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Friday, October 31, 2008

Winner Winner Boobie Dinner

ok i lied. i have one more thing to gush about and then i'll shut up. i won the Boobie Bake off! $80 will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in my name. i guess the economy is effecting everyone and this year's turn out was not as high as last year's. however, on the bright side: $80 is on the lower end of the average cost of a mammogram for uninsured patients. Tamoxifen costs between $80 and $100 for a one month supply. (Q&A #34) the statistics this year alone are staggering and i know of one loss, thru the blogging community: Bri of Figs with Bri. my thoughts and prayers are with her family.

so thank you very much for your support and donation! as promised, to the people who emailed me to let me know they voted, i put your names in a bowl for the raffle.

and my college suitemate Carla wins! i was one of her bridesmaids back in 2002 and now she has 3 beautiful kids: Ryker, Mystic and Aspen.
carla's wedding
today marks the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. that doesn't mean we should neglect our boobies for the rest of the year. just sayin! have a great weekend, be safe, be warm, remember to floss and brush your teeth after gorging on candy... and most importantly, hold your loved ones close.

sweet treats ...

i feel like this week is all gushing. forgive me while i gush one more time this week. jen of Delightful Delicacies sent me the cutest little treat. some time ago i won a random drawing. and my prize? the cutest little Pierre Hermé miniature set. i'm hooked. now i have to have the other 7, and collect other miniature food sets.


or i have plenty of knick knacks up in my crib and it would just be another dust magnet that i need to wipe down every week. unless i collected enough to warrant buying a full on special display case to ward off the dust...


thanks Jen for such a cute treat!

Today's Soundtrack: Godsmack, Voodoo

"Find my shade by the moonlight/Why my thoughts aren't so clear./Demons dreaming/Breathe in, breathe in..."

Happy Halloween! May your tricks be rewarded with sweet treats!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

of awards and recognition

i've been blogging for awhile, but only food/craft blogging since February. at the time, i just needed an outlet to post all the things i made. i didn't think far ahead about readership, content, pictures blah blah blah. things have changed a bit. i'm more adventurous with my cooking, i've ventured into the baking world (i still hate the exact measuring aspect of it tho), i play with card stock and yarn more AND i discovered a love for taking pictures. all in under a year.

i asked myself last month why i even blog. why i even bother to chronicle the things i make? what is the point? i get modest traffic going thru, and the numbers spike if my picture gets published in foodgawker or tastespotting, but people don't really go beyond that specific post. i read other blogs that have high amounts of comments and i try to analyze what it is about their blog that entices people to comment. my answer: i don't know. my take: i don't care. maybe i'm too flippant and glib in my writing, maybe i'm not approachable (my nickname does give off that vibe...) or maybe it doesn't matter ...


because i received two awards this week. and to answer my first question. i blog because it amuses me and more importantly, it amuses the people in my life. and i will quit blogging when it ceases to amuse me.


the first award was given to me by Michelle of Sweet Sensations. Michelle came across my blog thru the Baking Gals. she's a fellow teammate in Round 4. so this particular award has a history which can be found by its originator. the rules can be found here. i am so honored to receive this! i give this award to the following five people who have creativity oozing out of them. i visit their blogs regularly, sometimes i leave comments, sometimes i'm too busy wiping the drool from my keyboard but always, i am inspired by what they create in whatever medium.


1. Delightful Delicacies. Jen is a cyber-buddy. she can cook, craft, take pictures and she always seems to do it with the most sincere smile.

2. The Knitting Type. i actually know kirby, thru the Baltimore Broads. she is a whiz with the crochet hook and knitting needles. and she's hilarious.

3. Stampin' By The Sea. kimberly makes cards. she makes darn good cards. when i'm trying to play cardmaker, i go to her blog for inspiration.

4. Pink Penguin. ayumills (i'm assuming that's her name) is so talented with her sewing creations. i am in love with this bag and if i ever learn how to sew properly, i'd like to make it.

5. Ciao, Chessa! ok. i love her photography. there's quite a few of her pictures that completely make me want to run out, buy a DSLR and attempt to recreate some of the magic she's captured in her frames.


* * * * *

The second award i received was from Jen of Delightful Delicacies. thank you so much for this award! i didn't see a clearcut set of rules and Jen gave out the award to 9 other bloggers. i'm going to keep it to four:

1. Trish's Blog. this woman is hilarious. her emails crack me up (which reminds me, i owe her one) and always brighten my day. further, i think she's about as neurotic and passionate about the most random things as i am. she's thought provoking, appreciative, self-depreciating and did i say, hilarious. and just so you know, she made me an Edward Cullen bookmark. don't hate.

2. Under Consideration. i seriously sweat this woman's pictures. Elizabeth is so talented. i enjoy her blog because it is simply classy, and gives off the friendly, warm vibe... like you could sit with her on a cold afternoon with a hot cup of cider and... talk.

3. Food Loves Writing. Shannalee is a fellow cookie-junkie. i think that any weight gain this season will be blamed on her. not only that, she hibernates in the winter and talks about her grandma! i thought i was the only one who did that.

4. Fat Free Brainwaves (...except that it's not all fat-free). i adore her culinary creations. and her style of writing seems so effortless. not only that, she takes pretty pictures too.


and there you have it. bloggers who inspire me. bloggers who amaze me everyday with their words, images, and creations.

note: all images were from my day at the orchard.

