Sunday, October 27, 2013

pumpkin spice steel cut oatmeal

i don't even really know why i'm blogging about steel cut oatmeal. you basically follow the instructions the oats come with and then toss in pumpkiny things. the original recipe calls for regular milk and maple syrup but i don't keep that stuff around my kitchen so i accidentally made a healthier, even more nutritious version substituting in almond milk and a mashed banana. it came out really creamy and definitely pumpkiny. the addition of pecans and cranberries add a nice texture and tartness. this is a good variation from your standard boring oatmeal so if you're into the whole pumpkin thing, i say give it a go!

pumpkin spice steel cut oatmeal

- 1c steel cut oats
- 3c water
- 1c almond milk
- 1/2 c pumpkin
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 2tsp pumpkin pie spice
- pecans and dried cranberries to garnish

1. in a medium sized pot bring water and almond milk to a boil
2. add oats and reduce heat to a simmer
3. simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed
4. stir in pumpkin, banana, and pie spices
5. plate and garnish with pecans and cranberries or other toppings of your choice

Thursday, October 24, 2013

browned butter pumpkin spice oreos and salted caramel oreos

fall has made it's presence with crisp morning air and mentions of Halloween everywhere. fall also comes with an abundance of pumpkin everything. pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cheesecakes, pumpkin pies and bars and cookies and cupcakes. people are even throwing pumpkin into oatmeal. it's ridiculous! i decided that pumpkin oreos was fitting my fall ventures in baking. i looked up a browned butter pumpkin spice frosting to fill the oreos with but me and buttercreams have a hate/hate relationship. i don't love them (because they're literally too buttery) and also i always sometimes have a hard time making them for some reason. often they won't fluff up and i end up with something unusable. so just in case that happened this time, i also made a salted caramel filling as backup. luckily both of them worked out fine so here are two variations of oreos for the fall season! 

oreo cookie (recipe taken from here)

- 1 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 3/4 c cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda

1. in a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate chips, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.
2. whisk in sugar and vanilla until combined
3. whisk in egg
4. in another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda
5. stir dry mixture into wet mixture until it becomes solid
6. transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper large enough to roll and twist the ends
7. shape dough into a log about 2" in diameter
8. place dough at edge of parchment paper and roll up, twisting the ends to keep the shape intact 
9. refrigerate for at least 2 hrs 
10. heat oven to 325 degrees F
11. slice dough into 1/4" thick slices and place on a prepared baking sheet
12. bake for approx 15 minutes or until tops of cookies are firm to the touch
13. allow to cool before filling

salted caramel filling (recipe taken from here)

- 1/2 c salted butter
- 1 c dark brown sugar
- 1/3 c heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2-3 c powdered sugar, sifted

1. over medium heat, in a small pot, melt butter
2. once butter is melted add brown sugar, heavy cream and salt. continue to cook over medium
3. heat until the caramel is boiling. allow to boil for three minutes and take off stove to cool (no more than 15 minutes)
4. once cool, beat in powdered sugar until you've reached desired consistency. add powdered sugar to make more stiff or heavy cream to thin out.

browned butter pumpkin spice frosting (recipe taken from here)

- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided (1/2 stick at room temp)
- 2 T dark brown sugar
- 1/4 c pumpkin puree
- 1 t pumpkin pie spice
- 2-3 c powdered sugar, sifted

1. over medium low heat, melt butter in a sauce pan
2. continue to cook until butter browns and has a nutty scent
3. add dark brown sugar and cook until sugar has melted
4. remove from heat and allow to cool
5. in a bowl, beat remaining butter until smooth
6. beat in browned butter and pumpkin spices
7. beat in powdered sugar until you've reached desired consistency

Sunday, October 20, 2013

at the end of your life...

a few years ago on a trip to Thailand i met a woman named Cris. at least i think this was her name. quite honestly i can't be 100% about it, but her name isn't really of importance. she struck a chord with me. at first she was annoying as all hell but then i heard her story and found myself in awe of her.

