Aug 31, 2009

one of my favorite bloggers left a comment for me

i'm still giddy about it. this is where you go for his hilarity -
i'm also giddy because someone other than my sister reads this thing. not that having just mui mui has a reader isn't enough. thanks for the support mui mui.
hubby sometimes comes here. actually, i bet hubby will be checking my blog regularly over the next few days.
hubby's in korea for the new few days. he will come back about 5 lbs lighter than when he left. why? because hubby does not like korean food. in fact, hubby hates korean food (gasp!). in his eyes, kim chee sucks. but before you start talking about the merits of kim chee, just know that white boy from michigan has come a LONG way, culinarily speaking. so before hubby left, i made a very american meal for him.
ribs and mac and cheese.
slow-cooked ribs that take 5 hrs and southwestern style mac and cheese.
not a shred of kimchee in sight.
blurry pics with awful lighting and recipes to come soon.

Aug 27, 2009

how good is your memory?

mine sucks. and so does hubby's.
there were just three. 1 - 2 - 3 items to pick up from the store yesterday and neither of us could remember the third item.
1 - toilet paper, this one was too important to forget. we were down to the very last roll. no reserves.
2- low-fat plain yogurt. a staple, everyday item for us
3 - something else. i couldn't remember it. i realized around noon yesterday that i couldn't remember it. i called hubby (mainly to let him know that i'd have to stay late at work) and asked if he remembered it. he did not.
i spent the rest of the day racking my brain for what this item could possibly be.
i mentally walked through our grocery store multiple times to try to remember what this one item is. was it important? did we need it that night? did we need it this weekend? was it a food item? was it from the pharmacy section? dear lord, what the hell is it?!?!?!
during my "trip" to the store, i remembered a bunch of other things - wheat germ for homemade wheat bread, chicken stock (yes, i buy the stuff from the carton, i don't make my own, judge away), parmesan cheese, etc. i even remembered that i need to buy lemons, which weren't on the original list.
i needed lemons for making baba ganoush. one would think that if i could remember the lemons for making baba ganoush, i would remember the thing you use to eat baba ganoush.
it took me a full day to remember that it was pitas that we needed.
great memory, huh?

Aug 25, 2009

what it means to love . . .chocolate

it means always having something that can make your day a little better.
it means having a store of different kinds of chocolate in your pantry at all times (cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate bars, bittersweet chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, etc.)
it means a heightened ability to enjoy life.
it means happy me.
and it means getting really excited during this time of year because the Ghiradelli Square Chocolate Festival is just around the corner.
hubby and i are going for the third time. third time's a charm, right?
the first time, i was completely overwhelmed by the chocolate. and hubby was overwhelmed by everything else. it was chaotic, loud, and confusing. hubby doesn't like crowds. hubby doesn't like kids. hubby especially doesn't like crowds of kids. so we left fairly soon and i did not taste as many things as i would have liked.
second time, we went with people we were trying to become friends with. the trip was fine, but those people are no longer our friends, we didn't mesh. the chocolate was good, but again, i did not taste as many things as i would have liked.
this is the third and possibly last time we will go to the Chocolate Festival. i am going to taste everything i want. this year, hubby is prepared for the crowds of kids. we are inviting people we are actually friends with. so come hell or high water, i will taste everything i want.

Aug 18, 2009

good things can take a long time

this is such a refreshing summer salad!  the ingredient list is rather short and the method is simple.  it's just one step that takes quite a long time.  but what's 4-5 hours?  
we start with fresh tomatoes, preferably the same size, but i couldn't do it.  i got my tomatoes from my CSA and from a coworker's garden.  

fresh tomatoes are slow-roasted in the oven at 250 for 4-5 hours (depending on the size of your tomatoes).  the flavor is amazing.  i could eat these plain.  i actually ate many of the plain and had to stop so that i had enough for the salad.  okay, so not the prettiest, but some of the tastiest food around.
the salad is just the slow roasted tomatoes with yellow wax beans, white beans, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. that's it! 
and yes, this picture is just a little blurry.  still working on those camera skills.
one wonderful thing about this is that the juices from the slow-roasted tomatoes (just some juices) is sweet and slightly acidic and mixes beautifully with a little bit of olive oil to give every bite some flavor.
Summer Salad with slow-roasted tomatoes and beans
6 or 7 roma tomatoes or equivalent
1 cup yellow wax beans (i stir-fried mine, steamed would be good too)
1 cup white beans (home cooked, if you've got the time, not canned)
handful or more of basil
1 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
just toss it together!

