity them. We sang and danced with them, but it was all just some show, done for each group of tourists that drove up to the village. We visited the house of a sick old woman. We heard her coughing, hidden beneath blankets in the darkness. We stopped by a school where children recited the ABCs. And we could do nothing. We were simply there to experience a neat little slice of African culture.

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All the Maasai men could jump ridiculously high.

I had always hated how people treated me like I was an outsider to mainstream American culture, how they always expected me to have different customs and speak a different language because I looked different. And yet, there I was, treating the Africans I met like they were some exotic oddity and feeling good about myself for giving them large tips. Exactly like some kind of Western savior.

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Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

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One of my goals for this summer was to be able to comfortably run five miles. (Or rather, slow jog five miles.) Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened for a variety of reasons:

1. Running on the treadmill has made me actually start hating some of my favorite songs. There’s something torturous about running in place for forty minutes, and after a while, my favorite singers seem to be mocking me.

2. It’s been raining basically every day, and if it’s not raining, then it’s ridiculously scorching hot. Like, I step outside and feel my arm hairs burning off, it’s that hot.

3. So I heard running early in the morning is a thing. But so is sleeping in as late as possible during the summer. So I do a kind of combination, where I wake up early, then lay in bed for an hour, patting myself on the back for waking up early, but too lazy to get up actively choosing to just lay there.

4. I have to walk through the kitchen to get outside, and then I see my Kitchen Aid, and then I get…distracted. For example, I’m heading out for a run, and two hours later, I end up with a lemon yogurt cake, or a strawberry almond cream tart. Oh sweet, delicious calories.

5. This one’s a little ridiculous…but I hate to sweat. (Clearly, I was born to be an athlete.)

So before you write me off as a lazy indulgent wimp, I promise you, I do go running. I have, against all odds, made it to three miles of varied terrain, which I’d say is pretty good for someone who hasn’t exercised seriously for at least seven years. I recently read it’s not about distance covered, but rather about time spent exercising, so I’ve worked up to about an hour of constant motion.

But I’m not above a little reward for my efforts. Enter the strawberry almond cream tart, the perfect dessert after a sweaty jog under the hot sun. Sweet, unadorned berries atop cool, creamy pastry cream, encased in an almond crust.

So let’s be real. The goal of my summer was basically to exercise more so I could eat more. Mission (partially) accomplished.

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