Updates in the New Year

15 Feb

I can’t wait for spring. Bring on those allergies!

Cherry Blossoms at Housing Department

Beautiful cherry blossoms outside Student Housing building

Oh, and happy belated Valentine’s Day to you!

Happy Valentine's Day :)

A purple daisy for you!

A purple daisy for you! --- Basket of roses and purple daisies courtesy of my mom.

Terrarium from Papa

Received a terrarium from Papa

It was one of my best friend’s birthday on January 23rd so I sent her a lovely care package filled with goodies.

Birthday Care Package: Chocolate covered pomegranit seeds, chocolate mints, Hi-Chew candy, a stuffed cow with a T-shirt that reads "Someone from UC Davis loves me", and a cute ducky letter ---- oh, and don't mind the awkward person in the background...that's just my friend (I think) or her roommate P

Dry Hair Remedy

My hair has been feeling dry because of the cold winter weather here, so I found a new way of hydrating it: avacados, bananas, and egg.

Now don’t laugh because it works. Ladies (and gents), if you have dry hair on the verge of split ends this is a great remedy.Many shampoos that claim to rehydrate hair have avacado oils so why not just ditch the extra chemicals and go straight for the real fruit? Bananas are also helpful for making hair shiny. However, I listed it below as optional because it gets very sticky and is hard to remove.

After the first use, I saw a great difference. My hair was soft and shinier. The next week I didn’t even have time to use the homemade remedy and my hair still was soft after shampooing.

Here’s what I did:

– 1 ripe avocado, mashed

– 1 egg, beaten lightly

– 1/2 ripe banana, mashed (optional)

– long-toothed comb (a must-have if using banana)

As you can see, the banana and avacado here are not that ripe. You MUST use ripe fruits otherwise the avacado will crumble instead of turning into a mush. Banana is also hard to smush but still useable.

After combining all these together in a clean bowl, spread onto the dry parts of your hair. For me, this was from the mid part of my hair to the bottoms (not the top). Lather up your hair as if you were shampooing. Keep in hair for 2 hours. Wash out, and then shampoo and condition hair as usual. Do this twice a week at least. Results guaranteed! :)

*If using the banana, then make sure you have a long-toothed comb. I suggest leaving hair wet after washing it, and thoroughly combing all the banana fibers out.

Since I’ve been away for a long time, I’ll just sum up these past 3-4 months as:

fun! Met lots of nice people at college.

successful! Got a 4.0 last quarter.

laid back! It didn’t seem like that last quarter but compared to this quarter, it sure is. This quarter is a killer with the extra class I’m taking, applying for jobs, and finding the right apartment to live in next school year.

Since it is the new year, I do have some resolutions:

1. Make more friends. –> I have a great start already :)

CKI Greengate Elementary Volunteer Event --- awesome people, might I add. <3

2. Maintain friendships better. –>Working on this. Care package is a start!

3. Keep up my grades. –>So far, so good.

4. Apply (and hopefully get hired) for a job during summer and/or the next school year. –>So far, I have a job for the summer as an Orientation Leader for incoming freshmen and transfer students! Yea!

5. Make the most of college socially, academically, and spiritually. –>Bible study is going well.

Things I would like to do:

– read more often

– sleep more

– go out more

– bake more

– update this blog more!

What are your new year’s resolutions? Or, why don’t you have any?

Food-related Tidbits from my Classes:

Think of this essay as orange. You want to squeeze it to get the juice, but you don’t want to squeeze it so much that all the pulp and seeds come out. I will grade your essay as if it were a glass of orange juice so try not to over think (and do) it; I don’t want any pulp or seeds. – Cultural Anthropology Teacher Assistant (TA)

You can’t be nice. In economics you’ll find that when you try to give something away you simply can’t do it. For example, there’s this restaurant in San Francisco that serves a $20 meal for only $10. Great deal right? Well not really. You see, the line of people waiting to eat at the restaurant is extremely long. People wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before they are seated. They pay less $ but they lose their time, which could be used for something more productively. Like they could be eating somewhere else, spending their money elsewhere, which would help society’s economy. This of course assumes that the monetary value of the people waiting is the same for all

Now assume the restaurant owners feel bad for the people waiting in line so they start serving FREE wine. Nice right? Nope. By doing this, the restaurant is creating rent seeking loss, hurting society’s total surplus, and wasting people’s time. – Microeconomics Professor

A mi me gusta cocinar, comer, y cenar. Y tu? – phrase from my Spanish essay (pardon the lack of accents and upside ? mark)

Translation: I like to cook, eat, and dine out. And you?

