Happy 2012!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Part of our celebration includes devouring these ice cream sandwiches above!!  yum yum yum.  (The recipe for these monster cookies is at the end of the post!)  As I am celebrating the New Year, I can still hardly believe that  2012 is here already but I am pretty excited.  2011 was super awesome and I know 2012 will be even better.  We had a pretty chill NYE - ate roasted sweet potatoes and a salad instead of the rack of lamb and vegetable curry we had gotten groceries for...all because we were too full from eating hot pot for lunch, HAHA!  We couldn't stay awake till count down time to the New Year and I woke up in the middle of the night super sore from yoga on Friday (pathetic)...BUT 2012 couldn't have started off better because I woke up to homemade waffles! Woot woot! Happy New Year to me! 

I know, I'm so lucky.  I don't take it for granted ;)

It was unusually warm in DC this morning and afternoon, almost 60s and beautifully sunny, so we hopped onto the metro and went to a nearby park with a lake.  I've really missed being outdoors and breathing fresh air ever since we came back from South Africa, so this was just what I wanted.  Vitamin D, wonderful.

Going to spend the rest of January 1 working on some SA photos, watching the House marathon on TV and cooking our lamb.  I hope you are having a good New Year's Day like I am.  Now..time for some resolutions.

My 2012 New Year's Resolution:
Last year I decided not to make any resolutions because I was tired of breaking them, however, with a break, my faith in myself has been restored and I think I will try again, though I will keep it short.

  • Exercise more (specific goal - do yoga regularly and work out 3x/week at least)
  • Bring my lunch more, thereby save money!
  • Swear less.  I have a little post-it note on my desk and I am certain it is working already.
  • Work harder to improve my photography and business!

Lastly, here's the recipe for those cookies!

Monster Cookies (Makes 3 dozen):
I've never had monster cookies until ICM told me that those were his favorites and his mom made them often when he was young.  I found some recipes online and made a batch but it wasn't until eating the version that his mom made that I really started loving them.  They are really good cookies - not too sweet, slightly chewy, and filling - really great for hiking - protein and everything.

This recipe is based on a few recipes that I found online, so I take no credit.  This recipe also has a little bit less sugar and less butter than the others, so for those who are sugar/butter-conscious, this should be pretty good.  I think we're going to try to figure out how to substitute more sugar out with agave nectar next time...will keep you posted on how that goes.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup packed brown or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 oz peanut butter (I did 16 oz and it was good too)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 4 and 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • Preheat 350 degrees F
  • Mix eggs and sugars together.
  • Mix in salt, vanilla extract, peanut butter, butter, and baking soda.
  • Mix in the rest and stir it all together.
  • Take a tablespoon of batter, roll it a little and place it on your cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for ~10minutes and let cool!  I always eat one warm though...preferably with ice cream.  
  • Note:  I don't usually make all 36 cookies because we can't eat them all.  I'll make 12 and split the left over batter into two portions and put them in the freezer.  Other recipes say to eat them within a month or two. I've had it in for 3 and the cookies tasted fine still. 
  • Enjoy

Happy 2012.  I wish you all good health, lots of laughter, lots of good and healthy foods, and lots of adventures :)

South Africa photos later today!

Thanksgiving in October!! That's right!

Yup! We had Thanksgiving in October last Saturday!!! And yes, we still have a lot of turkey left! Delicious :)  For reasons I cannot remember, I didn't have turkey for Thanksgiving last year.  So this year, when I realized that we would be in South Africa during Thanksgiving,  I decided that perhaps we could have Thanksgiving dinner early.  Thanks to good friends who love food and are open to strange suggestions, we pulled together an awesome Thanksgiving dinner:  brined turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted winter vegetables, green beans with shallots and garlic, spinach salad, home made rolls, AND pumpkin pie!

It was my first time ever cooking a turkey and after a lot of research, I decided to brine it with water, salt, and herbs, both fresh and dry.  I was really nervous about overcooking, undercooking, and/or screwing it up somehow.  BUT I think it turned out pretty well and I was happy about it.  I am now a true believer in brining!

We did have a small incident where we thought we were roasting breast side up (even though I really wanted breastside down).  But because ICM apparently can't tell which side the breasts were, somehow it worked out to breastside down...yeah, don't ask.  The reason for roasting breastside down is so the juices would flow towards the breast and keep it moistened (since no one wants to eat super dry white meat)!  Overall, our turkey was moist and yummy! 

