Sunday, December 11, 2011

Make Your Own Volcano Model at Home

If you want a fun and simple science experiment to try at home with your child, here is a neat and easy way to make a model of a volcano erupting! I love homemade science experiments with everyday ingredients and objects around the house. 

What you will need:

1. One 8 oz glass
2. Plate or bowl to catch the eruption
3. Vinegar 
4. 4 tsp colored gelatin powder 
5. 2 tsp baking soda

Place the glass in a bowl or plate. Fill the glass 2/3 full with vinegar. Add the gelatin powder and mix. Add the baking soda and watch the volcano erupt! This is a fun way to get kids to measure out ingredients, too! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't Bother Me, I'm Crabby

My husband went on a two week trip to Baltimore, Maryland and brought me back this silly mug that says,  "Don't Bother Me,  I'm Crabby."
This mug speaks to the famous Maryland crabs,  of course,  but it also underscores the necessity of a good cup of coffee in the morning... especially for me!  I need my coffee before I can get going.

But,  crabs,  crabs,  crabs... I love crabs!  My husband knows that,  so he had to rub it in that he was in crab city! Now that he's home,  he can still be in crab city if I miss out on my morning coffee! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

National Coffee Day: Free Coffee at Kripsy Kreme Doughnuts September 29, 2011

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is offering a FREE 12 oz Coffee on September 29, 2011. Best of all, there is no purchase necessary to get the free coffee! Drop by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to celebrate National Coffee Day with a free coffee! Ahhhh, something to look forward to on Thursday!

Cheers to free coffee! Yay! (Might have to sneak in a doughnut or two, though...they are so tempting!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quinoa and Beet Salad

Quinoa.  Sounds too healthy to be good!  Beets?  How do you eat more of these healthy foods without feeling like you're at a boot camp?  I am trying to add more veggies and protein to my diet,  which inspired me to make this salad--it came out pretty tasty!  The best part is that you can tailor it to your tastes and take out whatever you want or add other veggies you have on hand. Here's what I did...
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
One package of Trader Joe's precooked beets, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
Three green onions, chopped
Two mini bell peppers,  chopped (yellow and red)
Handful of cilantro, chopped
6 mint leaves, chopped
One lime, squeezed on top
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix well and adjust seasonings to preference.

I love this salad.  It's a great side dish or one dish light meal.  The beets have a lovely earthy flavor and the quinoa almost reminds me of cous cous and adds a nice texture to the salad. It is nice and filling from the fiber in the bell peppers and the protein from the quinoa!  I imagine some feta or goat cheese would be lovely in this salad too.  Just experiment with the flavors and veggies you like.  You can even add avocado for a nice creamy bonus or some toasted pine nuts for more crunch!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kids Bowl Free All Summer!

"Kids Bowl Free" is a wonderful program that allows kids to bowl two free games every day this summer! This year the shoe rental is even included free, as well! What a cool way to get kids bowling! I love this program and it's 100% FREE, no strings attached, no purchase of any kind is necessary!

There are participating locations all over the country, just find a location near you.

Don't miss out on this great opportunity to enjoy free bowling this summer! Sign up for 2 games per day of FREE bowling for your kid(s) and register at Kids Bowl Free.

Happy Bowling this summer!

Friday, June 17, 2011

FREE Small Drip Coffee at Peet's Coffee & Tea on Monday, June 20 only

FREE Small Peet's Drip Coffee on Monday, June 20, 2011 only. Now, that's something worth waking up for! What a nice treat from Peet's Coffee & Tea! (You can also upgrade to any beverage by applying the retail value of a small coffee to another beverage of choice. That turns out to be a nice discount if you don't want the free coffee!)

Print your Peet's Coupon. This coupon is only valid Monday, June 20, 2011 and may not be used at airports, BART, or supermarket locations. 

Cheers! Here's looking forward to a Monday for a change! YAY!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cost Plus World Market Explorer Rewards $10 Birthday Freebies

I finally got to use my Cost Plus World Market Explorer Rewards Birthday money, a $10 gift certificate off a $10 that means if you find something at Cost Plus for $10, it's FREE! I love Cost Plus World Market! How generous of Cost Plus World Market to give me a mini shopping spree for my birthday! There's only one problem: there are SO many great things at Cost Plus to choose from!!!!

