Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 31: Musings on Tea Tree, Thank You Cards, and Meyer Lemons

Tea tree flowers purchased last month from the farmers' market in Alhambra. I believe they were $2/$3 for this large bouquet. I liked their slight honey scent and because they were similar enough to plum blossoms for Tet (Vietnamese New Year). Not that there was any significance but because this is the month of random photos and I had a random photo just right here. :)
Day 31 Tea Tree
So why was I taking a half-hearted break this month? Several reasons really. I was sick and didn't want to think up any posts. Despite a very large backlog, at first I just loaded up whatever I had that day. Then I started posting all the lovely revisits as I repeated recipes but took better pictures this time around, or wanted to highlight some of my favorite restaurants. The revisits are only to complete recipe or restaurant postings. If something seems a little incomplete, I prefer to update that post so there's a central place for all that info. I know, one of my quirks. Anyway, I did a little more writing in the past month than I intended, but a lot less than I normally do. Which gave me a nice break to ponder upon some things. So here I am pondering away. I had dinner with a college friend a while back. She conducted three alumni interviews for our alma mater. Afterward, only one of the students bothered to send her a thank you email. None sent actual thank you cards. Maybe I'm an old fuddy duddy (I know the use of fuddy duddy probably guarantees that.), but I believe simple courtesies still have merit. Back when I used to go on lots of job interviews, I always sent a thank you card afterward. Now, in this day and age of instant email, you should probably send a thank you email first, but I think an actual thank you card makes you stand out. I send thank you cards if I travel somewhere and stay with a friend. That's for afterward. I come bearing small gifts if they're gonna put me up.
Day 31 Note Cards
Why does all this matter? Because apparently a lot of people lack common courtesies. That's right. Normally I don't make too much of a deal out of things. Well, not online anyway. But after almost two years of blogging, answering a lot of emails, I'm tired of people who never learned manners. No. No. This doesn't apply to my blogging friends and regular readers. I'm talking about the random people who delurk to ask long, detailed questions. After I reply, they don't even have the courtesy to write a quick thank you. Now, I'm not saying you have to be Dave and thank me on your wedding day (Although, I surely did appreciate it Dave!). You should always say thanks when you ask someone to do something for you. And emailing me to ask a question, which I take time out of my day to respond to, sometimes in very lengthy replies, constitutes as asking someone to do something for you. After I reply, all I ask is for a quick thank you. This has happened often enough that I'm seriously bothered by it. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least half a dozen other bloggers who have mentioned this same problem. I blog because I enjoy it, because I've made lovely online and real-life friends. I like sharing my recipes or food finds with others. But I am one person. One person who has to photograph each step when I cook. One person who photographs each item when I dine out. One person who must now watermark each photo because too many people have been stealing photos and republishing it without my permission or attribution. (Yes, I'm talking about you Peter Polt and your use of my Norwegian chocolates picture on Facebook.) One person who must then organize those countless photos before I even get around to blogging. One person who really does not appreciate it when I see my photos or recipes posted on other people's blogs, without attribution. I will say it again. I really, really do not like other people using my photos. If you must, then you need to attribute it to Wandering Chopsticks and link back to me. (But seriously, if you're already making my recipe, why aren't you photographing it and posting that photo? Too much work you say? Then think of the amount of work I put in to cook, photograph, organize photos, watermark, upload, and then blog about it.) If you're using my recipe in its entirety, then I prefer that you link back to my recipe post instead of posting it on your blog. If you're adapting my recipe, then have the courtesy to say it was adapted from Wandering Chopsticks and link back to me. If you have any ads on your blog at all, then republishing my photos or recipes violates the non-commercial terms of my copyright notice. I used to have a pretty liberal policy about comments. But as my blog has gotten more popular, I've had to deal with too many spam commenters, or trolls, or simply rude people. So apologies to my non-blogging commenters, but I've taken off the anonymous option. You'll have to register with Blogger, or use your gmail account to leave a message. I was tired of having to delete solicitations, or rude messages (sometimes with swear words!), or simply erroneous information. What is with people? Just because it's the internet doesn't mean you discard all manners. Sheesh. Sorry for the long rant. Just stuff that's been on my mind for a while. I'm sure there's a line between hunting down every single instance or just letting things go, but it's a list of annoyances that's been building up for a while. These issues aren't unique to me, I've seen it crop up again and again on other blogs as well. Anyway, the break from lots of writing was nice. I think I'll continue interspersing my blog entries with short posts or just pictures to give myself a breather. And to end on a cheerier note, look at the Meyer lemons on my youngest uncle's tree! Aren't they gorgeous? You know what that means? Recipes featuring Meyer lemons coming up.
Day 31 Meyer Lemons
***** 1 year ago today, Lady Fairbanks rose archways and my old herb garden.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day 30: Luscious Dumplings, Inc. Redux - San Gabriel

