I think I finally understand the meaning of “cabin fever.”  And “perspective.”  It did not occur to me exactly how much snow I was suffocating in before I went out and tried to shovel it yesterday.  It also didn’t occur to me how much pain I was going to be in the next morning…

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There’s only so much I can do to entertain myself indoors.  But you know, I relish the feeling of being bored nowadays.  Nothing feels better than wondering what the heck I want to do.  Besides, if this is cutting into my summer break, then hell yes I’m going to enjoy myself!  Watch TV?  Blog?  Play video games?  Bake?—that became my favorite way to waste time.  I’ve baked twice this week already, which is more than I have in my entire, albeit short, life.  There’s something magical about squatting down in front of a bright oven with hot air gushing out of the vent, watching piles of goop miraculously puff into glorious, richly-spiced muffins, or stiff balls of chocolate-studded dough expand into half-spheres of heaven.  (Feel free to be liberal with your interpretation of that :P)

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Okay, well, that last part made the kitchen smell like smokin’ hot oil.  Hot.  I didn’t happen to have proper cookie baking sheets on hand, and I wasn’t about to ask for a trip to the grocery store, so I had to be resourceful.  Friends, aluminum foil + PAM can answer all of your oven woes.  Even if you’re using the grill spray for cookies.

My first batch of cookies (EVER) came out a wee bit burnt.  Just a smidgen, see?

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If only those were raisins at the bottom.

Luckily, I still had a few balls of dough left over and ready to be baked!  And this time, I actually followed the recipe and baked for 15 instead of 24 minutes, so they came out the way I assume they were supposed to.  Cookies are supposed to be soft when they come out of the oven, Candice.  Lesson learned: cooling = firm cookies, extra baking = burnt cookie butts. 

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I can’t follow a recipe without adding my personal touches along the way.  This was no exception, even though it was my first batch of cookies ever.  I tried to follow the recipe for chocolate cherry granola cookies from bella eats, but a combination of my hate-to-waste mentality and weird imagination made it physically impossible to follow the it to the letter.  Though, I think I’ll just stick to twisting the ingredients around next time.  :P

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I was surprised by how much my family loved these cookies.  If it helps, I baked them yesterday, and they are all gone now.  o__o

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Just as the title of this post implies, these are on the crunchy side, with gooey chocolate chunks, nuttiness from whole wheat flour and oat bran, and a distinct grittiness from the instant grits I threw in there.  They’re the little white specks—you can see them if you look closely.  Not only did they add grit, but they also contributed a nice cornbread-y flavor.  It’s unconventional, but it’s pretty good, if I must say.  :] 

I’m not gonna lie—I was seriously doubtful about how these would turn out when I took the cookie dough out of the fridge after a nearly-24-hour winter vacation.  It was hard, smelled sort of like Play-Doh, and seemed like it would become burnt little cookie dough balls in the oven.  And whaddya know—the burning was MY mistake, and the cookies were gone within a day.  More culinary trash –> worthy of critics’ cash action?  Mmhmm…

Recipe is here if you’re interested.  I was going to sprinkle a little coarse sea salt over these to make them extra delicious, but lo and behold, I ran out.  Bought a huge bag for $1.99 at the Korean supermarket today… nice.

Q1: What was the first thing you ever baked?
Q2: How many days does it take for you to get “cabin fever”?

Off to bed now.  Sweet dreams!

ox ~ c a n d i c e

Hello everyone!  I’m still alive here after my Week-from-Hell #2.  Done with three midterms, two tests, and three quizzes—score. I only have 1 midterm next week and another the week after, and then it’s back to the regular testing routines.  … Hurray?!  :) (:

My brain has been fried for about two weeks now, and my short-term memory has basically shut down entirely (past cramming biology into my head).  I actually had to think for awhile before I could remember what I wanted to recap for this post.  -_-;

Breakfast on a date that has been shoved out of my brain was this lovely bowl of cereal with my first pouring of original Pacific almond milk.

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It was eh. I forgot to buy the unsweetened kind (if there is such thing), so this tasted really watery and well, unpleasantly sweet.  :/  I think I’ll just stick with Almond Breeze from here on out.

This is a lunch prepped on another random day was a random mixture of leftovers that I was trying to use up.  This had leftover spicy tofu, shredded Mexican cheese from TJ’s, and leftover salad. Obligatory toasted sesame seeds and wakame-rice ball furikake are obligatory.

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Annnd another date stuffed with grainy peanut butter and sea salt.