Today's soundtrack: Tracy Chapman, Never Yours

"I've been a lot of things but never yours"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

pizza pizza!

This month's Daring Baker Challenge is PIZZA. as in making the dough from scratch and even tossing/spinning it. it was hosted by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums. i started this challenge on Saturday and baked on Monday night. i only made one pizza, some bread sticks from the dough and the leftover is in the freezer. this challenge was hard for me only because my counter space is so limited. i also don't have a stand mixer, just a simple handheld one, but i do have a dough hook. my dough seemed kinda ... too soft. so when i tried to toss it, it was not pretty. on top of that, my camera battery was waaaaay low. i had to make sure i had a snap of the finished pie, as well as enough juice to upload the pic. awesome. not my best food pic. but i did want to say i at least tried.


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces) Unbleached high-gluten bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled -
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast -
1/4 Cup (2 ounces) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces) Water, ice cold (40° F)
1 Tb sugar -
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches in diameter - for a 6 ounces), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

jab loved it. i went just basic pepperoni. what with making the mini apple pies concurrently, i just wasn't inspired for much beyond that. personally, all that work for just pizza? it makes me wonder if all those pizza joints make their own dough, and exactly how many they make at a time, or have a stash of. fresh from the oven, the dough was soft and crispy but then as it cooled, it got hard.

i still have a few balls in my freezer that i'll use up. not sure if there's anything i can do about the softness of the dough, and if i'll be able to toss it properly next time around.


thanks for hosting Rosa!

to view more challenges, check out the blogroll.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

apple of my eye

as i've mentioned a few times before, jab and i went apple picking two sundays ago. i've already made one other apple item. i made my 2nd item last night. and yet i still have quite a bit of apples left! i *may* have to make more than 3 apple-y items this season. thankfully, i am not tired of them yet.

one of my new fave bloggers is Shannalee and she made the cutest apple pie-like pastry last week. since i work from home on Mondays and this recipe calls for a lot of down time but minimal prep work, i thought i'd make a batch. too bad, i also made plans to make my Daring Baker's dish of the month too. so there was a bit of shuffling, timing, as well as cookie sheet sharing. i didn't have dinner til closer to 9pm because i had to clock in a few hours work after 5pm and baking didn't commense til around 7. whew!


i followed the dough recipe and her filling recipe to a T, so i won't bother posting the the recipe here. on a few of the pies tho, i did use nutella and strawberries as fillings. just to add a bit of variety. i didn't forget to add a spot of egg wash on top but i did forget the sprinkle of sugar.


i am in love with the dough. i hate the downtime thing but so worth it in the end. it was flaky, but still moist. i wasn't so diligent about making sure the lip of the pastry was fully closed so during baking, they did open up. oops. i still have half the dough in the freezer and i think my next batch will be savory. the dough reminded me of Bánh Pâté Chaud and that will be what i make next with the leftover dough!

in the meantime, allow me to quickly tell you why my boyfriend is so awesome. i've been asked if jab realizes how lucky he is to have me as his gf, making him lunches during the week etc. well. just to clarify, i'm the Lucky One. he spoils me rotten. he brings me flowers randomly, just for giggles. he's sent me flowers to the office when i'm down. he puts up with my yarn thing, my cooking thing, my photography thing, my reading thing and pretty much all my other things. and one specific act of putting up with me: the apple picking. he usually puts in a few hours of work on sundays. on that particular sunday, he woke up early to head to the office and was done by noon so we could go to the orchard. (he normally likes to sleep in til 10 and then head to the office). further, with my braces, biting into apples is a no-no. after watching me attempt to bite into an apple delicately (cus let's face it, licking the hell out of an apple is just not cutting it!) for about a minute, he grabbed it from me and made starter bites for me. all together now: "AWWWW!" and that is why i'm lucky.

Today's Soundtrack: David Archuleta, Crush

i am slightly embarassed that i like this song so much but it's very catchy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

15 minutes of Asian Fame

this week has been both busy but incredibly slow. i hate that. and it's also been cold. i hate that even more. anyway, it's been busy because i'm back to recruiting but also doing some marketing at work so that keeps my hands full. i'm in massive crochet mode now that my cards are done for a few weeks. the scarf i'm in the midst of making for grandma is turning out pretty enough but i can imagine her saying it's not keeping her warm so i might have to give this scarf to one of my sisters and make something else for GM. emails slowly trickled in for the boobie bake off, only one stranger emailed me, every one else were friends (i heart you all so much for supporting this!)


view from my car in the garage at work. it's pretty. before all the cars are parked and the view is obscured.

check it... i'm going to be a little lean again this week on blog surfing links.

it is mind blowing how some people are so creative! Kathleen Dougherty takes it to a whole other level with dress up. be prepared to simper.

more sighing. a year of evenings.

lastly... i've been an avid reader of Disgrasian for awhile. two sassy asian women write this blog and it's always entertaining as hell. they get political, philosophical, smart, sarcastic... all with an asian twist. some of what they say make such perfect sense to me. earlier in the week i came across a youtube video of a korean girl singing and dancing. she was fierce. i sent it right to Disgrasian and they posted it, along with a shoutout to me! and the following convo ensued on gchat with buu:

me: BUU LINH. have you been to Digrasion lately??!?!?!?! i got a shoutout!
{whispers} please show appropriate amount of excitement

Buu: whoa, no i haven't been there lately

me: i'm like on a freaking high, i got a f****** shout out from these cool ass bitches

me: buulinh i think this officially makes me cool... albeit for just a day but i'll take it

Buu: you got it girl. way to one up everyone today

me: thanks! now i will scour my reader to ensure there's an asian article to send to them in the hopes of always being in their favor. i sent them an article about the korean singer and the youtube video

Buu: gotcha. look atchu

me: and they sweat it and i know they sweat me too

Buu: i know too... you are so popular chi Lan.

damn skippy!!

