Monthly Archives: March 2012

and we rolled with it…

a girlfriend and i found ourselves walking along a street today seriously studded with asian groceries. like three on each side of every block. there must have been something in the air, because were both inspired to choose one and go on a shopping spree for everything that is so over-priced in the mainstream markets (we’re looking at you Whole Foods and corner stores). armed with bags of tea, rice paper candies and obscure sodas, we headed back home with a plan for our next meal (or snack as it ended up being).

spring rolls! very appropriate for the arrival of the new season…also amazingly simple, versatile and portable! these are coming with me for lunch tomorrow.

we scoured the web for a recipe that appealed to us the most, and then decided to create our own using the others as guidance. all of the recipes had the same basic groups of ingredients, which you can vary depending on your preferences:

rice paper wrappers

vermicelli or bean mung noodles (the kind that look almost clear when cooked)

veggies (carrots, napa cabbage, green onion, bean sprouts etc), julienned and tossed in olive oil and salt

herbs (mint, thai basil, cilantro)

shrimp/tofu (optional)

soak the rice paper in warm water for 5-10 seconds until soft and then start piling on your fillings! just make sure you can fully enclose the final product or things get messy.. all of these groups (except the rice paper wraps of course) are optional, and can be disregarded all together to create the rolls of your dreams. with all of the wrappers we have left, i definitely think we’ll be doing some fusion rolls in the future.

we ate our rolls with homemade peanut sauce, but we also tried a vinaigrette of sesame oil and soy sauce. to make your own peanut sauce, mix a couple of tablespoons of chunky peanut butter with a little sugar, two teaspoons soy sauce, half a teaspoon of minced garlic, and hot sauce to taste. slowly mix in a few tablespoons of warm water until the sauce has a smooth texture.

happy snacking!



it’s here!

i know, i know, i’m a few days behind. i’ve been too busy enjoying the first signs of spring! i can’t wait for it to fully set in, i have big plans for you this year spring…

light layers

flowers galore

eating alfresco

nature walks

simple recipes

happy spring everyone!

Excellent! I cried. Elementary, said he.

newest obsession: Sherlock Holmes.

have you read any of the books? this misty, rainy, foggy weather has been the perfect excuse for me to curl up under a blanket with a cup of tea and only emerge to grab another book in the set. i’ve ploughed through two so far, on to the third.

if you’re less keen on reading, or don’t have enough time, BBC put out a REALLY good, modernized miniseries based heavily on the books a couple years ago, and i believe the second season is coming out soon! the first season is on instant view on netflix if you need to catch up.

if anyone needs me in the next few days, you’re sure to find me here… i have a couple more mysteries to solve.

dance party?

agyness deyn for rebecca minkoff.

if anyone knows the name of this song, please share. it needs to be my spring anthem.

spring temptations

oh madewell, you temptress. here i am, sitting in my kitchen, watching the rain moving in what looks like three directions at once (thank you wind), and you put out the digital edition of your spring/summer catalog. with terrible rain forecasted at least through the end of the week, the only chance i will have to recreate your au bord de la seine atmosphere will be in my room, next to a space heater, looking at a poster of paris. hopefully, our erratic weather patterns return and this week will be followed by a week of pure, glorious sunshine. fingers crossed.




i wish...

making up for lost time

anyone else really feeling that lost hour? that plus the cold and rain that just hit san francisco with the energy it’s been saving all winter has me feeling like napping here all day:

not a possibility unfortunately… i’ll have to push through with the aid of my new best friend

and thoughts of a sunnier tomorrow. or next week seeing that they’ve predicted rain for a few more days. i may have to resort to more intensive forms of therapy.

coconut and lime rice pudding

or if things get really bad:

homemade nutella

anyone else with me?

feeling dotty

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polka-dots have been EVERYWHERE recently, and as much as i love the print, i never feel like i can pull it off without looking too “five-year-old girl in a dress that her mom made her wear.” some of these photos definitely give some ideas of how to dress up the dots (in neutrals? mixed with neon?), but i’ve been thinking that the best way to get in on the trend is in the home decor arena, where the pieces can be the star of your scenery now, and a cute quirky twist once we all decide to get serious and return to the real world.

here are a few of my favorite ideas that i’ve rounded up, mostly DIY, some purchaseable, ALL allow you to take the dot trend as far as you feel comfortable.

looking past this man’s overly-suave smile, i LOVE this idea of putting polka-dots all over your walls and floor for a party, and then leaving them up forever. best part? use metallic contact paper and you can take these down with no paint damage! perfect for polka-dot commitment-phobes and those with landlords who just never understand your desire to personalize. martha, you always know how to solve our problems…

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dotted wall art, made using either gold and glittery cardstock or a home-made potato stamp, lets you pick your colors, the size of your dots, the arrangement, there are almost too many options! not to mention it’s a super quick project. anyone have 20 minutes this weekend?

