Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blender Blunder Won't Stop Me!

I just realized it has been quite awhile since my last post. Various events (and laziness) are the culprits, but I finally gathered myself together and took some photos of an edible gift I shall present to my friend as her belated birthday gift.

When you don't own much disposable income, cooking/making something is the best birthday gift alternative. I wish I could treat my friend to a 5 stars restaurant meal or buy her brand name items on Fifth Avenue (hmm...these words are sounding more like a blues lyrics...), but then again, wouldn't spending time to create something from scratch be more genuine, meaningful, and thoughtful? Well, that is if my edible gift is, well, edible. But I think I got it down.

The other day, I bought two pounds of flour because they were on sales. Then at Trader Joe's, I discovered some cocoa powder. So the combination would yield...ta da! Chocolate brownies! Yes! I made my first trial two days ago (my mother as my guinea pig). Unfortunately, that try busted my hand blender. Oh no! But I shall not be so easily discouraged. Since a brownie batter asks for melted butter (not cold butter like for pastry), thus it's easier to mix by hand than let's say a cake batter. Also, I find that using a hand blender might toughen the batter, whereas you can control the strength of the mixing if you're doing it by hand. So the second attempt came out quite well! And I also added two secret ingredients...hopefully, my friend would be able to taste the slight difference.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Incredible 'Inedible'

We've all been 'brainwashed' by health magazines and the medical field on the health benefits of eggs. Yes, the protein. Yes, the vitamins. And yes, it curves your appetite. But what about the 'forgotten' child...the egg shell? Of a boiled egg, we peeled it away to reveal the price winning - the 'meat'. Then we throw the literally shattered shells into the trash. We crack an egg and once again, dump the half broken pieces into the garbage, only wanting the yolk and the white. Poor egg shell. But I shall discover and educate the public on your usefulness.

There are lots of ways you can reuse your egg shell. No, you're not going to eat it, but it's a versatile little gadget for your everyday duties. Here are just a few examples. Feel free to add in some more!

1) To get rid of water stain inside a water bottle - Soak it with egg shells twice and then dump the content out.

2) A facial mask - Gathered a small amount of VERY broken egg shells, then add a little milk powder and organic honey to create a paste. Lather onto the face and leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse under warm water.

3) Plant fertilizer - rinse the egg shells and then place it on top of the soil.

4) Polisher - Clean the egg shell in a container of water and use this water to wash glass or other kitchen dishes.

5) Oh, and to end on a really cute and unique purpose...a semisphere-egg shell can turn itself into a funnel by poking a hole on one end. Then uou can use it to pour oil into a bottle. No mess. No fuss.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to deal with stress?

We all deal with stress almost on an everyday basis. Whether it's school, work, relationship, or health, it's one of the driving forces in our daily activities. Stress can be a good thing because it motivates us and keeps us at a flight-or-fight mode. But when it's excessive, as in anything, it's dangerous for our health and mentality.

I've been undergoing some stress lately and I'm trying out different things to ground myself. There are lots of recommendations out there, such as exercise (walking in the park, swimming, joggin...), listening to music, a healthy diet (food that beats stress), communicating with friends and family, or maybe even seeking professional help.

Stress is a tricky thing too. Is it something you put upon yourself or influenced by the external environment? We need to be truthful and find out the source of the stress before we can relieve it. I also find that staying away from technologies (email, TV, Internet...) helps to refocus myself. Just imagine a reclusive life. You'd have no cell phone, no TV and definitely no Internet. See how peaceful it could be? It might be difficult at first, but I think it's worth a try.

Any other ways you use to de-stress? Would love to hear your sharing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

R.I.P. Gourmet Magazine (1941–2009)

Surely, foodies across the U.S. are mourning of the last issue of a reputable food magazine called Gourmet. Hmmm....gourmet...what a fine and elegant name for a magazine that features delicious recipes (that actually works!) and beautiful food photos. This magazine is probably the first "food porn". Unfortunately, due to the reduction in advertisement (helloooo recession), Condé Nast has decided to close out Gourmet, yet keep Bon Apetit, which is another food magazine, but with a different demographic IMO. Nevertheless, it's just sad to see something that has been with us for 68 years go. 68 years of staying in business is no easy feat; unfortunately, all things must come to an end sometime. I wish the best of luck to the Gourmet employees, as they are the ultimate victims in this business decision.

The question for the general readers is...where do we turn to read a decent, honest food magazine now?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

These two Chinese characters say "lotus seed", which is the flavor for this mini mooncake.

Today is 8/15 (also the fullest moon of the year), according to the lunar calendar and this means it's the annual Mid-Autumn Festival! This holiday is much more festive when i was younger. We would lit the lantern, eat delicious mooncake and enjoy this family event right under the full moon. Nowadays, it's mostly the commercial enterprise of mooncake purchases and consumption. The original mooncake is made of lotus seed and contains the yolk of a salted duck egg in the innard. But in order to attract more capitalistic curiosity and marketing, mooncakes come in a variety of flavors and texture, such as red beans, assorted nuts, fruit-flavored (dorian anyone??), green-tea flavored and even an ice-cream version as well! I for one still has a hidden love for the authentic version san the egg. Mooncake is definitely not something I would eat on an everyday basis because it's quite hearty and sweet, but once a year, it's a great way to satisfy one's sweet tooth, while savoring the coming of autumn under the full moon (unfortunately, it's raining no moon).