Comment below on what you like to cook or bake.

77. Cooks often add some salt to water before boiling it. Some people say this helps the cooking process by raising the boiling point of the water. Others say not enough salt is usually added to make any noticeable difference. Approximately how many grams of NaCl (salt) must be added to a liter of water at 1 atmosphere of pressure (normal room pressure) to raise the boiling point by 2C? Is this a typical amount of salt that you might add to cooking water? – Problem from my chemistry textbook

In regards, to this question what is salt used for if it’s not to raise the boiling point? I know some cooks add salt to water when boiling pasta to make it tastier.

Wow. 113 grams of salt is needed! Feel free to double check my math. There's always room for mistakes.

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Mummy Cupcakes, Anyone?

5 Nov
Blue-eyed Mummy Cupcake

Blue-eyed Mummy Cupcake

It seems like I have been a lot of baking lately with the huge batch of cookies last week and then with my latest adventure: mummy cupcakes.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to bake. But baking on a schedule with classes right after and homework and studying that needs to be done, enjoying the process of baking is hard (especially the cleaning up part -of ugh).

So these mummy cupcakes are probably going to be the last of my baking until Thanksgiving. That’s when the baking-cooking marathon really starts. And this year’s menu is changing too. There’s going to be more Filipino food and vegetables. I am personally going to make sure we have eggplant Provencals like the ones I had in the Dining Commons here in Davis.

I don’t want to give away the whole menu quite yet so instead I’ll tell you about the mummy cupcakes.

I made these for Cooking Club because the theme was Halloween (duh!). I saw these on the Joy of Baking website (my favorite resource for baking recipes!). I didn’t have my piping bag with me so I couldn’t make the cupcakes quite as nice of Joy of Baking but they turned out cute I think. And, I put in the extra effort to design their faces. (Yes, I put the chocolate sprinkles one by one.)

Mummy Cupcakes Recipe found here from Joy of Baking.

The family of mummy cupcakes. Every family has to have its personalities right? :P

First Post from My Davis Dorm

30 Oct

Hi Everyone!

I’m here to quickly post up some pictures of my food adventures at UC Davis. For those who know me personally, you will have seen some photos on facebook but I have some new photos and stories here.

FYI: If you’re interested in more frequent updates on my food adventures, then you can follow me on twitter: @Notebookworthy. :)

Downtown Davis Farmer’s Market

Check out the prickly pears on the right! Who knew they existed? And I never knew there were different shades of purple that eggplant could be. And don't even get me started on how strange those squash look. Amazing. *I also like their sense of humor. The sign over the eggplant says "Grill me! I'm a superstar." :P

So at the farmer’s markets, I usually go with my friend Liz and the last time we went, we ended up walking up and down and all around the market 6 times, and each time we saw something different. The second time we went there we learned not to eat breakfast before hand and to instead get there early and buy a freshly baked pastry. I got a large cinnamon roll – the size of my whole hand with fingers extended! – and she got a scone and expresso.

But the first time we went we had a good time too because we ended up buying fresh basil, chinese long green beans, several types of eggplant, squash, and garlic. Then we made a veggie stir fry the next night. We were happy kids especially since we were so used to eating like this at our homes.

Segundo Residence Hall Garden

Luckily, I don’t have to go all the way to the official student farm which is located off of campus because the residence hall here has a little garden where we can grow produce. After the summer vegetables were harvested, we planted the fall (winter?) produce like purple and white beets, green beans, squash, tomatoes, basil, and much much more. I was only able to stay for an hour so I’m not sure what else they planted but I passed by the other day and all the boxes are filled so this week I’ll figure out what else they planted.

No more having to try growing tomatoes all by myself on the rooftop of my apartment. I've got a garden team!

The Green Chef Challenge: Team Cuarto!

At the Dining Commons (DC), I saw a sign posted calling all cooking enthusiasts. How could I not resist?

Photo credit: UCD

I got lost on my way to Cuarto (the dorms of campus) and almost ended up on the freeway….on a cruiser bike. Right before the road turned into an on ramp, I pulled into some apartments’ parking lot and called the coordinator. Luckily, she steered me in the right direction. :)

We had a team of five and one UCD chef, a list of vegetables produced on the Student Farm, and a 3-hour time limit to create a dish for the judges who would judge the dish on appearance, taste, and reproducibility.

Some of the ingredients:

  • eggplant
  • olive oil
  • setan (meat substitute, made of flour)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • mini strawberries
  • vinaigrette sauce
  • boy choy
  • zucchini
  • brown rice
  • sea salt

    Photo credit: UCD

We could NOT use:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • oil

It was difficult to create the flavors we wanted since we couldn’t use the above items, but I think we did pretty good considering we were limited.

