Welcome to My Blog!

A Sweet Moment, Wedding in the Redwood Forest

Things I love: Peonies ...

Fresh Peonies: Classy, Elegant and With Fresh Dew Drops

... And Photographing Children

Each with his/her own unique energy


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Highline and Brownie Browns

I took some pictures this weekend - I finally checked out the newly opened Highline Park and also baked some triple chocolate brownies on Sunday. Highline was a bit touristy (not surprisingly, I went on a weekend with nice weather), with a very metallic and industrial feel. I only spent 15-20 mins there but managed to snap a few shots. The brownies were sweet, and made use of four types of chocolate.

Here is the photo update:

Pocket Cam Collage Series
Views from Highline Park
Empire State in the Center But Might Not be Subject
Upper Deck Parking

Blue Reflective Self Portrait
Davis' Cookies
Brownies Still Cook While They Cool
Brownie Browns Baking Partner

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

Thursday night ... what else to do than to bake blueberry ricotta muffins? I was surprised by how fast I worked and how I'm starting to measure less and less. Some interesting key ingredients that I added in the batter: buttermilk, ricotta cheese and fresh blueberries.

Preparations and Finished Product

Stud Muffins

I also gave two muffins to my neighbor, but her parents accepted them because she was still at work (I met them while waiting for the elevator). Her parents are visiting from Australia, and because of my baked goods gift, they've offered to treat me to a home-cooked lunch Saturday. :-)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Packing in Last Bit of Sarah Time

The weekend seemed busy ... I didnt sleep that much, but yet didnt do that much either. It consisted of three things: work, eat and a lil exercise. Oh I did get another 2nd degree burn. Oops.

It's Sarah's last weekend in the city before she takes off to visit family, travel for fun and head to school. And so we packed in a few last minute activities: Friday (baked apple tarts, ate 3 dinners (rice and vegetables, lasagna and Lombardi's pizza) and Saturday (good bye dinner with feta watermelon salad, goat cheese portobellos, Quinoa and tomatoes cooked in broth, spanakopita and finally, honey Greek yogurt with strawberries and mangoes (I thought of this as an easy dessert on the subway)!

Some Friday Food: Curry Vegetables, Lasagna and a Pair of Punchy Cherries
Pre-Bake with a Y in the Center

Post-Bake With Flakiness

Enroute to Lombardi's: A Self Portrait

Sarah in Playground - While Waiting for a Table at Lombardi's

Saturday night dinner was particularly fun - I cooked with SEH. The food turned out great and the random conversation better. Throughout the evening, I learned Obama killed a fly during an interview, dangers of airplanes tempature sensors and bacteria needed for Vitamin K. Oh and my panna cotta also turned out to be a hit. Excellent! On my way home though late Saturday night, reality struck ... I'm going to miss her.

More Pics below.

Spanakopita - Someone Put a Recipe in Front of me Friday Night

Watermelon Feta

SEH's Last Minute Decision to Stuff Portobellos
Fruit Finely Chopped for Greek Yogurt w Honey Dessert
After Dinner Tea

Peonies from Whole Foods

A Father Who is Strong and Sensible

Happy Father's Day!

I just spoke to Old Bean and thought I'd write a few words about him today. I wont focus on the more amusing stories about mental math quizzes (buying refrigerators & trolls), telling me to take out the trash during Hurricane Bob, or even the rake chasing incident ...

My father is someone great - he has confidence, skill in the most specialized tasks (automotive/carpentry) and a kind heart (random acts of kindness). And for better more than for worse, I've inherited his appetite (he eats more than anyone I know - ate six of my cupcakes during Tksgiving) and his odd sense of humor.

