Saturday, December 24, 2011

holy grails

in the makeup world (and to a lesser extent in the food community), holy grail, or HG for short, is an item deemed one's absolute favorite. the item is something one swears by, the perfect find typically after much searching (thanks, urbandictionary, for helping me word my thoughts).
i've finally found an amaaaazing cookie base recipe that i am proud to declare my holy grail. so, what's a perfect cookie to me?

crispy golden edges surrounding a soft, chewy center. buttery, vanilla-y, just enough salt to bring out the flavors. if the cookie is studded with treats, they're perfectly nestled and dispersed in a way that ensures a good piece in each nibble. the cookie isn't airy or cakey. it is neither domed nor thin like a crisp.
within the last week and a half, i've made the recipe (cut in half for smaller batches) 3 times for fam and friends. the first batch had M&Ms, the second chocolate chips, and tonight i made it with the remnants of a hershey's halloween bag that was languishing in the corner of my parents' library room. what resulted was nothing short of a sweet symphony. smooth peanut butter, gooey caramel, crispy rice, and wafers all covered in chocolate accented the sweet and salty cookie base in a way that would've made beethoven proud. er, if he'd been a baker. crappy chocolate CAN be made delicious!
definitely check the recipe out and start experimenting.

in the savory arena, i continue my quest for my HG of chilis. i've been tweaking my chili "recipe" (i say that in quotes because i physically measure absolutely nothing) for quite some time, so i have a lot of chili-related thoughts.

my idea of a great "everyday" chili involves chili pepper (duh), ground meat, beans, tomato, onions, garlic and occasionally corn. if you have a problem with that, i actually don't care. many people are engaged in an ongoing chili debate across the country. some people think it's blasphemous to put beans in chili. i think it's delicious. some people prefer chunks of meat, but when it comes to fixing a simple meal, i'm lazy and cheap (i'd love to try this recipe, though). others think too much tomato ruins chili, but i think "too much" differs from person to person. all regional variations of chili have a place in the world and in my kitchen. however, one thing i will never compromise on is the consistency of a good chili. i don't want rare sightings of meat and whatever else swimming for their survival in a pool of murky water. i want all ingredients suspended in a gravy- or stew-like base. to this end, i like to mash a portion of the beans into a paste and mix into the pot as a natural thickener. i can proudly say that i thought to do that on my own, but i quickly realized that many others do the same. anyway, try it. i'll get back to yall on my recipe when it is HG-worthy.

onto more interesting things. check out this gem of laughability, from
Picture 1
wa... wait... $12.50 for 10 PIECES? WTF? friends, i will take on the laborious task of calculating the ridiculousness of your potential mistake: 12.50/10= $1.25 for each srsly pampered pig in a designer label blanket. and they're only available at gourmet stores and some supermarkets. get real! everyone knows pigs in a blanket are the quintessential trashy but delicious finger food. if you're in a hurry but still have time to go out, buy and bake the site's recommended brand, you have time to buy and bake a dang can of pillsbury crescent rolls (or puff pastry, if you HAVE to be fancy) and pack of mini hot dogs. you will also save a buttload of cash.

check out this one:
Picture 2
if you buy a jar of fungus and oil that looks like those jars of preserved animals you get at tourist traps along the boardwalk, and for 30 bucks at that, you should shuffle to a corner of your swanky party and weep in shame and regret.

i don't have a problem with williams-sonoma so much as i have a problem with the person who will actually buy that jar of mushrooms when in a pinch for a party spread. enter my holy grail of marinated mushroom recipes, found here by blogger "one perfect bite." her recipe is pretty quick (note: you don't have to chill for hours, especially if you slice the mushrooms up like i do), includes more seasonings (you can use whatever's on hand. i leave out coriander) and costs a lot less than's recommendation. you control everything by making your own marinated mushrooms, most importantly sodium and oil content. i often increase the amount of oil because the marinade is delicious when sopped up by a crusty hunk of bread.

your homemade marinated mushrooms will also look a lot tastier (seriously, the store version looks just like that shark jar. don't kid yourself). the cherry on top is that you, too, can "hand-pack" your marinated mushrooms into a pretty jar and call it gourmet.

or not.

to end this drawn-out entry, i will share 3 sketches from the tumblr of America's Test Kitchen, one of the very few tumblrs i can bring myself to check out. i hate tumblr. these HG-worthy tips actually relate to what i talked about today: cookies, mushrooms and party tips. i didn't even plan it! this might actually be my HG of blog entries, because nothing ever works out as perfectly as that did.
keep cookies soft by placing a piece of bread in the container/bag.

