Monday, August 27, 2012

Asian Pahtee w/ da Kimchi Quinoa Again

I forgot to take pictures because I left my camera in the pimp cavern last night. :(
But it's okay because I just made kimchi with quinoa again.

Only this time I melted daiyi cheese in it, which made it nice and sticky. Honestly, I can do with or without though.

BUT I added SIRACHA SAUCE, which is basically like, allthatisgoodintheworld mixed together in a plastic bottle. I have a theory that absolutely anything tastes good in siracha sauce, even poo! Even satan's ovaries! Even cucumbers?  <--Okay sorry, that was taking it TOO far.

I did forget the egg on top though, oops.

It's because I was preoccupied cooking for me and two (ridiculously tall) boys. Karl and Eric, two very long-time family friends, came over the other day to have lunch with me. Karl and I see each other around campus pretty often. Eric is an incoming freshman, and I have to say, seeing him on campus is WEIRD.

I mean, I've known this kid since I was 7. I would post some sort of photographic evidence but we've known each other before I even had my own camera and laptop.

But to give you a mental image, on one of our family vacations we spent the ENTIRE week listening to my Nsync CD in my dad's mustang. It's how I know all the lyrics to every song to this day.

Anyway, I like to think of this as my first baby Azuhn Pahtee. Which is fitting since Asian dinner parties was essentially the only medium through which the three of us hung out in the first place. Way back when.

I was anxious to make sure everyone was well (and constantly) fed, because my issue in cooking has always been predicting how much food is enough to feed X amount of people. It also disturbingly reminds me a little too much like my mother, and all other generations of Asian mom. Sigh. Woe zee hypocrite is me, I hope I don't make my future daughter fat.

I'd Make a Sandwich for *Her*

Due to a whirlwind of rapidly changing events, it has been officially decided that the Cousin is staying an extra year in the bay area before going back to MIT, with MOI! Yay!

Although she is still apartment hunting and transitioning, I've been seeing a lot of her around lately, which is always the bees knees. And from now until Wednesday, she will be crashing in my apartment before taking a short trip back to Houston. 

Thankfully, school isn't deathly intense yet (whew), so we have time to enjoy each other's company. If there is anything better than JenJennyTime, it's JenJennyTime in Cali. Freals.

Nowadays I can't even distinguish whether we are cousins or seestars. 


So I made her a sandwich.

Sandwich = Love. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Day of School but Reminiscent Basic Salad

I made my first real "official" meal in my apartment today! After a very hectic couple of days moving in, spending soul-sucking amounts of money, catching up with friends, figuring out scheduling and trying to fall back into the routine that is school, I finally found a chance to actually cook. In my kitchen. My new, beautiful kitchen. Full of fresh groceries. Oh the possibilities!
After a summer of preparation. Of mistakes and lecturing, criticisms and successes, the time had come. What do I finally decide to debut the start of my independent era of cooking with?

Drum roll....
Wait for it....



Except, it wasn't even out of laziness or time-crunching. No 10 page papers due or piles of midterms that need to be crammed for (yet) (yikes) (fudge). And my fridge is full of enough ingredients to give me many more options. Honestly, real talk, home girl just wanted salad. Specifically, my HSPH salads that I would eat for lunch every day.

But I miss the girl I ate salad every day with more than the salad itself. :(

Here is my attempted replication

Sometimes I ain't too hard to please.

This salad consisted of mixed greens (courtesy of BERKELEY BOWL woot woot. I feel like a true Berklian now), cut up carrots, red onion with soy cheese and raisins.

Then for dressing I tried a mixture suggested by one of my lovely friends, who has been a major inspiration and support in my newly embarked vegetarian/culinary adventure. She is actually also extremely into nutritional sciences and personal health, and so is essentially a great role model for me. For a visual, think Alice Waters with an Amelie face.

ANYWAYS, she told me she likes mixing olive oil, balsamic vinegar with a touch of honey. And I can't say I disagree. While not MIND-BLOWING-ZOMG-WHAT, the mixture together was tasty. I think the olive oil I bought is a lot stronger in flavor than the one I am used to from home/HSPH, but I still like that olive oil taste nonetheless.

Despite the, arguably anti-climactic dish, it nonetheless marks the beginning of my student-cooking life. It's like, before this was all just the build up and now I'm finally at the actual Beginning. Did that make sense?

Difficulty: 1
Willingness to make again: 10
Over-all: 7
Topped it off with a greek yogurt+honey dessert. Obsessed!

