Monday, December 12, 2011

Hello Again, Blog World.

Yes, it's been almost a year since I've last posted here. I've been distracted for many reasons, and time seems to be moving by at warp speed. I have a lot of catching up to do, don't I? 

To start, I just have have to share this video article from BBC about children's lunches in Japan. It's been over a year since my first eye-opening visit to Tokyo. While many authentic Japanese foods are imported directly from Japan by a local Japanese megamart here in Seattle of which I have access, I miss the experience of seeing the food displayed in its native country. Streets lined with plastic food replicas in glass cases that proudly announce the restaurant and what it serves behind them. Simple convenience stores filled with yummy sandwiches and perfect cream puffs. Department store basements that are filled with little food kiosks that sell the freshest sushi, Japanese and French pastries (crepes are all the rage), and ramen.  

I digress. This video isn't so much about the food in Japan, as it is about the time, patience, creativity, and intricacies (and unspoken competition) that mothers in Japan take to make their kid's lunches. No bags of chips and bologna sandwiches here. We're talking about Sony Playstation controllers made of just rice and nori (seaweed). And Michael Jackson's face carefully etched onto rice with nori. It's nothing short of amazing, detailed work.  

Here's the video:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"The taste of dutch chocolate and fine red wine." It is what it says it is.

I have mixed feelings about this. What do you think? Pairing chocolate and wine has gained popularity as of late, but actually combining the two into one bottle is unusual...isn't it?

We saw this at Cost Plus World Market for under $10 a bottle, so we decided to try it.

I'm not a huge red wine fan to start, so I was hesitant to try this at first. But try it I did! And really, it just tastes like boozy chocolate milk. Red wine connoisseurs, take note: this tastes nothing like any kind of red wine I've ever sipped. This is indeed surprisingly chocolatey, and surprisingly boozy, with 14% alcohol by volume. It's reminiscent of malt beverages where the type of alcohol used is indistinguishable.

Overall, it's a fun dessert drink that's worth a try. It would make a great hostess gift, and would be a great conversation piece, too. If you try it, let me know what you think!     

Monday, December 13, 2010

Where Did Summer Go?

Time has escaped me, and all of the sudden it's the middle of winter. I think we even skipped fall. What happened? Where did grilling season go?

Or did we even have a grilling season this year?

Those who live in Seattle know that warm, sunny days are few and sometimes far between. This year, they were definitely far between. But we did take advantage of those rare, gorgeous Seattle days.

On this cloudy, rainy day, let's reminisce about one of those aforementioned days of sunshine. On a beautiful August evening, we fired up the grill and threw this meal together:

That's lemongrass-marinated grilled chicken thigh, simple garlic-grilled zucchini from the garden, and a savory coconut rice alongside.

Oh, and a mojito (with mint from the garden, of course!) for summer-sipping pleasure.

Now that summer days are long gone, and Thanksgiving whizzed past (future post about that feast!),  it's time to look forward to holiday baking, warm kitchens, and stuffed bellies.

Until next time, summer. May the rains of the current season nurture the sleeping foliage and landscapes that we enjoy so much during your warm days.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sundae of All Sundaes

The BF and I took a walk around the 'hood one weekend, and stopped at Old School Frozen Custard on Capitol Hill. They have the creamiest, smoothest ice cream (I mean custard!) I've ever experienced. It's different from other premium ice creams. It's dense, but also soft, velvety, oh-so-smooth.

They always have the two basic flavors: vanilla and chocolate. They have a third flavor that changes daily. It may not sound like a lot of choices, but it's enough. Various candies and cookies can be purchased as a topping or for "mix-ins" if the plain vanilla and chocolate doesn't do it for you.

They also have several sundae and shake concoctions. This is where it's really at! The BF and I shared the Muddy Buddy sundae, which had two scoops of vanilla frozen custard, hot fudge, and a warm fudgy brownie shmeared with peanut butter. And whipped cream. It's over the top.


Why have I not thought of this before? Peanut butter in an ice cream sundae is delicious! And obviously, the brownie. But it was the peanut butter that was key for me. I mean, I've had peanut butter ice cream before, which can be good, but what really did it was having a huge SLATHER of peanut butter cradling the frozen custard.

So I set out to make it at home. And I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.

I made the fudgy brownies, studded with dark chocolate chips. Once cool enough to handle, I shmeared a good load of peanut butter onto it. I opted to leave the whipped cream off (this time) and added some chopped roasted peanuts instead.

I used store-bought hot fudge which worked just fine for the moment. I'll try making my own next time.

For the days when I can't make it out to Old School Frozen Custard, this homemade version will suffice. But then I'll have to go out to walk off all those calories.


Maybe I'll take a walk to Old School Frozen Custard.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Baker's Edge Brownie Pan

I've been thinking about getting one of these pans for a while. I resisted, thinking I don't NEED another baking accessory. I have plenty of adequate pans to bake brownies in. But I'm one of those people who absolutely love the crusty, chewy brownie corners fresh from the oven.

So when I saw that this pan was available on Think Geek for Geek Points (and I had enough points saved up!) I had to get it.

I waited patiently for its arrival. I occupied my time thinking about what goodies (besides brownies) to bake in this pan.

And then the pan arrived! The pan is much sturdier than I expected, and came with a small spatula.

