Lagniappe: My Life is a Dumpster Fire, or, Why I Haven't Been Writing

It's been about two months since my last posting, and this time I don't have a study abroad semester in Rome to explain it away.

The truth is, my life is a dumpster fire.

Not only is this the toughest and most time consuming semester of college thus far but my personal life is also a shambles as well. I've always been a big advocate of mental health awareness so I have no shame in sharing that due to these issues and others I find myself back in a therapist's office regularly.

I'm also back on medication to manage my anxiety, which has been a fluctuating condition most of my life but recently has spiraled out of what I can control by myself. I also have a history with depression and am actively battling against it to prevent a real downhill slide.

THAT SADNESS ALL SAID, I am optimistic that this is all just a temporary condition (nothing in life is permanent) and I'm lucky to have great medical care, but nevertheless it is greatly impacting my day-to-day and therefore this site.

Recently I had someone criticize me for being an "uncommitted businesswoman" for not keeping up with L & L, and I have to say I refute this accusation 100%. What really makes a successful businesswoman?

Knowing her priorities. Knowing what's important to being ultimately successful.

Right now, I know that doing well in these classes and continuing the grind towards my degree HAS to be my main priority. That shouldn't, and does not, take away my passion for Lekker & Liquor and the plans I have for my writing career. Believe me it kills me that I don't have the time or the creative energy to write and be involved with the F & B community, but to be frank, when every ounce of your mental and emotional energy literally goes into surviving the day in one piece, what is left? Not much.

So, in the meantime, keep cooking my friends! Scroll through the archive and give one of my older recipes a whirl. Tag me in your nommies on Instagram (@tigrita_thelittletiger) so I can live vicariously through you, or Tweet at me at @LekkerLiquor. You can also post your food porn to our Facebook page. Depression and anxiety are assholes and make communication really difficult sometimes so I might not always respond, but I promise I do read everything and it does help tremendously.

I'll be back.

Posted on October 5, 2015 .

Lekker: Zero Food Waste Potato Skins

The Natural Gourmet Institute is a culinary school in NYC I've admired for a long time that focuses on a holistic all-encompassing approach to buying, preparing, and eating good food. I threw my hat into the ring for a marketing internship there this summer (though didn't snag it) and would love to attend one of their educational series if not for the thousand dollar price tag on each one.

However! Their wisdom is free on their Instagram account (and my own pearls on my Insta here), and recently they've been focused on promoting a "zero food waste" approach to cooking and eating. I find this kind of thinking particularly applicable having been raised by parents from Guatemala and South Africa where poverty is just about everywhere and food waste is damn near criminal. It's a great re-alignment of thinking for me and I welcome the opportunity to become as low impact as I can, with my tips and tricks passed along to you in further blog posts.

So! In this vein of making a real effort to make every last edible bit count, here's a way to spin up old potato peels into something delicious. This isn't an actual recipe but rather an idea for you the next time you're peeling potatoes for my Perfect Mashed Potatoes, perhaps to accompany these bangin' Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs:

  • Wash the spuds and peel those skins off with a knife to get nice long curls
  • Toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and the freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon (the most important part to elevate it!) on a foil lined baking sheet.
  • Spread out into an even layer and bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes, tossing once, until crispy and lightly golden brown. A perfect pre-dinner snack for the hungry chefs!

P.S. I did the same thing later with the discarded green tops from two bunches of scallions with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a few smashed cloves of garlic in their skins. DELISH. My datemate's mom now calls me the Recycling Bin. :)

Posted on August 4, 2015 .

Liquor: Milk Tart

Today I'm writing about my all-time favourite dessert cocktail, one that is incredibly simple yet indulgent and will absolutely meet your sweet tooth's craving. It's called a Milk Tart and I learned how to make it from my Bonus Dad, Harry Brindley.

I'm reprinting his recipe with permission though you can view the original entry for a much bigger serving size here on his blog slappHappe, a charming collection of the occasionally odd ramblings of his mind. The actual recipe comes from his brother Alfie, a joyous man who sadly passed away several years ago.