submerge & rehydrate dried mushrooms (or whatever else) in a french press as long as the press doesn't absorb odors.

not enough space in the cooler or fridge for the party drinks? keep extras in your washer with some ice.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

love, food, and fire

note: i've wanted to share about my gma for a while now, but couldn't find a good way to do that. last night, in the midst of stressful paper writing as i near finals, i decided to make a snack and could not help but feel the warm comfort of my grandma. so please bear with me if you decide to read the following. it's quite lengthy and disorganized since i just wrote down what was in my mindgrape, but if you have some free time and want to learn a lil more about my family and the way i am, read on!
as i roasted goguma (we refer to it as korean sweet potato) in the oven, i thought about my grandma. as i peeled the goguma, i started to cry. goguma was one of my gma's favorite snacks, and one of the few she was able to eat comfortably in her last days because of its soft texture. a lot of my food memories-- the happy ones, sad ones, and everything in between-- have her smack dab in the center, and i've always believed that it's thanks in no small part to her that i have an appreciation for my family, a love for food, and a fire in my belly.

many say that when people die, they automatically become saints in almost everyone's memory. for the most part, it's true. i mean, yeah, i'm pretty sure no tearful eulogy would be able to convince you that saddam hussein was a completely delightful person, but usually the resting are remembered for their good qualities.

but i will always remember my grandma as herself, with all the good and not so good stuff. the woman was stubborn as a mule, and her tendency to recollect events in a highly skewed light started quite a few feuds within the family throughout my life. but my dad's mom aka ahn si bok aka sarah (which means princess. how fitting! she chose it for herself) was seriously a second mother to all of the kids in the family. when our parents went to work, my grandma took care of all of our needs and most of our wants that we needed the most. she bathed us, she cooked (freaking delicious food), she played with us, she filmed (she and my grandpa were always fond of capturing memories), she'd tell us about God, she sang around the house...

well, after reading what i just wrote, i guess she actually wasn't much of a princess on the daily, but she pretty much got what she asked for as the matriarch of the family. i can't deny that matriarchs hold a lot of responsibility and burdens though. still, there was a specific family quarrel (it was over something stupid, i don't even remember) that got so nasty i remember getting on my knees alongside my parents to beg for forgiveness just so she would return back to her rightful place on the throne with dignity (she had temporarily "moved out" of the house to my grandpa's small apartment) and the Ahn crib could be at peace once again. lawl.
pan-roasted spice-rubbed chicken, butternut squash, rainbow chard and mushrooms w/ bacon and balsamic.
let me go back to her cooking though. she lived with my family, and she cooked dinner every night, not to mention most earlier meals and snacks. rice, a billion korean sidedishes, a few "mains" to be shared family-style, and a korean stew or soup made up the typical dinner spread. she'd slave over the kitchen to bring the most delicious and comforting food of the motherland to our mouths, and she could go American, too. many summer days, when the neighborhood kids were over to play in the backyard pool, my grandma would call us all in for burgers or fried chicken tenders from scratch. she would smile and sit with us, panting in the heat and dabbing away the pearls of sweat on her face. to know that she dedicated herself to others, even when her knees and body ached so badly, made the food taste even more special. later on when we had returned to the pool, she'd tiptoe her way outside with a tray heavy with juicy watermelon. my summer days were some of the best times of my life, and she was a big part of that. oh, and special occasions were like our daily feasts times a billion. grandma would go all out. lots of dishes that required heavy TLC, lots of special ingredients. for special korean holidays, she made chewy rice cakes (dduk) from scratch. mochiko/glutinous rice flour? NO, that's for SISSIES. she made a huge pot of rice and commanded it to smooth, sticky rice cake consistency with a wooden paddle like a bawse. i almost feel like watching her make rice cake was a dream because i've never seen anyone use that old method before or after her.

