Thursday, February 28, 2008


I've been to this restaurant twice now and I really really wish I liked it more. The first time I got the chicken katsu-don (in the rice bowl section) and tonight I got the chicken and egg bibimbop. The chicken katsu-don was less than mediocre and the bibimbop really wasn't like any I've ever had; as far as taste goes, I'd put it at average. Ferret's bento box (spicy beef and chicken) was actually quite tasty and came with a little salad with a nice gingery dressing and some edamame and one gyoza (why just one? they couldn't put two in?). I spotted a pork and kimchee seasonal offering so I have to try it. Perhaps third time will be the charm? Otherwise I will just go for the spicy beef and chicken bento should I ever go again... Rate **

(Just a note. If it was cheaper or if the portions were more ample I would be far more inclined to like this place. As it is, I am always vaguely still hungry after.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday Night Dinner

Dinner delicioso! I breaded thinly sliced chicken breasts with panko crumbs (pat flour on chicken and shake off excess, dip in mixed egg, dredge in panko) and pan fried them. After that I drizzled the chicken with leftover wing sauce and it was crazy good! For a side, I chopped some green peppers and sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil and hondashi flakes. Good stuff and super easy.

A Wild Sheep Chase (Haruki Murakami)

The first Murakami book I ever read was the Wind Up Bird Chronicles. I'm not sure if that was the best introduction to Murakami, not because the book wasn't fantastic, but because I feel one should really build up to something like that. However, it was the book club choice that month (and the month following) so I read it. But this is not a post about WUPC. Nor is it about Norwegian Wood, which was the second Murakami book I read. One thing about that: after reading the first page of NW I had to stop and hunt out my ipod and play the Beatle's Norwegian Wood so that I could fully capture the experience. In the end, the Rubber Soul album was on continual repeat while I read this so now the two are strongly associated with each other, for good or ill. Mostly for good I think. Anyway, a couple of days ago I read WSC because I had been talking to Tortoise who was going to buy an e-read from Sony for Mrs. Tortoise. I'd been fondly eyeing the Kindle forever but 1) it was way out of my price range 2) it was first generation and 3) I hadn't read a new book in forever. The thing with me and books is that I like to reread them. I like to read new books too, but old books are like family. I can't count the number of times I've read Story of the Stone vol. I and II, or With Bold Knife and Fork, or Things: A Story of the Sixties. The urge to reread these particular books (and some others) come and go, but I can flip to any page and know I am in a safe place. The thing with new books is mostly one of access. When I used to live in NY, I would go to the Strand, read through Bee's collection or visit the local library. For obvious reasons, options 1 and 2 are no longer available to me and for some reason it is impossible for me to make my way to the neighborhood Philly Free Library. Who knows why. So reading new books is not as easy as it once was. Not to mention, when I was in NY, I would read constantly because I was always riding around in the subways. Every morning I had an hour commute and that was when I would catch up on the New Yorker or read my latest novel. It was time well spent. To get back to WSC, the reason it wound up in my hands was a lucky find. During one bout of New Years cleaning I discovered an old B&N gift card with money still left on it. Determined to use it then and there, I chose two books from the website, WSC and Kafka on the Shore, and promptly tossed the card. This was about a month ago but it wasn't until the conversation with Tortoise that I cracked it open at all. Again, who knows why. So onto WSC:

Written in 1982, this book preceded both NW and WUBC by a number of years. It reminded me of both works, as it contained fantastical elements (magical ears, magical sheep and ghosts) and a sense of isolation and dissociation on the part of the protagonist. It is more akin to WUBC than NW I guess; several elements show up again in WUBC (lost wife, sinister man, girls with special powers, unreality within reality, etc). I don't want to give anything away because this book was really fun to read and I'd hate to spoil it for someone. This book will be going into the reread rotation.

Wonky-Eyed Tony

It's funny, once you start taking pictures of your pet it is impossible to stop. I've been leaving stray TJ bags enticingly on the floor in the hopes of catching Tony in one of them. We'll see...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Enchilada Lasagna and Sunday Dinner

I was about to make enchiladas the usual way when I suddenly recalled a Good Eats show I watched not long ago and was inspired to layer tortillas and fillings instead of rolling them. The result was the above. I wanted to use mole sauce but could only find a bottle of enchilada sauce from TJ. So I went with that. For filling, I used ground turkey with a small green pepper (chopped) and half a large onion (chopped). I was hoping the sauce would provide all the flavor but next time I will season the filling better. Used TJ extra sharp cheddar and the whole thing came out just lovely. This will be my lunch for the week.
For Sunday dinner, I made some chicken (coated with italian bread crumbs and pan fried) with broccoli (oven roasted with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and garlic) and couscous (tossed with a white wine sauce with sliced scallions and garlic and sauteed crimini mushrooms). The couscous is not looking very attractive in this picture but it was quite tasty. Dessert was french vanilla ice cream from TJ with a chocolate fudge sauce (recipe from Silver Palate).