("What's a Bonus Dad?" A Bonus Dad is one I got for free that gives me life advice but didn't have to pay for my college; incidentally he made an excellent choice in spouse--or perhaps she in him!--and I got an incredible Bonus Mom too by the name of Carolyn. My parents befriended them years before I was even born and I grew up thinking of them as family. I consider myself very lucky to have gotten two amazing sets of parents instead of just one.)

Harry surveying his backyard kingdom and charring off the Weber in preparation for that evening's braai; he and Carolyn have since moved across the country and I miss them terribly.

Harry surveying his backyard kingdom and charring off the Weber in preparation for that evening's braai; he and Carolyn have since moved across the country and I miss them terribly.

Put this one on your list for the next time you want to drink your dessert. Harry tells me it's a classic South African road side concoction often mixed up by motorbikers travelling the countryside--because nothing says excellent idea like 'motorbikes' and 'vodka'!

(Don't do that, idiots, do I really have to put a disclaimer?)

makes 1 drink

1.5 to 2 ounces plain vodka depending on how strong you like it, I'm not here to tell you what to do with your life, ya feel?
1 ounce sweetened condensed milk
Ice--yes, this one needs to be served on the rocks!
Optional: a drop or two of vanilla essence; half an ounce of espresso; a stick of cinnamon for serving--or a combination of all three. Go nuts!

1. I like to keep it super simple and just throw everything into a small mason jar, screw on the lid, shake, and enjoy. Dessert is served. The fact that I drank this in the middle of the day today is meaningless.

Posted on July 29, 2015 .

Lekker: Charred Romaine & Shrimp Salad

Ey yo! Welcome back. First things first:


So now that I've properly explained why I've been a bit MIA, I have a recipe for you!

I made this Charred Romaine & Shrimp Salad yesterday for my Sunday evening dinner because up here in New York for the summer, Sunday ALWAYS mean grilling--and lucky for me the person I'm currently tongue kissing is also a BOMB grillmaster, so I'm making good use of his talents.

I guess you could do this all on the stove in a hot cast iron skillet if you don't have a grill, but by all means give it a shot outside if you can. Nothing says summer like throwing EVERYTHING YOU OWN onto the grill, basically.

If you haven't already been charring your Romaine lettuce now's the time to give it a try (I am sorry, I know I sound like a pretentious food snob when I say that but OMFG you must must try it), but what really adds depth to this summery salad is cutting that richness with a few leaves of the fresh raw stuff to give it some crunch.

Feel free to omit the tomatoes if you want; I just think it's sacrilege to not include them in a summer salad for all their juiciness and gorgeous colour when they're in season. Oh, and the extra brilliant part of this salad is that you don't even need up whip up a separate dressing: the olive oil and lemon juice takes care of that in beautiful simplicity. 

Here we go punks!

P.S. That drink's one of my clean summer faves: muddled fresh mint leaves and peeled cucumber chunks topped with ice, vodka, and Poland Spring lemon-lime seltzer. Refreshing, low-cal, and the perfectly clean accompaniment for a rich salad!

P.S. That drink's one of my clean summer faves: muddled fresh mint leaves and peeled cucumber chunks topped with ice, vodka, and Poland Spring lemon-lime seltzer. Refreshing, low-cal, and the perfectly clean accompaniment for a rich salad!

serves 2

3 whole small-to-medium sized Romaine hearts
24 small-to-medium sized cleaned raw shrimp, tails left on, threaded onto wooden skewers (I was able to find these at my supermarket already assembled for only $2 a skewer)
2 ears of corn, shucked and wiped of silk
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 large tomato, diced (optional, I GUESS)
6 slices bacon, more if you are a needlessly indulgent sod
2 fresh lemons
Olive oil for brushing
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Lightly oil the ears of corn and season with salt and pepper. Toss those two on the grill over the area of highest/most direct heat to get a good char on them. Now's the time to add your bacon strips directly onto the grill as well, to cook to your desired level of crispiness.

2. While that shit gets going gently brush your shrimp with olive oil on each side so they don't stick to the grill, and then squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over them and season with S & P. Grill for about 2 minutes a side or until light pink and cooked throughout.

