The food part of this blog has moved to I'll see all you foodies over there!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Highlight of His Life?

Singlespeed World Championships...the winner of the previous year gets to pick where it'll be the next year. Not quite sure, but non-Americans have been winning it, but someone from Napa, CA won it in 2007, so that's where it'll be this year. As you can imagine, David was on it, following closely how and when he can get in. What better time for it to come so close to us, David's riding really well. Registration was New Year's Eve at midnight, he couldn't open the form, so he just sent in an email instead, and crossed his fingers. Only 400 racers got in. About a week later, he got the good news, and came running in (I was still sleeping) and jumped on me with joy. He was SOOOOO happy. I'm really happy for him, and it'll be cool for the kids to see their dad in the world championships! They might freak out though, seeing a bunch of drunk, crazy guys (their dad being one of them...) but it should be a good experience for them. The only other person I know that got in was Siren Mary (congrats to her too), but some others we know will be there to poach the race and support David and PAAARTY! Anyone know of cool things we can do in Napa (besides wine tasting)?

Daring Bakers- January (and my 1st) Challenge

I have finally joined the Daring Bakers and completed my first challenge. Daring Bakers are a group of bakers who are challenged to make one baked good a month. This month's challenge, Lemon Meringue Pie, was my first challenge. I had never made lemon meringue pie before, let alone eaten one, so this was interesting. I had often wondered how it'd taste like, but never got around to buying one. So when I saw that this was this month's challenge, I was pretty excited. My curiousity will finally be answered...

The recipe (hosted by Jen at The Canadian Baker):

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

The recipe was fairly easy to follow. The result was a tad overbaked, but still looked great. I was really impressed with myself :)

The pie itself was ok, but I really liked the crust. Nice and crunchy with a good flavor. Since I had read that the crust will get soggy after several hours, I brushed some egg whites to the dough before baking. I had read about that somewhere so I decided to try it out. Well, the foil ended up sticking to the dough, and when I removed it, it pulled half of the bottom dough with it. Luckily there were some leftover dough, so I rolled some out and placed it on the bottom and baked it a little more. The dough was not flaky like typical pie dough. The fluted design didn't hold its shape, but in turn gave the ol' homemade look. The meringue was a soft and a little gooshy. (Are they supposed to be this way?) And there were a lot of lemon syrup/juice. They were starting to oooze out even before I cut them, so I sucked them up first (not with my mouth! a plastic syringe like thing I got from the pharmacy one day.) Although I cut myself a small slice, they were a bit too much. Probably would of been better as tartlets, being smaller portions. But I'm glad I got a chance to make this, had it not been a challenge, I probably wouldn't of ever gotten around to making this pie and would of forever wondered as I pass one at the store. I'm looking forward to next month's challenge. Hope it's something I've never tried before. Thanks Daring Bakers, this was fun!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

12 Hrs of Temecula #1

Headed down to Vail Lake for Jason's 12 Hrs. of Temecula race. We were watching the weather forecasts change from bad to good all week. It had snowed most of the week, but stopped Friday and Saturday so we could head down to the race. Temecula had 70% chance to rain to 30% to afternoon rain which didn't start till about 6pm, so for the most part, a nice day. David raced a two-man singlespeed team with Tony, who had a root canal the day before so he didn't arrive till noon. David did the first three laps, he was feeling good, so it wasn't a problem. This race was a practice run for me pitting for him at the Pueblo race in February, where he will attempt his first 24-hr solo race. I think we did OK.

Abby racing in the kids race. She's the one in the blue.
Emi's turn. She came in 4th overall, but was the first girl.
Here's Calista goofing around. She put a bunch of rocks in her pocket and was going, uuuaaahhh!
Having to be in the pits when David came in meant I couldn't run around taking pictures, so I only got this one of him.
Tony zippin' by.

Go Mary go
Emi finally got a chance to ride her new bike she got from Anthony. Her first geared bike. It should help her on her race in May.
The clouds rolling in, keeping our fingers crossed...
Abby riding Emi's bike. The bike looks so big...
The kids like hangin' out at bike races. They're looking forward to the Pueblo race in 3 weeks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I made some rice krispy treats, and thought hmmm, how would this taste with some Trader Joe's Super Nutty Toffee Clusters? So I made a batch with them, and although they were a little sweeter than I would like (what can I expect, with all those marshmallows), but tasted pretty good. I had tried making these treats with Vanilla Yogurt Cheerios in the past, and they were good too. Always on the lookout for hiking food and kid snacks.