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Dee-lee-cious.  :)

As for this, there is only one lonely square of this milk chocolate bacon bar left now…

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It wasn’t as good as I expected.  The bacon bit-chocolate flavors don’t really meld together—when I eat it, I just taste bacon, salt, and then chocolate.  Muuuch prefer the goji bar. You can never go wrong with a pink bar of chocolate.  :)

On Friday afternoon after school, I went to a Great Harvest Bread Co. bakery for the first time.  I had actually wanted to go last week, but it closes pretty early (around 5-ish), so we were too late.  :(  This week, we arrived ten minutes from closing time, in which I tried three different types of bread and bought two of ‘em.  I call it my “reward” for getting out of this week alive.  :)  I’ll save that for another post, though, since this one’s picture-heavy enough as it is!  It was really exciting though, since I’ve never bought “real” bread from a bakery before.

The weekly Friday night dinner out was at Bazin’s on Church, which had (mostly) rave reviews on Yelp!.  Though it was a little noisy—it’s a small place, and the bar was just a few feet away from us—the food was très delicieux. :)  I think this was one of the only three-course meals I’ve ever had?!

I loved the decor.  I felt so warm inside!  :)

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The location was pretty awesome, too, with lots of big windows and pretty holiday lights.  Even if the candles were fake.  ;)

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The feast began with a bit of warm bread and butter and the butternut squash agnolotti, which was basically butternut squash ravioli with sage sauce and crumbled amaretti cookies.  It reminded me of the first meal out I photographed (and wrote about), pumpkin ravioli.  Creamy, buttery outside with a surprisingly sweet, fluffy filling.  “Special,” said my father.  :)  But, um, where are the cookie crumbs?

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Maybe they drowned in the sauce.

For my main course, I made a historic decision in the course of eating out [in my life]—I ordered red meat for the first time!!!  I usually go for seafood, salads, or carbalicious dishes, but I’ve never ordered red meat at a restaurant before (not a DE thing—I was like this before all that jazz, too).  I’m not much of a steak person, and I find BBQ ribs annoyingly messy—you could say I’m picky with red meat.  But this… this was amazing.

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The toughness of red meat is the one thing that puts me off about it, so I was surprised and excited by the super, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of this.  I guess there’s a reason it’s called tender pecan pork?  The pecans added a whole other dimension to the meat with their prevailing, deeply toasted and nutty flavor, and the vanilla sweet potatoes had a real, pronounced vanilla flavor, and they weren’t cloyingly sweet, thank goodness.  :)  Perfectly balanced out the umami of the meat.  The roasted baby spinach was a bit too salty, but I loved the roastyness that roasted foods have (oh yeah, I’m specific), and the fact that it wasn’t a complete pile of mush.  And, as much as I was excited for it, the bourbon-bacon sauce was just average.  Is bourbon sour?  The sauce certainly was…

For a little sweetness to end the meal, my sis picked a key lime pie with coconut-macaroon crust and chantilly cream for the three of us to share:

The coconut-macaroon crust was amazing, even though I’ve never had a macaroon in my life.  Totally stuffed with coconut, and huge shreds of it at that.  The pie itself, on the other hand, was not nearly as sour as the ones I ate by the busload in Florida.  In fact, it was a bit too sweet.  I needed periodic dips into the fluffy and perfectly sweet chantilly cream to cleanse my palate.  ;)

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I was originally planning to post all of this on Friday night, but spontaneously made the decision to see Avatar.  It was a 9:40 PM showing, and being the wonderful three hours that it is, ended at 12:30-ish… thus, I got home around 1:15 the next morning.  o_o  Being the goody-goody that I am, I’ve never stayed out that late before.  I beat my record by more than an hour… whew.

But OMG… it was completely worth it. To see this?

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original image from
here

Heck yes.  I loved, loved, loved this movie.  The fantasy world totally drew me in with the lush CGI and brilliantly imagined flora and fauna.  The whole thing was just explosive with its color and life—immersive and completely believable once you’re drawn in.  I mean, bioluminescent organisms?!  All of them?!  Synapses and exposed nerve endings?!  <3  This was a feast for the eyes (and the mind!) and a thousand times better than Twilight. I think I’m going to become an Avatar geek or something.  Gosh, I’d kill to see this in IMAX 3D!

Q1: What do you look for in a restaurant setting? I like quiet restaurants… can’t stand bars :/  (But I’d go back to Bazin’s on Church for the food!!!)
Q2: What do you usually order at restaurants?
Q3: What’s the latest you’ve stayed out?
Q4: Have you watched Avatar?  Do you love it?!  If not, what’s your favorite movie genre? I normally dislike sci-fi, but this was a whole different story, obviously.  ;)

Alright, I’m out.  :D  Have a happy week, everybody!  Yay food!  And, for Avatar, yay nature and phosphorescent organisms.  :)

I’m taking a break from finishing my lab report to blog because I seriously feel like I’m going to punch a squirrel right now.  Microsoft Word is being totally uncooperative and just… just… stupid.