Today's soundtrack: BoA, Eat You Up

(i tried to pick a lyric but it is so atrociously gawd-awful that i couldn't. however, the tune is catchy and the girl can dance... buulinh has promised to learn the steps and we will hopefully make a video of it...)

Friday, October 24, 2008

pomme - Apple Buckle Cake

fyi, that's french for apple. all the random french vocab that wanders in my brain after all these years... i went apple picking last sunday with jab. it was on a much smaller scale than last year. not only am i minding my pennies but i'm thinking that i don't want to get tired of all the bags of apples hanging out in my fridge going into november and december. this year, i only want to make 3 apple-y stuff (cider doesn't count!) so the first one: Apple Buckle Cake. For this month's Taste & Create i was paired with The Spiced Life. She has A LOT of varied dishes to choose from: soups, cookies, meats, vegetarian, ETHNIC! so much to choose from! i knew i wanted to bake something. her Blueberry Buckle caught my fancy. i imagined myself having a piece with coffee in the early morning, foodtv on low, warm blanket in my lap.


Apple Buckle
adapted from The Spiced Life

6 tbl (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup AP flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup sifted AP flour (sift first, then spoon in and level)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream (the original called for milk, i didn't have any)
3 cups diced apples, washed and thoroughly dried (that was 2 medium sized apples, i kept the skins on. good source of fiber.)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9" springform pan. Set aside.

Prepare the streusel:
Melt the butter in the microwave. Remove and cool to tepid.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter and stir together with a fork. Set aside.

Prepare the batter:
In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

Beat the butter, until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sugars, in a slow drizzle, and beat on medium speed for 5-6 minutes until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each. Scrape the bowl. Blend in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and sour cream alternately, in 2 additions for the sour cream and 3 for the flour. Blend until just combined. Be care to not overwork the batter. When the batter is totally combined, fold in the diced apple very gently.

Pour batter into pan. i sprinkled a handful of apples over top. then add the layer of streusel over top.

Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes (i should've baked it for 45 minutes tho, cus i like my cake slightly undercooked.) Cool completely.

when my roommate came home from work, i made her eat a slice. she raved about the way the house smelled, i wanted her opinion on how the cake tasted. she really liked it. she said it was her most favorite thing i've ever made for her, and i've made her a lot of stuff. i thought it was ok. a good breakfast item, not too sweet or overwhelming. it tastes much better the next day.

There is still time to vote for the boob bake off.

Today's Soundtrack: John Legend, Refuge (When it's Cold Outside)

"When it's cold outside/There's no need to worry cuz/I'm so warm inside/You give me peace..."


Thursday, October 23, 2008

mixed chili with Pork and Pinto Beans

it is cold now. i'm still holding strong with not turning on the heat just yet but i did bust out my scarf and hat this week. for jab's lunch this week, he got a repeat item: beef stew but also another warm and hearty stew: chili. i made it on Monday for him and gave him two containers for lunch this week. he consumed one for dinner that night! which defeats the purpose of bringing lunch to work but he liked it so it's all good. i had also made a side of corn bread but i added some shredded sharp cheddar to the batter.


Mixed Chili with Pork and Pinto Beans
adapted from Crossroads Cooking by Elisabeth Rozin

2 ancho chilies *
2 large dried New Mexico red chiles *
2 tbl veggie oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 lb lean boneless pork, cut into pea sized pieces *
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano *
1.5 tsp anise seeds *
1 tsp salt
2 cups cooked or canned pinto beans, with some of the liquid

* i did not use those specific chilis, i used 3 aji peppers that we bought at the apple orchard on Sunday and 2 random asian peppers i had hanging out in the freezer. i did not use boneless pork, i used ground pork instead. no oregano or anise seeds, but i did throw in a bay leaf for giggles. i also added a small can of tomato sauce, for more of a stew-y consistency.

1. With a sharp knife, make a slit in the achos and the New Mexico chiles and shake or scrape out the seeds. Cover the chiles with 1 cup warm water and let stand 30-40 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water, reserving the chile water. Dice the chiles and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion and bell pepper over moderate heat, stirring, until the veggies wilt. Add the pork and brown quickly over moderately high heat, stirring it to brown evenly.

3. When the pork is browned, add the garlic, diced soaked chiles, cumin, oregano, anise seeds, and salt. Continue to cook over moderate heat, stirring until the mixture is aromatic and dark.

