Profile

Karen Albright Lin

Karen Albright Lin is a travel writer and amateur food historian, showcased in her under contract literary cookbook: Nature's Wrap: Cooking In Leaves, Recipes from Around the World.
She's an editor, ghostwriter, a produced screenwriter, and award-winning writer of novels, and short stories.

  • Website
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado
  • Favorite foods: passion fruit, asparagus, crab, Chinese empty-heart vegetable, avocados
  • Last bite on earth: passion fruit

The Food Lab's Guide to Slow-Cooked, Sous-Vide-Style Eggs

Great article, especially useful to me since I have a serial killer in the suspense novel I'm working on who kills and leaves various types of food behind as "art." One clue as to where the killer learned to cook comes from just how he cooks a poached egg! Thanks for the detailed education!

Taste Test: The Best Anchovy Fillets

Fun article. I have an anchovy jar in front of me. An entirely different brand - Talatta. It makes me wonder if I've had it in my cabinet so long that the brand no longer exists. I forget it's there, amazing since I love caesar dressing. I am now curious how they would taste in balsamic vinegret or lemon olive oil vinagret. I doubt they would have the emulsifying effect of dijon.

Singapore Stories: Mooncake Madness During the Mid-Autumn Festival

I've eaten a wide variety of mooncakes. My husband is from Taiwan so this treat is at least a once a year pleasure. I'd love to make them sometime. It would be less expensive too. I like them with egg and mung bean paste. Rich...so rich. I can't eat even a small one at one sitting.

Anyone know where to get the flour for Chinese steamed buns?

Thanks! That link took me right to it. I like to make Chinese Bao and Man-to (my husband is from Taiwan so I learned from his family how to make these, ZhongZi and many other delicious traditional foods). I knew they used a special flour and now I know I can get it! Terrific! Grateful.

Asian Street Food and Hawker Fare at 626 Night Market, Los Angeles

Also Taiwanese (and available in China Towns): braised chicken feet, beef tendon, and stinky tofu served with Pao tsi (like kimchi). The tofu is marinated in something akin to sewage and - but it's delicious!

Asian Street Food and Hawker Fare at 626 Night Market, Los Angeles

In China I had scorpions and stir-fried sticks. In Taiwan I had shishka frogs, mung bean milkshakes and pork blood popsickles.

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

It is definitely a matter of taste. I don't even like a simple cream puff, so I suspect I wouldn't like the 50 variations in a cookbook. :) But the Ben and Jerry's ice cream cookbook... oh yes! Their Mango is my favorite! Mine may appeal more to people who like the specific types of cooking cookbooks like slow cooking and roasting cookbooks, visual cookbooks, AND those who like to read literary cookbooks. I can always cross fingers. After all the years of working on it, I have to hope that enough collectors and other buyers share my taste in cookbooks.

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

And as to why they cook in leaves, it is explained in the cookbook proposal which is 62 pages long (that includes the sample chapter). I couldn't put too much in a forum post. :) End up writing quite a bit in this one, though, afterall, thanks to the comments of you guys. Thanks!

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

I personally would be engaged in this type of book because of the stories. If I'm reading the Internet buzz correctly, there's a lot of growing interest in various foods cooked in leaves (because of green or healthy attitudes or simply the interest in the exotic, or all of the above?). Mainstream attention such as Whole Foods and foodie focused audiences as in the most recent Food and Wine. For example:
October 5, 2012 Whole Foods online columnist Molly Siegler wrote: “A Shared Tradition: Cooking in Leaves.” http://greaterdc.wholefoodsmarketcooking.com/blog/print/5734_a_shared_tradition_cooking_in_leaves
January 2013 CBS in Los Angeles online Melinda Lee demonstrated wrapping food in leaves on a video, online http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/audio/854-food-news-with-melinda-lee/leaves-used-for-wrapping-food/
June 2, 2013 New York Times Journal Blog featured a Cooking in Leaves article. http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/cooking-with-leaves/
May 2013 Food and Wine online offered a slide show demonstrating how to make banana leaf wraps. http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/how-to-make-banana-leaf-wraps/1
Cooks.com addressed cooking in Taro leaves: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1926,145165-226206,00.html and mint, curry and basil leaves.
Village Garden Web Forum, stuffed sweet potato leaves at: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/asianveg/msg0717221413726.html
Sites based in other countries also show interest in the subject as demonstrated by the Times of India site: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-17/recipes/39335682_1_leaves-leaf-sticky-rice

Foods wrapped in leaves have also been featured recently on travel sites like tripadvisor.com and popular foodie sites like EatingWell.com, Food52.com, epicurious.com, and saveur.com.

I'm hoping the examples aren't just flukes but evidence of interest. We'll see. If a publisher finds it too esoteric, so be it. I'll try at a later time when things may have changed in the cookbook market. It's hard to predict these things. As to the awards, never heard about them being fixed. That sure would be disappointing.

