Month: February 2006

Happy Birthday

What an amazing weekend. After getting off of work early, Ben and I had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory before seeing Swan Lake. Hmm, that merits its own post, so I’ll add that later. The next morning . . .

San Francisco, California!
(brace yourself for a lot of pictures)

We took the BART into town and dropped off our luggage. The plan is to spend the first day walking downtown, getting aquainted with the city.

First things first in SF, get lunch!

Sorry it’s blurry (I hate the way flash looks). Bento boxes started the trip.

We quickly spotted our future penthouse apartment.

Getting our bearings. We rode the bus everywhere. San Francisco has great public transit.

Chinatown: window gazing and a vanilla cake snack (the puffy ones).

Then onto North Beach. I liked that all the posts are painted this way.

We decided to cut east to Lombard street. I was out of breath before the hard part!

Great view from the top though.

‘Nough said.

After the most amazing hot cocoa I have ever sipped, we went back to North Beach for dinner. Of all the Italian restaurants, we happened to pick the Mona Lisa, where I went with my family the last time I was in SF! I had a delicious artichoke ravioli with tomato cream sauce.

Our hotel, the Stratford, was right on Powell and Market. Very convenient. A bit noisy at night with one begger playing Christmas carols on his violin, another banging plastic tubs and singing Rice-A-Roni, and a third banging Chinese drums in the morning with his friend playing a recorder. Add to that the cables churning underground, and it’s a good thing we were exhausted every day and didn’t have trouble sleeping.

Small rooms, but clean and smartly decorated.

The elevator was incredibly slow. One time we tried taking the stairs to our room on the 6th floor. Only one time.

Cute breakfast room overlooking the street.

The F Line streetcar was our favorite route. It was quick, convenient, and fun to ride the old cars.

Ah! Look how relaxed these two strangers are.

This is the farmer’s market on Saturday morning at the Ferry Building. So much wonderful produce!

Ben’s new favorite orange is the cara cara, seen here.

no comment

At the wharf. We tried to buy Alcatrez tickets but they were sold out until Monday. Oh well, there was so much else to do, like seal gazing.

At the Boudin bakery museum, Ben provided a little free tech support with their jammed printer.

The vault with the MASTER MOLD!!!!

Mmm, sourdough . . .

We thought it was hilarious that there’s a GAP squarely on Haight and Ashberry.

While once a hippie nexus, the street is full of cafes and vintage clothing stores now. We went to the Red Vic Movie House and saw a documentary called 24 hours on Craigslist. It was obviously low budget but you don’t notice because it had such hilarious content. It was the perfect way to feel like a local on a rainy afternoon.

Dinner was at Bangkok Noodles back near Union Square. Ben had Tom Yum soup that made him cry from the heat (very unusual for him) and I had yellow curry chicken. That’s a gardenia in my hair he bought on Haight after our movie.

Ghiradelli still has the best sundaes.

Oh! The visions of my childhood revisited!

Sunday morning, the museum wasn’t open yet, so we wanted to hike up to Coit Tower. Unfortunately, the Tour of California had the same plan.

We made it!

Look at all the supporters cheering us on. 😉 They also gave us energy bar samples, how thoughtful!

Such a beautiful day, we wanted to do more walking before going to the museum. This is back in North Beach at City Lights bookstore.

Lunch across the street

Cheesesteaks and garlic fries.

In the Presidio neighborhood I found another sweet from my younger years.

It’s amazing to see calla lilies growing all over.

Change of plans: instead of the museum we walked all the way from the Exploratorium to Sausilito. This is halfway, on the bridge.

Dang, that’s a long way to walk. Our feet are killing us and we didn’t plan for bringing water or snacks. But it was worth it.

Remember this?

Took a ferry and bus back to Union Square where we had Indian food, cheesecake, and collapsed into bed.

It was a fantastic trip. I only wish we had another day or two to see more. We didn’t get to the Golden Gate park, any museums, Castro neighborhood, Cowhill shopping, etc. But it was a great and memorable birthday.

