Saturday, December 19, 2015

Too much to do!

I guess I fooled myself in thinking I was almost done with my holiday making. Ha ha ha! I'm not even half way done. Oh well! I guess I got to get myself going.

First up last night, roasted persimmon jam. 
Read about a dessert with roasted persimmons and thought I'd try this out. Roasted persimmons right out of the oven to be food milled. Then in to thre pot with sugar, water and organic lemon juice (lemon from my sister's house). And cook till thick and sweet. I got 4 half pints 4 4oz jars.
Next up mandarin pineapple. More jam to come. I need more bottles. Aargh! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

random links: december 2015 • part 2

Found a few more links that I wanted to share.
Graham hats I knitted for donation for #operationgratitude

-here's the link to the pattern for the Graham by Jennifer Adams. Easy and quick

-looking to for a cozy hat to knit up for you or to donate via
-baking powder and baking soda what it does to your cookies via serious eats

-The Oh Hellos--nice watch or listen to start your day via tiny desk concerts

-cute knitting for hood/scarf for kids via amirisu

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Jamming, jamming and more jamming

My first batch Kiwi Apple--2 pints for the restaurant and 2 half pint for holiday gifts.

Next up, Mandarin Marmalade. Big batch cooking up on the stove. Hope to get 2 pints for the restaurant and 4 4oz jars for gifts.

Hopefully I'll end today with Cranberry Apple. Trying out this recipe from Food in Jars for the first time. Using golden delicious. Here's the link if you want try out for yourself:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Starting my Saturday

UPDATE: Hat all done, just need to trim the ends, make the tag and pack up it up send off The pattern was great pattern, really fast. Forgot to put the link to this pattern, here it is: Hope to finish another so I have 2 to send off. Will post the finish product a little later.

With a cup a coffee and knitting in bed. Knitting a hat to donate for my volunteer time for work. They been pushing the volunteer effort, and I decide to sign up knitting for the troops. I'm still going through my stash and thank goodness I had colors specified.

Pattern: GRAHAM
By: Jennifer Adams

This is stretchy slouchy hat good for many different types of people. I already frogged the whole thing missed a whole entire section. Hope to be done by this weekend so I can send it off this week. More pics of finished piece.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

random links: dec 2015

1 of 2 pumpkin pies with roasted kabocha

Had a little bit of time so I decide to put this together early. Still on food theme.

-video about ugly food and food waste via swiss miss

-love the peg boards--I need to do this via Joy the Baker

-this sounds delicous via the Kitchn

-a jammy holiday gift via food in jars

-something go with the jammy gift via food in jars

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Random Links: November 2015

Decide this month's links would be about food, since the holidays are coming fast and furious. Working on a variation on the Lots of Banana Cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan. Adding lilikoi to the cake. It brighten up the flavor but I think it needs more lilikoi and maybe lilikoi curd between the layers. Will post the alterations when I've got it right.
Sliced! Yum!
-going to try this new pie technique from Serious Eats

-want to make your own pumpkin puree. I use the kabocha pumpkin after hear this story from Last Chance Food on NPR during my long commutes to work. Kabocha pumpkin have the very smooth texture and are sweeter than sugar pumpkins. I use the green ones but I've seen the orange ones, but haven't tried them yet. Here's the link to the story from Last Chance Food. And a link from Smitten Kitchen on how to make your own puree. 

-with the pie crust I want to make a version of this pie from the kitchn

-Looking for a great cake for a party during the holidays. This sweet potato cake from Smitten Kitchen is yummy. I used vanilla buttercream instead of the marshmallow frosting because I was taking it to work. Looking for a reason to make this with the marshmallow frosting.

-haven't tried this but it is on the lineup of cakes to try. from Lottie + Doof

-another one in the lineup, guava chiffon cake. from Guava Rose

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

One and Only Zinnia

Last zinnia
what a beauty
Now that it's November, my one and only zinnia decided to bloom. I guess they weren't a total wash out. It is so beautiful. 