My dinner that night..well, first round :)

Oh yeah, and this is what happens after Thanksgiving dinner...even in October :)

I had made my own pie crust and pumpkin pie filling from scratch about a week ago...the crust sort of failed, so even though I had said I'd make the pie, I decided that the pie master (miss A) should.  And I am just in awe of this perfect pie crust that she made... it puts me to shame!

So lastly, since I like to blame ICM for both things that he should be blamed for and maybe things that he shouldn't, I decided to give him a shout out.  Apparently it is important that they get positive feedback every once in a while.  Because I threw such a huge/child-like fit about not being able to go to the pumpkin patch twice, he got me a baby pumpkin one day! AWWWW. 

Ice cream and dominoes. Good night.

I am sorry, I went missing again...

I know that last time I had said I wouldn't go MIA again and promised to be more discipline...but obviously, it didn't quite work I am sorry!

I really have no idea where time has been going except it just feels like it's moving super fast, there is a ton of things to do, and I haven't been able to process everything! Very quick recap though:  California was awesome (i.e. spent time with family and friends AND ate a ton of food, ICM survived!)!

I had a great time was so awesome to have a change of scenery from DC :)  Here are some photos from the beach (I love you, Pacific Ocean), lunch at the San Pedro Seafood Market

We got to experience the crazy fog that set in all of a sudden while we were at Venice Beach!

Oh yeah, and I am SO HAPPY to report that I finally had Ricky's Fish Tacos! I want one now.

Ying Ying took us to the Bowers Museum to see a really interesting exhibit which featured Terra Cotta soldiers and items from the different Chinese dynasties.  I wish we had more time but go check it out!

Lastly, here's a small glimpse on what I ate while I was home :)


Cider donuts and complaints about the U.S.

SO. Donuts or my complaints first?
Hmm..I usually like good news first. Let's talk about donuts then!!
Yesterday was the Takoma Park Street Festival and even though it was COLD (40ish degrees), drizzling, and gloomy, I was excited to visit the festival!  I went determined to get a limeade fizz because the one I got last year was so good.  After a loop around the festival wishing I had another jacket, I decided I couldn't get a cold drink.  (Summer, it really is good bye. Autumn, where are you?  Winter, you are WAY early!).  Sure I was disappointed that I was without my fizzy drink but that was when I came upon Mac's Donuts.  I was mesmerized with the little machine that flips donuts on its own!!! A stick-o-donut and a hot apple cider after, ICM and I were happy campers.  Both items were served pipping hot and they were deliciouis.  Donuts and powdered sugar, you really can't go wrong. 

The cool machine! Sorry, not the greatest photo.

Why does this photo look so drab? Because the weather WAS drab...Thank you for cheering me up in this crap weather, Mac Donuts.

Our stick-o-donuts :)

Alright, after a happy note, let's talk about my disappointment-of-the-day.

This is how I feel about the U.S. today...not so great.

At the gym today, while I intended on reading about Leonardo DiCapprio, I came across an article about migrant workers and illegal immigrants who are hired to pick blueberries in Maine and I couldn't stop reading.  The article told a more personal story about a father and his two the same time, it did a great job providing facts about the industry and migrant workers. I especially liked this article because it pointed out an irony of a town that attracts tourism for its blueberry festival as well as uses blueberry as its own identiy.  YET the migrant workers who make this happen are often alienated and treated as second class.  The article also pointed out the fact that these migrant factors did not steal jobs, they picked up jobs that were abandoned by whites.  Most, if not all fruit picking in the United States is dependent on migrant workers, 50% of which are illegal immigrants.  These people contribute greatly to the U.S.'s economy but we give them no way to obtain legal citizenship. Reading the article reminded me of how unfair this all is and how horrible some people are!!!  The next time you eat fruit, think about who picked it and what you are doing to them.  If the country thinks that these people should have no rights in the United States, then we need to stop exploiting them by paying them next to nothing!!!  If you are not voicing your concerns, you are also condoning this behavior.  And if you don't think anything of it and do nothing about it, you are sort of like a slave driver.  In a lot of ways, people who are anti-immigration are like slave drivers because they are exploiting people who have no where to go and are doing this to meet bare living requirements.  Where is the god damn humanity??? 