The chef had great ideas so we mainly went with his ideas but we were free to incorporate some of our ideas and own techniques while prepping and cooking.

photo credit: UCD

And our final creation included:

  1. Mixed vegetable gazpacho (cold soup) with fried eggplant chips on top
  2. Bok choy vegetable fried rice in a thin zucchini wrap topped with fried setan and fresh cherry tomatoes
  3. Strawberries rolled in a fresh vinaigrette sauce

photo credit: UCD

Cooking Club

I also joined the Cooking Club at Davis. The first meeting’s theme was “Home” so I made an apple blueberry cobbler with a cinnamon walnut crumble on top. It was a hit! The girl behind me was talking to someone and she said, “OH MY GOD. This cobbler is delicious, guys! I’m going to get some more.” It made my evening and helped me survive through Philosophy discussion which was right after.

Apple Blueberry Cobbler with Cinnamon Walnut Crumble Topping

(unbaked) Apple Blueberry Cobbler with Cinnamon Walnut Crumble Topping -- yes, there was oatmeal in the crumble too!

My plate: pesto pasta, marinara pasta, banana bread, poppy sead cupcake, chocolate chip cookie, and my cobbler :)

My plate: pesto pasta, marinara pasta, banana bread, poppy sead cupcake, chocolate chip cookie, and my cobbler :)

This week’s theme is Halloween so I’m going to bake pumpkin spice cupcakes in halloween cupcake liners. So excited!!!

Hopefully I don’t get sick this week though. Last week baking with a fever was no fun. :(

Circle K International – UCD

I happened to see a post on the UCD Class of 2015 post asking if anyone was going to the Circle K meeting. Having nothing to do and simply browsing through the site, I kept reading the comments. Someone asked, “What is Circle K?” The original person responded saying it’s a community service organization/club on campus.

Since I was looking for this kind of club, I was immediately hooked. I Googled what Circle K was and found their website here.

I was sort of thrown off with all the video game references because I thought “Eh… I may not fit in with this group after all…” but I went to the calendar and I liked the various events they held and the other service organizations they were affiliated with. I was especially intrigued by the “Challah for Baking” weekly event.

After emailing back and forth with the service rep from Circle K, I went to Challah for Hunger, had lots of fun, and then went to the general CK that night.

Funny story about that meeting actually. A couple of the CK members at Challah for Hunger mentioned that the meeting’s theme was plaid. “Where any plaid you have,” they urged warned. It felt like a warning at least. Their facial expressions seem to say, ‘If you don’t wear plaid you’re going to have to suffer some sort of embarrassing public humiliation.

After Challah for Hunger I went back to the dorm and pretty much ran around the tiny little room as if I were a tornado. I tore through my drawers and closet as if the building were on fire and I was trying to find my most precious possession. I was about to give up finding a plaid anything when I remembered that I had this plaid pajama top.

I wasn’t sure if this was something that was presentable for outside but I had nothing else. The plaid shirt was sort of fuzzy, made of red material with forest green lines so I paired it with a lighter forest green shorts with a brown belt and a yellow tank top. I figured I was going to go for a “forest ranger” look. Luckily, it didn’t turn out too weird and at the meeting, I won team points for being in theme clothing for my new CK family – the Zoras!

Right after the meeting, I had to go to the Dining Commons (DC) to have a reunion with the Green Chef Challenge participants so I simply went there with my plaid costume. It was getting cold so I buttoned my plaid shirt up all the way – which was a bad idea – because I really did look like I was about to crawl into bed and go to sleep (haha). And funny thing too was that we took pictures so now there’s evidence! But, I’m not posting the pictures here… :P

Anyway so since I like adore being in CK a lot especially in the Zora’s, I decided to bake them cookies for the next meeting. Unfortunately I had baked for three straight hours the day of the meeting while having a fever so I was not in great shape in time for the meeting. I dropped off the cookies with the team leader hoping they would get eaten, but they weren’t eaten until two days later! By then my beautiful graham cracker topping was not crunchy, but everyone still loved them. :)

Inspired by Picky Palate's S'more Cookies (recipe here). I was actually going to only make 1 batch but decided that I didn't have time (and energy) to bake cupcakes for CK so I just doubled the recipe. By the way, when Picky Palate calls them giant, she wasn't lying. Look at how huge they are!

