Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry, Happy Christmakkuh!

I hope you had a day filled with happiness and good times with loved ones. Here are some photos from my Christmas Eve and Christmas including some gratuitous photos of myself in another thrifted outfit. Thank you for indulging me this year by reading!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

Meg notified me that Richmond, Virginia has been proclaimed the capital of Tacky Lights. Thanks CBS Sunday Morning for spreading the word and showing me light displays I haven't seen. Our neighbors are on the official list, but the houses in the video put their display to shame.

This watch from 1928 is beautiful. I think we were meant to be...Sapphires are my birthstone after all. ;) (via Zuburbia)

I can't wait to explore the food pairing charts in this Nature article highlighted by Epi-Log and Gizmodo. From the article " North American recipes, the more compounds are shared by two ingredients, the more likely they appear in recipes. By contrast, in East Asian cuisine the more flavor compounds two ingredients share, the less likely they are used together."

Precocious was meant to describe kids like Alec Greven, who wrote How To Talk to Girls. (via Motivation Into Habit)

Fairway, which is right up there with Sahaldi's in Brooklyn Heights as, my favorite grocery store in the NYC area is now online. Yum.

Recipes Bookmarked
Glogg at NPR
Creamy Condensed Soup at Clean Eating 
Worcestershire Sauce at NPR Books

Tacky Christmas Lights (from a Point & Shoot Camera's Perspective), Richmond, VA, December 2011

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas from Meet Me in St. Louis is my favorite Christmas song after those in The Nutcracker. Read its history and listen to it here. The song begins at 00:36.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Char Sui and Char Sui Bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious! And I'm only a week late telling you about it.

Sara performed exhaustive research: testing marinades, grilling, searing and baking and baking char sui and then making several variations on buns: baked, steamed and vegetarian. You can see all of her work here. I used her alternative marinade without red food colouring or maltose and made the I-don't-want-to-go-to-the-store substitution of Sherry for Shaoxing Cooking Wine. As Sara said grilling gave the best result, I had my Dad work his magic on the pork with a result so beautiful that I was almost sad to dice it to create the filling for the buns.

The hardest part was figuring out how to steam buns without a bamboo steamer. Ultimately, I used a vegetable steamer insert in a large stock pot removing the lid as quickly as possible when steaming finished and drying it before replacing it over the next batch. This minimized condensation droplets hitting the buns and prevented unsightly blemishes. It also made me feel a bit like a magician!

This challenge took some time, but was surprisingly easy and my buns tasted just like the cheap, tasty, steamed buns I used to purchase in NYC's Chinatown. I highly recommend it; the recipes I used are below the photos and Sara's other variations can be found at the above link.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.    

12 Christmas Trees Made Out of Books... I can't believe it is almost Christmas! (via Courtney who retweeted Kay Steiger)

"Mike Naumes thinks Oregon schoolchildren should be eating more Oregon pears. And not just the D'Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's School Lunch Program, but the lesser-known Comice pears of southern Oregon's Rogue Valley." Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Pushes Local Pears For School Lunches with his proposed changes to the 2012 Farm Bill. 

Midnight Sun, Iceland is breathtaking. (via Gala Darling)

I was naive to think eugenics were limited to the Nazis during WWII. "States began practicing eugenics in earnest in the United States in the 1920s and ’30s, driven by a philosophy of social engineering once so popular that President Woodrow Wilson, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of the Supreme Court and Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, were ardent supporters." Thousands Sterilized, a State Weighs Restitution 

Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking Burkina Faso Cotton is heartbreaking, but to play devil's advocate... Shouldn't they get some credit for trying to use ethically grown cotton? Gosh knows where the cotton in my less expensive undergarments originates... Hopefully this issue can be resolved and they will continue supporting the region as I can't imagine the profiled worker's life getting better if they don't. (via Jaime and Carielle)

Recipes Bookmarked
Ginger Fig Crumb Bars at Lunch Box Blues
Lamb Kebabs with Pomegranate-Cumin Glaze at Epicurious
Minty Meringues at Camilla Styles
Nut Free Macarons at Brave Tart

Somewhere in Yellowstone National Park, August 2008

The Nutcracker is Christmas and the Waltz of the Snowflakes is my favorite piece from it. Growing up I wanted to perform the Snow Queen's the pas de deux.... That said this version doesn't have a snow queen, but hopefully you will find the sheer multitude of grand jetés as entrancing as I did.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

I always have wondered why older cheeses had sharp granules; Epi-Log explains.