I have an excuse...I've been sick..

Hello!!  Sorry I have been MIA!!! Unlike other times where I was just lazy and not disciplined, this time I have a valid excuse! I swear.  I don't get sick often (knock on wood) but this cold really sucked.  I was fatigued, snotty, headachy, and sadly, SLOW!  I hope you don't get it!  I'm happy to report that I am feeling much better and almost back to normal.

As a sickie, these were some of the insightful thoughts that crossed my mind and I wanted to share them with you...
  1. I didn't think I could love sleep more...but I did/do. 
  2. I love lemon/lime with honey.  YUM.
  3. I love porridge. YUM YUM YUM.
  4. Next time ICM gets sick, I am going to have to stay away for self-preservation sake. HA!  At the very least, I'll make sure to leave a big pot of porridge and an ample supply of tea and lemons.

Alright, sharing a few more photos from H Street.  Hopefully more material soon.  The weather really hasn't been cooperative or inspiring.

Below:  This was where I got my bbq that was photographed in the last H street post.  DELICIOUS.  The line was the longest at the whole festival and it was worth every minute I stood there!

I love corn!!!  What I had:  Corn with chili butter. 
This past corn season was good here but corn in Ohio was really the best. 
One reason to love the mid-west :)

So blown out/overexposed...but somehow, the photo works for me...

Sorry for those who can't stand the sight of porky's head!  On the right = roast pork lollipop!

Yeah, I'm a dork...couldn't resist taking a photo in that cool little mirror.

Have a good rest of the weekend!!!  And up those vitamins!


Don't know about you but I had an awesome long weekend!  We celebrated our 31,556,926 seconds together (as well as Labor Day) with waffles, wine, Wegmans, lots of violent movies from Netflix, and pork.  Yes, PORKY PORK!!!  Before I get to pork, I've got to say that this was the best waffle I have ever had and I hope to have many more.  Wait, not hope...I mean "I better have many more!!!"  Thanks, ICM!!! 

On Sunday, ICM had the great plan of going wine tasting and dropping by Wegmans on the way.  We've never been to Wegmans and I loved it!!!  It was so wonderful that we went twice, once before to pick up picnicky things for wine tasting and then WENT BACK to explore.  Tons of fresh produce, tons of meat, they even have a huge section on kitchen utensils and cookware!!!  I hope there's a Wegmans in heaven...hmm, or hell....well, whichever I end up in...probably hell?

After reading some blogs on wine tasting and yelp reviews, I picked the Aspen Dale Winery in Virginia. Aspen Dale was great.  It was cozy indoors with live music playing and there was also a nice outdoor area with tables where we had a picnic.  My favorite from the tasting was the Rose (ro sey) and the Sauvignon Blanc. Yum.  Staff were friendly and what sets Aspen Dale apart from other wineries was their paring plate.  I've been to a bunch of tastings but this was the first time I've received food (chocolates, cheeses, sausage) as part of a tasting.  The pheasant sausages were delicious, seriously!

Yup, that's a picnic utensils even has plates...because we're fancy like that :)

We have to back track a little bit into time before I get to my 7 pounds of pork shoulder.  I ordered my Lucky Peach magazine (a food journal co-edited by David Chang of Momofuku) a while back but let's just say I waited quite a while for it to arrive.  After a treacherous journey, I am happy to say that the magazine finally arrived Sunday morning!   While flipping through the magazine, I saw a recipe for roasted pork shoulder.  I really had no intention of cooking it but when we were at Wegmans, I noticed that pork shoulder was only $1.29/lb!!!  I didn't know how cheap it was!  And I couldn't resist...I wanted to get the biggest one but at the urging of someone who loves pork less than I do and maybe more logical than I was at the time, I chose the smallest one there.  :)

Lucky Peach is a great read.  And if you love food, Anthony Bourdain, and cuss words, then this is for you.