Shapes can go die.  Online graphs without Excel can go die.  Oh, and parts of a .pdf pasted in Word that make it run ridiculously slow will die. now.

*deep breath*  Okay, I feel slightly better now.  Urgh, doesn’t technology just piss you off sometimes?  :(

As to why I’m doing this at almost 12 PM on a Sunday night preceding a holiday… You see, it was part of the ultimate plan.  I failed to get it done during the day, so I had to work to meet my “deadline,” and that incidentally meant staying up until this hour.  I have a whole ‘nother list of things I need to get done tomorrow and I really don’t want too much of “today’s” task mixing with “tomorrow’s” (aka the “something will explode if this doesn’t get done” stuff).

Today’s tasks also included photo uploading. For me, this is by far the most time-consuming aspect of blogging.  Copying the photos to the computer, resizing and reformatting as a PNG to preserve quality, deleting the old huge files… * 100.  How many photos do you take in a day, on average? I gravitate towards perfectionism, so I’m always trying to shoot the “perfect” angle for a food… and somehow, I end up with like, thirty different photos of the same thing.  Go figure.

Breakfast yesterday was something I’ve been missing due to the cold weather: a yogurt mess!

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With the best canned pumpkin ever. This has so much more flavor than Libby’s and actually tastes like real pumpkin!

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It’s topped with Trader Joe’s country pumpkin spice granola, which I first set my eyes on on Allie’s blog.  It’s awesome.  :)  I can’t resist picking out the pieces of popcorn!

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Of course, studying wasn’t the only thing I did today!  Lunch out was a blessing, honestly.  My mom had company over and, well, having a valid excuse to be out of the house saved me from being bombarded with those adult-to-child questions: “What school do you go to?” “Have you grown taller?” “How old are you?” “Do you speak Chinese?” etc… it becomes quite tiring after you’ve answered the same question five times to five “curious” adults.  Needless to say, I was more than eager to get out…

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This was so much better than Wegman’s party food.

We went to an amazingly cute restaurant called Magnolias at the Mill today.  It is, as the name implies, a mill-turned-restaurant.  There’s a big plaque about the history of the mill (built in 1905!) just outside the entrance.  It was quite an interesting read—even my insouciant dad was impressed.  :)

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Lots of rustic charm, as you can see.  :)  I believe the upstairs was reserved for dinner, but I wish we could’ve gone up there…

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I ordered the Thai-inspired steamed mussels with lime & sesame scented jasmine rice, snow peas, and green curry coconut sauce. This was my first time ordering mussels—er, well, any kind of mollusk, at a restaurant!  It did not disappoint, even though there were less snow peas than I would have preferred.  The curry-coconut sauce was a bit salty, but it was perfect for sopping up with with the sticky, fragrant jasmine rice.  I ended up giving about four of the mussels to my dad since he liked them so much, and given how rarely he says he likes something, I just had to.  :)  I got a bit of his dish in exchange, the mahi-mahi with lemon-parsley orzo and sautéed watercress. With some blackberry-based sauce, I believe?

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Besides being absolutely gorgeously presented, it was super delish.  I normally dislike mahi-mahi because it tends to be served tough and dry, but this was an exception!  Very succulent and well-seasoned.  :)

I had an “eating race” with my dad.  Okay, the thing is, my dad eats very, very slooooowly. His style of chewing is comparable to a camel’s (minus the spitting) and apparently, mine is more like a rabbit’s or a squirrel’s.  … Okay, that’s fine with me, but not when I’m eating with him!  I literally finish twenty minutes before he does, and it’s not that fun just sitting around, trying to converse (and conversing just draws it out longer…).  So I’ve decided to learn how to chew slowly like a camel so I can pace myself and not end up waiting for him to finish.  I’ll let you know how that goes… xD

My sister ate an entire (kid’s) cheese pizza, but she was still hungry… so she ordered some dessert that she kindly shared with us.  :)  I love how innate children’s senses are, especially with food—they eat when they’re hungry, stop when they aren’t, and they aren’t afraid to treat themselves to delicious, fancy-sounding desserts!

This is the rustic apple-blackberry pie with cinnamon crème anglais, blackberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream~

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Wholesome and delicious.  The crème anglais was amazing, and I loved the huge chunks of apple and berry in the puff pastry, which, by the way, was fluffy and just light enough to balance out the rich ice cream and crème anglais.

I was lazy about dinner, so I just looked around for some fridge leftovers, mixed ‘em up, and voilà. Asian again, Tat. ;)  There’s white rice, broccoli, and mushrooms down there underneath the huge mound of tofu and furikake

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PLUS a very muddy-looking after-dinner treat.  For once, I was craving chocolate?!  This was the last of my plain yogurt with canned pumpkin, Hershey’s dark cocoa powder, cinnamon, Trader Joe’s kettle corn, and maple syrup.

