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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Happened to Madame K's?!?!?!

One day, I was walking along Ballard Avenue coming upon Madame K's Pizza Bistro. Normally, the wafting scents of garlic, bread, and cheezy goodness would always cause me to look over and smile at the lingerie draped chairs. My favorite part was the sign that hung on the front door that said, "NO CELL PHONES AT THE DINNER TABLE". Hallelujah! Sometimes, I would pause and peak in to see servers in sassy leggings and a multitude of feather boas hanging from a clothes rack, and think to myself: "Why haven't I been here yet?"

So one day, I stopped in with a couple friends, unknowing that I would be completely swept off my feet. The place, it turns out, was formally a brothel (hence the lingerie and feather boas) back in the day. The place had so much character and history to it, I instantly loved it before I even opened the menu. As soon as I started reading the menu, I knew I was in for a treat. I've learned that some of my favorite places have quirky menus, and they always end up being delicious. We ordered the "Choke Your Artie Dip", some chicken garlic pizza or some sort, and I ordered the Artichoke Lasagna...sensational wouldn't justify how much of an impact this lasagna had on me. I've never had anything like it before. They say that the "Big O" occurs when eating it, and I would say that would be a great justification for it.

So needless to say, I was instantly in love. Great service, great food, great character, great atmosphere. The place was PERFECT for me. It reminded me of a place that would be straight out of New Orleans. Small and quirky. I didn't feel like I was in Seattle anymore, I actually felt like I was transported to a different part of time and the country.

Back to my day when I was walking by, what smells I normally enjoyed, one day were not there. I turned to look at Madame K's and felt my jaw literally drop. It was empty. Nothing but a For Lease sign. I immediately searched for a "We've moved to..." sign but was sadly disappointed. Nothing. not a trace. Nothing was left but the burgundy walls.

I vowed to find out what happened to the place...and several months later, here I am. Turns out, because I was so busy trying to hang onto summer, I missed the announcement that my beloved Madame K's was closing Oct. 28, 2010.

I discovered Madame K's far too late in the game (September 2010). I was lucky enough to try their AMAZING Artichoke Lasagna, but unfortunately unlucky enough to have missed out of their famous Chocolate Orgasm. :( Check their amazing menu.

So WHY did Madame K's close? She sold it. Just flat out sold it. :( Why? Her "heart just wasn't in it"...She did make a comment about how the Ballard community had changed since she started the business 10 years ago. Even though I wasn't around 10 years ago, I would have to say I see her point. I've noticed in just the past year all my favorite stores in Ballard have closed down. Mr. Spot's Chai House and the blown glass workshop that was next to it to be more specific.

One slightly positive thing came of this entry though, I learned there is a Lazy K's pizzeria, where the owner is spending her energy. But it's all the way in Carnation...maybe one day I'll be able to try it. Although I think its western/cowboy themed...not as appealing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Fun - On my own and with my mom!

Well it's definitely that time of the year...I start to build my winter coat (somehow it came on early this year once I finished my half marathon and stopped major physical activity everyday).

I've been slacking in writing mostly because my camera has been out of commission so you'll have to forgive me for the not so great quality pictures in this post. But here we go!

I recently hosted my very first very own holiday party. This year has been particularly special to me, as I have moved out on my own for the very first time, and not dating anyone (which put a damper when I needed help with things like Christmas lights or carrying the 5 bags of groceries into my house). Most of my guy friends are either too far away now to hang out with me or unavailable for other reasons. My party was simple and small...although fitting 12 people into my 500 square foot apartment was interesting! But we all had a great time and even had a white elephant exchange.

Ironically, almost everyone ended up with a gift that related to their personality. I got an aphrodisiac cookbook called "Intercourses"....which will come in handy SOMEDAY when I have a boyfriend. :)

As far as the hor d'oeuvres, I decided to cheat a little. By using different pastry doughs, I created a few different dishes, just with different fillings. Above is smoked salmon wrapped with some whipped cream cheese, dill and thyme. I also made my signature shrimp bites on french bread. I also stuffed some crescent rolls with smoked salmon and cream cheese. There was also some stuffed crescent rolls with sauteed mushrooms, garlic, spinach, and onions. I also cut up some pastry sheets and rolled them with some feta and roasted walnuts. And of course there was a veggie platter with hummus and ranch. My friend made some chocolate cookies with peppermint kisses in the middle. I'm mad I didn't take a picture but I know one of my friends did...I'll upload it later when i get my hands on it. I baked some pastry shells and filled them with whip cream, and topped it with blueberries and raspberries and a mint to garnish for dessert as well. Over all these only took me a couple hours to make, and were relatively easy.

