31 January 2017


I've psyched myself out of making kimchi for the longest time, so here's dipping my toes in with some daikon kimchi.

 So it turns out to be super simple...like 10 minutes of active work simple. 

Bonus non-spicy pickle, where I couldn't resist throwing in some sichuan peppercorn.

30 January 2017


I finally got a strainer, although the motivation was 100% this looks way too pretty.

 Only high pass applied in post, let's have a moment of silence to admire the light here.

27 January 2017


Ugh my head feels like a chunk of cream cheese "orz
It has been a difficult week.

But at least there's a glorious tub of lemon syrup (plus sugar cause a 1:1 ratio was definitely overkill):

25 January 2017


The crisp chickpeas in all its glory:

Also a good snack. Good timing since these couple of days I've been weirdly craving savoury snacks despite my usual sweet tooth.

Even though the time it takes to cook the steel cut oats is pretty much exactly how long it takes me to brush teeth, wash face, and put stuff on face (obviously the largest time sink), I made some cornbread for breakfast just in case:

Cornbread + buckwheat honey = soul mates as well.

Lastly some cabbage with shrimp paste for lunch:


T'was so much easier and faster processing these Fuji photos. Should really stop using my phone unless I have perfect light. Also recently switched to keeping my focus mode on manual with AF-assist on, super easy and fast to get focus right this way. I've joined the back-button focus side (and also the on-camera flash side, until I get myself to B&H in Feb!) :D

24 January 2017


Catching up to things I've cooked the past week:

Psst: photography side note, I somehow always end up cooking food that is a major pain to take photos of.

Am I terrible at focusing or is this just how cream looks like? Please say the latter to comfort me. Also I've been so spoiled by nice Fuji jpegs that I'm at a loss at how to fix photos in post.

Otherwise super comfort pasta that I ate too much of. Pepperoni is so good. Rotini + cream sauce should be soul mates.

Finally got around to making the lemon syrup, except Jeff juiced the lemons so well that the equal sugar by weight called for by the recipe is way too much. I've been going through sugar super fast with the constant baking as well.

I think the only way to make oatmeal look good is plating it in a pretty container. Despite meh results from a tahini & date smoothie, this combination is awesome in oatmeal. I've also conceded my old way of making steel cut oats and followed the instructions from the back of the package for once. It turned out so much better. Now I know why everyone boils it in water and then splash milk afterwards.

The best for last! My noodle making skills have also degraded, but this is the best damn bowl of noodle I've made in years. In fact my only memory of another crazy good bowl of noodles I've made is the very first time that I followed my dad's instructions back in second year. But this! I intended to make a Chongqing style noodles via Lady & Pup, but it was more laborious than I recalled so here is my cheat version. It's basically a lot of 老干妈 (so obviously it's gonna be good) topped with crisp chickpeas.

In fact I am so happy with how this noodle turned out that I made more crisp chickpeas today (and also because I simply cooked too much for the chana masala). More on that tomorrow.

23 January 2017


My YS order finally made it over the ocean and past Canadian customs!! Hurray!

So back to drinking the rest of my samples:

A d'oh moment for photography: if I want more area in apparent focus, move the camera farther back and then crop in. Clearly I'm rusty af.

22 January 2017


I've been very enthusiastic about using cacao powder now that I finally have a bag.

The first is a familiar cacao brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It's the perfect brownie for me, I haven't made any other brownie since I've discovered this one...aka I haven't made brownies in years. Good thing I picked up some cacao nibs beforehand, it works great as a garnish.

The second is also from SK, this time it's a chocolate dutch baby. I think of it as a cross between a pancake and a crepe, perhaps better than either. It rose incredibly tall in the oven, Jeff was amused to watch it collapse back down afterwards. The suggested amount of butter seems to be a tad overkill, you can see pools of butter on the surface in the photo on the right. Next time I'll reduce the amount by a tablespoon. Also thinking of a matcha variant, as well as PB&J and plain with pepper strawberry jam.

