the little reminders

I’m coming off the heels of a delicious week-long break. Our school kindly gave us nine days of freedom between rotations to relax and recharge. For me, that meant a trip home to Miami to celebrate the birthdays of my incredible grandmothers, followed by a couple of days enjoying my dad’s company in Chicago. Although the Miami sun was reluctant to peek from the clouds, I still managed to tan away a bit of my pasty complexion. More importantly, I got to spend a ton of quality time with my entire family and indulge in way too much good food.

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Last Sunday, we celebrated my Grandma Rita’s 80th birthday at an extravagant brunch buffet. I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory as I pranced about the stations of food, doling crab legs and fancy cheeses onto my plate, and ogling over every dainty petit four that graced the dessert room (yes, room!). Let’s just say this was a special occasion for a very special lady, and I was lucky to partake in such an indulgent event! One of the highlights of the buffet for me was something that was tucked away in a little bowl behind the more showstopping rows of sushi. It was a cold soba noodle salad, full of soft chunks of tofu, studded with dried cranberries, and tossed in a light vinegary dressing. I was won over by the interplay of sweet and tangy, and loved how light and fresh the flavors were. I snapped a photo and made a mental note to recreate this as soon as I came back to Chicago.

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Serendipitously, my dad and I dined at a great Korean restaurant last night where the portion sizes were gargantuan. Among the many containers of leftovers I got to take back to my apartment was a brimming quart of cold spicy soba noodles. Although delicious in their own right, I couldn’t help but see the makings of my longed-for brunch buffet soba salad in them. So today, I did some doctoring of a different kind, and gave these soba noodles new life with the addition of thinly sliced cabbage and cucumbers, delicate carrot ribbons, tofu, cranberries, cashews, and a generous dousing of rice vinegar.┬áInfused with the memories of my grandma’s special celebration and my dad’s visit to Chicago, these noodles will be my little reminder of the wonderful vacation had with my family as I take on my next rotation.

Soba Noodle Salad

2 cups soba noodles, cooked and chilled

1/2 head Napa cabbage, sliced in thin ribbons

1 English cucumber, sliced in thin quarters

1 large carrots, cut into long ribbons (use a vegetable peeler)

2/3 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce*

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add more vinegar/sugar/hot sauce to your liking. Enjoy!

*Note: There was a bit of spicy sauce already on the noodles I used from the restaurant, so you may want to add more or less hot sauce depending on your taste!

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