she put her heart and soul into food and helped me appreciate the bounty of the earth. korean sidedishes are mostly veggies, and we eat a lot of fruit for dessert (ask any korean), but she'd still let us indulge in processed things like spaghettios and tv dinners if we wanted to! haha. anyway, many times throughout my childhood, she'd pack the car with my siblings, cousins and me and drive to random houses that sat on large plots of land in the middle of nowhere. somehow, she'd gotten word that certain houses had apple trees and others had chestnut trees. we'd scurry to the trees and pluck as many as we could, bagging away our booty and heading to the getaway vehicle. because of my grandma's strong belief that "the owners couldn't possibly eat all of it anyway," i got to see firsthand what hellish spikeballs chestnuts came nestled in. i got to taste the yellow morsels raw, right out of the husk that she pried off with a pocket knife, in all of their crunchy, mellow, grassy glory. i got to taste them again right after roasting, so sweet, rich and creamy. my modern-day, female robin hood of a grandma allowed me to realize in such a visceral way how things could grow, change, and nourish.
panang curry w/ chicken, carrots and green beans
and the years went by like that. i grew up as she grew older. i changed my styles as she changed her walkers. and i was nourished by my grandma and her ways, every single day.

fast forward to 2011. within a few short months, my grandma became increasingly ill with complications due to her diabetes, bladder cancer, old age, physical injuries, etc. she became bedridden. she lost her ability to form coherent sentences and pretty much speak, except late at night for hours on end when she'd let out bloodcurdling cries for my parents, my siblings, me, and her parents (up to that point, i'd never heard her refer to them informally as "umma and appa," translated as "mom[my] and dad[dy]," and all i can say is you just knew she felt like a frightened child searching for her parents' comforting faces. several times, i heard her cry, "엄마, 내 배 아퍼..."). we still wonder, to this day, how she mustered up the energy and willpower to call out like that. guess it was just that undying fire she had inside.

i came home from school and from my summer internship during this difficult time to spend time with my grandma. i helped to change her soiled sheets. i helped to roll her to one side during one hour, and to the other side the next to inhibit bedsores. i talked to her as she looked towards me with hollow, sunken eyes. but the most difficult thing for me was when she would ask me to feed her. you see, by this point, she couldn't chew and swallow much of her pulverized rice porridge, let alone more solid foods. but the woman loved flavorful food and she was stubborn. one time, she asked me what the family had eaten for dinner the night before, already knowing that what we ate tasted a hell of a lot better than what she was getting those days. i hesitated as i wondered whether or not to lie to her to make her feel less cheated. but she caught me.

"tell me the TRUTH," she snapped in korean (i seriously don't know how she formed an intelligible sentence out of nowhere because, again, that was quite a feat by this time).
hoisin-honey pork riblets
i told her we'd had galbi (korean barbecue short ribs). right away, she told me she wanted to eat a few pieces. i pleaded with her to reconsider, telling her that it wouldn't be good for her to try to eat something so tough. but the lady wasn't havin it -___- so i walked to the kitchen, wrangled a sharp knife from the counter and the meat from the fridge, and minced away until the meat was almost a pulp. i heated the meat up and mixed it with some rice porridge so she could swallow the food more easily.

i fed her the first spoonful. i could tell she wasn't swallowing the food as hard as she tried to move it around in her mouth.

"grandma, i don't think you should eat more of this, it's too hard to swallow..."
"no. give me more, i'm so hungry!"
"i shouldn't... you can't swallow it well."
"please... just give me more."

i could hear the helplessness and desperation in her voice. all she wanted to do was be able to eat something delicious. she was so tired of eating bland gruel.

then, she started to choke and cough the food out. i scooped the food out of her mouth with my finger, because she just couldn't eat it. i wiped her mouth and face with a warm, wet cloth and told her maybe we could try again later. my heart was breaking... i felt so guilty and frustrated that i wasn't able to help her do something so simple that had become so difficult. by the last two weeks, she wasn't able to eat anything at all.

as she slipped through my fingers, i wanted nothing more than to go back to the days of my childhood. I found myself pleading in my head. God, I just want those summer days of floating in the pool and being forced by grandma to swim laps as exercise before we hunker down for lunch. Please! I just want to eat the chestnuts halmuni peels for us as she "hoooooooo"s on them to cool them down.

but you and i both know what was coming. her condition got a lot worse so we entered her into hospice care at her request that was given in advance, along with my grandpa's urging. a short while after all of her children drove and flew to virginia just in time to be with her, she passed away surrounded by her husband, children (and children in law), and a granddaughter (+fiance). i'd left to stop by my internship location and didn't return in time.