a whole bunch of random people i'd never met in my life were together in a tour group over the course of two weeks. eventually i got to know some of them over meals and shared lifetime experiences riding elephants, river rafting on bamboo floats, getting stranded in open waters for hours in the rain, etc. Cris was a nice homey type woman, full of life and excitement about anything and everything. this sounds like a great quality to have but after a few days her excitement was almost irritating to me. i kid you not, after every single meal we'd eaten she'd exclaim "this is the best meal we've had! everything is soooo good!" for one, this could not be true because the food they serve on tours is definitely not the best representation of ethnic foods. it's typically catered towards Americans and are also cheap/affordable versions meant for serving tourists. second, i felt like she was overzealous about every little thing and it was all a bunch of bullshit. she reacted to everything as if there was some enlightenment in something as minor as seeing that the stoplights in Bangkok were fixed horizontally instead of vertically. uhh no, lady. it's not 'amazing,' it's just different. being quite the realist, i couldn't help but to dismiss her joy. her daughter even seemed perturbed by her overly enthusiastic mom, so i knew i wasn't the only one.

even in all of my judgement, i didn't avoid chatting with Cris about surface level things. then one day towards the end of the trip, i suppose she felt like she'd bonded with some of us and discussions got a little deeper. she told us that the reason why she and her daughter were on the trip was to open their eyes to the world and experience things they'd never known before. it was important to them to explore and live every moment as if it were their last. she told us about a tragedy that'd happened a year prior to the trip. her husband and father to the girl was the CFO at a big company and had been laid off. with the drop in his status, he felt powerless and worthless. he committed suicide, never realizing that there was more to life than a work title. as i'd said earlier, Cris was a simple homey woman who's daughter took after her in the same manner. they never required a husband/father to be a powerful man with an enormous salary. they saw him for who he was outside of work, but unfortunately he couldn't see himself in the same light. to him, his title was his being. he very inconsiderately took his life to be at peace, leaving behind an unappreciated family. though she seemed okay, i could hear the pain in the cracks in her voice as she told the story. from that moment in her life forward it was Cris' mission to make sure that she recognized all of the things that life has to offer outside of money. she focused on simply experiencing cultures, having fun with her daughter, and enhancing her life in general. what i initially thought to be overzealous proclamations was actually a coping mechanism she'd adopted to view all aspects of life at it's fullest potential. you can't fault a person for having a glass-is-half-full view on life after having experienced what she did. she wanted her daughter to know that there are far more awesome and valuable things in this world than having a status.

at the end of your life what are you going to be remembered for? what's important to you? the job you did? nope, nobody cares about that. if at the end of my life i accomplish nothing more, i want people to remember me for 1. being a good person, 2. being a great friend and 3. providing some laughter. that's it. that's all that matters.

Monday, October 14, 2013

end a date with an errand

before i start this story i just want to say that i don't consider the first "date" with someone off of an online dating site an actual date. what i consider them to be is are-you-crazy/who-you-say-you-are verification. you don't know until you meet the person whether they're legit or not. god forbid i consider it an actual date and the person turns out to be a nut job. i would never forgive myself for going on an actual date just to find that the guy is a pedophile. or socially inept. or looks ten years older than he portrayed. or worst of all... isn't funny (haha)! but for ease in the sake of this story, i'll call it a 'date.'

once upon a not too distant past i went on a date with a guy who told me he wanted to write a book about his dates gone wrong. naturally i asked him to tell me a couple of his stories. they were funny-ish but i wouldn't say they were enough to base a book on. anyhow, at some point during story telling time he closed his eyes and clasped his hands together as if he were talking to God. he wasn't, of course. he was just talking about how a girl followed him into a store after he'd said he didn't want to go on a second date. the thing is, his eyes remained closed for about six seconds! six! do you know how long that is when you're sitting across from someone while eating sandwiches? it's pretty much the equivalent of forever. just try it! next time you are in someone's company, close your eyes for six-"mississippis" and try not to feel weird. it's not possible...well not unless you're an oddball of course. in the span of sixish seconds my thoughts went as so (while my eyes shifted back and forth wondering if anybody else was aware of the strange that was happening before them): "uhh...what's going on here? where'd ya go buddy? wow, this is awkward! if i really want to i bet i could pay for my meal and get out of here and he wouldn't even know it as long as I'm quiet. dude, he's the one that's going to end up being written about! little do you know you might be a blog post someday, Guy." and it wasn't just was a few times throughout the date.