4. Stir in the reserved chile water, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat for about an hour.

5. Stir in the beans and a little of the bean liquid, if necessary, and cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Taste for salt. Serves 4 to 6.

normally, i don't like chili or beans. but this particular recipe came out really well. spicy but not overwhelmingly so. i'd make this again, but i think next time i will try it with regular pork. i topped my bowl with a dollop of sour cream and cheddar cheese. had i thought of it, i would've saved some diced onions. but i didn't. this time around, my corn bread was moist.


Today's Soundtrack: Nazareth, Love Hurts

i had no idea this was their only big hit... actually i had no idea who they were until jab enlightened me... we like to play the "Who Sings This Song?" game in the car. sometimes my answers are correct. it's very rare when i stump him tho.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

birthday invitationals

big k's birthday isn't until december but she and i have already gone to great lengths to giggle over plans for that weekend. i'll be flying into Charlotte a day earlier than originally planned, to hang out and bake and cook and essentially, drive her poor boyfriend batty as i make him my sous chef and gopher. she asked me to bake her cake and i offered to make a dinner spread. (i foresee A LOT of eating that weekend... actually, a lot of other things too...) last week she asked if e-vites were still cool. i think they are but i offered to make her invitationals. just for a little special personal touch. it's not everyday you turn 30, going on forever 21.


and so i spent 3 sessions on my couch and coffee table creating some cards. normally, cards are uniform and once the first card is created, the rest should be a cinch. yeah. too bad i get bored easily and doing the same card over and over again would've annoyed me. i ended up with 12 different ones instead. i have a fear that my xmas cards this year will take me f.o.r.e.v.e.r. because of this silly inclination to make every card different, thereby forcing me to spend even more time on a product that will eventually get chucked anyway. this thought still does not deter me. well. ask me how i am in late November...

i left the inside pretty blank, save for maybe a stamp to tie it all together, for kelcy to write in her announcement. i'm so used to taking food pictures that when i set out to take pictures of these cards, i was slightly at a loss.

Lest you even think that i'm remotely creative, i drew a lot of inspiration from crafters and stamp bloggers. i credit Lenora, a fellow Baltimore Broad, for introducing me to the world of homemade cards and scrapbooking. I also visited these blogs for some assistance:

Stamp Time Somewhere
Stamping By the Sea and her new site
Stamp a Little Love Baby!

i don't know what the protocol is. these creative ladies had their cards up for all to view and the last blogger even had the layouts of her designs etched out. i don't use the same products (stamps, papers etc) but some of my cards were copied from what they posted on their blogs. but it does make me wonder if they can even copywrite the designs? i mean, paper, ribbon, stamp placement can't be copywrited, right?

whatever, i'm still giving them just props because they're fabulous and i'm just a wannabe.

Today's Soundtrack: Madonna, Bad Girl

"Bad girl drunk by six/Kissing some kind stranger's lips/Smoked too many cigarettes today..."

Baking Gals - Round 4

over at the Baking Gals Round Four is well under way. i know i've been going on and on lately about these two specific causes that are near and dear to me. but really, if you can't be passionate about a few things in your life, then what are you doing with yourself and your Life? i'm just saying.


for round 4 i'm playing hostess. it is my honor to present my team's soldier: Amie.

this is what she wrote about herself:

I love to play sports (soccer is my favorite), volunteer, write poetry, listen to music, play the drums, keyboard and I enjoy the outdoors. I learned young to really appreciate life and take hold of everything you have because you may wake up one day to find it completely gone. I have volunteered for many different organizations, such as YWCA, worked with a juvenile detention facility (girls), Bay County Sheriff's Office Explorers, a rehabilitation facility (trama and Alzheimer patients), just to name a few. I love to volunteer and help out in anyway I'm needed.

My goal is to get my degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in At-Risk Youth Specialization. I want to work with at-risk youth in Florida. They really don't receive the help they need and I would love to be a part of their rehabilitation.

I am single, no dependents, no boyfriend, no husband, currently. I am 22 years old. My birthday is December 20th. I am a Public Affairs Specialist in the Army, which is a photojournalist. I joined the Army in August 2005 for an enlistment period of 5 years. I would like to join ROTC and become an officer after my current enlistment, but I may change my mind between now and then.

I'm not much of a reader, which you may find rather humorous since my job is news. Lol However, the books I like to read are ones about childhood abuse or struggles and the positive lessons and obstacles that were overcome to become a wonderful person in society. (Ex: A Child Called "It" along with the series by Dave Pelzer)


Ship Week will begin October 30th and continue through November 10. you must ship between those dates, as Amie (and all soldiers participating in this) will be on the lookout for the packages. they will not accept any random packages before or after those dates. if you're interested in joining my team, please head over to the Baking Gals site, register and sign up! EASY!

i currently have 8 wonderful bakers on my team:

Debbie and Jamie
Big K

if you require any inspiration or ideas on what to ship over theres, let me know. if i don't know the answer i will find the answer for you. if you require some nudging or persuasion, remember this: what they're doing over there makes it possible for you to be with your loved ones as the weather turns colder, and the leaves change color. they make a lot of things possible for us all. cookies are the least *i* can do for them in return.