I finally made Indian food. Here is aloo gobi, but with butternut squash instead of potatoes. Totally untraditional. I made this way too spicy, but otherwise it was good. The puree is my yellow split peas – FINALLY cooked to tenderness. The meal needed something bright, so I added the steamed green peas.

This meal was so colorful! Also very tasty. I had to use up all my extra vegetables before we went on vacation. From the 6 o’clock position going clockwise: baked parmesan coated eggplant, roasted beets, steamed snap peas, glazed parsnips and carrots, and balsamic rosemary chicken. Yum!

Oddly, Ants on a Log sounded really good after work. Last time I made these I must have been in elementary school. I remember it being a lot messier to assemble back then.

Mmm, after all that ethnic food, we were craving something comforting. This is my super duper chili. May be served with cheese and cilantro, but Fritos are a MUST.

Vet Visit

Molly has been scratching her scab and created a new bald spot, so I decided I should invest in a visit to the vet. I hadn’t done so already because she didn’t seem bothered by the scabs and last year they just went away. But if she’s hurtin’ I want it checked out.

They did a thorough skin check and found another big scab under her chin that I didn’t know about. After discussing possibilities, we decided to have a skin scrape done. My vet’s office is awesome, friendly staff, very modern looking, and hosts their own surgery, pathology, and radiology clinics. After her scrape Molly was returned to our exam room looking quite grumpy, on top of her already severe nervousness. Within 10 minutes the vet came in saying “There’s a party on her back!” As she suspected, Molly had a secondary bacterial infection, which are quite itchy. The vet ruled out mites or other parasites and only saw 1 or 2 cells which would have indicated diet allergy.

So we don’t know what caused the initial scratching, just that now it’s infected. But at least we are able to treat her with antibiotics to get rid of the infection. “This isn’t going away on its own,” she said. Ben will have the pleasure of getting Molly to take two pills twice a day, starting on Tuesday after we get back from San Francisco.

Molly looks relieved, but I’m pretty sure it’s because she’s back at home, away from the lady who pokes her belly. I tried to tell Molly that at least they didn’t stick anything up her bum this time.

Weekend Update

Sorry if you saw some duplicate posts, blogger was acting funny that day. I think it’s all cleaned up now.

I’ve had the privilege of co-choreographing some works for the Arvada Center’s spring dance recital. The director, Christina, will be out of commission for a few weeks post surgery, so she’s having me help set and rehearse the numbers. They are doing the Velveteen Rabbit, La Boutique Fantastique, and the 12 Princesses. I wasn’t familiar with any of these short ballets. This weekend I worked on Boutique, and later I may work on 12 Princesses.

It’s been a little nerve-wracking. I only had a couple hours to familiarize myself with the ballet they set in 1994. Then when I met with Christina, we completely changed it and I was choregraphing with her on the fly. I didn’t even have time to take notes, so last night I was working off memory while setting it on the dancers with her. Then, again, I only had this morning to finish the dance that we set this afternoon. It’s also the first time in 8 years I’ve choreographed a piece for actual dancers (vs. drama students). I forget that I can make it complicated, so that part is fun, but I’m also nervous because they have higher expectations.

But today went well overall. Christina was appreciative of my help and said she couldn’t have covered half the material we did without me. I think that’s an exaggeration, but I’m glad I can help. I brought my video camera and shot the parts finished today. Afterward Christina asked me to help her remember where we stopped working, and I said it would be easier if I just gave her a DVD to look at! Showbiz is a bare-bones editing suite. I don’t like it very much, but it got the job done. I wonder if I can learn to post video to this blog. . .

With this recital, I mostly want to get my foot in the door for future shows. I could see myself taking the reins for other projects, and maybe getting a tuition discount.

African and French

Foo foo: smashed plantains. These took time, but hardly any effort. These plantains had a natural lemony flavor to them.