Damn You Auto Corrects Top 25 Funniest Autocorrects of the Year made my eyes tear up from laughing so hard. It felt great. Don't click through if you don't find raunchy humor amusing. (via Alison)

Evan Ruggiero is inspiration to never give up... After osteosarcoma, multiple related surgeries, chemo and the amputation of his right leg below the tibia he is back to tapping. His inspiration is Peg Leg Bates. (via Meg)

"People like the farmer Joel Salatin, the cantankerous hero of Michael Pollan’s best-selling The Omnivore’s Dilemma, are routinely held up as visionaries for the kind of complete-nutrient-cycle, sustainable-agriculture operations they run in the comfortable United States, but Africa’s urban farmers are doing the same with far, far less." The Constant Gardeners by Joceyln C. Zuckerman

Motivation Into Habit provides some much needed fitness inspiration. (via Lara)

Recipes Bookmarked
The Crackling Spices of Indian Tempering at NPR's Open Window
Peppermint Pattie Pots de Crème at Eating Well
Ricotta Gnocchi with Spinach and Roasted Tomatoes at Vital Juice via Share our Strength's Cooking Matters
Sticky Marmalade Chicken at The Intolerant Gourmet
Thin Apple Tart and Linguine With Roasted Beets and Lemon Parsley Scallops at Tartelette

The Bear, November, 2011

Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine is much better than Bruno Mars' It Will Rain and has a very similar theme. Am I alone in not enjoying Bruno Mars? I change the radio station every time one of his songs plays.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.

Scott Amron has developed a sticker that dissolves to clean the fruit it labels.

Hedy Lamar, who I've always found stunning, was also  patented "a frequency-hopping technique [in 1942] that is found in most digital devices that communicate wirelessly today." Her biography has been added to my endless reading list. (via Curtis)

Speaking of stunning, Carmen Dell'Orefice is still living life to the fullest and modeling at 80(!).

An ice cream Eiffel Tower, insight into the creation of Häagen-Dazs and a discussion of General Mills' international marketing strategy for the brand (or what their strategy was in May).

There is a Sweet Valley High movie in the works from Diablo Cody. My interest is piqued, but we'll see if it goes further than my interest in Sweet Valley Confidential months ago. I still haven't read it and looking at its Amazon reviews I shouldn't bother. (via Emily Miller)
Recipes Bookmarked
Easy Melted Brie with Honey and Herbs at NPR 
Quick-Roasted Green Beans And Shallots With Garlic And Ginger Juice at NPR
Meringue-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole at Eating Well
Cracking the Poached Egg Code at NPR's Kitchen Window ... before you poach watch Harold McGee's 40-second method to determine your eggs' age!

 Sunset on The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Rooftop, NYC, August 2006
(Missing the city! This is likely to be my first year missing the Christmas decorations since 2004!)

kick it Stereoheroes remix

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Squirrel Print Clothing - What?!

Apparently squirrels were a print trend this the UK. I thought only Alpha Gam's were keen on squirrels, so this blew my mind and I felt a need to share a round-up of the items I found. 

The NW3 dress and the Dorothy Perkins shirt are my favorites, though I'm still not sold on wearing squirrels on my everyday attire. My squirrel charm on a chain works nicely for when I want to wear this woodland creature!

In case you want to indulge in any of these items or see them from different angles you can click through the pictures to the websites.

YMC Silk Squirrel Dress, $375 at Urban Outfitters

Pink Squirrels All Over Animal Print Socks, $8 or 3/$20 at Urban Outfitters 
(Strangely enough these hot pink squirrel socks are for men.)

NW3 Woodlands Dress, $218.22 at Hobbs NW3 
(They also have a maxi skirt and tie-neck blouse.)

Jersey T-shirt, $70 at Eley Kishimoto

Squirrel Print Tee, $38 (Sold Out) at Dorothy Perkins

Camilla Norrback Dorothy Squirrel Print Blouse, $118.17 (Sale Price...Sold Out)

Its Fun to Squirrel Around Dress, $38 at Aristocracie (Clever name, right?)

$19.95 at Hey Cupcake 
(They also have an apron, a onesie, etc... I surprised Amanda with the t-shirt for her birthday!)

T-shirt, $14 one day, $19 the next, so ?? but hilarious!

Guys... Lest you feel left out here is one for you too and what a deal at that price. ;)
Common Sons Squirrel Cardigan, $172.71

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

Britney Spears Volunteers Airbrushed Photos. I still <3 Britney; this is a cool move.  

Had Kevin.Murphy's Color.Bug Hair Shadow been available when I was in high school, I and my Mom would have been much happier. It gives the satisfaction of a crazy color without the commitment of Manic Panic or markers.