It's been a while since I've made pretzels. The kids had their activities planned, and we wouldn't of been home till 7:15pm, so I made these so we can eat them in the car in between activities. But with all the snow, things got cancelled, so we enjoyed them for dinner with some soup, and pasta. I found a recipe on A Pinch of This, a Dash of This for some pretzels that didn't require a long rising. Maybe took about 1.5 hrs. so make 32 pretzels.
Soft Pretzels
3 T. yeast
3 c. warm water
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. salt
7-8 c. flour
Mix and knead all the ingredients together. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise 10 minutes. Divide into 32 balls, roll out and form into pretzels. Fill bowl with 4 c. hot water and 1/2 c. baking soda. Dip the pretzels in and place on greased sheets. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 500*F (525*F high altitude) for 7-10 minutes. Brush with melted butter, and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

IHOP French Toast

Lately I've been into Todd Wilbur's "Top Secret Recipe" books and website. There are so many clones of well-known foods that he's come up with, it's great. I've been enjoying looking at his recipes. Here's one I tried this morning, International House of Pancakes French Toast. Sure, I know how to make French Toast, but this recipe made it into the book for a reason, right? So I thought I'd try it out. For the most part, basic french toast ingredients, eggs, milk, vanilla, but one that I never use, flour. I guess the flour helps to create a thicker coating on the bread, almost like a tender crepe on the surface, keeping the bread from becoming too soggy. I liked it. Paired off with some potato rounds, grapefruit segments, and sweet apple camomile tea, it was a nice breakfast.

IHOP French Toast
2 eggs in a large, shallow bowl.
1/2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
3 T. flour
1/8 t. salt
Beat the mixtuer with an electric mixer till all the flour is well combined.
Melt some butter on a skillet, dip the bread into the batter, being sure to coat each side well, and cook till golden brown on both sides.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar or topping of choice.
I like my french toast plain without syrup or powdered sugar (although it looks pretty), so I added 1/3 c. sugar and about 1/4 t. cinnamon to the batter so the bread comes out sweet and can stand on its own.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stay Home Snow Day

No school today, Martin Luther holiday. Good thing too, since we woke up to snow. Driving in the snow really scares me. I had planned a shopping trip down to Hemet, but I wasn't doing any driving today. Just a few inches, so the snow shoveling was easy.
Tried out my new stove-up grill to toast some mochi for breakfast. I got a nice toast on them, which I can't really get with the toaster oven.
Our entranceway. I had gotten some bamboo blinds to put on the side to keep some of the snow out but missed the opportunity during the weekend. Seeing we are getting some more snow, although it was freezing cold, I put them up. My hands were frozen when I was done. Gloves just got in the way.
...and after. I like how it gives an Asian touch to our house. It makes it a little darker but hopefully will keep the snow and wind out and make the house a little warmer.

For dinner, I made some Kenchin-jiru (Japanese tofu and root vegetable soup.) Scrambled some drained tofu with sesame oil, added gobo (burdock root), carrots, daikon radish, and konnyaku (yam cake.) I didn't have any taro potatoes which normally goes into this, but still tasted great.

Also sauteed some lotus roots to go with our fish and rice. I hope it doesn't snow tomorrow. I need to go grocery shopping.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oyster Crackers

We're having chili this weekend. David's racing Saturday so I'm going to take a pot to the race. It'll really hit the spot when he's tired, hungry, and cold. His favorite accompaniment to chili is saltine crackers. I've tried making crackers from scratch, but it was such a long process, I wasn't sure I wanted to revisit the experience. So I had started to think about just buying a box (bad...I know). I was flipping through my new cookbook I got yesterday at the Anza swapmeet for just a quarter, "Better Homes and Gardens, Old-Fashioned Home Baking", when I came across a recipe for Homemade Oyster Crackers. The description had said they stay crisp in soups and salads, maybe it'll be good with the chili... The recipe called for yeast, which was interesting since you really don't want your crackers to rise. It was worth a try, so here I went.

Homemade Oyster Crackers

2 c. flour
1/2 pkg (1 t.) active dry yeast
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dried dillweed, oregano, or basil, crushed (optional)
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1/2 c. water
2 T. shortening

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, yeast, salt, herbs (if desired), baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set flour mixture aside.

In a small saucepan heat and stir water and shortening just till warm (120* to 130*F) and shortening almost melts. Stir the water mixture into the flour mixture. When the dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until thoroughly combined. Then knead for 1 to 2 minutes more to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. (The dough was a little dry, so I added some more water.) Divide dough in half. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 mintues.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough very well. Using a 3/4-inch hors d'oeuvre cutter, a pastry wheel, or a sharp knige, cut the dough into desired shapes. Place the dough shapes on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in a 300*F oven for 40 to 50 minutes or till done. Remove crackers from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Makes about 10 dozen. (I used 1" round cutters and got about 7 dozen. They will be gone in no time. Next time, double or triple the recipe.)

