Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas

Christmas morning!

Alright, if I don't write about Christmas now, I'll forget everything about it soon. Christmas is really more about kids than the adults. Chris and I both agreed to only fill the stocking for each other and no big gifts. We normally get stuff for each other during the year and we (especially Chris) will just get anything that we wants anyways. So it's all about Miss T. This year was more fun since she's more aware of Christmas from daycare, TV, family, etc. We even got her to go see Santa this year. We had to convinced her that she could ask for more than one thing. (I know, probably shouldn't have done that.) So far, here's the list of presents she got for Christmas:

play doh set with an activity table (from Santa)
pink little people minivan (from Santa, since she asked for a pink car)
digital music turntable thing that makes a lot of noise
digital camera
Christmas morning!
books
4' high rag doll
doctor set
CDs (Baby loves Jazz and Baby loves Hip Hop)
magnetic dress up doll
finger painting set (someone please remind me to talk to my aunt about this one)
Totoro stuffed doll
metal cooking set

The list is not completed yet as she haven't got the ones from her grandparents yet. Even with all the new toys, Chris and I are still buying stuff for her yesterday. We don't spoil her at all!

Back to Christmas Day. All the prepping paid off since I only have a few things to do in order to finish off the meal. Before dinner, we were snacking on these.

snacks

The actual menu for Christmas dinner:
Roasted Goose
Christmas Goose
Baked miso butter salmon
Miso butter salmon
Rice dressings w/ chestnuts
Scalloped potatoes
Sour cream apple pie
Caramelized banana lime tart
DSC_0177
individual chocolate lava cakes
gingerbread cake
truffles
Truffles and spiced nuts
(We were snacking on these prior to dinner though. As shown here with spiced nuts in the background.)

Yes, there were more dessert than the actual dinner. But that's how it goes around here. =) I'm glad to have my brother's family and cousins over. A couple of friends ended up stopping by for dessert as well. I don't think we ever have that much people in our condo before! In all, good times with family with some yummy food. I would be happy to do this again, maybe just dessert next time and just skip the actual dinner part.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve

peeling and more peeling...

This is what I was doing the morning of Christmas Eve. Let me tell you, peeling 5lbs of potatoes is not a fun job. Normally, we celebrate Christmas Eve with Chris' family at his grandparent's house and with my family on Christmas at my parent's house. This year, my parent decided that they are taking a trip to Vegas instead. So, the gathering with my family moved to my place as I'm more centrally located. We didn't mind since it gave us an excuse to totally go overboard with cooking. I decided to do as much as I can on Christmas Eve before we leave for his grandparent's house. Because we were making most things from scratch and that takes a bit of time. (We're a bit crazy like that.) All those potatoes ended up in this lovely dish.

Scallop potato

Don't ask me how much cream went in that dish. I'm determined to keep that a secret.

Here's the other side dish that I was serving. A rice dressing with chestnuts and apples.

Rice Dressing

This is suppose to go well with goose. Oh yeah, Chris decided that we will cook a goose for Christmas. Something different and traditional at the same time. We only found one store with a lone goose sitting in the freezer. But I'll tell you about that later.

Chris was in charge of dessert, as usual. Aside from the sour cream apple pie that I'm responsible for, he decided to make a caramelized banana lime tart, 3 kinds of truffles, gingerbread, and individual chocolate lava cakes.

Truffles filling

These are truffle fillings, not chocolate soups. We were having all kinds of problems with that white chocolate that day though. It was not setting in the filling and firming up too much when we went to coat the peppermint ones later on. Some of it have probably have to do with the cold weather. But I think since there's no standard for the ingredients that goes in the white chocolate, we may be using ones that have too high of a coco butter content. So until we could find a brand that will work, I think we are sticking with dark and milk chocolate for now. The three truffle flavors are thyme-honey (by far the best one), pineapple-coconut-rum, and peppermint.

After all that cooking, we drove up to Vacaville. (I'm pretty sure that is the land of grandparents.) We had a very nice visit with some of his family and grandparents. Miss T got to open her first Christmas present.

