musings

dating advice from beauty & the beast

Last night I pretended to be in college again by hanging out until 12:30am (so late for me now!) and watching a Disney movie, specifically Beauty and the Beast.

I haven’t seen this movie since I was a young child but always loved it because it has 1. books and 2. french people. Also, who can dislike this movie? The ugly guy gets to be pretty and the poor girl gets rich! Anyway, there is another component to this movie that makes it absolutely awesome: it can be used as a guide to the do’s and dont’s of dating. And of course, as a singleton I’m obviously obsessed with this topic.

Without anymore hullabaloo, let’s begin with the “Don’t”s:

Don’t

1. Don’t bribe the manager of a mental hospital to institutionalize  your intended’s father until she marries you.

2. Don’t throw your intended into the family dungeons when she comes over to visit.

3. As a matter of fact, don’t throw your intended’s father into said dungeons either, at any point in time.

4. Don’t forget your table manners.

5. Don’t lose your temper. But if you do, and she runs into a dangerous situation because she was running away from you, save her. Now she’s indebted to you forever.

Do:

1. Do gift your intended with chocolates, flowers, and make promises you can’t keep (quote from Cogsworth)

2. Do give entire libraries and their contents to your intended.

3. Do keep your intended in your home against her will until Stockholm’s Syndrome takes effect.

4. Do lack the basic qualities of a civilized man, i.e. pretend to not know how to read. She can feel smart and you can spend time with her.

5. Do have friends (or lackeys) willing to help you in your quest for romance. They can do the hard work: create lavish dinners, prepare a ballroom, and otherwise generally set the mood.

Now, armed with these Ten Commandments of Dating According to Beauty & the Beast, go forth, conquer, and .. multiply.

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musings

paperless post, cute invitations for parties&events

I’ve been so busy with work and studying for accounting (why did I take this class?) that I’ve had so little time to do anything much. It’s been a bit hard to get my body accustomed to the schedule of the typical working man.

Though I’ve yet to receive my first proper paycheck, I’ve been fantasizing about… well, basically how I was going to spend it. For a long time now I’ve been dreaming of being able to throw various parties: dinner parties, cocktail parties, tea parties– if it involves food, let’s put “party” behind it and invite everyone! (well, perhaps not everyone .)

Not that I’m some kind of self-indulgent Marie Antoinette figure (despite the fact that I really want to throw this kind of party.) Nor do I plan on becoming a No-Marriage-No-Mortgage kind of person either.

All that now laid out in the open like a three-day-old carcass of a long-devoured wildebeest, I came across a wonderfully chic and cute invitations company called Paperless Post. They do both online evites as well as printed invitations (for a fee, of course).

These were so cute that I started planning parties half of which I probably will not even end of organizing. But couldn’t resist. See the gallery below for some drafts of imagined and hoped-for future events!

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food & drink

backyard chickens

I’ve recently acquired an important Life Skill.

I now know how to kill, de-feather, clean and gut a chicken. I’m sure this is a transferable skill which can be used the next time I get lost in the woods without any supplies.

Plucking the feathers..

It’s more weird that you can see its head…

Organic free-range backyard chickens

Hide yo kids, Hide yo wife…

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musings

cross-eyed jumong

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food & drink

bay area (food) trip

So I recently visited the Bay Area to help my youngest sister move into her dorm and to eat food err… meet with friends I haven’t seen in over 1 year! So all my friends, by virtue of  either having studied in the Bay Area for the past four years and thus converted into foody-ism or have been born and raised in the Bay Area and thus automatically born a foody, love LOVE food. So, “meeting up with friends” became the same thing as “trying different foods.” Two birds with one stone? Yup, and a nice bird-soup to go with that afterwards. To share, of course.

Oh, Berkeley. I’ve been reminiscing so much on the good things about Berkeley that I completely forgot about the smell. I know, I seem slightly obsessed with the olfactory (Cf. post on trip to Paris, “Eau de Paris”) but Berkeley has its very own distinctly liberal, humanitarian and 60’s scent. It’s a powerful mix of not yet collected compost, garbage, and recycled items, of the ever-present homeless people, and, as with all cities, stale urine.

