Monthly Archives: July 2006

Best blondies ever

I made the blondies recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for the second time ever tonight. They were for a MoveOn.org dessert party to kick of the 2006 election season. Someone left his card by the tray of them asking me to email the recipe. I checked online, and it is only available to paid members of the Cook’s Illustrated web site. Since I am going to go to the effort to type up the recipe, I thought I would post it here for you all to enjoy as well.

So that the good folks at Cook’s don’t get too mad at me for publishing a recipe, I am going to say that this is my slightly tweaked version of their recipe, and that I highly recommend getting a subscription to the bimonthly magazine. It is fabulous. Everything that I have made from the magazine has turned out wonderfully, and I am always entertained by the article format and sciencey explanations that accompany the recipes. Plus my entire kitchen is outfitted with equipment based on their reviews.

This recipe makes gooey, sweet, buttery, almost caramel-tasting bars. I never bothered with blondies before because why would you make them when there were brownies in the world? But then I realized that they are everything that is wonderful about chocolate chip bar cookies, times a million! Don’t bother with the bar cookies. Make these instead. They are easier to make than chocolate chip cookies or brownies, and you don’t even need a mixer or have to wait for the butter to soften. If you want them to be exactly like mine, buy all of your (preferably organic) ingredients from Trader Joe’s.

blondiesBest blondies ever

1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
12 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
4 t. vanilla extract
1 c. chocoate chips
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

  1. Prep: Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray (with flour if you have it). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter.
  2. On a cookie sheet, toast the pecan pieces for about 15 minutes. Transfer pecans to a cutting board to cool, and carefully toast the coconut on the same cookie sheet. The coconut should take just about 5 minutes.
  3. In a big bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients together (on top of the wet ingredients), and then gently mix into the wet ingredients.
  5. Gently stir in the chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans.
  6. Pour into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t worry about overbaking. Cool and cut into squares.

Tomato season has arrived!

tomatoes

I am so excited. I bought my first heirloom tomatoes of the season yesterday. I went to Trader Joe’s, and I am always sort of hesitant to buy produce there because everything is wrapped up in plastic containers, making stuff seem not as fresh and less appetizing. But I bought the organic heirloom tomatoes and some nectarines. Both were so delicious that I already ate all of the nectarines, and I have only one of the four tomatoes left.

This picture is of my dinner last night: spinach salad tossed with basil chiffonade and a vinaigrette of California champagne vinegar, olive oil, and CIA honey, topped with sliced tomatoes and a poached egg. Not shown: all of the nectarines I also ate.

Tonight I had almost the same thing: spinach salad with the same dressing, but this time I added some sunflower seeds, pecans, and diced tomatoes. I had another poached egg with sliced tomatoes on the side. It was easier to eat this way. I tend to be somewhat repetitive when I cook because since I am cooking for one most of the time, I’ll have plenty of leftover ingredients. I’ll remember how yummy something was the day before and want to eat it again. So I do.

Fun, busy weekend

This has been a really busy weekend, but fun. I need to write about some of these things in more detail, but here is a little summary.

Friday night was girls’ night out. I met some friends from my pottery class on Santana Row for dinner at Amber. Amber is higher-end Indian restaurant, and it was pretty good, but I don’t know if it was worth the money. It wasn’t that great. After dinner a few of us went to El Jardin, the outside tequila bar. They were so disorganized that Melynnie and I never got charged for our drinks. Free drink #1.

Since the night was still young, Melynnie and I headed to Blowfish. I tried ordering a sidecar, but the bartender with the cute Australian accent determined that there wasn’t a decent brandy to make it with. I got another drink instead and he didn’t let us pay for our drinks. Free drink #2. We hung out at Blowfish, discussing how we never got free drinks for no reason before, and decided that we should go back to the bar and see if it would happen again. It did. Free drink #3. The only explanation: Wonder Twin Power.

I got home pretty late, and ended up oversleeping and being late for my apheresis appointment at Stanford. Oops. They were cool, though, and let me still donate an hour late. I watched The Producers, which I must say was pretty boring.