these days, i think to myself: maybe i will stick more to my memories of her before she was really sick. the good and bad events and qualities. they're still good and bad and whatever else, but they all feel good to me now. does that make sense? she was so vibrant for a good 80 years, and obviously part of being a real firecracker is being feisty and stubborn, which she was til the end. while i will remember her passing (and the difficult days leading up to it) as a testament to the fact that we, as believers, don't ultimately belong here on earth and instead long to be with Christ, i still weep when i think about her state towards the end of her days here. so i think more about how loving and crazy she was, about how loving and crazy she made me, and about the food that shapes both my memories with her as well as my life every day.
i'm not the only one who got my grandma's passion for all things delicious and her feistiness. out of the 7 kids on my dad's side who grew up in the states, 5 of us are females. we are fiercely supportive of our family, we love food, we are pretty damn stubborn, and we have fire in our bellies. it's actually a running joke that our bouts of frustration and 'tude are inevitable bc "we get it from grandma." ha!

i love you, grandma. thanks for the love, thanks for the food, and thanks for the fire.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

phone pic palooza

strictly phone pics of food from the past 2 weeks!

khanom chan, a sweet, steamed, 9-layered coconut dessert made with tapioca and rice flours. the green layers are pandan-flavored. i found out it is often given in celebration of advancement or promotion. nice and chewy, and many people enjoy peeling it layer by layer :) one of paul's favorite thai desserts so i wanted to make it for him after tasting a piece that his mom brought all the way from thailand! i was nervous about how close it'd be to the real thing since i'd only had about 2 bites of it. i followed this recipe, using pandan paste instead of pandan leaves since i couldn't find any at the asian grocery store. next time, i'll add a little more sugar, since paul said he's used to it being super sweet. personally, it was just the right sweetness for me.
i don't know why it looks a diff color here. lighting was weird, i guess!
it was interesting to make, since i had no measuring vessels at my disposal except for a sippy cup with mL and oz lines. yes, a sippy cup.
to my surprise and joy, his mom had tried the khanom chan that i made and even took some to her workplace. she told him that she really liked it, and it was on point! even her thai co-workers liked it... holy crap i almost died of happiness lol. i love her :) she even said to make it again.

steff gave me a donut plushy keychain from uo. bawse.

threw together a hot spinach dip yesterday as a trial run for today's potluck my bible study group is having :) it came out really well. chock full of spinach and cheesy goodness. has absolutely no mayo or sour cream, so you don't get that oil slick that sadly characterizes many hot spinach (and spinach artichoke) dips. i'll include the recipe at the bottom!!

sara, my aptmate, had a hankering for fried oreos after david changsta (christy's lil cousin) talked about it. so she looked up a recipe and we made it together. yummy heart attacky goodness.

random food fact of the day (via wikipedia): "Oreo (developed in 1912) is very similar to the Hydrox cookie manufactured by Sunshine, which was introduced in 1908, leading to speculation that Nabisco obtained the idea from Sunshine. Having lost market share to Oreo for years, Hydrox cookies were withdrawn in 1999."

Hot Spinach Dip
makes (1) 8x4 or 9x5 loaf pan (think: 2 generous restaurant-sized appetizers)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 large stalks of scallions, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • (2) 10oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed
  •  8oz package cream cheese (reg or reduced fat), room temperature
  • 8oz bag Italian blend shredded cheese
  • hot sauce (I used Sriracha hehehe)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • garlic powder
  • salt & pepper
1. preheat oven to 400 F.
2. melt butter in a pan on medium-high heat and add scallions and garlic. sweat until fragrant, not browned! turn off heat.
3. in a large mixing bowl, add #1's mixture, spinach, cream cheese and shredded cheese, but reserve a handful of shredded cheese for topping.
4. add a few squirts of hot sauce, nutmeg, and garlic powder/salt/pepper to taste. mix well.
5. dump spinach dip mixture into a large loaf pan or other vessel, and sprinkle the reserved handful of cheese evenly on top. bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes until cheese on top is bubbling/browned. feel free to broil for the last 3-4 minutes for a crustier top, mmmmm.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

my poor blog -_-

i've neglected it for so long. does anyone still read this? i promise i'll update by the end of this week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Today's 2nd (real) entry: soft pretzel bites, yawl.

I dedicate this blog entry to Christy, who scoffed at my previous entry of "TWO LINES?!?!"

Last night, I stayed up till 8am writing a 10 page paper on the possibilities and limitations of German-speaking Jewish women's domestic power derived from their roles in the observance of kashrut, or Jewish dietary laws, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Perhaps it was all the pages I came across during my research that discussed bagels, challah and other carby delectables, or the fact that I was haggard and starving after turning the paper in, but in any case I had a hankering for some bread.

