Thursday, January 28, 2010

dayton mug

I found this cute mug at the second-hand store. It had tiny little red vintage airplanes, and a dark gray cloud on it.

dayton mug

Usually there's something inside of these dark clouds on mugs, and with hot liquid inside the mug, the images or sayings would surface. I sort of figured it might have something to do ith the Wright Brothers and airplanes, and was really curious on what exactly was written inside the gray cloud... that was why I must buy the mug.

dayton mug

Ahh. Of course. It says, "Dayton, The Wright Place to Be."

This is my favorite mug this week, and yes I have been drinking all my coffees in it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

what has a-gui been doing?

"What has a-gui been doing?" you ask.

Some of you know a couple weeks ago he had a small puncture wound on his head that eventually made the left side of his head/face HUGE. The wound had been cured and he is all good now.

Then one night we found he might have a "cherry eye." I almost passed out when I saw him that night. John helped massage around his eyes, it went away, and we think he is OK.

Other than these couple of not-so-happy events, a-gui has been growing, playing (by himself, or with Nuki and Yama,) and being happy.

He also really likes to help around the caffe.

He likes to check out all the shelves, especially those behind cupboard doors.

He runs and sits down in front of any cupboard we open, and observes whatever was going on.

He also helps monitor John's espresso-machinese-cleaning and filter-changing process.

And most of the time he offers moral support (while lying down comfortably) when we are making coffee.

a-gui has been busy, you see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

curry udon with roasted chicken

I have been loving and eating Japanese curry these days. I brought back a big bag of curry flakes from Tokyo and just barely opened it about a month ago. It's like the curry squares that come in small boxes, but shaved into little flakes!

These little flakes are amazing! They melt and mix in with whatever I'm making and delicious curry is simple and convenient to make.

I've also found a lazy way of making curry noodles.

I boil the noodles for the desired time, and instead of straining them after they are done, I pour out excessive water (while the noodles are still in the pot and save some water,) and add the curry flakes to make curry sauce or soup right in the same pot.

The other night John made some rotisserie chicken thighs (marinated the chicken thigh pieces with a little bit of olive oil, chopped garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine,) so we placed the chicken on top of the curry udon noodles. Very tasty!

curry udon
and of course there had to be some shichimi on the noodles!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

roasting chestnuts is fun

My friend Andrew brought me fresh chestnuts.

I had never roasted chestnuts before, even though I enjoyed them very much. When I was little (back in Taiwan) my dad would buy me a bag of "wok-roasted" chestnuts (糖炒栗子)from street chestnut vendors when we were out about.

I loved holding a hot paper bag full of chestnuts and enjoying the aromas in a cold winter day. Ahh.

Anyhow I checked out a few chestnut roasting techniques and decided to roast them in the convection oven at the caffe.

big chestnuts
The chestnuts Andrew gave me were HUGE.

Here's what I did:

big chestnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Wipe clean the shells of the chestnuts.

2. Cut a little X on the more rounded side of the chestnuts. I used a knife with "teeth" and "sawed" the X.

3. Place the chestnuts (flat side down) on a baking pan. Sprinkle some water on the chestnuts.

roasted chestnuts
4. Bake the chestnuts on convection for 7 minutes (conventional oven 10 minutes), carefully take the pan out and turn the chestnuts (rounded side down) and bake anothet 7-8 minutes (conventional oven 10 minutes).

The outer shells would "bloom" so they are not too hard to remove. The inner shell did require a lot more work for me to peel.

chestnut pieces
The first chestnuts were all broken because I didn't know how to properly remove the shells. BUT they were really tasty!

And then Andrew brought me more chestnuts!

We roasted some more at the caffe, and they turned out very well. I even successfully removed the shells on one of them without breaking it!

peeled chestnut

Here are a few tricks I learned during these couple times of chestnut-roasting:

a. Cutting the X on the chestnuts while they are around room temperature makes it easier to insert the knife into the shells. 1/4 inch cut is what I'd do.

b. John suggested that dipping the chestnuts in water before baking may be better than sprinkling the chestnuts with some water. I did also read from an Asian lady where she soaked her chestnuts before she stir-fry them in the wok. I have yet to test this theory, though.

c. It is a good idea to use a small knife to help "pick" the inner shells off the chestnuts.

d. Chestnuts are fun and yummy.

I saw a simplified home-version of the "Wok-roasted chestnuts" technique and will probably try it out some time.

Yay for chestnuts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

holiday baking

During the holidays I did some baking. Nothing spectacular, just simple and happy little treats.

parmesan cookie
Mini parmesan cookies. These were really cute (about the size of a nickel) and tasty!

baked custard tarts
Egg custard tarts. These didn't quite work out as well as I expected.

I was hoping to make some "egg tarts," specifictly the Portuguese ones (Pastel de nata). The ones I made were more like bread pudding. Oops. I shall try again another time.

Ahhh I need to be baking.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

holiday greenies

Part of the big box of Christmas presents for our pets from Joyce's sister Irene was two boxes of Greenies! One for small dogs and the other for big dogs.

I gave the box for small dogs to Joyce when Torsion was returned to her. Torsion is the only small dog after all!

I didn't open the box for big dogs until New Year's Day, and gave them to Nuki, Yama, and a-gui as a Happy New Year treat.

Keen-y on the Greenie!

"Umm... are you sure this is safe to eat?"

"Oh! A new treat! lick lick lick. nom nom nom."

The dogs loved the presents! Thanks again to Irene and Michael!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

cuties clementines

We had a wondeful holiday break! The few days off were mostly spent with our dogs and cats and around the house. I loved it!

Of course there was a lot of yummy food involved, some of which were these Cuties Clementines!

cuties clementines

These are indeed really cute. Tiny little tangerines that are easy to peel and seedless. Can't beat that.

cuties clementines
Some of the tangerines has a little sticker that reads "Happy Juicydays!" "Seedless Greetings!" or "Sweetest New Year!"

You may have guessed, I have been eating a lot of these little Cuties since the holidays, and thanks goodness again for California!