It’s not all bad, though, I promise! I love Berkeley and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for my four years of university. Where else could I have encountered such a diverse and eclectic mix of people or have garnered an appreciation for great, fresh food? (Well, I could name a few actually…)

And now for the foodstuffs (which is what everyone cares about, really): 

A close friend insisted that we needed to try these awesome scones before we left to take the Bart to S.F. for lunch. I think I ate at least five times that day, hobbit-style. I forget the name of the place (typical) but these raspberry scones were quite nice despite the fact it made me miss proper English Cream Tea. with clotted cream. and jam. and a plain sultana scone. I found a recipe for making one’s own clotted cream (a.k.a. Devonshire Cream) online and hope to share my success with photos, if not the actual clotted cream, sometime soon.

raspberry scones at a café in alameda

For lunch, we went to Il Cane Rosso (The Red Dog) at the Embarcadero. We got their Warm Egg Salad Sandwich, and this photo does not do it much justice but believe me, it was good. Light and warm without any gross egginess to it. Nomnomnom. Since we found out that there was a Happy Hour at the Hog Island Co. on that day, we waited about three hours and came back to the Embarcadero to partake of half-priced oysters. I’ve been having a strange oyster-craving for the past three to four years, so I was really excited at the prospect of finally eating raw oysters. I had no idea that this excitement would turn to a complete meltdown!

looks strangely yellow and gooey here, but don’t let my detrimental photography-skills fool you! these were very yummy~

So, a bit of the backstory. One very important thing about me is that I need to feed myself regularly or I turn into an angry tired imp with an attitude. The hobbit-style eating habit that I mentioned a bit earlier? Well, it’s not just hobbits who eat so frequently; so do I. Breakfast at 8am, Lunch at 12pm, a snack at 3-4pm, and dinner by 6pm sharp or I will fantasize about resorting to cannibalism. My fascination with this oft frowned-upon social practice does not reassure my fellow diners. Or shall I say dinners? (Cf. a previous post on cannibalism).

That day, after lunch at Il Cane Rosso, we walked all around the main shopping area in SF waiting for Happy Hour to start at 5pm. By the time we got back to the Ferry Building, my stomach was in the process of eating itself, after it had devoured my other internal organs of course. When we arrived at the Hog Island Oyster Co., there was a line that was as long as the one at Ici’s! For non-Berkeley/Bay Area residents, this is an amazing Ice-Cream shop in Berkeley where the lines are as long as the ones for roller-coaster rides at Universal Studios.

I tried. I really did. I tried to keep my inner five-year old inside and silently wait until all the other diners finished their delicious-looking oysters ’til it was our turn. But I couldn’t help it. My complaints, “There are no more freaking oysters left in the ocean!” and “Oysters are extinct now! Extinct! ” punctuated by moans, “I’m so hungry that I can resort to cannibalism”, “completely understand what happened with the Donner Party,” until my friend couldn’t take longer and left me. It wasn’t as heartless as it actually sounds because she went to grab some demi-baguettes at Acme Bread (can I live there?) to shut me up. I apologize to my food-buddy and to the other people within shouting-distance from us. I’m sorry.

But you know what? It was worth the wait. Those little slimy mouthfuls of ocean: amazing. Why are they appetizers? I want them to be the Main Course. Of my life.

i could have had an ocean-fill of these.

mussels were good, but the sauce was a bit salty. next time, get 3 times more oysters!

The week was long and the eating continued despite my nervousness about regaining the near-twenty lbs. from my grad-student diet at Oxford. I had a short but imperative list of restaurants that I needed to stuff my face at *ahem* grace my presence with at Berkeley.

My most memorable Paris-moment, which of course involves food, was when we tip-toed over to a charcuterie near our hotel. There were so many choices and unfamiliar names that we had no idea what to choose, but followed the advice of the lady behind the counter and got some Parma Ham and different types of salami. That parma ham was so good it was almost enough for me to grab a random Parisian and propose marriage (to acquire a visa to live in France, as one does). But I remembered P.i.Q., a small Italian café in downtown Berkeley, so I refrained in hopes that I’ll be able experience another meat-induced ecstasy à la Teresa of Avilà but without the floating in air part.

fake prociutto 😦

Pictured above? The Caprese at P.i.Q. I was so hungry at the time (again, N.B. set meal times, please!) that I barely tasted it but I could tell that this piece of prociutto was nothing like the one I had in Paris. Well, I wasn’t going to cry but I was a bit disappointed.