Aug 12, 2009

Taste of Ann Arbor

last week, we had an event with our Alumni Association. hubby and i both went to the University of Michigan, the best school ever. GO BLUE!
it's where we met. at a house party. my house party. fun times.
so every year, our Alumni Association holds an event called Taste of Ann Arbor where we fly out different foods from AA. we had Cottage Inn pizza (not my favorite, but they ship to CA), Stucchi's ice cream (ended up being a mess) and Zingerman's (baked goods to die for!).

the whole event went off without too many problems. except with the Stucchi's. this is what it looked like when it arrived.
lovely, huh? i got to clean that up. lucky me.
when it was all cleaned up, it actually looked appetizing.

here we are at the park. love the flag in the background.

hubby and our friend Y.

N and J enjoying some Stucchi's ice cream. also, you can't see in the picture, but N (in the pink below) is wearing stylish leggings and very cute shoes. i am perpetually jealous of the outfits that she's in! she's even fashionable in the park! i was wearing a t-shirt and jeans and my hair was in a messy ponytail.

delicious Zingerman's bread.
saving the best for last . . . Zingerman's brownies. and not just any brownies. black magic brownies. first brownie i've had in a long time that wasn't a recipe of my own (which all attempt to cut the fat in half). full-fat brownies. so so good!

Aug 10, 2009

zucchini bread mini muffins. visual fail.

they TASTED great.  but as getting them out of the pan was too much of a challenge, we ended up with not very traditional looking zucchini bread mini muffin.  
more specifically, we ended up with mini muffin tops and bottoms.
we had the problem because we ran out of non-stick spray.  i used oil and greased each individual mini muffin hole, but it didn't work.  
but we bought more non-stick spray today and i'll try it again soon.  
hubby likes these very much, as i add in cranberries and toasted walnuts.  
makes one traditional loaf of zucchini bread (in 9x5 pan).  or one tray of mini muffin tops and bottoms.
here's the recipe:
adapted from hubby's mom
1 egg and 1 egg white
1/2 cup oil (minus two tbsp)
2 tbsp plain lowfat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cranberries (we used frozen, i'm sure dried sweetened would be fine)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

preheat oven to 375
spray either a 9x5 loaf pan, mini muffin pan or a regular muffin pan.
combine eggs, oil, yogurt, vanilla, sugars and honey.  mix until well combined.  stir in zucchini.
in a separate bowl, combine flours, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.  mix until all specks of cinnamon are distributed.
pour dry ingredients into wet, stir until just combined.  stir in cranberries and walnuts.
pour batter into desired pan. 
bake until just you just start to see browning on top.
for the mini muffin pan, it took about 20 minutes.
the loaf pan could be 30-40 min.

Aug 8, 2009

the sauces - proof of my sad inability to absorb chinese

apparently, the many years i spent in Chinese school on friday nights didn't amount to much.  neither did the years of Chinese i took in high school and college.  somehow, none of it stuck.  i can barely read a lick of it.  
it's not usually a huge problem at the grocery store since i shop by sight and brand recognition.  but it's sort of an issue when a certain brand sauce isn't carried at the store.  
this is what can ensue:
on phone with mom
me: what do you put into zha jian mien?
mom: you need tian mien jiang (awful pinyin alert)
me: is that the one in the small, blue tin can?
mom: yes, that's the one, just look for the can.
me: looking and looking.  mom, there's no blue can.  
mom: well, look for something that says tian mien jiang
me: looking and looking.  mom, nothing says that.
mom: okay, well it's a kind of bean sauce.
me: reading labels.  is it black bean sauce?
mom: no
me: hot bean sauce?
mom: no
me: bean chili sauce?
mom: no
me: getting desperate.  ground bean sauce?
mom: maybe, i don't know.  starting to think of all the money and hours wasted at chinese school.  why didn't she retain anything?
me: well, it has sugar and no chilis.  i'll just get this one.
mom: okay, let me know how it tastes.

hi mom, 
thank you for talking me through the "sauce" aisle on the phone while i was at the asian supermarket.  
here are the sauces i bought. since the one the blue can wasn't available.
and thanks for telling me which noodles to buy.  i hope i got the right ones.
your eldest daughter

Aug 7, 2009

is. he. crazy?!?!