Everything but the pastry dough was homemade! Well and minus the hummus and veggies. :) I also made some mulled wine, (not pictured) and it turned out fantastic! I looked at a few recipies and decided to create my own. Some were pretty basic while others were pretty complex. Last year my roomate made the mulled wine so I have no idea what she put in it. But essentially my recipie was as follows:

Merry Mulled Wine (serves up to 10)
- 5 bottles of 2 Buck Chuck (Cabernet Sauvignon)
- A few sprigs of rosemary (3-4 stems about 4-5 inches long)
- 10-12 cloves
- 7 cinnamon sticks
- 4 oranges (freshly squeezed for juice)
- 3 medium apples sliced (anything but Fuji and Granny Smith works - I can't remember what I used)
- 1 cup of honey

And all I did was heat up the honey in a big pot so it became less viscous and started adding the wine and seasonings and fruit. I heated it up for about an hour and a half before i served it. It was pretty tasty! Orange zest would make a nice garnish but since I had too many things going on. I had to make sure everyone got their holiday mugs and party favors! :)

Overall I thought it was a success. And then I went home and that's where my mom showed me what real cookin' is all about. With my help of course.

My mom worked on the roast beef and I prepared scalloped potatoes with a bechamel sauce and raisins.

And 3 hours later....we were feasting!!

Rib eye Roast anyone?

The potatoe medley with rasins and a bechamel sauce.

This salmon dish is SOO delish. It combines the best sweet and tart levels...I'm not sure whats in it...we baked the salmon with some teriyaki sauce and then my mom sauteed some asian greens/chives of some sorts and a mushroom sauce and spritzed it with lime juice. I can't really describe the taste. Except that it is delish. Maybe I'll write about it sometime.

My mom was on a mushroom's another side dish with some friendly fungi with mini onions.

And of course some sauteed garlic green beans/snow peas and almonds.

The end result:

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm baaaaccckkkk...sorta

Sorry I've been on hiatus...I have many things to write problem is that once the weather got nice here I spent all my time outdoors and I've had one crazy summer. Now that it's winter I'm finding myself stuck indoors. Soo...look forward to more entries to come this week...I'll have to think about what I want to write about next...but I just wanted to let you know I'm still alive!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Roomie Tasty Triumph - Real Thai Lesson

Since I've been transitioning between job duties and began volunteering, I haven't been cooking much. I've become dependent on snacks, but luckily my roommate Meghan has been on a Rachel Ray craze. She bought one of her cookbooks and has been cooking up a storm...I really should start documenting her adventures. It's been exciting, to taste all the treats like Chipotle Mac and Cheese or Spicy Shrimp Tacos...mmm...This entry is from an old dinner gathering (probably from January) but I kept forgetting to write about it, so here we go!

Sophia and her then boyfriend Ryan spent the past couple of months backpacking, climbing, and running like crazy. Super athletes to the max (Sophia actually does a workout called the "300" because it's the workout all those guys did for that crazy movie), these adventurers were lucky enough to spend some time at a cooking school in Thailand. So they came over to cook us a TASTY meal.

First, crushing the peppers and lemongrass to create a homemade curry paste (watch out for the fish's not the most pleasant smell). I got tired of smashing, so I let Troy take over for a while.

The food was smelling mighty tasty!!

Pretty soon the food was ready. What was really interesting is that Ryan made two batches. One he forgot to put sugar into and the second he did. It was amazing how much the sugar changed the taste of the curry. It tasted wonderfully without, but WITH the sugar, it was like all the flavors came was amazing!

