Monday, February 28, 2011

Domino's Pizza Driver Saves a Woman's Life

Lesson learned: There are benefits to consistently eating terrible, terrible pizza everyday.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh my grossness

Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images via
NPR's Bill Chappell writes:
Anyone pining for some ice cream in London now has an unusual option to consider: ice cream made from mothers' breast milk. The Icecreamists shop has made headlines for using milk from as many as 15 women to make its new "Baby Gaga" flavor.
 Read more here...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Valentine's Day

My favorite sugar cookie recipe
While in college, I worked a variety of jobs. Area manager at a theater, customer service rep for a call center, rental clerk for Hollywood video, prostitute...(Just kidding! I would never work for Hollywood video!) During my sophomore year, I worked as a hostess at a local Asian restaurant. It was crap job, but they were willing to let me work as much or as little as I wanted, because I spoke english.

I am Vietnamese, and they're all Chinese. So, the staff would often play practical jokes on me. When I first started working there, the waiter told me his name was "Da Ji," and that the sushi chef was "Mu Ji." It wasn't until weeks later that they finally admitted that I'd been calling them Rooster and Chicken. Hilarious. I loved working with them.

On slow days during the summer, we would take naps together at the sushi bar, or they would practice their english on me. Rooster would make me mixed cds with Michael Bolton and Kenny G songs. Chicken would make origami for me using bills from his tips jar. We all loved the movie Kung Fu Hustle. I would ask them about their lives in China or about their families, and they would pause and finally say that it was too difficult to talk about. They were amazing guys, and we kept in touch for almost two years, even after we all left the restaurant. I miss them a lot.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese frosting
Three years ago, I stopped hearing from them. Their cell phone numbers stopped working. My phone hasn't changed, but I haven't heard from either of them. Rooster and Chicken were Chinese illegal immigrants who came to America to live better lives. I worry about them. I wonder if they were deported, or if they weren't able to pay off the debt they owed the smugglers who sneaked them into the country. I once asked Chicken about his journey to America. He would only shake his head, and say "No...bad. Bad."

It kills me that I don't have a phone number to reach them, or that I can't search Facebook to get back in touch with them. I know that their attachment to me was just as strong, that's why it's so frightening that they haven't called me in such a long time. I always think of Rooster and Chicken during a holiday, because that's when we would always make sure to get in touch...So each time a holiday rolls around, I hope that one of them will call.

Valentine's Day is a day about love, and we all have loved ones that we wish we were closer to, or people that we could love more. So, I guess this is my cheesy/depressing way to ask you to love each other. Do it more than you have in the past, and more often.  Everyone deserves friends like Rooster and Chicken.

I show love by baking for people. Notice the cookie that says "HATE."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

V-day approaches

Valentine's Day is soon! I don't actually like the holiday, but my very first post was about Valentine's Day, so I guess it will always have significance for me now. Here are some cupcakes I made recently that bring back that loving feeling:

These are strawberry cupcakes (boxed cake mix) topped with an experimental, low-fat cream cheese frosting. I wanted to create a frosting that would be lower fat, but also less sweet than a traditional butter cream frosting. I replaced part of the cream cheese with finely blended cottage cheese to reduce some of the fat, but the result was a bit runny, and not so fluffy. It tasted good, and wasn't too sweet, so I'll probably try to make it again (with much fluffier results, hopefully).

Since the cupcakes didn't look "right" with the experimental frosting, I decided to add some sprinkles I'd found in the Target bargain bin. By doing so, I successfully undermined my initial aim to make these treats less fattening:
But look how cute they are!
 They're sprinkles! In heart shapes and pretty colors! And I only paid $2.50 for the set!

Blog feature: I Am Baker

Hello, everyone. 

I feel like I just died and went straight to cookie heaven after viewing this cookie gallery by Amanda at i am mommy. Please please please check out her cookie gallery. I felt like a kid in a candy (cookie?) factory when I found that site. Her work is beautiful, and she is nice enough to share her tips/tricks!

While I am super jealous of Amanda's mad skills, I am also inspired by her creative designs, non-dessert recipes, and how proudly she displays her faith on her blog. I would love to be as bold as she is. Although I am a Christian, I cannot say that I am totally comfortable identifying myself as such when introducing myself. I have a fear that doing so would allow others to judge me prematurely based solely off of my faith. Does anyone else have that problem? I don't think that it is embarrassment, because I'm not ashamed of my salvation, but why aren't I more proud of it? Gonna have to work on that one a little bit more...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beef Broccoli Stir Fry

Hi, my name is Chau, and I'm Asian. That means, I love rice and eat a lot of stir fry dishes. Beef and broccoli? It's one of my faves, but my recipe isn't like those I've seen on the internets. Unlike Martha Stewart's, it doesn't have apple juice and cider vinegar listed in the ingredients, and I disagree (am grossed out) by Emeril's use of orange blossom honey in his stir fry recipe. I think a stir fry should be simple, easy, and edible. That's pretty much it. 

Beef and broccoli stir fry (adapted from Wandering Chopsticks)

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets (I also cut the stem into 2 in. pieces)
Optional: 3 carrots, sliced diagonally and 2 c. of mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 to 1 lb of beef sliced thinly into 2 in strips
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of medium onion, sliced or diced as you prefer
2 tbs each of hoison and soy sauce
2 tbs veg oil (I prefer a light mist of Pam)
1 tbs fish sauce (optional)
2 tbs corn starch (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. After slicing the beef, marinate it with the soy and hoisin sauces. If you want a thick sauce, add corn starch to the marinade.
2. Place broc and carrots into a microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave for 3-5 min. until the veggies are slightly cooked but still firm. 
3. Sautee onions in oil until soft, add minced garlic. Cook over med-high heat until fragrant.
4. Add the meat! Cook until meat is just about to lose all of it's pinkness, rather than fully cooked. I do this to prevent the beef from overcooking and become tough.
5. Add the slightly cooked broc and carrots. Allow it to soak in the juices/sauce a bit before stirring the pot to let the veggies and meat cook together.
6. Taste the sauce. If you like more flavor, add salt, pepper, fish sauce, soy sauce to suit your preference.
7. Just before the veggies and meat are at the point where they are cooked to your liking (I like my broccoli to still be a bit crisp), add the mushrooms, stir them all together, place a lid on it, and turn off the heat. (I like to let the residual heat finish the cooking, because there's less chance of the vegetables becoming too soggy that way.)
8. Serve with steamed rice, and love. Lots of love.

Any stir fry is cooked in basically the same way depending on your combination of meat and vegetables. If I'm cooking with pork, I like to add ginger and only use fish sauce. Chicken has no fish/soy sauce, but loads of extra garlic and ginger. I suggest you experiment to find what you enjoy best. Whatever you do, don't add apple juice or honey, because it makes babies cry and angels lose their wings.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Owl cake

My friend, Jin, had a birthday in December. Now that it is February, I thought it was an appropriate time to post a photo of the mini-cake I made for her. Jin loves two things: me and owls. I can't tell which one she adores more just yet, but I'm thinking it's me.

H.B. WCG! (Happy birthday WCG!)
Not my best piping work, but I was pretty pleased with the owl itself. I found the idea here, but used a 4 in. brownie rather than a cupcake, and also split a non-creamed half of an Oreo to make little ears. I think the original tutorial calls for ganache, but chocolate frosting worked fine.

I wanted to write an owl joke, or maybe an owl-related pun here, but I just couldn't do it. I would have to punch myself in the face if I did.