some people have questioned the sanity of hubby. i admit, i am one of those people.
this morning, for instance, the thought crossed my mind in a haze resembling something like, “mmm, crazy hubby, emph, early, cough, snore." it was early morning, maybe 5:30am, and he was already up and about.

see, there's something special about hubby.
hubby voluntarily wrenches himself up at dawn so that he can go do something he doesn't like - swim.
he's at the pool about 4 times a week to work on his freestyle technique.
hubby's a triathlete.
and not just any triathlete.
hubby's a long-distance triathlete.
hubby's a kick-ass long-distance triathlete.
this means he's dedicated (obsessive), determined (stubborn), and organized (about training).

i love that he is all those things and more. and that's probably why i allow myself to be dragged out of bed in the early morning on race days. i'm also his photographer. i'm not that good, but my photography services are free. what else am i going to do at the race? these things take hours!

last weekend was the Sandman Triathlon in Aptos, CA at Seacliff State Beach. Sandman's not a long-distance tri. it's a sprint. and so hubby actually worked about again that afternoon.

swim, bike, run.

hubby coming out of the swim. working on getting that wetsuit off.

hubby coming down a large hill at the end of the bike. love the alien helmut. oops, sorry, i mean aerodynamic.
hubby starting the run on the sand. cool remnants of a ship in the background.

the apres-race photo. he's happy with his time.

crazy hubby.

Aug 6, 2009

Zha Jian Mien! how's my pin yin?

last week, i had a craving for zha jian mien. so i drove to milpitas and got some takeout and it sort of satisfied the craving.
except the noodles were dripping in oil. and it felt like a rock in my stomach.
then, the next day, userealbutter posted her own zha jian mien. and i thought, why can't i just make my own?
well, the immediate answers were:
1. you don't have the ingredients
2. it's so cheap to buy in milpitas
3. you've never made it before
but really, they're just lame excuses.
1. i can BUY the ingredients, duh
2. even if it's cheap, it's still not good
3. it's never stopped me before!

note: i used ground turkey because the ground pork at the store looked too fatty. turkey's not traditional, i know, but my sister suggested it and my mom agreed, so i went with it.

cook the turkey or pork in the pan with some minced garlic. some recipes call for minced ginger too. i don't like ginger and so there's none in mine. plus, my mom didn't say to put in ginger. so there.
here's the very light colored pork (aka. turkey).

add all the sauces (soy sauce, hot chili garlic sauce, bean sauce, hoisin sauce) and the tofu. not plain tofu. marinated tofu. or do fu gan (there's that weird pinyin again).

zha jian mien. mien is chinese for noodles. so take this meat sauce and spoon it over some noodles. since this is a shanghainese dish, use shanghainese noodles. just a note: in my asian grocery store, shanghainese noodles came in three noodles size/shapes. i chose the medium one. not too skinny, not too thick.
add some julienned cucumber and some bean sprouts for some cool, crunchy goodness.

mmmm, craving satisfied.

oh boy, this is going to be hard . . . i did not measure

Zha Jian Mien
1 tsp canola oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 lb ground pork (traditional) or turkey (healthy version)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hot chilic garlic sauce
2 tbsp bean sauce
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/4 to 1/3 cup diced do fu gan (marinated tofu)
shanghainese noodles (enough for two)
handful julienned cucumber
handful bean sprouts

start pot of water for noodles.
heat oil in pan. when heated, toss in garlic and ground meat. brown the meat.
add noodles to water.
add sauces and do fu gan to meat. stir until combined.
drain noodles. top noodles with meat sauce, cucumber and sprouts. dig in!

GMAT practice question

if x = writer of this blog, then does x = what the !?@#* appropriately express the emotions being felt?

1) an e-mail was sent out by x's workplace that the calendar that details which 22 days will be furloughed over the next 11 months will not be released
2) x was informed earlier this week of the 2 furlough days for this month - the first furlough day = aug 10th (only one week's official notice)

please choose from one of the following answers:
a) Statement 1 alone is SUFFICIENT to determine whether x = what the !?@#*
b) Statement 2 alone is SUFFICIENT to determine whether x = what the !?@#*
c) Statement 1 and 2 together are SUFFICIENT to determine whether x = what the !?@#*
d) Either Statement 1 or 2 are SUFFICIENT to determine whether x = what the !?@#*
e) Statement 1 and 2 are INSUFFICIENT to determine whether x = what the !?@#*

Answer: D - Either Statement 1 or 2 is enough to determine that x is in fact thinking "what the bleep are you people thinking?!?!"
it's not bad enough that we will have furlough days, oh no, they can't even tell us until a week before when that day is going to be. lovely, bleepin' lovely.