Next year, I hope to remember to plant the seeds early, to get a bunch of these or at least 2. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Morning Walks

from Jersey City water front
I really started my morning walks when I switched from taking the train to bus to work. Beside being half the price of my train ride, now I get out a stop before my stop and I walk along the water front of Jersey City and Hoboken. It is a great way to start your day. One of the best idea I've had in a long time.

I'm trying to keep the walking up on my work from home days. But it's hard with Ollie the cat cuddling on my lap with my morning cup of coffee. I think I have to do as soon as WG leaves the house so I can put in more distance. I realized that these morning walks really gives me energy and put me in a better mood. 

And I started using the charity mile and donate a photo app to raise money for charities on my walks. I'm trying to take a at least one picture per walk and I've donating one of these photo to the app. 

Been posting the photos on FB and I've also made an album on flickr of the pictures of my walks. Here's that link: Will continuing to add pictures as I continue my walks. Maybe one day I'll even take a picture of myself on one of these walk. Maybe. . . 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Random Links: Oops! I forgot to post October 2015

Missed Octobers random links. Here's what I collected:

-if  you haven't made up one, you have to do it. Been loving all of these on FB.

-love this knitting/crocheting project: The Red Scarf project. They deliver valentines gift to forster kids in college. You knit/crochet red scarves to be included in these care packages. 

-guess I'm on charity kick. Just signed up for charity miles, it pays .25 per mile that I walked. I figure since I've been keeping to my walking routine. I might as well get something out of it. This may inspire me to walk more. 

-another charity app that I just started is Donate a Photo because I try and take at least on photo a day during my morning walk and I'd thought what a better way to raise money for a good cause and share my start of my day. Johnson & Johnson donate $1 a day for a donated photo.

-if I make it past 90, I guess doing this would be better than becoming a crazy cat lady.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Olie the Cat

nice and peaceful on my lap
I told myself--no more cats. PnC were the best. I would be always comparing the new cat to them. 

But somebody show up at the back door of the restaurant, after some JACK--S threw him out of SUV.  He was super friendly, not like the other cats from the feral colony in the back. He also was getting beat up by the other tom cats. AND he was skinny. 

On top of that it was getting cold out. How would a house cat survive the cold outside?

All the kitchen folks plus my husband [the man who says he doesn't like pets] were telling me to take him. And so that is how Ollie the Cat came to live with us. 

Here's few pictures of the smart boy who keeps us on our toes.

watch the back yard goings-on

Ollie finally let me take a picture of his face
finished up the crocheted basket while keeping Ollie company

He seems to only like water from the faucet

You did it again!

Your votes got us The Home News Tribune Best of the Best 2015 Readers Choice Best THAI FOOD for the second year in the row. 

We really appreciate your continued support over the last few years, from the 2011 Munchmobile feature to this year's award. Thank you so much. Hope to see you soon at Cafe Bua!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Random Links: September 2015

-got this from Quipsologies. Perfect for my new commuting strategy or my biking friends.

-video game for me and my yarnie friends. found this on not martha

-because I'm a foodie and have to post at least one link on food. Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk from the Kitchn sold me on this recipe. I'll make it when the weather gets cooler.

-I guess this makes three. I've been wanting make spareribs but can't choose between these two recipes--in the oven for 6 hours or sweet and sour Hawaiian-style

-from funny one star national park reviews. Funny.

Red Shiso: Part 2--pickles

Red Shiso
I posted about my first harvest hereAnd now that I have all the red shiso that I need [I cheated, the chef at the restaurant supplemented me with a beautiful bag of leaves], I'm on the road to make shibazuke, japanese pickles. Shibazuke is pickled eggplant, cucumber and ginger in salt and red shiso leaves. One of my favorite tsukemono. I love to eat it on hot rice, it's salty, tart and crunchy.

I've only had store-bought shibazuke so I was so exciting to get the shiso plant and start planning what I could do with it. I found this recipe from Sojourner Food. It looked doable. The only item I didn't have from the recipe was the ginger buds, myoga. 