Want to lose weight? Shut your mouth by Jacque Wilson at CNN provides a perspective contrary to the norm. "To reach an identity goal, you need indicators of your accomplishments. ... Gollwitzer's studies found that when you tell people what you intend to do, and that intention is acknowledged, the recognition qualifies as an indicator of accomplishment. 'The danger is that you feel that you have already reached the goal and because of that you don't have to act on it any more,' Gollwitzer says."

Andrew Schneider's Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey: Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins was interesting. NPR's reply reassures that "Supermarket honey doesn't have pollen, but you can still call it honey. Call it filtered honey." It is always good to get several perspectives on a story.

Finally! An explanation for why I forget things when I transition between rooms... 

Recipes Bookmarked
Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon via Tartlette
Mint-Flavored Sugar at Pretty, Tasty Things (I had this last Saturday at Sheila's shower and was blown away. True story.)
Portuguese Cheese Puffs (Pao de Queijo) at the New York Times

 One Golden Tree Remains, November 2011, Mechanicsville, Virginia

The Sound of Winter

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today I Am...

Needs Being Met
Family & Friends
Understanding and
Lots of other little things that make me smile.*

Our feast is Sunday. I am making pumpkin pudding, chocolate pie and Alejandra at Always Order Dessert's Sweet and Sour Brussels Sprouts Hash. We also will be enjoying this unbelievably large sweet potato that I am tempted to give eyes. It is, of course, from Red Dog Farm whose bountiful harvest has been generously shared with me this year.

I hope you are enjoying the celebration of Thanksgiving today too...or if you are elsewhere I hope you are enjoying your Thursday.

*I'm also thinking about Organic Chemistry. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I have even found things to be grateful about it: having the opportunity to take it without getting into debt or dealing simultaneously with a crazy schedule, having an encouraging professor and having access to a tutor one hour a week for free, SI sessions and TA sessions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   
The Atlantic's highlights from the National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 are serious eye candy. My favorites are 14, 35, 36 (those feathers look like sequins!) and 39.

"Our children are suffering from a lack of any fruits or vegetables whatsoever. Canned, frozen, dried, juiced—anything would help. Here's a simple dictum for public health, endorsed by nutritionists across the land: All forms of fruits and vegetables matter." Not So Fresh: Does Michelle Obama's war on obesity give short shrift to canned and frozen produce? I'm learning this lesson, again, right now.

A recap of David Chang of Momofuku's Science & Cooking Public Lecture at Harvard... “It’s like a spice rack, if you collide micro-organisms with food – it makes the food delicious.” The lecture series has covered some fascinating topics and past lectures can be watched online. I'll be checking some of them out over the holiday break. 

My Slow Prose Manifesto by Karen J. Ohlson sounds exactly like me in the kitchen (and perhaps elsewhere). "When I ask myself why I do things slowly, my stock answer is: I’m not choosing to be slow; it’s the only way I know how to be. But if I’m honest, I know it’s the only way I can feel satisfied."

DIY Glittered Flatware at Oh Happy Day because sparkly things are pretty and for this tip "The secret to this whole project is the glitter paint. Unlike regular glitter the glitter paint doesn’t get glitter everywhere and when dry the glitter doesn’t come off on your fingers! Really!!"

Recipes Bookmarked
Green Beans with Dates, Oranges and Hazelnuts at Deliciously Organic
Homemade Chicken Stock at Deliciously Organic (of interest is the concept of simmering it for 24 hours)
4-Ingredient Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt at Babble
Frozen Coconut Yogurt with Cinnamon via VitalJuice
Homesick Texan Carnitas at Smitten Kitchen
Porchetta at Home at Amateur Gourmet
Sauteed Kale with Tahini Sauce at Simply Recipes

Mosaic Tile at The Little Chapel in the Woods, Denton, TX, October 2011

Cough Syrup

Monday, November 14, 2011

Green Tea, Tofu, and Noodle Soup

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

We could choose our own savory,  tea-based recipe or make Beef Braised in Rooibos Tea with Sweet Potatoes, Chinese Tea Eggs and Green Tea, Tofu, and Noodle Soup. As I constantly feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland right now I was thrilled that the Green Tea, Tofu, and Noodle Soup required only 30-minutes and I chose it so I could complete my first challenge in months.

I followed the provided recipe using local napa cabbage for the greens, substituting soba noodles for the egg noodles and adding cilantro for visual flair (and flavor) at the end. The broth was very delicate, too much so for my taste. I ended up adding lime juice, s'rircha and additional soy sauce and sesame oil to amp up the flavor yet still felt like something was missing. Perhaps the soba noodles were too much for the broth? Either way I don't plan to revisit the recipe.

