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Sunday, April 29, 2012

mini-chocolate cakes ~ a birthday celebration

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i'm a newbie to movita's world. i don't remember how i found her but since discovering her blog, i've been a fan. she turns 21 (+19) in a few days. to celebrate her finally turning legal (tho in canada, i think the legal drinking age is 18...) she is hosting a virtual cake bake off.

i have a lot of cake in the abode right now, this practicing for nuria's wedding cake thing is kicking my ass. for a bit of fun, i used biscuit cutters to make mini-cakes. now some of her hardcore fans, the ones who've been with her since Day 1 may say i'm trying to make her fat (maybe i am, she's a ballerina, she can walk on point, i can't so therefore she must consume the virtual calories i'm shoving in her face...) or that i'm trying to enter the contest multiple times (they're just angry they didn't think of it first...) but i say nay, there are pros to my entry.

Pros:
  • she gets THREE cakes
  • they're miniatures, even if she ate all three in one sitting, they won't hurt her girlish figure, she's got a ballerina metabolism
  • if someone tries to steal any from her, the cakes are small enough that she could shove all three in her mouth and still be able to curse them out for trying to mug her
Cons:
  • there are none. BAM!
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the fine print: for judging rules, go here. groups 1 & 2 are up, i'm in group 2. GET TO VOTING. you have until tomorrow (Monday) at 8am to vote for me on every single device you can get your hands on.

Friday, April 27, 2012

On Being a Thug ... & Lime Bars

lime squares

one of the things you should know about me is that i am capable of showing a great deal of bravado. i learned from a very young age that if you swagger hard enough, people will rarely test your bullshit. i am quick to put up defenses, and with proper planning, i can do damage with an offense. be warned, this isn't a fool-proof strategy. there was that time in 4th grade when manny the 5th grade bully decided to take me up on my offer to punch him in the face. at that age i figured throwing the first punch was key so i swung at his face, he ducked, punched me in the chest and now i have no boobs and dw won't let me get fake ones. moral of the story: when you say you're going to punch someone, kick them in the nuts instead; while they're doubled over in pain, throw your arms up in victory & act like the UFC champ you are. (disclaimer: you didn't get this advice from me, as it does not guarantee said victory.)

bottom line, i act tough but i'm quite the quivering softy inside. i have a not really secret fear of mice/rats/rodents. when i was in 4th grade (that was a pivotal year for me, btw), our science class had pet hamsters. while most kids were taking impatient turns holding the little creatures, i was shitting my pants at the thought of them in my hands. i would feign disinterest, blithely say something shocking & offensive like, "in my culture we eat such things..." (disclaimer #2: as far as i know, we do not eat hamsters.) living in baltimore, rats are usual sightings in the city. they're also usually big as kittens, vicious, and probably everything like that rat in Charlotte's Web plus with extra doses of deathly doom. rodents are the reason why i can't do Fear Factor, cus those producers would sniff out my fear. you want me to jump out of a plane with a semi-functioning parachute AND chug rancid milk? last one on the ground is a rotten egg! but make me cuddle with these beasts and i will soil myself on national television. there is no faking courage when in the face of these creatures of satan.

so you can imagine my abject horror in discovering that there's a 3rd party in our otherwise blissful abode. Mighty Mouse has taken up residence in the kitchen, my favorite room in the house. i was home alone when i looked up & on the stove was said mouse sniffing around. i screamed like a bitch little girl, texted dw to come home from work stat and when he couldn't, texted nuria. since then, i require dw to escort me to the kitchen, to defend my honor keep me company while i do kitchen duties. the last straw was recently when i needed to make lime bars for work. the blasted beast was UNDER THE KITCHEN TABLE, chilling. i proceeded to squirm, whine, and acted like a borderline 6year old tantrum throwing brat until dw offered to make them for me. this dwelling is not big enough for the three of us and i am not thug enough (or apparently, grown up enough) to handle it properly.

these are exactly like the lemon bars, but organic limes were used instead. the results were very similar to key lime pie, a sweet tang, soft short bread and creamy curd.

in other news, i've entered into a cake bake off over at movita beaucoup. wish me luck.

lime squares 2

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DIY Teabags: Love & Other Indoor Sports

DIY Teabags

i've always been a letter writer. back when it was not so cool to hand write notes, after the charm of typewriters, but before the efficiency and ease of computers and emails, i gave myself hand cramps writing long letters. and back then, letters took 2 weeks to get around the world.

