Sunday, February 27, 2011

Palm Springs

Not the best weather, but a great time had by all.  Happy Bday to my FIL and many more! 

Our favorite things about Palm Springs during our short visit: 

Gorgeous mid-century modern, truly Californian architecture.  Apparently, the Bauhaus movement was big there.  (As a side-note, H and I met in a Bauhaus-style building--you know, totally unornamented, utilitarian, stark, some would say horribly ugly, you get the picture).  But seriously, if you like classic Californian 1950's era homes (think low-pitched roof, open-beam ceiling), Palm Springs has a lot of eye candy. 

We also really liked the restaurant where we gathered for my FIL's birthday dinner:  Spencer's.  Special shout-out to my SIL for choosing it.  The food was good, service was attentive, and ambience just right!  Also, any place that serves fries with truffle oil is okay by me. 

Things about Palm Springs that confused us:  how did this place become a go-to spot?  It's in the middle of the desert!  What do people do in the summer when it's routinely in the 90s/100s? 

The house where we stayed.




Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two things

This week has been busy with work and woefully lacking in the blogging inspiration department.  Two things though--one light and inane, one serious and worthy of contemplation.  First, a Starbucks is opening nearby.  I'm elated.  This neighborhood has very few coffee options and while it might not be a Blue Bottle or approach anything artisinal in terms of coffee delights, it'll do.  Second, I'm thinking of becoming a quasi-vegetarian.  I'm going to have to ease into this.  Pork is definitely being eased out.  Maybe more?  I've never really been into the vegetarian scene--too restrictive and I love steak--but I've now seen one too many animal cruelty exposes to proceed without supreme guilt.  So, we'll see.  Baby steps!

And because these make me happy, and no meat is involved, I now present:  more macarons.  I shall feast on you soon, my dearies!  You get me, right, Lai?  Doesn't this photo just scream "waste your money on me!!"?

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Favorite Foods

Remember when you were a kid and people sometimes asked you, "What's your favorite food?"  And you know how little kids, including yourself, usually answered:  "hot dogs!" "pizza" or better yet, "ice cream!"?  Well, I used to always answer "my grandma's tak-tori-tang."  Insert puzzled look here.

A lot of my childhood memories involve my grandma's amazing cooking feats and so naturally, my favorite food was one of her creations.  Tak-tori-tang is basically a spicy chicken stew.  I tried my hand at it last week, totally on a whim one night, too late at night to call my grandma for the recipe.  Plus, I find that for people who are awesome cooks, like my grandma or my dad, recipes aren't precise -- they're operating on instinct.  So, of course, I googled it.

This is the recipe I used.  Definitely try it.  But use less red pepper paste.  3 tablespoons was too much so H drank his fair share of water.  Not as good as my grandma's tak-tori-tang, but a decent effort!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Visit to Sweet Rose Creamery


H and I stopped by Sweet Rose Creamery in Brentwood earlier today.  I had seen a little profile on the place while watching Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel, so when we found ourselves nearby (sort of), I persuaded (read: strongarmed) H into making the trip over.  The place is tiny and cute.  I had the best-selling salted caramel (with extra sea salt on top?  um, yes, please!) and H had the Caffe Luxxe (the name of the cafe next-door) coffee flavor, both served in waffle cones.  While a wee bit pricey (about $4.50 per cone) and not quite up to par with some truly amazing ice cream I've had in the Bay Area (hi, Ici!), I'd still go back!



Coffee on the left; salted caramel on the right


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hey there little birdie

Hummingbirds.  They are so spastic.  The tiniest little birds you can imagine, almost bug-like.  With big, doe-ish eyes.  Growing up on the East Coast, I saw one once in my backyard (I think) and there was talk of another at some point.  It wasn't until I made it to California that people didn't treat hummingbirds like some fabled member of the unicorn family.  I had spotted a few outside our bedroom window and H was already thinking of getting a bird feeder so . . ta-da!  Here is our hummingbird feeder.  About 10 little guys (probably some of them are repeats) visit everyday.  They are so adorable!  And they're quick little boogers. 



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love is Sweet

Lovely lilies and scrumptious treats from my sweet.


 LOVE white lilies because they smell fragrant yet fresh and last forever since they arrive with tons of buds.  Paired with Bells of Ireland and green amaranth!  


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy V Day to you and yours!

Our V Day started on Saturday since that's the only day H has off.  He surprised with hot-air ballooning!  He woke me up at the ungodly hour of 4 am (which is, mind you, pretty much when he has to wake up during this rotation) and we trekked to the launch site.  I was so excited (and still a little zombie-like from lack of sleep)!  It was really fun.  You literally feel the sensation of floating on air, the ride is so smooth.  And because hot air balloon rides are usually associated with wine or citrus country in valleys, you have great vistas of flat land paired with mountains in the distance.  I recommend it!  Afterwards, the winery from where we launched set up a little breakfast with fruit and mini-cakes, and their signature almond sparkling wine. 

Another thing off my bucket list.  Now, about that one horse open sleigh...

Launch site
 
Up, up, & away!




This was a different company, but I love its name.
  


Horses were everywhere. 


Friday, February 11, 2011

Potato Goodness

I made latkes earlier this week!  Okay, they may not have technically been latkes.  I've never had a latke before, but this was definitely a potato pancake of sorts, and it was delicious.  H thought I had bought them somewhere -- I love it when that happens! 