It tastes AMAZING. So try the recipe above!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Southern Comfort Reviews: Casper's, Smokin' Pete's BBQ, and Speak EZ's

I love southern food what can I say? After New Orleans, I'm completely addicted to everything related to it. (Which as a side note, heard a great song down at the Farmer's Market today called "Freedom Song", which apparently was written by an artist with several children after Hurricane Katrina. You should listen to it, if you get a chance, it's touching. The band was also a great group of people that made my afternoon) Any way, I'm still determined to find the best southern food in Seattle. So luck. Let's start with the worst and end on a good note.

Casper's in Shoreline
My coworkers and I are always excited anytime a new restaurant opens up near our building in Shoreline, because good food is hard to find within close range there. Casper's moved into our neighborhood from Lake City Way, to replace a Wendy's. It was a rather interesting set up. Having southern food at a fast food restaurant didn't quite feel right, but I must say, the toilet plungers on the counter tops to hold up paper towel rolls, made me smile. That kind of quark is part of why I love New Orleans so much. Our waitress told us the restaurant moved from Lake City because no one could find the restaurant because it was so small and out of the way. Expansion seemed like a good sign as well. I was pretty excited to be put into a food coma, because we all know that's what southern food does to us. I ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich, Mac and Cheese and Coleslaw. But of course I had to have some cornbread so I asked if they served honey butter with their cornbread. Our server replied with a very enthusiastic southern drawl, "OH you betcha we got honey butter. You know what's good for ya!" Ecstatic for my honey butter and spicy cornbread muffin, we waited. And waited. And wait to put our order in.

Now, I understand sometimes things slip. This would be one of those times. I watched our server carefully and she was quite attentive to everyone else in the restaurant, seating them, taking their orders, serving their orders, cleaning up, she was on top of it...except with our table. I think she just forgot about us (walked by us quite a few times without even looking in our direction so we could signal to her that we were ready to order). She apologized when she realized she had forgotten about us...a good 20 minutes later. A good 20 - 30 more minutes later, our food was ready. Now, I'm pretty sure this restaurant also serves at the drive through I'm not sure if there were just 100 other orders at the drive through window that got in before us...but I'm pretty sure that was just plain ridiculous.

When our food finally arrived, I was terribly disappointed with what our server referred to as honey butter: two COLD individual tablets of butter with little packets of honey (like...the stuff you get at KFC). That in itself did not make me very happy. On top of that, the cornbread muffin was COMPLETELY overcooked and dried was dry and mealy in a very uncomfortable way. It would've taken 4 or 5 tablets of butter to soften that thing up. So then I moved on to my next favorite side: Mac and Cheese. I was utterly beyond disappointed and slightly disgusted to be honest. While the penne noodles looked intriguing, the mac and cheese would be what I refer to as on par with frozen mac and cheese or Safeway Deli Mac and Cheese. Actually I would say frozen Mac and Cheese was better than that. It was DEFINITELY not southern mac and cheese. So then on to the Coleslaw...that was at least decent. But then again, it's a little hard to screw up Coleslaw. The Pulled Pork however, was FANTASTIC. While I'm not sure about the BBQ sauce (a bit too vinegary for my taste), the pork was tender and the portion was great. It was flavorful even without the BBQ sauce. I enjoyed it very much. :)

But in the end, I'm afraid I can't give Casper's a high rating at all because most of the food I tried was not tasty in my opinion, the service wasn't the greatest, and it just didn't encompass southern comfort. Actually halfway through our meal we noticed the owner Casper himself was sitting just a couple tables away having lunch with a friend. What surprised me was how he paid no attention to the fact that our table of four had been completely ignored for almost 1/2 an hour. I would just hope that in the future, we could luck out on better service. I'd be willing to go back and try other items though. Because every restaurant deserves a second chance.

Raiting: ** (I feel that might be generous based on my experience)
15226 Aurora Avenue
(In the parking lot with Safeway)
Shoreline, WA 98133
(206) 361-3757

Smokin's Pete's BBQ
After much hype, I was interested in trying Smokin' Pete's BBQ, which is located in Ballard. I'm hoping that one day I find a southern restaurant that will just let me have as many sides as I want. My problem is that everywhere I go, I always want more sides then I am allowed with my meal and I end up paying far too much for my additional sides and of course getting way too ridiculously full. This was my first problem with Smokin' Pete's. I probably spent a good 85% of my time with the menu just trying to figure out how I can get the most sides for the least amount of money. :) I just wanted a taste of everything!

