Tag Archives: california

Last of the Farm Shares

28 Jul

Our nine weeks of fresh vegetables from Two Small Farms ended last week. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to participate again next summer. We could have continued our subscription (awesome since California weather is so great for extending the growing season) but I’m leaving the west coast soon and Brian would not have the time, skill or physical ability to cook and eat all those veggies each week by himself. If you live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Two Small Farms’ Community Supported Agriculture subscription. You really get your money’s worth and the vegetables (and strawberries!) are delicious.

Here’s what we got on week 8 and week 9.

CSA share 8

Week 8:
young walla walla onions – delicious
strawberries
parsley root
butter lettuce
giant scallions – YUMMY!!
heirloom tomatoes – each tomato is so unique in look and taste
turnips – pretty good with pork belly! wish I could make it Chinese style with beef.
romaine lettuce

CSA share 9

Week 9:
carrots – big ones!
young walla walla onions – they were so dirty/muddy this week.
corn !!!! so lucky we got corn in our last share!
new potatoes – yay!
purple cabbage – super heavy head
butter lettuce
heirloom tomatoes
strawberries

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Visiting Wine Country

26 Jul

I haven’t posted in over a week! I apologize for that but I’ve been keeping busy and having fun with life rather than updating the blog. I’ve also been slightly stressing about having to return home because I’ll have to deal with school and the real world again. I keep my mind off it by reading the great books I find at the library.

grapes soaking up the sun, upper house in the distance

One of the highlights of this trip was when I got to visit a private estate vineyard in Calistoga, CA, which is in the Napa Valley. Brian’s friend’s family owns this vineyard and we got to visit them for a relaxing weekend. They were really kind to host us and we had a beautiful weekend there. The dogs and cats had free range of the property and were adorable. We got to swim in the man made pond, relax on the hammocks, have a picnic by the pond, grill up some delicious steaks, catus, veggie kabobs, enjoy wine, be with good company and simply take in the views. There’s nothing like looking out your window to see mountain tops, looking down the hills to see fields of green grapes, or star gazing in pitch darkness.

I’m posting these pictures without naming the vineyard because it is a friend’s home so I want to respect their privacy. It’s so beautiful that I had to share.

part of their wine cave

the gorgeous pond we went swimming in

I made and brought hummingbird muffins so we would have breakfast/snacks. Hummingbird muffins have banana, coconut flakes, pineapple and walnuts. I used this recipe and substituted the oil for a cup of apple sauce and 1/4 cup olive oil. The only thing we had to make was a big pot of coffee. On Sunday, we did make whole wheat buttermilk waffles for breakfast. They were so satisfying.

hummingbird muffins

We didn’t do much touristy stuff like go on wine tastings or eat at fancy restaurants so I’ll have to go back another time for all that. On the way home we stopped at Pizzeria Tra Vigne in St. Helena, Ca for a casual linner (lunch-dinner). We ordered a Ducati pizza (mozzarella, marinara, capicola, mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage and sun dried tomatoes) and Fettuccini alla Bolognese. Both were good but I’ve had better pizza. We also had a mandarin orange Italian soda, which was so good we stopped at BevMo to get the Torani syrup and seltzer water to make our own.

We also stopped in Yountville, CA to walk around the main strip. They had amazing art exhibits. When I get a nice big house I will come back here to get paintings to decorate. We grabbed a snack of French macarons at Bouchon Bakery. They were the biggest macarons I’ve ever seen. Really freaking good.

vanilla and hazelnut macarons

Picnic at Vasona Lake

16 Jun

We crashed got invited to a picnic outing/biking event at Vasona Lake Park on Sunday. It was a party consisting of several families who’s parents knew each other from college. Everybody brought food, bikes and other fun things to do. It was a gorgeous hot day and there were lots of people enjoying the park. The park was big enough that it didn’t feel crowded at all. One of the families went super early to reserve a bunch of picnic tables that were right by the lake yet under shade. They set up a bunch of chairs right in front of the water and the breeze felt so good.

bikes mounted to car, ready to go!

our tables loaded with food

the lakeside deck

our view, we could walk into the water if we wanted to

You could even rent peddle boats and kayaks for $15/hr along with other stuff. People were paddling surf board type things while standing and there was a sail boat. There were lots of dogs in boats too!

chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake

I made chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. The cookie dough was from scratch, the cake and frosting from a box/tub. They came out great! The key is to freeze the dough completely and then not over bake so the cookie doesn’t cook. I followed this recipe. After food some of us played ultimate frisbee but most of us were out of shape that we only scored 2 goals (tie game) before we quit. It was too hot to keep going anyway.

water guns = refreshing

Then water guns came out to cool everyone down. After more food, drinks and sunblock, we biked around the lake. We went about halfway then turned back because not everyone was experienced enough to go all the way. After relaxing on the deck and playing with bubbles, we started a water balloon toss. Once we had a winner, it was free for all. For some reason my balloons don’t pop when they hit people, they just bounce off them!