Then it was off to San Francisco once again for yet another supper club with Doug. This one was called Cooking With James, and it was 14 of us eating an incredible meal at James’ house. I’ll write more about it in detail later, but for now let me just say it that it was amazing food and entertaining people, and the hours flew by. The next thing we knew, it was after three in the morning.

After sleeping in, Doug and I got breakfast at the new restaurant in Hayes Valley: Modern Tea. It was delicious. I can’t wait to go back and try more stuff there. I read that the desserts are especially good. Then I headed back to San Jose and played my first round of golf at Santa Teresa. My score was 54 on the short course. So that leaves plenty of room for improvement! We had a great time and I am looking forward to playing again soon.

I also have been practicing a lot on my step class. To start out, I am just practicing my instructor’s current routine since I know it so well. I have been going in to the gym and practicing calls with the mic and the music. I am starting to get the hang of it and I should be ready to do the warmup and maybe the first and second combinations of the regular Tuesday and Thursday classes soon. I think I’ll be ready to start subbing towards the end of the month.

Now I have tons of writing to do, tons of laundry to do, and tons of dishes to do. Monday I start my break from pottery class, so I am going to a MoveOn.org event. I am going to a house in Palo Alto for a dessert party and conference call with Al Franken and Barak Obama to kick off election season. Politics and sugar is always a good combination. I’d like to find someone to go with me since I don’t know anyone there, so if you want to go, let me know!

Definition of cultured

According to Laura, I am cultured: “… add some much needed culture to your lives except for Lauren who has season tickets to the symphony and eats pastries at fancy bakeries so is way more cultured than the rest of us.”

If only my life was still full of eating pastries and going to the symphony. I can’t afford to do either nearly as often as I’d like. But it’s nice to know that my friends think of me that way.

I don’t know what celebrity you look like!

For some reason, this blog is getting a lot of hits from people searching for what celebrity they look like. And I know creating this post is just going to attract more of those hits.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how my friends thought that I looked like Elizabeth Banks. People are apparently searching the Web for sites that will help them determine what celebrity they look like, and they are finding that post.

So to those of you looking for a tool to help you determine who you look like, I recommend that you check out this face recognition tool. You have to create an account, but it is free. You upload your picture (like the one you have posted on MySpace!), and the tool scans it and comes up with who you most look like.

I ran some of my pictures through and I look most like Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I wish.

Just desserts

I swear, all I am eating these days is desserts. Ok, that is completely untrue. I am eating tons of other food, and tons of desserts. That’s the problem. I have no self-control, especially when I am in San Francisco. Especially when I am at Italian restaurants. This is getting out of control and must stop.

Friday night I had tiramisu at Steps of Rome with Desiree. Saturday I had chocolate cake at Ghetto Gourmet. Monday I ate about a million peanut butter cookies hanging out at Normen’s apartment. Tuesday I was at a technical briefing (read: day-long marketing pitch), so of course I had to eat the free croissant in the morning, the free dessert at lunch, and the free cookies in the afternoon. And then at after dinner at Gondola with Anna, I had this super-yummy chocolate gelato with a creamy center deliciousness.

Today I resisted the fresh-baked cookies at Speciality’s across the street from the SF office here on Market, instead opting for the spinach salad. But I did have to stop off at Fog City News and pick up a few pieces of Michel Cluizel chocolate. Oh, and this morning, I even resisted getting a croissant at Cafe du Soliel.

One more meal in the city to suvive. I am thinking something like Indian food or some other less-dessert-friendly place.

How I am not saving energy

California is in the midst of an electrical emergency and long string of Spare the Air days. Here is how I am not doing my part:

  • I never installed reflective double-paned windows like I have been wanting to do since I bought my condo.
  • My chargers for my phone and camera battery are still plugged into outlets even though I am not using them.
  • My AC has been running nonstop for about 10 days now, even though the thermostat is set at 78 degrees.
  • I never got around to installing a digital themostat to adjust the temperature for when I am not at home.
  • I have an old, inefficient fridge.
  • My dining room window has no window covering on it.
  • I drove to work today instead of taking the train.
  • I drove back and forth between San Jose and San Francisco three times in a week, and I’ll be doing it again tomorrow.