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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Turkey Tetrazzini

Updated from the archives December 3, 2009:

Two giant turkey carcasses. What to do? Turkey tetrazzini! I don't think I've ever had this at an actual restaurant, only school cafeterias. But it's still one of my favorite dishes.

Turkey Tetrazzini 1

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And The Stockings Hung By The Chimney With Care

Happy Holidays!
There's been a cold snap this week with temperatures in the 60s! I've switched to flannel sheets and my winter comforter. Man, I've been living in California too long because my blood has thinned. But the brief cold finally feels like winter so it was time to set up the Christmas tree and my holiday decorations. Did you know you could buy 6-foot tall real trees at Wal-Mart and Target for $20? This glow just feels so homey. And I finally got to see what all the lights and ornaments I bought last year look like. That's right, I only buy my Christmas stuff after Christmas. And not the day after when it's only 50% off either. (Well, except for my tablecloth. Red and green plaid? How could I resist? And there were none left after a few hours, much less waiting for it to get even cheaper.) No sireee, 75 - 90% off only for me please.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Rosemead

Rainy weather makes the thought of a hot bowl of soup so comforting. I was a regular at the Fountain Valley location for their udon set lunches. And the robata at night was always a lively after-work place to hang out with friends. I've also tried the Gardena and Rosemead locations. But I'd have to say the Fountain Valley location is still my favorite for overall atmosphere and because the ramen, udon, and robata are all in one place. The Rosemead Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen has a few tables set on a raised platform where you sit on mats with low tables. I love alternative seating so, of course, I opted for this. My cousins, however, complained of backaches. The lunch menu includes set meals of ramen with gyoza, ground chicken bowl, salad, etc. A half order of ramen is $4.75. A regular bowl is $6.95. For only 30 cents more, I got the ramen with gyoza for $7.25. You can also get extra noodles for 95 cents. I must be a pig because I kinda wanted more noodles even after I ate my bowl. My cousins split a bowl of ramen and a ground chicken between the two of them. And my brother had a half bowl of ramen. The gyozas were nicely fried and golden. They were about the size of my thumb. I don't know if this is a new chain-wide improvement or just specific to the Rosemead location. I ordered the gyozas before from the Gardena location, where they were literally about 1-inch long. They were tiny! I was so dismayed. Luckily, these were a decent size. Shin-sen-gumi does ramen hakata-style in which the broth is made from pork bones that have simmered until it is thick and flavorful. You can choose your broth to be heavy, normal, or light. Same option for oil. You can also choose your ramen noodles to be hard, normal, or soft. The ramen is served with thin slices of pork, scallions, and ginger. Mmm. A word of caution about the Rosemead location: parking is a pain on weekends. Crowds going to 888 Seafood for dim sum will fill both sides of the parking lot and then some. And a Banh Mi & Che Cali just opened too, creating more parking hassles. Other ramen posts: Aji Man Japanese Restaurant - San Gabriel Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl - Los Angeles (Little Tokyo) Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl - Monterey Park Foo Foo Tei Noodle House - Monterey Park Santouka - Costa Mesa Santouka - Los Angeles Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Gardena Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen (various locations) 8450 E. Valley Blvd., #103 Rosemead, CA 91770 626 572-8646

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Little Red Houses and Apple Trees

I finished this quilt block this morning. This is my own design.

I kept trying to think of something to use up some of my buttons. And I love these apple buttons that belonged to a shirt I wore as a child.

Friday, November 24, 2006

New England Clam Chowder

Updated from the archives January 29, 2010:

New England Clam Chowder 1

One of the things I miss the most about the Pacific Northwest is free seafood. I spent my childhood summers playing at the beach while my parents were fishing and clamming.

My family shows our love through food. So every trip home, or when my parents visit, always results in stocking my freezer with fresh seafood.

I looooove clam chowder. And when it's fresh, made with razor clams that my parents dug up on the Oregon coast, it's sooooo good.