David Chang's recipe in the magazine basically called for seasoning the pork shoulder with salt and sugar overnight and roasting it in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 6 hours.  I have to say I was slightly disappointed with the recipe because it made the outside layer of the pork REALLY REALLY salty.  But after trimming it out and shredding the pork, it was pretty good.  Just an aside:  If you ever want to get rid of every bit of fat on a piece of meat, then you should hire ICM - our resident 'fat' police.  I've never seen someone as meticulous as he is with getting rid of fat...on rib eyes as well as entire pork shoulders.  While my first reaction is "oh no, what is he doing...he's getting rid of the good parts!" I try to tell myself that this is for good health, so I can be alive longer and eat more pork.  Yeah....Well, back to my main point.  We realized that while this was good, pork smoked in a smoker is way better...more the reason I must acquire a smoker and a real grill.  Some day!  With the pork, we made carnita tacos.

All right, that's all for now.  Good night!

Finally it's Friday

Cheers to a Happy Friday! And hopefully a better week next week!

Not going to lie, this week was the kind of week that made me really look forward to Friday.  But instead of complaining like I have been doing the last few days (on and off the blog), I am going to focus on the positives and things that I'm thankful for.  Here they are in bullet format!
  • My coffee maker in the morning has been back for almost a week now!!!  Coffee delivered to bed? YES PLEASE :) Thank YOU!
  • Sidebar...sure their service has been rather slow (mostly because they seem to be extremely under-staffed), but their drinks continue to be delicious and their decor continues to be an inspiration.
  • People who go to Sidebar with me...they listen to me bitch and they tell me funny and sometimes tragic stories.  
  • An awesome meet up with an old friend of a friend...sometimes, you meet people who are super beautiful inside and out and they blow you away - genuine, kind, loving, funny, and smart.  It was so fun to just catch up and learn more about each others' lives. So thankful to meet people like that in my life!!
  • And of course...good food!!!  Highlights this week:  Jaleo (I love you, Duck Confit)...and home cooking!

More photos from Sidebar!

Cooking seems to be therapeutic for me, so on Thursday, when I needed a break from being annoyed and wanted something like Hainan Chicken, I decided to make it!  Here's a recipe if you're interested in trying (click for link)

I love shallots.  Yes, that's a whole chicken submerged in ice water...

Lastly...a quote for you :)
Albert Einstein said, "Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving!"  Okay, I added the exclamation mark myself....and I should have taken a photo of a moving bicycle to better illustrate the quote...but I really liked the pink handle bars.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

T-7 Days! (Tout de Sweet photos!)

After sleeping a total of 16.5 hours last night, I am feeling quite refreshed!  So far, it's been pretty productive.  Met up with some wonderful girls over breakfast-ish things and headed to the Farmers' Market.  I got some fresh corn and am so excited to be making my most favorite corn recipe with my own planted basil!  After doing what feels like a ton of laundry and sending off some prints to WHCC for my intro project, I finally finished working on photos from Tout de Sweet (The Pastry Shop) from last week (link).  And without further ado, here they are!

 I am eye-ing that pistachio cupcake...can't wait till Tuesday when I can finally get my hands on one!

Left to Right:  Romain Cornu, Andrea Sepulveda, Pastry Chef/Owner Jerome Colin, and Owner Sofia Colin.

The green ones are my favorite. I think it's lemon basil.

This was the first time I've ever contacted a store and asked to photograph them, their products, and their staff.  I wasn't sure what the experience would be like except I was really nervous about getting good photos that I could give to them as a thank you for letting me get in their way for a good hour.  What I didn't expect was their wonderful involvement in helping me photograph...they'd ask me if I want them to take cakes out of the refrigerator, what colors of macaroons I wanted, where I thought they should stand, etc.  Somehow I didn't expect it and I should have...of course they care that these photos correctly represent what they've created so beautifully! Besides, they are just such nice people!!!  I got really lucky.  What I also didn't expect (because I've never done this) was how much I enjoyed discussing ideas with them and hearing and working on their suggestions.  It was a lot of fun. 

One of my favorite parts of my hour there was after I was about to finish packing up, Chef Jerome asked me if I could take action shots of him and his wife Sofia eating outside.  I saw him go in the back of the store to grab 2 plates of cakes while telling his wife to make 2 espressos.  I loved it because at that moment, I felt that he was enjoying the process as much as I was...and more importantly, I got a glimpse of their relationship - there is familiarity, humor, and wonderful chemistry.  Such a cute couple, it made me happy to have witnessed that.

Tout de Sweet - thank you again and I wish you guys all the best!

Tout de Sweet
7831 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 951-0474