Thursday, July 31, 2008

Officially a Twitterer

So after much resisting that I don't need another web 2.0 application, I was convinced to join Twitter. Apparently many of the crazy thoughts that go through my head are just perfect for sharing on Twitter.

Look for me @lazataz on Twitter.

"Tweet tweet!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chocolate Angel Food Cake and Fresh Raspberries

I was lazy again this week. Yes, I had no excuse like last week and this week I even went so far as resorting to store bought desserts. I am hanging my head in shame right now and promise to do better next week.

Nonetheless, this week we enjoyed a lovely Chocolate Angel Food Cake, care of Safeway's bakery, and some fresh raspberries. Sadly, there are not even pics of this yummy dessert. I was totally slacking this week.

Besides dessert (which was obviously not the focal point this week), Tara brought her newly purchased Tiny Toons DVD that we thoroughly enjoyed along with numerous YouTube videos.

I must also give a shout out to the new people this week! Neena and Kacy joined us. They went to college with Tara and J and I met them at Elizabeth's wedding two weekends ago. We're all glad that they've moved to the Bay Area and joined the Dessert Night clan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Elizabeth's Wedding and a Weekend in Boulder

J's friend from high school, Elizabeth, got married on Monday in beautiful Lyons, Colorado, which is about 40 mins outside of Boulder. It was a great excuse to spend 4 days in Colorado, though who gets married on a Monday night. I did spend two months working in Denver, but I was excited about the opportunity to actually get out and see some of the state besides the airport and 2 blocks of downtown.

For those of you who are wondering, yes this was my first trip with J that involved a plane, but it wasn't nearly as big of a deal as some people have made it out to be recently. There were 6 of us total who traveled there from SF and then we met up with probably another 5 or 6 of Elizabeth and Tara's friends from college. Luckily, a couple of them just moved back here, so I now have new friends to hang out with here!

We did a fair amount of eating, relaxing, swimming in the hot tub, hanging out, and driving around in a giant Armada that seats 8. It was awesome. I haven't been at my new job long enough to accrue too much vacation time yet, so I worked two half days while in Colorado. That was interesting. I felt like I was constantly missing out on things both with work and fun stuff that was going on and I spent the entire day glued to my BlackBerry which is something that I don't like to do.

There are a number of fabulous stories from the weekend and lots of funny things to laugh at from David requiring ear plugs and an eye mask for a 2 hour flight to the great picture riddles that Theresa drew on both flights ("you make my heart tsunami" was my personal fav). David drank out of a fountain and didn't at all remember the next morning. But perhaps the funniest thing of the weekend was that after drinking out of the fountain, David yells, in front of everyone, to "throw that shit" to Elizabeth because she was holding a bouquet. Little did David know that about 3 hours earlier, Elizabeth tossed her bouquet and her sister-in-law's sister (not sure what that makes her), Anna, caught the bouquet.

All in all, it was a really great weekend. There was a good amount of fun, enough work to get by and a good amount of relaxation too (and LOTS of reading for J...I still can't believe that he finished 4 books in 4 days). You should definitely check out the plethora of pictures on Facebook if you haven't already seen them. I just included a few at the beginning of this post that shows some of the highlights from the main events. Now it's back to the usual...well, until the next weekend of insanity.

Up next, river rafting...

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

This week's dessert night was a rather last minute endeavor as our plane landed from our weekend in Colorado (the subject of a later blog) 5.5 hours prior to dessert night. I had not previously selected what I was going to make nor had I made sure to have the ingredients on hand before we left for Colorado. So I was looking for something quick and tasty at the same time.

I happened upon this recipe for Brownie Peanut Butter Cups in my Google Reader because I had no doubt starred it a long time ago thinking that I should save it because J loves peanut butter so. It turned out that I had all of the ingredients except chocolate chips and peanut butter chips already on hand. I ended up getting Reese's Pieces (small peanut butter M&Ms) instead of the peanut butter chips because I couldn't find any quickly at Safeway.

They came out great...just like they were supposed to. My only complaint is that they were MUCH too sweet. The brownie mixture was almost mixed with an equal quantity of candy which was just a little intense, but they do look pretty.

