Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sundays Are For Food

I am not a big fan of Sundays. It's the day when I know that tomorrow, I'll be back to work, I'll have to go to bed early tonight, and I usually wake up late on Sunday morning as a result of Saturday night's late bedtime. Sundays seem to pass by so quickly this way, which makes sense, since it seems that I have less than 12 waking hours in one Sunday so often...

I woke up at 8:30 this morning and felt so uncharacteristically energized for a Sunday that I hopped out of bed, did my makeup and hopped back in to bed to have a FaceTime session with my friend G. Work just gave me an iPad for various classroom technology lessons. So far, it's been good for two things: FaceTime and Pinterest.

Oh Pinterest. Your endless walls of well-lit photos and how-to links. Admittedly, I've started going down the usual route of pinning cooking and baking photos to my boards, but have also taken towards the DIY crafts and-- bum bum bum-- wedding planning.

Nope. Not engaged. Not even close to it yet. But hey, it's going to happen someday. A girl can start planning ahead a little bit...

I love the metal work on this one. Designs like this are more or less more appealing to me than the stone itself! *cough cough*
Pinterest has also brought me back to eating-on-impetus. As I went about my morning, after cleaning the kitchen and taking stock of my refrigerator before the weekend grocery run, I remembered that I had a half dozen tomatoes in the vegetable drawer. Still good, but maybe I overshot on how many I would need last week. Recently I pinned a recipe for oven-dried tomatoes that looked pretty simple, if not a bit lengthy in bake time (5 hours!?). I decided to go for it and, boy, are they hard to save any for later. They're so good by themselves! Chewy and tangy-- I can't wait to throw this into my next pasta.

Not the most attractive photo I've taken, but oh are these good. Right now, they're soaking in olive oil with a few cloves of garlic.
- 5 Roma tomatoes (sliced 1/4" thick from top to bottom)
- Olive oil (enough to drizzle lightly over the slices and enough to cover them if saving for later)
- Kosher salt
- Thyme (optional)
- Garlic (optional, for soaking)
Bake at 225 degrees for 3-4 hours on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Today's lunch was a stellar sandwich that took it to the next level with some leftover pesto sauce that I mixed with mayonaise. Thanks to a fabulous little Cuisinart food processor, I can have pesto whenever I want! This was a sandwich worthy of a product info-mercial. Now, all I need is an actual toaster oven. For the last 8 months, I've been grilling bread on a baking sheet over a stove burner. I have to say, the process makes for pretty crispy bread with the right amount of give in the middle...

And pesto I shall have-- on EVERYTHING.
- Wheat bread
- Basil
- Sharp cheddar
- Tomato
- Oven roasted turkey
- Pesto mayonaise
Now that I've finished my sandwich, it's time to make a first attempt at homemade ice cream. Blackberry cheesecake ice cream. Oh kitchen gods, please let this work. I don't want to shell out for an actual ice cream churning machine. I've been scouring Goodwill almost twice a week for a second-hand machine-- once, a few months ago, there were three of them!-- but none lately. Darn! Should have picked one up when I had the chance.

Whether or not this works though, it's not even 4pm yet and I've already done so much today. And I'm in pretty good spirits about it, too. From here on out, I proclaim-- Sundays are for food.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trying again.

So... unsurprisingly, it has once again been a while. But this is Work of Mouth after all, so lots to mouth off about regarding the last 6 months especially.

In July, I finally finished school. Early August, I was hired a for a high school chemistry teaching position. I moved to the other end of California as a result of said position and for the first time in my life, I am living alone. Having my own space is great, for about a day, until you realize that "alone time" isn't going to end when your roommate comes home. There is no roommate. There is only a now 8-month old cat named Phi to get riled up when the sound of your keys jangling in the door rouses her from her day-long nap.

Phoenix N-G... Phi, for short.

The school that I now teach at is fabulously wealthy with educational resources, awesome teachers and hundreds of hard working students. I've encountered a few of the more... shall we say, relaxed students in my time there so far. Incredible to think that I've already survived a semester there and teaching chemistry, no less. It's funny to consider that when I first decided to become a teacher, I wanted to teach chemistry, was required to student teach biology instead, and am now teaching chemistry for the first time as a professional. Holy crap. I'm a professional.

The view from the top of the stairs of my hallway.

The kids at first were weary of me. I look young-- young enough to be a student. About once a week, I'm still being mistaken for a teenager, be it by a distracted secretary, a well-meaning security guard, or an office TA "looking for my teacher". I may be young, but I'm still something of a hard-ass when it comes to my classroom. Having the role model that I do-- my own high school chemistry teacher-- it was inevitable that I'd try to emulate her teaching persona. Despite this, the kids warmed up to me and I to them.