Lastly, my jelly experience continue in chocolate wanna cotta. This is actually my first success...sort of. I based the recipe off of Donna Hay (ah memories of Janice's house), scaling it down to 1 cup liquids and then using 2g of agar agar. Also flipped the cream and milk to reduce the fat content in order to get a more intense chocolate taste. My recipe is below:

  • 24g room temperature water, bloom 2g agar gar in it
  • 150g milk mixed with 75g heavy cream
  • 100g sugar mixed with 30g cacao powder (mine is dutch processed)

The success is finally getting a soft pudding texture, no doubt also because the sugar and creams are inhibiting the gelling. The success is also the taste, which is pretty much the same as the brownie. What I did wrong was completely forget how prone to clumping cacao powder is. My first mistake is to add my dry ingredients into my pan first, while my second mistake is only whisking...and forgetting to scrap the corners of the pot. The resultant texture was somewhat gritty in the pudding, but there was also a ring of undissolved cacao around the pot. I did rescue that with some more milk into an impromptu hot chocolate so nbd.

Lessons learned for next time (which I did for the dutch baby since that was the most recent item) is to:

  • shift the cacao powder (I even passed the dutch baby batter again through a strainer, it is so worth the extra messy work)
  • pour dry into wet ingredients (so this is why every recipe instructs so...ha)
  • buy a fancy copper saucier...I wish :(
But all this cooking makes me really appreciate the nicer cookware that I bought in Atlanta. My prime motivation for wanting to own a home is most definitely so I can have a fully stocked kitchen (more dutch ovens! a stand mixer! even more teapots!)


20 January 2017


It's been a rather poor week, capstone is a lot of work.

Top is sesame spinach side dish from Maangchi's cookbook. I realized that all I've made are Korean stews and there's a whole 10 sections of the book that I've been neglecting. So first I'll make more side dishes, and then pickles. No more putting off kimchi!

 The most elaborate meal I've had in a while

but the highest praise from Jeff still goes to skillet pizza (and roast meat)

And finally some food to reunite with old friends over:

Also one more restaurant on Baldwin checked off. Though a couple more opened...never going to completely visit them all "orz

14 January 2017


A good amount of time ago when the sun didn't set by 4pm. Let's have winter over with already please.

Let's hope my desire to sleep all day is merely a function of day lit hours.

13 January 2017


It's with an uneasy mix of relief and sadness that I view my grades this semester.
  • Reinforced Concrete II: 80 
So let's get this out of the way first. The source of my mixed feelings. So obviously there goes my 4.0, and I think I'm mostly sad about this due to sunken cost. Also unhappy that I did so poorly despite thinking that I knew the material well. But truly I'm relieved that there's no more pressure to keep up my gpa, and I can try to feel less guilty whenever I want to take a break when feeling unwell. This is one area that I still act very illogically, it doesn't help at all knowing that I will be more productive after resting.

  • Terrestrial Energy Systems: 94 a stark contrast to recon, I thought if anything this would be the course that breaks my gpa. Still confused as to how I received this mark.
  • Thesis: 94 yay, bless.
  • Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment: 90, was hoping for higher but essay said otherwise.
  • Green Urban Infrastructure: 85, due to arguing final projects marks up. This course was surprisingly difficult to get high marks in. 
I suppose for second semester I can convince myself that I'm working hard because I want to learn rather than to keep grades up. It does sting that my average have not been this low...probably since middle school? 

12 January 2017


Back to school means the return of music to work to (aka soundcloud stuff).

11 January 2017


The last of my cooking projects: skillet pizza, truly fool-proof and delicious, thank you yet again Food Lab.

sorry for photo quality, was running out of memory card space and battery

Tips from my friend:

  • lots and lots of oil (just pour in double of what you think you need, very little is actually absorbed and you'll want the crunchy crust)
  • very hot oven, as high as your oven goes
My only addition is that every pizza should have sesame crust.

