Washington native Marie Spiker is an assistant professor of epidemiology, registered dietitian and enthusiastic kayaker. We asked her about her various passions.
“I was born and raised in Kitsap County. I came to the UW through the Washington Scholars Program, which gave me full tuition and fees. That grant really kept me in the state, kept me at the UW.
“I was a dual-degree student in public health and anthropology. One of my favorite courses was Anthropology of Food, taught by a graduate student. It really appealed to me and having a grad student teacher opened my eyes to this career pathway. I started thinking about graduate school.
“A Bonderman Travel Fellowship allowed me to spend a year between finishing at the UW and starting at John’s Hopkins exploring food and farming. Some organizations connected me with small-scale and family run farms where I had hands-on farming experiences. Most of my travels were in South America and south Asia. Learning about different ways of living, farming and eating gave me great perspective going into graduate studies.
“I’m mixed-race Asian American; my mom is from Malaysia and my dad comes from a family of Midwest farmers who came to the west coast to work in plywood mills.
“I recommend having an active relationship with your fridge. I uses strategies to honor the food and reduce waste. Things like cilantro, parsley and green onions I treat like flowers and store in a jar of water. The things I need to use soon, I try to make as visible as possible. Zucchini is where I see it every time I open the door.
“One of my favorite things to cook and eat is a clear broth soup. … The love of soup I get from my mom, especially soups with bitter herbs, certain greens, hearty vegetables and bone broth—my favorite is to use pork ribs.”
By Marie Spiker
You may find winter melon in your local Asian grocery store—either sold as an impressively large whole gourd or sliced into large wedges wrapped in plastic. In soup, winter melon is refreshing and light, a good complement to a clear broth. This soup is often served as one course of a larger meal, but I often cook it as a stand-alone dish that I serve with rice, garnished with cilantro or scallions, and a dipping sauce for the pork of soy-sauce and jalapeños.
My version of this soup represents an amalgam of dozens of other recipes, phone calls to family and my own preferences. It is versatile, and so many ingredients can be dropped or substituted. If you were to omit the shiitake mushrooms, ginger, carrot, corn and goji berries, this soup would still be flavorful and complete. Other ingredients like frozen bones you’ve been saving for stock, dried red dates or fresh oyster mushrooms all work well here. I like cooking a pork bone broth, but you can substitute chicken. Here the focus is winter melon, but I have also substituted opo squash or wild watercress as the star vegetable. I have heard of people substituting winter melon with chayote, zucchini, bottle gourd, old cucumber (yellow gourd) or even watermelon rind—your mileage may vary! Explore something new, make good use of what you have on hand and experiment with different ingredients that are available to you as the seasons change!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
For the soup
For the sauce (to dip the pork)