I eventually found a reusable water bottle, shaped like a flat flask for $7.99, on sale 50% off for $3.99. Then I found a Wrap-N-Mat reusable sandwich and snack wrapper for $5.99. That seems rather expensive for ONE sandwich wrapper, but it's reusable, so it will cut down on plastic baggies, which is a huge plus! Who knew my birthday freebies were going to be so environmentally friendly? Cool! 

The only stipulation on the Cost Plus $10 gift certificate, which was emailed to me, is that the items must equal $10 before tax. So, I had to look for something small to put my total over $10.  On my way out, I spotted a Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix for $3.49, which isn't too bad considering it is a cool treat to try out! It immediately reminded me of when I went to New Orleans to visit my dear friend and her family a few years ago. We sat at Cafe Du Monde and had coffee and the best beignets in the world! Each order comes with 3 lovely pillows of heaven sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. I just remember getting so much powdered sugar on me that I had to stand up and shake it off! It was so worth it, though, for fresh beignets! So, when I saw the Cafe Du Monde beignet box mix, I had to try it! Who doesn't love French doughnuts???

Anyway, THANK YOU Cost Plus World Market for these lovely birthday treats! I am a loyal Cost Plus World Market fan!

I even asked a sales associate about their return policy and she said you can always return something, even if you've opened it. She said you don't even need a receipt! I asked her if I could return the water bottle if it imparted a bad taste to water and she said yes! Now that is risk free shopping! Love it! I can't wait to try the Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Apple iPod Nano Gen 6 with Tunewear Watch Case vs. Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap

While I was running errands today, someone complimented me on my orange watch and asked what kind of watch it was. I told her it was actually an Apple iPod Nano in a watch case! She was shocked! She was so excited and said her world just might have to change because she wanted one.

My hubby got me this cute Apple iPod Nano for my birthday this year, so I've been wearing it as a watch so my music is always with me. I love the battery life on this Nano--it lasts all day! I decided to do a review comparing two iPod Nano Gen 6 watch cases: Tunewear watch case vs. Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap. The orange watch case that I was wearing today was made by Tunewear. It's made out of somewhat flimsy, soft silicon and comes in a variety of colors: pink, blue, black, clear, orange, yellow, purple, red and green. I also have a pink watch case for the iPod Nano and it is made by Switcheasy. It's called the Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap and it is made out of a highly durable Elastomer material with stainless steel strap pin and polycarbonate push buttons (I couldn't remember the name in my video review, so please forgive my mistake!). The Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap comes in a lot of colors too: pink, black, white, red, blue, gray and orange. I don't mind bright colors, so I chose pink and orange (my top favorite colors). But, if you want your iPod Nano watch to blend in and look more like a regular watch, you could buy the black or white cases.

So far, I like the pink Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap better since it is waterproof and keeps the iPod away from my skin. The only negative thing I have to say about the Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap is that it is a bit of a pain to constantly take the iPod in and out to charge it every day. That's why I bought the Tunewear orange watch case: it had a cut-out for the 30 pin charger, so you don't have to take the iPod in and out to charge it. The Tunewear watch case is more flimsy and doesn't seem like it's as sturdy as the Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap, though. But if you don't mind the iPod touching your skin, then the Tunewear Watch Case might be more convenient, since you can keep the iPod in there while you charge it. Overall, I like the Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap better since it houses the entire body of the iPod snuggly and the stainless steel strap pin seems sturdier than the silicon notches on the Tunewear watch case. As you can see from the picture above, you cannot lay the Switcheasy Ticker Wrist Strap flat on a table if you want your iPod Nano to sit flush with a surface like you can with the Tunewear watch strap (if it's important to you to be able to lay the nano watch down flat, then the Switcheasy Ticker Watch Strap might not work for you).

Here's my video review of the iPod Nano Gen 6 with Tunewear Watch Case vs. Switcheasy Ticker Wrist strap. (Please forgive my mistakes. I didn't have time for a second take, so this video is "as is.")

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FREE Birthday Meal at Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill

Rubio's is so generous!  Every year, I receive a coupon for a free meal coupon up to $7 for my birthday and I just love it! I got free fish tacos today and I was in heaven! My meal was 100% free, no purchase necessary!  How cool is that? All I had to do was sign up for Rubio's beach club E-mail and this free birthday meal coupon is just one of the perks included.
I have to admit that I haven't been to Rubio's in a long time and while I was there I was pleasantly surprised to see that Rubio's has great recycling and composting bins set up to correspond with their recyclable plates and utensils.  Way to go Rubio's for being so environmentally friendly and responsible! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sephora Beauty Insider Birthday Freebie

I just got my birthday freebie from Sephora, a 6 oz bottle of Philosophy Vanilla birthday cake shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath! The bottle is so cute--it says, "Happy Birthday, Beautiful!"
This is such a cool birthday freebie from Sephora and there is no purchase necessary to pick this up! I received my birthday coupon in the mail and showed it to the gal at the register and she hooked me up with this splendid birthday treat. This is just another reason to sign up for Sephora's Beauty Insider Program. I always look forward to this free birthday goodie because it's one of the great perks to being a Sephora Beauty Insider.

