Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Sushi and Tofu House

Another restaurant review! A group of us have been trying to have a dinner out maybe once a week (or once every two weeks...), and so two weeks ago, when I was house-sitting, we all went out to the Chocolate Sushi and Tofu House in San Jose.

Not sure why it's called Chocolate Sushi, but the place is a Japanese and Korean restaurant, including pretty good sashimi and tasty Korean tofu soup. Click below to see more!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photography, pound cake, and so much catching up

So for any of you living in California, or more specifically, the Bay Area... seriously, what's with the weather? Pouring rains, ridiculous humidity and mid-70s the next day, and "afternoon showers" that flood streets and burst pipes in the 5 hours it rains. Seriously? However, it has led to some great opportunities for photography and playing around with my camera.

The nights in the past few weeks have been amazingly clear, and the previous photograph and the next ones are a result from playing around with my shutter speed.

Look at how amazingly still that water is! This is the bay... all summer it was ridiculously windy, and it was definitely a lot colder at night back in July and August. Again, I'm not the biggest fan of scenic/still photography, but it's still fun to capture the weather and light is always fun to play around with... like when the sky opens up on the Bay with San Francisco in the background.

The sunset on Monday night after the afternoon "showers" was gorgeous. I was waiting at the bus stop on the way to an Owl City concert in the city, and the sunset was just so gorgeous that I couldn't resist.

But enough pictures of the bay (I promise there won't be too many anymore... I mean, you can only have so many pictures of the same place before you get sick of seeing yet another pretty sunset or "Jesus beams."). I have a backlog of photos of the food that I baked 2 weeks ago, and I totally forgot about the cranberry cream cheese pound cake that I baked for the tea party!

So, for some carrot cake, celebration challah, and cranberry cream cheese pound cake, click below! I apologize for the half-photographed steps, but I was in a constant rush making all of these. (Recipe for pound cake below as well!)

Friday, October 16, 2009

High Tea!

So I've wanted to have a tea party for the longest time... finger sandwiches, warm tea, scones, and the works. Finally, this past Sunday, I was finally able to put together a tea party with some of my dance girls. :) Aside from not having the time to put together petit fours, I'd say it was awesome... because we're worth it. ;)

Sooo much food! And I even had a bouquet of flowers from TJs to arrange on the table. :)

Click below to see all the beautiful food!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baking Fiasco, House Sitting, and Restaurants

Jambo! Habari za leo? Mzuri sana. That's Swahili for Hi! How are you? Very good. Yeah, I'm drawing a blank for how to start out my entries, and I've been missing Swahili, so I figured why not. This past week has been ridiculously oh my goodness so freakin' crazy busy. Yes. I'm currently at my parents' house house-sitting and have been so since this past Thursday night. This means that any baking that is to be had required driving and hour up back to my apartment, but making sure that I ended up back at the house to walk the dog and such. Oh! So yes, even though it largely sucks, and I can't really bake or process photos or anything, I have a chance to play with the dogs... m... fuzz therapy. :) Second, I get to play the piano which I've missed oh so much. &lt 3 ...Clearly, I just need to learn to play a more portable instrument...

So this past week (and change), I've worked on an order for 3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies, those moon cakes I posted about earlier, snickerdoodle blondies, vegan chocolate raspberry cookies, celebration challah (it's like a two-decker challah, SO AWESOME!), carrot cake, more snickerdoodle blondies, and food for high tea at my apartment (Yes, I had a fancy, home-made tea party at my place with dance girls because WE DESERVE IT :D). I've also managed to fit going to the SF MOMA, Exploratorium, and eating out! I've been trying to hang out with my friends once a week--usually this means a late dinner, since everyone is working. Hopefully I will be too, soon...

Aren't they so cute?!

But enough about me... food! While I currently don't have any pictures ready for most of the things I've done in the past week. However, I like to introduce people to new restaurants that are different and exciting. A couple weeks before, we went to one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the South Bay. It's called Tong Soon gardens, and is a Schezuan/Mandarin/Korean restaurant, and it's fantastic. No pictures of the food, but I'm sure I'm going back at some point, and will write a review then.

But, this past week, we went to Layang Layang, a Malasian-Indonesian place. Apparently the name means "kite," and the interior is beautifully decorated, albeit, a little dark. I don't have a picture of the outside, but here's a picture of their beautiful tablecloth!

I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures... the lighting was dim, and my camera was on some wonky setting that I didn't realize, making the exposure time way too short, leaving me with dark, not so pretty photos. Alas. But see more photos and reviews after the cut!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Moon cakes (and Blogger finally has jump breaks!)

So a couple of nights ago (Saturday, October 3rd, to be exact), was the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie). It's an excuse to eat delicious moon cakes! Just kidding. (But it's definitely a bonus!) The Mid-Autumn Festival is on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, which generally falls on a day late September/early October, when the moon is all it fullest and roundest.

Hopefully some of you had a chance to enjoy the full moon... I did! I walked down the pier near my apartment, and had fun playing with my camera and my lenses in the sunset and watching the full moon rise.

Photograph courtesy of Mike Ross.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is usually celebrated by eating pomelo, observing the beautiful moon, eating mooncakes, lighting lanterns, and, of course, vibrant celebration! I kind of did two of the above? I saw the full moon rise, made mooncakes, and performed with my Chinese dance group (for Homecoming at Cal, but it still counts, kind of?).

Photography courtesy of Mike Ross.

As with every Chinese celebration, this one comes with its on myth/folk tale. Of course, there are many various versions of the story of the moon, but the one I'm most familiar with is the one that I used to read as a child--the public library near where I grew up had this fantastic selection of Chinese-English children's books which recounted lively stories of the Monkey King, or told how things like the moon or the parrot-shaped rock came to be in Taiwan, or why we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival, or even told us tales warning us of our own laziness and selfishness.

Oh! Oh! So. Blogger finally added an entry cut jump breaks! Huzzah! So, finally, I'll stop hogging all your internets when you're trying to load up this silly page. So, for more about the Moon Festival and beautiful pictures of said mooncakes, click below!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Peanut Soba Noodles

Here's a little bit of non-baked vegetarian food! I was to have lunch with a grad student who had worked on the safe water and hygiene project in the slums of Mumbai--in fact, she became the head project manager. She's been locked up in her little office on campus, and has vowed to have lunch outside every day. So we met up for lunch... she's been traveling non-stop for the previous 7-8 months in India and Asia for her research, so I haven't really talked to her for a while. She's vegetarian, so I decided to make a soba noodle salad/pasta with a slightly spicy peanut sauce.

Here are some of the ingredients!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cheesy Crusty Loaf and failure.

So perhaps an explanation of my little cheesy bread monster is called for...

So my volcano of bread and cheese (i.e. the CHEESE SQUID MONSTER!) was an attempt of making the King Arthur's Hot Cheese Bread. Unfortunately, aside from amazingly tasty cheese, the bread dough itself didn't turn out well. It looked like it wasn't completely cooked thoroughly, but I don't think that was the problem... maybe I added too much gluten protein? I had substituted some AP Flour for the bread flour (since bread flour is more expensive!), and it usually works out well, but maybe I put too much? Or kneaded it too much? Not sure. Anyhow, click below for a step-by-step.