"I understand it's a long road to peace, he said, but I'm still hoping to get a ride part way because I'm so out of shape from the 90's." ~The StoryPeople

there's still a few days left to vote on the Boobie Bake Off. it's just $1.

today's soundtrack: Tracy Chapman, Talking about a Revolution

"They're talkin about a revolution/It sounds like a whisper..."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

two things i'm currently fixated on ...

this will be a short post. i'm off to the farmer's market and then apple picking this morning, and i haven't had a cup of coffee yet so i'm a little cranky. it was a hard shift last night. i was the only server and i think at one point every table in the restaurant was filled. which led to some not so quality serving on my part. i even had one patron ask me 3 times why service was so slow and i explained that i was the only one working and then i apologized profusely (even tho i wanted to chuck his bowl of pho on his head). he left me a $2 tip for a $40 tab, in quarters. God bless him. i hope he has crazy gas today.

anyway, i'm going to go post about two things today:

First, the Boobie Bake Off. if you scroll down to the previous post, you'll see my entry for the bake off. please go to Baking Delights and vote. don't forget to email me to let me know you voted, you'll be entered into a raffle to possibly win one of my crocheted creations.

Second, i'm hosting Round Four for the Baking Gals. if you're interested in baking cookies, and doing so for our troops overseas, please head over there to register and join my team! :)

that's all. i did some blogsurfing this week but i'll hold off till next week to pimp them out. i only was able to make one lunch for jab this week, my grandma's shumai, which he loved. i've been busy with cardmaking, for halloween and thanksgiving, but also for big k's bday bash in December. i started on my grandma's scarf so i suspect my next few posts will be more crafty than foodie. bear with me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dark Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Strawberry Icing

it's finally that time. i'm going to unveil my entry for the Boobie Bake Off. voting begins October 17th at Baking Delights.

Marye will have all the entrants on her blog starting then. it's $1 per vote, and you can vote as often as you'd like, so please vote more than once and be sure to add the name of the blogger in the description that you're voting for. all proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, in the winning blogger's name. there'll be a paypal button for you to click on to do all that.


my added kicker to this, if you email me) with proof that you've voted, i will add your name into a raffle (and it doesn't matter if we're related, if we work together, are strangers, former friends, bloggers, etc). on the 24th, when voting is over, i'll pick a name and whoever it is, wherever you are, per your request i will crochet whatever you want. (what i mean by that is: scarf, skull cap, stuffed animal, or baby item like booties or blanket.) depending on the number of times you vote, that's the number of times your name will be added into the raffle. and you don't even have to vote for me, you can vote for anybody you want, as long as you vote and you show proof of it. just be sure to put something about the Raffle in the subject line.


onto the actual recipe/dish. i made this dish TWICE in the same amount of days. the first time, i forgot the sugar in the cake batter and to say the cake tasted like ass is an understatement. the icing also came out odd. I used Little Corner of Mine's Dark Chocolate Yogurt Cake. i'd been looking for the ultimate chocolate cake for awhile now (long story short, during exam week during my sophomore year of college, my roommate Lindsay bought us a grocery store chocolate cake with white icing that we lived off of. it was decadent, delicious and oh so bad for us. and we ate every crumb.) so when this cake popped up i knew i had to make it. first time around, i made it with yogurt. second time, i was out of yogurt so i used sour cream. it still came out moist and yum.

for the icing, i'm not a fan of weird colors. i heart pink dearly but icing should be white or chocolate and maybe tan for coffee. and that's it. however, in the spirit of things, i decided to use strawberries and not food coloring. my first try, it came out watery and just plain... bad. i followed the recipe, except i used strawberry jelly with seeds (it's what i had!) it tasted good and my roommate ate the stuff in spoonfuls until i told her stop ruining her dinner (i was also making dinner). the 2nd attempt was a little bit better but nowhere near the consistancy of the original inspiration. i used Sophistimom's Icing recipe. i also used actual strawberries and not jelly. i didn't bother with the whole blending it so there was no pulp because toward the end there, i wanted to just dump everything into the bin and pout on my couch. let's just say this whole fiasco has proven that i can be as big of an assclown and inept in the kitchen as my grandma thinks.


so the end product, the cake was finally sweet but made with sour cream, the icing was slightly pink and i topped it all with some fresh smashed strawberries.

Today's Soundtrack: The Divinyls, I Touch Myself

my last words: check yourself, in the kitchen and in your shirt.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

basketweave stitch baby blanket

long distance friends. i would have to say that most of my good friends are the ones who do not live anywhere near me. it's the by product of the third culture kid. i met debbie my junior year in bangkok. she was the exotic new girl, with a funky, creative style. i can't recall the social setting where we met but she called me that night to invite me to her birthday party and our friendship blossomed from there. i haven't seen debbie since 1997, the summer after my freshman year of college. we speak maybe once a year on the phone, when she's visiting her husband Bob's family in Iowa. i write her handwritten letters when i can and she even met up with buu for dinner when buu was in Bangkok this year. and every time we chat, it's like no time has passed, we're still silly, giggly teenagers. i was so pleased when she emailed me in the early summer with the news of her pregnancy (partially because i rarely receive emails from her, she's so busy with her singing career and missionary work). i immediately started brainstorming up baby gifts for her. i don't know the sex of the baby (she's spotty with the communication) so i chose a neutral off-white.