3. While your shrimp are grilling, slice 2 of the 3 Romaine hearts in half lengthwise straight down the middle, making sure to keep the end bulb intact. Trim off any browned edges and gently dust off any visible dirt or grit. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and season with S & P. These we'll grill. If the tiny inner leaves are having trouble staying put use a toothpick to stab it all together, because when all else fails be violent in the kitchen. Wash and chop about 6 leaves of the third head--this will be your raw component.

4. Once your shrimp are removed from the grill, crank it up to high heat and add the Romaine lettuce heads cut side down. Grill over high heat for about 2-3 minutes or until you've got a nice char and the leaves have slightly wilted. Remove from heat.

4. Roughly chop the charred Romaine and toss with the raw chopped leaves, avocado, tomatoes, whole shrimp, diced bacon, and roasted corn kernels you've sheared from the cob. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon over the whole thing and call it a day--the olive oil you've used to grill half the ingredients will mingle with the lemon juice to create a simple dressing that lets the other seasonal ingredients shine. Buon appetito!

Follow us on Instagram at @tigrita_thelittletiger for more food pics and general frivolity, and on Twitter at @LekkerLiquor.

Posted on July 28, 2015 and filed under Lekker.

Lagniappe: Seltzer Swingin' Back Around

For the first time in my 24 years, I am finally, suddenly, very bored of water.

Water is great! Growing up I could never understand my friends who hated it and guzzled soda or fruit juice instead. Water. Is. Delicious. But, I'm bored by my plain old personality-free friend.

Fortunately my temporary boredom with the stuff seems to be coinciding with a burgeoning new food trend: the resurgence of seltzer as the go-to beverage of choice for those wanting something a bit more interesting than water but not laden with the sugar and artificial colors of soda.

Yes! Seltzer! That old fashioned thing! In the last few years new varieties have popped onto the market with flavours ranging from classics like lemon lime and orange to fancy schmancy new stuff like pomegranate-whatever, toasted coconut creme and melon-something. SAUCY.

Now let's just be clear here: seltzer water is seltzer water. It's water that has had science-y things done to it that add bubbles. Voila! Flavouring is now often added as well, and it's an inexpensive (cheaper than mineral water and soda) option.

It's not mineral water (which is naturally carbonated water from springs that presumably has minerals but tastes like garbage), or club soda (basically the same as mineral water except the mineral components aren't natural and are instead artificially added), or tonic water (which is a whole different ballgame; usually very sweet and with added quinine; you probably know it as the bangin' companion to gin). It's just seltzer water.

So if you're looking to cut down on your crippling soda addiction--which you should, not only because restaurants and countries around the world are beginning to tax the shit out of it but because it's rubbish and will probably kill you--or you're just bored like me and looking for more interesting ways to stay hydrated this summer without any guilt, give seltzer a shot.

If you're lucky enough to own a SodaStream, then you're set without any of these. It's certainly on my wish list, but until then, here are my suggestions:

  • I'm hooked on the lemon-lime flavour from Poland Springs; it's cheap and comes in cans so the freshness lasts longer. It's *packed* with bubbles, which is my favourite part.
  • Polar offers larger bottles of much more exotic flavours; they're slightly harder to find and I don't like the bigger size because they lose carbonation more quickly, but the flavours are interesting and fun to try.
  • If you prefer less powerful carbonation with just a hint of flavour, try the Nestle Pure Life line for more of a gentle fizz.
  • LaCroix is of course a classic, but the 80's era acid-washed cans look tacky as hell and the flavour is too mild for my tastes.

Are you on the seltzer train too? If so what are some new brands or flavours I should try?

Posted on July 1, 2015 .

Lagniappe: #StopYuLin2015

Have you been wondering about the #StopYuLin2015 hashtag floating around social media at the moment? I was too. I thought YuLin was some asshole person that needed to be stopped.

