Saturday, December 8, 2007

An update of sorts

It's been a struggle to eat dinner at a decent hour and get sufficient rest lately so needless to say, I've completely neglected this blog. Since I worked all of last weekend, yesterday rounded out a new record of 12 days in a row. To be honest, most of the tasks I've been doing haven't been hard per se, but long hours plus fewer than 5 minutes exposure to natural sunlight each day really began wearing me thin. Lucky for me, things really slowed down in the latter part of the week. I am resolved to do nothing but bum around indoors and rest up this weekend, both to recover from last week and in preparation of Patrick's arrival in one week (!!!). So far I'm sticking to that plan really really well XD.

Possibly the only thing capable of preventing me from running straight home and into my sweats after work on Friday was the opening night of the film (adapted from Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel) Atonement. I caught the late show with Steve-o and Nancy, both of whom had read the book. We all loved it. It was certainly beautiful - the actors, clothing, colors, angles, all of it - yet still profoundly human and incredibly moving. No words awkwardly strung together by me would do it justice. Please do yourself a favor and go see it.

Since I finally had some free nights this week, I unleashed the baker within (she's been climbing the walls) to try my hand at a recipe that's tempted me for weeks. Inspired by a post from Once Upon A Feast and using the recipe Ruth kindly shares, I committed myself to baking on Thursday and even ignored dinner until a double batch of these Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies were in the oven and thus well on their way to my mouth ^_^. The original source is Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home To Yours." I made the minor adjustments (I should really learn how to follow recipes tehe) of substituting walnuts for pecans and decreasing the amount used to 3/4 cup and using white and semisweet chocolate chips instead of chopped bittersweet chocolate. I'd been reading wonderful (and delicious sounding) things about Dorie's book for a while. Especially after I received a round of applause and marriage proposal for bringing the "perfect brownies" to work, this book rests firmly atop my holiday wish list! Sorry for the absence of photos. I've given up on my digital camera. Hopefully I'll buy one capable of capturing non-blurry food shots soon, like this Canon EOS Rebel 2000 35mm SLR.

On a sad note, I found out last Sunday on the phone with Dad that Grandpa Leon passed away. Leon Schwartz was a wonderful man whom my dad worked for briefly as an interpreter while he and his wife vacationed in China more than 2 decades ago. Since then, he has more than earned an honorary place in our family by helping us get to America and embracing us as his own once we arrived. I still recall our first winter here. Dad had just received his license and insanely resolved to drive us all the way from VA to MA to spend Christmas with the Schwartz's. Suffice to say, it was a bumpy ride with many detours. But when we arrived, Leon and Marge opened their home to us, showing us what the holidays really are about...sharing what we treasure with those whom we treasure. Rest in peace, Grandpa Leon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Though your face be silly, I truly miss thee...

One more more month...repeat.

Baked banana bread today. I *used* a recipe for "Very Moist Banana Nut Bread" from Recipezaar's website, but altered the frak out of it (pardon my BsG =p) as usual. So the top of the quickbread browned a bit more than I'd have liked, but I guess some may find it gives the crust a nice bite. I know my food usually ends up tasting pretty good but is it wrong to want it to look slightly less rustic? I guess I can't take such liberties with ingredients and instructions while still expecting the same results.

That reminds me. I got a pleasant surprise a few days ago when a partner in the law firm where I work practically hunted me down to compliment my baking ^_^. Between weekend overtime, not getting Veteran's Day off, the dreary weather, and getting off on the wrong foot with a new attorney...let's just say the kind words came at an opportune time.

In terms of social life, a recent highlight was going out to Eyebar on Friday night. I met up with Maureen to celebrate her finally taking the actuary exam. It turned out to be a joint birthday bash, and I knew several of the people. Going out hasn't changed much. Still gotta deal with a lot of drunk and/or sketchy people, but overall it was fun =). There's a void in my life from absence of dancing though...this coming weekend with JJ and Nilam will hopefully remedy that!

Unfortunately one of the Decemberists is seriously ill, so they canceled the entire tour. I was disappointed to hear that, but it's much more important that he/she takes it easy in order to make a speedy recovery. There was still Bright Eyes on Sunday. Conor was surprisingly upbeat. I'm sure his recent work is just as pleasurable without hearing his earlier songs, but it really moved me to realize how much he and his music have matured. Great show indeed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

At least we can count on Radiohead...

"In Rainbows" is amazing. end of story. As usual, it took quite a few listens for me to get into the new Radiohead album, but once it got through to me...what beauty. This album is played in its entirety (those who know me know it's rare that an entire song gets played, much less a whole album) at least twice a day. My favorites thus far are "Weird fishes/Arpeggi" and "Reckoner" but seriously the whole damn thing is nothing short of amazing.

Watched a movie tonight that I had never heard of beforehand: No Country for Old Men. It stars Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, among others. Although I did hear about heavy Oscar buzz for this movie from Steve before watching it, I believe my favorable perception of the script/acting is accurate. Perhaps more on this later...this was a fairly deep/serious film to cap off a long week. Some time to digest will certainly be useful...particularly for deciding upon an interpretation of the ending. As a side note, I finally watched the Atonement trailer...if I was dying to see this film before, the need has only been augmented by the preview. The question is not whether I'll see it in theaters, but whether I'll attempt to read the acclaimed Ian McEwan novel first.