3 skeins later, i finally completed a basketweave stitch blanket. i'm in love with this pattern: the texture, ease (when i finally figured it out!) and feel of the blanket. it's pretty hot in thailand but if debbie ever makes it to her homeland of italy in the winter or hits an Iowa winter, hopefully the blanket will keep her baby warm. :) i did follow a pattern, but rather than doing the edging in reverse HDC, i just did two rounds of single crochet. if i can ever get debbie to email me back and let me know the sex of the baby or if she has a color scheme, or anything, i'd like to either make booties or a stuffed animal as well. the baby is due in late December so i've got some time.


the blanket measures 28x30" and is 6 oz. Simply Soft Caron, in Off White 9702. as noted, i used 3 skeins, and the J/10-6.00MM hook.


last, please don't forget about the boob bake off.

Today's Soundtrack, Debbie Klongtruadroke-Scott, All this for Me.

"Who would have ever thought/You’d do that for me/Who would have ever dreamed/A king on his knees/The reason for it being me..."

me and debbie

we were such babies!! :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

baked breaded zucchini chips

i bought a massive zucchini a few weeks ago from the farmer's market that i had to cook up soon or it would go to waste. i initially wanted to make bread or soup but both seemed so labor intensive. i did a quick search on foodgawker for inspiration and came across For the Love of Cooking's Baked Zucchini Sticks. i've always loved breaded zucchini (or mushrooms or pretty much anything!) and it seemed easy enough. i had a bag of Asian bread flakes in the pantry and i went to town.


Baked Breaded Zucchini Chips
inspired by For the Love of Cooking

1 zucchini, sliced in 1/2" discs
1 egg, slightly whisked
2 cups bread crumbs (or whatever type of bread flakes you like to use)
salt/pepper to taste

preheat oven to 350 degrees. line cookie sheet with foil. in an assembly line, dip zucchini chips into the egg, coating it. drop into the bread flakes, again coating it. place on the cookie sheet. bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


you could dip these chips into salad dressing but i made a simple spicy peanut soy sauce. it was fast and easy and i *think* pretty healthy. it would make an excellent side or appetizer but i was feeling lazy so i just had it for dinner. what i liked best was that the outter layer was relatively crispy but inside still soft.


last, please don't forget about the boob bake off

Today's soundtrack: Taylor Swift, Love Story.

"We were both young when I first saw you..."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

sock happy

it's been a glorious weekend. warm and sunny. i even managed to snap a few pictures. naturally, i was in a cooking and baking frenzy. blame it on my boyfriend. he bought me a waffle maker so i had to make waffles, specifically these. thankfully, my kitchen doorknobs challenge is a breakfast/brunch one this month; i'll be posting about it later this month. jab also requested that i make him the chocolate chip cookies again. i may just make the dough for him to keep in his freezer and he can pop them in the oven when he has a craving.

i also baked for the boobie bakeoff, i'll upload pictures later this week, when i'm sure the weather will turn for the cold and i'm back to being bitter about the loss of Summer. i managed to put away my summer tanks and shorts and took out my sweaters. i also cleaned up my sock "drawer" which is just a plastic container i keep under my bed. a few mismatched socks, a lot of knee highs that i've accummulated over the last few years, as well as some holiday ones that precious friends have gifted to me. hooray for SOCKS!


i didn't do much blog stalking this week. trying to keep up with the greats ones i've already found, maybe dropping one or two... and of course, always inspired to do more and be better with my own. enjoy!

Jezebel - i only perused this site briefly but i'll be back often. fashion, gossip, politics, tongue in cheek satire, all catered to women. whoop.

Declutter It! - don't we all need this?

Simply Home Remedies - my blog mama writes this blog too and the tips for easy home stuff are priceless. love it!

Zakka Life - she's crafty and knitty.

Ample Sanity - you know i had to have a good read in here somewhere...

and that is all i have for you this week. :) in the next few days i'll be posting my entry for the boob off, probably two lunches for jab and a craft item. sit tight.


anyway, please don't forget to do something about your boobies, whether it be participate in a walk, another walk, the bake off or feeling yourself up for any potential bumps.

Today's soundtrack: Priscilla Ahn, Dream

I asked God who I'm supposed to be/The stars smiled down on me/God answered in silent reverie.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

spicy sausage ravioli

last month, thru the Daring Bakers and Recipes to Rival, i made crackers and dumplings from scratch. i had never played with dough before that. it's not that i was scared, it never occured to me that those very things had to have a start somewhere. and when the challenges were revealed, i noticed some of the members, from both groups, used the cool pasta maker gadget. i used a regular roller. i'd like to have a pasta maker thing but i don't need one, especially in my little kitchen. besides, i swore i wasn't ever going to do that homemade dough stuff again. boy was i wrong! this week i seriously had an itching to make pasta... from scratch! so i made ravioli. i had to look for a recipe that didn't require a handy-dandy gadget tho. Chef Boyardee i am not, but i'm glad i tried my hand at it.


Ravioli Dough
recipe from Deb514 at Recipezaar
(i followed her dough recipe, and adapted her sausage filling recipe to fit what i had handy)

3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup water (i didn't need all the water)


MAKING THE RAVIOLI DOUGH: Sift flour and salt together.

Place flour mixture on a board, making a well in the center of the flour.

Drop eggs into the flour well, using your hand or a fork, break the yolks and beat eggs slightly.

Combine the eggs and flour together, gradually adding enough warm water to make a stiff dough.

