Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eating in LA

Since arriving in Los Angeles last Thursday we've been spending a lot of time eating at the city's many fantastic restaurants and cafes. And of course also enjoying the atmosphere, the architecture and the company of Alexander's sisters. Olivia flew out here for a couple of days, while Genevieve has long been a resident of the city.

Here are some pictures of a couple of meals we've enjoyed over the past few days.

Breakfast at Square One Dining on Fountain. Fantastic fruit, freshly baked scones and muesli. The seating on a patio out back did not hurt.

Lunch at Joan's on 3rd. Excellent food and despite the fact that they expanded they are still as great as ever. I was convinced of seeing Naomi Watts. I didn't.

And of course, cupcakes at legendary Sprinkles on Little Santa Monica was the perfect place for a late afternoon bite.
Saturday we wandered around Silverlake, where I still won't mind living.

We headed to the Silverlake Farmer's Market...

... for some fresh produce...

which resulted in an awesome dinner...

... and breakfast the next morning.

We enjoyed lunch at the super fun Lemonade on Abbot Kinney. We all had salads, awesome salads, and the lemonades were something else. I had cucumber and mint, while Alexander chose this bright watermelon and rosemary. Super refreshing.

I did not spot any celebrities around there like my first time in the neighborhood, but this handsome piece kept on popping up everywhere.

Lunch on Monday was tacos from the Yuca truck on Hillhurst. Really flavorful and well prepared. And not at all heavy, just perfect. Oh, and for breakfast we had coffee from Peet's on Larchmont where we spotted Molly Shannon grabbing a cup. Yay!

And now it is Tuesday and we continued the good eats. But no pics yet. Tomorrow we leave for Taiwaaaaaaaan! Yes, I'm excited. But I'm sad to leave LA, and the US. Quite sad. I'll be back though.

I'll try to post fairly soon after our arrival, but I do not promise anything. Till Asia then!

Friday, June 25, 2010

I desire- A small Utah Ranch

I’m in love with Utah. I know it’s supposed to be pretty conservative and the state of conservative Mormons who are in a big way responsible for Prop 8 getting passed in California, but I can’t help it. I’m in love. And I desire-desire-desire a ranch in Utah.

It does not have to be big. I’m not asking for much, an acre (that’s not too big is it?) or even half an acre would be fine. Really, size doesn’t matter. As long as there are some trees and a creek where I can go cool off in summer I’ll be happy.

If there is a small cabin on the property, and maybe a barn, bonus! If not that’s fine. I’ll be more than willing to build my own little cabin where Alexander and I can go hang out if somebody would just give me the land. Send the contract and let me sign.

And you’ll be more than welcome to come visit and cook with us, swim in the creek, build a fire in winter, go for hikes in the mountain. So if you know someone who would gladly give me a ranch in Utah (somewhere around Capitol Reef would be perfect) give them my number.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On our way again

After almost 3 months in the States we are off to some new and some old destinations. Over the next couple of days we'll be taking a short road trip to LA and after a few days there we'll be flying out west back to Asia.

First we head from Albuquerque NM to Utah where we will spend two nights exploring some of what is called the most beautiful state in the US. We' spend one night camping out in Canyon Lands National Park and another in Capitol Reef National Park.

Wednesday night we spend in Las Vegas! It'll be second time in that monument to decadence and tackiness and hopefully I will be less overwhelmed this time round. I'm planning to spend the whole time there soaking up some rays next to the pool, sipping on a trashy cocktail every now and then.

Thursday we arrive in LA. We'll be staying with Alexander's sister Genevieve at her Los Feliz apartment (ENVY!) and hang out with her and Olivia who will fly out there for a couple of days. We'll be there for almost a week, visiting some old spots like the Farmer's Market, LACMA, and Little Ethiopia. We'll also try out some new farmer's markets like the one in Silver Lake and spend some time around Culver City where I haven't been yet. We're also going to catch up with some old friends we have not seen in a while and hopefully eat lots of fun meals.

And then on the 30th we fly direct from LA to Taiwan, (the picture above is an old one of Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan). And here we'll be settling in for a while. The plan is to go back to teaching and live in my old Taiwan hometown, Hsinchu. We'll probably be there for the next two years. If I had my way maybe longer! I'm looking forward to blogging to you from a new home. Hopefully, after an initial blog drought I'm sure, I will be able to write to you about our adventures with cooking, traveling and life in my dear Taiwan.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Entertaining with South African food

For our last Wednesday dinner I offered to cook a South African dinner for the family. It's been a while since I used my fun Tradisionele Suid-Afrikaanse Respete (Traditional South African Recipes) book, this seemed like the perfect occasion. From the book I selected a dish called smoorsnoek and for dessert a pineapple yskastert. I pulled a recipe for a green bean salad from the net.

Smoorsnoek is a fish and rice dish that's traditionally made using snoek, a fish popular at South African fish barbecues. It's got a quite distinct gamy flavor and is also pretty bony, as a result I hated it as a child, but these days I always look forward to going home and have my dad throw one on the fire. Of course, there was no snoek anywhere to be found in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thanks to some guiding tips from Jeanne from Cooksister I managed to pull off a dish that came pretty close to the smoorsnoek my mother made when I was growing up.