10 January 2017


This remedied the fact that I have not gone to a cafe in ages. And probably the last time I'll be going for a while, smh last semester of undergrad.

amazing shaved ice / meh mochi toast 

09 January 2017

wagashi - flour

I'm amazed at the variation of rice flour alone...

The following information is gleaned from various pages of Just One Cookbook:

Joshinko / 上新粉 / rice flour
Made from short grain rice. Produces a chewy and doughy texture. Used for dango.

Shiratamako / 白玉粉 / glutinous rice flour or sweet rice flour
Made from mochigome (glutinous rice). This is the one that's used for most mochi since the texture is elastic and bouncy. Also used for kimchi paste!

Mochiko / もち粉
You'd think the one with mochi in its name would be the one you use to make mochi, ha. Generally not used to make mochi, but this is used to make 汤圆.

Thankfully the ones that are used have kanji for their names so it was easy to find on taobao

Other flours:

Kinako / きな粉 / roasted soybean flour

Warabi / わらび / bracken starch
Usually not sold as 100% warabi, can substitute with sweet potato starch or tapioca starch instead for mochi.

Kudzu or kudzu / 葛粉


Not a flour but lots of info on agar-agar at Molecular Recipe (gonna have to give this site a thorough read through later)

08 January 2017


I cooked a lot this week haha, compared to my usual routine of cook huge batches of two things on the weekend and slowly consume it throughout the week. Gotta get the cooking urge out of my system before school starts.

Lesson learned: blue bowls are the best for placing yellow / orange food in on a natural wooden table. White balance stopped being stupid.

 the always reliable, staple dinner of the week

 tahini #3: in carrot soup

Wasn't that great tasting tbh, and now I understand why a legit blender is needed. My immersion blender did a very poor job of pureeing this soup. Garnished this with some of my pickled carrots, which I also messed up on by using too much ginger. Had to soak it in water to make it edible nested within a creamy soup.

I bought a lot of chickpeas, fortunately this turned out really well that it'll become a school day lunch staple. I did't realize is that most recipes are developed for canned chickpeas...or already cooked chickpeas. It takes a lot of forethought to soak AND cook chickpeas ahead of schedule. Aka lunch was delayed for an hour while I wait for the chickpea to simmer in the sauce. Don't be stupid like me.

Not sure if using cornmeal instead of polenta (are they actually different? is it just the grind size?) resulted in a vastly different cooking time than what the recipe said. This is comparable to congee.

 pickled kale stems

I'm still at a loss at what to do with kale stems. Usually I'll toss them in the stir-fry long before I add the leaves, but am hoping to find another way to process them. Original idea was to braise it, but the internet convinced me to try a) pickling them and b) roasting them. Spoiler that roasting isn't very effective. While it tasted great, the roasting did nothing to break down the fibres. In fact I ate a couple like how tamarinds are eaten. Let's hope the pickling goes well, if so they'd be great in fried rice as I'm forever looking for crunchy vegs to add to that.

I finally finished my second batch of granola made way back when, but had an extra container of yogurt leftover. Obviously the solution is to turn it into a cake. I think my baking powder is expired since it didn't rect with water, but I used it anyways so I'm blaming that for the lack of leavening. I also reduced the sugar to about 150g, which I might up to 170 or 180g since the cake is pretty sour.

I saved this recipe yeeeears ago but only got to make it yesterday. Very much regretting not making it sooner since it is delicious even though I was a little apprehensive about the flavour since turmeric is an unfamiliar flavour. It's a good choice for weekday dinners since you can cook all the components before hand (roasted carrots, faro, turmeric broth) and spend literally 5 min bring it to a simmer together on the stove. I generally prefer to assemble the dish every night since it gives the illusion of fresh cooking, makes me feel more accomplished pulling a pot off the stove than grabbing a bowl out of the microwave heh.