I prefer using milk instead of cream because it's healthier and less filling, or rather, it doesn't sit in my stomach as much as cream would. Then I can eat more clam chowder. Yippee!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Angelface Roses, Lettuce, and Strawberry Blossoms

My Angelface rose bush looking quite lovely. My roses are really overgrown. Weeds are everywhere. Need rain to soften the hard-packed clay so I can weed my garden.
Below is the view of my side garden where my herb garden is located. There's a white and yellow Lady Fairbanks climbing roses on each side of the trellis. I thought they were both white when I bought them. And so few plants take to clay soil that I decided to leave them be instead of trying to color coordinate. The rose bush in front is my Ambassador rose. I love its melony color.
There were so many rocks in our yard that I made a "rock riverbed." There's cement slabs to make a meandering walking path with Irish moss in between. At the end of the trail is a makeshift bench with another trellis where I've planted some wisteria.
The herb garden includes half a dozen rose bushes, a lilac, a papaya tree, tomatoes, sorrel, lettuce, leeks, parsley, chile pepper, apple and spearmint, Vietnamese coriander, perilla, lavender, rosemary, curry plant, rose-scented geranium, hollyhocks, nasturtiums, tuberoses, chrysanthemums, Siam tulips, passionfruit, and strawberries.
I ventured into my garden to pick lettuce to add to the bagged baby lettuce salad I was serving for Thanksgiving dinner. Sad crop, eh? I used a whole envelope of seed and this was all I got. The crickets ate everything this year. One of the nice aspects to Southern California weather is a second crop of strawberries in late November.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pumpkin Cream Penne with Italian Sausage

Updated from the archives November 1, 2014:

Pumpkin Cream Penne with Italian Sausage 1

I've got about 20 family members to feed for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. Menu includes the two turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, clam chowder, pumpkin penne, crab/artichoke/pesto dip with toasted Middle Eastern flatbread, and pumpkin pie.

Last year I had way too much food and my menu was all over the place. (Think babaganouj and stuffed cabbage and green bean casserole.) So I toned down this year's menu to only the main sides and the addition of pumpkin penne. Very autumnal. Very simple.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coq au Vin (French Chicken with Wine): The French Meal I Wished I Had

Updated from the archives August 15, 2009:

Coq Au Vin (French Chicken with Wine) 1

I was in Paris, eating a Greek gyro on the steps of the Seine, below Notre Dame, while watching a juggler practice when a man walked down the steps to take a call on his cell phone. He ended his call, turned around, and noticed me.

"Bonjour," he said and then he attempted to have a conversation with me but he barely spoke English. And I, I only speak five words of French - bonjour, bon soir, merci, au revoir, voila! (The last said with a gallic shrug, of course.) Nonetheless, with a combination of smiles and hand gestures, we had a conversation that lasted for hours.

Somehow I managed to figure out that he was a Berber from Morocco. Some of the conversation went like this: "I sportive," he said as he held up his arms and flexed his biceps. "Tae kwon do. Vo vi nam." No way! He does Vietnamese martial arts? How cool is that? Picture me sitting there amused. Him talking and gesticulating wildly. And yet he tried so earnestly to communicate with me that I was flattered. He also bought me a rose from a wandering street seller.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Turnips and Turkeys

So this weekend I hit the farmer's market and bought a bunch of turnips for $1. You know turnip tops are edible? I like to saute them with olive oil and garlic. But anyway, I decided to try Mmm-yoso's turnip cake recipe, except I used actual turnips. How was it? Mmm. The hardest part was shredding the turnips. The recipe was super easy. Also, since I was a bit impatient to wait for it to cool down before I could fry it, I put it in the fridge to speed it up. My brother and sister said it tasted just like what we get at the dim sum restaurants. Hmph! For homemade, I wanted something that was better than what I could get in a restaurant. ;) Anyway, it's Thanksgiving in a few days. I've got two 18-lb birds brining in the fridge. I'm trying this roast salted turkey recipe. The other bird has a Apple Juice and Red Wine Turkey Brine. Not sure how they'll turn out.
Orange Juice Brown Sugar Turkey Brine
Last year I made two 13-lb turkeys. And they were picked clean. One had a Rosemary Olive Oil Turkey Marinade. The other had a Butter, Maple, Orange Juice Turkey Marinade. Both turned out quite moist and flavorful. The trick is to slide your hands underneath the skin to create pockets to hold extra marinade. Constant basting isn't required. The last half hour of cooking is when the marinade thickens into a sauce. When the sauce is thickened is when you can baste it over the turkey so it glazes easily. But for a moist, flavorful turkey, it's all about the brine and the Orange Juice Brown Sugar Turkey Brine worked really well.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gratuitous Picture of Heirloom Bell Peppers