Drawn on a quiz by a student in a fit of boredom. She did well on the quiz, too!

Living alone means suddenly cooking only for one, which, I admit, has been a bit of a struggle for someone who grew used to cooking for two, three, or fourteen people. After realizing that one pasta casserole lasts me more than a week even if it's the only thing I eat, I gave up for a while on doing what I always did and just drank wine and ate cheese. I lost 10 lbs in the first 4 months of living here. That being said, I still do it right-- no Kraft singles and 2-Buck Chuck in this joint.

Wine and cheese party for one.

Recently, I started cooking properly again. It took some acceptance that food simply is NOT as good when you constantly eat alone. Work has settled down enough that I know what I'm doing (most of the time) in advance enough that I'm starting to have some free time for baking and cooking. I am a grown woman with an income now. Bring on the gourmet ingredients! 

Filet mignon with mixed vegetables and Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Turkey meatloaf with spinach and pine nut salad

You can guess where one who lives alone eats alone... Yes. At her desk. With her laptop. Sometimes with people on Skype! Every now and then S comes up for a visit and I gain back a couple pounds after consecutive nights of real food. Long distance love is probably the most difficult part of my life right now. Not just with S but with every person of importance in my life-- I've never been this far from my family and so many friends are still in LA and San Diego. Thankfully a few really good ones reside in nearby cities up in the Bay Area, but it's still not quite the same as being able to roll over to someone's house in 5 minutes and spend the rest of the night noshing on snacks and watching stupid YouTube videos.

Meet Henri. He is probably one of my favorite cats, after Phi and Simon's Cat, of course.

As a result of this persistent solitude, I've taken up a slightly haphazard search for hobbies. So far, the list includes interior design, DIY kitchen organization, crochet, a rebirth of abstract painting, and eating my way around the neighborhood with only impetus as my guide. Results have been varied. 

Phil's Sliders, Berkeley

From left: Blossom Bee, Dublin; The Cheeseboard, Berkeley; La Boulange, Danville

La Boulange, Danville

Maybe now with all of this idle time that I want to spend not thinking about work, more cooking posts will come. For now... leftovers for dinner. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Teach, Speak, Blog.

In my year of student teaching at Morse High School, I learned a valuable lesson:

I am capable of failure.

I am not so full of myself that I believe I am perfect-- I made plenty of mistakes this year and I struggled to hone my craft as a science instructor. In the end, I also made it work by the time it really counted and I gained confidence in my skills as a professional educator.

This confidence was severely tested when I found out that I did not pass PACT, that terror of all assessment portfolios. To make things even more stressful, I had a month to re-do the whole thing. How was I going to pull my students together when it had reached the point of the year in which the spring could begin to untighten now that CST testing was over? Was I meant to be a teacher if I could not pass this important task in my professional trajectory?

I had never failed at something that I worked hard at before. I believed that hard work would be enough. My first reactions were to mope, curse the universe, and ask "Why me?" Ten minutes later, I knew it was time to get to work.

Over the next week, I designed a new teaching segment, implemented it, and reflected. To my ecstatic joy, I passed the second attempt and shared my story with my students. My peers, supervisors, and students were impressed with the finesse that I demonstrated in this process. I was proud of myself for picking myself up again, dusting off the remnants of my old PACT, and making something new that turned out to be the lesson that my students enjoyed the most all year.

Sometimes you will fail. Keep calm and pretend it's on the lesson plan. What you create the second time around will be better as long as you stay reflective, mindful, and positive. (Having an obsessive relationship with the rubric works, too.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012


After living in San Diego for the last 6 years, I have managed to accumulate... a lot of stuff. A lot of it, I've realized over the last few months, I'm not really using anymore.

Rather than trying to sell it on Craigslist or taking it to the thrift store, I'm wondering if any of my friends and greek family might want it for themselves. All you have to do is pick it up from me. Prices will be low, sometimes free, depending mostly on how much I paid for it initially or how unused (such as art supplies) the item is.

If you see something you like, don't hesitate to contact me about the condition or price. I'm happy to negotiate. :)

Twin-sized Bed Set (Mattress + Bed Frame) - $50 
* Mattress is lightly used, in good condition
* Bed frame currently disassembled, can be reassembled if you need proof that it is complete
* Ikea brand frame, very easy to reassemble

Clean, lightly used mattress. 

The unassembled bed frame

The whole mattress (sorry for the clutter, it's been in storage for a while)


Stay posted!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So... it's been a little while...

Hi guys-- I've been crazy busy/lazy/without a camera/foresight to take photos of what I've been cooking lately. This blog has been on the back burner of my mind for a while and I really want to be able to get back into it soon. So I'm pledging that this weekend, after I come back from a brief trip to LA, I will return with my camera and start blogging again once more!