This one's a little crispy on the edges but still oh-so-tasy
All you need to do is:  shred the potatoes in food processor, squeeze the excess water out, mix with S&P and 1 egg (and diced onions, optional), add a little flour if still too wet, pat into pancakes, and pop into a pan.  They should come out crispy and delicious. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zero Waste Part Deux

I blogged previously about the Zero Waste Home here.  I've been subscribing to the Zero Waste Home's blog ever since reading about it in Sunset, and Bea just posted a profile from her local news.  One thing that apparently struck Sunset readers, as well as her blog readers, is that her home is lovely and her family clearly has the time and money to attempt zero waste.  Watching the video, I can see their point.  Check out the video here.  I love her marble countertops! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Como se llama...

Spanish quiche?  Oh yes, torta.  I was a high school student studying abroad in Spain when I first learned of this dish, except I think it was introduced to me as "tortilla," its alternate name.  Confusion abounded.  But...what...aren't tortillas flat? and ... Okay, so it turned out tortillas or tortas are totally different from Mexican tortillas - think less burrito wrapper and more quiche without a crust.  All you need are:
  • 3-4 eggs
  • potatoes, finely sliced (I used red potatoes and sliced really thinly, but I think any potato works)
  • sliced green peppers 
  • shredded cheese (the original recipe calls for manchego cheese but I just used whatever I had, which was swiss and mozzarella)
  • sliced onions
  • I threw in some diced garlic because my ancestral people love the garlic
And because I have no patience for pic-by-pic instructions, here they are, sans pics:  Get out your oven-safe skillet, layer the potato slices on the bottom, saute them for a bit, then add the other ingredients (sans cheese); whip up the eggs with the cheese as well as S&P, and pour the mixture into the skillet.  Everything should be covered by the liquid.  Leave it on medium heat until it starts turning into a quiche-like cake, and when it's almost done, pop it in the oven at 325 so the top will brown.  Done!  Yum.

Pic by me; effects via Picasa

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Paris FTW!

It's going to be the city of love for these two newlyweds (can we still say that when June hits?) . . . H and I have both been before, but that was ages ago and it's time to go back.  We're all booked with our plane tickets and we have our hotel reservations in hand (one luxury chain and one boutique hotel).  This time around, here are some things I vow to do in Paris:
  • Walk to as many places as possible.  Being a native New Yorker in SoCal, my legs get antsy when I don't get to do enough hoofing.
  • Eat as many macarons as time, money, and stretchy pants allow.  Stock up, Laduree, I'm coming!!
  • Eat as much gelato as possible.  What? France is near Italy!
  • Read up on the French Revolution before my trip.  I love me some world history!!
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Recession Chic?

I know that the recession is old news.  And aren't we on the upswing finally?  Seems like someone finally sent the "hey, everyone's hurting" memo to Tiffany because I was pawing through their February 2011 catalog (you know, the one they "conveniently" send a few weeks before Valentine's Day) and saw a lot of reasonably-priced things.  Okay, so reasonably-priced for TIFFANY.  Their silver stuff is notoriously over-priced for what it is, but a lot of it is now $100.  And where there used to (and I mean, as recently as a few months ago) only be two pieces for $100, now there are several. What gives? 

And because it's beautiful (and STILL way overpriced--H, please look away), here's my favorite line from Tiffany:  Jazz!  Annoyingly, the Jazz line has survived the recession pricing.   

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

I like this

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Swoon.  Heart palpitation.  This kid's room is adorable.  I can hardly believe it's a real room and not some set.  I wonder how long it takes the kid (read: mom or housekeeper) to get the pillows "just so."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Green

I have a love/hate relationship with plants.  House plants, to be exact.  I should be much better at taking care of them.  I'm genetically predisposed to having a green thumb after all.  Both of my parents have green thumbs, and my maternal grandfather was an amazing gardener.  So what's up with me? 

My biggest plant success was also my biggest failure.  I had a gardenia plant for my office back in 09.  Notoriously difficult to tend to, the plant failed to give me flowers for months.  Maybe it was the season?  I don't know.  But it was a pain in the butt, and even got little spiders at one point.  Then, suddenly, in late winter/early spring, it gave me over twenty flowers, one after the other.  It was incredible.  Milky, snow white, velvety blooms.  I even saw some flowers unfurl at work.  It was so prolific that people at work could smell it from down the hall.  Sigh.  I loved it. 


 

 
Then, during Thanksgiving week, I left it in a sunny window down the hall since my office wasn't getting enough sun.  I forgot about it.  It not only died from lack of water, it dried up into a crisp.  Doh!  Woops.  That was over a year ago.  Time to try again?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Conflicted

It's getting down to the wire for H and I to pick out our vacation spot for March.  We have our tickets to NY for before and after our trip, but we don't know yet where to go.  The problem is too many options.  It's like how I get when presented with those enormous diner menus, or the menu at Serendipity.  Duuuhhhh.  Deer in headlights.  Frozen.

Anyhoo, choices include:

Paris
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Rome
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OR....someplace in a totally different direction.  Like Costa Rica, Aruba, Bermuda (probably too cold), Puerto Rico, South America, you get the picture.  Wherever it is, we're going to have to decide this week before prices get crazy...
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