Challah for Hunger

Yeeee - challah if you like Challah for Hunger! ;)

I just mentioned that I volunteered at Challah for Hunger and for those who don’t know what challah is, it’s a Jewish bread. Now I knew it was bread but I didn’t know it was a Jewish bread so when I showed up at the volunteer club house – it’s literally a house – I was surprise but not deterred. Besides the house smelled of sweet pumpkin and cinnamon. (That week the recipe was for cinnamon sugar and pumpkin challah – yum!)

I eagerly joined where I could that first day which was simply making labels for the bags and putting the finished challah in them. Just to show you how bad of a speller I am, I was constantly misspelling every other bag by writing, “Cinnamon” and then “Cinnamin” (incorrect). Haha… luckily the guy next to me noticed and corrected me before I wrote too many “Cinnamin” bags.

Pumpkin Spice Challah - Week 1

The next week I actually participated in shaping the loaves with contained either nutella or olives. I’m actually pretty good at making the filling stay inside of the challah strands. :) And then because I was going home that weekend, I bought one olive challah and one nutalla challah. I was just going to buy one, but when I was given a sample of freshly baked olive and nutalla challah my taste buds gave me no choice!

Olive Challah - Week 2 ---- This one I actually ate with my mom and we warmed it up for 30 seconds and the whole loaf was delicious. The bread was soft like Filipino sweet bread but it was firmer than that; and the savory taste of the olives complemented the bread so well. Too bad we didn't have any olive oil to dip it in. And if you're wondering about the nutella, it didn't last long enough for a picture (haha).

The third week I showed up on time at 1pm and participated again in shaping the bread and filling it with pesto. (mhm…) I wish I could have tasted it but I had to leave early to help out at the Resident Garden and then see my Stats TA. (boo…)

The Dining Commons – Segundo

Eggplant Provencal with side salad and setan

Farm to College Theme Night

Farm to College Theme Night - all of these are REAL

Farm to College Theme Night - all of these are REAL

Ta Ta for Now!

So since it’s Halloween Eve, I want to wish you all a Happy Halloween!! I hope you taste all the lovely holiday foods out there. The seasonal treats make this time of year very special and memorable.

Savor(ing) Seattle: Pike Place Market

5 Sep

Space NeedleI’m back from my 6-day trip to Seattle with my mom. It was our first time and honestly we had a romantic vision of the city from watching movies like “Sleepless in Seattle”. (Who doesn’t  love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as a romantic movie pair?)

Yet though I had this romantic notion, I was also wary of the old rumor that Seattle gets a lot of rain. By the way people talk about it I was expecting Seattle to be raining all the time. In fact, I learned from the captain of the Argos ferry to Blake Island that Seattle doesn’t even rank in the top 10 of the most rainiest cities in the U.S. In reality it ranks 44th!

San Francisco gets roughly 19.7 inches of rain per year with 63 out of 365 days being rainy. Seattle gets 38 inches of rain per year. Unfortunately, Seattle is rather cloudy and drizzles more days of the year: 158 days in a year. I even experienced this little drizzle last Tuesday when for 5 minutes the dew-like raindrops drizzled upon our heads just as we went underground the streets of Seattle. (We were part of Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.)

But who knew Seattle was drenched ALL the time right? I mean, poor Seattle, it gets such a bad rap.

If you want to know the explanation of the bad rumor, follow this link: The Explanation!

After the Underground Tour, Mom and I went to Pike Place Market for our Savor Seattle food tour. We went to visit 11 different stores/shops/restaurants at the market place, tasted the product they’re most famous about, learned about the history of the market and of the shops, and then received a handy dandy VIP card that gave us 10-15% off of over 25 stores at Pike.

Here are some of the photos of the samples with links to the various places we visited.

1. Daily Dozen Doughnut Company

The doughnuts were made fresh right at the food stall. Plus the doughnuts were delicious and came in a variety! What more could a person ask for?

Daily Dozen Doughnut Company's mini doughnut

A mini cinnamon sugar doughnut. Excuse the fingers....

2. Wild Harvest

Wild Harvest's Huckleberry Cheese Cake

Huckleberry Cheese Cake

I had no idea what huckleberries were but the sign caught my attention. It read: HUCKLEBERRY. Well, I lie. That’s not the whole sign. I think it actually read: HUCKLEBERRY SMOOTHIES but I can be certain because as soon as I saw the word “huckleberry” my mind thought of the book by Mark Twain. Then after my nerdy brain switched into foodie mode, I thought about my Uncle who said he grew up eating huckleberry pies in Idaho.

But I still had that lingering question: What’s a huckleberry?

When I searched the food stall I found pictures of actual huckleberries displayed next to Wild Harvest’s huckleberry jams.  I was surprised to see that they looked just like blueberries, I kid you not.