Homegrown Heirloom Bell Peppers
Gorgeous aren't they? I harvested these from my garden yesterday. All that's missing from this color combination are my brown and purple bell peppers. I bought a $2 six-pack of these heirloom bell peppers from Lowe's in the spring. These were the small seedling packs and the plants grew to about a foot to two feet each. This is the third such harvest I've gotten from this batch. Should I eat them plain? Roast them and save them for pasta? Make them into a salad? I've done all three and am not quite sure what to do with this batch yet.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dangling Strings

I made this lap quilt almost exactly 10 years ago during Thanksgiving weekend. It was a cold and snowy winter in Chicago (as it is pretty much every year). I had Thanksgiving dinner with my college buddy's family, but was otherwise alone all weekend. My family lived 2,000 miles away. I really wasn't up for shopping and definitely did not want to do homework. So what else does a master procrastinator do when final exams were looming a week away? This Sunbonnet Sue lap quilt was almost finished that long ago weekend. I say almost because I ran out of blue thread to applique around one of the Farmer Sam's foot and shirt and hat. But I basted it all together that weekend anyway. This is a close-up of one of the Sunbonnet Sues. Her dress is made from an old nightgown I wore when I was a child. Actually, almost all of the fabrics I used for this quilt were from childhood clothes. My mom used to sew my clothes when I was little. I was proud of my little accomplishment even though my stitches were uneven and my quilt had no filler, just a flannel backing. And I really have no idea why, when I eventually bought a thread pack that had several shades of blue thread, I never got around to finishing poor little Farmer Sam's foot. So I finally did. A decade later.
Another project that had languished for several years was the second quilt I ever made. This one featured a log cabin quilt pattern. It was started during a cold Christmas while I was at home with my parents. Hmm, I think there's definitely a link between winter and quilting. Because I'm getting the urge to do another quilt. The log cabin quilt took three days since I had my mom's sewing machine to speed things up.
First day was cutting each piece. I used leftover fabric from covering photo albums. Yes, my photo albums have nice fabric covers. There are 17 of these log cabin squares. I cheated and interspersed the blocks with regular non-pieced squares.
Second day was spent sewing each log cabin block. Each piece is stitched to the next, then ironed out flat, then sewn into the next. It's tedious work.
Third day, I sewed the whole thing together. As you can tell, my blocks don't quite line up. It's slightly smaller than a twin-size so it's a rather large lap quilt. I was cheap and also used very thin lining so it's a good thing it's really not large enough for coverage. But it had lining and a back (an old twin sheet). I stitched around each block so the whole quilt would hold together. Umm, but yeah, I got lazy again and stopped with the last two rows. So I finally, finally finished basting this quilt this weekend too.
I only procrastinated three years on this one though.
But tying up loose ends, even on something this silly, feels good.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Macau Street - Monterey Park (Closed)

Despite its name, there really aren't that many Macanese dishes. But this is where I go to eat "other parts" of various animals. What parts you may ask? Chicken knees. Not chicken feet like at dim sum. Chicken knees. Now say that out loud really fast and someone else will think it's a new "ethnic" dish.

Macau Street -Monterey Park 1

The chicken knees barbecued are served on skewers with a light hoisin sauce. What are chicken knees? They're the tendon/cartilage bit between the thigh and the drumstick.

The house special shrimp is the plate behind the chicken knees. The shrimp are fried with a sweetly tart tamarind glaze.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park

Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant (Wedding Banquet) - Monterey Park  1

Capital Seafood Chinese Restaurant is situated next to a 99 Ranch Market in the middle of an aging strip mall in Monterey Park. I knew the food would be good since the restaurant is in the first suburban Chinatown in the country. But I was also pleasantly surprised by the interior. Newly remodeled with lots of gilt with what I was told is the currently popular mainland Chinese interpretation of faux-Italian glamour.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Seol Ak San - Stanton

Seol Ak San - Stanton 1

Lil' sis snagged a cheap plane ticket up to the Bay Area, except the flight was from Orange County. It's not cheap if I have to drive there to drop her off and pick her up! Nonetheless, it allowed me the opportunity to revisit a few favorites.

When I dropped her off, we stopped off at Saigon Bistro in Westminster for a quick dinner before her flight. Since we had more time after I picked her up, I decided to take her to Seol Ak San in Stanton.