I am fat but happy. :o)O=

To Do List (today)

Do the not fun things from yesterday's list:
  • Vacuum
  • Scoop litter
  • Laundry
Do some fun things:
  • Make chicken cutlets with broccoli and couscous
  • Knit some sweater
  • Tria Sunday School (4pm)
  • Watch Zoolander on TBS
  • Read more Wild Sheep Chase
  • Make chocolate fudge sauce

Saturday, February 23, 2008

To Do List (today)

  • Go to TJ
  • Make AFB (use new pudding-less recipe from King Arthur)
  • Make enchiladas
  • Read some Wild Sheep Chase
  • Knit some sweater
  • Vacuum
  • Scoop litter
  • Laundry
  • Play cards (9pm)
  • Finish watching Planet Earth disc 3

Friday, February 22, 2008

Daytime Mr. Cat

Mr. Tony is the cutest cat in the whole world. Hands down.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fake Scallion Pancake

I've never been too confident as a baker because I view it as an exact science with very little room for non-expert improvisations. It is strange that I should feel intimidated, because I AM a scientist, but I think that is the whole problem. Perfectionism takes over and soon a simple cake recipe turns into a sensitive assay requiring painstaking measurements and a thorough literature review of similar cake recipes.

Cooking on the other hand, is where I give my natural slapdash tendencies free rein. And nowhere is this more apparent than this product of my recent cravings for a midnight scallion pancake. A few days ago, Ferret sparked the desire for such a pancake by offering me two freshly fried wedges. I would have been satiated except the sauce wasn't quite right - no hot chili garlic with soy sauce. So two nights ago, I was happily knitting my latest sweater (I can say latest now because I've finished my first sweater) when I suddenly realized I was starving. Hunger pangs never sneak up on me; I'm either full or I've been starving my entire life. So I threw together this above pancake more or less blindly:

Take a couple of limp scallions and slice thinly. In a soup bowl, throw some flour with some water, mixing until you get some kind of batter. Mix in a egg for good measure. Toss in scallions and stir. In favorite cast-iron pan, heat up some oil and pour in half of batter. Cross fingers. Flip and cook some more, occasionally peeking underneath to check for brownness. Hastily scoop "pancake" into that blue plate you found in a freshman dorm that year your friend was the RA. Drizzle soy sauce and add a generous dollop of chili garlic sauce. Eat like a caveman.

Technically, it is a pancake with scallions. It doesn't taste like any scallion pancake I've ever had in my life but even still, it was pretty damn good. Especially for 1am.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bourne Ulitmatum

This movie kicked ass! I really liked the Bourne Identity when I first watched it many years ago but had been disappointed by the recent Bourne Supremacy. Mostly because:

1. The killing off of Franka Potente (I love her).
2. The interminably long and boring car chase.
3. The sudden ending of the movie.

However, the Bourne Ulimatum got everything back on track again: tying up the loose ends, pushing the story to its logical conclusion and lots of super-amazing hand combat and chases. Sadly, Julia Stiles had to make her obligatory appearance. For a while, I was really concerned that a romantic sub-plot was developing, but fear not fellow Moonface-dislikers, this did not occur. One last thing - I liked the way the story of this third installment was organized to fit snugly into the second (it'll make sense when you watch it). Rate *****


I'm not going to get into this movie very much because there is just not much there. The few funny scenes mostly involved Will Smith trying to teach his hapless client, Kevin James, the ways of love. Other than that, it was a movie laden with ridiculous coincidences and embarrassing and artificial dialogue - not atypical for a romantic comedy I guess. I am figuring out from these kinds of movies that most women appear to desire long speeches, preferably taking place in public. In fact, the more public (restaurants, ballparks, busy streets, airports) the declarations of love are, the better. Despite all of this, I still found myself watching most of this movie; Will Smith is just that charming. Rate **

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Buttony Sweater

YAAAAAAAY!!! My first sweater is finally done (more or less, I still have to block it but I was too excited not to post this almost-finished version). I had to change the color of the photo to sepia b/c my camera is awful and all my pictures are coming out yellow. The sweater itself is grey (or more precisely, Bulky Peruvian Highland wool from Knitpicks in Pewter) and knitted using size 9 needles. I followed the directions from ohmystars but cast on fewer stitches (72 instead of 96) which resulted in a higher neck. Since I decreased the number of stitches cast on, I redistributed the remaining stitches to maintain the correct proportions:

Front Left (6)
Sleeve (10)
Back (20)
Sleeve (10)
Front Right (rest)

I also pretty much ran out of yarn so I made the sleeves short but that is a pretty good look for this sweater I think. Because I was extremely paranoid about the fit of the sweater, I probably tried it on far too often during the beginning stages but I think it was worth it in the end. Super flexible pattern and I'm looking forward to my next shipment of Knitpicks yarn (worsted weight, superwash merino in a pretty blue) to try this sweater again. Too bad it is currently freezing cold in Philadelphia so I can't wear this sweater around but it really turned out awesome I think.

Here is the pattern:

CO 96 sts

Row 1: Slip 1, K 5, work in 2 x 2 rib to last 6 sts, K 6
Work this row 5 times more.