The green bean salad is something that my grandmother used to make for big family dinners. It's simple combination of crunchy green beans, onions, lemon juice and pepper and it went well with the main dish.

Dessert was an old childhood favorite of mine, yskastert. It translates as fridge tart and is quite honestly a seriously trashy dessert. There is absolutely no fresh ingredients in it and is the kind of thing I totally try t steer clear of these days. But as I have not had it in decades I thought it would be fun to try and make one. I was hoping to make it with passion fruit, but I could not find the right ingredients so I ended up making a pineapple version.


(This recipe is for if you do not have access to snoek. Thanks Jeanne for the tip)

1 piece of of smoked fish (I used a white lake fish)
2 pieces of halibut, broiled together with a bit of olive oil salt and white pepper
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
2 onions chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 small pepper chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
white pepper
fresh parsley for garnish

Flake the fish together and set aside. Heat oil and butter, add the onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add the pepper and tomatoes and gently stir through to heat. Add the fish, mix through and white pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

Green Bean salad
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 cup white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon each

Cook the green beans until they just start going tender. You don't want them all wilted. Drain. While boiling the beans, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the green beans and onions and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

(You can use any kind of fruit combination and I am sure you can even attempt to make a fresher or at least healthier version that this one if you like.)

1 box jelly (jell-o)
1 tin evaporated milk
1 tin canned fruit (drained, reserve some for the topping)
graham crackers

Prepare the jelly according to instructions and leave it in the fridge until it just starts to set. Whisk the evaporated milk until it is foamy and thickens somewhat. Mix the jelly into the milk. Mix in the fruit. Place a layer of the crackers in a dish, top with the mixture, place another layer of crackers, top with mixture. Finish with a layer of the mixture. Top with the reserved fruit and leave in fridge until it is set. Cut and serve.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Entertaining with family

After our first spring dinner we decided to have regular Wednesday dinners where we all bring something else to the table. For this dinner I was in charge of cocktails and dessert, Alexander made salads and his sister Olivia got the main course.

To kick the evening off I prepared gin and limeade cocktails, inspired by the Panaka recipe from A Life(Time) of Cooking. Although I was very curious about the ghee and cardamom powder I skipped these two ingredients as I did not have time to search for them. It was a pretty refreshing drink and tasted great nonetheless.

Alexander outdid himself with the salads. They were perfect for spring. The salad on the left was an asparagus and roasted heirloom plum tomato salad. The one on the right consisted of fresh strawberries and pecans tossed with salad greens. Incredible salads. I think I could totally survive on this kind of salad for a while. Fresh!

For the main dish Olivia made an awesome pasta dish. Slices of spicy sausage tossed with broccoli, soft cheese and whole wheat penne. An excellent combination of textures as well as flavors and it worked brilliantly with the two salads.

Dessert was a Norwegian rhubarb cake. The easiest cake ever and a truly fun dessert. I got the recipe from Cooking Books. I could not believe how easy it was to prepare and it tasted perfect. So much so that I baked it again two nights later, but this time with blueberries.

I'm most certainly going to miss these Wednesday dinners when we're gone. Hopefully we can recreate a similar experience in Taiwan.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We've been outed! Homos eat poo-poo and fist!

Thanks to the National Task Force Against Homosexuality in Uganda (a task force!) your worst fears about homos have been confirmed.

Yes people. Gays and only gays participate in a practice off anal-licking. I did not know this but apparently this automatically results in pooping and then the gays slobber that up too. Gays and only gays also participate in the practice of shoving whole arms down another man's anus. And gays and only gays take drugs too, to numb the pain. I know. Those gays. Filthy.

Hey! This guy has a Macbook. It's kind of paradoxical.

I'm moving to Uganda. You can watch gay porn in church! How awesome is that? I know, I should not make light of this insanity. But what the fuck else are you going to do?

Let our thoughts be with gays and lesbians (although I don't think these bigots are aware of lesbians so maybe they're safe) of Uganda and most other African nations. With all of this being shoved down people's throats I would hate to know what some idiots will do if they discover someone is gay.

* Via The Lost Boy

I desire- several more pairs of espadrilles

I was checking out a pair of yellow espadrille from Urban Outfitters for about a month before I finally picked up a pair for myself this week. They are pretty simple, but totally campy. And by far the most comfortable shoes my feet have ever encountered. I am absolutely and totally in love. It's like walking on air. Or something.

They add a fun element to my style, which goes very well with the great summer weather we are experiencing here in Albuquerque. I can see them doing well in Taiwan too, where silly trendy and bright colors seem to make an appearance on the streets every summer.

For the first time in my life I want to go back to the store and buy more shoes. I desire several more pairs of these babies. They also come in blue, white, grey, red, and black. And at $14 a pair for something this fun and comfy it's a steal.

Sadly they do not come in purple, which seems to be becoming a staple in my wardrobe. I have seen a pair of purple canvas plimsolls at Urban Outfitters. Tempting...
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