The next day, I went to the fail-safe and always delightful Cheeseboard, where I have fantasized about working for the past three years. I love Cheeseboard not only for their always-delicious vegetarian pizzas, but also for their philosophy of giving the customer no choice. Not only does it decrease costs on their end, it saves me so much time and worry because I don’t have to decide what to order! Whenever I’m faced with a long and complicated menu, I feel like I need to read and study every single possible option before making a choice! I mean, I came to a restaurant so that I didn’t have to choose the ingredients, menu, or presentation. I came to just. relax. and. pay. you. to. feed. me. NOW.

No such issues at Cheeseboard, where there’s only one type of pizza offered per day. And today’s pizza? Mushrooms topped with some arugula with their signature sourdough crust.  

nom nom nom cheeseboard!!! i need to move back to the bay area…

Last but not least, my favorite hole-in-the-wall French sandwich shop, Grégoires. I brought my sister here for a late lunch during one of my last days at Berkeley. My baby sister is pictured below— so cute, so sick, and so tired after all the excitement and dampness of Bay Area weather. She was surprised that I ordered the crispy potato puffs because it was deep fried and obviously not “healthy”, but really— who cares when each bite of the crispy-on-the-outside and fluffy-on-the-inside spheres of goodness make your eyeballs flip out?!

couldn’t resist getting lorina’s sparkling lemonade!

crispy potatoes puffs.. they look so cute and innocent lying in the basket but they explode (with flavor) in your mouth!

Grilled chicken patty with Nueski’s bacon & roasted peach on pantofolina

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food & drink

pink velvet roulade à la sprinkle bakes

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The week that I made this cake was the hottest in San Diego. It reached 96F and it was AUGUST.

Isn’t summer supposed to be over by then?

Anyway, I knew that it was too hot to bake and that if I turned on the oven and moved around, I would likely faint from heat-exhaustian. But no, I had to bake this cake. Does anyone else get this strange obsession when they see or think of a certain type of food and you can’t think about or do anything else until you made it?

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That’s what happened to me with this cake. To be honest, it happens every single time. A certain image of some delicious foodstuff comes up in my mind and all I can do is just follow the obsession through before I go insane.

It was so hot that the Swiss Meringue Buttercream filling melted… :/
Which reminds me of…

{Eddie Izzard}

“Cake or Death?”
“Oh, cake please!”
“Very Well!”

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food & drink

mango mirror mousse cake

So, I have been in the Bay Area since last Saturday, helping my sister get settled into her new dorm. Before leaving for the Bay Area last week, I was busy— not packing, but making cakes. I really wanted to try making the molded mousse cakes, but didn’t have any cake molds or rings so I had not bothered before. But one blogger said that she used wax paper folded and taped into cylinders to make her triple chocolate mousse cake. I tried it as well, but have to say that next time I would definitely use a steel cake ring. The beauty of perfectly round and parallel layers is spoilt because of the flimsy wax paper cylinder.

Taste-wise, it was very nice. Mango Mirror had a bit more of a sour-y side of the fruit, while the mousse was more creamy, sweet and delicate. The sponge cake wasn’t too sweet and gave the entire cake substance and a foundation texture-wise. Yum 🙂

I didn’t get any other photos because when I woke up the next day, they. were. all. gone.

!

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food & drink

easy breakfast muffins

For these mini whole-wheat muffins, I followed the whole-wheat blueberry muffins recipe found on King Arthur’s Blog. I made the blueberry version because we had a large carton of them from Costco, but made a chocolate-pumpkin and caraway seed version as well because I wondered what it would taste like.

For the Chocolate version, add 3 tablespoons of cacao powder and 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds. The caraway seeds are very fragrant and add a wonderful dimension to the sweet chocolate.

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city sights, food & drink

dutch babies, aka german pancakes

The German pancake, also known as the Dutch Baby and a host of other names, is one of the most strange looking foods I’ve encountered so far. It’s soft, airy, light and slightly sweet— in other words, perfect in texture and flavor (at least in my opinion). But with its upwards-sloped sides and uneven wave-like texture, the german pancake looks slightly bizarre at first sight. If it’s not love at first sight, it sure is love at first taste. This recipe I adapted from a generic one. It uses less eggs, more sugar, and keeps the condiments simple. It’s quick and quite easy to make. It’s also less of a hassle than standing at the stove making individual pancakes because the german pancake just takes a hand-free 20 minutes in the oven. Since it’s still summer in San Diego (as it always seems to be), I diced some soft, juicy yellow peaches and nearly over-ripe bananas to serve next to the german pancakes.