Silhouette of Us in Early 90s

Good Sport Dad Who Cross-Stitched and Went on Banana Boats!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Little Italian Night

I decided to make risotto yet again ... this time with chicken sausage (there was a sale at my neighborhood Morton's - and I very rarely go there). Last night I slowly cooked some risotto while doing laundry to maximize efficiency:

I've been wanting to make panna cotta for quite some time; when I realized I had all the ingredients already at home, the decision to make became a no brainer. Panna cotta is my favorite dessert, it's like the Italian version of Mexican flan, Spanish crema Catalana, or even untorched French creme brulee.

There was a lot more panna cotta made than the two displayed above in the C&B glasses (purchased from Housing Works!) ... but they werent as presentable as they were made in Rubbermaid StainShield tupperware.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Some Sunday Things

Continuation of Project Apt ...

My Home Style II (L-R, Top to Bottom): Jewelry in Scotch Glass; Necklaces in Tea Cup; EBIT and Snoops; Golden Pig; Polka Dotted Sash on Chair; Modern Rug; Yellow Book End on Floor; Graduation Precious Moment; Colored Pillows in a Row

Sunday morning started a bit late - After Corpus Christi, I headed over to help Sarah prepare for her work bakeoff (required ingredient: strawberries - how versatile!) around noon. Despite my creative suggestions: strawberry & banana muffins with cinnamon, strawberry tart with fresh mint, strawberry buttercream macaroons, strawberry brownie cupcakes, or strawberry white chocolate cookies, she opted for something a tad less labor intensive -

Strawberry Muffin Shaped Biscuits Baked in Muffin Cups on a Pizza Stone

I was also surprised (and unsurprised) to learn that she carries fresh vanilla bean from Costa Rica in her bag ...

Surgically and Skillfully (with focus) Removing Vanilla Bean from Costa Rica

We started lasagna preparations and I learned that giving tomatoes a cold bath deskins them. I also learned that the black part right under the cap of the mushrooms is an indication of freshness. Later after chatting with Jaimin about the best inventions in the last 25 years (internet, mobile communication), I decided to take a walk around his LES neighborhood.

A Black Blurry Car Reflected on a Flower Mirror on a Residential Door

Beer Bottles Shaped Like Maple Syrup Bottles at Whole Foods

Super Deluxe - A Graffiti-zed Sesame Street Like Building

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday Morning at Home

Over the past week, I've been trying to clean up my apartment because it's been messy for too long. A week later, and after getting rid of some things, I realize how much work it is to paint and am not sure if it is worth the effort.

I've been scrounging online for various pieces to refresh the look in my apartment but havent come up with much that would work. This morning after sleeping in and making lavender cupcakes, I decided to photograph some items in my apartment that I like - and in doing so, I notice there are many things that are placed just the way I like. When the apt is photo-friendly, I will post pictures as part of a series, Project Apt ...

On a different note, my lavender cupcakes turned out fine ... although there was a minor frosting glitch which turned some cupcakes into two-tones (look at the pretty rose below). The cake portion was super light and fluffy bc I beat the egg whites to a peaky foam. I also made last night almond gelatin with strawberries. And I was a lil amused by how I got a discount with the fruit vendor after unintentionally making a bummy face!

Lavender Cupcakes

Almond and Strawberries in a Rose Silicone Mold

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Icarus and Bruegel

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

This morning was not so good. I woke up, decided not to exercise (out of sheer sleepiness) and received an email that I had made some faulty error (work). Already not a good start.

Moments later, I looked down at my hands and arms and realized they were blue from last night - I had oil painted on canvas a blue sailboat in blue waters against a blue sky.
En route to work after being delayed by emotions and events, I got stuck in the elevator at South Park.
Cross-town traffic in a cab sucked so much I could have ran to work faster, and I arrived to work late to start the day.

When negative things like the above happen and I blow them out of proportion, I think about Bruegel's well lit painting of Icarus drowning - and reflect how so many (negative) things that seem so great are indeed trivial ... and life goes on.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bud's Birthday (in September)

Bud in Elementary School, My First Experimentation with B&W Film

Random Thought of the Day - I was talking to Bud today and learned that he shares a birthday with Horatio Nelson (in September), one of the greatest admirals in history ...