Knead dough well, until smooth; cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Cut dough in half and roll each half of the dough out on a floured board, into a very thin sheet (about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick).

FILLING THE RAVIOLI: Drop about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls of filling about 1 1/2 inches apart all along the dough.

When the sheet of dough is fully dotted with dabs of filling mixture, cover filling with other sheet of dough.

Using your fingers, gently press dough between each dab of filling to seal it.

Cut ravioli into squares with a (zig-zag edged) pastry cutter, or very sharp knife.

DRYING THE RAVIOLI: Allow ravioli to dry for one hour before cooking.

COOKING THE RAVIOLI: Drop ravioli into 6 to 8 quarts of boiling, salted water and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until dough is tender.

Remove cooked ravioli from pot carefully with a skimmer or a large slotted spoon, and drain well.


FILLING: i had some leftover spicy sausage, cooked them up with some garlic and a shallot. let cool. when cool, i added a heaping tablespoon of ricotta cheese to combine. that was it.

i topped with the raviolis with marinara sauce.

Verdict: i didn't hate it. again, i would've loved to have had a pasta maker to make the dough even thinner. i once saw Giada use a round ravioli cutter thing that was really pretty. i just used a drinking glass to make mine. they seemed adequate enough.


anyway, please don't forget to do something about your boobies, whether it be participate in a walk, another walk, the bake off or feeling yourself up for any potential bumps.

Today's Soundtrack: A Fine Frenzy, The Minnow and the Trout

*(i know my readers aren't clicking on my day's soundtrack, which is fine, but most of the songs i post are just snippets of my frame of mind sometimes. for the most part, these songs really speak to me.)

* a stanza from this particular song: "Please, I know that we're different/We were one cell in the sea in the beginning/And what we're made of was all the same once/We're not that different after all..." ~ Alison Sudol

Friday, October 10, 2008

non-cream of Butternut Squash soup

it's butternut squash season. the technical term for it is autumn. which brings cider, soups, the colors orange and red to mind. it's a shame jab isn't a fan because i think i'll be making quite a bit of dishes in the coming weeks with this vegetable.

i actually didn't sample the westernized butternut squash soup until just a few years ago. before that, the squash soup i've always had were cubed in a broth, and garnished with loads of green onions, eatten alongside rice and some meat dish. i love either style but the way grandma makes it is my preference.


Grandma's Cubed Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from Grandma

1 butternut squash, cubed. (i baked mine for about 20 minutes to soften, or you could cheat and buy it already cubed)
1 clove of garlic
1 shallot
3 cups of water (or canned broth. the amount is dependent upon how big the squash is and how brothy you want your soup to be)
fish sauce to taste
green onions to garnish (i didn't have any that night so i went without. the splash of green would've made my picture come out prettier tho...)
olive or veggie oil

i make my broth the way i saw my grandma and mom do it. with maybe a few crumbles of ground meat (pork, chicken, or beef, or none at all), shallots and garlic fried in some oil. cook til the shallots and garlic are soft and brown, and meat is cooked through. add in the water. bring to a boil. add the squash. cook time is dependent upon if the squash was baked pre-cubed or cut still hard. obviously use your best judgement. add the fish sauce to taste.

it's been relatively cool in the evenings. this soup just warms me right up. plus, with the exception of cutting the squash, it's so easy. it reminds me of my grandparents. my grandma would make the soup bland on purpose so that grandpa could dip his squash in the hot pepper fish sauce. other than soups and the pasta dish i made in the summer, that's pretty much my repetoire for butternut squash. what do you do with your squash?

last, please don't forget about the boob bake off.

Today's soundtrack: Tracy Chapman, Smoke and Ashes

Thursday, October 9, 2008

100th Post

so i've reached my 100th post. awesome. to commemorate the occasion i'm going to do the Omnivore's 100 that's been floating around the internet for months. i'll have a proper celebration when it's my 1 year anniversary.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison - not memorable
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare - that would be a negative. i like my beef rare but not RAW
5. Crocodile - it was chewy and fatty
6. Black pudding - i don't like blood
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht - i'm not a beet kinda girl
10. Baba ghanoush - i'm a fan
11. Calamari - also a fan of
12. Pho - my all time favorite dish. in the whole wide world.

13. PB&J sandwich - only with grape jelly
14. Aloo gobi - yum
15. Hot dog from a street cart - in NYC, DC and Baltimore
16. Epoisses - i'd give it a whirl tho
17. Black truffle - i've always wanted to try this
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - plums
19. Steamed pork buns -in China and Hong Kong
20. Pistachio ice cream - it looks unnatural to me. i don't know why
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras - heart it
24. Rice and beans - not a fan
25. Brawn, or head cheese - i've had the vietnamese version of it and it's rather ok
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters - love it
29. Baklava - i don't like it
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi - i don't like drinks like this, bubble tea included
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat - love love love love it
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk -not as a drink, but in cheese
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain - i don't like it
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho -not a fan
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - it'd be unamerican to not have tried this
78. Snail - love it
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum - i lived in Bangkok for 3 years
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky - i still grab this at the asian markets
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. - i wish
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab - i live in Baltimore
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

final thoughts: i like blogging. it chronicles what i eat, even better than when i used an excel spreadsheet to calculate my daily caloric intake. it also amuses me, and lord knows if i'm not a happy person, i'm quite the beast. but i'm most amused when my friends and pham-ily "visit". they know how anti-social i normally am so this is my way of sharing. i have a stat counter thingy that tells me the number of people who visit my page and lately it's been spiking. pretty modest but it still tickles me. however, i'd love to hear from the readers. surely i'm doing something wrong or i could do something better? or there's something you'd like me to make? cus trust, i'll give it a whirl and even if i fail, i'll still say something.

anyway, please don't forget to do something about your boobies, whether it be participate in a walk, another walk, the bake off or feeling yourself up for any potential bumps.