my first year away from the gparents i wrote them every few weeks, in english. for the first few letters, peter would read them for any minor corrections. i took to signing off a variety of different ways, depending on my mood they ranged from "sincerely" to "yours very truly", somewhat formal right? until i came upon a phrase that really sparked my interest: "love & other indoor sports". let it be known, at the age of 11 i had no idea what other indoor sports meant, for all i knew, it could've meant ballet, ping pong or darts. it never occurred to me that it meant s-e-x! that is, until peter questioned me. i think he asked me what it meant and i told him that i saw it in a book (i'm pretty sure it was a judy blume book. she is so win!) and that it's how everyone signed their letters. he let it go and nothing ever came of it but i loved the sign off so much that i used it all the time.

then i figured out what it really meant. and now i sign my notes love & sunshine.

there you have it, i was a regular 5th grade letter writing renegade. and i still write letters on special occasions, in pen & cursive. it's a dying art.

DIY Teabags

at a recent bridal shower i attended for a friend i purchased a very simple tea box but to add a bit of creativity to the gift, i hand sewed teabags, complete with personalized tags. it's not much, something very easy to create but still has that touch of something personal.

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DIY Teabags
inspired & adapted from yours truly, G

you will need:
coffee filters, cut into 12mmX5mm rectangles, folded
loose tea
needle & thread
stapler
construction paper

DIY Teabags

you can follow along from the original post & use two separate pieces of coffee filter or you can be lazy & just fold over filter, hand sew along two sides of the bags, dump in the loose tea & then fold over the top, sew it shut, leave some extra thread & voila. add in an even more personal touch, throw in tags along with some love advice.

i will say that if you have a sewing machine, it'll probably take you no time at all. for me, i don't have one. it took me about 15 minutes per teabag. it did not look professional, it'd be a stretch to call them cute, but they were a hit with the bride and really, that is all i cared about.

for the bride, obviously i wish her love & other indoor sports.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lime & Cilantro Brown Rice

Cilantro + Lime Brown Rice

i don't know if you can tell by reading this here space, but i like smut novels. it's a guilty pleasure of mine dating back to when i first read Judy Blume's Forever in 5th grade. sure i had seen those steamy bosom heaving paperbacks at the grocery store before but i had never thought that s-e-x was actually written out in PRINT for all to read. as a result, i systematically devoured VC Andrews and Danielle Steele trash as a teenager. this tells you that i was a horny tramp normal adolescent pining to be noticed in a crowd of other angsty girls by the most popular boy in school, somehow rescuing me from my mundane life. this never happened, not even close. so i dropped the trashy books in college and lived the trashy life studied for my degree.

as of late, my love life has been wonderful. you guys know this. i wax poetry about dw to make up for all those years of not having a boytoy make my bosom heave. however, sometimes, when i'm in between a good novel or require some mindless reading, i revert back to my 14 year old self and grab a shitastic damsel in distress story. in real life, you can usually tell what i'm accosting my eyes & brain by my lingo... i utter throwbacks to a long gone time of tons, rakes, dukes & earls, corsets, blah blah blah. sometimes i expect bows, i might even curtsy. plus, reading about how rich white folk lived back in the day interests me. the language and storyline is straight forward. it's usually some beautiful girl without title who needs to marry well in order to be able to learn how to read but she's too tempestuous and fiery tempered for any nobleman to want to wed, much less tame. for those poetic asian books that are so en vogue and, ahem, more appropriate to read, it's all about sparrows, silk robes, jade pendants and delicate flower girls who take itty bitty steps cus their feet are bound. who wants to read that garbage?! am i right, or am i right?

homemade chipotle burrito

right now, i am reading this and it is awful and i love it. some earl dude stole the heroine's dowry and she's now stuck in a ramshackle castle in scotland. i ask you, what is she to do? other than walk around the green hills in the land of kilts with her is-it-more-red-or-brown hair blowing in the rainy breeze. i'm not telling. but i will tell you that scottish people people eat weird stuff, like haggis, which has nothing to do with today's post but everything to do with how i'm pretty ok with all cuisine, except for mexican, which is actually about today's post. keep up with that?

i'm not a fan of mexican, it's a melted cheese on meat thing, as well as the beans thing. but. chipotle i can do, tho i question if it's really mexican? either way, i dig the stuff served at chipotle. we made burritos this week, and it made me realize that there's a lot of components that goes into the dang thing. rice. beans. vegs. salsa. meat. all wrapped in a flour tortilla. like a summer roll, which is asian, which is a cuisine i definitely like.

what cuisine do you dislike or absolutely love?

