Saturday, January 30, 2010

snow falling on cedars

It's snowing! Lots of snow!! Snowing buckets!!!

Snowfall 01/30/2010

I woke up this morning thinking that it's going to be a really cold day, cold enough for snow.


Then I got out of bed and went into the kitchen for some lunch. I looked out the window and what do you know? It was snowing! Lots!

View from our balcony

I have to admit that it's a pretty sight, the snowfall. So serene and peaceful. And it puts a clean, white blanket over everything.

snow covered everything

However, I still don't like snow. And I think I am going to stay indoors barring some emergency that requires me to go out into the coldness.

covered in snow

And if you have it handy to watch, I thought Snow Falling on Cedars was a pretty good movie.


Friday, January 29, 2010

study food

The Boy sent me a care package that arrived from Amazon today. What was in the care package? A whole box of Korean ramen - my favorite!

I remember telling him in one of our phone conversations how I was craving Korean ramen but I couldn't have any because I didn't have any in the pantry, and I would just have to wait until I got back to San Francisco to stock up on my supply (because a Korean market is not readily accessible to me in DC if one does exist). And then I find a box from Amazon in front of my door. YAY! He probably spent more on the shipping costs than the actual cost per package, but it was so sweet and thoughtful of him to send me a package of these noodles.
Of course, I had to cook a package immediately to quell those cravings!!

Nothing like a nice, hot bowl of ramen to warm you up on a freezing cold day.

I *heart* The Boy.

homemade oreos and more

What is a girl to do with all this stuff? Make cookies, of course!!
I needed to make some cookies as a present for S's brithday, so I decided to try out this recipe for homemade oreo cookies from Smitten Kitchen. It was a fairly simple recipe and was yummy bit of chocolate goodness.
I had to flatten out the dough before putting it in the oven, and I wonder if I flattened it out too much because the cookies were big and crispy. Not sure if the recipe was intended for crispy cookies, but the pictures from Smitten Kitchen looked like it was a more chewy oreo rather than a normal, crispy oreo.
Needless to say, they still turned out pretty good even if they were super-sized oreos.
I was a good girl and only ate a couple for "quality control" purposes. (side story - I tell The Boy that I usually have to eat at least one cookie from every batch that comes out of the oven as a kind of taste test to ensure the cookie is fully baked. He laughs at this because when I make chocolate chip cookies, it ends up to be about five batches that go in the oven and I have eaten five cookies in just that baking period. So I'm actually eating more than the recommended serving during my "taste test".)
You know I like variety, so in addition to making oreos from scratch, I also made the usual chocolate chip cookie and decided to add coconut to the batter - yep, coconut chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate + Coconut = YUMMY IN THE TUMMY!
I think I ended up with three dozen of each of oreos and coconut chocolate chip cookies. I kept a dozen of the coconut chocolate for ourselves (me and the roommie) and divvied up the rest to give away, mostly to S for his birthday. I believe they were a hit.

Click here for the homemade oreo cookie recipe.
For the coconut chocolate chip cookie, I followed Nestle Tollhouse's recipe for chocolate chip cookies and instead of adding walnuts, I added about a cup of coconut.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

froggy bottom blt

For those of you who do not know the DC area, GWU is in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, which is also home to Froggy Bottom Pub, the local university hangout. They have great happy hour deals and the food is pretty good too. The funny thing (well, at least to me) is that I believe the place is owned and operated by a Chinese family. Apparently, they serve Vietnamese pho if you ask for it (which I will have to attempt ordering next time) because it was definitely not on the menu.
Anyway, for this particular lunch, I ordered the BLT. It was yummy and hit the spot. It also took about five minutes to devour, as evidenced below.
Yeah, I cleaned the plate. So what? Jealous? I thought so.