All in all, school is just, school. It hasn't really started yet since it has only been two days. But already I have been surrounded by all my good friends and can see a very memorable (and stroke-inducing stressful) semester ahead that I await with open arms.  (minus draining my soul in the library).  If there is anything I have learned at my time here it is that you can't expect anything but the unexpected. To junior year, OPPPAAAA~ 

The Weird Yogurt Grain Dish and Lettuce Wrap Encore


yippeeeee aye yaaaayyyyyy~!~!!!!~!

This fish is finally back in its natural waters, in the land of the sunny, the beautiful and the green. It feels so good to be home!

School is starting in a little more than a week (!!!), but at the moment I've been spending more time with the Cousin in Palo Alto (AKA: middle of no where) and San Fran! It has already been a great two days. I'll be returning to home home, (AKA: BERKELEY!) today, and moving into my new apartment this coming weekend. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

But while in Palo Alto, the Cousin and I decided to cook dinner for one of her friends that she introduced me to, who is just as fabulous as she talked him up to be. It was a night of good food, good wine and great company. Perrrrrrrfection! I wish it could be summer forever.

reunited! yay! 

ohey remember me?

For dinner, it was up to me to plan our menu for the night. I went with the lettuce wraps as our safe option, since we both made it before and knew it would taste good (and this time we added toasted peanuts, and it was AWESOME) and then this weird grain dish I discovered on a blog for our more adventurous palettes.


In theory, each aspect of the recipe is pretty normal by itself. We have our usual stir fry, with some grains, and then a greek yogurt topping. It's when you put all of it together and throw it in the oven that things get a little more, iiiiinteresting.

Difficulty: 6 (lots of steps: cutting, cooking rice, stir frying everything, making yogurt sauce, then baking)
Willingness to make again: 3 (special occasions probably/not very college suitable)
Over-all: 6.5
1) Long bake time
2) We opted out of parmesan cheese, but I wonder how it would have tasted if we kept that in
3) MORE yogurt sauce

It is crazy to think that from here on out I'll be cooking in my own kitchen, while balancing student life again! Time seriously cannot go by any faster. It'll be interesting to see how this blog fits into my normal academic routine in these next coming weeks.

Until then, I'll be enjoying what I have of this California summer before school starts again. I'll be the girl outside with the wine glass in hand, skipping around without her shoes on and wearing a big goofy smile on her face because she is so happy to be back! Wippeeee!!!!

Choco-Cran-Maple Rice Krispies

What. Just. Happened?

Is this how J.K Rowling felt, when she realized she had created a series that would define a generation? Or how Flemming felt, after accidentally discovering vaccination, thereby creating one of the greatest contributions to science and man-kind?

Because the entire time, the only thing going through my mind is, is this real life. 

But like, actually, can chocolate frosting, rice krispies, cranberries, and maple syrup constitute real life?

Either I am an absolute genius, or my stupidity transcends the realm of this reality and into the unknown.

And now to end my build up of suspense and set the stage for what it is I am talking about:

11:00 PM. La cocina de Jennifer.
I start baking a cake for a friend's birthday. For this, I realized I would need lots and lots of frosting, which I created by using all of the cream cheese I had left in the house. I figured in the case of chocolate cream cheese frosting, more, not less, is definitely more. Catch my drift?

Fast forward 3 hours. It's 2 am. I have a beautiful chocolate cake cooling down on the counter, and half a bowl of un-used chocolate frosting. I am physically weary, but emotionally high on the success of my cake. I am the baking queen.

So what to do with this frosting? Leave it here, and figure it out the next day? Somehow my newly invigorated baking senses would not let this be so. What about another batch of cupcakes? But that had already been done before, and somehow my arteries would not let that be so.

Then my mind snagged on an idea. A crazy, completely random idea, born out of complete thoughtlessness and tiredness that is only achieved at 2 am. My hand reaches for the bag of rice krispies...I pour the bag into the frosting bowl...and the rest, as they say, is history.

^ruh roh. so much left over frosting!

Chocolate rice krispies. Why not? That's not so outside-the-box, is it? By this point I am completely uninhibited by the typical worries and restraints that plague us on a daily basis. I'm purely a possessed, sleep deprived creator.


2:30 AM: I have mixed all my rice krispies in with the chocolate frosting, with my hands. But even that isn't enough. I add some cranberries, for extra texture and extra sourness. Pour in maple syrup, to give it another flavor and cohesiveness. Genius, my friends, Geeeeeeenius. Queue in singing of zee angels.





I used my cupcake pan so that my "krispie treats" would solidify, and finalized my creations with a dollop of whip on top. Ta-daaaaaaa! I know, right? IS THIS REAL LIFE!?