Soon... very soon. :)

To provide some fodder, I've moved to Normal Heights, a San Diego neighborhood that is famous for hipster-y coffee shops, amazing little restaurants, and fantastic beer bars. Hopefully this will at least elicit some inspiration. :)


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My thoughts on beer + The easiest bread you'll ever make.

I apologize that I've been gone for so long! This last quarter has been devoted to a natural history blog that I'm working on for an internship. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Back to food though! This quarter has been an experiment in breads for me with not as much time spent on real cooking or pastry baking. However, there is a lot to be said about the benefits of knowing how to make your own bread. Let's start now with a very simple and quick to prepare recipe.

There is nothing quite like the smell of bread as it is being baked in the oven. The whole house warms up and practically glows with comfort, even on the grayest of days. Lately in San Diego, we've seen our fair share of gray and sun, often in the same day, possibly even the same hour. Whatever the weather, this honey beer bread is sure to hit the spot and remind you that beer isn't just for college students on a Friday night.

But first! A discourse on beer...

I have this discussion with friends all the time. Beer simply has a bad rep. It's often associated with the images of red-cup-toting, hysterical college-aged kids, intense chugging contests out of glass boots, and middle-aged men with beer bellies who watch TV in their den with the lights off while slowly whitling away the night with a 6-pack of cans. We think of croaking frogs, impassioned debates over "less carbs" vs. "more filling" and silly marketing schemes involving color-changing cans. These tactics are great... when you're 6. Personally, I haven't taken an interest in temperature-activated food items since the early 90s when you could find a Lion King color-changing spoon in the bottom of your cereal box. (Prizes were better back then... the simpler things in life have cheapened over time.) Alas, I've digressed.

So what's the big deal with beer? In San Diego, there is in fact, an enormous beer and restaurant culture. Let's face it-- beer and food are perfect for each other. Much like the way wines can be paired with cheeses, chocolate, meats, and pastas, so can beer, with pizzas, burgers, other traditional pub fare, as well as more gourmet items. And around here, the beer can be as gourmet as the food itself. Brewery restaurants like Karl Strauss, Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom, and the Coronado Brewing Company have cornered a market in local brews paired with stellar menu items. My personal favorite-- Karl Strauss' Sorrento Valley location, a sprawling restaurant complete with its own (man-made) koi pond and Zen garden. It's a gorgeous place for a date or a Sunday brunch with fantastic beers and food. My recommendation is the Amber Lager, the Portabello mushroom burger, and for dessert, the Beeramisu-- a decadent tiramisu made with Karl's signature Red Trolley Ale. Oh my... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Ahhh.

And now (finally!)-- to the bread!

I've heard of beer breads for quite some time now and finally decided to give it a try. With so many good beers out there though, it took me a little while to decide on which beer would be the star of my bread. Finally, I settled with Harvest Moon, the Blue Moon fall seasonal ale.

I am a big fan of Blue Moon and all of its seasonal ales. Harvest Moon is a particularly complex one with spicy notes and a hint of pumpkin. I've also used Sam Adams Oktoberfest and the classic Blue Moon in later breads-- all very good options.

Honey Beer Bread
3 C all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
2 T honey (I used blue agave nectar, which has a more molasses-like flavor without being quite as thick.)
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
2 T (1/4 stick) butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 7" x 3" inch loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
3. Spoon the batter into the pan. This next part made me a bit nervous the first time I did it. Pour the melted butter over the top of the batter. It's going to pool and it's going to look a mess-- but trust me on this. This step is what makes the bread truly amazing.
4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
If you're like me, you'll be watching that bread rise and start worrying about the pool of butter that it's being born in. Don't fret! By the time you take the bread out of the oven, the butter will have traveled to the bottom of the pan and your bread will have a buttery, crispy crust. Oh. Heaven. My recommendation is to serve it thoroughly cooled so that the beer flavor has some time to mellow out a bit (though, it's pretty difficult to not eat some right away out of the oven. Try both.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quick update...

Hey ya'll! Sorry I've been such a bum about updating. For now, just a quick post to show you guys what I ate tonight for dessert...

My parents grow dragonfruit in our backyard. Usually, it's pink on the outside and white on the inside, with black seeds very similar to sesame seeds. Yesterday my parents came to visit and brought a few dragonfruits, noting that this particular set of fruits came from our neighbor's plant. Much to my surprise and glee, our neighbors grow the variety with the dark pink flesh!

I know, this sounds soooo geeky. But look at how GORGEOUS this fruit is! It was super juicy and sweet. I sat and ate it on my bed with a spoon... is it bad that I didn't feel bad about being a little messy since the fruit was the same color as my sheets?

Man, I love summer. I hope everyone else is enjoying their summers as well!

Coming soon... breads!