Friday, January 22, 2010

more camera phone pics

This one below is of a make-shift Target on an empty lot in Georgetown. One day there's an empty lot, the next there's a Target-to-go kinda dealy. Everyone got a free cookie upon "entrance". The gist of the whole set-up was that you had a clipboard with a checklist of stuff you can buy, there was a wall displaying the items being sold behind the glass, and then you gave the checklist to the cashier behind the register. Once you pay, the cashier goes in back and gets your stuff. And voila! Done shopping for the day.

The Boy wanted me to give him ideas for what I wanted for Christmas. I was in Brookstone and saw this FrogOSphere and really wanted one. However, I decided against it because I didn't know how to transport the frogs from SF to DC and vice versa, because you can't get past airport security with a water bottle.

While The Boy was at work, I would do his personal errands to help make his life a little easier, like dropping off his laundry or cleaning up his room. I think I finished cleaning his bathroom on this particular day, and decided to reward myself with some really unhealthy food for lunch. I had some fried chicken, Lay's wavy potato chips and a nice big glass of Cherry Coke. The Boy usually likes to ask what I had for lunch when he's away, so I took a picture with my phone and messaged him the image of my lunch. His response: "Bad. Bad bad bad bad bad. Are you ashame of yourself?" My response? "That was really good fried chicken."

And this was a snapshot of my plate of sushi when I met up with classmates at Cafe Asia for dinner/happy hour. I really wanted some sushi, so I ordered (from top to bottom) Shrimp Tempura Roll, Dragon Roll, and California Roll. It was delicious. And once again, I was the only one at the table to finished everything on her plate, including the wasabi and ginger slices.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

big branch fall down

It is that time again for a series of posts of images taken from my camera phone (which I don't upload often because it's a pain in the butt to get the tiny sd chip out of my current phone).

In this post, I remember taking a picture of this giant, broken branch in front of my apartment sometime last semester. I believe it was the morning after a particularly stormy night. I was on my way to Safeway, and was completely surprised to see this destruction by nature in front of my apartment.
See, that's a giant tree, and that is a giant branch that cracked, detached and fell from that giant tree.
Fortunately, there were no cars parked underneath the tree and even more fortunate that no one was walking by at the moment the branch decided to make its separation from the mother tree.
Can you imagine how much that would have hurt if that branch had fallen on top of you? Lawsuit!!

I have noticed, to this day, that there are some trees along the path I walk every day that are in major need of trimming because there are lots of branches that are clearly cracked and almost detaching from the tree. I think I will just take a cab the next time there is a major storm or windy day, just to save myself from being an unfortunate soul getting hit by a fallen tree branch.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

snowy day

There's a heat wave in DC today! And it's only in the 50s! I swear I was walking around in a sweater and had to hold my jacket because it was so hot. I hope the worst of the coldness is over and it only gets warmer from here on out.

So, hopefully these pictures of snow from two Fridays ago don't jinx my heat wave weather...

This building shown above is the GWU Law School - aka the place where I spend my waking hours at least five days a week.

Below is one of the undergraduate buildings in the same quad (at least I think it's an undergraduate building).

Mr. George Washington with a light layer of snow on him.
I just thought this would be a cool picture. Now, it's not that cool.
The picture above is the outside of my apartment. The picture below is of the path that I walk from my apartment to the metro station.

And to tie it all in with food -- on that snowy Friday, A and I made a trip to Target, and we had a lunch break at Five Guys. I forgot to order the "mini-burger" and instead ordered the regular burger, which was really a double patty with all the toppings I ordered. This burger was HUGE. Just look at this thing:
I really didn't know how I would be able to bite into this monstrosity... here I pose attempting to eat the giant burger. After the photo op, though, I took out the extra patty and started dissecting the burger. There is no way I am eating two pieces of hamburger patties in one sitting.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

baked honeycomb cake

T's cousin made us some baked honeycomb cake, aka banh bo nuong. I haven't had this cake since I was a little girl back in Kansas. In Vietnamese, the name "banh bo nuong" is literally translated into "grilled cow cake". I'm not sure why it is named this, as it is neither grilled nor contains any cow parts whatsoever.