It's my favorite Korean barbecue restaurant in Orange County because the meat is grilled on a rock slab and afterward kimchee fried rice is made on top of it. Plus, there's always at least a dozen different panchan including: the standard Baechu Kimchee (Napa Cabbage Kimchee), Bok Choy Kimchee (Korean Pickled Bok Choy), Sukju Namul (Korean Seasoned Mung Bean Sprouts), macaroni potato salad, broccoli, zucchini, and scallion root kimchee. If you're lucky, sometimes the panchan includes Korean pancake and raw crab kimchee. On this particular night we got 15 different panchan, including two bowls of sliced daikon to wrap around your meats. There's also a large bowl of seasoned lettuce and scallion salad. There was so much panchan that I couldn't fit everything into the photo. Hot tea and mustard are also available but need to be requested.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)

Updated from the archives August 14, 2009:

Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad) 1

This is a good way to use up leftover chicken. In my case, I had tons of chicken from making Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) last week. My family likes to eat this salad warm, often using some of the chicken when we make Hainanese chicken rice. It's a pretty simple salad, with just a little bit of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) and Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions) to round out the flavors.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Autostitch of Parga - Greece

Wow! I discovered Autostitch courtesy of Karen of 1-2-3 Go Garden! The program automatically "stitches" multiple photos together. So I decided to try it with half a dozen photos I had taken of Parga, Greece. The pictures were snapped as the boat was coming into the harbor so I was worried about alignment. But wow! That's all I can say. Click on the photo to see a bigger version.

Parga - Greece 5

Since the program automatically discards what doesn't fit, you just have to be sure to take photos with some overlap. Which unfortunately for me meant the darling white stone church which should be on the far right of the harbor is excluded from the panoramic photo. :(

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saigon Bistro - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Saigon Bistro is next door to a laundromat in a nondescript strip mall. The entrance is just a door with black glass. No windows. As you can tell by the picture, Saigon Bistro is a weird narrow triangular space. It's smallness and dim lighting creates a quiet ambiance. It's one of those restaurants that you wouldn't notice driving by. I was introduced to it by someone else years ago.

There are a handful of these Vietnamese-French bistros in Little Saigon. And they all serve as Meccas for the old Saigon intellectual elite. The menu reflects both cuisines with escargot, turtle soup, eggrolls, rabbit, duck l'orange, etc. on the menu. The French menu is twice as expensive as the Vietnamese side, so I usually stick to the cheaper end.

The complimentary toasty warm Vietnamese French bread also comes with small pats of herbed butter.

The perfect foil for escargot with herbed bread crumbs for $5.65.
I ordered the bun cha Ha Noi (Vietnamese grilled pork with rice vermicelli noodles Hanoi-style) for $6.95. The entree comes with slightly chewy fresh rice vermicelli noodles, marinated pork in fish sauce, pickled carrots, and greens -- lettuce, mint, and purple perilla.
Lil' sis ordered the com ga ro ti (Vietnamese roasted Cornish game hen with red rice) $6.75. The Cornish game hen is juicy, the skin is crackly crisp.
We were stuffed. Otherwise, I like to end my meal with bananas flambe with ice cream.

Update March 24, 2007: For more food pictures, including the bananas flambe with flames, and commentary by Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos, read my post on Saigon Bistro Again.

Saigon Bistro
15470 Magnolia Street
Westminster, CA 92683
(The entrance is really on the McFadden side.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Work in Progress

My current project is a scarf.

I only crochet scarves. And occasionally beanie hats. I can't learn from patterns. I mean, I know ch stands for chain, and dc stands for double crochet, and etc., but I really only learn with someone instructing me and fixing my errors as I go along. I learned the basics of crocheting when I was 8-years-old. I've taught myself a simple shell pattern. That's my only other variation.

But I was inspired by Bella Dia, who was inspired by Green Kitchen, who was inspired by Yarnstorm.

I initially tried this yarn in a shell pattern. But the colors were too busy. So I unraveled and decided to keep it simple.

The best part? I got two skeins of this color in a bag of seven other yarns for only $1.25 at the local thrift store. So I grabbed the whole lot. That's nearly two dozen large skeins of yarn (mostly acrylic but who's complaining when it's so cheap?) for $4. Hmm, which means I have enough random yarn colors to attempt an afghan actually...

I'm thinking of making a matching beanie with pompoms too. But we'll see.