Sign up free to be a Sephora Beauty Insider


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sigeumchi namul (Korean Spinach Side Dish)

I've been totally digging this Korean spinach side dish, sigeumchi namul. It is so simple to make and it's a good way to use up spinach.
I used about a pound of bagged spinach to make this batch, but you can use one bundle of spinach. I've made it both ways and it's good either way.
The first thing you have to do is wash the spinach and then bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach to the salted, boiling water. Cook for 30 seconds and then dump the spinach in a colander and place spinach in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Gently squeeze the water out. Cut spinach into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.
Finely mince two cloves of garlic and one green onion and add to the spinach. Add about 1-2 tablespoons  of soy sauce and about 1/2 tablespoon of Korean sesame oil. Mix it by hand or with a spoon and garnish with sesame seeds.
This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple days, so I make a big batch and keep it on hand to eat with my rice.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Korean Jumuk-Bap, Rice Balls (aka: Japanese Yaki Onigiri)

My friend gave me a cute triangle rice mold to use for Korean Jumuk-bap, also known as Japanese Yaki Onigiri. This is my first shot at making this grilled rice treat! It was so fun to make, but I think I had my heat up a little too high (it was on medium, but our gas stove runs hot) and my triangles got a little charred. I might try using another type of fry pan next time, too (I used a cast iron skillet this time). I think I lost my patience and didn't let it brown properly on some sides (I rushed it along and I wasn't supposed to! I was eager to eat it, I guess! Oh well, lesson learned! Patience helps with this recipe.) My first batch was still tasty, but the batch after that turned out a lot better and had a wonderful crispy outer layer of toasted rice!

You can make the rice into any shape you want, just make sure you grill it on every side. That's what takes the longest--you have to grill it five times and then brush each side with soy sauce and grill it again on each side! But it's well worth the wait for these yummy snacks!

I decided to document my first attempt at making grilled rice balls. As you can see from the video, my hands are a little clumsy at making the triangles! I always say, "I gotta start somewhere!" And, I always learn from my mistakes and try to make improvements the next time--that's what's so fun about cooking, it's all about learning and trying new things! Try, try again...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Onigiri (Rice Ball)

My friend gave me yet another fun thing to try: roasted seaweed wrappers for making rice balls or Onigiri. Gosh, I am SO LUCKY to have such a nice friend! I wouldn't know where to find half of this stuff without her help! Of course, now I'm hooked and I'll be buying these seaweed wraps all the time now. The package she gave me had 10 individual sheets of seaweed inside. I found them on Amazon for $20.90 for a 4 pack, which seems like a really good deal to me (4x10=40 for $20.90, so about $0.52 each). I can eat two rice balls easily for lunch...but if you put more in front of me, I'm sure I can eat those, too!

I was so excited to try this out, but as you can see from the video, I had a few technical difficulties. (But that's ok. It always happens when you're recording something, right?) 

I had some leftover seasoned sushi rice (I added some diced pickled radish to the rice), so I decided to make some Onigiri, rice balls. These seaweed wrappers are so cool because they have plastic on them so you can make them ahead of time and the seaweed won't get soggy! The wrapper is so cute, it has the directions for how to unwrap the rice ball (or triangle, really) by pulling down on "tab 1" and then slipping off "tab 2" and then "tab 3." It's magic! You get some nice salty, crispy seaweed for your rice when you're on the go! While I just filled my rice with chopped pickled radish, you can certainly put anything from salmon, tuna, cucumber, grilled spam, or even kimchi inside and you can have a nice picnic somewhere! If your kids like sushi, then try making this for their lunches!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ground Turkey Egg Rolls