I remember T's cousin putting in some flour, baking powder, some kind of green extract for flavoring, about 8 eggs, a cup of sugar, and perhaps some tapioca flour in it.
Then she put it in the mixer for about 15 minutes before adding a can of coconut milk.

She heated up the pan before pouring the batter into it. Baked it for about half an hour. She also broiled the top for a minute or so before taking it out of the oven to cool.

And then she cut up the cake into triangle slices before allowing T and I to devour a bunch before she sent the rest home with us.

Click here for a recipe for honeycomb cake I found online.

Photos courtesy of T.

sour soup hot pot

While T was here, we had dinner at her uncle's home, who prepared a delicious hot pot of sour soup (lau canh chua). The soup base for the hot pot was similar to that of Vietnamese sour soup (canh chua) and there were a variety of things to cook in the soup: shrimp, slices of beef, quail eggs, all sorts of veggies I cannot name in English but I do remember lotus stems and banana blossoms. We ate it over some rice noodles, and I think I ate one too many servings. It was so good to have homemade Vietnamese food!
For dessert, we had a version of bubar cha cha. This version had a bunch of diced exotic fruits, basil seeds and coconut milk in it. If you google "bubar cha cha," you'll get a variety of recipes for this not-too-sweet-but-just-enough-sugar dessert. I might try to replicate this again one day.

Photos courtesy of T.*

*The reasons I have been using T's photos lately is because although we both had our cameras, she had hers at the ready and I thought one picture crazy person was enough for her family to deal with, especially upon meeting their neice for the first time (I didn't want them to think she had crazy friends too!). =)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Eden Center

During T's stay with me, her cousin's husband picked us up to go to their house one day for a visit. On the way to their house, he stopped at Eden Center in Arlington, Virginia, to show us where all the Vietnamese shops are. It was like a mini version of Little Saigon or the Lion Center in San Jose. I had gone here by myself once before, but it was a long trek from the metro station. So it was a nice stop for me to load up on my Vietnamese food necessities for the semester.
It was a bit funny how they named the lanes in the parking lot with Vietnamese street names.
The main Vietnamese grocery store had a plant section that T was having a heyday taking pictures of. I believe this is a flowering peach tree.
I didn't know what this fruit is, but T says it's a citron. Yeah, still not sure what a citron is used for. It looks more like a shriveled up pomelo to me.

Here's a cute little kumquat tree.
We also had a sort of linner meal at one of the restaurants inside the Eden Center. I don't recall what the name of the restaurant was, but it was so good to have Vietnamese ice coffee and have Vietnamese noodles again. SOOOOOO YUMMY IN MY TUMMY!!!!
Above are the usual condiments that come with an order of any kind of Vietnamese soup. Below is Seafood Egg Noodle Soup with a fried shrimp appetizer thingy.
After linner, we went to a couple of shops to look at things and of course to buy more things. This was a little sandwich shop that also had all sorts of Vietnamese cha lua (Vietnamese ham), bread, and rice cakes galore.
I didn't buy any of these things, but they're so cute! I did buy myself a banh chung and devoured the entire thing for lunch today (I am so a pig).

And then there was this very popular little shop, apparently well known for its fried tofu. Seriously, the line was almost out the door. And people were buying boxes upon boxes of fried tofu (like ten boxes at a time!). We didn't try any, but T's cousin's hubby did buy a box to bring home to his wife.
If the Eden Center wasn't so far away from the nearest metro station (it took me 20 minutes to walk there from East Falls Church station), I think I would make a weekly trip to this place just to chow down on Vietnamese food. For instance, I'm still trying to find a good Vietnamese sandwich place since my favorite store in Boston went out of business. Oh well, perhaps I'll just have to make it a zipcar trip.

Photos courtesy of T.