Due to the untimely death of my digicam battery, I've been unable to visually log my latest culinary escapades. Recently attempted dishes include roasted pumpkin with herbs and balsamic vinegar (an surprisingly lovely combination); japanese-style curry with potatoes, carrots, and seitan; pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese filling; soft ginger cookies; gingerbread apple pie (from VWaV); golden rum cake (sure it's office appropriate...); cajun chicken linguine; and chocolate chip cookies. On that delicious note, I'm signing off. Have a good night and good weekend!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007


I finally bought myself an Ipod. It's a silver...holds 4 GB. So apparently it's a brand new model. Too new actually in the sense that I can't even find a case for it =(. I'm quite pleased with the engraving though =D.

Cookie for you if you ID the song...which reminds me...I've been really into Elliott Smith's music again starting about a week ago. Nothing really reminded me to do it, I was just hit with a need to hear Either/Or out of the blue and it only grew from there. I Googled him a few days later only to find out that Sunday marks the 4th anniversary of his death. Man what a coincidence. Rest in peace, Elliott. I really wish you were still around but remain grateful for all the gorgeous pieces that remain.

Finally, after 2 postponements, I baked Richard's belated birfday cake (boston cream pie) plus the pineapple upside-down cake I promised Breeanna from work. Pass the frack out in bed now...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vulture funds

I'm sad to admit, I only found out this was going on in the last week. It makes me sad and angry.

End of post.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

(Hopefully) Delicious Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars!

Even though I worked a bit late and felt exhausted during the commute home tonight, I finally got around to baking these raspberry oatmeal bars that I'd been planning to make for about uh...3 weeks now? I guess with all the lovely concerts lately and purposeful rise in my social activity, it's been hard to find both the time and energy to cook anything real...

To the left is what this recipe is supposed to produce (except I think this reviewer might've used a different flavor of jam). And then there's 2 photos of my version. I think they were sliiightly undercooked, but still pretty tasty. It actually reminded me of a crunchy granola bar. But then I've eaten like a box of those in 2 days so maybe the taste is just stuck on my tongue =p. My roommate and Paco also gave their approval. Although I used less jam than the recipe called for and an all-fruit one at that...these are on the sweet side kids. Might wanna arm yerself with a tall glass o' cold milk as you chomp in!

As usual, I made some changes and substitutions to the recipe. I doubled the recipe and lined a 9 x 13 inch pyrex pan with parchment paper (a baker's best friend 8p). Out of brown sugar, so I just used white sugar and added a few teaspoons of molasses. Replaced 1/3 of the butter with applesauce (the crust would probably be less crumbly with full amount of buttah). Added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the oatmeal mixture. Lastly, I sprinkled just a few white chocolate chips over the jam as well as some crushed cashew pieces on top of the whole thing.

I guess the final verdict about the taste will have to wait until tomorrow, when I offer these to my coworkers. There's something magical about free food though, especially sweets. Let's just say I have a hunch it'll be well-received.

The only thing I'm less than satisfied about is the performance of my camera tonight. Maybe I'm just used to the glossy HQ (and drool-inducing) photos of the veteran food pornographers *cough* i mean...bloggers. But still, I don't think it's too much to expect that my digicam could at least get one close-up that's not horribly blurry. C'est la vie I more thing to save up for. Insomnia's been dogging me again this week. TGI(almost)F!

A fresh start...A good start?

I can't believe it's already been a few months since I've graduated from college, gotten my own apartment, and started a real job in DC. The 9-5(ish) grind has its ups and downs, but there's only been sporadic overtime so far. Besides the general unpleasantries of office jobs, I must say the firm treats us quite well...for indentured servants anyway. totally kidding!

On top of those changes, it's been almost 2 months since my boyfriend ran off to Japan to sow his kinky, wild bathroom sex oats (inside joke =X). Heh he's actually teaching English for a year with the JET Program. The distance (holy 13 hour time difference batman...) is certainly a major adjustment and challenge, but I'm grateful to have him in my life at all. <3

So I realized earlier this week that I hadn't used LJ for 20+ weeks. Since things have shifted so much in the rest of my life, I figured I'd try something new in record-keeping as well! I've been going to a LOT of amazing concerts lately (Damien Rice, Editors, The National, Metric, RK, Iron & Wine, Patrick Wolf) and have about as many lined up for the winter. During the past year, food/health has also captured my attention. With some help from the net and an exponentially growing cookbook collection, I've become marginally skilled and more adventurous in the kitchen. In fact, for those of you who haven't heard, my career goals have mostly wandered away from law and toward nutrition. The point of all this being that, among other things, I feel my musical and culinary experiences would be fun to document.

Since we're all picture whores whether we admit it or not, the birth of this page also doubles as incentive for me to get off my ass to buy a real (translation: over 10 MB) memory card for my kaamrra. This site will really be for my own recall as much as for any friends or strangers who stumble upon it. I'll try to keep it interesting (or at least active).

Food porn is always the happiest ending, I find. And what better excuse for cake than a blog birthday? The Real Crepe Cake from Cream Puffs In Venice is my Mount Everest of desserts. NY Times has an interesting article about the masterpiece that inspired it too. I hope to attempt it one day but a photo must suffice for tonight.