Still my favorite dumpling house. Prices have gone up about 50 cents on some items since my initial post on Luscious Dumplings, Inc.
Day 30 Luscious Dumplings, Inc.
Luscious Dumplings Inc.
704 W. Las Tunas Dr., #E4
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Lunch 11 a.m to 2 p.m.
Dinner 5 to 8 p.m.
Closed Mondays. Lunch service only on Sundays.
Cash only
***** 1 year ago today, nectarine flowers, freesia, and primroses were blooming in my old garden.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day 29: Baccali Cafe and Rotisserie Redux (Indonesian Fried Rice) - Alhambra

Also while lil' sis was home we hit up our other favorites -- Carnitas Michoacan in Los Angeles and Baccali Cafe and Rotisserie in Alhambra. Oh how I cringe at that blog post but have been too lazy to re-write it. It was one of my very first entries. I've since supplemented it with photos of all my favorite menu items, but it doesn't really read like my usual style. Anyway, as usual, we ordered beef chow fun with dry soy sauce and chicken wings, and tried the Indonesian fried rice with satay skewers.
Day 29 Baccali Cafe and Rotisserie Redux - Alhambra Indonesian Fried Rice
The fried rice tasted like ketchup fried rice, sadly missing the usual flavors of spices. Which means, I really need to get myself to an Indonesian restaurant so I can have a proper Indonesian listing in my index. So far my only Indonesian item is my interpretation of rujak - Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy Tropical Fruit Salad. My siblings and I had a little chuckle because the booth next to us ordered this too and we could hear them exclaim how good they thought it tasted. While we did eat it all, it was more like a very bland interpretation of Indonesian fried rice. Baccali Cafe and Rotisserie 245 West Valley Blvd. Alhambra, CA 91801 626-293-3300 Open 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. ***** 1 year ago today, the prettiest Cobb Salad ever.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day 28: Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant Redux - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Driving on the 10 freeway, past downtown LA at dusk, on our way to Koreatown.
Day 28 Driving Past Downtown LA at Dusk
Continuing on with our revisits. Hmm. How come we can say revisiting but not reduxing? Hehe. :P Lil' sis, the oldest '87, the oldest '88, and I were gonna try to a new Korean barbecue restaurant. It was an hour wait though, so we opted to go to an old favorite. For close-ups of all the panchan (Korean side dishes), read my original post on Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant in Los Angeles (Koreatown) and another Chung Kiwa revisit with lil' sis and her best friend.
Day 28 Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant Redux - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
This time we got the choice galbi (short ribs), $22.99, and daeji bulgogi (Korean spicy pork), $18.99. While tasty, if you can afford it, I'd say splurge for the $29.99 black Angus galbi, it really does taste better. And one minor annoyance, we were charged for rice. I hate it when Asian restaurants do that. I'm not sure if this is a new charge, or if it was because we didn't order the black Angus meat, but just thought I'd give ya'll a heads up. Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant 3545 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019 323-737-0809 ***** 1 year ago today, a 10 lb glut of tomatoes means balsamic vinaigrette for salads.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day 27: The Boiling Crab Redux - Alhambra

Lil' sis has been home for spring break (Yay!) so we've been revisiting all the places she can't get where she's going to school. Yes, we hit up Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana again and I've added in a picture of our half Salsiccia 3, half Cal Bianco pizza. If you missed it, read my original post on The Boiling Crab, and another visit where I finally got to eat Dungeness crabs. The menu now also features fried catfish and shrimp baskets, and fried oysters. 1 dozen oysters $13.99.
Day 27 Boiling Crab Redux - Alhambra 1
2 lbs of crawfish, includes 1 piece of corn and 2 pieces of sausage, $7.99/lb.
Day 27 Boiling Crab Redux - Alhambra 2
1 lb of shrimp, $8.99/lb.
Day 27 Boiling Crab Redux - Alhambra 3
Cajun fries, $2.99.
Day 27 Boiling Crab Redux - Alhambra 4
No Dungeness crabs that night. :( I've tried the blue crabs once. Too little meat for too much work. Also, the mild is now very mild. So upgrade to medium if you're looking for a slight kick. They also now offer sweet potato fries. The Boiling Crab 742 W. Valley Blvd. Alhambra, CA 91803 626-576-9368 Monday to Friday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 10 p.m. ***** 1 year ago today, step two of how to start quilting. C'mon, you know you wanna. Assembling your quilt: Measuring margins, ironing, and piecing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 26: Banh Tet Chuoi (Vietnamese Sticky Rice Cakes with Bananas)