Service is easy at Smokin' Pete's you walk up and order your food and then sit down. The food comes right to you. I ended up with the Pulled Pork Sandwich and a side of Coleslaw. And then I paid for an additional Mac and Cheese, because frankly, I just can't pass up Mac and Cheese anywhere I go. One feature I found very distinctive to Smokin' Pete's is their Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffin. While I was disappointed their honey butter was not quite the honey butter I envisioned (in next review you will see why I am so adamant about this honey butter), it was at least moist and tasty. The Mac and Cheese was Superb and the Coleslaw wasn't anything extraordinary but it was good. The pulled pork had a wonderful smokey flavor, however I did not have anything to rave about after. I think the place might have been hyped up a bit too much for me. The food is great, the portions are insanely large, and overall a great place, I just wasn't completely wowed in any particular way.

Rating: ***.5 (Because it was far better than Casper's but I would not say better than Toulouse Petite)
1918 Northwest 65th Street
Seattle, WA 98117
(206) 783-0454

Speak E-Z's

This review comes far too late...but it still deserves to be written. Speak E-Z's, which is located in Bellingham, WA is actually the place that introduced me to REAL fried chicken. I never thought I would find tasty southern food in Bellingham, but here it is. While some of the items are hit and miss...Speak E-Z's has always had a special place in my heart. It recently had to shut down a few weeks ago because it just wasn't doing that well, which breaks my heart. Especially after getting to know the owners, Rosie and Dennis. They are quite the most unlikely couple, but together they are fantastic. Rosie, short and petite German woman, with curly locks and the cutest accent. Dennis, a tall commanding African American man from Memphis, Tennesee with a jolly smile and personality to match. Together they ran the show: Dennis cooks and Rosie helps serve.

A colorful interior with musical instruments and records decorating the wall, the restaurant definitely has a mom and pop kind of feel to it. I adore it.

My all time favorite meal here is the Fried Chicken, which is just plain fantastic. However, this particular day they were not serving it on their lunch menu. But I never knew how AMAZING fried chicken could be. Haven't been to KFC since. The star menu item for this resturant in my opinion is actually the Jalapeno Cornbread and Honey Butter. AH - I just drool thinking about it. Words can't express how delicious this cornbread is, and the honey butter is homemade. Butter that is actually whipped together with honey! Imagine that...mmm it is to die for. When I would come when my friend Ashley was working, I would always ask for seconds of the cornbread. Just *drool* amazing. Here's a glance at what we had for lunch this day:
I can't remember what this was to be honest (It's from January!) I think it was the braised pork sandwich.

Seafood Gumbo (Sorry I forgot to take a picture when there was actually some soup in there) + Jalapeno Cornbread.

Ashley's favorite- the Pulled Pork Sandwich.

I used to tell people to stop by Speak EZ's...but now that it's gone..all I can say is that it will be sorely missed. :(

Rating: ***.5 (While it wins for personality, comfort, and taste, I didn't find every menu item a hit)
It used to be here!
2400 Meridian Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 714-0606

Monday, March 29, 2010

Let 'em Eat Cake!

Recently, a new acquaintance of mine celebrated his 25th birthday. We kicked off the celebration with a pre-season Sounders game which was nothing less than crazy spectacular fun (even though we lost)! The next day I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the evening and I decided I wanted to bake a cake and surprise my new friend Andy with it.

The reason why I got so excited is because I have a bit of a history with making fantastic cakes (with the help of some fantastic friends) the best ones made with love turn out the greatest. I decided to share these cakes with you because they really are quite fun. Ever seen Ace of Cakes? Well these cakes are QUITE at that level, but they are ALL edible and made with lots of love. :)

The first of these cakes was created for my friend Teego. My friend Maddy and I put together this guitar shaped cake and frosted using eight 9-inch pans of funfetti cake and lots and lots of frosting (we layed the cake out over an unfolded pizza box line with foil). We even used Hershey Kiss's as the "tuning pegs" for the guitar. Teego was moving away from our beloved Bellingham crew so we wanted to wish him well on his journey. It took quite a while to get the frost colors right but we did it!