Then I thought, “Is a huckleberry just a fancy term for a blueberry?”

Before I could ask Caroline or the workers behind the counter what a huckleberry was, we moved on. Later that night I looked up what huckleberries were and found out that they were their own species. However, they are related to blueberries so you can think of them as blueberries’ closest cousins.

3. Market Spice

The Market Spice sells spices like the ones shown in the picture but it also specializes in teas. We tried the fragrant Market Spice tea (yes, that’s what it’s called).

The tea reminded me immediately of cinnamon infused with orange (or is it the other way around?). Caroline said that there were three ingredients. A person offered cinnamon. Correct! Another guessed orange. Correct! But what was the last spice? Cloves!

Market Spice's spices

There were about 20 more shelves segments like these two.

4. Pike Place Fish Market

Flying fish, random yells from fishmongers, and delicious smoked salmon are the three things that come to mind at Pike Place Fish Market. This world famous market, which gave itself this title, is now actually just as well-known as its title suggests.

Pike Place Fish Market store front

It's always crowded here!

I don’t usually like salmon. Salmon burgers? Nope. Salmon jerky? Nope. Salmon sushi? Not a favorite. Salmon puffs? Pass.

Ah, but this place made salmon delicious. While on the tour we were given samples of their original smoked salmon, lemon pepper smoked salmon, and salmon jerky. I didn’t care for the jerky, but the smoked salmon was so tasty.

Original Smoked Salmon

Original Smoked Salmon

It was so tasty that two days later, Mom and I came back to buy a pound each of the original and lemon pepper flavors.

Tour guide Caroline with Fishmonger

Tour guide Caroline with Fishmonger

4. Frank’s Quality Produce

“Quality” is their middle name!

Eggplant

Delicious eggplant

How to Choose Eggplant

How to Choose Eggplant: look for a small 'dot' underneath eggplant. The smaller and more circular the dot is, the more likely the eggplant is male and therefore has less seeds and more flavor. (Male shown on right.)

Fresh Rainier cherries and blueberries

Fresh Rainier cherries and blueberries

Local figs

These local figs were so sweet (literally and figuratively!).

5. Pike Place Chowder

The chowder here is amazing and it better be if it won the Monterey National Clam Chowder three years in a row. My only complaint is that they need better sourdough bread bowls. Seriously, the bread had the look and texture of Wonder Bread. There was a slight sour taste but it didn’t complement the delicious chowder well. I guess I’ve been spoiled by Boudin’s sourdough.

On another note, I suspect that the bread was not great because the starter wasn’t good or perhaps the bread just wasn’t baked properly. If you look on Savor Seattle’s website, the bread bowl has a great looking crust so maybe we just went there on a bad day.

Special of the Clam Chowder of the Day

Special of the Clam Chowder of the Day

But if  great chowder is what you’re looking for, then this place has it! My favorite was the original New England style. My mom’s was the Seafood Bisque chowder. Ironically the large bread bowl shown was of their special clam chowder of the day, which was good but not as good as our favorites. We bought this before the tour – whoops.

Sample Clam Chowders

Sample Clam Chowders: Seafood Bisque (red) and Original (white)

6. Beecher’s Homemade Cheese

The cheese is made on-site even for the public’s viewing. Signs and pictures even describe the cheese making process. Then turn around and the counter to buy the cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and famous macaroni and cheese is right there. Brilliant store planning.

Cheddar Cheese that tastes like Gruyere

Beecher's cheddar cheese tastes like gruyere. Goes well with the whole-wheat seeded cracker.

As I munched on the cheese, I whispered to my mom, “This tastes like gruyere”, and gruyere is one of favorite cheeses after I first used in my baking two years ago. Carolina the tour guide then announced that the cheese was in fact cheddar but that Beecher’s used gruyere cultures. How a cheese can be one kind of cheese when it uses another cheese culture beats me but I was happy that I was correct. It made me feel I was truly becoming more cultured as a foodie!

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

The macaroni and cheese was a tad spicy but too cheesy for my taste. How did I ever eat macaroni and cheese when I was younger? I ate the Kraft version at least once a week. I even cooked it myself and for my mom as lunch sometimes. She ate it and even added tuna and chicken sometimes. That’s what I call love. I don’t find Kraft appetizing any more and now real mac-n-cheese is too cheesy. Whatcha gonna do?

7. Pear Delicatessen & Shoppe

Pear Delicatessen & Shoppe sign

The deli man and the woman whose family owns this delicatessen are fondly known as the perfect ‘pear’. (Cue the aw’s!) The deli man’s name is Brian Jones and he worked at many famous restaurants all over the world. He finally settled in Seattle and joined the family business. Together they renamed the deli to its current name to show that it has entered a new stage.