As I walked from Nau to Clemons library, I did two things: I sweated like a menopausal woman because I had dressed for cold rainy weather when in reality it was 70 degrees with 80 percent humidity, and I thought about how dang hungry I was. Alas, I had to go to Clemons for a different class to watch Journeys with George, which is a really crappy home video-style documentary on George Dubya Bush's 2000 Presidential campaign. Nancy Pelosi's daughter filmed it with a camcorder, and she was kinda-sorta-really awkward and obnoxious throughout the film. I was simply reminded of how campaign rallies rallied around nothing and how the traveling press, endearingly referred to as "The Pack," were miserable and submissive. I learned that political campaigns could be likened to a bologna and cheese sammich (George's meal of choice on the road), for what it's worth.

After wasting 79 minutes of my life, my stomach started to growl like it was about to hurt somebody if I didn't feed it soon. I could've gone for a bologna and cheese sandwich, but I'd bookmarked a recipe for soft pretzel bites while watching the documentary. I knew exactly what I was going to do when I got home.
For cinn-sugar pretzel bites, simply brush bites with butter while hot and dip in cinnamon and sugar in ratio of choice (maybe even add a pinch of salt to bring the flavor out). For garlic-herb bites, brush bites with a combination of melted butter and your favorite herbs + garlic powder (or freshly minced garlic).
Photo credit: Loosey

I used the same dough to make cinnamon sugar pretzel bites and garlic-herb pretzel bites. They were really good! The taste and pillowy but chewy texture remind me of Auntie Anne's pretzels, which are exactly how I think good soft pretzels should be. The recipe was super easy as well.

Photo credit: Loosey

While these pretzel bites would be deemed non-kosher, or trefah (treif or treyf in Yiddish), they were a delicious ending to my late-night, self-induced suffering that was my HIEU/RELJ/GETR research paper. I guess I'm blessed to be Christian because butter really makes the pretzels. Lawl.

Thank God I'm done with the paper! The rest of the week will be easier. Mazel tov :D

Random food fact of the day: While researching in a Jewish library in Paris, Claudia Roden was approached by a Jewish man from Alsace. He claimed that Alsace had the best Jewish food in France and gave her several recipes, including one for a creamy onion tart (tarte aux oignons d'Alsace). The tart is now one of Roden's favorite recipes. If you want it, let me know.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

kimchi bokkeumbap with kalbi (김치 볶음밥 with 갈비)

kimchi bokkeumbap (fried rice)
taken by my new droid incredible :D my point and shoot had no juice.

ask people who've eaten korean food before, and i can almost guarantee that they will recognize kimchi and kalbi (galbi). kimchi, as most of you know, is a fermented vegetable dish that is most typically made with cabbage and red chili peppers. kalbi is soy sauce-marinated short ribs, often prepared on the grill. combine these two delicious korean staples in a fried rice and your mouth is bound to water. right before spring break, all of my food (about $70 worth of new groceries) went bad when my fridge shut off while i was out. i told myself that i'd go grocery shopping at home before returning to the univ this past weekend, but that didn't pan out. luckily, my mom packed me two different kinds of kimchi (homemade. my mom's B.A.), kalbi and japanese curry. ergo, i've been living on that janks since monday. it has been a delicious few days, but i'm gonna have to run to the grocery store soon. who wants to take me?! no, really. i'm carless. please post in the comments or text me. HAHAH.

kimchi fried rice is salty, spicy, and full of texture (slight crunch of kimchi, chewiness of the rice, and tender short ribs that still have a bite). it's extremely savory and packed with umami. i topped mine with a sunny-side up egg because i'm a naughty fatty like that. mixing in the runny yolk = priceless. the recipe is stupid easy to boot.

kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice or 김치 볶음밥)
  • sesame oil or vegetable oil. better yet, a combo of both (veg oil will raise smoking point of the flavorful sesame oil)!
  • kimchi, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • cooked kalbi or other meat of choice (spam is classic. i <3 spam)
  • cooked rice, preferably a day old (basically, chilled/cold rice-- short to medium grain works well, but so do long-grain varieties such as jasmine)
1. Heat a pan (preferably a wok) on medium-high to high and add enough vegetable oil, sesame oil or equal parts of both to barely cover the bottom.
2. When hot, add kimchi and saute till slightly translucent and less raw. Add kalbi and saute until warmed through.
3. Feel free to add a few teaspoons of gochujang or kimchi liquid at this point if you want more flavor and/or moisture, but remember that you don't want to make your rice soggy. Then, add rice and stir-fry till liquid is absorbed and everything is combined.

