Obon Interview with Buddhist Priest Elaine Donlin

When I was growing up, I looked forward to a festival at my Japanese school and local Japanese American Buddhist Church, called Obon. Very simply put, Obon is like the Japanese version of Dia de los Muertos. It’s a time when we celebrate and honor the spirit of our ancestors through dance.

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Star Spangled Berry Labneh Dessert for 4th of July

Last year, when my husband Bryan and I visited Israel for the first time, I was naturally very excited about the food. I had heard about how amazing the hummus is there (it is), but what I was really blown away by was the labneh- a tangy Middle Eastern strained yogurt that’s both impossibly smooth and luxuriously creamy. It’s like a way better version of cream cheese! While it’s usually served as a savory side dish, I thought it would make an excellent base for a light summer dessert.

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Travel Guide to Montgomery, Alabama

While a trip to Montgomery may not be high on your list of places to visit (it wasn't on mine), I found it incredibly healing to visit in our current political climate. It's the heart of where so many of the divisions in our country started, and visiting is an empowering way in which we can begin to take ownership and responsibility for our shared history. 

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Squeezing Light Out of Dark in Montgomery, Alabama

How do we get to the core of racism and begin to heal? I think it's through confronting and acknowledging our history. Bryan and I recently visited Montgomery, Alabama- the heart of where so many divisions in our country started. I found it surprisingly healing to visit in our current political climate, and I came back a different person. I know Montgomery is not high on most people's travel lists, but I really encourage everyone to visit.

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Manzanar Pilgrimage 2018

Manzanar was one of many prison camps that the American government sent Japanese-Americans to during World War II, in the name of national security. I recently visited the site- here are photos and reflections of hope from the 49th annual pilgrimage.

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Tahini Butter Mochi

Butter mochi, a staple at Japanese-Hawaiian potlucks, is said to be a combination of Japanese mochi and Filipino bibingka, a sweet coconut rice flour cake. This butter mochi has another layer of complexity- the addition of tahini, one of my favorite Middle-Eastern ingredients.

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Japanese-Style Baked Cotton Cheesecake for Shavuot

Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) is coming up, during which dairy is a symbolic ingredient. Japanese-style cheesecake, also known as baked cheesecake or cotton (for it's light and airy consistency) cheesecake can be incredibly labor-intensive and time-consuming to make. This recipe yields similar results, minus the many hours of prep!

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Potluck Cabbage Salad

Looking back on my childhood in Southern California, it seems like my family went to potlucks almost every weekend with our Japanese-American family and friends from Hawaii. As much as I loved seeing my aunties and uncles (some biological, most not), the little foodie in me loved the food most. And there was always ramen cabbage salad.

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My Adult Bat Mitzvah

On Saturday, March 10th, 2018, in front of my family and community, I became a bat mitzvah at 33. The service was held in the main sanctuary of oursynagogue, and I stood in the exact spot where my husband and I were married a year and a half before. The rabbi who married us and led me through my Jewish conversion sat in the front row, as I delivered my D’var Torah (word of Torah or sermon). Besides our wedding day, never have I felt so enveloped in love by my entire community.

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Low Waste Home Guide in Honor of Earth Day and Mottainai もったいない

These days, our lives are filled with so much extra... stuff. You know, the extra stuff filling our social media feeds and inboxes, the extra stuff in our food, the extra stuff taking up time in the day, stuff that eventually becomes waste. Reducing our household waste, especially plastic waste is something we've been passionate about for a while now. I thought I'd share the best tips I've discovered to save you some time, the one non-renewable resource!

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