Today's soundtrack: Matt Nathanson, All We Are

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

battle chocolate chips

i went on a major baking craze this weekend, for a very important cause. regardless of your political affiliation or stance on war, our troops overseas still need to know that we are thinking about them, and praying for their safety always. i became a US Citizen in the winter of 2007 and with that passage into citizenship came a sense of awareness of this country. i am thankful for the opportunity to bitch and moan about the crap that rages on in my life, i have the freedom to do whatever tickles my fancy and it is because of the men and women who are fighting over theres. so if there is something that i can do to make their lives a little bit more comfortable, then i will. in this case, i'm adding a few inches to their hips, thru Operation Baking GALS.

since i've become a fan of baking cookies this year, i couldn't make up my mind on what to bake. i turned to my fellow food bloggers. Shannalee of Food Loves Writing made The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies in early september. she raved about it and then made it again recently for a care package to her troop. i finally succumbed and made them. HOWEVER. jen over at Use Real Butter made some espresso chocolate chip shortbread recently that caught my eye. i made those too. one late friday night after my restaurant shift, and the other saturday night, again, after my restaurant shift. i baked them both sunday morning. both batches made enough that i was able to share them with: my crafternoon crochet lady-friends, my coworkers at the restaurant, my sweet patient boyfriend AND for my troop in Iraq.


surprisingly, i followed the steps of both recipes alot more than i normally do. reason being, i was tired and i just was not in the mood to be deviating. for the NY Times cookies, i did roll them out into logs and just cut them into cookies when i was ready to bake, rather than form them into golf size balls. they were probably a bit thinner than they should've been but they still tasted good. for the shortbread, i used espresso vodka instead of instant espresso. they came out lighter in color than jen's but still very good.


my personal verdict: the cookies came out the winners. they had a chewy, softy, crispy texture to it and the SALT! it just adds even more to the tastebuds. the shortbread were still good but they were more crumbly. both fantastic with my coffee in the morning, awesome with my cider at lunch and great with my milk at night.

jab looooooooooooooooved the cookies, and he's not much of a cookie kinda guy. just for that, i'll be making more for him soon. my restaurant crew seemed to gravitate towards the cookies too and i noticed that my crochet hookers were not partial to either, they ate both.

most importantly tho, i hope Capt. Delaske and his troop likes them! :) Special thanks to Steph of Mostly Useless Drivel for hosting his troop this round!


this "operation" is going to be a continuous occurance, every month i think. i'm already baking a few batches of cookies every week or so and really, shipping fees are around $6. to me, that's ONE table i have to wait on at the restaurant. that's a fast food lunch that i don't need. that's two pairs of patterned socks i don't need. $6 is not a bad price to pay for a worthy cause. won't you join in the fun too?

of course, please don't forget about the boob bake off!

Today's soundtrack: Adele, Melt My Heart to Stone

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

spirit cupcakes

with the exception of 1 quarter at an american high school, i've never attended a school with a football team. overseas, there was soccer or rugby, but not american football. as a result, when i applied for university, attending a football school wasn't one of my priorities. i'm still not that passionate about the sport but i think i can finally say i understand the concept of the game, and even appreciate some of the plays.

another thing about never attending a football college and moving around as often as i did it's hard to have a loyalty for any team. i guess the Washington Redskins would be my home team since i lived in that area the longest, but i live in a city where everyone seems to bleed purple. nah. i like not having a team to follow. i usually cheer on whichever team that has the prettiest color anyway. it makes sense. :)

however, my bestfriend is a die-hard Notre Dame fan. and i'm loyal to her. i keep abreast to how the fighting Irish are doing. i'm annoyed at the refs when she is, i cheer on the quarterback when she does and i'm happy when they win. her boyfriend is a Tennessee Vols fan. i like the color orange and that's their color.


in making a care package for kelcy, i decided to throw in a little treat. the crochet cupcakes are so effing cute. i made one in green for ND and the other in orange for TN. lord knows what they can do these these spirit cupcakes but hopefully it'll make them smile every time they look at it.


and now i just totally realized something. ND's colors are Blue and Gold. why in the world would i make her cupcake green then? because her myspace profile pic is a green leprechaun!!! so it's natural for me to think that their color is green right??? this would normally annoy me for being so incredibly wrong but alas, it's making me giggle. she's getting a green cupcake just for the hell of it then.

for the green cupcake, i used Bittersweet's cupcake pattern.

for the orange cupcake, i used Priscilla Hewitt's cupcake pincushion pattern.

both were easy to make, only a few hour's work each. i must not be a great stuffer cus mine came out slightly off.

of course, please don't forget about the boob bake off!