Optional: top with an egg, roasted seaweed (gim gui, or 김구이), furikake, etc. also, play around with adding diff veggies or even tofu!
Note: if your kimchi isn't overripened or flavorful enough, feel free to saute minced garlic with the kimchi and adjust salt content after adding rice.

random food fact of the day (via wikipedia): Gim (Korean-style seaweed) that has been grown for 50 days is considered best for consumption, as the color and flavor are at their best.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

the dinner that didn't happen was good

i wanted to make dinner for my friend yesterday. not wanting to slave away in the kitchen during the evening, i threw some short ribs in yooni's slow cooker in the afternoon when i had free time. i turned that junk on high and left the house.

we didn't go back to the house for dinner.

the ribs braised for 9 hours on accident, and it was a delicious accident.

taken by pump (THANK YOU!), edited by vafooooo.
i got to spend more quality time with my friend by not returning home to make the rest of the dinner, AND i didn't have to worry about tonight's dinner. double win and rainbow all around. saruzi (sara & suzi) helped me finish this warm and cozy meal, perfect for the cool weather.

i served the red-wine braised short ribs with chili-lime corn and creamy asiago mashed potatoes. ever since we got back from women's retreat, where i had the privilege to play sous chef to the amazing deborah, i've been on a mrs. dash kick. it seriously makes everything taste derishus, and the mashed potatoes were no exception. added the right amount of spice and a little je ne sais quoiiiii.

a shout out to sara, who told me that i'd better update soon, esp since both of us deactivated facebook. hope you enjoyed the reading material, sara! lob you.

i laugh because it's true.

random food fact of the day (woops. i've been forgetting as of late): Before settling on the name "Mrs. Dash," the company considered the name "Mrs. Pinch." -via wikipedia


Thursday, February 3, 2011

wednesday dinner

i deactivated facebook. maybe i'll update the blog more as a consequence?

 spicy honey-brushed chicken sandwich (chicken, cheese, mayo, cucumbers on whole grain)

this isn't a real blog entry.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

orzo? shorzo!

that was a horrible, horrible title. i can't help myself.

orzo with sausage, kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion and garlic. dressed in lemon juice, balsamic vin, and evoo. shot by ongel, edited by meee.
i find it odd that i've never used orzo before. i guess i never saw the point of making orzo when i always have rice on hand. i mean, rulllly? pasta shaped like rice?

man, i was such a noob. i think deep down inside, i knew that orzo and rice were completely different beasts in terms of starch content, texture/mouthfeel, flavor, changes over time, etc. for serious, i'd never try to make what's pictured above with regular short grain rice. perhaps it was my strong cultural connection to rice (hello, i'm ASIANNN) that made me subconsciously reject orzo. obviously, orzo is just like any other pasta, but it has the advantage of being small enough to make spoonable pasta salad. its shape also lends itself well to getting coated in (and absorbing) sauces. this translates to a trip to flavor town, a place you wanna go to as often as possible.

and here comes a lame transition to my life/school matters:
 just as i've tried something new (orzo) and broken out of my comfort zone (only using rice), i'm trying to do a lot more of both this semester and beyond. hee.

i want to join new organizations. i want to make lots of crafts. i want to be more prayerful and do my QTs more consistently, even if that means i have to stop being lazy. i want to talk to people i've never talked to before. speaking of which, i was thinking about going to the office hours of my "German Jewish Culture and History" professor to ask him about his favorite Jewish dessert. then, i will make it and blog about it. is that weird?
i want to buy new running shoes (i left mine in richmond), which will hopefully motivate me to live more healthily. i want to share with my loved ones (Christian and especially non-Christian) the love and blessings that God continuously pours on me.

i'm in a gooood mood! 2011, let's goooooo.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

montea (monty tea)

i live in a house that has been dubbed "monty."
i've gotta say, i had mixed feelings about moving into monty back in august. on one hand, i was excited about moving in with three lovely ladies, redecorating the house, and living in a HOUSE rather than an apartment! on the other hand, there was a lot to clean up and out, a lot of stinkbugs (we pretty much live in the forest. sike... kind of), and no UTS bus stop directly by our house.