The next cake is my first home made ice cream cake. Taking some of the knowledge I have after working at Baskin Robbins (my first job in high school), I decided to attempt to make this ice cream cake for Maddy for her birthday. I scooped and packed enough ice cream into a 9-inch pan inched with parchment paper and froze it. Then I baked a single 9 inch cake. After letting it cool and even freezing it for a bit, I put it together with the ice cream after unwrapping the parchment paper. I melted some vanilla ice cream and put it back into the freeze just so it would be thick enough to mold and spread around the cake. In case you ever wondered, that is pretty much what is on those Baskin Robbin's cake. It's called "deco-cake" but it's pretty much just melted vanilla ice cream. At least that's what it tastes like to me. So after I frosted the cake and froze it again, it was ready for some decorating. Since I didn't have an industrial awesome freezer, this didn't turn out totally right, but it was a great first attempt. :)

Pretty soon it was Maddy's turn to move away from Bellingham, and for one of my classes I decided to bring Maddy to "Show and Tell" for "Friendship Day". Part of my interpersonal communications class was to bring a friend who has made a significant impact on your life, share your interpersonal communication style and what you've learned and give them a gift. Most of these gifts ended up being inside jokes for most people...mine..was a pineapple. Maddy knew exactly what that meant and immediately started bawling her eyes out. It was sad and hilariously funny at the same time. But any way, for Friendship day, which was also a potluck, we contributed this Friendship Cake for the class to munch on. Too bad no one ate it because they thought it was too pretty!

After Maddy moved away I took a long break from making cakes...but the need soon nagged at me. When Drew's 21st birthday came around, I decided to make him a special cake. I was especially motivated after I especially failed making a cake for his then roommate Andrew. Andrew is a singer and I wanted to make him a cake in the shape of a musical signature surrounded by notes...but failed. I ended up buying him pie to make up for the loss...but he must have found a place to forgive me at some point because we ended up dating later on and made this beautiful Pikachu cake for Drew. Drew and Andrew were (I'm not sure if they still are) avid Super Smash Brother players. These guys could kick some serious ass at this game. Smashing buttons doesn't work here. But any who - Andrew and I made this cake for Drew in recognition of his smash skills. :) This cake took up a whole cutting board that we took out of the kitchen and wrapped in foil.

I also attempted my first cheesecake later that summer. Now, I am not a cheesecake fan - I find them too rich for my taste, but this recipe I delectable. I doubled the cookie crust amount and it cake out incredible. I highly recommend this White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake to anyone. This was my first attempt and has since then won me 2nd place in a bake off! (Which should've been 1st place...but 1st place went to the cake that had a WSDOT logo on it...if I had remembered it was for a work bake-off, I would've swirled the raspberry syrup into a DOT logo and won!)

While this isn't my best cake, it was still made with love for a special co-worker of mine at the time. I'm not sure what to call it but Courtney's cake!

So this brings us to the current cake. This one comes with a disclaimer because it's not my best work and not everyone "gets it". I do also have to say that I am not a fan of what this cake represents. In fact - I can't stand the game. It's a long story. But any way - Andy and his brother James LOVE beer pong. So...I decided to make them a beer pong cake (which seemed fitting since they were having a beer pong tournament to celebrate their two birthdays. It didn't really turn out how I worked for being an impromptu cake.

I think the best part was the little mini Coors Light and PBR bottles I tried to create. The were cut off muffins with wine corks stuck in them to give them a neck. haha. Even the ping pong ball was edible! The "cups" were just muffins with the tops cut off and addition cake on top to give it sort of a cup shape...but everything sort of ended up being stout and my frosting handwriting was wayyyy off that day. Not sure what happened. I think the frosting was too soft.

Either way - these cakes were too much fun to make. The key trick is to just let the cakes cool long enough before you start cutting and frosting them! I hope this inspires you to make some fantastic cakes for your friends!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Oh I miss you...

