>Wordless Wednesday 4.13. 11

April 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

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>Wordless Wednesday 02.16.11

February 16, 2011 § 14 Comments

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Place your hands on your forehead for clarity of thought,
On your mouth for clarity of speech,
and on your heart for clarity of action,
Letting your light shine through the things you’re thinking, saying, and doing.
Namaste.

>Fluffy Ube Pancakes (and the Winner to My Giveaway)

February 6, 2011 § 40 Comments

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I love ube. I love it so much that in the past I’ve requested ube cake for my birthday and whenever I see anything ube flavored I will buy it. Going to the Philippines a few weeks ago, I was in heaven. I didn’t bring back any souvenirs for myself, other than a couple food items that can be hard to find here in the states. One item was a container of ube jam that I picked up from Good Shepherd Convent. We were visiting the beautiful city of Tagaytay, and knowing of my affinity for this purple tuber my cousin navigated us to the convent, which is known for their ube jam.

In Tagaytay with Taal Volcano in the background

I have a couple things in mind I’d like to make with the jam, but this weekend I was craving some pancakes and thought it would be interesting to experiment and see how ube pancakes would turn out. My initial thought was to make something similar to a sweet potato pancake, or even a pumpkin pancake, but after I thought about it some more I realized that the texture was just like peanut butter. I found a peanut butter pancake recipe that was perfect – I could easily swap out the peanut butter with the jam. I also switched out the milk with coconut milk to capture the essence of macapuno, which is also a popular ingredient in filipino sweets. I was really really happy with the results. The pancakes were light, fluffy, moist, and the flavor of the ube really shined through. If you are able to get some ube jam I would definitely recommend that you try them!

Also…. My bad, I completely spaced on announcing the winner of my CSN giveaway last week. Twice. The winner is: Raina of The Garden of Yum. Congratulations on your $45 gift certificate to CSN. 
Ube Pancakes, original recipe – Peanut Butter Pancakes
My substitutions:
Replace the peanut butter with ube jam
Substitute the egg with 3 tbsp egg white (this was all I had available)
Substitute the milk with light coconut milk
Use only one tbsp canola oil (you can probably omit all together – I plan to next time)

>Dark Chocolate Pretzels and a Historic Snow Storm

December 20, 2010 § 40 Comments

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I looked to my left and stopped in my tracks. Finally, I found Mammoth’s igloo. No matter that we were on our way to the lift, I ran over and inside. I had never been in an igloo before. There were two entrances but because of the amount of snow that had fallen over the past two days really only one was accessible. We giggled like little kids and snapped a few photos before coming back out and hitting the slope (only one was open due to the inclement weather). It was a light-hearted day – how could it not be when only one lift is running at each lodge with snow so thick you can barely walk? There were snowball fights and people riding around on their snowboards like they were sleds. And there were snow angels, oh yes. We were just happy to be there, in the snow.

(Click photos to enlarge)
This weekend was historic in terms of snow fall – this is the snowiest December since 1969 with 8.5 feet to 12.5 feet of snowfall (depending on where on the mountain you are) in the past few days. The snow just kept falling falling falling – and is expected to continue doing so over the upcoming days. I feel lucky to have experienced it first hand as I know that this weekend will stand out among the others for a very long time. Most others wouldn’t agree but to me this weekend was pure bliss.

It was still early when we got in line – everyone else in town was probably still in bed. Even with only one lift running, a beginner lift at that, we knew we were in for a good one. I felt giddy with excitement as I strapped in, like a child waking up to celebrate her birthday at Disneyland – thinking back on it now, I still get butterflies of excitement. We loaded the chair and as we ascended above the ground we started pointing and cracking up. We couldn’t believe our eyes. There was so so so much new snow that there were people stuck everywhere. We made it down without too much trouble, and went up for a second go. This time, in addition to people being stuck in the snow there were groups of people unstrapping and hiking back down.

Every season, there is a run so perfect that gets ingrained into our minds. It’s one that you only need to start talking about and even before you mention it, everyone who was there already knows what you’re about to say. “Hey, remember that one run last year – ” “YES!!! It was amazing.” This season’s happened yesterday. It’s still early in the season with this being only our second trip but as soon as we cut over to take a run of untouched snow that had been dumped on, I knew that this was the dragon we will be chasing through the rest of the season. Simply put – amazing. Even with the storm being a heavy one, there was enough new snow on a hill steep enough to keep us from getting too stuck… it was like there were creamy clouds under our feet as we floated right over them.

The drive home, naturally, was a treacherous one and I’m glad that we all made it home safe and sound. I made these dark chocolate pretzels after settling back in at home. I plan on wrapping them up and giving them to co-workers. They’re quite easy to make – just place Hershey’s Kisses on pretzels and stick in an oven pre-heated to 325 for two minutes (just long enough for the kisses to soften), and then place M&Ms on top. These are special treats that were born on a very special day for me. I find them to be simple, sweet, and charming. I hope you do too.