Just wanted to share one of my favorite foods: egg rolls! I could eat egg rolls every day and never get sick of them.
I love making these egg rolls with ground turkey meat as an alternative to pork.
These egg rolls are super easy to make and it's a good way to use up veggies. The best part about making egg rolls is that you don't have to measure every ingredient precisely. You can eyeball everything!
For this recipe you will need:
1 lb ground turkey
4 green onions, chopped
1 pack of vermicelli bean thread noodles
1 egg
Finely shredded cabbage, about a quarter or up to a half a small head of cabbage
Handful of shredded carrots (I used the pre-shredded carrots)
4 cloves of garlic crushed and minced into a fine paste
Handful of bean sprouts (optional, I didn't have them the day I made this batch, but I put them in when I have them)
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Two splashes of rice wine (optional, if you don't have it, these will still taste good)
Salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
Spring roll wraps (I used the frozen lumpia wraps)
Optional: For fancier egg rolls, you can also add 1/4 lb chopped cooked or uncooked shrimp.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and generously season with salt and pepper. Add two tablespoons or so of mixture near the corner of a spring roll wrap. Fold over the corner to cover the filling. Fold over the right and the left sides, ensuring the mixture is snug inside and then roll it until you come to the last corner. Use some water on your fingers to wet the corner and seal the egg roll. Repeat with the remaining 29 wraps (my package came with 30 wraps). Use a damp paper towel to cover the wraps so they don't dry out. Also, use a damp paper towel to cover the completed egg rolls, which I set into a food storage container. These egg rolls freeze well, so I usually freeze four to six per container so they are ready for me whenever I want them.
To cook these egg rolls, deep fry them for 6-7 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. You can make these ahead of time and layer them (uncooked) in a food storage container between sheets of parchment paper. If you fry them all up, you can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to eat them. Leftovers can be eaten the next day by warming them up in a 375 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.
These are best enjoyed with sweet and sour dipping sauce, Chinese duck sauce or sweet chili dipping sauce. I also like these egg rolls wrapped in red leaf lettuce with mint and cilantro and then dipped in nuoc cham, Vietnamese fish sauce.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dukbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)

I decided to try making dukbokki because it's cold outside and I have a bit of a cold, a sore throat. So, I thought some dukbokki would warm me up and soothe my throat...or at least the spiciness would wake up my dead tastebuds! Boy, was I right! This was so spicy, my nose started running!

I didn't have dried anchovies, so I just made it without them. I know the original recipe calls for them, but it still tasted good (just didn't have the mellow fish flavor in the background).

For this recipe, I just boiled 4 cups of water and added 4 tablespoons of gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). I could have added less to make it less spicy or more to make it even hotter! Once the paste mixed with the water, I added 1 tablespoon of Korean corn syrup (but you can use sugar). Next, I added the Korean rice cakes to the simmering liquid. I simmered them until the rice cakes plumped up and the sauce thickened up a bit (this happened after 5-10 minutes or so, I forgot the check the clock). Then I added 4 green onions, sliced down the middle and chopped in 3 inch pieces. I let that simmer for a few minutes.

It has been 10 minutes since I polished off my small plate of dukbokki (a little goes a long way with these rice cakes, otherwise, you know me, I am hardly ever satisfied with a small plate of anything!) and I can still feel the heat in my chest! It really does warm you up and it's perfect when it's cold outside. I know this wasn't 100% authentic, but it still tasted good and did its job of warming me up! At least my tastebuds got a jolt today! Yum!

Free Panda Express Golden Treasure Shrimp on March 9, 2011

Panda Express is at it again! Panda Express has a new shrimp dish, Golden Treasure Shrimp, to try FREE on March 9, 2011. No purchase necessary. This Panda Express coupon is good for one single serving entree of Golden Treasure Shrimp on March 9, 2011 only. Talk about a cheap lunch--can't beat FREE Shrimp! 

Panda Express Coupon: Free Golden Shrimp

Find a Panda Express Location near you

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trader Joe's 1% Lowfat Milk in Tetrapaks

I am so glad Trader Joe's brought back their lowfat milk in individual tetrapaks! For $2.99/4 pack(or about $0.75/each), Trader Joe's offers the convenience of having non perishable milk on hand for lunch boxes or other last minute outings! I love that they have this back--it's been a long time since Trader Joe's offered non-perishable milk and I'm so glad it's there now!

Anthropologie 15% off Birthday coupon!

It has arrived! I got my birthday gift from Anthropologie, my once a year 15% off Anthropologie coupon! Anthropologie even customized the adorable cloth envelope that housed the coupon! It says, "What's in the stars for you, Aries?"

