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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Powell's City of Books - Portland - Oregon

After lil' sis picked me up from the Lan Su Chinese Garden (Portland Classical Chinese Garden), we headed to Powell's City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world. Powell's takes up a whole city block. I've happily spent hours upon hours here through the years.

Day 4.13 Powell's Books - Portland - Oregon 1

The entrance area, in the Green Room, is where you can pick up a map. You'll need one to navigate the bookstore.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lan Su Chinese Garden (Portland Classical Chinese Garden) - Portland - Oregon

Day 4.12 Lan Su Chinese Garden (Portland Classical Chinese Garden) - Portland - Oregon 1

While lil' sis was revisiting her old haunts in Downtown Portland, I decided to walk around the Classical Chinese Garden. I hadn't been in nearly a decade, shortly after it opened.

I like it a lot more than the Huntington Library's Chinese Garden because its smaller size makes it more intimate and the plants are more settled. It's right in the middle of Portland's Chinatown and I love the juxtaposition of serene bliss in the midst of skyscrapers.

The Classical Chinese Garden is Suzhou-style with workers who came from China to build it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Portland From Glendora Rose

5.29 Portland From Glendora Rose

I'm always happy when I see blooms from Portland from Glendora. Such a pretty rose with an old-fashioned look and sweet fragrance.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Com Do Ca Chua (Vietnamese Tomato Paste Red Rice)

Com Do Ca Chua (Vietnamese Tomato Paste Red Rice) 1

Whenever lil' sis heads back to school, I always send her off with some homemade food - in a container to eat that evening and in plastic bags to put into the freezer for later.

One of her favorite dishes is Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef) with Com Do Ca Chua (Vietnamese Tomato Paste Red Rice).

Can you tell that I made the version in the top photo with brown rice? The tomato paste flavor and color is pretty strong so you can eat healthier while still enjoying the same great taste of red rice. Of course, you can use regular white jasmine rice too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)

Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken) 1

About six months ago, one of my readers in Canada (Hi, Jonathan!) emailed to ask me for some Vietnamese cookbook recommendations.


I told him I had more than a hundred Vietnamese recipes on the blog.

To which he replied that he needed a cookbook since he was trying to replicate a Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken) recipe from a local restaurant. And while he had tried and liked several of my recipes, I didn't have the roast chicken recipe in my index.


He apologized since his poor attempt at reverse psychology went over my head and obviously didn't net him the recipe.


I told him the best method for actually getting a recipe from me was detailed and regular feedback. Not just compliments (Although, I surely love those.), but descriptions of what he did, adjustments he made, and how the recipe turned out.

Then I quickly made up a recipe on the spot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions)

Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions) 1

Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions) is rather similar to Do Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Stuff ie. Carrots and Daikon). You can stuff it into sandwiches, mix it with salads, serve it on the side as edible garnish, or add it into a bowl of Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade 1

Years ago when I lived in the Bay Area, I remembered a particularly rough work week. Actually, they were all bad since I liked my job but hated my manager. I was visiting a friend in Palo Alto. We ate at some restaurant I can't remember the name of, but I certainly remembered the strawberry lemonade.

Such a simple concept, sliced strawberries into lemonade. Add carbonated water if plain tap water won't do.

A sunny day. Catching up with a friend. A refreshingly colorful drink. Perfect for Memorial Day barbecues, which signal the coming of lots more sunny days and weekends grilling outdoors.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Barbecue

When my cousin said she was going to make a fruit salad for cousin Q's family's barbecue, I wasn't expecting this!

Memorial Day Barbecue 1

When I first walked by, I thought, "How nice. Someone bought an Edible Arrangements bouquet."

When I found out the oldest 87's middle sister and the older '88 made it, I thought, "How niiice!!! So fancy!!!"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Blanca - Newport Beach (Closed)

Blanca - Newport Beach 1

Before all these blogger dinners sponsored by public relations companies, the only dinner I had gone to was sponsored by my advertiser, FoodBuzz. This was back in August 2008. And except for meeting up with a group of Orange County food bloggers in early 2007 at Vien Dong Restaurant - Garden Grove, I hadn't actually met up with any other large group of bloggers. My how the landscape of foodblogging has changed since then.

Anyway, even though Blanca in Newport Beach is now closed, the area is still worth a visit if you want to check out the yachts or grab a gondola ride around the harbor.