to be fair, he was a perfectly normal person otherwise and had a decent sense of humor but needless to say, it was strange enough for me to become uninterested. after lunch and hanging in the park for a while he mentioned going to some show later in the evening. nope, not gonna do it!!  i needed to find an exit strategy stat! i'm not sure why i settled on this method of escape but i found myself saying "alright well i've got to go return a painting to a friend so i'm going to go drop it off at her place now." it wasn't a lie. i actually had a friend's painting from Paint Nite in my possession for a month and decided that that very moment was the appropriate time to finally drop it off. in other words i basically told the guy i'd rather run an errand than continue on this date. 

initially when i did it i thought it was a douchy way to leave a date but now that i think about it again, it's actually a pretty effective way of ending a date while letting the person know that you're not that interested. at the least it's one step above being completely cowardly and saying "I had fun. [liar!] sure, we can do this again. [liar 2x]" and then never answering their calls/texts. i'm not saying this is going to be my go-to exit strategy, but i am saying that it worked well. he seemed to really enjoy the date considering he said it was a lot of fun and that he wanted to hang out again, but then i had to run an errand and i'm positive he got the picture. i never heard from him again. whew, that was easy enough. who knows...maybe i'll end up in a book somewhere someday! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


what the hell, my head is looking enormous and bobble-ish!

Helen and i have wanted to go to Acquerello for a while now but have been waiting for a justified reason for going to such a fancy restaurant. lucky for us, a sister restaurant has recently popped up called 1760 which is a more bistro like environment. being the sister restaurant to Acquerello was already hype enough for me to get excited about 1760 but then i learned that the chef,  prior to coming to SF, worked with Michael Voltaggio (of Top Chef fame) at Ink as well. i had high hopes for 1760 and i'm happy to say that they delivered. aside from such well conceptualized and executed food, the ambiance is sleek and unpretentious and the service was stellar. the staff, from the host to the busboy, were super friendly and made the experience even more pleasurable. i cannot wait to go back!  

lobster ceviche. caramelized coconut. pineapple. corriander.
there were so many flavors in this dish. it had a little bit of kick to it, but was balanced with the sour note from the lime, the sweet note from the pineapple and the creaminess of the coconut. i lovvvved this!

beef tartare. marcona almond. herbs. chile.
that is some seriously marbled beef. again, great flavor combinations. mint, basil, asian pear, and marcona almond butter. fantastic dish! 

brussel sprouts. egg yolk. crispy onion.
you can never go wrong with brussel sprouts. crazy how as a child these were repulsive but as an adult they're the greatest vegetable of all vegetables. 

bucatini. uni. breadcrumbs.
the breadcrumbs gave this dish a nice texture contrast to the uni. an overall very well done dish, though it could've used a little bit more salt. 

peanut butter panna cotta. berry jam. milk crumb.
didn't love this. the milk crumb was good but the panna cotta itself was just okay. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

three legged dogs

i get that it's a little weird, but i really enjoy it when i see a three legged dog. or a dog with only one eye. or a dog carting it's hind legs in a doggie wheelchair. i would bet that when most people see disabled dogs their minds shoot straight to thoughts of pity. when you see a dog walking about with an extra strange pep in it's step and then realize its missing a leg, you might think it's more difficult for the pup to walk or keep balance. so why do i enjoy seeing them? because rather than pity them i am happy that they have an owner who cares enough about their pet to give a real damn about them. often people treat dogs as if they are simply disposable. dog owners easily have the option to put the dog down rather than spend money on amputation surgery. so when i see a dog with one leg, I know that it's a properly loved dog. 

that's all! just a random thought! 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

La Folie for Marjie's birthday

last week i took Marjie out to dinner for her birthday. i selfishly decided on La Folie because i've had it bookmarked for a while and i needed an occasion to justify spending that kind of money on dinner. good thing she was on board, as i knew she would be because she's a serious food lover herself. nearly into her third trimester, i wasn't sure if she was going to be able to eat the best options on the menu but she was fully ready and willing. we opted for the 5 course menu because when dining at a restaurant like this, my motto is "go big or go home!" we shared everything, meaning we each got to try ten dishes. it was an intense few hours of grubbing and i definitely wanted to pop the button on my pants, but it was all worth it! 