How cute is that???? I can't wait to find my Anthro gems this month!

This is yet another reason to sign up for a free anthro card at the store--you get fabulous benefits like this precious coupon (no other coupons exist for this store!). The anthro card is not a credit card, it just tracks your purchases so you don't have to worry about keeping your receipts for returns.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Radiohead, "Creep" (Awesome cartoon)

This is an amazing animated cartoon music video to Radiohead's "Creep." It's so clever and chilling at the same time. Brilliant work! (No profanity in this version.)

"Creep" Covered by the Pretenders

Okay, so I am so out of it! I didn't know The Pretenders covered "Creep"! Good ol' Pandora radio keeps me in the loop--this song came on this morning and I was like, who is this covering "Creep?" This isn't the same live version that was playing this morning on Pandora, but it's the closest thing I could find. I love The Pretenders and I love the song, "Creep", so this is an interesting intersection of sounds!

(Warning: There is profanity in this song, so don't listen to it, if you don't want to hear the "F" word. It is part of the song and is purposeful, but just beware).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Children's Training Chopsticks

My friend showed me these super cute training chopsticks for kids, which can be purchased at a Korean market. These chopsticks have easy-to-use finger holes that place the fingers in the correct position for usage. My son loves to eat his noodles and rice with these chopsticks. They are so easy to use and they are even dishwasher safe (top rack).
Since my fingers are small, I squeezed them into the holes to show my son which finger goes where when I showed him how to use them. These chopsticks are a great learning tool and kids have fun with them right out of the package!

Monday, February 21, 2011

ad hoc restaurant: Now Serving Breakfast on Sundays!

Here's some fabulous news for all the foodies out there: Thomas Keller's ad hoc restaurant is now serving breakfast on Sundays from 10 am until 1 pm! How cool is that? They lowered the price to $24 for a flurry of gourmet breakfast treats! When you sit down, you will be greeted with a basket of Bouchon breakfast pastries and yogurt parfait with fruits. Then, you will have a choice between different homestyle breakfasts.

I can't wait to try it out (maybe for my birthday weekend)! The sourdough waffle is calling my name and the bacon is just begging to be eaten!!! YUM!!!

Here is a sample of their breakfast menu, but keep in mind they will also have some seasonal breakfast specials each week:

Bouchon Breakfast Pastries
blood orange vanilla jam, blueberry marmalade
honey butter

Pineapple Yogurt Parfait
With Spring Fruit Salad
Classic American

fatted calf breakfast sausage & slab bacon


Sourdough Waffles

maple syrup, apple compote, whipped cream
fatted calf breakfast sausage & slab bacon


Anson Mills Stone Cut Oatmeal

brown sugar, marshall’s farm honey
spiced apricots and raisins


Corned Beef Hash

Snake river farms corned beef brisket,
yukon gold potatoes, poached hen eggs


6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599 

Katsuo Udon with Tempura

My friend gave me some Katsuo Udon with Tempura to try at home and now I am addicted! It's such a satisfying lunch and everything a lunch should be: quick, easy and yummy! 

You can find this at a Korean Market in the cold section. Katsuo Udon with Tempura comes in a package with two separate servings. Inside, you get two packages of udon, two wet seasoning packets, two dry seasoning packets and two packages of shrimp tempura. 

The instructions are super simple: 

1. Boil 1.5 cups of water with the wet seasoning packet
2. Add the udon noodles and simmer for 2 minutes
3. Pour noodles and broth into a big noodle bowl. Add the dry seasoning packet and the shrimp tempura packet. Stir and enjoy!

This is perfect for a rainy day or when you feel too lazy to cook anything! It's fast food at home that almost tastes like you're eating at a restaurant. Sometimes, I add some shredded carrots, cabbage or bean sprouts if I have them in the fridge.

Katsuo Udon with Tempura is not your average, run-of-the-mill, packaged udon--it's way better! At $3.99/package, it's worth keeping on hand for emergency, lazy, last minute meals!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kylie Kwong's Simple Chinese Cooking

I just got back from the library and found this delightful cookbook by Kylie Kwong, Simple Chinese Cooking. So far, the photos are exquisite and the background information is very thoughtful and thorough without being boring! I love reading cookbooks because it's a way for me to escape into the world of food and learn more about different styles and techniques of cooking.  I love being inspired by new flavors and ingredients, and cookbooks are my "cheatsheet" for teaching myself how improve my cooking. The library is the best resource for me to try out cookbooks before deciding if they are worth buying later on.