A really big present
It was much bigger than she is. Miss T named her "Banana". And Banana now sits next to bed. She also plays the role of the patient with a doctor set that her Aunt Jenni got her. For those who didn't know, Miss T tells us that she will be a doctor when she grows up. We'll see about that...

Chris got the chocolate lava cakes mixed and divided into small ramekins before going to bed. I think he mentioned that he got to bed at 3am. (I was of course completely out by then.) Although I think a little of it had to do with him playing DJ Hero (gift from his sister), a little too late as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Conversation with a 2 years old.

Too busy still getting ready for Christmas dinner. But here's a little story.

This is a conversation between Miss T and Chris two nights ago...
Chris: "Are you going to stay being my baby?"
"No Dada, I'm a big girl. I need to grow."
"Are you going to stay with me when you're big?"
"No, I'm going away."
"Where are you going?"
"Vegas."
"You're going by yourself?"
"No, I'm going with Mama."
"Can I come?"
"No, you have to stay here."
"But I'll be lonely."
"Kuan can stay with you Dada."

(Kuan is Chris' co-worker, btw.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Birthday party @ Habitot in Berkeley

birthday cake

On Sunday, we were invited to a birthday party at Habitot in Berkeley. We have not been there and I only did a quick internet search to get an idea that it's an interactive museum for young kids. We were warned that Miss T may get a little dirty, so I did bring a change of clothes for her with us. Of course, as usual, I left it in the car so it was a good thing we didn't need it.

The birthday party was in a separate room away from the actual play area. The place is not too big, but I imagined it would be more difficult to keep track of the little ones if it's any bigger. There are different areas set up for different activities. I think Miss T like the art/craft room the most.

painting
We need to figure out a way to install one of these in our home. It's just a big piece of plastic/fiberglass mounted on the wall. It gets wash down with water from time to time to provide fresh canvas. She loves to paint and I don't let her paint nearly often enough at home. (I do have carpet everywhere!) It's hard to tell in the picture, but she is wearing an apron that they provided there. The main reason why she didn't need that change of clothes.

stamping
Aside from painting, there's a table set up for stamping. There's one more set up where they could play with gak. Gak is a very weird, slimy substance. But I guess that's part of the appeal? I can't tell you since I don't think I'm the target subject for it.

firewoman?
There is a firetruck set up complete with the uniform to play dress up with. Miss T wore it long enough for me to take a picture. There are other areas that we haven't got a chance to explore yet. I think we may have to come back, perhaps on a play date with one of her friend. (Maybe with Miss R?)

Back to the birthday party, there was of course great food. I think our hosts made most of the food. (Really, really good green curry chicken!) Miss T really enjoy the spam masubi and the cupcakes. To show the extend of their attention to details, they even made gingerbread cookie personalized with the child's name on them in the party bag.

gingerbread man
And here's the partially eaten cookie. Miss T was too quick for me so I didn't get a chance to take a picture until she already took a couple bites. I wasn't sure she would like gingerbread cookie, but she sure liked this one. Thanks for the invite. We definitely had a fun time.

Habitot Children's Museum
www.
habitot.org

2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704-1404
(510) 647-1111

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Day in Yountville

Menu
I got a tip that The Nutcracker performance in Yountville was a lot more reasonably priced for us to try it out with Miss T. (Thanks Jen!) I got the tickets about a month ago and while I'm at it, I can't help but got a reservation at Bouchon as well for lunch. The last time we went was probably about 4 years ago for Chris' birthday. I made reservation on Open Table and made sure to mention that we have a 2 year old with us, just so they know where to put us.

Christmas Tree
See the nice Christmas tree? We were actually seated right in the middle of the restaurant. Miss T is usually pretty good in restaurant, but she *really* likes it here. It might have something to so with the fact that since we stepped inside, everybody made a comment about how cute she is.

crayons
They even have crayons for her to draw on the table! We ordered the macaroni gratin for her. I got a salmon salad to start and a rabbit confit cassoulet for entree. Chris got a mixed green salad w/ goat cheese and a croque madame.
Macaroni gratin
She ended up eating just the *crispy* cheese on top.

Salmon Salad
Isn't this pretty? I think this is the first time I actually like a slow roasted salmon.

croque-madame
I made Chris move the plate for me to take a picture. He ended up burning his finger a little bit since the plate was pretty hot. Oops. Miss T also ate a lot of the fries.