When balloons hit me though, they popped.. 2 on my shorts! Brian wasn’t playing and was taking pictures instead. After a group photo, one of the adults took a water balloon that he saved without anyone knowing and popped it while pretending to give Brian a hug. Since I was standing right by him, I got splashed too.. gee thanks!

the aftermath

Thanks Amanda for inviting us to the picnic!!!

And here are some pictures of what we ate on Saturday at Maru Ichi in Mountain View.

hiyashi chuka - cold noodle salad

kuru ramen, california roll, gyoza

Both were really good. Kuru Ramen is blacked or roasted garlic soup based ramen. The pork was super soft and melts in your mouth. The cali roll wasn’t great but the pot stickers weren’t bad. Beware, that yellow stuff on the side of the hiyashi chuka is horseradish/wasabi. I didn’t know what it was so I tasted it. It buuuurned. Not smart.

Singaporean food + Avocado Chimichurri + HTC EVO 4G

2 Jun

The weather is finally warming up although nights are still brisk here in San Mateo. We went to visit a friend in Menlo Park in hopes of having dinner and seeing a movie after. We ended up eating out and then sitting at her place talking while petting her cats. She has two boy kitties almost the same color as my cats! I should have taken pictures. She took us out to have Singaporean food, which was delicious.

The restaurant was called Shiok! and has a large menu with many delicious sounding dishes. They had many desserts too but we didn’t splurg. The serving sizes are normal, meaning that you can finish it in one sitting without bursting your stomach unlike most other restaurant serving sizes.

I (a.k.a Athena – I got cast as Athena from BSG because Brian was Helo..) got the Hor Fun because it’s my favorite noodle. Hor fun is a broad rice noodle and can be cooked “dry” or in soups. This one was cooked in a egg gravy with veggies and seafood (squid and shrimp). I didn’t love the gravy but the dish was tasty overall.

Brian (a.k.a. Helo) got the Singaporean Chicken and Rice, which I know as the hoy nam gai fan from Malaysian restaurants I used to go to in Brooklyn. I LOVE the rice, it’s cooked in chicken broth and aromatics.. super flavorful. The chicken is served room temperature with dipping sauces (soy, ginger, chili). There are also cucumbers under the chicken so they catch the chicken drippings. Chicken broth on the side but it was very oily so uneaten. Pictures like this makes me hate my camera because I cannot tell from the screen that they’re blurry. =( My camera is old.

Our friend Anya (a.k.a. Starbuck) got the vegetarian Mee Goreng. This dish was really, really good. If I get to go back, I might have to get this one. Chock full of veggies in a yummy tomatoe-y sauce.

For lunch today, I made avocado chimichurri because I have lots of parsley to use up from the CSA box. It turned out delicious even though I don’t like parsley. I followed this recipe but halved it, substituted sushi vinegar, added a chopped scallion, and left out the jalapeno simply because I didn’t have any. I put it on a half a sourdough torpedo with pan fried zucchini and pickled carrots. It was super satisfying and the flavors were so bright. I think the sweetness from the pickled carrots and sushi vinegar really makes it better.

Onto something not food related…

Look at this awesome phone! Brian went to Google I/O a few weeks ago and got a “free” HTC EVO 4G (there was a registration fee). I’ve been using it for the past week and a half and we just realized yesterday that it wasn’t even on the market yet! Haha, now I feel special. It comes out June 4th for $199 with contract from Sprint. =( I don’t have Sprint. It’s currently running on a month’s subscription of voice and data service.