While I adore cookbooks, I have to admit that I am also addicted to YouTube, now, because I can find out how to make virtually anything and watch someone show me how to do it without taking a cooking class. I love how all kinds of information and recipe instructions are out there on YouTube, ready to serve my curiosity at the touch of a button!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Oriental Pancake with Soybean Sprouts

I know this is probably the wrong way to eat these Oriental pancakes (I'm just going by the name on the package), but I was experimenting today because it was rainy and cold outside.

A couple weeks ago, I picked up these frozen oriental pancakes from Ranch 99 Market to try. The instructions seemed easy enough, just fry them straight from the freezer in a fry pan with a little bit of oil, a few minutes on each side. When the first one was done, I decided to stuff it with some soybean sprout salad that I made in the morning. I wrapped it up like a burrito and took a bite. It was so good! It was a nice, light, vegetarian lunch that was comforting and simple--not to mention, quick! The pancake was just a paper thin flour based batter with green onions, almost like a savory crepe--simple and good! I could eat a handful of these, they were that good!

I am definitely keeping these in the freezer for future quick snacks! Yum!!!!

Mazzy Star, "Fade Into You"

Just stumbled across this great video someone made with Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" set to a train montage. Very cool!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jja Jang Myun (noodles with black bean sauce)

I had a terrific day today, despite the horrible, stormy weather. Instead of staying cooped up inside doing chores, I decided to run some errands with my friend. We ended up at this great Korean restaurant for lunch and she ordered for me. She said I had to try the Jja Jang Myun, noodles with black bean sauce.

Holly cow, those noodles looked good and they were piping hot!!! The sauce smelled so inviting, a little smokey from being craddled in the hot, seasoned wok. I couldn't wait to dive in! My friend disconnected her wooden chopsticks and started to toss her noodles, showing me how to mix the sauce all the way through. The taste was almost indescribable, but I'll do my best. The noodles were soft but still nice and chewy, not like any other noodle I've had. The sauce had a nice smokey, earthy taste to it--perfectly salty, too. It felt round to me, like it was coating my mouth with its semisweet comfort. It was not spicy, but subtlely sweet and pleasant to eat. (This black bean sauce is not to be conflated or confused with Chinese black bean sauce, which has totally different flavor components, smell and texture.) When I saw the bowl of noodles, I didn't think I would get full after eating them...boy, was I wrong! These were so hearty in their simplicity--the only other ingredients occupying the bowl were some chopped, cooked onions, small pieces of zucchini and a few pork bits. But the noodles and black bean sauce were the stars of this dish. The waitress served some chopped white onion and yellow pickled radish on the side. I ate two pieces of the raw onion and had pungent breath the rest of the day--so this might not be the best date-friendly dish to order if you want to enjoy the side of onions!

I am so glad today turned out the way it did because I got to try yet another new Korean dish and learn more about Korea. My friend told me this dish is very popular and common in Korea. She said people usually have it delievered when they move. I equated it to how we order pizza when we move because it's easy,quick and good. Most people like pizza here, just as most Koreans like Jja Jang Myun...and now I do, too!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carrot Salad (Goi co rot)

This is a simple Vietnamese carrot salad that can be eaten plain or added to nuoc cham (Vietnamese sauce). It can last 2-3 days in the refrigerator if stored in its liquid.

The ingredients are simple:

2 cups water
4 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4-5 carrots, shredded on box grater
1. Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and mix until sugar is dissolved
2. Pour liquid over shredded carrots. Cover and refrigerate over night.
3. Drain carrots in colander and serve at room temperature in individual bowls.

NOTE: 1 cup Asian radish or daikon can also be added if desired.

This is a super easy way to prepare carrots and it's a great side dish or snack. I like it because it's a yummy, quick pickled salad. For me, this salad needed a little more salt, so if you want to add another teaspoon of salt, it won't hurt it. I also like mine a little more vinegary, so if you want to add another Tbsp of vinegar, that will add more zing to it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Alison Krauss, "Dreaming My Dreams With You"

Another terrific song by Alison Krauss, "Dreaming My Dreams With You":

Vietnamese Nuoc Cham

Nuoc Cham is a delicious fish sauce used in Vietnam like salt. It is included at every meal as a dip or a sauce to pour over a dish and is typically served in individual bowls. Sometimes drained carrot salad is added to nuoc cham. (Carrot Salad recipe coming soon...)