1st amuse bouche. can't remember what exactly it was but there is a fennel puree at the bottom

2nd amuse bouche. triple T ranch egg.
rich and creamy with a nice salty potato crisp atop

cauliflower soup with lobster and asian pear
a good cauliflower soup but nothing to write home about

poached octopus and uni salad. avocado mousse and caviar
an earthy dish. i don't love uni but it was prepared quite nicely with the salt in the caviar

goat cheese tatin
this would be my least favorite dish of the night. i'm not sure why i expected something different. when this is what we got, i was disappointed. it tasted fine, but i didn't care for it. 

warm pig feet, sweetbread, and lobster terrine. lentil salad with bacon and hazelnut vinaigrette
the chunks of pig feet were surprisingly quite meaty and there were nice large chunks of lobster as well. this dish was huge for what it was and could have probably been enough for a whole meal for a skinny person. haha. 

seared scallop topped with uni, topped with shaved cured tuna heart, served over squid ink pasta in a lobster broth
best dish of the night! i would have been happy just eating this! the pasta was cooked perfectly and had good flavor, the scallop nice with a slight brininess, mMmm mMmm good!

lobster and mushroom risotto with leeks
a simply good risotto

lamb chop with fava beans and olives. side of figs.
the lamb wasn't too gamey and was cooked perfectly. the chops huge and thick

Miyazaki wagyu beef ($75 supplement) with bone marrow custard, bearnaise croquette and truffle madeira sauce. green beans, mushrooms and pork rind were also on the plate.
lucky for me Marjie is pretty preggers. this means there is only so much room in her belly before she gets uncomfortable. after three courses of food tackled, she couldn't bear committing herself to the fourth dishes. that means i got to eat all of the wagyu myself! yay! selfish, much?

good god this was succulent! i've had my share of wagyu and this ranks in at #2 or #3 for best steak i've ever eaten. it was so incredibly buttery that by the end of this dish it almost felt like my arteries were clogged and failing me. worth heart palpitations? you betcha!!

palate cleanser. can't remember what it was.

some sort of panna cotta, tempura figs, coconut sorbet
except it's not really a panna cotta at all. if anything the cylindrical thing tasted like canned cranberry sauce. i did not enjoy this dessert. total miss for me.

Edam cheese souffle, fromage blanc sorbet, crispy bacon
delish! it tasted like a fluffy cheez-it, in a good way. my only qualm with this thing was that it's literally no more than four spoonfuls. if you notice, that mug is smaller than the width of a lemon slice!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"you laugh until you cry, you cry until you laugh"

- Regina Spektor, On The Radio

if i were ever to get a tatoo, "laugh until you cry, cry until you laugh" would be etched down my spine. these are words that i live by. the message in these words is simple: just feel uninhibitedly. allow yourself to laugh uncontrollably until tears peek out from the corners of your eyes. and conversely if you find yourself in a situation that requires a full box of Kleenex and a stream of tears to rush down your face, then please do so. cry until you feel you can't anymore. eventually things get better and genuine laughter comes back to life.

people often hide behind their pride or ego and don't make themselves available or vulnerable to others. be silly. be goofy. look stupid. smile frequently. frown if need be. ask for a shoulder to cry on. tell them the truth. be whatever it is you're feeling at any given time. let it show. i'm not saying this is a pass to be overly eccentric. i'm just saying that personally, i feel the only way to be happy at the end of your life is to be your honest self. allowing yourself to feel the highest highs and the lowest lows gives you perspective, humbles you and gives you some quality of life.