after the very first day, i knew i wouldn't want things any other way. the pros extremely outweigh the cons. most of the time, i'm actually all likeeee, "what cons, fool?" what really makes the house a home are the people i'm blessed to live with. one ritual that my homegirls and i do is drink craploads of tea (or hot apple cider, or hot chocolate!) together.

doong gool lae cha, aka solomon's seal tea, aka 둥굴레차. has a really heartwarming, barley-like flavor.

whenever we're up till the wee hours studying, you better beleeh dat our kettle is constantly whistling to us, beckoning us to the kitchen. whoever gets there first usually slings a couple of mugs onto the kitchen table, where we sit down to talk (or whimper). for those few minutes when we shuffle away our study material and talk about anything else, i feel truly happy.

every day, the girls that i live with make me happy by showing me Christ's kindness, love and grace. this entry is for you all. even though my teeth have literally turned yellow from all of our "montea" times (i've put myself on a crest whitestrips regimen over winter break), it's been worth it.

when i made this cranberry cake, i fondly thought of yall and knew this will be the first thing i'll make when we get back to charlottesville. it goes perfectly with tea or any other hot beverage. it's more of a country/rustic cake. dense, moist, slightly sweet, and tart.

if you want to skip the mushy talk and just want the recipe (along with an interesting activity), scroll to the very bottom :)
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ongel, you are my sassy and fierce sistaaa. mhm girl, you bring out my inner beyonce. you work crazy hard, yet you always find the time to make a lot of people feel super special, including me. you're the mother hen. you're particular and peculiar (hehe, admit it), but these qualities give you a darn special eye for detail and creativity. you're curious, intelligent, thoughtful and supa stylish :) i remember having lots of "WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!" conversations with you, starting my second year. you've come a long way since then, and i know you'll continue to blaze new trails by God's grace. but, um, please never graduate. please? i'm so glad my life is touched by an ongel (lawl, lil c) like you.

lil c, thank you for being "unfeminine" enough to kill billions of stinkbugs with your bare hands, going so far as to squeeze them between your fingers in order to smell their guts. i still don't believe that they smell like lemon zest, nor do i plan on finding out. your basket of hot beverage selections sustains my nights, but your sense of humor sustains them even more :). you can see right through people. you are wise beyond your years, even though you don't think so, which is a good thing. we totally live the same lives as older siblings as we've tearfully come to realize over winter break, haha. you take study breaks at 1:30AM with me to tear chicken meat off the carcass in our little kitchen that's missing window blinds (i'm pretty sure the guys next door think we're insane). you are a rare one!

pump, my fellow richmonder :) i don't care that you officially live in texas now. once a richmonder, always a richmonder. HAAAA that sounded dumb. your calm demeanor relaxes me and has also become a quality i want to strive for. you're extremely hilarious, but not enough people know. your massive confusion when it comes to baking a recipe (bless your heart for those apple pie bars) makes all of us smile because you're such an instant pro at everything else. you know lots of sciencey things i will never understand. you are THE myers-briggs personality type test conductor and evaluator. you're so sweet, you don't even make fun of me when i nearly trip and fall on my face -_-. your photos take my breath away, and your written words (are you still updating your blog, hmmm?) strike me with emotion. rul talented :)

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in lieu of a random food fact, i have a little treat for you. a "3D" picture! but you have to work for it, and i can't guarantee that you'll be able to see the 3D image. if you loved those "Magic Eye" posters as a kid, you'll be fine. now, i forgot to try and do this earlier in the day, and by evening only half the cake remained. maybe you'll feel like you can reach through the screen to grab the other half :)

directions: relax your eyes on the white dots, pretty much "crossing" your eyes till you get double vision. slowly bring the innermost "dots" from each side into the middle to create one central dot in your vision, and gaze directly below to the cake pic. you'll see a pic of the cake on the left, a clear "3D" version in the middle, and a pic of the cake on the right. good luck!

easy country cake with fruit
(if someone finds the original owner of the recipe, please let me know so i can give credit! i think i only decreased the sugar).
1. preheat the oven to 375F. cream 1/3 c softened butter with 3/4 c sugar until pale and fluffy.
2. whisk in 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla until well combined. whisk in 1 c milk.
3. gently stir in dry ingredients (pre-combine 2 c flour, 1 tbsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt) until JUST incorporated.
4. pour batter into a 9-inch pan that's been greased and floured, swirl in your choice of fruit (i used homemade cranberry preserves), and bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.