Pre-mix:

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Post-mix and with trail mix and honey-roasted peanuts (both were party food leftovers).  I was a little scared that it would look like poop, but it doesn’t look THAT bad, does it?

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And a divine Medjool date with crunchy PB:

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Oh, I’ve missed crunchy PB.  <3

Last, but not least, I have a gift for Chocolate-Covered Katie and her awesome giveaway.  ;)  Here’s a real, whole banana hammock—no deconstruction involved!

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On the left, we have a slice with a sprinkling of grain-sweetened chocolate chips.  The contender on the right is topped with cinnamon, kettle corn, pumpkin spice granola, and dried guava slices.  ‘Twas de-li-cious.  ;)

Q1: When does technology make you angry?
Q2: Your favorite dessert?  x)

Have a lovely evening… errr, morning, m’ladies!

EDIT: Did anyone notice the “12 PM on a Sunday night”?!  That’s what I get for staying up late… xD

A desultory post awaits… sorry for the sporadic-ness :(

After all the wonderful things that happened over the winter holiday, I fell into an inevitable pothole. Figuratively, I mean!  You know how I was going ga-ga over my new blender in this post?  Well, it turns out that my blender broke. After one use, yes, the motor is broken. And the worst part?  I can’t exchange it! It was bought in Canada, and none of the stores in my area carry the model—only downgraded ones.  -_-  I’m going to shoot customer service an email today demanding they send me a new blender inquiring about whether I can mail it back and get another one or something.  >:(  It was eighty [Canadian] dollars!!!  I get warranty for that, right?!  Oh, I wanted to make so many things… like more nut butters and puffin pie crusts and babies…

Mehhh.

I didn’t even get to finish making my pumpkin seed butter.  :(  So now all I have left is a bunch of pumpkin seed dust chunks.

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… Hurray.

Oh, but I can’t forget about the wonderful jar of roasted pecan butter… great for dipping dried calimyrna figs in.  I snapped a pic this time :]  I also gave it its own recipe page here.

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100% heaven.  Happy tastebuds = happy girl.  Works the other way around too.  ;)

Alright, I know it’s pretty ridiculous to get worked up about a blender, and I admit that I’m exaggerating the severity of this for humor’s sake.  I was blessed far beyond my expectations over the holidays, with great company, food, gifts, and no stress, so I’m really not that upset about this.  But alas, being the cheapo and human being that I am, I want my aunt’s money’s worth in the form of a new blender.

Oh, and here’s another reason: I like food and eating and photographing and writing about it. Me want new kitchen appliance.  Now.

Amanda of seek generously awarded me again, this time with an only-for-the-blogger award.  ;)  I love these types of memes—they’re a counter to my intrinsically pessimistic outlook.  Even though my pessimism isn’t really the super “negative” kind, doing things like this is just happy food for the soul :)

happyaward

1.  Friends. On the weekdays, they’re basically the only people I talk to (besides teachers, which is unavoidable, haha).  I’m so exhausted when I come home from school that I just don’t have the energy to talk.  If I didn’t have friends, I would probably be as good as mute.  And I would probably collapse from the stress that gets let out when we complain together. :)

2.  Photography. Especially now that I have a cool camera, I’ve been taking photos like mad, of everything: nature, landscapes, people, food—if there were pretty architecture where I lived, I’d take photos of that, too.  ;)

3.  Music. A universal language.  There are few things more pleasurable than curling up under the covers with Bose headphones and an iPod, completely immersed in a different world.

4.  Blogging. Even though I’ve only been blogging for about two months, but it’s been making me happy so far!  Venting leaves a more relaxed –> happier individual.  :)

5.  Restaurants. Going out to eat used to make me a nervous wreck.  How many calories are in that?  Which one has the lowest amount of calories?  What if the website lied?  What if the chef added extra oil?! etc. etc.  Now, though, I’m able to appreciate restaurant food as a) tasty, b) an opportunity to try new foods, and c) a “challenge” in some ways.  ;)

6.  Homemade baked goods. If someone bakes me cookies on my birthday, I’m basically ecstatic.  Someone likes me enough to remember my birthday and takes the effort to bake something for me?  From scratch? *_*

7.  Grocery shopping. I also like accessory shopping, but definitely not as much as grocery shopping.  It used to be the other way around—I used to go to a Korean grocery store just for the little accessory shop inside!  Well.  This is a product of DE and reading food blogs, I guess?

8.  Nut butter. Maybe the only food that I super duper loved as a young kid, and still love now.  Mmmm… rich, creamy, nutty goodness, and so many different kinds, too!