Day 26 Banh Tet Chuoi
Banh Tet Chuoi (Vietnamese Sticky Rice Cakes with Bananas), steamed in banana leaves, $1.50 from Banh Mi and Che Cali in Alhambra. Anyone know how come baby bananas turn red after steaming? Banh Mi & Che Cali Restaurant 647 W. Valley Blvd. Alhambra, CA 91803 626-293-8396 ***** 1 year ago today, how to start quilting: choosing a design and buying supplies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 25: Chinese Hot and Sour Soup Redux

Just a little tweaking to my Chinese hot and sour soup recipe.
Day 25 Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
Enjoy! ***** 1 year ago today, one of my favorite drinks, the smooth and creamy sinh to bo (Vietnamese avocado shake).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 24: Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park

Six months ago, I began a love affair with Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana in Monterey Park. It started when I found out owner Christiano Bollini was trained at Le Cordon Bleu and spent three years in Italy perfecting his craft. My love only grew stronger after eating many, many perfectly crispy, chewy, ultra-thin crust pizzas. It's not just the pizzas that keep me coming back. I know I've said that Chris, the two other pizza-makers both named Jesse M., and Bernard the waiter, are always friendly and welcoming, but it really is true. Not only do they always ask how I'm doing, but they ask how lil' sis is doing too (this when she's not around but in school). Since Chris opened his restaurant a few blocks away from the neighborhood where he grew up, he can be found chatting with parents about which school their kids go to and whether they had the same teacher. By virtue of its location, there are just as many Asian customers as there are Italian. From the regulars who drop by for a slice or a pizza to-go to the new customers who stop in out of curiosity, Chris chats with each one as if they're old friends. While I've mainly stuck to the pizzas, last month Chris offered to do a tasting menu for me. I was curious to try because, while the menu lists dinner specials Wednesday through Saturday, we've also chatted about the tasting menus he's done for various groups. I invited cousin Q to join me for lunch. The complimentary pizza bread with pesto.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 1
Arugula salad with fresh corn, smoked bacon, sauteed mushrooms, teardrop tomatoes, goat cheese, and red wine vinaigrette for $7.50.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 2
Here's the back view so you can see all the components of the salad. The baby arugula was just perfect, not too bitter, but just enough to contrast with the sweet corn, bacon, and goat cheese. This was just too much food though and I had half of it boxed to bring home. And this was only the first course!
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 3
Crab-stuffed mushrooms $6. No fillers, just pure lump crab meat piled on top. Just as good as I remembered. And since cousin Q doesn't eat seafood, I happily ate every last morsel.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 4
Braised pork on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with goat cheese sprinkled on top. The pork was a little bit salty but so incredibly tender that I didn't even need to use a knife. The mashed potatoes were so smooth and creamy, I ate every last bit of that as well.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 5
I was stuffed at this point but out came Bollini's pasta bolognese, $12.50. Now, I've never been impressed with bolognese before so I didn't think much of it when Chris said he'd do a pasta dish for me. But. Oh. My. God. Best bolognese ever! And no wonder because his grandmother is from Bologna. The recipe has been in his family for nearly 200 years. It takes two hours to prep and three hours to cook. His grandmother taught his dad, who passed the recipe on to Chris, who'll one day teach his sons.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 6
The meal ended with chocolate-lined cannoli with sweet ricotta and orange peels. Oh yum!
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 7
He offered to make a pizza for me too but there was no way I could fit in anything else. I was already taking half of the food home as it was. I went up to the register to pay for lunch, but Chris wouldn't let me. I tried to insist, but he wanted to thank me for my previous write-up. I didn't want to dampen his nice gesture so I accepted. So in the interests of full disclosure, the above meal was comped. I did leave a nice tip though. And I've paid for every other meal. And well, it's not like I wouldn't have gushed about the food anyway, because I've already done so before. But I really do think the care he puts into his restaurant really shows in the food. And hey, I'm not completely biased, I did say the braised pork was a tad salty didn't I? :P Anyway, days later when lil' sis was home, we were back again. While waiting for our pizza, lil' sis went to the bathroom and let out a little squeal. So I had to go see the bathroom for myself.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 8
Can you see the nude lady in the window?
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 9
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 10
Pizza-maker Jesse M. had told lil' sis long ago that he would design a pizza just for her. So on this particular day, we held him to it. The only thing I said was that she didn't care too much for anchovies on her pizza.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 11