Epilogue: the next day the treats taste pretty great. The krispies were not as crunchy because they were covered in chocolate all night, and they got a teeny bit crumbly, although you were able to eat them out of the pan. I thought these tasted awesome, especially considering it was a spontaneous-2-am-experiment-pulled-out-of-the-butt kind of thing. Ya'know, EN-BEE-DEE.

In the aftermath, I still am not quite sure what it is exactly I created. Some type of hybrid, choco-cran-maple-rice krispy of some sort. Ha, that sounds like the name of my future indie band. Try saying that 3 times fast.

And in conclusion, these are definitely one of the funnest creations I have made to date!

Difficulty: 1?
Willingness to make again: 0/ N/A: even though these were awesome, it was only in a spontaneous kind of way. Honestly, these treats aren't something I plan on adding to my daily menu of sustenance.
Over-all: 7, but *10 for spontaneity and improvisation greatness.

Fail Happy Birthday Alex Cake

I am not going to elaborate much, but I made a cake.

A classic



With a ishton of chocolate cream cheese frosting

That never got delivered to its intended owner.

Because I suck, that's why.

So I left it at home for my parents to eat, I hope they liked it.

At least it was fun to make, so I figured I would at least post it on my cooking blog.

Since I did cook it, after all.

Even if I didn't try any.

That is all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Precursor Goodbyes w/ Baby Cheesecakes: Plain and Jelly

I cannot believe it is already my last week in Boston. This summer could not have gone by any faster. If life keeps going at this rate, I'll be seeing gray hairs before I know it (all the more reason for yolo-fish? I think YES). As summer reaches an end, I am feeling that familiar ambivalence of being sad and excited. I'm sad that I am going to be finding myself spending many hours in the library again. Being stressed out. Trying not to fail school/have an aneurysm. And the beginning of the year always means buying books, trying to get into wait listed classes, and just in general all things not fun.

At the same time, the beginning of the year means reuniting with friends, back-to-school parties and being back in California. And I'll be living much closer to all my friends, and can cook for them! These are things that excite me. I am also a semester (only one semester!) away from studying abroad, which really really excites me.

Again, it is a back and forth feeling. Being away from school for so long always makes it feel like a foreign entity that I am going back to, now that I'm accustomed to my working-life routine here. But I know that, within 48 hours back in Berkeley, it will be like I never left at all.

The saddest part about leaving is always saying good bye, and in this circumstance it is no different. I am notoriously bad at saying good byes, bringing with it my very classic Jennifer-awkwardness. All the friends that I have met this summer have been so incredibly fabulous to me, I only wish I could pack them in my suitcase and bring them to school with me. They will just have to be my home away from home I suppose.

One more notable good bye I have to make though is with my parents. And despite the jokes, and even the rough patches we face, I love no one in the world more than them. So each good bye I make with them is always taken a little bitterly.

Which is why this week I decided to sweeten it up with some cheesecake, since it is the Mom's favorite thing to eat. (I used the yogurt cup recipe from last time)

First, I tried to make a plain one with a lemon spread on top. Let me just show you how that went:

uhhh, what? Filtering out butter chunks that refused to melt? Oh jeez...

Err, yeah. I think that is burned.

Who knew it was possible to burn lemon curd? I didn't. Until now.

I don't think I need to elaborate much further except to say that it didn't go as planned, and we just had our cheesecake plain.

We were so impatient to eat it that we didn't let it refrigerate for long enough, but it was still yums.

I also forgot to put oil in the crust so it was really hard, oops.

This cheesecake was just a big hot ishfest.

Then I decided to make a cheesecake and try my hand at mah-belling. Marbeling jelly looks so. cool and I figured if I can frost cupcakes, then this would be a piece of cake (pun thoroughly intended and enjoyed). 

Turns out marbeling isn't as easy as it looks. 

Only afterwards did I realize I could have just youtube-ed how to do it. time!

At least I remembered to add oil and made a normal crust.

To solve the problem of impatience, I put the cakes in the freezer first, then took them out an hour or so later and refrigerated them. By the time women's gymnastics was on the Olympics, these cakes were ready to be eaten. Which was perfect, because I definitely needed something to munch on to counteract the intense drama that is women's gymnastics (and the terribleness that is NBC commentators).

In the end, I hope the Mom sees these cheesecakes as my way of saying, it ain't that easy saying good bye.
post baked...this didn't look that pretty

But after refrigeration it still tasted REALLY good and formed quite well. You will just have to trust me on this one.