The crackers came out a little thicker than the traditional oyster crackers and definitely harder and crunchier, like mini hockey pucks. I think I will make these for our weekend's chili.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Today's Happenings

David, Frank, and Roshan rode their bikes from our house to Anza. We were going to meet up with them there so they won't have to ride back. So the kids and I decided to checkout the town's library and swap meet. Anza's one of those place we drive by all the time, but never stop.

Had some blood oranges with breakfast. Abby loves fruit, but didn't want any of these since they are "blood" oranges. I told her they are made out of blood. She grossed out and wouldn't touch them. She's eaten them before, but in her head they're not oranges. Funny how their minds work.
Entering forbidden land...the Indian reservation... Emi had spent the night at Mallory's.

Mallory's dad built a teepee/sweat lodge on his land. Pretty cool.

There were some wild cows hangin' out on the side of the road. They just stopped what they were doing and walked over to the car and just stared at us. We were cracking up.
Driving into Anza.

The kids have a fascination with tumbleweeds. They wanted me to take a picture of this one in a huge puddle. Look, a tumbleweed's swimming! They just thought it was the funniest thing.

The Anza swap meet. Pretty small, but better than nothing. It's been years since I've been to one. The kids have grown to enjoy garage/yard sales (I wonder where they got that from?), and I told them it's like a bunch of garage sales all in one place! So they brought their money, hoping to score some great deals. Sage found himself some cool sports stuff.
Went to a park to wait for the phone call from David...

Emi scored herself a pair of roller skates for a dollar. Good thing, since Santa didn't bring her one.
I'm flying!
After picking the guys up, they were hungry so we went to get some Mexican food. Plan A was pizza, but unfortunately they were closed till 4pm. Only in a small town...

David and his buddies. Frank looks like he was hungry.
Plate lickin' good, Sage?
I wonder what they were talking about...
Got home, made a batch of mochi. I've been gettin' good use out of that mochi maker.

Also made some blondies. David thought I shouldn't make them, after a long day, but since I had already pulled out the butter and egg, I whipped up a batch real quick. He had wanted me to make plain blondies, so we'd know what they taste like, and figure out how to made additions. Quite good, and took less than 15 minutes to mix together. Sometimes, plain and simple is best.

Recipe by Lauren Chattman (Mom's Big Book of Baking)

Pantry Blondies

1 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. chopped walnuts (omitted for Emi)

1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1-inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove it from the heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar until it is dissolved. Quickly whisk in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake the blondies until they are just set in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.

5. Grasping the overhanding foil on either side of the pan, lift out the blondies and place them on a cutting board. Cut them into 16 squares.

Pantry Blondies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I found it interesting that the butter got melted and the sugar getting dissolved in it. I wonder if that somehow improves the taste.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Another new bread for me, Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Found the recipe at, thanks to Faye Salisbury. The bread turned out well, the inside was nice and fluffy. I wasn't too happy with the crust, though. Too crunchy/flaky like French bread. The recipe had asked to grease surface of the dough after it was shaped and going through the second rising. And also brush with melted butter before and after baking. I got a little lazy and skipped this step, thinking, will it really make that big of a difference? Well, turns out, it might of. So definitely next time I will be sure to do this step.

Makes 3 loaves, perfect since one loaf is never enough around here, and I had an extra one to give away. One loaf stuck to the pan and tore a little coming out, thus the strange looking loaf in the middle.

My raisins were a little dry, so I plumped them up by cooking them with apple juice. They came out nice and juicy. This bread would be great with just the raisins too. I'd double the amount, since it would of been nice to have more bites with the raisins in them. But everyone was happy with the bread.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Clif Shot Bloks Clones (Attempt #1)

Here's another item David enjoys on his rides, but is a special treat due to its price. $1.50 for a bag of six chews. Having tried one, they have a gumdrop consistency, the ingredients weren't usual pantry staples, but attainable (well, most of it.) They have in them: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Citric Acid, Green Tea Extract (for the caffeine), Colored with Black Carrot Juice concentrate, Natural Flavor, Coconut Oil, Carnauba Wax (to prevent sticking.) 33 calories per blok.
I found a recipe for orange gumdrops, a good place to start. Recipe as follows:


Vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. orange juice
1 pkg (1.75 oz) powdered fruit pectin
1/2 t. baking soda
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
Powdered sugar

1. Line loaf pan 9x5x3 (I used 8" square pan), with aluminum foil. Brush WELL with oil. Heat 1 c. sugar and the corn syrup to boiling in 1-1/2 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cook, without stirring, to 280*F (those at high altitude need to adjust accordingly) on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard but not brittle threads.