He came up with a half white and half red sauce, bell peppers, two kinds of sausage, mushrooms, and well, I don't want to reveal everything because this is the lil' sis special reserved just for her. She liked both sides so much that she couldn't decide which she liked more. There was absolute silence, with occasional yummy noises.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 12
Lil' sis is real happy, I told Jesse. Oh? Is she having a nice day, he asked? It's because of your pizza that she's so happy, I said. I think I could feel him blushing from across the room. Look at that super thin crust.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 13
In my previous post about describing all the requirements of an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, I didn't want to imply that Bollini's is actually certified. Because even though his pizza fits many of the requirements - wood-fired oven heated above 800 degrees, extra virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella, and super thin crust, well, frankly, that's not Chris's style. When I suggested he link up his website with all the nice reviews Bollini's has been getting from various food blogs, not just mine, as well as Chowhound and Yelp, Chris said he didn't want to boast. He said he believes in creating a quality product and letting that speak for itself. If you watch them at work, you'll see that each sausage or mushroom is carefully sliced when ordered. Each ingredient is carefully arranged on the pizza. The toppings are always of highest quality. Fresh dough is made twice a day. Another visit. I know, I eat here way too often. Here's both Jesse M.'s making my half Nonna (sauce, mozzarella, fontina, sweet fennel sausage, mushrooms, herbs, basil, and parmesan) and half Steak Special (horseradish sauce, onions, gorgonzola, mozzarella, herbs, marinated steak, arugula, and black pepper).
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 14
And so I don't neglect him too, here's Bernard, the waiter, wiping plates.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 15
Mmm. The arugula was a bit wilted by the time I got it home but still so good.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 16
My favorite pizzas though are still the Porco (sauce, mozzarella, sweet fennel sausage, three pepper sausage, bacon, tomatoes, onions, basil, and parmesan) and the Rocco (sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and basil). Before I left, the guys all signed a recent write-up in Metromix. "You are in part to blame for us being noticed. We [heart] you!" Aww, aren't they too sweet? Wait, shouldn't they have autographed my initial blog post? But I wouldn't want to correct their impression that other people have been finding Bollini's because of me. ;) Hehe, OK, I know some of my readers have tried Bollini's because of me but I don't think I have that much clout, or do I? :P
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 17
And yet another visit two days later, while lil' sis was home. Half Salsiccia 3 (Sauce, mozzarella, three pepper sausage, red and green peppers, Italian peppers, and goat cheese finished with basil.) and half Cal Bianco (Parmesan sauce, smoked chicken, garlic, herbs, olive oil and basil.), 16" large, $13.50.
Day 24 Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana Redux (Tasting Menu) - Monterey Park 18
In case you missed it, my first post about Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana in Monterey Park. Oh, yeah, and because I was thwarted twice in the past month when I had a hankering for Bollini's, if you're coming from far away, I'd suggest calling first. Since ingredients are freshly made each day, and the dough is made twice a day, if they run out, they do sometimes close early. Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana 2315 S. Garfield Ave. Monterey Park, CA 91754 323-722-7600 Open Monday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays Only pizzas served on Mondays. That's the day Chris handles paperwork and he's the only one who makes the pastas and other dishes. ***** 1 year ago today, I met Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos at Saigon Bistro.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day 22: Eating Vegetarian on Ram and Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes)

Today is ram (the 15th day of the lunar month). While I don't observe Buddhist vegetarian days, my oldest uncle's family does. So sometimes, I get altar offerings. I wonder sometimes, how much culture I retain through osmosis?
Day 22 Xoi Dau Xanh for Ram
And banh xeo (Vietnamese sizzling crepes), also from the same auntie but from a different day.
Day 22 Banh Xeo
P.S. And to the person who copied my recipe for banh xeo-ish pajeon, but labeled it only banh xeo, I know the way I write and I know that wasn't your creation. So even though you copied my recipe without attributing it to me, I still know it's mine. By the way, there's a reason why I didn't call it a banh xeo. It's not. Chalk one up for karma because if you attempt to use a recipe for a thick pancake to make a thin, crispy crepe, it will not yield proper results. I'll leave it at that. ***** 1 year ago today, bruschetta al pomodoro (Italian tomato bruschetta).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day 21: Crab, Fish Maw, and Egg Drop, and Chicken Noodle Soup