Row 7: (RS) Slip 1, K 5, pm, K 13, pm, K 32, pm, K 13, pm, K to end
Row 8: (WS) Slip 1, K5, P to last 6 sts, K6
Row 9: Slip 1, (K to within 1 st of marker, M1, K2, M1) to end
Row 10: as row 8

Every 10th row (RS) work a buttonhole as folls: Work as Row 9 to last 6 sts, K3, yo, k2tog, K to end

Rep rows 9-10 until the sweater fits around the chest and under arms (to try, put front, back and sleeves on separate holders or waste yarn).

Knit left front, back and right front onto one needle and work flat and even (keeping garter st border and buttonholes correct) until you've made 10 buttonholes (work should meas about 14" from underarm). You can add some waist shaping into the sides if you like a snugger fit. Work in 2x2 rib for 4", keeping garter st edge correct and adding two more buttonholes. BO loosely.

Knit sleeves in round, decreasing 2 sts (k2tog, k2, ssk) at underarm seam every 8 rows. finish off with 4" of 2x2 rib and BO.

Block and sew on 12 large buttons.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Introducing Mr Tony the Cat

This post was way overdue.

Asparagus with Sweet Mayonnaise

This simple dish is without a doubt one of my favorites in the world. Whenever I am craving a veggie or wishing for a snack this will not fail to satisfy. "Recipe" is as follows:

Take one entire bunch of asparagus and snap off the tough ends. Bring some water to boil in the frying pan and toss them in (water should be just deep enough to barely cover asparagus). After the water comes to a boil again, stab a stray unlucky asparagus with a fork to test for tenderness. Urgently fish them out with a pair of tongs lest they overcook. In the meantime, scoop a dollop of mayonnaise from the jar and mix with some white sugar (eyeball). Taste and add more sugar or mayonnaise until it tastes right. Enjoy while piping hot! Likely will not use all of the mayonnaise mix.

Kerry Wings

This weekend I made a batch of these top secret wings. This is a dish I am becoming locally famous for (very locally) and is requested at all birthdays and special functions. Since this recipe was only wrested from my friend's mother after a decade of begging and was only given to me on the assurance I would not divulge its secrets, all I am allowed to say about them is that they are the most incredible wings I've ever had in my life. Sweet, salty, spicy, crispy wings delicioso.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The first five seconds of this anime movie set a half creepy tone that was fitting for a movie about dreams and nightmares gone amok. The next five minutes introduced the first bit of doubt and confusion about the onscreen reality; this bit of confusion would continue to ebb and flow, never disappearing, throughout the length of movie (escalating exponentially at the end). With that said, I have to say I really liked it and I like it the more I think about it. It was visually stunning and crazy and the amazing soundtrack added another six layers of interest and complexity to an already complex (bewildering?) movie. Briefly, a bit of technology was stolen by bad guys, good guys try to get it back and fix the mess caused by the loss, and then all hell breaks loose. Sounds like a pretty standard plot except in this movie, 2+2 = 5. Rate *****

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

3:10 to Yuma

After a happy night of eating chili hot dogs (courtesy of me), Ferret, Algy and I watched 3:10 to Yuma. We had intended to watch Shoot 'Em Up for awesomeness sake, but Ferret's dvd was messed up so we picked this other movie because we were all fond of Christian Bale. Ferret and Algy thought the movie was slow, unrealistic (because Westerns and movies in general have to be realistic now I guess) and peppered with bad dialogue, but I enjoyed it. I thought the acting was great; Christian Bale can say nothing and be gaunt like no one else can and I thought Russell Crowe was awfully charming and I don't even really like him in general. What small bits of plot there was unfolded in an interesting way and even if the ending was a little silly it still worked with the overall drama. Rate ***

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread

This recipe (and a starter) was given to me by friend Poodle. I've adapted it so you don't have to be exponentially creating starters to give away. This recipe will give you one starter to bake with at day 10 and one starter to keep going with. After some googling, it seems like starters freeze well too should one become sick of baking bread. Just let it thaw out to room temperature (~3 hours) before using.

Do not use metal utensils or bowls (stainless steel is ok), do not refrigerate.

Day 1: Do nothing
Day 2: Mash the bag
Day 3: Mash the bag
Day 4: Mash the bag
Day 5: Mash the bag
Day 6: Add to the bag: 1/4c of each (flour, sugar, whole milk). Mash the bag
Day 7: Mash the bag
Day 8: Mash the bag
Day 9: Mash the bag
Day 10: Pour starter into non-metal bowl. Add 1/2 cups of each (flour, sugar, whole milk). Measure 1 cup for baking with and 1 cup to keep going with. (This is considered day 1)


Preheat oven to 325 F
To the starter add:
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 c flour
1 c oil
1/2 c milk
1 large box (6 servings) instant pudding mix

Grease two loaf pans. Pour batter in. Bake for 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean. Cool around 10 minutes until bread loosens evenly from sides of pan. Turn bread onto serving dish.

I've only made chocolate so far and it is extremely delicious. The bread comes out very moist and cakey. Poodle has also used lemon pudding with lovely results and my favorite - vanilla with almond extract (1/2-1 tsp) and some vanilla powder (1 tsp?) and walnuts.