Homemade Chipotle Burrito

Lime & Cilantro Brown Rice

1 cup brown rice
water
juice of half lime
chopped cilantro
pinch of salt
splash of olive oil

cook up brown rice as you would in a rice cooker.

add in the olive oil, salt, cilantro, and lime juice. mix.

honestly, it's to your taste... if you want it more sour, add more lime juice. you get the picture...

to make the burritos, it really depends on what you like. we made pulled chicken in the crock pot, sauteed up some green peppers with onions, added a few slivers of avocado, shredded monterey jack cheese (cabot's naturally lactose free), and a healthy spoonful of salsa. feel free to add in some corn or beans.

Friday, April 13, 2012

:instagram:

gloom
flower
sky
tulip

i am sitting here huddled from the cold. it's been a breezy 60something degrees here this week, very springlike, yes, but when she came in with the elephant march of sunshine last month it led all to believe that the succeeding weeks would be like thus. and that is how Spring led us astray. dw & i took a walk one evening after work, our hands clasped so tight against the wind. we sat among tulips, my favorite, while the sun moved lower in the sky and turned it a dusty grey-blue.

we are packing and moving, the stress of it slowly creeping on us. dw often caresses his thumb along my furrowed brow, a habit i've picked up as of late, and he rests his head on my cheek to slow me down as i barrel thru the days. i am merely trying to survive, while he is valiantly trying to keep me steady.

this is not a recipe or creative post, i hope to have a couple next week. in the meantime, a few links for you.

this song has been on repeat, i love it so much. I need a graceful, proud way to let go/To smile and accept the things that you don't know.
this will be on next week's menu, yum.
i dare you to not melt from this beautiful post from a yarny mama to her baby boy.
i'm kinda sorta really keen on the idea of being an urban chicken owner.
i'm obsessed with this blog and this blog. totally different but excellent reads.

last, i've jumped on the instagram bandwagon. look me up at angry_asian.

happy weekends friends.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cambodian Chicken & Butternut Squash Curry

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I remember the first time dw fed me. He was preparing a salad. I observed him while he cleaned a red bell pepper, quickly running it under the cold tap. Next he cut off the top, slicing around the stem, saving the small nubs surrounding it. From there he cut it in half, carefully removing the membrane & seeds. Last, he deftly cut matchsticks, offering me one. He stood close to me & I saw that droplets of water still clung to his fingers, and the bell pepper. He fed it to me, it was cold and crisp, delicious and I was suddenly ravenous.

{whispers} I don't think I breathed for 30 seconds after that.

And it's been like that ever since. This is how we live our life together: Intentionally. Deliberately. Joyfully. Soon we begin a new phase -- merging of households! We discuss my stuff, his stuff, our stuff. We carefully plan for the big move, decide what to keep, what to donate and what to throw out. We have quiet times of stress but louder moments of celebration. I try to starve the worry and feed the joy.

I made this dish recently during a particularly nerve wracking week. What would normally take me thirty minutes to whip up, I stretched to two hours. I took my time prepping, meticulously dicing the onions, slicing the ginger, lining up my mise en place accordingly. I waited patiently for the turmeric to deepen in color, browning the chicken methodically and then braising the hard flesh of the butternut in the coconut milk, coaxing it to tenderize. At first bite, the curry is gentle, warming slowly and then finishing with a sweet linger. And it left me famished for more.

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Cambodian Chicken & Butternut Curry
adapted from the complete Vietnamese Cookbook by Ghillie Basan

1 oz galangal or ginger, finely sliced
1 small onion, or half a big one, finely sliced
2 TBL kroeung*
2 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp ground fennel seed
2 tsp sugar
1 lb organic, skinless & boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size chunks
2 TBL tuk prahok**
1 can of full fat coconut milk + can amount of water
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite size chunks
4 kaffir lime leaves
salt/pepper to taste
cilantro or mint to garnish
rice or noodles to serve

heat up some oil in a pot. stir in sliced ginger and onions, saute until fragrant. add in the kroeung, cook up until it begins to color. add the tumeric, fennel seed and sugar.

stir in the chicken and cook until golden brown on all sides. stir n the tuk prahoc & pour in the coconut milk + water. bring to a boil, add in the squash and lime leaves. reduce heat, cook gently, uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the squash is tender and sauce has reduced. season to taste. garnish with mint and serve with hot steamed rice or noodles.

*kroeung is an herbal paste, a base flavoring in khmer dishes. obviously i don't have this handy so i made it up: lemongrass stalks, trimmed with out leaves removed & chopped + ginger, peeled & chopped + garlic cloves, crushed + onions, finely chopped + organic lemon zest + salt. i chopped all these ingredients individually and then i chopped them up together. a mortar & pestle would've made the task easier.