German Pancake Recipe

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 cup soy milk

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

peaches and bananas, or other fruit, diced/sliced!

Directions

1. Preheat 400 F. Place one 15″x9″ baking dish or two 9″ cake pans in the oven with two tablespoons of butter. 2. Mix the eggs, milk, sugar, salt. I’ve done it by hand and with a blender, both work perfectly well. Add the flour, mix until fully incorporated. 3. Open the oven and carefully make sure that the butter is melted and covering the entire base of the pan(s). Pour in the batter and be careful of the hot butter! 4. Bake 20 minutes. 5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle powdered sugar and almonds on top. 6. Slice and serve with fresh fruit!

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food & drink

whole-wheat + half-the-fat croissants

>Human nature really is perverse. How is it that I can never be happy with what I have and where I am at the moment? In high school I couldn’t wait to get out and start college coursework. All my life in the US I wanted to travel (and live) in some European country. When I finally get to England, I want to go back to sunny California. Now, in this now too-sunny California, I miss the cloudy drizzly days of Oxford.

The main thing I miss about living in the city center at Oxford? The ease with which I could stop into a café at eight in the morning to start off my day with a freshly baked croissant and an americano. I could go on about the americano found at Zappi’s Bike Café (a must go-to café if you’re in Oxford). But for now, I’ll keep it to the croissants.

There are no café’s close by where I live in the ‘burbs, so I decided to just make my own croissants and, since we have a cool stovetop espresso maker, I get my americano as well.

So, partly because of a new-found health consciousness and partly because I didn’t have enough white flour on hand, I adapted Tartine’s* croissant dough recipe and made whole-wheat-and-half-the-fat-croissants instead.

Whole-Wheat + Half-the-Fat Croissant Dough Recipe

Ingredients
—> Preferment

3/4 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 & 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

—> Dough

1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup soy milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

—>Roll-in Butter

1 & 1/4 cup unsalted butter

—>Egg wash

2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup soy milk
pinch salt

Directions

1. for the Preferment . Warm the milk to take the chill off and pour into a mixing bowl. Add yeast, stir to dissolve. Add the flour. Mix until a smooth batter forms. Cover and rest for 2-3 hours or until almost doubled in volume OR overnight in the refrigerator.

2. for the Dough . Add the yeast to the preferment, mix until combined. You can use a mixer with a dough hook but I did it by hand just fine. Add half of the milk and continue to mix until incorporated.

3. Add both flours (all-purpose and whole-wheat), sugar, salt, melted butter, rest of the milk until it becomes a loose dough. Rest for 15-20 minutes.

4. Knead the dough for another 4 minutes and be careful not to over mix. Cover and let rest until the dough increases by half, about 1 & 1/2 hours.

5. Place dough on a lightly-floured surface. Press into 2-inch thick rectangles. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

6. for the Roll-in-Butter . Cut the butter lengthways in half and arrange the pieces as a single block. Place block between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to incorporate the butter into one large rectangle. Place in refrigerator to chill.

7. Laminate the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle of 28 by 12 inches. Place the butter-rectagle in the middle of the dough. Fold the right third of the dough over the butter rectangle and then fold the left third of the dough over that. Roll out of the dough and fold into thirds. Repeat this three times, each time wrapping the dough in plastic and chill for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.

8. Make the Croissant. Roll into a rectangle. Cut long triangles. Roll up from the longer end to the point of the triangle. Curve the ends to make the classic croissant-shape. Let rest for 2 to 3 hours.

9. Preheat the oven at 425 F.

10. Brush the croissants with the egg-yolk glaze.

11. Place the croissants in the oven, immediately decrease the temperature to 400 F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp on the outside and light when picked up.

12. Eat! Remember that they are best served warm, so either eat all at once (like I would love to have done) or just reheat in the oven at 375 F for 6 to 8 minutes. My toaster oven worked fine on the “Toast” setting.

P.S.
Another “plus” for being back in San Diego: I finally get to pluck figs off of our fig tree. They’re sweet and perfectly ripe— unlike the overpriced imported and apparently sugar-free figs I found in Oxford.

*I would love you forever (and feed you endless desserts) if you gave me this…

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