Entries from September 27th, 2010

Salted Caramels



I ate chicken feet today.  Well, chicken foot.  I only had one — but I would eat them (it) again.  I was at dim sum; the food kept coming, and I really just couldn’t eat that much.
I hate to admit that I was one of those little kids that hated vegetables.  My parents still made me eat them, and I hated every minute of it.  I was never one to throw fits; just a child who understood the difference between happiness and discomfort.  It took a while, but I guess we all grow up at some point.  And I eat vegetables almost every day. Love them.  So, years later, I find myself all grown up, without any food fears.
Is that too bold of a statement? Should I be doubtful when I say something like that?  I’ll try most things at least once.  And I’d eat chicken feet again — I’m just not too thrilled by the act of spitting bones out while sitting at a table filled with people.
On a more appealing note, I made salted caramels this weekend.  I’m slightly obsessed with the combination of sweet and salty (or just salty).  I made a salted chocolate cake for a friend’s birthday this summer, which was demolished at a party; today I thought I’d just stick to the candy itself.  Needless to say, I can’t stop eating them (and about twenty of them disappeared from my counter on Saturday night). They are coming to work with me.  I can’t have these in my house when I’m supposed to be training for a half marathon. 

The recipe was derived from David Lebovitz.

Acoustic Guitar Cookies



I thought I’d post photos of my most recent feat — the guitar cookies.  I recently stumbled across an acoustic guitar cookie cutter, and I had to have it.  And there they are.  The recipe for them can be found here.  Just beware — the necks of the guitars kept breaking.  These cookies are fragile, but as my roommate Jonathan says, they’re legit.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies



I don’t think I took a single breath at work on Friday morning, between 9 AM and 3 PM.

It wasn’t the first time that happened at my new job, but it was literally a rush until we had things wrapped up.  So naturally, I left the office and stuffed my face at We the Pizza on Capitol Hill.  And then I remembered how much I want to move to that neighborhood (sorry roomies, it’s true).  I like rustic neighborhoods — there’s a certain pretentiousness about neighborhoods in Northwest.  I know it’s more about the people than the hoods, but I’m ready for a change anyway.  I also realized that exactly a year ago on Friday, I moved to Washington and never looked back.

Since my blog is almost a year old, I took some time to look back upon what I’ve written.  More sweet food than savory (after all, this is Sweetsonian), lots of writing on California, even more about Washington, and pages upon pages of commentary on the weather, which has decidedly cooled down.

I’ve learned that DC weather is not at all what I had expected.  I left sunny, breezy, not-humid Los Angeles, while everyone in Washington reassured me that the weather is mild, that the snow rarely sticks to the ground, and that the summer humidity doesn’t really hit until July.  What I ultimately experienced was a record breaking blizzard-filled winter, followed by a record-breaking hot summer, during which, my Dad called me to tell me that Los Angeles was having an unusually mild summer.  I must have upset some version of weather gods at some point in my life, because the winter and summer made me feel like I had a metaphysical storm cloud following me around the country.

But the transitions between summer and winter are what I ultimately spend all of February and August looking forward to.  The perfect running weather, picnics on the National Mall, and environmental shift away from months of the extremes.  The tulips (my favorites) pop up in spring and everything becomes unseemingly green, while the fall leaves make my heart race with excitement — partially because the colors and the aromas of this coast in the fall bring back the excitement I felt a year ago, when I moved here.

Speaking of change, I spent the last holiday weekend at a friend’s beautiful house in Virginia; what part, I’m unsure.  But it was stunning.  And the family owned eight dachshunds and one golden retriever.  Needless to say, I was in heaven.  I exchanged these cookies for tanning, volleyball games,  night swimming with watermelons, and a great group of my DC friends.  And these cookies will always remind me of that much-needed break from the city.  It’s such a simple recipe too — I got it off the Quaker Oats container.  Sometimes the best recipes are left unaltered, to bask in their commercial utility.  Like the tollhouse recipe: not my favorite, but still reliably good.