I was on the phone with my youngest aunt the other day and mentioned that I had been sick. That night, she stopped by and gave me a bowl of crab, fish maw, and egg drop soup. Mmm. (The fish maw is the gelatinous looking substance at the front of the spoon.)
Day 21 Crab, Fish Maw, and Egg Drop Soup
Hmm. Does that mean I'm really Americanized because my sickie soup stand-by was Chicken Noodle Soup?
Day 21 Chicken Noodle Soup
***** 1 year ago today, pho bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 20: Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) Redux (The Recipe)

For Danielle, since you asked. A cooking group huh? Have fun! Hey, if you take pictures and want to write up your experience making my recipe, I can post it on the blog. Just email me photos or a summary. Or, actually, I was thinking if any of my non-blogging readers would like to do the same, just let me know. Maybe it'll be a new feature? Anyone interested?

Day 20 Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) 1
Unlike Indian or Thai curries, Vietnamese curry is more like a stew. There's not a whole lot of ingredients, just chicken, potatoes, and carrots, so the emphasis is more on the flavorful curried broth. The chicken and curry spices simmers for a while in coconut broth. It is eaten with bread, rice, or rice noodles. I prefer Vietnamese French bread best because the lighter texture doesn't overpower the curry.

Also, unlike Indian or Thai curries, Vietnamese don't really pound or create our own curry blends. My preferred brand is D&D Gold Product's Madras curry powder. It'll say ca ri ni an do (Indian curry powder) with a picture of three golden bells. The curry includes a mixture of curry, turmeric, chili, coriander, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, and salt. It should be a golden color. I've seen Madras curry powders that are more reddish, but I haven't tried those so I don't know if the taste is the same. You can find this at most Asian grocery stores.

I used a whole chicken, about 2.5 to 3 lbs., and cut it up into eight pieces. Plan on two pieces of chicken per person, so this recipe will feed four people. As with most curries, the flavor is even better the next day so if you really like curry, leftovers are great. You can easily halve the recipe for two people. If so, I prefer using a chicken thigh and drumstick piece. You'll want to cut the carrots and potatoes into rather large chunks because the curry will simmer for a while and the vegetables will fall apart otherwise. Plan on about one large potato per person, or add extra if you really like potatoes. I like to let my curry simmer for at least half an hour, if not 45 minutes. The chicken will have really flavored the broth and be almost fall-apart tender, the potatoes will release their starches and thicken the soup. I like just plain old russets, but you can use other potatoes, or even sweet potatoes if you wish. Just don't rush the simmering step or else you'll get a rather thin and lackluster curry.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 19: International Rose Test Garden - Portland - Oregon

My ba noi (paternal grandmother) passed away 5 years ago today. :( There are so many things I could tell you about her, but I think my post about how I learned to cook and the lessons I learned from ba noi is still fitting, so read that if you missed it the first time around.

Day 19 The International Rose Test Garden - Portland - Oregon 3

Instead I thought I'd show you pictures of one of her favorite places - the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 18: In-N-Out Burger and the "Hidden Menu"

This post is for my non-Californian readers. You might have encountered In-N-Out Burger in Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation." He cites In-N-Out as an example of what fast food can be. The beef is fresh, never frozen. Food isn't cooked until you order, which sometimes results in long lines during peak times. And the employees get full benefits and higher than average wages compared to other fast food chains. This is the menu.

Day 18 In-N-Out 1

Or you might have heard of In-N-Out as the burger chain Paris Hilton was headed for in 2006 when she got pulled over for a DUI. In 2003, Angelina Jolie cut out of the Academy Awards ceremony early to stop off at In-N-Out on the way home. In a 2004 interview with Los Angeles Magazine, Julia Child was said to have requested an In-N-Out burger while in the hospital recovering from knee surgery.