If you'd like to make your own, go here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Life: How Fast Things Change

As the summer sort of starts to wind down and I finally have time to catch up with people that I haven't seen or talked to in a while, the changes that everyone has been experiencing lately. Now I'm not talking about the friends who've gotten married or moved to a different state or country as the only example here. I do have a fair number of friends who are moving off to grad schools or different jobs in different places. I guess I'm more talking about people who appear to be in the same place in life physically and they've totally emotionally moved or changed and grew. It's really quite amazing.

This past year for me has been a bit insane: 3 different companies, worked in 2 states, almost two new apartments, reconnected with many old friends, made many new ones. But that's not really the important part of the story or what made me write this post. The biggest differences are in the person that I was then compared to the person that I am now. It's interesting how throughout the year I've gone from a very not happy person to very happy person to a very not happy person and back again to a happy person. Fundamentally, nothing has changed besides my outlook on life and how I've allowed myself to be treated.

Now that I've actually blogged about this, I'm not sure it was worth blogging about. There has just been a lot going on in my head and I thought that perhaps by putting it down on paper would make it all clearer somehow. I'm not sure that it has and I appreciate your participation in this effort. It is interesting though to look at gates or chapters in your own life and compare your current state with the state you were in before you went through the last gate and see how much you've changed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peach Cobbler

Since it's still lovely summer weather outside and I LOVE summer fruits, I have been looking for recipes that let me enjoy yummy fruits. This week I happened to come across a recipe for peach cobbler care of one of the blogs that go to my Google Reader. I thought (before making this) that pretty much all peach cobblers were the same except for the ones that have the crumbly oatmeal stuff on top. I was sadly mistaken.

When I made the dough for the cobbler part of the recipe, it tasted like it had coffee in it but there was no coffee to be found anywhere in my kitchen. It was really weird and very thick so it was hard to spread on top of the peaches.

In the end, while the cobbler was alright, I think I would have preferred to just eat the peaches sliced plain, but then I'm a purist when it comes to my summer fruits. If you want to make this recipe, go here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My First Mystery Box

I figure that since I've already gotten my second Mystery Box from Mariquita Farm that I should take a moment to write about the first one. Let me just say first of all that 15 lbs or so of veggies is a lot for one person, particularly someone like me who doesn't eat a ton. But, let me also say that it was amazingly yummy produce. Check out how full my fridge was when I stuffed the Mystery Box in it.

I first looked through the contents of the mystery box and tried to determine what everything was. Luckily, each one comes with a sheet that lists the contents and I've included photos of some of the items below.

Breakfast Raddishes

Collard Greens

Tokyo White Turnips

Erbette Chard


Also, without pictures:
-French Fingerling Potatoes
-Genovese Basil
-Little Gem Lettuce
-Chantenay Carrots

All in all, it was a really yummy experience. Though my fridge did do some weird things and render some of the foods inedible (like it turned the fresh genovese basil black and crispy in about 2 days). I didn't particularly do anything exciting in terms of recipes for all of this food, but I did do a great tarragon white wine butter sauce with some talapia, though I've since lost the recipe.

It was so yummy that Tara and I decided that we should share a Mystery Box the next time. More on that meal which did have great recipes later.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pear Caramel Ice Cream

Since Tara's birthday was on the 4th of July, this week was her week to suggest a dessert. She marked about 6 different ones in my ice cream cookbook. To be honest, I was deciding between the mango sorbet and the pear caramel ice cream. I went with the pear caramel because I happened to find immediately ripe pears while the mangos were still a bit hard like grenades. The recipe was really easy as you just sauteed pears and sugar, added cream, blended the entire thing and then threw it in the ice cream maker for about 30 mins. Despite the easiness of the recipe, people rated this as either the best or second best dessert I had made over the course of dessert night.

All in all, I think it was a great success. Check out the in progress photos (yes, ChuThis, I'm learning). I didn't get any finished product photos because it disappeared too fast.

The pears and caramel sauce cooking before the cream is added:

The almost finished ice cream mixing in the ice cream maker:

Pear Caramel Ice Cream (from The Perfect Scoop):

3 medium-sized ripe pears, peeled and cored
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (180g) sugar
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
A few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dice the pears into 1/4 inch (1 cm) pieces.

Spread the sugar in a large, nonreactive, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook the sugar over medium heat, watching it carefully. When it begins to liquefy and darken at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to very gently stir the sugar, encouraging the heat of the liquefied sugar around the edges to moisten and melt the sugar crystals in the center.

