Dear John….

Creative LoafingCreative LoafingCreative Loafing
Creative LoafingCreative LoafingCreative Loafing

Dear John….

To my dear Creative Loafing.

We’ve had a whirlwind of a romance these past 6 months. You’ve been a wonderful partner but, sadly, I must go. I’ve found someone else. And no, I’m not fucking Matt Damon.

There’s no easy way to break up, except to just tell the truth. He’s older, more mature and…sigh…has a bigger masthead. I’d be lying if I told you that size doesn’t matter, because right now at this stage in my life and career, it does.

I know what you’re going to say. You’re my type, he’s not. You’re the adventurous, authentic, flip-flop wearing, beach wandering, eating the best damn $4 burger type of guy. He’s still cooking outdated “Oriental Flank Steak”, which is a great recipe, but come on, it’s like using the word, “Chinaman.” But…with that masthead, I am choosing overlook his flaws and perhaps teach him to hang loose a bit, Steamy Kitchen style.

No matter what, it doesn’t change how grateful I am that you’ve opened your door to me every single week, listening to me ramble about Japanese French Fries feeding my kids furikake, Opening a coconut following my adventure in cracking open that “hair twat” coconut, Szechuan Peppercorn Grilled Shrimp turning your head when I had my steamy affair with Scott’s BBQ grill, and who could forget the Spam Fried Rice Ode to Spam in the Style of Seuss? We had some good times when I was just a nobody. A broke, struggling blogger with big dreams. You took me in and watched me blossom into super-star.

And now, as painful as goodbyes are, I will never forget you. But it’s time for me to take a big step forward and see if I can hang alongside the big guys. Thank you for your love.

xoxo, Jaden

p.s. I’ll leave you with a sweet ending, a beautiful, tropical Asian dessert to remember me by. One from the archives, but still a favorite.

Dear Blog-Readers

Ok, when I first posted this Dear John letter, I realized that some of you might think that I’m directing the Dear John at you….and NO! HELL NO! My dear readers, I would never abandon you! I’m Dear John-ing the weekly entertainment newspaper called Creative Loafing.

Tapioca Pearls with Sweet Coconut & Cantaloupe

Tapioca Pearls with Sweet Coconut & Cantaloupe

You’ll find tapioca pearls at the Asian market. They are NOT the instant tapioca found at regular grocery stores. They come in several sizes, ranging from 2mm to 1cm in diameter. I’ve used the smallest size in this recipe. Take care not to overcook the tapioca pearls. If you are using small 2mm pearls, 2 minutes is exactly the amount of time you need. If you use larger pearls, cook for a little longer, maybe 15-30 seconds more, taste it and adjust time. Use full fat coconut milk. I rarely use lite because it’s just not worth it, as the taste is quite bland. Save your calories on something else, just not coconut milk! To judge the quality of coconut milk, shake the can. If it sloshes like water, it will be tasteless. If it schlunks like thick yogurt, it’s good. The brands that I consistently reach for is Simply Asia (found at Sweetbay), Chaokoh or Mae Ploy.

Serves 6-8

2/3 cup 2mm tapioca pearls
1 cups whole milk
2 cups coconut milk
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups diced fresh cantaloupe or honeydew

1. Bring water and sugar to boil. Turn heat down to low, add the milk and stir. Once the mixture is almost back to a boil, turn off the heat. Add the coconut milk and stir. Remove from heat and cool in refrigerator.

2. While coconut milk mixture is cooling, soak tapioca pearls in cold water for 20 minutes. The pearls will expand a little and turn bright white. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil – and add the tapioca pearls. Stir constantly for 2 minutes. The pearls will turn translucent. Turn off the heat and drain the pearls in a fine sieve. Immediately use cold running water to rinse the pearls and stop the cooking process. Set the pearls aside until ready to serve.

3. When ready to serve, ladle the coconut milk into each bowl, add a spoonful of tapioca and top with diced fruit. Enjoy!

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Comments 35

  1. Jessica

    *phew* BIG SIGH OF RELIEF. Thanks for the sem-clarification. So who’s the publication with the bigger masthead that you left creative loafing for? (maybe you mentioned it in an earlier post…? I dunno… I come here for the recipes and mind-blowing photos)

  2. veron

    Haha…well can’t wait to hear for the announcement *wink*. I was looking at tapioca the other day and was wondering what to do with them since I liked it backed in the Philippines….you just provided the perfect recipe!

  3. cakewardrobe

    Wow I almost had a heart attack there!!!

    That’s so funny you posted this recipe! I’m such a sucker for colors and bought these small multi colored tapioca pearls at the grocery store and was wondering how I could use them in a simple but delicious manner. SLURRP!

  4. argus

    Congrats on opting for a bigger publication, Mrs Steamy. Way to go!

    Oh, sago pearls with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk laced with essence of pandanus leaves are my all-time favourite Malaysian dessert.
    Just droolin’ thinkin’ of it.

  5. Cynthia

    Ah ha! I know! I Know! I know! who the big, bad new guy is but I am not telling 😀 RM told me last week! (lol) Hearty and mighty CONGRATULATIONS my friend. You deserve it. You work extremely hard! Bravo I say. Just don’t forget us small people as you move on up! 🙂

  6. Kitt

    Breath bated!

    And tummy rumbling. I looooove tapioca in coconut milk. I usually buy a cup of it at the Vietnamese bakery to go with my banh mi. I’ll have to try your recipe.

  7. Lynn

    Breaking up is hard to do. I hope CL takes it well and doesn’t leave a flaming bag of turds on your doorstep. I’m excited to see the next step in your career path.

  8. David Jenkins

    I’ll be sorry to not see your articles any more in CL. 🙁 They were, of course, a favorite of mine. I’ll try to not hold it against you that Mother Trib refuses to hire a theater critic, but continues to hire out other columnists.


  9. chunky

    i was literally gasping for breath while reading…okay, so you are not leaving us…good! now, am okay.

  10. Grifola frondosa

    Wow !
    Congrats on the promotion to the Bigs (as far as local news goes).
    You know what that means?

    SWAG !

    Free stuff and now you’ll more than likely write off your entire shopping list as ummmm, Research and Development.

    Food, cookware, glassware, commercial range, glass front reefers, silverware.
    Man, the list is endless… all in the name of R&D.

    WTG Jaden !

  11. Dave

    Jaden, I’m so disappointed you are leaving Creative Loafing! I really enjoy reading your column every week. You always make me laugh. Actually, I don’t even know how to cook. I just like to read your column. It looks like you are moving to the Tampa Tribune. Sorry, I refuse to buy that conservative right wing paper. I will have to visit your Steamy Kitchen more often. Keep up the good work!

  12. Meilin

    Hi Jaden!

    I tried this tapioca recipe and it was delicious! (I used different fruit just due to what we had on hand.) I’m trying hard not to eat the leftovers all myself. 🙂

    I have a couple questions though. It ended up with a lot higher soup to pearls ratio than I expected though. Mine seems to be mostly soup with a few pearls floating in it. Is that correct? Also, my pearls all stick together even though I rinsed them until cold. Is there a fix for this? Or am I just using inferior pearls?

    Thanks for a yummy recipe!

  13. SteamyKitchen

    Hey Meilin, you should have a ton of pearls – 2/3 cup of dried tapioca is quite a bit. Try stirring the pot as it boils, they really shouldn’t stick.

    Thanks for trying the recipe!

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