(recipe taken from Quaker Oats)

1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2  cup granulated sugar
2  eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
3  cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1  cup raisins
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Chicken Adobo



The pictures really say it all — Filipino comfort food, which iFlipforFood, a fellow food blogger in Washington (but soon to be Los Angeles) got me going on.  Can’t write now, must rush off.  Will be back with baked surprises soon.


2 to 3 chicken breasts (my mom always used a whole chicken, skin and all… this is my healthier remix)
1 onion
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of a neutral oil (I use vegetable oil)
a few bay leaves
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup of a white vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
fresh black pepper
steamed rice (to serve with)


First, heat the oil with the garlic and onions in a medium-sized saucepan.  Once hot, place the chicken in the pan — let each side cook for 1 to 2 minutes on high, allowing the surface to brown.  Then, remove the chicken and set aside.

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, and pepper in the saucepan over low heat.  Once the sauces start to simmer (and consequently deglaze the marks left by your searing chicken), place the chicken back into the pan, and cover.  Let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes — and about half way through, stir the chicken around.  You want it to soak up all the tastes from this surprisingly amazing combination of flavors.

Bogotá, Colombia



I’m back! And because I know you were all desperately wondering, my trip to Bogotá was adventurous and beautiful (as expected).  I wrote my omelette blog from the airport, and did not sleep a wink on either flight — I was just too excited.  And as beautiful and exciting as Bogotá was (is), I am happy to be back in Washington.  I guess that’s how you can tell you’re home: no matter how exotic, relaxing, or fun your travels are, the return home takes on some form of a yawn, as an overall sigh your body releases upon landing in your hometown.  Just seeing the national mall from the window a few feet away reminds me of the first time I ascended from Washington, during the interview trip that I write so much about.  Every time I see the National Mall from an airplane, I remember the romance and excitement I discovered upon leaving California and venturing out on my own in this dramatic yet ironically serene city.

Anyway, more about Bogotá.  The city was beautiful, and confusing, for the aspiring development worker.  I hadn’t traveled abroad since my summer working as a teacher in Tanzania, so naturally, that summer was all I really had to compare to.  In terms of traveling, I prefer visiting places that few people go, and usually in the developing world.  I’ve never been to Europe — that’s not to say I don’t want to go, but I’d honestly rather go to Europe after I’ve seen the parts of the world that I spent years studying.  If I ever acquire some obscene amount of money (unlikely in the near future), I’ll go off on a European vacation.  But in the meantime, I’ll visit the world less-traveled.

Bogotá took me by surprise with its development.  It is so incredibly modern, yet it still holds a grasp onto its South American village culture.  The transmilenio metro system made it relatively easy to get around, and the food was to die for.  The altitude, however, made me feel like my lungs were constantly being crushed.  Forget about the fact that we hiked to the top of Laguna Sagrada de Guatavita, the lake from which the premise of the Legend of El Dorado was derived (a children’s animated film was also produced, obviously, it was horribly inaccurate).  Aside from the fact that I’ve ignored stairmasters for years, my running did not prepare my lungs for this.  So my muscle soreness, inability to breathe, and lack of rest left me pretty uncomfortable.  But contrary to the fact that I had issues walking/running/breathing, I was very happy to be in such a beautiful city, and to have such a gracious best friend to show me around!

This is me, after running (and tripping/falling/ripping my jeans at the knee) to Simón Bolivar’s farmhouse.  In the picture, I am sitting in gold paint-dust that was used for some ritual practice that was being performed — I definitely couldn’t get the gold out of the jeans, so I have some baller ripped pants now.  About five minutes after I took this picture, a bug flew into my mouth.  I kept telling myself “you’ll laugh at this later…”

Anyway, here’s my Flickr slide show — enjoy the photos!  Food posts coming soon.  My writing can’t keep up with the photos I prepare for this blog.  Look forward to cookies and Filipino food recipes.


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