[Ha! I just googled the myoga and found a link on how to grow them. If you feel ambitious to grow your own, here's the link. I may tried this indoors this winter. This is what happens when you don't have a pet anymore. You look for other things to take care of.]

Back to the recipe, I just added little more ginger in it's place of the myoga. Here's some of the pictures of my first attempt at shibazuke.

This is the bag of shiso leaves from the chef. She still want to give me more. This was after I took out 40 leaves for the pickles. I don't know what she's thinking I'm going to make with these leaves. 

it starts out green then turns red on one side
I added the salt to the washed shiso leaves and tossed it together. I let it sit while I prepped the eggplant, cucumber and ginger.
pre-toss with kosher salt
Chopped the veggies into bite size pieces and the ginger into thin strips. Then salt and let to sit for 1/2 hour.
all chopped, waiting for the salt
After a 1/2 hour, I made sure that there was liquid from the salted veggies. Then I squeezed the shiso to get the purple-ly juice out. 
I added the juice and the squeezed shiso to the veggies and toss together. Taste a cucumber to see if the salt needs to adjusted. The recipe says it should be salty enough to pucker but not unbearable. I added a couple more unsalted shiso because I didn't think the juice was purple enough. [I hope it helps]
all mixed up, now to wait
I packed it up in tall-ish plastic container, put dish with a can of condensed milk in another plastic container on top of that to weigh it down and cover. Now to wait a week to it is done. On Sunday, I'll give a mix. I'll post the finish product later. Can't wait, smell great already. 

I still have a 1/2 a bag full of shiso and some ginger to use up. What to do. 

I decide to try out shiso wrapped salmon. The chef at the restaurant told me about this. She said her husband, who is Vietnamese, wrapped fish with the shiso and grilled it. 

I marinated the salmon in koji [store-bought] and grated ginger to keep with the japanese theme. I let it sit for about 1/2 hour then wrap the salmon with the shiso. skewering the leaves to stay on. Then I tossed it on the grill, turning it once, till salmon was done. Here's what it looks like. 
right off the grill
Taste? Pretty good. The koji gave is it that sweet and salty taste. The ginger went well with the koji and shiso flavor. The shiso still had the shiso flavor with a little bit of smokiness from the grill.  Would definitely do it again. 

What I'd do differently? Marinate fish longer with more koji and ginger, probably overnight. Cut up the salmon in smaller pieces so it is easier to wrap in the leave and use toothpicks instead of skewers. And lastly, don't grill in the dark. hard to see when the salmon was ready. I'll write up this recipe when I get the proportions right. Coming soon.

More shiso to use. Maybe some pickled ginger with shiso. Maybe I can dehydrate the leaves and make some furikake. Hmmm. That's a thought.

Friday, September 18, 2015


gerainum leaf

Been shooting a lot with my borrowed camera. Got a bunch of shots from my morning waterings. Just thought I'd share what I've been practice shooting. Having fun with the camera.

Here's my watered album on flickr. If I get more watered pictures will keep adding to it. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

I'm late, I'm late

returning my latest read Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson. Just can't seem to finish it. I've been enjoying, it takes place, part of the time in NYC during the 80's, right when I arrived. I'm almost there and I'll just pay the fine. I thought I'd finish it up on my mini vacation but ended up knitting instead. 

Here's reading stats so far this year. Life of a commuter sure up the books read numbers. I'm impressed with myself.

My last read: Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
Books read so far this year: 7
Books borrowed from the library: 4

As you can see I've been making good use of my library these days. Decided to go old school and borrow books to read on my commute. Since I'm there at least once a month, I've found some great things in the building while searching for something to read.

The New Brunswick Free Public Library is in a old Carnegie building. And still has some great old fixtures. Look at these old shelves.
ornate old metal shelving
close up of the scrolling
On the second level, the floor has opaque glass panels.
love these panels, wish it had a better lighting fixture
This give me more reason not to buy a kindle or a nook. I guess I'll keep doing this until it's not fun anymore. Support you local libraries. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Red Shiso: First Harvest

15 leaves so far
Collecting them to try my hand at making some tsukemono--shibazuke one of my favorites. Japanese pickles of cucumbers and eggplant flavored with red shiso. I found this recipe from Sojourner FOOD. Hopefully will try it after labor day.