Here's a quick, easy recipe for Nuoc Cham:

2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp sugar
2Tbsp fresh lime juice or 4 Tbsp white vinegar (I use vinegar)
4 Tbsp fish sauce
1 cup water, plus one Tbsp if it's too strong or salty for you)

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Add more water to dilute it if it's too strong for you.

Keep stored in the refrigerator in a tightly covered glass jar. Lasts about two weeks, but if you use it at meals, it will be gone in a few days. I love this sauce on vermicelli or rice noodles or plain rice. It's perfect for spring rolls or Vietnamese salads, too.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mazzy Star, "I've Been Let Down"

Here's another great song by Mazzy Star, "I've Been Let Down," which describes the turmoil of being disappointed or let down by someone and not being able to leave that person.  I really like the lines, "Tell me why I'm still feelin' all alone/I've been let down/And I'm still coming around." She confesses that even if you are with someone, you can still feel alone and lonely. I also like the lines, "Make me feel like I belong to you/Make me feel even if it ain't true" because they underscore the complex battle between head vs. heart; that is, trying to and wanting to belong to someone even if it isn't right or true.

"The heart wants...what the heart wants."

I've been let down
And I still comin' round
I've been put down
And i'm still comin' round for you
Comin' round for you
Take away everything that feels fine
Catch a shape in the circles of my mind
Make me feel like i belong to you
Make me feel even if it ain't true
Catch a train on a silver afternoon
A thousand miles and i'm getting there too soon

Take me there when i should be going home
Tell me why i'm still feelin' all alone
I've been let down
And i'm still coming round
I've been put down
And i'm still comin' round for you
Comin' round for you

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Soybean Sprout Salad

I went to the Korean Market yesterday and bought these Natto Soybean Sprouts, so I could try to make them into soybean sprout salad.

Sookju Namul is Korean for bean-sprout salad with sesame. Namul is the Korean word for vegetable dishes. I decided to try this simple method of preparing bean sprouts and use soybean sprouts instead. I finally found Korean sesame oil, which is quite distinct and different in flavor than toasted sesame oil, Japanese sesame oil or Chinese sesame oil. It really does make a difference in making this dish, so try to find Korean sesame oil if you can. 

For this recipe I used a 14 oz bag of soybean sprouts, but you can prepare a 16 oz bag of bean sprouts with this same method by doubling the ingredients listed below. This recipe is based on a Sookju Namul recipe from The Korean Kitchen: Classic Recipes From the Land of the Morning Calm.

The rest of the ingredients are as follows:

6 cups of boiling water
1 teaspoon of salt to salt the water
1/2 teaspoon of salt for the sprouts
1 scallion thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely minced and crushed into a paste (this helps the garlic flavor the sprouts without having any big chunks of garlic noticeable in the salad)
1/8 teaspoon of pepper (I used a few turns of freshly ground pepper)
1/2 teaspoon Korean sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (toasted in a dry skillet for 2-3 minutes to bring out the sesame flavor even more)

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil with teaspoon of salt. Add soybean sprouts when water comes to a boil. COVER the pot and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat, still covered, and let stand for 2 more minutes. Drain well and use a paper towel to press out excess liquid. Do not rinse soybeans or they will be even wetter. 

2. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl. Add the soybean sprouts. Mix and toss. Adjust salt to taste. Use a good sea salt or kosher salt.

Serve at room temperature (though I like it cold, too, straight from the fridge). 

If you don't like your sprouts too garlicky, choose a small clove of garlic. If you like it more garlicky, pick out a nice plump one. I tend to like it garlicky and peppery, but just adjust the seasonings to how you like it. This is yummy by itself or mixed with rice or as a side dish. Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011


I finally bought my first container of Gochujang (hot pepper paste) at the Korean Market today. I looked for spicy level 3, medium hot. I figured since this was my first go at using this in recipes, I better start low and work my up on the spicy factor! This was the smallest container I could find: 500g. This will last me forever I'm sure! A little goes a long way with this stuff! Bring on the Korean recipes--it's ON!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Panel Curtain

I finally sewed my first panel curtain. It was more out of necessity than anything else. The next door neighbor is having the roof redone, so there have been workmen up there all day. I realized that they could see right into our bathroom--and I realized this at the worst time when I was showering! That was all the motivation I needed to get sewing!