Not to be confused with Horatio Nelson Jackson the first man to drive across the country with the bare minimum (tools, clothes, pistol, etc.). I learned about the latter through my dad who had watched a documentary piece, and we had all questioned his story thinking there was only one famous Horatio Nelson. Guess Old Bean was right!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bake-ful Weekend

Preview: A Collage of Weekend Food

Some food quotes from the week: 
- "Living with u would make me fat" (Jenny)
- "I got u a kitchen aid slotted turner for cooking. It is non-stick and can sustain up to 450°" (Mom)

The weekend was busy, fun and sunny: I cooked, exercised, grocery shopped at several (5) places, worked and met up with a lot of people.  I even tried out Le Pain Quotiden on 65th and liked their fresh mint tea ...

Saturday morning after a quick stop at my neighbor, Whole Foods, I trekked to Washington Heights to visit Erika at her new apartment.  Her apt is a nice find: it’s near a Key Foods, in a great building and is pretty spacious.  While her belongings are still in the process of finding their own places, my favorite room in her apt is the kitchen; with yellow walls and plenty of natural light, it’s no wonder she cooks so much more now.  We made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting drizzled with super finely chopped walnuts and lemon zest (that’s CC CC).  Thanks also for watching the two minute youtube I sent over on frosting cupcakes with spatula.

Light on an Herb Garden in a Stage-Like Living Room

Holding Up Malnutritioned Cupcake #13 (note: recipe called for 12)

Unfrosted & Frosted CCCC on Professional Cooling Rack

Sunday brunch and bakeover was more food.  Davis and Sarah brought competing bowls of pico de gallo, and we enjoyed it with blue corn tortilla chips.  If had more portion control, I would have enough leftovers to make and eat bruschetta for an entire week.  Davis also brought seasoned  fries with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Meanwhile JP and I worked away in the kitchen and baked in the oven at 350° mango macadamia nut bread and a raspberry lime sheet cake (with silken tofu). 

(L-R, Top to  Bottom): Risen Banana Bread; A Slice of Bread; Raspberry Lime Sheet Cake; Large Piece Divided Up into Threes

And even though I  was quite full from all the baked goods, I made a quick dinner (my chicken had been marinating since 10am!):

Mango Salsa
Marinated Chicken with Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Vegetarian Dinner on a Weeknight

Had a friends dinner last night, and again, Sarah cooked for us. She came up with a Caribbean themed meal, which was a bit of a surprise given her initial cryptic email telling us what ingredients she needed (i.e. okra, mustard seeds, dried coconut, banana, milk, ice cream, cilantro, rice, etc.). The main dishes of the night were spiced kidney beans, lightly pan-cooked okra/squash, coconut rice and banana milkshake (I got to make this!).

One lil mishap was when salt accidentally fell into the [~5] lb pot of kidney beans, but we werent to fear, we had JP there to spice it back to a salty perfection. After the vegetarian din, I think I will make meatballs and mashed potatoes (with scallions for dinner tonight).

(L-R, Top to Bottom): Some addt'l (accdt'l) salt fell on kidney beans; cooked okra and squash; freshly chopped pentagonal okra; ingredients for a banana milkshake

Bright Fruit (taken by request), Whatever a Lemon Can Do a Lime Can Do Better

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Painting Project Survey Says

After finally getting a hold of the renewal/leasing office, I renegotiated down my monthly rent … and decided to stay. I told a sad story (who needs comps) and was able to get a price reduction of ~26%, which is not too shabby at all. Having lived in the same apt for two years, I've decided that I still need some change. In the near future, I’ll likely put together some more art pieces and buy a new rug. I've always wanted a monochromatic apt – all blue – but bc it’s costly to re-buy furniture, I think I will mix things up by changing the hue. See below for a visual display and the results of the super quick primary research:

Initial Thoughts (Please Click to Enlarge)

Results (Please Click to Enlarge)