The company, which started in 1948, is still family-owned so it's been growing slowly. Only within the past decade did In-N-Out start expanding beyond SoCal. And even now, has only expanded to Arizona and Nevada. But In-N-Out has long had a "hidden menu," that's not so hidden anymore.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Day 17: Not Quite Corned Beef and Cabbage (Sandwich and Coleslaw)

Ha! Thought by the titled you'd be seeing a whole Irish feast didn't ya? Sadly no. Maybe someday I'll get around to making a real corned beef and cabbage dinner. Or soda bread. Or an Irish breakfast with beans and bacon and grilled tomatoes. Or not... Although I do like Irish afternoon tea...
Day 17 Not Quite Corned Beef and Cabbage and Coleslaw 1
I was going to wish ya'll a Happy St. Patrick's Day! Except, well, it's not. But it's the 17th you say? Well, yes it is. And thanks to Amy of Nook and Pantry, and the Catholic News Agency, I found out that this year, the 17th falls on the second day of Holy Week. *Gasp* Now, since I'm neither Irish, nor Catholic, so those of you who are can clear this up, but I would imagine having a festive holiday where people tend to indulge in bouts of drinking might not be so good to have in the middle of Holy Week. Liturgical norms would require feast days be moved to after Easter, but then St. Paddy's Day wouldn't be celebrated until April 1. So Irish Bishops suggested March 15 so the holiday would still coincide with civic events. Apparently church authorities spent weeks debating this. Weeks! (I think they should have spent more time publicizing the date change instead.) The Vatican approved. And thus, St. Patrick's Day 2008 is officially March 15, not 17. As if you really cared. Because this conflict hasn't occurred since 1940, and it won't again until 2160. And well, by then, even your kids won't be around to care. But you know how I'm such a stickler for accuracy (ie. I love trivial details.), so I thought you'd want to know. It's a good thing I didn't make a truly authentic Irish anything after all. Or cook anything green. Although if you must have green food, you could try my recipes for Sinh To Bo (Vietnamese Avocado Shake), or Bissara (Moroccan Fava Bean Dip), or Pesto with Arugula and Walnuts. And gosh, wasn't this supposed to be a month where I talked less? So OK then, onto the sandwich already. It's not quite a corned beef and cabbage dinner but all the elements are there. I've got corned beef, granted it's the deli kind. Cabbage, in the form of coleslaw. And potatoes, in the form of potato bread. Now, if you need instructions on making a sandwich, I think you've been drinking one too many green beers today. So onto the coleslaw recipe then. Found a couple of real pretty cabbages at the farmers' market. Don't worry, I discarded a lot of the outer layers so it's the healthy inside leaves I'll be using. And since I've already gone on enough, you can click on the Wikipedia link to read all about coleslaw's origins.
Day 17 Not Quite Corned Beef and Cabbage and Coleslaw  2
I like to thin out the mayonnaise-yness of the coleslaw with some rice vinegar. Since it's just raw cabbage and a carrot, go ahead and make a huge batch. It's salad. It's healthy for ya. Coleslaw For a really big bowl of coleslaw, you'll need: 1 cabbage as big as you'd like, or 1 small green and 1 small red cabbage, outer leaves removed, sliced thinly 1 carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes 1 shallot, minced 1/3 cup mayonnaise 2 tblsp rice vinegar 1 tsp dijon mustard 1 tsp celery salt 1/2 tsp sugar Remove the outer leaves of cabbage. Then cut off the big stem. Cut in half. Cut out a wedge of the center stem. Then slice thinly. Wash and let drain in colander. Peel 1 carrot. Grate on the largest holes in your grater. Mince 1 shallot. I just like a little bit for taste, but don't like using onions because I find them overpowering. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 2 tblsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp celery salt, and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix thoroughly. Taste. Adjust if necessary. Add the sliced cabbage, grated carrot, and minced shallot into a large bowl. Pour in dressing and toss until thoroughly mixed. Serve immediately if you like crunchy salads. Top corned beef sandwiches with the coleslaw if you'd like. After a while, the dressing juices will run, I just scoop out the coleslaw into another bowl, sans juice. Store in fridge. Now, didn't I say this would be a pretty coleslaw? I didn't? Well, then you can say my how pretty my coleslaw looks. :)
Day 17 Not Quite Corned Beef and Cabbage and Coleslaw 3
Enjoy! ***** 1 year ago today, celebrate your inner Japanese for St. Patrick's Day by making Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savory Pancake). There's a cute little travel anecdote to go with the story too.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Day 16: "Fruit-shi"