Lunch was great, if a bit pricey. Not like we come up very often though. (At least that's how my reasoning goes.) We went next door to pick up a little sweet treat for later and drove over to the Lincoln Theater for The Nutcracker. Miss T did okay, just about as well as her parent anyways. Her attention definitely started to waive after about half an hour or so. The intermission was really hard since she just wanted to go by then. We did manage to sit through the whole thing with no melt down. Even managed to stay awake the whole time. I have to admit, I was really to take a nap once the second act starts. I need to learn to appreciate it just like Miss T, I guess. Maybe we'll try a bigger production next year.

Oh, the treat that I mentioned. How's this for a treat?
Snowman red velvet cupcake
This is a snowman red velvet cupcake. If you think a $3 cupcake is expensive, this baby cost $9.

then the hat
But what a great way to end the day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Concert @ Daycare

christmas gift from daycare

So today is the Christmas concert/party at Miss T's daycare. (We got this really cute picture of our little girl and a frame that she painted and decorated as gift.) Miss T had been talking about practicing the songs and being told that she had to stand still and be quiet the whole week. Actually, Chris was not planning on going, but decided to in the end since she was so excited about it.

How did it go? I don't know, we ended up missing the whole thing because I was stuck in traffic. Times like this really get me thinking about working closer to home. I felt so bad about missing it. Since I had to pick Chris up on the way, he missed it as well. So don't even get me started on how much more guilty I felt when this conversation happened:
Miss T: "Mama, you didn't see me singing."
"I know sweetie, I got stuck on the road with a lot of cars. I'm so sorry."
"I didn't see Mama or Dada out there."
"I know sweetie, Mama is really sorry."
"It's okay Mama, it's an accident."
She then proceed to give me a big hug and a kiss.

I don't deserve such sweet girl.

Chris got her a couple of macaroons from the place next to his work while waiting for me to pick him up as a small treat for her. Sorry for the blurry picture, but there's no way she would stay still.
raspberry macroon

In an effort to try to make me feel better, since I was crying as I'm sitting in traffic calling to him that we'll be late, he got me a salted caramel chocolate tart.

I don't deserve such sweet husband either.

The guilt of being a working mom continues...

Cookies!


As promised, here's the cookies I got from the cookies exchange yesterday. Don't they look yummy? Definitely some that I have not tried before. I guess that is the advantage of a cookie exchange, expanding your cookie horizon. We had 11 people participating total so we made half a dozen cookies for each of the other 10 people (60 total).

Here's a picture of the lemon shortbreads with lemon glaze that I made. I only made enough to give to other people so I didn't have any left for myself. Silly mistake that I'm thinking of fixing this weekend.
lemon shortbread with lemon glaze

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Swap

We are having our first cookie swap at work tomorrow. I decided on lemon shortbread cookies because my first choice, chocolate peppermint meringues would take way too long to bake. But where was this book a week ago?



Pictures to follow on the cookies...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Make a sick day productive...

...look, two posts today! The thing about not visiting your own blog for a while? You forget how bad it looked. So since I'm home sick with no voice, I thought I'll play around with the design a little. Hope the very few of you that still visit like the change. It looks a lot cleaner to me without the overwhelming pink all over.

Christmas Time



Oh look, a blog post. How long ago was my last one? (Of course I could look it up easily, but let's just agree on "a while" and we'll move on.) Things have not slow down around here. Time does seem to go much faster with a little one around. With the hectic weekday routine and trying to make the most of the weekend, weeks and months goes by and it's December already! Now that Miss T is closer to 3, I figure we could start doing more Christmas activities with her that perhaps could turn into a tradition. Chris even let me get a tree this year. It's a fake one and we'll have to figure out where to store that afterward, but I think it turned out really well and Miss T really enjoyed decorating it. Keeping her away from the presents under the tree is a bit more challenging since she thinks all of them are for her. Chris and I have stopped exchanging presents (to lessen the stress of shopping for all the other people), but I've decided to wrap at least one thing for each of us just to get her over the idea that it's all about her. After all, one of the main thing about the Holidays is sharing.