More about the history behind the deli: here.

Not only does this pair have a cute love story, but the pair also serves delicious sandwiches! We all sampled the ham sourdough sandwich with glazed onions and greens. I’m glad to say that this deli had much better sourdough.

Ham Sourdough Sandwich

Ham Sourdough Sandwich

8. Etta’s

Etta's crab cakes

Etta's crab cakes (the mini version)

Writing an introduction for this one is hard. I could talk about the award winning chef Tom Douglas who established this and other popular restaurants  (Dahlia Restaurant, Dahila Bakery, Lola, Serious Pie, Cuoco, etc.) each with their own specialty.

It’s nice to know Etta’s is a Tom Douglas restaurant because then you can assume that the food is good. But if you don’t know who Tom Douglas is, then knowing that this is his restaurant offers no insight into Etta’s.

I could tell you it has a fancy atmosphere and that the prices are steeper than other smaller food stalls at Pike Market. This, however, may just deter you from checking it out though.

But if you’re going to a restaurant then you will want to know one thing: how the food tastes.

And let me tell you, the crab cakes at Etta’s are to die for. I only had a small sample of the crab cakes – a mini crab cake to be honest – but if you are  a fan of crab cakes or wish to convince someone that crab cakes are delicious then go to Etta’s.

I didn’t eat anything else at the restaurant, but if the appetizer is this good then the entrees must be good here. It’s faulty logic that would never make it into math or philosophy books but you’ve got to trust me on this one.

If you’re not willing to gamble and go for a full meal, then go for the crab cakes. My suggestion is to take out the crab cakes and then hang out at this grassy area across the street. You’ll get a nice view of the water and boats on a nice day.

Grassy Field

By the way, if you’re wondering if I recommend this 2 hour, walking tour, I would have to say that since the price isn’t steep ($39 per person), it’s a acquaint little way to be introduced to the market place. It was definitely nice getting the inside scoop from the tour guide. Our tour guide’s name was Caroline so if you can request guides, ask for her. She was friendly, knowledgeable, and the store clerks all liked her. She even memorized all 15 of our names!

Savor Seattle also has other tours: Gourmet Seattle (3 hrs), Chocolate Indulgences (2 hrs), Craving Capitol Hill (2.5 hrs), Gourmet Kayak (3 days), and private events for groups. All tours are also by foot so bring a water bottle. They provide the napkins and food as well as nifty personal radio sets to hear the tour guide wherever you go. And if you ever get lost, look for the pink umbrella as each guide carries one – rain or shine!

Happy Fourth of July!

2 Jul

I’ve been so busy between volunteering as a Teacher’s Assistant for a week at my old school, then starting my Nutrition class at Skyline College, and interning at the Chinese Hospital to publish their annual newsletter.

Whew.

I know my friends may think I’m crazy for doing all this during summer, but to be honest, I love to keep myself occupied. I enjoy lounging at home but it’s nice to have stuff to do, things to do, and people to see.

Because I’ve been so busy  I haven’t had time to update the blog. I’ve been meaning to update it with fabulous pictures of the restaurants I’ve been to so I finally did that in the first post of today. Haha. I go about a month with not a peep and suddenly two posts in a day. Look out!

Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake

Inspired by Nicole Weston (Baking Bites).

With my new Android phone I’ve been able to receive tweets directly on my phone. I use my Twitter account basically to follow other bakers, bloggers, and food-related people/organizations like SF Food Carts (@sfcarts). One of those bakers is Nicole Weston (twitter alias: @bakingbites).

She tweeted “The perfect cake for 4th of July. Or any day in July, really. http://fb.me/E50y6aCr” on June 24th.

Nicole Weston's (aka Baking Bites) original Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake. All credits to her. Delicious looking, ain't it?

Always wanting to bake for a holiday, I clicked on the link. When I saw her picture of the cake (shown above) and read the directions, I knew that the cake was within my ability.

“I can do that!” I remember thinking my mood suddenly lifting.

Adding the berries in

And that’s just what I did today. I baked that cake and made the frosting. I’m going to cut a slice for my dad so he can try it as well as cut more slices to share with Eric (my friend, buddy, and family friend). Of course, if I remember any other people who would like to have some, I would share with them too! That’s the best part of baking: sharing with others.

Please see Nicole’s site “Baking Bites” for the recipe.

Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake

My version of Baking Bite's Red, White, and Blue Berry Yogurt Cake

Slice of Berry Cake 2

Slice of Berry Cake

Moist Banana Walnut Bread

Tartine's Banana Walnut Bread

Adding the toasted walnuts and sprinkle of (improvised) oatmeal

I can’t remember how many times I’ve posted a recipe for banana bread here. My go-to recipe for this has been from this random blog I found about two years ago, but I’ve found another favorite.

This recipe for banana bread is from San Francisco’s beloved bakery Tartine. I went here last year for my birthday and loved the experience. Luckily my mom anticipated my attachment to Tartine and gave me the cookbook right then there too.

I don’t think I’ve made anything from the cookbook until now because I was looking for another banana bread recipe for my mom’s coworker on his birthday.

This banana bread is rich with a tender crumb. It uses three bananas  – most recipes I’ve come across only use two – and real butter – not oil like most recipes. Oh, but this makes all the difference.

If you would like this recipe, please email me at: nell.notebook@yahoo.com

I would be happy to share this wonderful recipe with a fellow baker. :)

Tartine's Banana Walunut Bread

Finally, Happy 4th of July to you all!

Eat to Bites: Cheap Burger Joints and an Authentic Italian Restaurant

2 Jul

I love saying Tom Hank’s character in the movie “The Terminal”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about this man from a fake country called Krakozhia. He’s stuck at New York’s JFK airport because he can’t enter the United States because the US doesn’t recognize Krakozhia as a sovereign nation amid a revolution that broke out just as Hanks landed in JFK. At the same time, he can’t go back because there are no flights going there so he ends up staying at the airport for many years. This is based on the true story of  Mehran Karimi Nasseri who stayed for 18 years in one of the airports in Paris, France.

Anyway, that’s where my post title comes from because in the movie Hanks has a hard time saying “Want to get a bite to eat?” when asking Catherine Zita Jones’ character out for dinner. Instead, Hanks says “Want to get an eat to bite?”.

Sandwiches

1. Red’s Java House

Pier 30
Bryant & Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94107

This place is located right near the the Bay Bridge that links Oakland and San Francisco, but is ultimately located in San Francisco. Don’t worry about street noise pollution though because you can’t hear the cars whizzing by at all nor will your views of the bay be obstructed by anything.

Eggs and Chili Rancheros

Eggs and Chili Rancheros - $6.95

When I visited Red’s about two weeks ago, I was somewhat surprised that only two types of coffee are served so if you’re looking for a wide selection of coffee, don’t come here.

Hamburger on Sourdough

Hamburger on Sourdough; came with pickles, mustard, onions (no lettuce or tomatoes) - $3.42

On the other hand, if you like a place full of history – there are perhaps 50+ historic photos hung all around the inside walls – and cheap breakfast – San Francisco style – then come here. The atmosphere if anything will make up for any of the cons that you may find.

Interior of Red's Javahouse

Interior of Red's Javahouse

2. Buffalo’s Burgers Restaurant

5317 Geary Blvd
(between 17th Ave & 18th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121

Chicken Supreme Burger

Chicken Supreme Burger - $5.95 (I think)

Now since I live in this neighborhood, I’ve often seen this little restaurant when walking by on my way to the produce market. I never really stopped in there but I expressed my curiosity about going in to my mom several times.

One night when we were with a family friend and were at a lost of where to go, she suggested the place. I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for burgers, but I was willing to go anyway. Eating at a new place is always exciting.

Mixed Vegetable Terriyaki Bowl

Mixed Vegetable Terriyaki "Bowl" - $6.95 (I think)

Little did I know that I didn’t have to be worried about the lack of choices. Of course this is a burger place, but Buffalo’s offered chicken breast sandwiches/burgers, fish-n-chips, chili, buffalo shrimps (delicious!), and terriyaki chicken and veggie bowls. Oh, and there’s salads too.

Best of all, everything is cheap. Cheap,cheap,cheap!

It’s such a deal, seriously. The staff are friendly, the food is good, and the cost won’t make a dent into your wallet. I suppose the only thing that may be overpriced is their buffalo shrimps since it’s 1/2 lb for $6.95, but they’re still delicious.

Buffalo Shrimps with Fries
1/2 lb Buffalo Shrimps with Homemade Fries – $6.95 Buffalo’s also has a great tangy buffalo sauce. They sell it in containers just by itself.

Italian Cuisine

1. Mescolanza Restaurant

2221 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
Tel.(415)668-2221

I saw this restaurant featured on Check Please! last year I think. Like with Buffalo’s Restaurant, I never got around to actually going there until last week.