Injera: flat bread for eating Ethiopian food. It didn’t taste at all like what they serve in restaurants. The bread was too stiff and the distinct sour taste was missing. I think I can attribute those to too thick of a batter and using whole wheat in place of t’ef. Still good though, like a wheat pancake.

Nketia Fla: peanut chicken stew. This was really good. I shredded the chicken and partially pureed it in addition to Bittman’s recipe. This dish is from Ghana.

Argh, I can’t cook dried legumes for the life of me! Here are my yellow split peas after an hour of soaking and THREE hours of simmering!!! The pea was so undercooked it still bounced when dropped on the counter. I heard that you can’t cook dried legumes with acidity (tomato) because their interaction prevents softening. But so many recipes include tomatoes, how can that be true? Nevertheless, these were left in the fridge overnight, slow cooked for 4 more hours the next day, and are now in my fridge waiting to be eaten.

Soup au Pistou: this was a special treat for Ben, since I hardly ever cook mushrooms. The soup had a really good flavour. Served with parmesan basil toasts.

One nice thing about Ben being home is that the dishes are always done when I back from work. And as a bonus, he lets me play Vanna White! 😉 Six, count ’em, six cabinents for me to close.

mis en place 🙂

More Weekend

Measily pictures from my phone camera, but for low resolution in a dark dark place, what do you expect? These are from the dance club I’m always talking about, Lipgloss. I’ve wrangled more friends into going with me, and I think they’re hooked. I look forward to more weekends of feverish shaking to music.

Also went to the Pacific Ocean Market and Viet Hoa again. I bought a few things that weren’t on my list because I couldn’t pass them up. A bunch of basil for $1, in the middle of winter?!! Crazy good deal. This week we’ll be enjoying more international cuisine, from Africa, India, Thailand, China, Italy, and France. What I love about Bittman’s book is how accessible he makes the exotic dishes. Now I’ve picked up my older foreign cookbooks, and the task seems easier. Bittman breaks the ice. It’s exciting to understand the ingrediants better and realize how common cooking techniques are worldwide. Nothing is difficult, just different. (Lets see if my tune changes when I tackle foo foo this week.)

Weekend Update

Started the weekend with a Mexican style soup: tomatos, onions, anaheim pepper, bell pepper, hominy, and corn. Served with guacamole and ovenbaked tortilla chips.

Ben has been into coconts lately. Pictured here is a “young coconut.” He prefers to the young to the old ones – more milk and easier to eat. I don’t like any coconut. 😛

How does my cat do this? She gets these gaping scabs on her shoulderblades, where I’m pretty sure she can’t reach. Whole sections of hair go missing and it bleeds. I’ve never seen her scratch herself. Last year, when she last had one, our vet thought it was diet-related. But we haven’t changed her eating habits in the past year. Why all of the sudden did she get a large one?

The aforementioned scarf. The colors here are not quite accurate, but close. I love this cable design. It looks complicated but it was super easy.

Ta da!

I’ve worn it almost everyday since I made it. Also note, I’m getting a little better at taming the perm. We’ll have to wait and see what humidity horrors await in SF later this month.

There’s more to my life than cooking, I promise . . .

But it’s what I do everyday, and it’s fun to take pictures of!

Slow Cooker Pork with steamed broccoli and homemade chedder garlic biscuits.

Stuffed Peppers. Yum! Used the leftover tomoto sauce from the pork.

Pot Stickers, Basmati Rice, and Napa Cabbage salad with almonds. Various dipping sauces.

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip cookies and milk, and 10 Days in Africa game. I almost won this time! Foiled by Brian again . I just needed to switch Angola for Mali, and he covered up Mali on the discard pile right before my turn! Blast!

In other arenas, I just finished my first cable knitting experience. I love this new scarf, and I’ll put up a picture when it’s done.

Going dancing with friends again tonight. I started a cutting a dress last night and I hope to get it put together in time to wear it tonight. I’ll blish pics of that too, once it’s done. First Ben and I are going back to the Pacific Ocean Market for more ingredients.

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