Gingerbread house

The other thing that I've wanted to do is to make a gingerbread house. Now, maybe I've been watching way too many cooking shows, but I was really ready to jump in and bake one myself. Of course, I came to my senses and decides to take it slowly this year and just purchase one of those pre-built ones in the store and you just decorate. (Like my co-worker said, it's not like you'll eat the thing afterward.) I know Miss T would enjoy it, judging by her love of decorating cupcakes and cookies. I had the box sitting on the counter for the past week and she had been asking to decorate it ever since. So on Sunday, after her little bonding trip with Chris to watch Princess and the Frog, I told her she could work on it after she takes a nap. And you know what, the first thing out of her mouth when she woke up was: "Gingerbread house!"

Gingerbread house
I think we did a pretty good job.

We're taking her to her first ballet next week to watch The Nutcracker in Yountville. (I can't help myself and got a lunch reservation at Bouchon before the show.) If I could somehow keep this blogging momentum up, I'll definitely report back.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bread Making


For those who knew us, they will tell you that Chris is the baker in the family. Measuring and being exact were never my thing. I could manage things like tarts and pies because they do not require things to be really exact. Bread making, in my mind, is on a level that I was not interested in getting involved in. Chris made some delicious bread before and all that getting the water to the right temperature for the yeast, timing all the proofs, and kneading does not looked fun to me! That is, until I discovered Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois. It was actually an accidental purchase on my kindle and I decided to keep it anyways. The only thing I had to get was a container big enough to hold the dough while it sit in the refrigerator waiting for me to bake it. I baked my first loaf this morning and it was good (better if I didn't burn the bottom a little bit). It really does only takes about 5 minutes of actual hands on work to start the dough and less when prepping to bake. The dough have not had enough time to get a good flavor yet and the crumb is definitely a little more dense that I would have liked. We'll have to see how the flavor develop as the dough will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. It's no Acme bread, but I will say that it beats a lot of the "artisan bread" that your regular supermarket is selling though. So, for the little amount of work involved, I may be making more bread from now on.

Breakfast

We had the bread for breakfast with some leftover cheese, cold cuts, olive spread and apples. Not the quickest thing in the morning to make, but definitely tasty.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A few very random thoughts


- I discovered that there's nothing like thoughts of losing a few pounds to sent me to make desserts. I really do think I come up with the best ideas. (Picture and recipe to come soon if I manage to pull off what's in my head right now.)

- Am I the only one who thinks underwear are overpriced?!?!? And no, I'm not giving up on them.

- Speaking of thinking about losing a few pounds, I did discovered that finding clothes now is a lot easier. (It really just encourages me to buy more!)

- Talise really don't like to sleep.

- Why do they have so many fundraisers for daycare when we paid an insane amount of money each month already?? Yes, we try to participate on most as well.

- Foreign version of magazines like Woman's Day have much, much more interesting recipes. Eggplant and fish stew? Can't say I expect to see it in the US version anytime soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eating habit of a 2 year old



I was really hoping for a toddler who would be adventurous when it comes to eating. I know, wishful thinking on my part. When she first started on solid food, like most kids, she would eat anything I give her since it's a new flavor compared to the formula she was on. Now she definitely got to the point where she has opinions and favorites. It was pretty difficult for a while there where I have to cook separately for her. Even then, she would only eat Costco chicken and fruits. Lately, it's been a little better, at least it seems a little more balanced and more variety to me. Sometimes she may actually eat what we're eating. She loves rice with the dried shredded pork and seaweed/sesame rice sprinkles that you could get at Japanese stores. (She loves seaweeds!) Chicken is still her main source of protein, at least we got out of the Costco chicken phase. I'm still trying to get her to eat fish, which she will eat salmon sometimes. Vegetable wise, she loves broccoli and will eat some other greens. I don't think there's much fruit that she doesn't like. From what I've been told though, she eats a little more stuff at school. Thanks them serving pasta at least once a week, I could finally serve her pasta at home as well. Pictured is an example of one of her dinner. Poached chicken in soy sauce broth, rice roll (mixed with seaweed, sesame, and dried pork), broccoli, cauliflower and chicken broth. Aside from the cauliflower (Chris is not a big fan either), she ate most of it. Now, I just need to work on a homemade version of 'chicken nugget' that could replace the frozen stuff she asks for all the time.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cherry Cloufoutis