2. While cooking sugar mixture, heat orange juice, pectin and baking soda to boiling (mixture will be foamy) in 2-qt saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat.

3. Slowly pour hot sugar mixture in a thin stream into orange juice mixture, stirring constantly (this should take 1 to 2 minutes0; remove from heat. Stir in food color, if using. Let stand 2 minutes. Skim off foam.

4. Pour mixture into pan. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature 24 hours. Lift foil from pan and remove foil from sides. Cut into 3/4-inch squares with knife dipped in sugar. Roll squares in sugar. Let stand uncovered at room temperature 1 hour. Store gumdrops in airtight container. Makes about 72 gumdrops. 28 calories per gumdrop.


Grape Gumdrops: Sub grape juice for OJ, and add blue food coloring.

Apple-Cherry Gumdrops: Sub apple-cherry juice of the OJ, and add red food coloring.

Recipe by Bruce Weinstein from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook

Next time, I will do a better coat of oil, since the foil stuck to half of it. Or pour it into molds. I overcooked it a little bit, so they were a little harder than a typical gumdrop, but they soften up after you pop one in your mouth. I cut mine into 48 pcs, about 43 calories each. My only gripe is that it is a pain in the a** to cut. They tasted pretty close to Clif's. Next time I'll add green tea extract, and try subbing brown rice syrup for the sugar, and play around with different juices for different flavors. About $2.50 for a batch of 48 pieces. I hope David likes them and it'll work. He's out with them right now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Blondies

We have a bunch of those caramel/chocolate chips lying around and I wanted to use some of them up. My first thought were cookies, but they were just too time consuming, not to mention too much work, especially since I felt a cold coming on. So I decided on some bars.

I checked out this book, "The NEW Good Cake Book. Over 125 Delicious Recipes That Can Be Prepared in 30 Minutes or Less" by Diana Dalsass, from the library and found this recipe. I liked the fact that it had oats and whole wheat flour in it. (And I had never made blondies before. I was always a brownie kinda gal.)


2 sticks (1 cup) butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 c. brown sugar, preferrably dark

2 eggs

1/2 c. water

1 1/4 c. flour

1 c. whole-wheat flour

4 c. rolled oats

1 T. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1 2/3 c. (about 10 oz.) semisweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat the oven to 375*F.

2. Grease and flour a 9" square pan.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter or margarine and brown sugar until the sugar is fully incorporated. Beat in the eggs, then the water.

4. In another bowl, stir together the flour, whole-wheat flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, stirring until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. (The batter will be very stiff.)

5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake the blondies for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool. When cool, cut into bars.

I didn't have a 9" pan, I have an 8" pan, but there was so much batter that there was no way it would all fit. So I used a 9x13 pan, which was perfect. I bet it would of overflowed even in the 9" pan. I did have a problem of knowing when it was done, for everytime I inserted a toothpick, it was still gooshy, since the chocolate chips were melted. Every spot I poked, I seemed to hit some chocolate, so I baked them longer just to be sure, which ended up overbaking them. They were still very good though. My kids, especially Emi, really enjoyed them. They are very hearty bars, not overly sweet, except for the chocolate chips part. Next time I might try toffee chips, or white chocolate chips instead. Or even just plain. That'd be good too. They were better the next day. The first day they were just falling apart, real crumby, but the following day, they seem to hold together a little better, and the chocolate chips got hard instead of being soft the first day, so there was more bite to it. (By the way, the 30-minutes or less thing doesn't include the baking time.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Asian Cooking

Chinese food was on the menu for dinner tonight. Knowing how the kids love wonton soup, Abby and I made some gyoza to put in the soup while David took Sage and Emi bike riding by the art school. Today's gyoza included ground pork, cabbage, garlic chives, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper.
These were all made by Abby.
Abby can be real helpful when she feels like it. She is overly helpful sometimes, must be the Japanese in her. She will one day make some guy really happy, or... drive him up the wall.

Sorry, no pics of the soup, but here's the rest of our meal. Sweet and sour pork (with homemade sweet and sour sauce), some vegetables (broccoli, bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms) in oyster sauce, and jasmine rice. David had once said, we won't ever have to go buy Chinese food again since I can make it at home.