I bought this fabric at IKEA weeks ago and have been meaning to make a panel curtain, but this project has been on the back burners until yesterday. While it is not perfect, it does it's job and will block the window so people can't see into our bathroom.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mazzy Star, "Give You My Lovin'"

Happy Friday!

Felt like a little Mazzy Star today...
I just love this song, "Give You My Lovin'" because it's about how you can't control who you fall in love with, even if it's the wrong man, but knowing in your heart that you are right for each other despite what others think. I could listen to this over and over and over...

Give you my lovin seven days a week
I'll be your honey if you'll be sweet
I know I'm the only one for you
I know that you think this is not true
Man says it's rainin, rainin outside
I'll be out there in a little while
Cause you see, rain reminds me of you
And everything has turned to you
See you in places, I'm followin you
You'll be upstairs, and I'll be there to
Everywhere you go I will follow
I know it won't be the same tomorrow
People give me warnings, "Stay away from you
They say you'll hurt me, I don't think that's true
Discomfort arouses when I speak of you
As if you been sayin somethin bad about me
When I see you I wanna kiss you
But I know that ain't right so
I'd ask if I can hold you
Oh babe, I need you so bad
Oh babe, I only wanna make you glad

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My First Batch of Korean Jap Chae

I finally made my first batch of Korean jap chae! I had all the ingredients in the house at one time, so I pulled the trigger and ventured onto my first attempt at making jap chae. I substituted tofu for the beef, used red bell pepper instead of green, and I omitted the tree ears. It turned out okay, except one food critic said it needed more soy sauce. I followed the recipe and measured out all the ingredients--I even weighed out 3 oz of noodles per the recipe (I never get that anal about recipes but since this was the first time I've tried to make this dish, I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible). I took some help from the store and used pre-shredded carrots, which was a major time-saver! This recipe serves two (or one hungry person, like me!).

Jap Chae
Vegetable, Noodle, and Steak Stir-Fry

3 oz Korean vermicelli
3 Tbs corn oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 carrot, cut in 3-inch julienne strips (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 lb flank or sirloin steak, sliced into strips 3 inches long and 1 inch wide
1 small green pepper, seeded, cut into 3-inch julienne strips (1 cup)
1/2 lb Chinese chives, well rinsed, cut into 3-inch lengths or 1/2 lb fresh spinach, well rinsed, stems trimmed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp Korean sesame oil
1/4 cup tree ears, soaked in warm water for 1/2 hour, drained and rinsed well

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add the vermicelli and boil over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse in cold water and set aside. The noodles are translucent when cooked, but still firm.

2. Heat the oil in a wok, add the onion, and stir-fry over moderate heat for 2 minutes.  Add the beef and continue to fry for 1 minute. Now add the carrot, green pepper, chives or spinach as you stir-fry for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the salt, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and tree ears. Stir-fry and toss the mixture for a minute. Fold in the vermicelli and mix well.

Serve warm.

The Cure, "Pictures of You"

I need some Cure today...

Here's one of my favorite songs by The Cure, "Pictures of You." I love this song, it's so powerful and bittersweet. I love the last stanza, especially, because it just captures the anguish of lost love and the turmoil of nostalgia:

"there was nothing in the world that i ever 
wanted more than to feel you deep in my heart
there was nothing in the world that i ever
wanted more than to never feel the breaking
apart all my pictures of you" 

i've been looking so long at these pictures of 
you that i almost believe that they're real i've 
been living so long with my pictures of you that 
i almost believe that the pictures are all i can 

remembering you standing quiet in the rain as 
i ran to your heart to be near and we kissed as 
the sky fell in holding you close how i always 
held close in your fear remembering you 
running soft through the night you were bigger 
and brighter than the snow and 
screamed at the make-believe screamed at the 
sky and you finally found all your courage to 
let it all go 

remembering you fallen into my arms crying 
for the death of your heart you were stone 
white so delicate lost in the cold you were 
always so lost in the dark remembering you 
how you used to be slow drowned you were 
angels so much more than everything oh hold 
for the last time then slip away quietly open 
my eyes but i never see anything 

if only i had thought of the right words i could 
have hold on to your heart if only i'd thought of 
the right words i wouldn't be breaking apart all 
my pictures of you 

Looking So long at these pictures of you but i 
never hold on to your heart looking so long for 
the words to be true but always just breaking 
apart my pictures of you 

there was nothing in the world that i ever 
wanted more than to feel you deep in my heart 
there was nothing in the world that i ever 
wanted more than to never feel the breaking 
apart all my pictures of you