Aug 5, 2009

one of the last little nutellas

when i went to italy with the fam, we stayed at hotels that had breakfast buffets in the morning. these buffets had little containers of nutella.
italian nutella is different than american nutella.
it is more delicious.
more hazelnutty (that's a word, look it up! okay, don't look it up, but it's still a word).
so every morning, my sister and i took a handful of little nutella containers back to our room with us and packed it away in our luggage.
i came home with about 9 or 10 little nutellas.
they are almost all gone now.

boston, here i come! (in october 2010)

a huge congratulations to A and S on their recent engagement!
i especially loved the way that A announced it as well:
phone rings as i'm driving home from grocery shopping. earplugs/headset thing plugged into phone, just gotta stick it in my ear. phone ringing. keep eyes on road. phone ringing. one hand on wheel. phone ringing. no time to check who it is. answer phone.
me: hello?
A: hi!
me: ohmigod! hi A! (just a note, i did not call her A, i called her by her full name). how are you?
A: i'm good. you sounded surprised.
me: oh well (blushing in my car), i'm driving.
A: oh, okay. so i was wondering if you'd like to be my bridesmaid?
me: OHMIGOD!!! OF COURSE! (trying to maintain control of car) (squealing and high-pitched inaudible congratulations ensue).

A and S - i am so happy for the both of you! your wedding will be wonderful, and i am honored to be asked to be a part of it.

Aug 4, 2009

warm quinoa and barley salad

this can be a great side dish or main dish.  i used it as a main dish recently, mostly because when it came down to it - i didn't have any more time to make something else for dinner (well, i baked some chicken for hubby).  this is a wonderfully refreshing, delicious and simple dish.  and it's quite easy to customize too - no dried cranberries?  no problem!  toss in some raisins if you want.  no walnuts?  toast up some almonds!  but the roasted beets . . . i think they're pretty imperative to the dish.

golden beets, pre-roasting.  i love how they look.  round. bulbous.  what a strange word.  b-u-l-b-o-u-s.  bulbous.  
roast beets in 400 degree oven.  while they're roasting, cook the quinoa and barley.  measurements?  umm . . . sorry, i did this dish mainly visually.  but i'll try.  about 1/2 cup quinoa and 1/2 cup barley.  cooked it in a rice-cooker with 1 cup water.   it'll take about 40 min, perfect timing since the beets take about 45 min.

beets roasted and peeled.  naked beets.  on an odd side note - hubby and i went to a comedy show last friday night with friends L and C.  long story short, the comedian (hilarious, btw, absolutely loved her!), Jackie Kashian, described her husband as her "naked friend."  hehe.  naked beets.  naked friend.  okay, the only connection is the word naked.  moving on . . .

dice the cooked roasted beets - i used just two.  fluff the quinoa and barley like you would couscous, with a fork.  add about the rice vinegar and honey.  toss.  add salt and black pepper.  add the dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, chopped arugula.  mix and you're ready to eat!

Warm Quinoa and Barley Salad
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
2 medium golden beets
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey (warmed to help mixing)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped arugula

roast beets in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  while it's roasting, cook quinoa and barley in the water, about 40 minutes in rice cooker.
cool and peel beets under cold water.  dice beets.
fluff quinoa and barley with a fork.
add beets.
add vinegar and honey, mix.
add salt and pepper and mix.
add walnuts, dried cranberries, chopped arugula and mix.
get a bowl and eat!

i did it!

i manged to do all those things according to my timeline yesterday! woohoo!
and what did it get me?
to tired. very fast.
to not having any energy to do GMAT questions.
but the quinoa (and barley, b/c i ran out of quinoa) salad/dish thing came out very good. recipe and pictures to come later. for now, i'll just try to carve out some time during my lunch break to cram in some GMAT questions.
hello sentence corrections (sarcastic smile and half-wave)

Aug 3, 2009

my goal for monday

is to get home by 5:30pm and in order . . .
prep golden beets
toss quinoa in the rice cooker
defrost chicken
preheat oven
change into my running clothes
find my ipod shuffle
put beets in oven
turn on rice cooker
run out the door by 6:00pm!
(yes, i'm leaving the oven on while i'm not at home, hubby should be home in mere minutes).
run for 45 minutes
finish making dinner and try to have on table by 7:30!
we'll see how it goes . . .