9.  Dawn. I love the color of the sky at dawn.  It’s such a deep, beautiful blue color, almost like a darkened azure.  Streetlights are still on at dawn, but they take on a mystical glow.  In short, gorgeous.  :)

10.  Working efficiently. Hahaha, I had to put this!  :P  Working efficiently and being productive definitely makes me feel good.  Makes me feel… errr, not lazy and not useless.  Plus, the faster I get work done, the faster I can do what I want.

And ten bloggers that make me happy (in no particular order):
Amanda (seek)
Stef (More to Life than Lettuce)
Tatianna (Tatianna Lives)
Coco (Balance, Joy and Delicias!)
Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
Sophia (Burp and Slurp~)
Natalie (Counting Down to Life After ED!)
Shelley (Finding Happiness and Health)
Mitri (All in the Oats)
Eliza (nourishing mornings)

I tag thou, if thou hath not been tagged already.  Actually, this is just a general list, haha (sinced I tagged my tagger).  ;)

Ah… but that’s not all!  I have to make up for five days of missed posts, after all.  ;)  The real reason this post is titled “happy food for the soul” is…

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Pecan-date cake with cranberry goat cheese cream, the latter of which became practically invisible after its stint in the oven, but you can still taste it!  ;)  This was the first cake that I have ever baked from scratch!  Sure, I’ve made cupcakes from cake mix and (tough) muffins before, but this is the first time that it was 100% me.  Not saying that it was my recipe, of course—I’m not that good!  I adapted this recipe and threw in the cranberry goat cheese cream as a last minute, personal twist.  I had seen it used as filling in these muffins, so I thought, “I have a log of cheese just waiting to be used.  OH!  I KNOW!”  That’s how all great ideas are born, right?  :P  I actually refused to tell my family members the “secret filling” until after they ate it because I was afraid they would gag if they knew what it was.  Yeah, not a very open-minded foodie family I have.  My sister wouldn’t even eat it because she saw me blending the goat cheese… –_-

Oh, and for the flour, guess what I used?…

… If you guessed the pumpkin seed dust from my failed pumpkin seed butter experiment, WHOO HOO for you!  You are awarded a slice of cybercake.  ;)

I’ve put the full adapted recipe on this page if you’re interested.  :)

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Yum!  Err, we actually didn’t have any baking powder, so I left that out completely.  o_o  I think it might have been a little less fluffy due to that, but it was still pretty delicious!  Purrrfect with a dollop of whipped cream.  ;)

Okay, I’m off for now.  No restaurant tonight, surprisingly.  I guess it’s time to be productive and happy, so I should start working efficiently now… ;)  Have a wonderful evening, loves!

Giveaway: Enter to win delicious greek yogurt on Faith, Food, and Fitness!

The morning my aunt’s family left, my mom had to wake me up to say good-bye to them (oops), and apparently, my cousin cried again.  :/  He’s an only child, so I guess he’s lonely?  My mom said that he was tying his shoelaces and tried to cover it up with the age-old, clichéd, only-in-the-movies excuse: There’s sand in my eyes. :(  Poor thing… He’s such a boy.  Wouldn’t even let me hug him, so I went with the shoulder-pat.  :/

I was an only child for the first eight years of my life, and I practically begged my parents for a sibling (specifically, a sister).  Now that I have one, I feel like I don’t appreciate her half as much as I should.  I need to improve on that.  Later on in life, I want to be as close to my sister as my mom is to my aunt.  They have the ultimate sibling relationship—growing up in a poor household (and only being a few years apart…) really squishes a family together, I guess?  I suppose it was the same with everyone in China at the time…

2010 Goal #1: Be a better sister.

Apparently, our house is funhouse, because we have MORE company now.  Wahoo.  They brought us a nice gift basket from Florida and homemade treats!  :)

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Organic citrus and jams and locally-made candies!  I think they’re mind-readers, because I LOVE this kind of stuff.  I’ve already eaten two of the chocolate-covered coconut patties, and they’re deeelicious!  The citrus, although ugly, is super sweet, too.  :)

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I think there were chocolate-covered cookie bars, peanut butter bars, and hello dollies.  I had my first hello dollie last night, and it was good, although a little too sweet.  I love anything with coconut.  :)

And now’s the time for random.eats!

Noodles in chicken broth with sesame seeds and a single carrot slice was consumed for lunch.  I had some nice slurping action going on here.  That’s the best part of noodles, am I right?!  Vermicelli is no fun at all unless it’s in a salad.

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With a baby apple, the iconic fall fruit.  I’m just a tad late for the season, I know.  I saw Stef stuff her apple with nut butter the other day and thought it was brilliant, but I really just needed something fresh and juicy today.  (Gotta find me some blood oranges!)

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And a fab snack: half-banana + Maranatha crunchy peanut butter + sea salt.  Get this: I do not like Maranatha PB anymore.  o__o  I used to be obsessed with the stuff!… but now I really crave sugarless, super-peanutty peanut butter.  Weird.  Thus, I needed extra salt to counter the sweetness here.  Warning: food porn barrage coming your way.  Normally, I choose a few pictures to post from a selection, but this time, they all looked equally good!

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And a date stuffed with Crazy Richard’s creamy peanut butter, my next love.  Well, that is, until I use the jar up.  Then I’ll be making my own peanut butter… and THAT will be true love.  ;)  Topped with course sea salt once again, since Crazy Richard’s is just plain ol’ peanuts:

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Love!  <3 And speaking of making nut butter, that was precisely my very first adventure with my new toy!

How to Make Nirvana: A Step-by-Step Guide

You will need:
*
~2 1/2 cups pecans
* ~1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

(Errr… like I said, I don’t exactly measure.  ^_^;)

Step 1: Microwave pecans until perfectly roasted and just slightly burnt.  I would’ve used an oven to roast a whole batch at once (I had to microwave twice), but last time, I completely burnt the pecans beyond recognition, so I won’t be trying that again.  :|  I microwaved for 4 minutes total (mixed them up after 2 minutes to even out the roasting), but I have no idea whether the setting was on high or medium or what.  Sorry!

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Step 2: After the pecans have cooled (important!), pour them into the blender and start whizzing.  I had mine on the “nuts” setting.  Here they are half-pulverized:

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Step 3: Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape the edges down if necessary.  The butter comes pretty quickly with pecans, since they’re oily, though not so much with certain other nuts/seeds.  *coughpumpkinseedscough*

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Step 4: Add coarse sea salt into the blender with the luscious pecan butter it’s created for you.  Pulse for a few seconds to fold in the salt crystals.  They’ll add a delightful crunch in the final product.  :]

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Step 5: Pour into a jar and devour (not necessarily with something).  I promptly had an unpictured dried calimyrna fig dunked in nirvana.  I’ll be sure to catch that sneaky hand of mine so I can snap a pic next time… ;)

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Sorry for the dark/crappy action shot + final pic—I’m still working on shooting motion (holding a heavy blender while trying to focus is not very easy), and I was anxious to try the pecan butter at the end.  Forgive this amateur.  :|

Q1: Are you an only child?  If so, do you ever wish you had a sibling?
Q2: What is one goal you have for 2010?
Q3: What’s your favorite type of nut/seed butter? Me?  I like allll of them except for bitter tahini.  ;)
Q4: Thin or thick noodles?

Off to an Asian party today.  Have a great post-holiday day!  :)

KITCHEN APPLIANCES. Excuse the grammar.

No joke.  My (wealthy…) aunt told me that if I didn’t tell her what I wanted for Christmas, she was just going to buy me whatever—as in, the chance of me wanting what she gives is about the same as if a gunshot fired into the hood of a car would start the engine.  I got that straight from my bio textbook, by the way (they’re not crazy, they’re just talking about mutations).

So I looked on my “things to tell people to get if they want to” list.  Lo and behold, the first thing I saw was “blender“.  Why do I want a blender?  Well, my current blender is pretty old (10+ years), so I kind of wanted a more modern one.  I gawk at all the wonderful creations various lucky bloggers have concocted using their legendary Vita-Mixes—but of course, that’s something that I’m not willing to invest in.  ~$400 for a blender?  Eh.  That’s almost the same price as the camera I wanted!  i.e. No thanks!  The cheapo in me would cry if I imposed that purchase on myself or anyone else.  (Of course, it would be a whole ‘nother story if I got it for free.  Santa.  I’m looking at you.)

But anyway.  I asked for a “good” blender, whatever that means.  I just want to be able to successfully blend nut butter, hummus, pie crusts, etc., which my current blender fails at.  No clumps allowed!

I know that normal girls my age would ask for money, or gift cards, or CDs, as most of my friends do, but I think it’s already been established that I’m just a bit out of the norm.  I mean, I like going clothes shopping, but I don’t want my aunt to buy me clothes anymore.  Okay, it worked when I was like, 5, but last year she bought me this bright blue bathrobe with red hearts on it… and I shall say no more.  ._.

Anyway… here’s the EXCITING part of Friday’s grocery haul.  I snagged a packet of Justin’s honey almond butter.  I was going for the maple, but they didn’t have it in stock :(

Hopefully, this will live up to all the hype this brand has gotten!

Some whole wheat pastry flour and grain-sweetened chocolate chips for holiday baking :]

And finally, the bar stash :D

* spooky s’mores Zbar (x3)
* cashew acai protect thinkFruit
* apricot goji PranaBar (almond butter is ingredient #2!  yesss!)
* chocolate orange Jocalat
* lemon, vanilla & cashew Clif Nectar (my FAVORITE—so sad that it was discontinued!)

I took a risk with the thinkFruit. I tried a chunky peanut butter thinkThin bar before, and it was straight up nasty. Disgusting protein flavor, blech.  Hopefully, the thinkFruit bar will be palatable without the weird protein ingredients…

Lunch on Saturday was once again at the Eiffel Tower Café.  :]  I have pictures this time!

Isn’t it adorable?  Notice the little plate in the corner of the first pic—they have those hanging all around.  They also have all sorts of Christmas decorations and cute ornaments up.  It’s a really, really, really small place—very cozy.  :]

Today, I got the l’omelette du jour, which was, I presume, a 3-egg bundle of yellow joy with smoked salmon, shiitake mushrooms, and gruyère cheese.  It came with a perfectly dressed side salad of mixed greens, carrot ribbons, and onions.  The oil-vinegar dressing they used was awesome.  It made the veggies taste mysteriously delicious—maybe the olive oil?

But anyway.  Omelet talk: YUM.  Usually, the omelets at other restaurants are huge and stuffed to the brim with meat and veggies and oozing with cheese (the last one isn’t so bad, hehe), but I definitely prefer the French-style omelet.  It’s perfectly buttery, fluffy, and not stuffed to the brim.  I love how the eggs are the star of the dish and not just a canvas for the other mishmash of things the omelet is stuffed with.  Fluffy eggy goodness—what could be better?  :]  My palate deviates towards two textures: mushy and fluffy.  Mmmmm.

Ah, the fancy name of the dessert escapes me.  :/  In more barbaric terms, this was anise-spiced cream (?) sandwiched between two slices of walnut-studded cake, the top layer dusted with powdered sugar.  It was delicious—fluffy cake + crunchy walnuts and light, delicious cream :]  It was almost like a strangely-shaped sponge cake roll!  Unfortunately, I was the only one who liked it.  My dad can’t stand spices, and I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  ;)  Oh well—more for me!

Oh, and thank you guys for the photography compliments… but just looking at the pictures from the restaurant make me sad.  :(  They just fail.

AND OMG.  ELEVEN DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!!!  Whoooo-hooo!  :D  Our Christmas “tradition” was always to open presents from family on Christmas Eve, and wait till Christmas morning to open the gifts from Santa.  ;)  I think it is/was a lot more fun this way!  Opening presents at night = candles, fire, and bright Christmas tree lights = so much more warming, cozy, etc. than opening them in the daytime!  What are your holiday traditions?

I’ll see you all after this dreaded.week of horror. x__x  Good-bye my loves!

I’m late, I’m late, I’m late :(  Sorry.

Black Friday somehow turned into Food Friday.  o_o  My stomach was exploding by the end of the day, seriously.  I’ve been quite indulgent these few days (dunno how good that is for me, lol)… but eh, it’s the holiday season, right?!  I’ll just keep those happy thoughts :D  How much did/have you “indulged”? I “indulge” at least twice a week, so I don’t think I count for much.  :P

Before I braved the insanity at the mall to buy skinny jeans, we lunched at Tuscarora Mill.  My daddy ordered a salad to share:

Chilled lobster and shrimp salad + avocado, mango, arugula, tomatoes, madras curry oil.


YUMMM.  This had the perfect harmony of flavors—savory + seafood-y from the lobster and shrimp (though especially the former), sweetness + tartness from the mango, butteriness from the avocado, and a hint of spiciness from the curry oil.  <3

My entrée, on the other hand, was quite disappointing.  I ordered what the waitress recommended me last time, the shrimp & grits.  Bad choice, bad choice.

Shrimp & grits with spinach, tomatoes, country ham, madeira, truffled grits.

It sounded delicious.  Country ham?  Truffled grits?!  … But sadly, it failed to deliver.  It was swimming in a pool of what I presume to be gravy, as it was a) brown, b) buttery, and c) tasted exactly like stuffing.  o_o  Anyway, it was just a bit too much—too oily!

Drowning in a sea of gravy, oh dear.

With all that gravy, I couldn’t discern any sort of “truffle” flavor to the grits.  I mean, they were cheesy and buttery and creamy and yummy, but uh… where’s the part that sold me?!  >:(  The saltiness factor was also waaaay over-the-top, what with the country ham, which had nary a hint of honey-smoked sweetness and was simply laden with salt, and the shaved parmesan (or other salty cheese) on top of everything.  Super salty ham + parmesan of all cheeses + gravy?  = “I’m thirsty.  I’m thirsty.  I’m thirsty.  THIRSTY,”  for the rest of the day.  The shrimp was well-seasoned, but it, too, was overly salty, not to mention drenched in oil.  And the spinach?… um… R.I.P.

My blood pressure probably went through the roof after I was finished with this…

I found the grits.

My dissatisfaction with this meal actually surprised me quite a bit, since everyone on Yelp! seems to love it.  Meh.

And for comparisons of beautifulness, here’s my dad’s meal:

Steak “frites”: grilled shoulder steak, french fries, caramelized onions, red wine sauce, broccoli.
So much prettier than mine.

And then we went crazy.

Errr, I mean, I had a bathroom problem at the mall.  o_o  Totally lame?  Yeah.  OK, so after I maneuvered through the crowds to get to Pac Sun (their jeans are the only ones that fit me!) and get some buy 1 get 1 50% off jeans, nature called.  So I went search amidst the craziness for a bathroom, where, undoubtedly, a line was forming.  I wandered around aimlessly for some reason—I don’t know why.  Delusional from shopping?  Maybe… I did that for about ten minutes.  Then I had an epiphany, “Aha!  I will go find a directory!” :O

And so I did!  For another ten minutes. -_-  Mind you, I was wandering aimlessly, AND there were crowds that slowed me down!  The sad part is, after I found a directory, I wandered around for another ten minutes, still delusional, unable to find the freaking restroom!  At this point, I probably WAS going insane because nature was a-screamin’!  Nevertheless, I prevailed, though it took me like 4-5 trips around the mall.  o__o

It took me one try to get back.  Reiterating: I. am. an. IDIOT.  End of story.

*ahem* Dinner was supposed to be at Clyde’s, a local chain restaurant, but holy cow, it was freaking packed with people and everyone except us had reservations.  Without reservations, we would have to wait two and a half hours.  Eh… no thank you!  I know French people wouldn’t mind eating dinner at 9:00 PM, but I certainly do.  I’d be knocked out by the end of dinner!  What’s the latest that you would want to eat dinner? I’m an early girl—5-7 PM… 8 I can do, but you’d be pushin’ it.  :P

So instead, we resorted to McCormick & Schmick’s M&S Grill, which was pretty sparsely populated.  I must mention that we were given the most delicious warm, doughy, heavenly dinner rolls to start.  I spread mine with some butter and olive tapenade (the ONLY way I’ll eat olives), but I won’t show you the pic.  My camera utterly fails in dim lighting, so the pictures came out all blurry and gross.  :/

I made dinner light—still kinda full from the rich, heavy, salty lunch.

Roasted chioggia beet salad + orange, feta cheese, fennel.

This salad was surprisingly large for an appetizer, and it was surprisingly good, too.  The first time I had beets was at the Cheesecake Factory, and they tasted like dirt. These, however, were lighter in color (different variety?) and very, very, very fresh and sweet—totally delicious!  The sweet orange segments pleasantly balanced the earthy beets, the nutty arugula, and the salty feta cheese.  The fennel, unfortunately, was so thinly sliced and so sparse that it didn’t really contribute anything other than the occasional crunch… and by “occasional,” I mean VERY. occasional.

As soon as I saw sweet potato gratin on the menu—limited to fall, I believe?—I knew I had to get it.

D-i-s-a-p-p-o… inted.

On the onset, this looked pretty tasty.  However, as soon as I stabbed my fork in and realized that I had pierced a slice of regular white potato (gasp!), I freaked out on the inside.  I asked the waitress why there was regular white potato tainting my sweet potato gratin, and she explained that both regular AND sweet ‘taters were in there in layers.

Damn.

I ordered this specifically for the sweet potatoes, and this was a big disappointment.  It didn’t help that it was mostly white potato, either, with the occasional bit of sweet potato mash.  Again, occasional = VERY. occasional.  This was also the complete opposite flavor-wise to my lunch—I had to add salt to make it taste better.  ><  The cheese looked gooey and yummy, but it was hard and flavorless.  Blurgh.  I ended up finishing half before I decided that I honestly did not want to eat it.  :\

Oh, and all my attempts at a “healthier” meal were thwarted when I ordered dessert.

Banana foster bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and foster sauce.

Foster sauce being rum sauce, of course.  This was the first time I’ve had anything “banana foster,” and I must say, it was pretty damn tasty!  The “bread pudding” was basically a delicious, moist banana bread stuffed with walnuts.  I love basically all types of sweetbread, be it banana, pumpkin, etc., so I loved this.  The sauce was buttery and strongly rum-flavored, with a bite from the alcohol at the end that prevented this from being too sweet/cloying .  Ze best part of ze meal, fo sho :)  What’s your favorite part of a three-course meal?

Well, I hope you guys had a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend!  To recap, I’m thankful for the good eats, good company, and my good fortune!  :)  … though I wish I had better socializing skills, haha!  I’ll ramble about some awkward things next post -_-;  Later!  :P

EDIT: Holy.  Why was this post so long?!?!

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