Day 16 Fruit-shi
Man, sometimes I even astound myself with my cleverness. :P Can you guess which fruits I used to make the "sushi"? What about the "California roll"? "Fruit-shi" recipe to come. Eventually. Bwahaha! I'm loving this month of mostly pictures, fewer words. ;) Can you believe I've had this sitting in my queue since September? ***** 1 year ago today, my attempt to start an "Ask WC" series fizzled into a tutorial on "how to fold a chopsticks rest." Although, I am still working on a FAQs post so drop a comment here if you've got some questions you're just dying to ask me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 15: Com Lam (Vietnamese Sticky Rice in Bamboo), Sa Pa, Vietnam

When I originally wrote my "About This Blog" post, I didn't think I could talk about food all the time. So I figured I'd intersperse by recapping some of my travels. Except that nearly 500 posts later, I'm still talking about food and more food. And did I mention food?

Anyway, I've been vicariously reliving my last trip to Vietnam through Cathy of Gastronomy. Her recent post about khao lam (Thai sticky rice in bamboo) reminded me of the first time I tried the Vietnamese version. According to Vietnam News, com lam (Vietnamese sticky rice in bamboo) is a specialty of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands, who also share kinship with the Thai and Hmong ethnic minorities in Thailand and Laos. So did it originate with the Hmong and spread to Thailand and Vietnam? Or is it a Thai specialty that spread to the Hmong, who also brought it to Vietnam? Can any of my readers offer insight into com lam?

Sa Pa, Vietnam

I had taken a weekend trip from Hanoi to Sa Pa, in the northwestern corner of Vietnam near the Chinese border. Sa Pa is a former French military station that was settled in the late 1880s. I think the current town though is not in the exact same location? The photo is of the town square, where the Hmong love market used to be held until too many gawking tourists made them move it to a secret location. The women in the photo are red Dao. Other ethnic minorities in Sa Pa include flower and black Hmong.

And just on the other end of the central square is the outdoor food market where I ate grilled pork on skewers and com lam. The long tubes are young bamboo with sticky rice inside.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Day 14: Borscht Redux

Day 14 Borscht Redux

I first made this gloriously vibrant soup almost a year ago. Borscht, a beet soup with Ukrainian origins (English-speakers pronounce it with the T), made its way west to Eastern and Central Europe. Jewish immigrants brought the recipe with them to America.

I've been revisiting some of my recipes and taking new photos. It's also a good chance for me to doing a little tweaking, which I did with my recipe for borscht. I cut out a few steps and simplified the recipe even more, so do give it a try.

It's seriously good. How good? I made a 6-quart pot and ate it every day over the course of a week. And it was yummy each and every time. :)


I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers.

If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting this week. WHB is hosted this week by Kel of Green Olive Tree.

1 year ago today, another popular recipe - Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage, Mixed Frozen Vegetables, and Eggs.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day 13: Still a Really Great Recipe for Banana Bread

Day 13 Still a Really Great Recipe for Banana Bread
Since my youngest aunt was slightly disappointed I didn't make any banana bread to pass out for Tet (Vietnamese New Year), I decided to make another batch and to use the opportunity for nicer photos. If you haven't tried it yet, the recipe still makes really great Banana Bread. Seriously. Enjoy! ***** 1 year ago today, one of my most popular recipes - Ca Phe Sua Da/Ca Phe Sua Nong (Vietnamese Milk Coffee Iced/Vietnamese Milk Coffee Hot).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 12: Banh It (Vietnamese Rice Dumplings with Mung Beans, Pork, and Shrimp)

A year ago, someone asked me for a recipe for these. I haven't gotten around to it yet because my family always keeps me well-supplied with food. Case in point. Last weekend, one of my cousins knocked on my door. My youngest uncle had sent over banh it (Vietnamese rice dumplings with mung beans, pork, and shrimp). You can see the inside from the last time my uncle gave me banh it.

Day 12 Banh It 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Day 11: Sink Habits

Ha! I bet those of you who asked for larger photos weren't asking for blown up pictures of my dirty dishes. ;)

Day 11 Sink Habits

What my sink looks like when I have a sore throat and persistent cough. :(

And no, I don't have a dishwasher. I read somewhere that Libras tend to let the sink fill up and then wash all the dishes at once. This annoys my mother to no end. She being of the wash-as-you-go philosophy. A friend of mine was taught by her father to always wash all the dishes each night. She complained to me about a roommate who would *gasp* go to sleep with a sink full of dishes. I was too sheepish to tell her that'd be me.