Hands down, I could move to Ireland in a heart beat. At the last minute I decided to put together an Irish meal for a few friends...some bailed so there was quite a bit left over...but mmm so good.

First off - I had Beef and Guinness Stew EVERYWHERE in Ireland, I ordered it any place I got a chance to. The above picture is the first I had of it at fantastic pub in Doolin. Next to it is Deep Fried Brie..if you've never had it...I can't even begin to describe how incredble it is..I could probably eat that by the pound...mmm....(View a few pics of the places I went and the food I ate there here)

I got the recipe for tonight's dish off of Food Network. It seems relatively easy enough. I did all my food prepping the night before since I only had a couple hours before dinner once I got off work and needed every minute of it!

After reading the recipe it sounded like it would be incredibly thick, and I just didn't think there would be quite enough Guinness. I also thought it was odd there was no beef broth. So I modified it by adding beef broth, potatoes, and more Guinness. I'm glad I did. It came out perfect. Extra hearty.

In addition to this delicious stew, I made Corned Beef and Cabbage...I browsed a few recipes and then sort of put some together. I bought uncured cook Corned Beef Brisket from Trader Joe's because they were sampling it and it was great. Seemed easy enough. I prepared it with a head of cabbage, applewood smoked bacon (HIGHLY recommended),potatoes, carrots, celery, all purpose seasoning, a little bit of beef broth. Mmmm it was delightful. I've never had corned beef and cabbage but my friends who have said it was very tasty. So that's good.

Last but not least. Beer Bread. A simple mix from Trader Joe's (that they also sampled...) that you just mix with any 12 oz. beer. I first made this for Ben in addition to the homemade chicken noodle soup one day. And I've discovered it tastes much better with a stronger beer. The don't remember what I used the first time but it was a dark beer. This time, I used a Belgian beer (it was all I had until everyone came over with Irish stouts...). Either way - this bread is DELICIOUS! It is incredibly hearty - dense and is crispy flaky on the outside (due to lots of butter you pour on the out side when you make it.

And voila, and Irish meal (I wasn't sure how many people were coming or that I could afford to feed, so I kept this simple). I'd like to try Shepard's Pie sometime...I've heard so much about it but have never eaten it. Sounds tasty.

After dinner we jetted over to Kell's, which is a great secluded Irish pub in Downtown Seattle in an Alley by Pike Place Market. I had never been before, but for a first time visit - I was very pleased. The place was packed (well for a $20 cover - I expect it to be great). Everyone got a free t-shirt - apparently Kell's throws a week long celebration, so I'm glad I was able to experience the heart of it. I was very excited to have some Magner's Irish Cider. Not as great as Bulmer's, but I have yet to find that in the states...I miss it so much. The night quickly evaporated into hours of crazy Irish jigs with a live irish band that was actually from Ireland. Real accents and all. Eamon Maguire, is apparently a famous drum maker in Ireland. I befriended him last night when he tried to set me up with his nephew who was also in the trad group. They were really quite fantastic. It really made me miss day..I'll be back.

Until then - I guess I'll just keep going to Kell's.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tasty triumphs (and half a food fiasco) for weeknight dinners

It's been quite a while...I apologize. But here we go!

I've been on a health food binge lately since I'm training for a half marathon and tryin got make a couple lifestyle changes. This healthy version of a soft taco was really simple, and tasty. I don't believe in coounting calories so if you're already looking for that, just stop. But here are the ingredients (which were all from Trader Joe's by the way)! Try to imagine this folded up (sort of hard to fold it up and take a picture at the same time).

- Corn and Chile Tomato-less salsa

- Whole wheat flatbread (I thought it would be a healthier choice than a flour tortilla)

- Avocado and lettuce

- Ground Turkey sauteed with onions, mushrooms, and taco seasoning (A much better alternative to ground beef)

- No cheese, because I wanted to see what it would be like without it. Normally I would say I always need cheese, but I think the avocado and chile salsa made up for it. It was delish.

Then of course, because I had been eating so well, I ruined it by making a crazy awesome vegetarian lasagna.