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once you have that art up on the walls and you want to show it off to all of your friends, why not emphasize les pieces de resistance with some dotted drinkware? whether you’re going for big-girl glam or home-grown quirky, here are two options to fit the bill. now if you don’t feel like buying the glasses in #1, i think that recreating them using the methods of #2 on clear plastic glasses with gold paint would look great too. OR, use leftover contact paper from the wall dots above to spice up your own glasses for an evening. mix it up!

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while we have the ball rolling, why not make your invites dotted too? and how about some good old fashioned outdoor games? i’m always down for lawn twister. bonus – customize the colors to match your party!

somehow this turned into a party-planning post, i really was thinking home decor at first, i swear. but what can i say? the dots are just so festive!

aha! a clue!

do you ever wonder where certain words came from? like why butterfly has the word butter in it? or how the english language evolved to be so damn wordy? i certainly do, and sometimes i feel like the questions eat away at my brain, mostly while i have more important things to get done.

this morning i came across this short film by Jessica Oreck, a documentary film maker, and it seems that in her worldly travels she has had many of the same linguistic questions. she created this clip, part of a future series, to discuss the origin of the word clue.

what do you think? i’m excited to see what she has planned for future episodes!

welcome to cupcake heaven

miette‘s gingerbread cupcake was reportedly named the best cupcake in america, although i didn’t know this before i bit into one that someone had brought into the office today. i have to say i whole-heartedly agree. it was moist and flavorful, with a wonderful gingerbread-y taste that didn’t overwhelm, properly balanced with an amazing cream cheese frosting.

luckily i found the recipe online, definitely plan on trying it out next time i NEED to bake something comforting and delicious. for those of you wishing to take it a bit further, miette has published a cookbook with all of their delicious recipes.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Makes 18-24

11/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons stout beer, such as Guinness

3/4 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups cream cheese frosting (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt together.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the stout and molasses, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the baking soda, whisking constantly as the mixture foams up. Remove from heat immediately and let cool to room temperature.

4. Using an electric mixer with the stand attachment, combine the eggs and sugars and whisk on medium speed until well combined and lightened in color, 3-4 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the oil and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly add stout mixture. Stop and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Return to low speed and add dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Fold a few more times with the spatula. Strain the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.

5. Fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full (a 1/4-cup measure works well). Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a tester inserted in the center emerges clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

6. When completely cool, use a piping bag to adorn the cupcakes with a swirl of cream cheese frosting.

— Meg Ray, “Miette” (Chronicle Books, 224 pages, $27.50)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 3 cups

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sifted, powdered sugar

2 cups (1 pound) cream cheese, room temperature

1. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, beating until smooth and glossy.

2. Add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed. Transfer cold frosting to a stand mixer and beat until smooth before using, 2-3 minutes. Cream cheese frosting lasts 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

— Meg Ray, “Miette” (Chronicle Books, 224 pages, $27.50)

another reason to make these cupcakes: so i can pack them up in jars for easy transport! you should have seen me bringing a cupcake to E today after work, i tore off the top of a tissue box to form a “carrier,” and was walking around town looking like a crazy sick lady. i can imagine this is a much better (and cuter)  option.

birthday girl

this weekend my little baby girl turned one year old (February 25 — good, i see you’re jotting that down). fear not friends who haven’t seen me in more than 9 months, i’m referring to my dear puppy Olive. Olive (affectionately called Olz, Ollie, Peanut, Schnugs, Demon, etc.), was a rescue dog from the pound that happened to be one of the most impulsive decisions i have ever made. she’s majorly needy, sometimes nippy, occasionally a crazy ball of energy and barks, but always my trusty and favorite sidekick. isn’t it funny how some of life’s most impulsive decisions turn out to be the most rewarding and life changing? she may be a rescue dog, but i’m pretty sure she saved me and not the other way around.

anyways, enough sap already. to celebrate Olive’s entrance into the world she is now waging her terror on, i baked her a doggie friendly cake she was able to snack on for days. i used this recipe:

i admittedly didn’t have vegetable oil, honey, or shredded carrots, so i used some greek yogurt, crumbled dog food (which resemebled choc chips after baking), olive oil, and cream to my own discression. i “frosted” the top with peanut butter and created a “1” with her dog food.

i will neither confirm nor deny that happy birthday substituted with “woofs” was sung. happy birthday my sweet girl, may there be many more birthdays to come.