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Archive for May, 2009

Note: New Year’s Day is the perfect time to tie up loose ends, which means completing this unfinished post.

I used to hate summer because of the smell of sunblock.  I hated the sticky feeling on my skin, and I hated the sunburn that inevitably followed any application of it.  Now that I am older (and wiser), I am learning how to enjoy summer without being burnt.  This means more time indoors enjoying the sunlight through the window.  I will be home for the summer, and I am more excited for this summer than I have ever been in my life.  I cannot wait for barbecues, sweet white corn, mul neng myun (Korean cold noodles), ice cold watermelon, fresh berries and ripe peaches.

In honor of the upcoming season, I wanted to share some photos of last summer.

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The peaches are from my mom’s bountiful backyard, and the tart is a very lovely epic failure.  I have yet to try my hand at pastry cream again.  The peach tea is the same liquid that flooded my poor, unsuspecting MacBook, the latter of which has never been as fast as it once was.  Oh, the lessons I learn.

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I love being in the Bay Area.  Since being here, I have been revisiting some of my favorite places to eat, including Gregoire’s, Crixa Cakes and China Village, as well as trying new venues like Love at First Bite.  I loved the lemon raspberry cupcake.

My roommate and I went to Wat Mongkolratanaram, the Thai temple on Russel and Otis, for Sunday brunch.  Please check it out!  You line up to buy tokens, which you use to purchase noodle soup, curry, pad thai, mango sticky rice and Thai tea just as you would in a Thai food court.  I love the papaya salad and red chicken curry.  Next time I want to try the fried squash and desserts.

Today some of my favorites and I took a trip to SF, where we finally tried Mama’s on Washington Square, a WONDERFUL breakfast place with a not-so-wonderful line.  I am not sure if it is worth the wait, but it was for our first time.  We had the Northern Italian M’Omelette, filled with pancetta, mushrooms, basil, tomatoes and garlic jack cheese as well as the Pan Dore, french toast covered in lemon-butter sauce and apples.

YUM!

We ended our day in SF with a stop at Bi-Rite, where I got creme fraiche.  I love slightly sour, tangy flavors like malted vanilla, yogurt, buttermilk, etc.  They are simple and refreshing–like my favorite color, white.

I have been baking more.  I love this Cranberry Vanilla Coffeecake, which works just as well with blueberries.  I tried the Yogurt Cake from Chocolate & Zucchini with ripened strawberries and blackberries.  I cut down the sugar to 3/4 cup brown, and it worked fine.  It was so good right out of the oven, warm and mushy in a good way.

I want to try the Raspberry Yogurt Cake from Chocolate & Zucchini as well as the Raspberry Muffins with Cacao Nibs.

I am looking for lime jello recipe with sparkling apple cider because I have lots of limes.

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For those of you who do not know–me up until a week ago–the Scharffen Berger factory in Berkeley is now closed.  I was always planning on going for the factory tour but never got around to actually doing it.  It was one of those things that I took for granted, assuming it would wait for me until I had more time.  I visited Berkeley a little over a week ago, fully planning on doing all of the Berkeley things I had not had time to do as an undergraduate.  Then I visited the site and learned that I was too late.  Contrary to my egotistic reasoning, the Scharffen Berger factory was not waiting for me to come visit.  It had moved on.

In the words of my eloquent apartmentmate, sadness.

I was so sad.  Ask anyone.  What a wake-up call.

So my roommate and I scheduled a tour to Charles Chocolates, located in Emeryville.  It was clean, modern, colorful and informative.  We sampled the dark chocolate covered Fleur de Sel as well as the milk chocolate molded caramel.  The factory was small, well-kept and obviously loved.  It reminded of the classic “I Love Lucy” episode in which Lucy and Ethel go to work in a chocolate factory.  The famous scene with the conveyer belt never fails to crack me up.  If you need a laugh, watch it here.

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I made some cupcakes last Christmas, and I wanted to share the photos.  My friend wanted to make music themed cupcakes for her music class.  We decided to go with a black and white motif, so I did some major chocolate cupcake research.  I was torn between recipes from Martha Stewart, Cupcake Blog and another source that slips my mind at the moment.  I opted for the old-fashioned chocolate cupcake recipe from Cupcake Blog since it was slightly healthier than the others.  She actually has a few different recipes under the same name, but this is the one I used.

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Doesn’t it look like a box of chocolates?  We decorated using Betty Crocker chocolate and vanilla icing, “piped” using ziploc bags that exploded periodically.  We also used shredded coconut, Ikea pearl sugar, powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  I had a lot of fun experimenting with textures.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of finals.  We covered the kitchen table with newspaper, poured the decorations into bowls, rolled up our sleeves and dug in.  I felt like a child again.

Yum.

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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
14 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

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