That said based on the descriptors used by my fellow Daring Cooks - luscious, refreshing and delicious - I will be looking further into cooking with tea. Especially as tea is a great way to add flavor without calories or a lot of cost. View the recipes and Sarah's other ideas for cooking with tea here and check out those tasty sounding results here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.  

I can relate to this sentiment 100% - It’s Always Market Day Somewhere. Plus the photos are amazing. (via David Lebovitz)

With the holiday baking season coming, Whole Foods' Guide to Natural Sweetners might come in handy! Then again maybe we should all just avoid sugar since it is like a is fat.*sigh*

The story behind from From Me To You's cinemagraphs. (via 101 Cookbooks)

Tom's Ballet Flats look cute! Hopefully I will remember them come spring. (via Amy on Pinterest)

Recipes Bookmarked
Butternutscotch Pudding at Pinch My Salt (if only for the name)
Pan Seared Salmon Over Fettuccine Noodles with Skinny Alfredo Sauce at Self
Quinoa con Queso at Simply Recipes

Dallas, TX State Fair's Ferris Wheel, October, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. 

I would like a milk jug skeleton, please. The adorable heart is a must.

Chessa Photography launched this week and you should go see the world through her eyes. Her photos offer a unique view of places commonly visited as well as many less traveled locales Chessa has visited through humanitarian aid work.

"Try not to do too many things at once. Know what you want, the number one thing today and tomorrow. Persevere and get it done." George Allen, Sr. (Thanks, Aunt Phebe!)

Should I ever actually start sewing, Make This Look matches store-bought dresses to patterns. Brilliant. (via Sonee on Pinterest)

Susan Gregory Thomas' Back to the Land, Reluctantly gives a little insight into how her family of 4 lives off of $100 a week. Via The Improvised Life who highlighted this great quote, "because my biggest revelation in terms of self-sufficiency is this: It is no big deal. You can tell yourself anything is too difficult, or you can just do it. And you do not need to reconstruct your worldview or take issue with others."

Recipes Bookmarked
Sherried Sardine Toast at Alton Brown's Good Eats
Sweet and Spicy Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Stew with Coconut Milk at Kayln's Kitchen

 Sparkles, October 2011, Plano, TX

I heard this on Sirius' 40s on 4 while flying Airtran last weekend. Sirius access is a nice perk of flying with them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... I haven't been wandering online much lately, so the links are sparse BUT I have amped up the photos. Check out the gorgeousness that is Duke University! Last weekend I escaped to the Durham area to check out a graduate program in the area and have a fun visit with my friend, Jen. We relaxed, explored, ate well and still fit in a bit of studying. Hopefully I can find comparable balance this weekend as I'm in Dallas for my cousin Rebecca's wedding. Wish me luck and have a fantastic weekend!

As soon as I saw this DIY Caramel Apple Kit I was in love. Caramel is the best. I've never seen a caramel apple bar at a party or wedding, but think it sounds perfect for the cooler weather.

This medical technology development gave me chills; it could/will revolutionize the lives of burn victims as you can see in the video. (via Jay Parkinson MD + MPH) burn victims as you can see.

Recipes Bookmarked
Sardine Rillettes at Simply Recipes
Mushroom Lasagna at Recipes for Health, New York Times


This song has special memories for me. I'm always grateful for my friends.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.

Facebook is Lying but Nobody is Caring wasn't surprising but still made me sigh. (via Vika) If you want to block third-party social media sites from tracking you and use Firefox, consider trying Share Me Not.

On a related note, Alexis Madrigal writes What You Shouldn't Post on Your Facebook Page If You Want a Job at The Atlantic. I try to be conscious of what I put out there, but always appreciate a reminder. (via glad she and her buzz are back!)

Are You Living An Active or Passive Life? "...[feeling powerful sensations] is not optional. We crave and need them to function well, so the path of least resistance and most abundance will also be the path most traveled. I think we’re just too far removed from real experience, from having to engage with the world." 

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address on YouTube (via Amber). May he rest in peace.

Recipes Bookmarked
5 Spice Beef Broccoli at Well Done Chef (I like his blanching method!)
Applejack Rabbit at Eat Make Read
Lamb Sausage Patties with Fresh Mint, Feta and Garlic at Epicurious

Sky over Georgetown's Key Bridge, Washington, DC, September 2005

Creative take on a catchy song that you is unavoidable as I drive around town... Thank goodness it is still fun! (via Adrienne at Fanciful Freckles)