Friday, October 30, 2009

SF Hearts the Cart Pics on Flickr...

just a quick posting to let you all know that i've posted my pics from the SF Hearts the Cart event put on by the commonwealth club. it was a panel discussion event (that included charles phan of the slanted door) followed by a party. if you are interested in seeing the pics, please feel free to visit here:

i'll probably blog about it later...... but i know that most of you just want to see the pics.

until later dear hearts,


Thursday, October 29, 2009

chao babe...

nope. that isn't a typo in the heading...i'm not referring to the italian greeting (ciao)....i'm referring to the vietnamese rice porridge, chao. folks may also know this as congee or jook. there are many names for this rice porridge, yet i'm going to refer to it as chao. just as there are many names....there are many ways to make chao. yet, i'll share with you the most common way i had it when i was a neophyte foodie hunter.

this morning, i started out with some rice and a large clove of garlic.

when i was a neophyte, sometimes the chao would be made with a slice of ginger, some chopped yellow onion, sometimes with chicken broth, or sometimes it would just be rice and water. yet, making chao with the clove of garlic was the most common i had growing up and it is the one i turn to when i am looking for some serious comfort.

i put the rice and garlic in a pot with a whole lot of water (i filled it up about half way). yes, i realize that this isn't a recipe. yes, i know this is one of the more annoying things about my blog, but i'm providing you with a very realistic peek into how i cook. so i turned up the heat on high and let that sit at a rolling boil for a while....

then turned it down once i started to see the starch/rice really begin to break down....

and then had periodic taste tests to see if the texture of the chao was where i wanted it to be...

i like the texture to be really thick so that it thoroughly coats the tongue....and i also like that it when there is no toothiness to the rice at all.

then i turned my attention to the accompaniments.

these too, may vary depending on what i have in my fridge and pantry. so today, my accompaniments were chopped green onion, dried shrimp,

and a preserved cucumber pickle with a dollop of chili garlic paste.

the accompaniments are served on the side as one decides how much to add as you eat....

you know, you toss in a single or combination of your accompaniments ....

eat it.....then toss in some more.....

until you are done and then you decide if you want to go back for seconds.

i love eating like this....starting with a simple base and then adding the different textures and flavors. i also adore soup. soup makes me feel taken care of. comforted. a warm blanket for the soul.

just me and my little bowl of goodiness.

to mix things up a bit, i decided to have different accompaniments for my second bowl of chao. i decided to add a dash or two of nuoc mam, a half of a boiled egg....since i'm really loving this batch of pasture raised eggs from riverdog farm...and then topped it with some chili garlic paste.

this too was very lovely as well. hmmmm, this is just what i needed for brunch today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

an egg, greens, and purple basil....

nothing too deep, i promise....i think we all need a balance of light n' fluffy and brutal honesty. for now.....just wanted to share a few thoughts and details about my experimentation with purple basil this past weekend. one of the dishes i made consisted of a fried egg over greens with a sprinkling of purple basil here and there. this was not premeditated, i was experimenting with what i had in my fridge and often times, i'll cook a batch of greens to eat over a few days....adding them to stir fries, reheating to eat them "as is" or using them with a fried egg for what i think of as "breakfast greens".

so i grabbed some of the leftover braised greens that i had in the fridge and sprinkled some of the purple basil chiffionade that i just chopped up....

nuked it in the microwave while i was frying up an egg from riverdog farms (yes, where you get your eggs make a big difference...check out the lovely orange color of the egg from riverdog farm....they sell eggs from pasture raised chickens) in a whole lot of butter (yum....butter)...

then slid the egg on top of the reheated greens.....

and added yet another sprinkle of the purple basil chiffonade.

it was pretty good. it also made for some great foodie porn shots as well...

i'm not certain what it is about eggs....but they do make for some great foodie porn subjects.

btw....this is not the last of my purple basil postings....stay tuned for more.....i was pretty productive with my purple basil experimentation this past weekend.

friends, lovers, or nothin'

someone recently said to me, "i get worried when you get silent."