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

Even ham may not be that great in leaves unless it is only a small proportion of some mixture - since it has such a strong taste and moisture of its own... let alone SPAM! :)

As to the subject: I've been fascinated for years about all the leaves (some more exotic than others like lotus) that people cook in, that they add different flavors, prevent use of parchment and often even plates, that there are numerous stories about them. Only wraps in general have been addressed in books like COOKING UNDER WRAPS, a great book but it spends little time on the leaves. One chapter. There are so many leaves people cook in that we Americans wouldn't even think of like taro, pumkin, avocado etc. Even sea leaves like nori and wild leaves found right in the neighborhood - like dock. I've always wanted to do a comprehensive look at it. I'd say I've learned of somewhere between 25-50 leaves that people cook in around the world. To me it is interesting and fun and no book has addressed it...even though some very specific cookbooks even address things like cream puffs, garlic, corn. Cooking in Leaves doesn't seem so specific in light of other "single subject" books that get the James Beard and the IACP awards.

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

A friend who knows the book suggested: a cultural celebration of the scent-sational leaf
A chef suggested: Nature's Package
My agent is suggesting: It's a Wrap: Cooking With Leaves Around the World
What do you think?

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

Thank you. Yes, writing in any genre can be trying (although I find the easiest long work is screenwriting). And money? For that I edit and ghostwrite. My agent is thinking of this as a coffee table book, I believe, has considered it in the category of the recent award-winning Burma book. I'm a reader, so I love cookbooks that include lots of narrative. Love hearing your thoughts on this. Makes me wonder who my reader would likely be.

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

Thanks for the input. It is only one page on my writer's site. I will create a stand-alone site if the cookbook sells. Littauer, this was valuable feedback. Much appreciated. I've always thought of it as much a book to read as to cook from like the award-winning Southeast Asian Flavors by Robert Danhi, but my agent is imagining the folktales may be less prominant. Guess it will depend, in large part, on what the publishers think is most marketable and then I'll determine the angle for the website/blog along with the editor. Thanks!

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

I didn't plan to self promote with the question. It would be a pretty bad time to self promote if that was my intention since the agent told me it probably wouldn't be out for a couple of years if an editor picks it up. I truly am seeking a subtitle. Forgive if that came off as anything else - and the link isn't to a page to sell it, only to explain further what it is about. I have no product to sell, nor need an agent. I am, in fact, happy to put myself out as a resource if anybody would like info on the subject. I'm happy to share what I've learned while researching it since 1992. I'd also be happy to hear about anyone's experience with the subject. I'm always hungry to learn more.

Inventor of Fish Sticks Died

At 96, I hope he wasn't still downing them. Ha!

Pork Blood Popsicles?

Yes, Lorenzo in Taiwan...but I first had it in CA. The worst, which I was unwilling to eat (same as my Taiwanese hubby) - the black version of stinky tofu in China. Just don't trust black items there after I found out their thousand year eggs (which I LOVE) were made with lead there. Nope. No thanks. Visiting San Francisco and San Jose now and have had some of my favorit foods. Will post photos and descriptions later. Mostly Taiwanese specialties like tendon and tripe.

Time for a Drink: The Last Word

Does anybody know of something I could substitute for Green Chartreuse that isn't aged in oak barrels? I get anaphylaxis over amber colored liquor (anything cured in barrel I think).

Seriously Asian: Perilla Leaves

Anybody know if Shiso will grow in Mile High Colorado? I need perilla leaves in test cooking for my cookbook, COOKING IN LEAVES. Agent D. Ritchken, is awaiting my proposal and ordering leaves from CA took a while last time.

Seeking cookbook subtitle suggestions

My agent would like a subtitle for my cookbook, Cooking in Leaves. Any bright ideas? It has about 25 different leaves enveloping traditional food (grilled, steamed, baked etc), leaf fact sidebars, and folktales that go along with the food/leaves. Thanks for any brainy ideas! http://www.karenalbrightlin.com/cookingleaves.html

What do you think makes for a great restaurant?

What I love in a restaurant:

**Ethnic restaurants as authentic as street food.
**Hole-in-the-walls with dependable food and owners that get to know you.
**If casual seafood: paper towels on the tables and wood floors with shell discards.
**Free samples of wine.
**Clean and elegant bathrooms.
**Exotic, unctuous offerings like innards (a wimpy companion will have to stomach it).
**Small portion offerings with reasonable prices so I can try several things.
**Food I've never had--unless it's dog, rat, cat, or human.
**Tacky indulgence: all-you-can-eat steamed crab (straight up, no butter).
**If it's casual, electrical outlets with internet enabled outside of peak hours.
**Abundant lemon wedges for my FRESH BREWED tea.
**Would love--but never get--passion fruit.
**Both olive oil and butter on the table for bread.
**Every kind of sweetener on the table from raw sugar and stevia to saccharine and Splenda, something for all tastes.

How about you? What do you love?

Inventor of Fish Sticks Died

Bob Kinney, the inventor of fish sticks, passed away at the age of 96. Interesting, given my guest blog the other day. http://culinary-colorado.com/2013/05/15/guest-post-learning-to-love-exotic-foods/
It was about how this Midwest girl (me) adjusted her taste in fish from fishsticks to whole fish after marrying her Taiwanese husband.

Bob Kinney also held the record for the most fish sticks stuffed into his mouth (62)?