Turns out that it's actually a Dog Meat Festival happening in a town called YuLin in south-west China. Understandably there’s been a lot of outrage and international pressure in backlash to the facts being (sensationally) reported by CNN, The Guardian, and the BBC, namely:

  • The festival has been running since 1995, though YuLin's local government has distanced itself from the controversial event and claims there's no official festival at all
  • It involves the slaughter and processing of approximately 10,000 dogs, some of which are raised expressly for human consumption and others that are rumored to have been stolen from urban areas either as strays, guard dogs, or even pets.
  • Some of the dogs are in ill health as a result of malnourishment and inhumane housing conditions, but are processed anyway.

People are most pissed off about two pretty obvious things: one, Fluffy’s being served up for lunch, and two, that Fluffy might have been stolen from his loving family. No one’s going to disagree with that second one of course; stealing is bullshit and the theft of an animal considered to be family is even crueler than that of an inanimate object.

But that first point…

That first point…where do we begin? Let's just think about this for a second. Open your mind, and think through this with me logically--then leave your opinions in the comments below.

I have a puppy, Tula, who is my father’s whole world. She is absolutely a family member and I love her to bits and pieces.

Rub a dub dub.

I have no plans to eat dog. I don't personally agree with it, grouping my disagreement under the same "fuzzy" moral umbrella I use to justify usually abstaining from lamb and veal (I don't eat baby anything; not only because it's a baby, which seems cruel to me, but also for the conditions these particular animals are commonly raised in) and foie gras because of the often deplorable way in which it is produced.

What I really don’t understand, though, is the outrageous righteous anger at the concept of eating dog. Think about it for a second: what makes eating dog different from eating cow, chicken, or pork?

“But dogs are like family! Those other animals don’t have personalities like my dog and they’re raised to be eaten anyway!”

I get that dogs are like family—to us, here, in the West and other similar cultures. But in some Asian countries and also commonly in South America, dogs are not viewed as family members but as pests, workers, or as a food source. In fact, dogs have been raised as a food source in China since the Neolithic period, right alongside fowl, chicken, pigs, and cows. An animal that’s family to you is good eating to someone on the other side of the world, and vice versa. Try to consider that.

As to those “other animals” not having as much personality as your dog—can you really say that? How much experience do you REALLY have getting to know the personalities of chickens, pigs, and cows?

I have a bit, and I can tell you that pigs are incredibly smart and opinionated with their own likes and dislikes, and can very easily form bonds with humans. So can chickens, to a lesser degree. Cows even have best friends in their herds and senses of humour, and are capable of making intelligent decisions. These animals aren’t just mindless slabs of living tenderloin waiting to make it onto your grill. So, what’s the real difference here?

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know I do eat meat. I used to be a vegetarian and a pescatarian (fish being my only source of meat) but being passionate about food I sort of swung back around to the omnivore persuasion.

But the key for me is trying to be mindful about what I eat. I know what I’m doing. It’s an educated decision about the type of animal, how it was raised and where and under what conditions. I try not to just thoughtlessly shove any meat I can find into my face.

If you’re going to be outraged about people eating dog, then perhaps you should also give a little bit more thought about the meat you eat. Be outraged about all meat eating, or choose to be understanding of other cultures.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Let me know in the comments. I'm always up for lively, informed, and intelligent debate. If you're just going to be an ignorant asshole, please go away. :)


Posted on June 28, 2015 and filed under Lagniappe.

Lekker: Quinoa Tabbouleh

No, I didn't sneeze. It's food, I promise.

TABBOULEH! Know it? It's a Middle Eastern grain salad that's been around for eons upon ages, and typically it's not one of my favourite foods. Nothing against Middle Eastern food, of course--in fact I love it--but tabbouleh usually has a consistency that is not very pleasing to my tongue. With this recipe so chock full of fresh veggies and salty goodness, though, we've got zero problems.

And yes yes I know. Quinoa (KEEN-wah, if you haven't heard the yuppies talking about it as the next big health craze for the last 5 years) is not the traditional grain to use in tabbouleh. TOO BAD; that's what I had in my fridge and I like it better than bulgur anyway because it's got more protein per serving: 8 grams per cooked cup versus bulgur's 6. This is also an excellent swap if you're gluten-free since quinoa is technically a seed, not a wheat product.