**tuk prahok is also unique to khmer cuisine, it's a fish based condiment, made of fermented fish with rice & salt. typically, prahok is not used directly, it's diluted in hot water & then strained. the strained water is called tuk prahok. again, i don't have this handy but i do have fermented shrimp paste. i diluted the shrimp paste in hot water and the strained water from that is what i used.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Soaked Chocolate Pancakes

Soaked Chocolate Pancakes

hi hi. i'm about to tell you something that you might find odd: i'm not big on pancakes. i've said it before, it's not something i grew up, which was cold cereal and obviously, instant noodles. it was an adjustment in college when the cafeteria served the usual pancakes, waffles or french toast for breakfast.

these tho. they're chocolate, and the fact that they're pancakes doesn't count. because you see, a pat of butter is not slapped on top, nor is a drizzle of maple syrup required. i sprinkled powdered sugar on top for picture's sake but i really ate them plain, with slices of bananas. there may have been some peanut butter slathered on leftovers, but that's another gluttonous story. something that is also different about this breakfast treat is that the flour was soaked overnight. (i know, again with the soaking business!) the acid lends a tang to the taste, and dare i say it, a nice fluffiness. all i know is, i finish a stack of these and i don't feel weighted down, nor do i get bloated later. if you want to skip the soak process, don't add the acid.

Soaked Chocolate Pancakes

1 cup AP flour (or spelt, or whole wheat pastry is fine)
1 1/4 cup lactaid milk
1 TBL lemon juice or vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
4 TBL dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBL veggie oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

to soak flour:
in a bowl, add 1 cup of flour + milk + acid (buttermilk is fine to use, if you go full on dairy)
mix
cover & allow to sit over night in warm place, or for up to 24 hours.

when ready to cook up, mix the mixture, add in the rest of the ingredients and cook up pancakes like you normally would.

dw said that when the cakes are ready to be flipped, little bubbles will appear on the surface and you're good to go. time depends on how big you make your cakes.

sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy with a side of sliced bananas!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

veggie noodle bowl

Veggie Noodle Bowl

since embracing the whole foods lifestyle, as well as going dairy-free, there have been very few things i miss. if anything, more things have been added to my list of favorite foods to eat: kale, beet greens, and sorrel to name a few. it is amazing how long i lived my life without lentils and garbonzo beans. it's funny tho, i never thought i'd ever give up certain foods, like cheese, milk, and notably: instant packaged noodles.

i have a long history with this product. while most kids were enjoying a glass of milk with cookies after school, my snack of preference was a bowl of instant noodles. i am not sure how i managed to do it, but dinner would be around 6pm or so, and yet i would have a massive bowl of the stuff just a few short hours prior. there is no way i could do that now. on weekends, again, most kids had sandwiches + chips, or pizza. not i. i had a bowl of this stuff. reading the ingredients list on these packages, even the "healthy" alternatives, is a revelation. the amount of sodium, carbs, and random stuff is mind boggling. sadly, this is not something i can consume without feeling awful, physically and emotionally, after. (get me drunk enough, and that's a different story)

this is my ode to my former instant noodle lifestyle. not so instant, but still full of flavor and thankfully, with much healthier ingredients. depending on the season and available ingredients, i could see the addition of various varieties of lettuce, mushrooms, or dark greens. this can easily be vegetarian using just water or veggie stock. it's just quick enough to whip up for a late night snack reminiscent of childhood/adolescent noshings.

Veggie Noodle Bowl

Veggie Noodle Bowl

package of organic somen noodles (japanese wheat noodles)

spice paste
3 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
small handful peanuts (and in thinking about it, a generous Tablespoon of peanut butter would be fine)
5 green (or red) Thai chilies
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 inch cube ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the soup
cooking oil
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 block of firm organic tofu, cubed/cut into bite size pieces
2 zucchinis, sliced/cut into bite size pieces
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
1 cup or chicken stock which is what i used
2 TBL fish sauce, to taste
1 tsp chili paste

cook up the noodles according to package instructions.

grind ingredients for spice paste in processor, or use a mortar and pestle, or you can just rough chop them all on cutting board until a crude paste develops. in a pot or large saucepan, heat up oil, a few tablespoons is fine. when hot, add in the paste and saute until fragrant. add in the kaffir lime leaves. add in the coconut milk + stock (or water) and bring to boil. stir in the chili paste, tofu and zucchini. season with fish sauce, starting out with 2 tablespoons and add more if needed. when zucchini are tender to desired doneness, about 10 minutes on low heat, assemble bowls with cooked noodles and ladle in soup. garnish with green onions.

additional noodle posts of note: