I don’t know how or even if I do want to use my blog as my personal branding.
Though I want my blog.
One Domestic Goddess
Previously I focused much on the domestic aspect, building up my repertoire of recipes and learning how to be a host. I wanted to discover and recreate the tender side of me that had laid dormant for some time. I wanted to be known as more than an engineer, as a beautiful and strong woman…and one that can cook.
Well, now I want to be the Goddess. No, not as one that is worshiped, but one that is strong and leads people into battle. Do goddesses get to do that? I sure hope so!
So, where am I going if not into battle?
I am currently and I hope for years to come pouring my energy and life into a youth culinary training program in central Long Beach. My program partner and I have already been “doing it” for more than a year with a hugely successful program and restaurant event in conducted in May. We are forging ahead, building our vision and our capacity for the future.
I want to share a few pictures here, but if this is something that resonates in you please let me know and I will share more with you.
Our program culminated in a neighborhood dining experience, so many of the photos are from the dining event. I chose not to use any identifiable photos here, but just wanted to give a glimpse into my life work currently.
I am not very good at looking back over a year, so I’m not so sure about a year in review. Honestly, it feels like a personal exercise just as a runner training for a marathon.
I embarked on a big personal change this year and shared with friends as they experienced big changes in their lives. Neighbors who I shared life and food with moved to Colorado, a roommate of nearly 3 years got married, and my best friends and happy hour buddies moved to Santa Barbara.
A going away brunch for our neighbors
I was a bridesmaid in two weddings this year, to two beautiful brides who I had the pleasure of living with.
A best friend’s bridal shower (same friends who moved away 😦 )
Another best friend, favorite roommate and Asian chef at her wedding
This year I bought a DSLR camera and pulled my old film camera out of the closet. Getting back into photography has been slow going, but I am so thankful for what is available at our fingertips.
Taken with Cannon AE1-Program, Kodak PORTRA 400, exposure adjusted
Taken with Canon AE1-Program, Kodak PORTRA 400, exposure adjusted
Taken with Cannon AE1-Program, Kodak PORTRA 400
If you are interested before or after reading, I created a few poll questions to better understand you my readers.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by in your busy holiday schedule!
This is one of my most viewed posts this year and it completely took me by surprise. I love tofu, but I am not loyal to it. Even though you can do so much with it, the texture throws me off. My favorite is Trader Joe’s high protein Organic super firm tofu. I know, it sounds crazy but it works really well and doesn’t fall apart.
I really like discovering alternative ways to prepare foods. This tofu is baked which makes it super easy and really helps to absorb the marinade of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and cilantro. The pine nuts add a nice texture and complexity to the dish.
This is my 2nd most popular post of 2013 and let me tell you, this was one delicious juice. Beets and Swiss Chard are from the same family and have an intense sweetness to them.
Warning: beets and swiss chard in juice form can have adverse affects as they cleanse your body (from my understanding and experience). You may experience dizziness or the juice may flush you out. I recommend that you start out by juicing only 1/2 of a beet and you may consider substituting another vegetable or green for the swiss chard; I really like a 1/2 inch slice of sweet potato.
This was my 4th most viewed post and oh so much fun to make. Honestly, though they were gluten free I haven’t experimented with gluten free flours enough to be happy with the results. This cake turned out great, but I think the garbanzo bean flour in the mix reacted strangely with the carrots.
I have done a lot of baking this year and in May my parents brought me my Kitchen Aid mixer. Yes, I am one of those people who can’t stand the thought of waiting until I’m married to fill up my kitchen. Currently I am pretty well stocked (it really helps when roommates marry and leave behind what they don’t need) so it makes baking easy.
I also made a record number of cake pops this year. Ok, I made cake pops with my roommate a whole 3 times, but for us it was a record!
I actually posted about this in May but attended the Earth Day event in April. It was an amazing dinner and such a unique event to attend. Farm to Table dinners are becoming more popular and more restaurants are starting to go this way, but what was so exciting about this dinner is that the local farmers who provided the vegetables attended the event. We were able to meet a few local farmers and learn how we can support urban farms in our city.
This is my most viewed post of all time and makes me astounded at the internet. Have you ever thought about what the creative process looks like now? With Google, Tastespotting, and Pinterest etc. exchange of ideas that happens so quickly.
I absolutely love these cake pops. I am a big fan of red velvet cake and the Martha Stewart cake I make tastes amazing! I am still craving these 7 months later!
I took a hiatus from blogging in June after my friends wedding and was touch and go much of this year. I just couldn’t manage work, blogging, and weddings!
Ok, so these aren’t even a blip on the radar of the most popular posts this year but I sure loved them and the mango-corn salsa was darn delicious. I have to admit, the quality of the chicken sausage was everything. Purchase juicy sausage from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and make sure it’s not pre-cooked. The Italian Kale makes a nice bun and is sure worth experimenting with.
This year I learned that you can make amazing pancakes with Almond milk. This recipe from Silk makes delicious pancakes that taste very similar to buttermilk pancakes. My friend made me Swiss Pancakes when I visited and I found them so much fun to play with. With only 4 ingredients, if you alter one it makes the pancakes completely different!
This soup really didn’t rate this year, but it was rather tasty. I was so thankful that I made so much soup and homemade broth this year. When the California weather gets cold, though rarely it seems, it is handy to have soup in the freezer.
The sweet potatoes and red lentil gave this soup a really nice flavor. Surprisingly, this soup has no dairy or coconut milk.
This is one of the top 20 posts from this year and top 10 for this month. With this one, numbers really don’t matter. It just tasted so good! The croutons provided an element of surprise and really balanced well with the bacon.
I am in love with soups, stews and chili currently; basically anything that keeps me warm!
I had to include these as one of my favorites! They are the 3rd most viewed post this month, so I think I see great potential. 🙂 They were so much fun to make and were a hit amongst our friends. The cake is super moist and pares well with the Ganache frosting. I learned so much about cake pops, which I shared here.
If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed reading.
What was your favorite post of your blog or event in your life?
A few weeks ago, I attended an Earth Day celebration highlighting urban farmers, sustainable food practices, and a Farm to Table dinner in which we had the opportunity to meet Long Beach local farmers and learn about small farm economics firsthand. Urban farmers and advocates set up booths in an empty city lot on Pine Ave, just blocks away from the Long Beach Grand Prix, to showcase their spring bounty and provide information about the local food movement.
In the same empty city lot as the sun was setting, preparations were at hand for a Farm to Table Dinner put on by Long Beach Primal Alchemy Catering. A long community table was set with glistening wine glasses and beautiful flowers, local Old-Time band Moonsville Collective warmed up on a stage set against a graffiti art painted brick wall, and the chefs prepared the food in an open kitchen.
While watching the chefs prep in the open air kitchen, we socialized and enjoyed appetizers such as Spring Vegetable Ragu on Crostini, topped with Mustard Lemon Aioli. Passing a multi-course family style dinner down the table, we sat amongst strangers but quickly made friends. My favorite was the Asian Style Black Cod and the Roasted & Seasoned Vegetables. The black cod melted in your mouth like butter; I didn’t know something so healthy could taste so good! Before the dinner I observed the chef preparing the vegetables and asked the head chef about the marinade for the black cod.
If you are a Long Beach native and are interested in experiencing a Farm to Table dinner, the next is a brunch at Farm Lot 59 on June 23, 2013. The information is not on their website yet, but I will try to post it when it is available.
Needless to say, this experience inspired me to make an Asian Style Black Cod with Shitake Mushrooms atop of Quinoa with Roasted Farmer’s Market Vegetables. I have learned how to cook Asian food (though with my own twist) over the last three years from a wonderful Taiwanese roommate. Even though LA offers amazing Taiwanese Pho, Chinese Dim Sum, Korean Barbeque, and Japanese Sushi it is only by opening myself to new cultures and making Asian friends that I’ve created my own style of Asian cooking.
Asian Style Black Cod and Shitake Mushrooms and Quinoa
Dry Shitake mushrooms are available at Asian markets such as 99 Ranch Market and Zion (in LA) and come whole or sliced. Though you can simply soak the mushrooms before cooking with them, if you boil in water with green onions and ginger they will retain moisture and therefore more readily soak up the flavor of your soup or stir fry. Boiled mushrooms can be stored in your fridge for up to one week.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1 large black cod (3/4-1 lb) frozen or fresh
2 ounces dry Shitake mushrooms (about 20)
1 cup quinoa
5 Green Onions, chopped
2 tsp ginger, minced
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1 lemon grass stalk, chopped
If the fish is frozen, remove from the fridge the night before to thaw.
Boil 2 quarts of water in a large pot. Add 3 green onions and 1 tsp ginger along with the dry Shitake mushrooms. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Retain at least 1/2 cup of the broth.
Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, remaining green onions, remaining ginger, and lemon grass for the marinade.
Lay the black cod in a large baking dish and cover with the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for 3o minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions.
Remove the fish from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Slice 4 of the shitake mushrooms and add to the fish. Broil on high for 8-10 minutes per inch of flesh measured at the thickest park of the fish or until fish is cooked through. Add 1/2 cup of the mushroom broth and swirl around the pan until all the soy sauce is absorbed my the broth.
Note: if preparing with the Roasted Vegetables, broil the black cod after the vegetables are ready to serve.
Roasted Farmer’s Market Vegetables with Grape Seed Oil and Lemon
Pick an assortment of vegetables from your local organic market or Farmer’s Market. I like to browse the Farmer’s Market and see what inspires me.
2 Golden Beets, tops removed and quartered
1 large green onion bulb, sliced (like an orange)
2 cups small Brussels Sprouts, whole
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-3 Tbs Grape Seed Oil
1/4 lemon juiced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the brussels sprouts and golden beets in a baking dish. Scatter the sliced onions on top. Top with the garlic and drizzle with 1 Tbs Grape Seed Oil (or extra virgin olive oil).
Cover and bake for 30-45 minutes until tender, removing from the oven every 15 minutes and adding more oil. At 30 minutes squeeze the lemon juice on top. Remove the lid for the last 5 minutes of baking. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place a slice of black cod on top of the quinoa, add a few mushroom slices and drizzle with a tablespoons of the mushroom stock/soy sauce mixture. Serve alongside the roasted vegetables.
This morning we said goodbye to two very dear friends over buttermilk pancakes, strata, bacon, and mimosas. There is no better way to see friends off than by eating brunch; especially when there is champagne, bacon, and maple syrup involved. We’ve been neighbors for over a year; sharing the driveway, a patio, and a German Shepard.
One of my favorite tricks when baking is to use the most popular recipe on allrecipes.com. I’ve found that you can’t go wrong when there are more than 1000 reviews. Make sure you save the recipe if you really like it though, because it can be the dickens to find it months later. These buttermilk pancakes were perfect. If you are making pancakes for a large group, store them in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil at 300 and they’ll be nice and hot when served.
This is one of the most beautiful couples I know. They taught us so much and exude joy. We are truly blessed to have them as friends!
They are like parents to me.
We tried something completely different for the bacon. Instead of cooking it on the stove, be baked it in the oven at 350 degrees F. I’ve been told that to make the best bacon, you should start it in a cold oven. This applewood smoked bacon really was something else.
A lot of photos of me are at the stove. Kind of funny how that works out when you are hostess of a party. 🙂
My favorite dish was the mini pepper strata. I start with a base recipe and add cheese, meat, and vegetables. I find a lot of inspiration while at the grocery store, just taking in all the possibilities. The mini peppers held a lot of moisture and were well balanced by chicken sausage and white cheddar cheese.
1 bag of mini red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, sliced
1 lb Chicken Sausage, flavored with apples, sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 35o deg. F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with butter and set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Add the yellow onions and stir until all the oil is absorbed. Turn the heat to medium and cook until they just begin to brown. Turn the heat to low and add the garlic and peppers. Saute until the peppers are tender and the onion is caramelized.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and half and half until smooth. Stir in the vegetables, chicken and cheese. Add salt and pepper. Fold in the baguette until well mixed.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes until the edges are brown and the egg is just a bit juicy.
A few months ago I was photographing food in our courtyard and I thought, “this would make a great restaurant.” We have a beautiful courtyard and have hosted amazing parties, but I thought it would be fun to make it into a restaurant atmosphere. Blogging has encouraged me to share my love for baking and cooking with friends and what better way to share my blog than with a party. The challenge would be to only serve food that I’ve posted to my blog so that 1. I get the chance to practice before game night 2. My guests preview the menu through photos 3. I introduce and expose my blog to a wider audience.
My friends were very supportive and gave me great tips for planning. I reviewed my blog entries and realized that I needed more items that I and others would want to eat at a restaurant. I started looking at restaurants differently and I wondered how they crafted their menu. The last two months, nearly all my blog entries were with this dinner in mind. It took so much planning and thanks to amazing friends we had a beautiful night.
We had two seating’s to give each party plenty of time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. We are blessed not only with space, but also with great patio furniture, so all I had to do was borrow a table. We kept the decorations simple: lights, candles, flowers, and of course a fire pit.
An important item to this party was that all the dishes and most of the napkins were real dinnerware. I wanted my guests to feel at home and so I begged, borrowed and stole to make it happen. No…I was very blessed to find, be given and lent dishware. One item that we were short on was wine glasses, but just the week before we celebrated my roommate’s boyfriend’s birthday in Santa Barbara and were blessed with many free wine glasses.
I am blessed with amazing friends and after a weekend in Santa Barbara I felt like I had known these new friends for much longer.
My friend who helped me cook also gave me tips for hosting. These were my favorites (in my own words).
Find out what people are good at and ask them to help in that way. If they find a way to invest, they will also receive something in return.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Make a list and have extra food. Shop for the groceries three days before, bake desserts the day before, and be ready early the day of. I didn’t do any of these perfectly, but everything still turned out great.
Keep your cool and be present with your guests. I went to each group when serving desserts and asked if they were enjoying themselves. Everyone was having a great time and I had a great time as well.
I have such talented friends and I loved the personal touches that they added.
Note: This post was edited in January 2014 to better match the blog personality
Last fall was my first experience gardening and I had a few successes and many failures. I tried many techniques; composting, baking soil, mixing espresso with top soil, sowing seeds indoors, ceramic pots, plastic pots, and vertical gardening. One large ceramic pot produced good crops despite poor drainage. As fall turned to winter I grew weary of watering, but my swiss chard planted in the ceramic pot thrived despite me. I had an abundance of swiss chard, so I began to add it to many dishes.
My latest experiment is an egg strata with bacon, swiss chard and smoked gouda. I use this Brunch Strata recipe from allrecipes.com as a base and modify it depending on the mood. Although I don’t cook like Julia Childs, I strive to chop onions like Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.
I shared this strata with friends at a brunch in our back yard.
2 cups chopped Yellow Onion
3-4 leaves Swiss Chard chopped; separate stalks
8 slices applewood smoked bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
11 large eggs
1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons half-and-half
3 slices hearty wheat bread
6 ounces smoked Gouda, edges removed and sliced into thin chunks
dash of salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
In a large skillet, saute the onions in oil about 5 minutes, until slightly tender. Add the Swiss Chard stalks and saute for one minute. Lay the remaining Swiss Chard over the onions, allowing steam to form. Turn the Swiss Chard into the onions, cover and saute until tender. Drain and pat dry; set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crispy and pat dry. Chop into bite size pieces.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and half-and-half until smooth. Stir in the onions, Swiss Chard, bacon, gouda, salt and pepper. Toast the wheat bread; tear into pieces and fold into the egg mixture.
Pour into a large greased casserole baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.