It’s soooooo fast and really sexy. The screen is huge and super responsive. It’s an android phone and has “4G” service (4G in quotes because nothing is truly 4G yet). Only drawbacks so far is that the battery life is short since it can do so much; the four menu buttons are too responsive in that I accidentally touch them by just holding the phone; GPS sucks compared to iPhone; and it’s a bit less intuitive to use than the iPhone so it has a bigger learning curve for non-tech savy people.

a lot bigger than my Env3 but sleeker

Check out this review by IntoMobile for a more in depth look and more pics. I want one! Ugh.. too bad my phone plan doesn’t end for a long time.

Day 1 in California

25 May

We landed in SFO yesterday. The international airport there is much nicer than JFK. We always fly Virgin America which lands in the international section of the airport. I highly recommend Virgin America, the planes interiors are much nicer than other comparative low-priced airlines. I sat in the middle seat this time which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If I had a choice, I always pick an aisle seat. I’m mildly claustrophobic and also hate disturbing strangers if I need to use the restroom.

Brian’s apartment is in San Mateo and the complex is really nice. His windows face three gorgeous palm trees, a citrus fruit tree (not sure what type) and another unknown fruit tree that feeds birds. If you know what the fruit are, let me know if it tastes good!

There are lots of squirrels too including the aggressive black squirrels. They like to chase each other up and down the palm trees, spiraling around to avoid each other.

there are 2 squirrels here

Since Brian’s apartment is really close to downtown San Mateo, there are tons of restaurants to sample from. There’s a high concentration of Japanese restaurants in particular. I estimated around 15 Japanese restaurants the last time I was here, which is a huge number considering how small downtown actually is.

While I’m going to try to cook as much as possible to save money and eat healthier, we also like to eat out. It takes a lot of planning to cook in Brian’s kitchen since it’s not well stocked so sometimes we’re too lazy to cook, especially since there are so many affordable restaurants to pick from. So you can expect a lot of posts about restaurants!

For lunch on day 1, we ate at Old Town Sushi in downtown San Mateo. It was the cheapest Japanese restaurant I’ve been to and even though it’s run by Chinese people, the food was good.

We ordered the Shioyaki bento box and the Number One roll to share.

shioyaki with shrimp and veggie tempura

The shioyaki was done very nicely with crispy skin. The shrimp tempura wasn’t that great, the only good tempura were the sweet potato and kobucha pumpkin. It also came with salad, rice and 3 pieces of California roll (didn’t like). See here for full picture.

Number One roll

The Number One roll was really tasty for a super-sized American style sushi roll. The roll consisted of shrimp, avocado, crab salad inside with half salmon and half tuna on top and covered in more crab salad, scallions, black sesame and a mild hot sauce. While it was good, we ended up not eating most of the crab salad on top. I think it’s the same crab they use in the California rolls, which I didn’t like. They also gave us a free bowl of edamame once we sat down along with rice green tea.

miso soup came with the bento box

Brian went back to work and I did some shopping. I went to the thrift store and got hangers and a small ironing board for $5 total. After work, we went grocery shopping at an awesome Asian supermarket called Ranch 99. $30 worth of groceries earned us $3 for their hot deli section so we got the most delicious loaf red bean swirl Taiwanese bread. Yum, the perfect breakfast.

For dinner we ate in Mountain View because Brian is cat-sitting three adorable cats for a friend. We also got a hot roasted oolong milk bubble tea at Tea Era. I have lots of pics but don’t want to bombard this post so I’ll try to post more later if we go back. Dinner was at Pho Garden, home of the pho challenge.

There were so many people attempting the pho challenge, which was to finish 2 lbs of noodles and 2 lbs of beef in one hour (don’t need to finish soup). If they win, they get to keep the giant bowl and a t-shirt, if they lose, they get the t-shirt. You could also order that dish for multiple people to share but you don’t win anything if you finish. I totally think my brother would try this if he were here. I sneaked a picture of these guys who were just starting. Look here for a picture of them signing the contract (several pages long).

pho challenge

I had the Garlic Noodles with Five Spice Chicken. The chicken was great! The noodles were coated in garlic powder.. I was not expecting that. I would have preferred real garlic or some kind of garlic sauce.

5 spice chicken garlic noodles

Brian got the Beef Pho. It’s very important that the soup broth is tasty and this one was. I saved the leftover sprouts and Thai basil to make some summer rolls later. My excuse: the basil and sprouts were sold in huge packs at the supermarket! ^_^

beef pho

We’re having leftovers for lunch and going to Amanda’s home for a family dinner today. I made sai mai lo so I’ll post that tomorrow if I remember to take pictures. Thanks for reading!