Once the sugar becomes deep amber, stir in the pear pieces. Some of the caramel will seize and harden, but as you cook the pears, use a heatproof utensil to stir them and melt any bits of hard caramel. Continue to cook the pears for 10 minutes, until the pieces are cooked through.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the cream, then mix in the remaining cream, along with the salt and a few drops of lemon juice.

Let cook to room temperature, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Press the mixture through a mesh strainer with a flexible rubber spatula to remove any tough pear fibers.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Makes about 1 quart (1 liter).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just Kidding I'm Not Moving!!!

That was the theme of my most recent party since I needed to do something to celebrate the end of all of the moving drama. For those of you who haven't heard the story, here's the cliff notes version: I found a great new apartment, the landlady turned psycho and refused to make the repairs that she had said that she had, I scrambled to get out of the lease and get my apartment (which was already rented) back. Luckily, everything worked out and I got my apartment back and just had to unpack all of my packed boxes exactly back where they were. It was a fun and very chill affair, but I thought I'd share some food pics of the yummy spread and provide the recipes in case you want to make any of these foods yourself.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies:
No pics sorry. J ate them too fast.

Strawberry Pecan Shortbread Crumble Bars:

Awesome Peppermint Oreo cheesecake from Trader Joes (just $2!!):

Tara and Ryan picked up Nerf guns at Target before coming over. Here they are hiding waiting for J to come in so they could attack him

Fourth of July Weekend Wakeboarding

J invited me to go to Ryan's Grandma's house in Rio Vista (just past Antioch, CA) to hang out on the delta and go wakeboarding. As PJ put it, it was a weekend of sunning and boozing, oh and don't forget playing with dogs.

This past weekend, I wakeboarded for the second time ever. Despite the consistent faceplanting and dislike of murky water (the fishies might get my toes!!), I decided that I should try wakeboarding again. The murky water is still yucky, but I will admit that wakeboarding was more fun this time. After a couple of tries (luckily no faceplanting), I managed to get up on the board but was so shocked that water didn't come rushing into my nose, that I happened to let go of the line and discovered "oh yeah!" the water's still there. I don't know that there is photographic evidence of this, but I'm sure there will be more opportunities for it.

All in all, it was a great fun weekend of sunning, boozing, hanging out with good people, and relaxing.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fig Goat Cheese and Thyme Tart

A while back when I asked for recipes for my just kidding I didn't move party, Candace sent me a recipe for a tart that she has really been wanting to try. I had a little extra time this week and I found that Whole Foods was having a sale on goat cheese which basically meant that the stars had aligned and I was supposed to make that tart.

The crust for the tart was the same recipe for crust that I had made before and had issue with it. Like before, the dough was so crumbly that it was impossible to roll out. I ended up giving up on rolling it out and just pressing it into the tart pan and doing my best to make it work like a tart. It turned out ok. I also didn't have pastry weights so luckily I had a jar of marbles that a friend gave me in college (so I could "lose my marbles") that I used as pastry weights instead. Here's a look at the crust....notice the large crevasses that definitely shouldn't be there. Something to work on next time.

The goat cheese was great and I seasoned it with a bit less cayenne pepper than the recipe called for and it wasn't spicy, but had good flavor. After baking however, it was really spicy, but in a good way, just not something that I was expecting in a dessert.

All in all, I think that Candace was really excited about her suggestion for a dessert night. Here's Candace enjoying the tart.

Feel free to send me recipes as they may become future dessert nights. In the meantime, if you want to make your own Fig Goat Cheese and Thyme tart, here's the recipe.

Pet Peeve....Bumper Stickers

So I know that I have TONS of other things to be blogging about (look for posts about last week's dessert night as well as my Mystery Box soon), but I saw a crooked bumper sticker on a Lexus SUV on my way home and it prompted this post.

While bumper stickers may have made their way onto countless bumpers and even the Stuff White People Like blog (#100), I have several issues with them. Bumper stickers on a beater are one thing, but I cannot fathom why anyone would slap a bumper sticker on the their lovely luxury car (if you've ever seen a Ferrari with one please let me know) because it just takes the car down several notches in the levels of niceness and elegance.

But if you've gone and already crushed the elegant image of your luxury vehicle like this Lexus did, at least get the darn thing on STRAIGHT! Please, you've already ruined your car, at least make sure that the sticker makes it on the car straight!!!

A crooked bumper that's just tacky. Please people!