I usually purchase way too much whenever I go to the farmer's market. Everything look and smell so good. Before I knew it, I came back with a full basket of fruits and vegetables. Then it's a race with the clock to eat everything before they go bad. Last week was actually the first time I've been to the farmer's market for a while, I've been waiting for the summer fruits to start. I came back with cherries, strawberries, peaches, squash blossoms, Chinese broccoli, and a bunch of Chinese long beans. I had the intentions to eat the cherries as they are, but a cherry dessert sounded really good last night. A cloufoutis is like a baked custard, easy and fast to put together. Best part is that I have all the ingredients on hand already. The longest part of the recipe is probably pitting the cherries. Some people will say that is unnecessary, but with Miss T eating it with us, I didn't want her to deal with the pits. My OXO cherry pitter made the process quite fast anyways. Recipe is from Joy of Cooking. The only alternation I've done is replace the cognac with a little almond extract.

Cherry Cloufloutis

1 pound of cherries, pitted
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Beat the eggs and sugar together until a little foamy and well combined. Stir in milk and extracts. Add the flour a little at time until fully corporate. Finally, add a pinch of salt to enhance the sweetness. Line the bottom of a baking dish with the cherries. Pour the custard mixture over the cherries. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes and then turn down to 350F for another 35-40 minutes or so, until the middle is set. Serve warm with powdered sugar sprinkle on top.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blog?



I have a blog??? Really?? Maybe I should write some posts sometimes.

(Yes, I will try harder...)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas 2008



I think that since Talise is close to 2 this year at Christmas, she's able to appreciate a lot more. One of the first thing she noticed were the Christmas decorations. The classroom at daycare and home all of a suddenly have all these 'trees' (her word for anything green) around! I think the second thing she noticed and enjoyed are all the lights outside of people's houses. I know for sure that she now knows what snowman is! She recognize Santa, but doesn't get the concept of him yet. She also still screams when Santa walked into her daycare classroom during their little holiday concert/party. I guess we didn't do a good job at introducing her to Santa, since we never mentioned anything about. Next year, she may understand the concept more. I'm still trying to figure out how to approach this holiday. I don't want her to think Christmas is only a time to get presents from everyone. Since Chris nor I are religious, we will have to turn this into something else. Maybe a time for sharing with others and enjoy your family. I guess I have a whole year to figure it out!

- I think we were at about 5 different Christmas parties this year between family and friends. It's a bit hectic, but definitely enjoyable to see everyone since we all get so busy with our everyday lives that we don't make enough time to spend with people we like.

- Thankfully, the gifts were not too excessive. There are still a few things that I think I may donate to daycare so she could share with other kids. I am also in process of cleaning out her old toys so we could donate those as well. She spend most of the time during weekday at daycare, so it make sense for her toys to be there as well and we don't end up with a living room that look like a toy store.

- I think she's getting the hang of opening presents now. Of course, her birthday is just around the corner so she'll have more to open. I guess we will have to figure out whether to have a party for her or not this year. I might just bring stuff in daycare that day. We'll see.

- Her favorite toy so far is probably the wooden sushi set her Uncle Alan and Auntie Brittany got her. I don't think she went through a whole day without playing with it. It also goes with the kitchen I got her nicely.

- Chris got her a tricycle and she loves it. She has been pointing out bikes everywhere she goes. Not surprisingly since she's used to seeing her Dad's bikes. Now her helmet fits her better, we could go for walks with her on it. She's can't pedal yet, but it has a handle in the back for us to push and steer. I think she likes that more than the stroller.

- Her little cousin Audrey was born on 12/23! Talise is no longer the baby in my family. Looks forward to her playing the Talise soon as they are closer in age than her other two older cousins. Since Talise is an only child, her cousins will be the closest thing she has to siblings.

- Lastly, Chris got himself the Rock Band set for the Wii. Talise have been helping with the drums since. I think she enjoyed it a lot more before she got a chance to sit with my Dad on his set of real drums. She was talking about drumming with my Dad a long time afterward (well, what we understand of her description anyways).