Layer one: A tomato basil marinara and spinach
Layer two: I used a homemade cream sauce with sundried tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms
Layer three: The marinara with zucchini, ricotta and carrots
Layer four: More marinara and mushrooms
Topping: A spicy Arrabiatta marinara sauce topped with fontina, asiago, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella cheese (and some basil and oregeno)

Eaten with cream cheese garlic cheese's a good thing I've been running.

I had some crazy times at work and the day all the stress went away I wanted to make something awesome to celebrate.

I wanted to do a teriyaki salmon, but salmon was too expensive. Then I was going to do chicken, but then I noticed the steak was on sale. So that's what I bought instead. And then I just sort of threw together what I thought would sound good. I marinated the steak cubes with some oil, rice vinegar and black pepper. Then I sauteed some onions and mushrooms. Heated up some honey, mixed it with some soy sauce and sugar, and threw in the steak and cooked it all up. What went wrong was that the steak overcooked and ended up being too tough, and I think some pineapple would've been really good. I threw in some green onions which were definitely a good choice. Sesame seeds probably would've been good too. But oh well. Not bad for a cheap meal - and a good learning experience.

My favorite part was the chicken rice. Which is my mom's recipe. I cooked regular white rice with chicken broth instead of water and tossed in some deep fried onion bits when it was ready. Mmmm it smells fantastic and I highly recommend it. Usually really good with other chicken dishes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chuc Mung Nam Moi & Kung Hei Fat Choi!

That is to say...Happy New Year in Vietnamese and Chinese (my two heritages). This entry comes about a week too late...but I figured better late than never.

February 14 was Chinese New Year this year...if you want to learn more about how this is the Year of the Tiger, I'm sure you can Google it. There are plenty of amusing sites out there with all the same superstitions and stipulations that my mom still keeps very much alive to this day.

Any way - this is hands down my favorite holiday (that is - until the day I get married). It's all about food..and receiving "lucky money". Lucky money is money in special red envelopes that "adults" give to "kids" to share their wealth and hope to bestow upon them some luck as well as some luck for themselves. At least that's my understanding of it. I wouldn't totally trust myself since I am pretty much a banana/twinkie, whatever you want to call me. So the day I get married is the day I'm considered an "adult" which is fine by me, because this makes up for the lame taxes I have to pay after college!

I thought I would share some highlights from my Chinese New Year..because ooohhhh so good.

My mommy's slightly modified version of a Beef Chow Fun. She's still using rice noodles, they are just in little funny shapes. It reminds me of asian noodles trying to be Italian and bite size.

Mmmmm so delish! It's greasy but so good. And that's what tea is for right? (My mom always says that jasmine tea is supposed to help "melt" the grease away)

This is my mom's modified version of Drunken Noodles, or Pud Kee Mao...depending on what Thai restuarant you go to. It's a blend of rice noodles, garlic, basil, onions, bell peppers, egg, beef, and lots of sauces and spices. Mmmmmm...

So on Chinese New Year's Eve, my mom makes a bunch of food, and we offer it our ancestors as a prayer sort of thing. We're not allowed to eat it until we've finished praying multiple times, and it's very difficult with so much delicous smelling food! And yes...that is a whole chicken with the head still on. My mom says that things are meant to be whole on Chinese New Year, like we can't cut things off or it's bad luck. I'm not really sure where this superstition comes from but she also won't cut hair or sweep the house or do laundry on the day of the new year and for 3 days following. I'm not sure why really...I just do what she says.

The table is set!

On the day of Chinese New Year, my mom and I went to a temple some close family friends own and started a long morning of cooking...lots of lots of food. Those noodles aren't even all the noodles we used!

Lots of food preparations underway...

Deep frying delicous-ness and my mom's sweet sticky rice w/ taro and sesame seeds.

Kevin cookin' up a storm! Mmm chow mein!

Mixed veggies...on the day of New Year's we're not allowed to eat meat...not sure why other than you're just not supposed to.

Then the chinese dragons came out! Traditionally, these dragon dances are done at all temples to bring the temple good luck in the coming year.

Apparently the dragon eats lettuce and throws it into the temple. My dad says it's for good luck. Apparently anything you do for this day is all about luck. So back to food...

Well I guess there isn't much else to show. We continued to cook and cook and cook. It was a wonderful morning/afternoon.