Sunday, January 31, 2010

My attempt at Chinese steamed turnip cakes

I'm on a "copycat recipe" kick lately and my latest quest was steamed turnip cakes like you might see at Chinese dim sum. I found a recipe on a food blog and decided to give it a try.

Using Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, mushrooms, green onions and rice flour, I made a batter like mix that was steamed for about an hour.

When it was done it looked something like this:

Then you slice a few squares, fry it up and enjoy with oyster sauce. I undercooked it a little, but for a first attempt, it wasn't bad. Not amazing, but not bad. I think I need to put out an ad on Craigslist for someone's Chinese grandmother to teach me to cook :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dear neighbors: The walls are really thin....

We had some new neighbors move in recently and let's just say that the walls are pretty thin. I had somewhat gotten used to the annoying subwoofer and picture hanging at midnight, but I was awakened this morning to screaming, yelling and crying. After ensuring that there wasn't a domestic violence issue (it appeared to be a phone call), we couldn't help but be riveted by what we heard next:

You *bleeped* it all up. It's on MY insurance! You've ruined everything! How could you do this? Well, it was YOUR choice. You chose to do it. Your dad chose to do it. Not everyone chooses it. That's how life works.... How long are they taking your license away? Was anyone hurt? I can't believe you drove drunk. You've ruined everything.

Then today there was lots of screaming and swearing with statements like "it's my body and you can't tell me what to do with it" and "You're not even listening you bleep" Then the final shot "just go out with your friends and don't come back!" which was followed by a knock at the door, a slammed door, then silence.

It's like having my own little soap opera (at least until Monday when we move) :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Scrabble loss in pictures

Sometimes you just can't win. My first tile pull...

My 2nd....

Surely I'll get a consonant soon...

Then again, maybe not.

Sigh. It didn't help that I got the "Q" on the last pull....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wear this, and it will take you 5 min to answer "What time is it?"

I know a few people that would LOVE this "Square Root" watch. That's what happens when you marry into a family of math professors and have a husband who can do math in his head like Rainman. I guess those flash cards as a kid really paid off :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bacon and Cheese crickets anyone?

Walking near Fisherman's Wharf a few weeks back I ducked into a candy shop to look around for a minute. I didn't find anything of interest until I found these flavored crickets and larvettes. At only $2.50 a package, they were a steal, and the flavors were probably not bad. I tried to channel my internal Andrew Zimmerman, but left empty handed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Napa-Sonoma Explorations

We live only about 45 minutes from Napa and Sonoma counties, so we decided to wander around Yountville, Calistoga and Santa Rosa today. We started out by driving through Sonoma where we stopped to browse some art galleries and take "Edith Anne" inspired photos in these giant Adirondak chairs. As we drove from town to town we saw miles of vineyards. I was particularly impressed with the "green" mowing provided by these goats. They keep the grass trimmed, and they make yummy cheese. Perfect. Our next stop was Yountville, which is a teeny town best known for housing Thomas Keller's "French Laundry" restaurant. At $350 a person for dinner (before drinks, tax and tip) it's out of our league, but his MUCH less expensive restaurant Bouchon had space at the bar, so we grabbed a quick bite of pork belly and truffle fries.Bouchon the restaurant was good, but Bouchon the bakery next door was better. Brett loved the giant Peanut Butter Cookies filled with Peanut Butter frosting inside. After lunch we stopped at Rutherford Hill winery for some samples of Port, and our final stop of the day was Russian River Brewing company in Santa Rosa. They have the hugest sampler I've ever seen. Brett was in beer heaven with 14 different options to try. Definitely the way to start 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's not a food blog - but I have been cooking a lot....

I love to cook, and if I had to pick a favorite style, it would probably be Asian. I've taken Thai and Indian cooking classes, and once you find a good Asian grocer, the recipes aren't that hard.

Yesterday I created my own "Vietnamese Pho" recipe, by taking adding fresh lime leaves, Thai basil and fish sauce (Nam Pla) to the broth. I threw in some bok choi, noodles, chicken slices and mushrooms, and the result was a satisfying Thai chicken noodle soup. It might not be authentic, but it was very fresh tasting.