Polenta al Funghi

"Polenta al Funghi":roasted polenta with assorted seasonal mushrooms - 8.75

And let me just say, if you like thin crust pizza you must go here. And if you like vegetable pizza then you must try the Eggplant pizza called “Pizzetta Melanzane”. Pizzas only come in one size (8 slices). If you’re hungry, then you can finish it as a single diner. Also, the pizza is decently priced.

"Pizzetta Melanzane" (mozzarella, grilled eggplant, pesto, tomato sauce)

"Pizzetta Melanzane": mozzarella, grilled eggplant, pesto, tomato sauce - $13.95

The crust is cracker thin, the cheese on the Melanzane is not too overpowering, and the spices are tastefully used. (There aren’t too many.) I also suggest trying the desserts because they are divine!

"Pizzetta Mescolanza" (mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce)

"Pizzetta Mescolanza": mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce - $13.95

My mom and I told the waiter it was our first time there so he was very helpful. When I asked him if he preferred the tiramisu or “Cioccolata Con Amaretti” (chocolate flan with amaretto and crushed amaretti cookie), he told me the Cioccolata. No problem so that’s what I ordered.  My mom ordered the “Frutti de Bosco” (mixed European berries on cream in a shortbread crust).

"Frutti di Bosco" (a medley of European wild berries floating on a cream filling in an all butter shortbread crust)

"Frutti di Bosco": a medley of European wild berries floating on a cream filling in an all butter shortbread crust - $7.95

"Cioccolata Con Amaretti" : chocolate flan with amaretto and crushed amaretti cookie

"Cioccolata Con Amaretti" :chocolate flan with amaretto and crushed amaretti cookie - $7.95

When the desserts came out, he had three plates.

“This is the Tiramisu. It’s on the house,” he explain.

"Tiramisu": espresso, Marsala soaked lady fingers layered with mascarpone,  chocolate and Italian cream 	 - $7.95

"Tiramisu": espresso, Marsala soaked lady fingers layered with mascarpone, chocolate and Italian cream - $7.95

My take on the desserts? The tiramisu and chocolate flan are delicious! Get these. The tart was okay but the berries were kind of tart. Nice crust though.

Also, you should dress a little nice. Otherwise if you wear jeans (like we did) you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. However, if you don’t mind then you won’t be scoffed at by the patrons or staff. The staff were incredibly nice!

More thoughts…

So with all the restaurants that I review, I’m thinking about creating another tab next to ‘On the Shelf’. What do you think? Would this be easier to find my previous reviews?

Summertime Calls for a Feast

7 Jun

One Red Bell Pepper

With no more school (until September – yay!), I’ve had a lot of time on my hands.

I’m not complaining though. I get to wake up late, lounge around the house, finally get dressed after 2 hours, go outside and walk around my neighborhood, and annoy my cat to no end. Of

Three zucchinis course there are other days when I actually see friends but having all this me-time is wonderful. I can feel my batteries recharging. I suppose that

makes me a introvert, right?

Anyway, today started off as the same except that I knew that I was going to do some baking Two Carrotsand cooking. Yesterday my mom was craving a “brownie-like chocolate cake without frosting” but because of my doctor’s appointment, I didn’t have time. And just last Friday I was craving chili because of the chilly weather, which then got my mom excited for chili too.

She told me that I had the optiOne and a half cups of beanson of making

either today but I decided that I had the whole day why not make both? So that’s exactly what I did. I even made fresh corn bread!

 

 

The Dinner Table Components

Bowl of Chili sprinkled with Chopped Chives and Cheddar Cheese

Bowl of chili sprinkled with chopped chives and cheddar cheese - turned out a little sweet due to the canned diced tomatoes but with the ground Cayenne pepper it still had a kick!

Buttermilk Cornbread

Buttermilk cornbread - reminded me of the potluck at UC Davis

Oranges and Blueberries

Oranges and blueberries - to clean the pallet of course!

Chocolate Almond Torte

Chocolate almond torte - delicious, delicious delicious! A thin little slice of this dense (yet flaky) chocolate torte is all you need to satisfy any chocolate craving. Recipe from Joyofbaking.com

Mom and I also had an mixed green salad with chopped apples, mushrooms, and candied walnuts but I forgot to take a picture of it – whoops! Next time.

If you want any recipes, comment or email and I will be happy to share them with you.

Until next time, I hope summer is treating you well!

Whipped egg whitesChopped toasted almonds and chocolate butter mixture (Chocolate Almond Torte)Glazing the chocolate almond torte

Summer Tip: Check out your local Farmer’s Markets because summer fruits (melons, blueberries!, peaches!, etc.) and veggies are in season. This means great-tasting produce for good prices and a big “thank you” from Mother Earth. :)