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 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Panda Express Firecracker Chicken

I just got back from Panda Express with my coupon for a free order of Firecracker Chicken. But it's not February 3 yet! Yup, that's right, I went on the WRONG day! I ordered my chicken and handed my coupon to the cashier and he said, "Oh, this doesn't start until tomorrow...but I'll give it to you anyway." OH, it was my lucky day! I totally goofed and thought the coupon was valid on Wednesday, but it's valid February 3, which is Thursday, of course. D'oh!

I think everyone at Panda Express was in a good mood because they were shooting a commercial to promote Chinese New Year and this new Firecracker Chicken dish. The manager was so nice to me when I walked in. He immediately told me I had to wait because they were shooting something. He apologized and offered me something to drink, but I declined (why'd I give up soda, again?!).

I lucked out and got a free lunch today, but I have to say that this Firecracker Chicken is SUPER SPICY! For once, the title is correct--it is like a firecracker in your mouth! Do not eat the dried chiles in there or you'll be sorry. This is the spiciest take out I've ever made my nose sweat! But it was good. There are some nice slices of bell pepper and onions and the chicken is dressed with black bean and chile sauce. It's good, but I recommend eating it with rice (and maybe even milk--it is pretty hot!). I ate mine without rice and so there was nothing to dilute the heat.

Anyway, I was hit with a bad case of confusion today--there I go, again, mixing up dates! Oh well, it worked out because there was someone nice working there today!

Thank you, Panda Express!