Welcome to our virtual kitchen!


I would like to introduce myself. I am the smallest Giant Panda currently living in the District of Columbia and my name is Ai-Mei. Once I arrived at Allen and Merry’s I realized that in addition to walks to Smithsonian’s National Zoo where I visit many of my friends, they also enjoy food. A lot. Recently, I learned that for a very long time, they wrote recipe columns and eventually put a food blog on the web. But then I realized that my family has not been updating this blog very frequently (OK, not at all over the last couple of years). So, by popular acclaim, I am going to take over; after all, we know that girls rule! I will be posting new recipes that are of course vegetarian (well the ones that I eat) and sharing travels to the restaurants I find interesting. Stay tuned – it should be a fun time and a lot of great food! And yes, I had to leave the original intro below so other people’s feelings would not be hurt. You know how it can be with takeovers…


Here is some background info from those people who used to keep the blog:


Following our move from western NC to Washington, DC in 2010 we have found many wonderful restaurants and markets to visit. We enjoy cooking and for a number of years, we have shared our recipes in columns for two local newspapers. Throughout this period, we found that we really enjoyed writing up recipes and hearing comments from the people who try them, so we decided to use a more interactive medium to encourage this exchange with a wider audience; thus the appearance of this blog.


It seems appropriate to provide some indication of our food preferences to any of you who are unfamiliar with our recipes. We generally eat a healthful diet, but we are by no means food fanatics. Whole grains, leafy greens, and all types of veggies appear regularly on our table, but we also make room for bacon and other foods that aren’t quite as high on the health scale.


Few, if any, of our recipes include raw onions (that includes green onions, too), only because we don’t care for the taste. If you enjoy raw onions, please adjust the recipes accordingly. We’ve also noticed over the years that we seem to put red pepper flakes in a lot of things. More recently, we’ve also started using Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce which we enjoy in a number of dishes.  Cheese also makes frequent appearances on our table.


Our recipes, like those used by many people, come from a variety of sources. For any recipes that remain virtually unchanged, the source will be acknowledged in the discussion area of the site. Many recipes have been altered substantially to accommodate personal tastes. In some instances, we may have enjoyed the original recipe, but there were changes we thought would improve flavor, or texture. Frequently, our recipes are created as we look at ingredients on hand, and decide to experiment. Any worthy experiment is written up, and will eventually appear here.


The starting point for this blog includes a list of recipes from one or the other of two cooking columns printed over a span of several years. The weekly columns in The Moultrie News (Charleston, SC) ran from 1997-2000, and semi-monthly columns in The Tryon Daily Bulletin (western North Carolina) cover 2006-2009. Occasionally, we will add new recipes along with discussions of food, cooking techniques and tips, and general comments on favorite topics such as farmer’s markets and what we find in season. Enjoy and if you have suggestions or comments, drop an e-mail to merry@comeintomykitchen.net.


We look forward to seeing you on our site,

Ai-Mei (and her humans)