07 January 2017


Sometimes, only sometimes, I wonder why I love such high maintenance items...leather shoes, cast iron pans, unglazed teapots...

I finally finished a complete polish of my monks, not too bad for a first time. Lesson learned is that polishing shoes take a lot of patience and elbow grease, and that reading about people devoting a weekend to polishing shoes still doesn't prepare you to actually do it. Additionally, I don't have shoe trees for my monks, so it was a challenge supporting the leather while simultaneously trying to get a good grip on the entire shoe with one hand. Did give up (laziness & intimidated) on using wax polish to get a mirror shine on the toe though.

There's also a difference in colour at the toe cap between the two shoe since I cleaned the old polish off one shoe (right) only. It turned out a little darker compared to the left, but also has a dark patch where the leather was scuffed before. Perhaps its because I didn't let the leather fully dry before conditioning?
Boy was there a difference in how much effort it took to get a shine between the two shoes. I finally understand why people advocate for frequent thin coats of polish.

Also conditioned my boots and gave it a slight polish on the smooth calf areas.


Thanks for indulging me in showing off my shoes hehe.

06 January 2017


I never showed off the purion pot that I got from Lin's Ceramic in Taiwan. So far I think it's best suited for roasted oolongs, since the taller shapes allows for the leaves to unfurl and the pot is high fired.

taking these photos made me realize how difficult it is to nail focus

I went to the Lin's at Taipei 101 due to time constraints, but it turned out to be a blessing since the shopkeeper was very generous and brewed me many rounds of tea. Or maybe she was bored and was glad that there's a tea enthusiastic tourist to talk to haha.

I really like the texture of this purion pot, which is unlike the smooth surface of my yixings and jiansui.

05 January 2017

wagashi con't

Durr why did I not think of searching in Tumblr?
Aka the obsession continues, already ordered my ingredients and equipment. SO excite.

Some yokan inspo:

I made a pintrest to save ideas yay

04 January 2017


Continuing with the throwback theme, here's some wisdom from me at the end of high school:

  • worrying is okay
  • what's wrong with me? nothing
  • self sufficiency is good until a point, relying on others for the rest of the times
  • having a boyfriend is good for sharing insecurities with and cuddling
  • all problems are more prominent right before falling asleep
  • perspective is important "you don't remember what happened, what you remember becomes what happened"
  • sleep and time cures all, but crying is the best temporary pain relief

Full disclosure this was definitely written right before falling asleep haha.


So glad I kept a journal, its perfect for flipping through when you can't sleep. Also unfortunately it's only 7 days into the new year and there's already been one of these days.

While we're at it, a list of songs that's mentioned, probably all been posted here but too lazy so have youtube links:


Super duper belated photos from Nuit Blanche. It's not as good as first year unfortunately, whether objectively or subjectively :(

03 January 2017


Impromptu new years resolution is to document more of what I cook, I slacked on this a lot since forth year started.

So today's food diary:

Israeli style hummus, so good with liberal sprinkling of sumac on top

My goal is to find many ways to use tahini. Made a smoothie yesterday with it, photos to follow next time.

steel cut oats / cornbread

Both will  be breakfast staples for a while.

Sidenote: my camera somehow doesn't know how to white balance when it's cloudy outside. I can't even tell whether its too warm or cool and is having a hard time colour balancing.

02 January 2017


Good job myself! Here it is! "All" of my travel photos in one place!

Here's links to my China portion of photos this summer that's mostly non-existent elsewhere on the internet:

Now I get to reclaim ~4gb of previous hd space. 

01 January 2017


Having a (hopefully) brief obsession with wagashi atm. There's surprisingly little english information on this subject. Instead of just shoving the merger info that I find into an instapaper folder, I'm posting it here to share so you can all drool with me :D

Useful blogs:

Maybe I'll start by making yokan, it seems by far the easiest and doesn't require tracking down specialized ingredients.