Friday, May 22, 2009

One Sunset - West Hollywood (Closed)

One Sunset - West Hollywood 1

The week after the blogger dinner at STK - Los Angeles, we were also invited by Abby of Pleasure Palate courtesy of Emily Olsen, Director of Marketing and Public Relations to another of The One Group's restaurants, One Sunset. Again, also really popular with celebrities. Demi Moore, Hugh Hefner, and Emmy Rossum have all been photographed here. I think part of the popularity must be the decor. Think warm tones and white leather seating with Moorish influences separated into four separate lounges. The other part is because of its prime location on the Sunset strip.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nearly Wild Rose

5.21 Nearly Wild Rose 1

I bought Nearly Wild rose online. There were two, or was it three, that came as just bareroots. Literally. Just a twig and roots. No dirt.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Angel Face Rose

5.20 Angel Face Rose 1

Lovely lavender Angel Face rose, whom I had afternoon tea in the garden with earlier, decided to give me a few more blooms.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pollo Ala Brasa - Los Angeles

I've driven by Pollo Ala Brasa sooo many times on my way to eat at Tahoe Galbi Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown). On one such occasion, I decided to finally stop off afterward and get some chicken to go. Now, after eating Korean barbecue, I knew I would have no appetite for hours, or even the rest of the day, but the sight of those piles of logs was just too tempting.

Pollo Ala Brasa - Los Angeles 1

And more piles of wood.

Pollo Ala Brasa - Los Angeles 2

Surely then all that wood fire would infuse the chicken?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Zankou Chicken - Pasadena

One evening several years ago, shortly after I had first moved back to the San Gabriel Valley, I left to go to the gym, and came back with...

...a whole chicken from Zankou Chicken in Pasadena. :P

Zankou Chicken - Pasadena 1

"Huh?" said a confused lil' sis, when I woke her up from her nap to eat. "I thought you went to workout?"

I couldn't find the gym, but I did find Zankou Chicken and who knew when I'd be in the area again? I just haaad to stop in. I had seen Elmo of Monster Munching's review of their Anaheim location long ago and remembered him waxing poetic about the garlic paste.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baked Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Lemon, and Rosemary

Baked Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic 2

As I said, I made Braised Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic but I highly doubted it could compete with my usual baked chicken recipe but with 40 cloves of garlic, lemon, and rosemary. And in fact, it didn't. For what it's worth, this version of my baked chicken recipes is lil' sis's favorite.

Now, I'm not going to promise that men will adore you or propose to you if you make this dish. But, I will promise that if you love garlic and lemon and chicken as much as I do, then this will be delicious. I mean, just look at the crispy skin and moist interior. No fancy plating needed, this recipe speaks for itself.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Braised Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Braised Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic 1

Years ago, while flipping through Cosmo, I came upon mention of a Barefoot Contessa chicken dish with 40 cloves of garlic. Egads! That's a lot of garlic! Apparently, this dish results in a "dinner he'll adore," promised the magazine. The thought of 40 cloves of garlic stayed with me. I don't know why she settled on 40. Why not 25 cloves of garlic? Or 50? I like round numbers. Or to be contrary, 37 cloves of garlic? Well, 40 cloves works out to be about three heads of garlic so maybe that was her round number.

Ever the garlic lover, and dubious of women's magazines that claim a dish will cause men to adore me or engagement proposals, I decided to make this dish and my usual baked chicken recipe but with 40 cloves of garlic. And gosh, don't men adore me anyway? Don't tell me they don't? *Sniffle.*

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quick and Easy Hummus

Hummus 1

By now I think it's fairly obvious that I love chickpeas. I love chickpeas in salads. I love chickpeas in soup. And I especially love chickpeas as hummus.Rather funny then that I've never done a hummus recipe. Yet, I've made Bissara, a Moroccan dish similar to hummus, made of fava beans.

I like my hummus spreadable with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Served on a small dish, not a bowl. Perhaps that's because that's how hummus was served at Pita Inn in Skokie, where I enjoyed many cheap meals during college. A small dish back then was only $1.50. Even today, it's only $1.85. The shawarmas were excellent as well. And as with many memories, the most vivid ones shape just how particularly I like it.

Tahini, the Middle Eastern sesame paste, is important for a really good hummus. But let's face it, tahini is expensive. And I rarely use it. So, ssshhhh, I usually omit it, or toss in some sesame seeds to be ground up in the puree. Cans of chickpeas are usually less than $1, so without the tahini, hummus is such a cheap meal. You can use dried chickpeas if you wish and this dish would be even cheaper.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nohut Salatasi (Turkish Chickpea Salad)

Nohut Salatasi (Turkish Chickpea Salad) 1

This is the first Turkish entry on my blog. Hmm. Must remedy that. What do I know about Turkey except for the yummylicious Tarkan? You've probably heard him, even if you didn't know it. His hit "Simarik" has been remade by Stella Soleil and Holly Valance. I listen to his music. Honest! Buying the CD had nothing to do with his picture. ;)

When TS and JS of Eating Club Vancouver announced Turkey as the next country to explore for Regional Recipes, I had to do a bit of thinking. Kebabs? Baklava? Coffee? While I've certainly eaten my share of Middle Eastern cuisine, I don't know what I've had that was specifically Turkish.