>Miso Ramen As Winter Says Hello Again

December 15, 2010 § 31 Comments

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When he walked away in a huff after picking up his mat and slapping it back down in another spot, I expected him to look back and laugh. But he didn’t – he walked right out of the room and the girls sitting near him had looks of bewilderment on their faces. When he walked back in, he stood over his mat thinking for a moment before picking it up again and moving two more times. In the end he settled on a lone spot in the very front of the room. It was all very aggressive. I’m not sure what happened but my guess it that his “space” was shrinking as the class began to fill up. It reminded me of a photo I snapped recently (below) as I entered the freeway for my commute home.

Downtown LA traffic – It’s been really bad lately

Sometimes, life hands us lemons… in LA, life often hands us traffic, but we learn to deal with it. In yoga, often we end up very close to our neighbors – I’ve even been in classes where my mat will overlap with those in front of and behind me. Most of us learn how to share and be happy with the space that is given to us. We remind ourselves that it is a choice to be present.

I remember one class where a lady became upset with me because I had put my mat too close to hers. She began to argue with me – I began to get confused, knowing that it was a class that always filled up. The teacher noticed and stepped in, and the lady ended up picking up her mat and leaving. After class when I thanked the teacher for stepping in, she said she didn’t want that kind of energy in her class anyways. It made me feel better and it was at that instant I truly learned how important it is to share and be selfless in class.

I made this ramen when I got home from class last night. It was perfect as Winter is peeking in her head to say hello again – I hesitate to say that Winter is here to stay because I’ve already said that a couple times. Ramen is such a hearty and quick meal to put together; I believe it warms the soul. My measurements aren’t exact so adjust according to taste…
Miso Ramen:
5 cups Konbu Shiitake Stock (Recipe below)
3 heaping tablespoons of miso paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 packages of fresh ramen (about 3 cups, I believe)
Assorted toppings (I used shiitake, fish cake, enoki mushrooms, baby corn, and peas)
Bring Konbu Shiitake stock to a boil. In another small pot filled halfway with water, bring to boiling lightly. Add the ramen noodles and let heat through – they are already cooked so it won’t take much time. Remove the noodles and place in a big bowl for serving. Begin to heat the toppings one by one in the small pot, and and as they are heated, remove from the pot and place somewhere they can stay warm. At this point, add the miso paste to the simmering konbu shiitake stock one tablespoon at a time, and mix so that it is evenly distributed. After the toppings are ready, ladle the hot broth on top of the ramen noodles and place the toppings on top.
Konbu Shiitake Stock:
5 cups water
1 piece konbu (about 3″ by 3″)
3 cloves of crushed garlic
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
Add all the ingredients to a pot and let soak for at least one hour (I let it soak while I was at yoga). Remove the konbu before using the stock. The shiitake mushrooms can be used after they are reconstituted in water, but be sure to remove the stems and slice them up. 

>Merry Arfmas – Dog Biscuits, Two Kinds

December 9, 2010 § 22 Comments

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Pulling out of my parking garage I knew instantly that it would be a trek getting to the restaurant. Cars were backed all the way up my street, meaning it would take a good ten minutes just to get to the freeway (less than a mile away). I glanced down at my navigation, which estimated the travel time as 1 hour, 25 minutes – my heart sank. Even for LA standards this is really bad. Peace, peace, peace – I reminded myself of my theme from the weekend (see previous entry) and tried to calm myself. Inching along the freeway, I felt my chest tighten – thought about throwing a temper tantrum and turning around to go back home, but I had biscuits and gifts to deliver. Breathe

Drive time – 1 hour and 15 minutes. Ten minutes quicker than estimated, but still about 45 minutes longer than necessary. It was well worth it though, to see six smiling and beautiful faces when I walked in – including one glowing mom-to-be with a due date of Christmas (yes friends, she is full term and still made it out to dinner. And I’m complaining about traffic?). Dinner with girlfriends – it’s good for the soul. I was instantly comforted as I settled in and started catching up and jumping in on the random conversations.

I got the idea from one of my friends. Last year, he didn’t know what to get me for my birthday so he got Nala a bag full of toys and treats. I remember how excited I was over this gift, and thought about how pet owners enjoy receiving gifts for their pets more than they do to receive gifts for themselves. This year, I wanted to be a little creative for Christmas gifts, so I baked up two batches of dog treats to give to my friends. My friends were all excited to receive these treats, and I think I can say that the dogs were too? Look how good they are though, patiently waiting for the go ahead to eat their biscuits.

[[On a side note, I wanted to mention the one moment of clear calmness I felt on the drive over to dinner – I switched over to KDAY and Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. followed by Method Man’s What the Bloodclot began to play. I know, not peaceful songs in the least, nor are they a very “me” songs, but it brought me back to high school and I found myself completely at ease. It’s amazing how a bit of nostalgia – no matter how random – can be so comforting, yes?]]

Natalie’s Dog Barney (as in Barney Stinson. Legen – wait for it – dary!)
Katie’s pups, Bella, Hapa, and Darla
Angie’s bulldog, Cia
Tanantha’s (of I Just Love My Apron) baby, Bella

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits (Inspiration: Allrecipes):
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tbsp natural peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350. In a stand mixer combine all the ingredients and mix until it comes together as a workable dough. Roll out onto a floured surface about 1/2 inch think, and cut either into pieces or using a cookie cutter. Place onto prepared baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the treats are hard.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups hot water
Follow the instructions above for the peanut butter pumpkin biscuits.

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