i cringed a bit internally when they said this to me. it is true. when i get silent, it usually isn't a good sign. it usually means 1) i am following my philosophy of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" or 2) i'm processing. most of the time, folks get worried a lot more about #2 than #1 actually.

i've been very silent on the subject of TUO (aka the unrequited one) recently.

this doesn't mean that things have changed, gone away, or anything like that. it just means that i've been processing outside of the blog. i recalled some of the recent processing about TUO that i've done while i was slicing up some potatoes for roasting.....

the careful slicing of the nubs seemed, somehow appropriate..... as the potatoes could be a stand in for portions of me. you know, here is a slice of feeling. here is a careful slice of practical analysis. here is a slice of my heart....careful slice after careful slice. yet, wanting to be careful of my fingers...because i don't want to bleed all over the place while thinking about a recent conversation with a loved one about TUO. a loved one recently asked me, "what is the deal with you and [name deleted aka TUO]?"

my response? "nothing".

"what do you mean nothing?"

"nothing. we aren't talking."

"this is someone who was one of your best friends....known for years....and nothing?"

"yup, nothing."

"you are ok with that?"

"no, but sometimes, this is the way things work out." i said very calmly at the time.

yet, later, i was feeling quite restless about it all....unable to really verbalize how i was feeling about it...and it is interesting how sometimes we unconsciously find things that help us...if we are open to it.

when the potatoes finished roasting, and i was taking pics [see top image]
i was wondering if i would tell you dear hearts, the avenue/outlet that i have found myself for dealing with this ongoing restlessness i have about TUO. because, you see.....after that conversation with the loved one, i came across a song by john mayer called "friends, lovers, or nothing". the song hasn't come out yet. i came across it because i was trying to listen to the new "heartbreak warfare" song on youtube for the first time. when i saw a reference to a live video of mayer singing an unfinal version of "friends, lovers, or nothing"..... i was more intrigued by those words than what i was hearing on "heartbreak warfare" so i clicked on that link. i had never heard of the "friends, lovers, or nothing" song before and well....

talk about appropriate.

so what did i do that evening after i came across that song? i listened to the song over and over again while doing a sketch....

because you see dear hearts, i've turned to sketching to process about the loss of TUO in my life....because i'm finding that words are no longer enough....because i don't have the words ....and am at a loss to find the words....because it really is difficult to know that what i wanted never to happen did happen. i have never missed any lover as much as i miss my friend. yet, with TUO and i, it isn't friends or is nothing.

and that is just the way it is.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

chocolate nibbles of heaven from the cheeseboard

for my break today, i decided to take a jaunt over to the cheeseboard to pick up a couple of things. although the bakery portion of the cheeseboard is a semi-regular haunt for the foodie hunter, i actually decided to deviate from just getting my typical brioche and/or cherry cornmeal scone. i decided to buy one of their chocolate cookies ($2). i'm not certain why i decided this. it was completely impulsive. there was something innocently innocuous about the spherical pillows of chocolate puffiness that said softly "buy me".....and my response was "hmmm, ok".

oh my goodness, i'm not certain why i waited such a long time (i.e., years) to try these chocolate cookies studded with chocolate chips. these are excellent. i took a bite and loved the immediate slight crispiness....

followed by soft rich chocolaty goody-goody-ness that a word? i don't care, i'm nibbling on my eyes darting around ensuring that no one is going to want to share it with me. this cookie makes me feel like a greedy glutton.

ummmmm. yum yum.... a happy greedy glutton that is.

cheeseboard collective, 1504 shattuck avenue, berkeley, ca., phone +1 510-549-3183,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

purple basil vinegar

as i looked through my pictures i realize that i have quite a few posts worth about purple basil and thought, perhaps i would provide another quick post about the purple basil vinegar that i finished up this morning. you see, it all started last night when i grabbed a lot of leaves and muddled (see my purple lemonade post for my "muddling" inspiration) them with the liquid from a bottle of white wine vinegar. then i let it all sit overnight.

when i woke up this morning, this is what it looked like.

then all i did was strain out the leaves....

and then put it pour it back in the bottle.