You probably know shiso as that green ruffle-ly leaf served with your sushi. You probably thought it was decoration. It's sort of like mint with refreshing flavor. Red shiso is use in to give flavor and color to umeboshi--japanese pickled plum. 

Such beautiful leaf. After I harvest enough for my shibazuke. I'm going to try and harvest the smaller leaves to add to salad. I'm also going to try the recipe that our Thai chef suggested of wrapping fish in the leaf and grilling it. Stay tune for more.
red on backside
and green on top

Sunday, August 30, 2015

tiger fig, fig jam, FIG NEWTON!

Someone at my office left me a tiger fig on my desk while I was in a 1/2 day meeting. It was so beautiful sitting alone on my desk.
what a beauty!
inside and out
This and the FB comments lead me to my next recipe testing. HOMEMADE FIG NEWTONS!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I started with dessert . . .

. . . and now to the rest of the meal.

Friends from Hawaii are in town to move #2 into her new college. Decided to test out some recipes on them. Since they are foodies as much as me I need they would be up for the challenge.

A while back WG had brought home rack of goat. He wanted see what it was like. But it was large amount and we couldn't eat it all. I remembered that A/A were coming at the end of summer and I knew they would be up for it.

Started with appetizers, my grilled tomato salsa with chips and veggies. If you want the recipe, I posted it here. I this time I added green onions to the mix. Made this why A/A/C were in the city seeing friends and doing the tourist thing.
before it was salsa
4 quarts later
Next I marinaded the rack in chimichurri sauce. I'm in love with this stuff. The lemon and lemon zest make this so delicious anyway you eat it. I posted the recipe here. This batch, my herb blend was mint, flat leaf parsley and cilantro.

I also marinaded some shrimp in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and thyme from garden, just in case people didn't like the goat.

Then I started prepping for the panzanella salad from the pioneer woman--grilled some bread, chopped tomatoes, red onions cucumbers and yellow pepper. To be put together when they arrive back.

When A/A/C got back we started to grilling. Goat and shrimp got toss on the grill manned by A and I tossed up the salad.
I think I chopped up bread too big
Now for the main course.
Shrimp with fish sauce/lime juice/chili dipping sauce
carving up the small rack
close-up of A's carving technique
right off the grill from the grillmaster
All came together for a nice tasting with good food, good drink and good friends. 

The overall review of the goat was the smaller rack was pretty tough but flavor good. The chimichurri charred nice and gave is a nice smoky flavor. Just enough salty taste. Larger rack was much more tender and easier to eat. If you never had goat before it not as gaming as lamb. Really worth the try. Even C gave it a try [she was very leery of it] and like it. 

Next time, WG brings home goat from the market. I may try and make a stew out of it. 

Friday, August 28, 2015


soooo good!
That is all I need to say. So delicious, light creamy, bits of crunchy from the meringue with the bright and sweet tastes of the fresh berries. What can be better.

Been wanting to test this recipe. I was thinking that I would maybe make mini ones for the restaurant. I needed to see if it would hold up, how long it would keep and if anyone would like it. I needed an audience to test beside me and WG. 

Then my audience arrived this month. Friends taking their daughter back to college, staying at the house as their home base. And foodies on top of it, perfect!

The pavlova was the finishing course of 4 course meal:

  • STARTER: grilled tomato salsa and prosecco
  • SALAD: panzanella salad and champagne
  • MAIN: grilled rack of goat and shrimp and red wine
  • DESSERT: pavlova with lilikoi mousse, sweeten whipped cream, blackberries and raspberries
Will post more about this meal but this post it's all about the sweets and I wanted to share this recipe. Great presentation and so delicious. You will make your guests very impressed and happy.

