Quick & Easy Cooking with Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Last Friday I attended a food event at Traveler’s Bookcase, a precious, whimsical bookstore full of globes and literature about every place you could imagine. Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, author of Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking, talked about her cooking and travel experiences.

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee writes about food, travel, arts and culture. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Cecelia was raised in Los Angeles and graduated from UC San Diego. After college, she lived in Mexico where she learned about the regional cooking. She even wrote the Frommer’s Guide to South Korea, during which she visited every single place she wrote about during her seven month adventure. After hearing about her traveling experiences and opportunities, I’m convinced she has one of the coolest jobs ever.

Besides exploring the world, Cecilia also develops simple, easy to follow recipes. During this event, she featured her latest book – Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking. Oftentimes I find recipes that claim to be simple and easy only to discover that they involve 15 ingredients and time I just don’t have. Thankfully, Cecelia’s book doesn’t deceive, the recipes are actually very quick and easy. She even timed herself when cooking the food – if it took her over 30 minutes, then she revised the recipe to fit the time limit.

I walked away from the event with some interesting food facts:

1. To determine the heat level of a chile, simply cut the top portion off, swipe your finger along the inside and touch it to your tongue. The heat level of that quick taste will tell you the heat of the overall chile.

2. Korean and Mexican food are similar in that both are regional and seasonal. The ingredients are based on the spices, vegetables and other ingredients available to the region. Also, both have bold flavors. The main difference is that Korean cooking does not involve baking and the food, because it is eaten with chopsticks, must be bite sized.

3. Casita Mexicana, is indeed the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. Everyone at the event seemed to agree!

After the event, I drank wine and ate several light and subtly sweet Mexican wedding cookies… and to add to the food bliss, the store owners served up a dish from Cecelia’s book – vegetable quesadillas with a cilantro sour cream sauce. The food and good conversations were a wonderful way to end the evening.

I can’t wait to attend more events at Traveler’s Bookcase!

Traveler’s Bookcase | 8375 West Third Street | Los Angeles

Facebook: Travelers-Bookcase

Twitter: @travelersbooks

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