voila! how easy was that!! now i have a lovely vinegar for potential salads, saute, or soups that may need a bit of brightening. i love things that are so easy and have potential for so many uses. this appeals to my foodie side as well as my ever present practical side.

purple basil lemonade for one

ummm. i think i went kind of crazy with the purple basil over the last couple of days. just wanted to warn you dear hearts, that you are probably going to see quite few postings over the next few days or so. i'll try to space them out a bit so you won't get super tired of my playing with purple basil in my kitchen.

yesterday, i was pretty excited about how easy, tasty, and beautiful purple basil lemonade turned out. i imagine that one could also add a bit of vodka (perhaps a citrus infused vodka) for a lovely cocktail as well. i had never a herb infused lemonade before (i'm rather surprised i haven't done this sooner) so i decided to start out small.....just in case it didn't turn out so well. i grabbed a few leaves from my bunch and put it into a mortar and pestle with some chilled water....about 8 oz.

i decided that i was going to "muddle" the leaves with the water. my inspiration for this are bartenders actually....and watching bartenders muddle mint leaves with liquids for various drinks including mojitos.

so i did a few turns and stomps my mortar and pestle, i didn't do this more than say, 5-8 times. as this was the first time, i was uncertain how strong i really wanted the purple basil to be. i drained the leaves through my lemon press (since i don't have small strainer on hand...hey, the foodie hunter uses what she has on hand)....

and then squeezed in some lemon and added a bit of agave.

then i added in a few small leaves for color....and put it into a stemless riedel glass.....

i think it turned out quite beautiful, refreshing and tasty. the basil flavor was there but it wasn't over powering....and basil and lemon seem to complement each other quite well. i think this would be an excellent addition to a brunch.... or anytime where you'd like to add a bit of refreshing color to the table. at the very least, this would be a conversation piece.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

just made purple basil lemonade

okay, i'll blog more about how i made this (with more pics) later, but i'm so excited that i just had to post the above pic!!! my first attempt at making purple basil lemonade turned out really well! it is yummy!!

playing with purple basil: the beginning

it has been a nice productive morning thus far. i've been able to some needed cleaning, laundry, clearing a few things out of my closet, and managed to squeeze in some initial experimentation with purple basil. if you are wondering how the basil lasted this long (since i bought it at thursday berkeley farmers market)....well, i soaked the bunch in some cold water for a few hours last night which perked it right up. it is funny to see how that really does make a difference...perhaps some day i'll provide a photo shoot with the progression of submerging limp basil in cold water. anyway, my initial experimentation with the purple basil went well.

i actually started out this morning by putting some garlic cloves in olive oil in the oven. i figured that this would come in handy for some pastas or as a complement to some of my dishes over the next couple of days. i love things like this as it allows me to use the oil and the garlic for so many things! it is nice to have staples such as these on hand when throwing stuff together.

while that was cooking in the oven, i grabbed a few leaves from my bunch of purple basil...

then cut them in a chiffonade and set aside. then i grabbed a chunk of a baguette....

split it and then put the pieces into the oven to toast/warm the bread. while that was going on, i dug around in my fridge trying to figure out what would go....i have some heirloom tomatoes that i picked up from riverdog farm...which would likely go well with the basil...but decided to pass on them for the bread-oriented snack as i may be using the tomatoes with purple basil and eggs later today. no need to overdose on tomatoes today. so instead, i reached for the triple creme goat brie....

i had a feeling that his would go well with a drizzle of garlic oil and the basil.. by this point, i could smell the garlic in the oven, so i took it out...

see it still sizzling? hmmmm. it smelled so good. (btw, i took it out earlier than usual since i knew i was just going to let it sit in the sizzling oil for a while....which did turn it into a caramel color later. just wanted to let you know...). after i took the garlic out of the oven, i also took the warmed bread out of the oven as well...and proceeded to spoon some of the garlic oil on the toasty sections of bread....

then put some of the brie on each slice and sprinkled the chiffonade of purple basil on top.

all rather simple.

yet, pretty tasty. i think this is a good start with the purple basil.....don't you?