I am *also* aware that traditional tabbouleh does not contain carrots, olives, or feta cheese, but if you're going to say no to those types of things I'm not sure I want to be friends with you anyway.

So, onwards we go to this strangely addictive light vegetarian lunch or dinner option (oooorrrr just add some grilled chicken to blow that whole vegetarian thing out of the water)!

This is the only time grain salads look pretty. Not pictured: olives and feta cheese.

serves two as a full salad for lunch or dinner; add grilled chicken if you want it a bit more filling

1 1/2-2 cups cooked quinoa (I used tri-colour since that's what I had)
2 Persian cucumbers, diced small (Persian cukes are the little wee ones packaged in a tray and covered with plastic wrap; I like them because they're super crunchy with minimal seeds but feel free to use an English hothouse cucumber--the super long ones wrapped in cling wrap--as well. Regular cucumbers don't have the kind of crunch you want here.)
1 large beefsteak tomato or 2-3 smaller Roma tomatoes, diced
2 scallions, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
~1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped (Why are you bothering to measure a salad? Just take a "1/3 cup" to mean "a handful.")
~1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (or however much you want; I never let people tell me how much cheese I should or should not be eating dammit)
8-10 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped (Don't cheap out and use dried herbs! In this salad it's a total loss.)
8-10 leaves fresh Italian flat parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
Juice of 1 small lemon, pulp and seeds strained out
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, scallions, carrots, olives, cheese, mint, and parsley. Then in a separate small bowl whisk up the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper until well combined to become your dressing.

2. Toss the salad with your dressing (add a bit more olive oil if it looks too dry), and leave it to chill out in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

As I said, this dish is actually super addictive. I wasn’t a huge fan of it the first time I ate it, but after it sat in the fridge for an hour I had another serving, and the more I ate it the more I wanted to eat more of it until I was essentially just shoveling it into my piehole, grains and parsley leaves flying everywhere. I are sexy.

Buon appetito!

Posted on June 20, 2015 and filed under Lekker.

Lagniappe: Meow! Squee! AHHH!

These are all just conglomerations of what I'm feeling right now: excited, thrilled, panicky, overwhelmed, pumped, and also a little hungry. (Always.)

HI GUYS! This is the first blog post on my BRAND NEW SITE! WOO! In just a couple of months I will hit the two year mark of having accidentally started this little blog, and I honestly can't believe you people are still voluntarily reading this weirdness.

It all started because of this:


...which actually came after months of me trying to explain other recipes over Instagram. From that one Instagram post we now have this super slick new site with all sorts of snazzy features, a newsletter you can sign up for that'll send you awesome recipes whenever I can remember to send it, and COMING SOON even an e-store that will sell some kickass doodads for your kitchen. The e-store will also play host to my biggest project yet: authoring and publishing a series of unique recipe books. The first one is underway and I am scared completely shitless, but you guys are awesome and make me feel like it might be cool anyway.

My blog posting has been basically nonexistent for the past six months because I've been studying abroad in Rome, Italy, and blogging about that elsewhere but this summer I'm gonna have tons more content coming at you. I've since moved from Rome to New York to study up on the slow food movement and get a primer on traditional Greek cooking from a bunch of actual crazy Greeks. (Surprise--I fit in just fine.)


Some things have changed a lot since the beginning...

• the look and feel of the site
• <--- the logo (designed by my incredibly patient and creative godsister Bo Ashley, whose graphic design and architecture work you can check out here)
• my e-mail address (now
• my career (paralegal → full time college student again)
• my address (I've moved 6 times since we started)


And some things have definitely not!

• I'm still passionate about balanced, delicious food and sharing the good stuff (both recipes & info) with you.
• I still drink. Duh.
• I still try to find creative ways to say the F-word without actually saying it because my Dad doesn't like it and I like him.

But above all else, I'm still thankful for all the support and encouragement I've gotten for this site. My tribe is amazing. It's so much fun to share my foodie adventures with you guys, and I love hearing about yours. Feel free to like and share the Facebook page, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or PIN ME!

Stay tuned for more. In the meantime~be rad and do rad stuff.


Posted on June 15, 2015 .