Luckily a bit of Googling turned up Binnur's Turkish Cookbook and a simple recipe for Nohut Salatasi (Turkish Chickpea Salad). I love chickpeas and most of the salad seemed like my favorite Greek Salad so it was very do-able. I increased the amount of tomatoes and olives used in the original recipe and decreased the salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. I also used fresh mint instead of dried. The result was a lovely chopped salad with a bit of kick from the cayenne. The chickpeas made this hearty enough for me to enjoy as dinner.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Waiting for Peony

5.13 Waiting for Peony 1

Notice any difference between the top and bottom photo? Subtle. Just angled slightly different, but I just couldn't make up my mind so I kept them both.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lollipop Lily

Here, Lollicup Lily will keep you occupied while I work on a longer post.

5.12 Lollipop Lily

Thankfully, it seems to have survived being dug up from my old house and being potted just fine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pink Night-Blooming Cereus

5.11 Pink Night-Blooming Cereus 1

During Christmas 2004, my mom brought down some plant cuttings for me. Several types of begonias and a cactus.

But I don't like cactus. Doesn't my mom know me at all? :( Too prickly. Mom promised it'd be a really pretty flower.

So I potted it. Year after year, it grew bigger but still no flowers. Until I noticed two small buds at the end of March.

And then on the night of April 23, I noticed this bloom. Oh! It's a night-blooming cereus. And what a beauty!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mom's Razor Clam Sushi, Lovingly Packed To-Go

Mom's Razor Clam Sushi 1

Aren't they beautiful?

My brother was in Portland recently. That weekend, he went with our parents to the coast where they dug up razor clams. My mom froze some for me. I'm waiting until lil' sis comes home again before cooking them.

With the rest, she made razor clam sushi and packed it up for my brother to eat on the flight down. I had made braised short ribs with mashed potatoes for dinner, so my brother decided to save the sushi for lunch the next day.

I opened the box to take some for myself and saw how lovingly my mom had packed everything.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Vietnamese French Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Mushrooms

Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Mushrooms 1

Last month during chillier weather, I was in the mood for a nice hearty stew. Hmm. I've already blogged Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) and Boeuf Bourguignon (French Beef Burgundy), both with oxtails. Beef short ribs were half the price of oxtails, yet just as meaty and tasty.

Perhaps a little fusion was in order? Less wine + less spices = less laborious. Basically, I ended up with a French beef stew with less wine so it didn't overpower the Vietnamese spices. I think I just love any beef stew with a little wine and tomato paste really.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Double Delight Rose

5.8 Double Delight Rose 1

Is it any wonder that Double Delight is one of my favorite roses?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Banh Cuon Tan Dinh - Portland - Oregon (Closed)

Day 4.10 Banh Cuon Tan Dinh - Portland - Oregon 1

When deciding where to eat lunch, Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok said she hadn't tried many of the Vietnamese restaurants in Portland.


Neither had I. Except for the occasional outing for Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), most of the time my family ate at home.

I suggested Banh Cuon Tan Dinh since she hadn't tried Vietnamese rice noodle rolls before.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Crown Point Vista House - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon

Are you sad we finished chasing waterfalls? After leaving Latourell Falls, it was more driving along the windy old freeway until we reached Crown Point.

Day 4.9 Crown Point Vista House - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 1

The Vista House, built as a rest stop and pioneer memorial in 1918, recently got a little makeover. When I was little, the roof used to be red.

From here, you get this majestic view of the Columbia River Gorge.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon

Day 4.8 Latourell Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 1

After Bridal Veil Falls, we skipped over Shepperd's Dell Falls to go to one of my other favorite waterfalls, Latourell Falls. Just a short walk down and you can see that radioactive yellow lichen.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon

Day 4.6 Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 1

After Wahkeena Falls, we continued west a few miles to Bridal Veil Falls. This 140-foot waterfall can't be viewed from the Historic Columbia River Highway, but it's well-worth the .5 mile hike down.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Wahkeena Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon

Day 4.5 Wahkeena Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 1

After we left Horsetail Falls and passed Multnomah Falls again, it was only half a mile to Wahkeena Falls, which you can see from the old highway as well.

Day 4.5 Wahkeena Falls - Columbia River Gorge - Oregon 2

Friday, May 01, 2009

Lumpiang Prito (Filipino Fried Spring/Egg Rolls)

Lumpiang Prito (Filipino Fried Egg Spring Rolls) 1

When Marija of Palachinka, host of the beef round-up of Weekend Wokking, declared SPROUTS as the secret ingredient for this month's challenge, I wanted to do more than my usual preparation -- a simple stir-fry or tossing them into a bowl of soup.

I had been craving Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls) for a while and figured it was a good a time as any to do a slight variation by making lumpiang prito (Filipino fried egg rolls). Of course, I turned to Marvin of Burnt Lumpia to get the basics. The Wikipedia lumpia entry was pretty useful for explaining all the different kinds of lumpia.