Here's my first brownie attempt:

I actually overbaked them a bit. The directions that came with the pan say that baking time doesn't need to be adjusted for this pan. But doesn't that depend on the recipe yield? Not all brownie recipes yield the same amount of brownie.

But I wasn't disappointed. The brownies came out delicious. And every brownie had a chewy, crusty edge on it.


Brownie-making tip: Add a packet of instant Starbucks Via to the brownie batter. Coffee always enhances the flavor of chocolate, and the Via packets make it super easy to do just that.

Now what to make in the edge pan next...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

White Nectarine Deliciousness

Yet another taste of summer.

White nectarines have a milder and sweeter flavor than yellow nectarines; and I love sugary, juicy, really ripe fruit. These white nectarines taste like peachy honey.

Look for them at the local market mid-July through August. They tend to be a bit pricier than their yellow counterparts, but they're totally worth it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guacamole Goodness

When avocados go on sale, I can't resist buying a few. When perfectly ripe, I love their soft, buttery flavor and velvety texture. They're also a superfood, high in various nutrients that are good for the body, and high in monounsaturated fats, which helps to lower bad cholesterol.

Of course, the nutrition changes when the avocados are mashed into guacamole and then eaten with countless fried corn tortilla chips...but that's beside the point.

The point is, avocados are yummy, and my favorite way to gobble it up is in guacamole. I don't follow a recipe for it. It's one of those dips that can be totally adjusted to suit your taste.

For me, the essential ingredients always include a large avocado (obviously), a bit of minced onion, a couple cloves of minced garlic, one or two seeded jalapenos, and lots of lime juice. If I have cilantro on hand, I'll toss in some of that. Some people add diced tomatoes, but I feel like they muck up the pretty green color of the avocados.

Mash all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork, and devour with the aforementioned tortilla chips!

If I'm not making guac, I also love avocados diced up and tossed in salads, or as a garnish on tortilla soup. Or just eaten plain, maybe with a sprinkle of Bacon Salt. Mmmm.

How do you eat your avocados?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thanks for Growing, Mint!

I've been waiting for the mint in the garden to grow for some time now.

Then, one sunny weekend, I noticed this:

Yay! There's plenty to make mojitos (and then some), my favorite summertime beverage for lounging around on the rooftop deck.

On a hot, sunny day, there's nothing like a little lime, sugar and mint all muddled together in a glass full of ice and club soda (granted, hot sunny days are pretty few and far between here in Seattle, but I'll take what we get) .

So refreshing!

Now what do I do with the rest of that mint?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Diaper Cake

Okay, so this isn't really food, but it sort of resembles it. Sort of.

I broke out my crafty-hat a few months ago and made a diaper cake for a friend's baby shower.

I'd never made one before, but I've seen lots of pictures and figured it couldn't be that hard. It wasn't! It was just a little time-consuming, but totally worth it because it was totally fun to make.

And the mommy-to-be loved it! Here's what it looked like finished:

front of "cake"

It was a hawaiian-themed baby shower, so I decorated the "cake" to look tropical. I found silk hibiscus flowers and palm leaf-shaped coasters to decorate. And since I knew in advance that the baby is going to be a boy, I found cute blue polka-dotted ribbon to surround each tier of the "cake."

back of "cake"

Here's how it began: I used all-natural unbleached Seventh Generation size 1 diapers. I rolled each one and secured them with rubberbands. I lost count of how many I used total, but I think it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 120.

numerous, numerous rolled-up diapers

For the core, I found a fun, colorful rainstick that I'm sure will become a useful toy (a distraction, perhaps) for the baby.

first tier of the "cake"

I used cable ties to secure all the diapers together. The use of sticky tape isn't an option for a diaper cake since the goal is for the parents to take this apart and be able to use the diapers (which will be much needed, I'm sure).

I also randomly place Burt's Bees baby products, small toys, bibs and socks throughout the "cake" to add visual interest (and of course for the parents to use for their baby).

all the tiers complete, before ribbon and flower application

The toy rainstick core was crucial in holding all the "cake" tiers together. I managed to travel with this "cake" and get it to its destination intact.

It was so fun to make and show off, and the expression of delight on the mother-to-be's face when she saw it made the work all the more rewarding for me.

I hope to get the chance to make more diaper "cakes" in the near future! Hear that, friends? Breed on!

P.S. Congrats to the new mother, who, by the way, delivered a healthy baby boy on August 5, 2010. Welcome to the world, baby Jackson!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Great Grill Marinade

I was on a quest for a good poultry marinade. Something with bold flavor that would stand up to the grill.

And I found it! This is Emeril's Essence. You can buy the stuff premade in the spice section of the grocery store, but it's just as easy to make at home. The ingredients consist of spices and dried herbs that I typically keep stocked in my spice drawer anyway.

before the shake

You can find the recipe here.

For the marinade, I use some of this mixture combined with equal parts fresh lemon juice and olive oil, and some chopped fresh rosemary. This is the perfect marinade for boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts.

after the shake

After a couple hours in the marinade, the chicken's ready to toss onto the grill. It's perfect served with a side salad of greens or pasta, or couscous. Or grilled potatoes. Maybe a rice pilaf. Grilled veggie skewers...oh, the possibilities!