Then I decided to up the ante. Brett loves getting miso black cod when we go out for dinner, but at $18 a pop, it's not the cheapest. I did some searching online and found a recipe so we could make it at home. For about $25 in ingredients, we were able to make 4 servings of a restaurant quality meal. Gratifying (and easy). Yum.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A tasty way to get your veggies

One of our favorite ways to eat zucchini is to saute it in a little bit of olive oil with some mushrooms, a bunch of fresh basil and some salt and pepper. If you're looking for a light, tasty way to eat your veggies, we highly recommend this one.

Friday, January 8, 2010

An unfortunate name for a Thai dish served in the US

Brett and I ordered Thai for dinner tonight and the following was written on the label:

Luckily what was inside was Crab Fried Rice :-)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What part of "compact" didn't you understand?

Somebody is a little out of touch with reality, unless they've changed the definition of compact cars to include Lincoln Navigators. I'm quite pleased with my parking job on the Civic though. :-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Playing with your food is not only ok, but encouraged.

I've always been a nerd. In fact, I enjoyed chemistry in school when I wasn't terrified of blowing myself up with Bunsen Burner - so it shouldn't be a surprise that after eating at Minibar when we lived in DC, I became a fan of Molecular Gastronomy. It's a fun way to experiment with food, but I've never tried it at home. When Brett showed me an ad for this "Molecular Gastronomy Kit" in the MIT Technology Review last night, I was smitten.

The kit looks rather clinical, but I still can't resist the ability to make red fruit caviar for my friends at a party. It's silly I know, but there's something enjoyable about juicing a fruit, and then placing the juice droplet by droplet into a mineral solution that gives the droplets a thin shell like little balls of caviar. Then when you eat them, the little balls snap apart so you enjoy a rush of fresh flavors in a unique way. Yes, it's a lot of work just to drink juice - but I think it's fun. If this experiment goes well, I might just have to buy a foamer. Cheddar cheese foam anyone?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Edamame art

I was browsing around a shop in Pacific Heights the other day and came across this cool looking pear. At $60+ it was too steep for my budget but it was very cool looking. Upon closer inspection I noticed that it's a foam pear covered in what appears to be painted beans.

I thought about making one myself but I'm not sure if I have the patience to paint all those beans and then glue them onto foam. It's a fun look though.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The only time you'll hear me say "Mmmmm. Beeeer"

I've never been a big fan of beer. I do however love bread and years ago made a tasty beer bread from a box mix I bought at a home party. I recently saw a beer bread mix at Trader Joe's and made a mental note to try it out someday. That someday was New Year's Eve, and there was no pre-made mix involved.

With just some flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and a bottle of beer, I had the dough in the oven in 5 minutes and a loaf to eat just 55 minutes later. If you've never had beer bread, it's tangy, dense and super moist - and it can be quite addictive. So addictive in fact that I've made 2 more loaves in the past 3 days (at Brett's request).

Each loaf has had a unique taste, depending on the beer used. The first was made with Brooklyn Schnieder Hopfenweisse, and the bread came out strongly flavored and hoppy. We ate that one too fast for pictures.

The second was a blueberry bread made with blueberry ale, a bit of honey and some fresh blueberries. Slightly sweeter, this one was great in the toaster oven with a bit of butter.

The latest used a Newcastle Brown Ale, and it was our favorite. The bread is a bit sweet, not too strong, with a good consistency. With a little honey butter on top, it's a cheap, fast treat to make. Who needs an $8 beer bread mix when you have a basic recipe like this? Mmmmm. Beeeeeeer.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Too freaky to leave behind

We sold my dad's house (assuming it closes later this month as planned), so in December I went home for a few days to help my brother finish packing up. I came upon this "lovely" Easter decoration. On the one hand, it's a creative use of yellow plastic bags.

On the other hand, it's just freaky and I'm glad its eyes are closed. I don't know if I could have it in the house if it was staring at me :-) The scariest part was that I was in San Francisco recently and saw plastic bag roosters for sale in a shop window. Perhaps what's old is new again for this lovely ducky. I could do without the blue eyeshadow though.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Back to the blog

Ok. I'm finally ready to break my blog hiatus. I'll go easy for the first post of the new year by sharing a few pics our our happy dog Holly, who couldn't wait to go for a run and a swim in our back yard today.

I love the look of anticipation on her face while she's waiting for us to throw the ball.

Then of course there's the blur of the shake after a successful ball retrieval, followed by the (unpictured) roll in the mud.

And finally, there's one happy content dog.

Happy New Year everyone!