Used the Ina Garten's Mixed Berry Pavlova recipe. I didn't think the oven was hot enough and baking time seemed too short because I didn't think the meringue wasn't crisp enough. With further research, I've found some other recipes that I may try this again. One from, that took me to this one from

Here's some pictures of my pavlova. The meringue cake can be made ahead. It takes the longest time. But what I did was make it in the morning and let it sit until my guest arrive and put it together right before serving. 

the meringue cake
I had 2 layers on top of the meringue cake. The center layer was lilikoi mousse that I made up with some leftover lilikoi syrup for another recipe [fail] and blackberries and raspberry. Top layer was whipped cream with the rest of the berries.

I whipped up a cup of cold heavy cream with 1/4 of sugar, till I got stiff peaks. Watch out you don't make butter. Then I put half of it in another bowl and added the lilikoi syrup. The lilikoi syrup I have was from a failed attempt from this recipe I was trying to make an orange passionfruit version on my first try and it didn't set which left me syrup. If I made the syrup from scratch, I would make up as simple syrup and add the juice and reduce to it became syrup-y. You don't need that much to flavor the whipped cream. I probably added about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. It's mostly to taste.

My friend and her daughter assembled the pavlova. They lovingly distributing the berries on each layer. But if you are lazy like me, you can plop the lilikoi mousse on the meringue cake. The berries on top of mousse, the whipped cream on top of the berries and drizzle he  lilikoi syrup on top of all of it.
all put together
with the drizzle of lilikoi syrup
The five of us tried our best to eat all of it but we couldn't. The leftovers [for me and WG, twist our arms] was eaten the next day, not as good texture-wise, a smig soggy but taste-wise still delicious. Try it! You and your guest will not be disappointed.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I need to dehead

I wish I spent as much time gardening as I do in the kitchen. As a result of my neglect, I need to dehead many of my plants. I actually thought most of them are quite beautiful and  took some shots of the many stages of deheads. 

Here's a couple of shots of my neglected plants. At least I have seeds for next year's planting. 
purple coneflower
I think I should start some new plants from the purple coneflowers. My patch is looking a little sad. I need to add some other plants in that bed.

Thinking of making up collection of black and white cards from these to put on my etsy site. I made up album on flickr if you want to see more.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

What to do with ...

Peaches (2), apple (1) and a cup of blueberries. Well, I decided I wanted cake. Found a recipe with this fruit combination and it had crumb topping, that sealed the deal.

This Apple Blueberry Peach Coffee Cake recipe is from

This are my adjustments I made: 
-used a springform pan
-didn't have enough blueberries [only had 1 cup]
-add approximate 1 c chopped walnuts to the crumb because I saw crumbs walnuts in my freezer right before I started the cake

Forgot to get shots of prepping fruit and making the batter. This is really hard to document these steps. Lots of stopping and starting and getting setup. Here's where I remember to start shooting.

The recipe calls to add 1/2 the apples and peaches to the batter. That's a great idea it makes the cake moist and you get the fruit flavor throughout the cake, not just the top. Tried to chop the fruit about the same size.
All fruit chopped and topped on the batter
I would keep the butter on the cool side verse room temp so the crumb will be more chunky. I forgot and I left my butter out.
Crumb add--lots of crumb. Yum!
[Color change because I was trying to shoot the cake with just natural light. Lots of learning about shooting food. I think I'm getting better. One day, I'll be totally prepared to shoot every step.]

The cake took longer than the recipe called for. I used a cake tester to make sure it came out clean.
right out of the oven
This is a very tall cake. I'm so glad I used a springform pan. It makes it so much easier to get out of the pan. {Hint: I always put a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the springform pan for easier transfer to the serving dish or cake board.} This cake probably can serve at least least 10 people, depending on how big the slices are but I know it can serve more.
Eat Me!
[Back to the overhead light. Too hard to get a shot of the inside of the cake]

Notice the fruit layer. If I had more blueberries, it would have had larger purple layer. See how buttery it is.
The first slice
This is a really great cake. Buttery, moist and great crumb. Looks great, will impress any guest. Hardest part of the recipe probably was the chopping of the fruit. [not really that hard if you like to chop like me] Give it a try, it is so worth it.