October 31, 2011

Let's Mash. Monster Mash!

I hosted a Halloween party on Saturday and it was a mash, it was a graveyard smash. 

I made a bunch of spooky food. Christina mixed up some Zombie Punch. A bunch of friends dressed up in fabulous costumes--Crazy Cat Lady, Cloudy Sky, Alexander the Great, Boo from Monsters Inc., a Once-ler with the Lorax, and two cute witches. I was properly zombified by the end of the evening...and well into the next day, too. But it was worth it.

Pumpkin Barf aka guacamole was a big hit. I got the idea from this pin. It was a little challenging carving the face, but I think it turned out pretty good. 

 Spicy Popcorn. Not scary, per se, but super tasty. I used this recipe as a jumping off point for my spice mixture.

 Our friend Kevin brought a killer cheese spread. 

Bite-Sized Ghosts. Strawberries dipped in vanilla white chocolate with dark chocolate faces.

Trick or Treat Cupcakes. 

Vanilla cupcakes topped with cooked vanilla rum buttercream and Halloween sprinkles, courtesy of Evan's mom...
...with a spooky trick inside! (Almost) blood red berry filling.

 Creepy crawly centerpiece.

Me and Christina: two cute witches.

October 23, 2011

Sushi Sunday

Yesterday was a day for trying new things. First we went to Cactus Jungle to find some plants for the patio. Afterwards we stopped at Tokyo Fish Market (also in Berkeley). I had wanted to check out this store for some time and I was determined to make sushi this weekend. 
They had lots of great Japanese grocery items. I was particularly impressed by the produce section (fresh yuzu!), wall of fresh fish (duh), Hawaiian specialties, and their vast array of tobiko (regular, black, habanero, wasabi, and yuzu). They seemed to have everything one would need to make a tasty meal. I picked up some sushi rice, some fish, Japanese cucumbers (a first), miso, and wasabi. 

Here's what I made of it all:
 To start: miso soup with shitake.

 Hamachi sashimi and the usual accoutrements. 
"Rustic" hamachi nigiri.
Tuna roll. (Less rice next time.) 
Asparagus with sweet soy sauce and chili pepper. (An experiment and treat for myself.)
Almost-vegetarian roll: avocado, shittake, carrot, cucumber, tobiko. 
Tuna with avocado and cucumber. My favorite of the bunch.
Everything turned out pretty good and we ate well. I think I need to work on my rice to filling ratio, though. I guess I'll have to practice. 

October 22, 2011

Cactus Jungle

My brood of drought tolerant plants is growing. This morning I went to Cactus Jungle, a nursery in Berkeley. We've passed it many times and I've always been intrigued. We got there bright and early and as we stepped into this lush, green world nestled amongst warehouses and industrial lots, I couldn't help but think of this song.

Walking around Cactus Jungle was a lot of fun. They have lots of neat succulents and cacti, and even some herbs and veggie seedlings. Plus, the staff was super friendly. It took me a while, but I finally settled on one cactus and two succulents--each to compliment the three buddies the I already have.
I chose this guy because he looks super tough and would be a good contrast to the cactus that I already have. It was a little tricky replanting him into his new home...especially bare handed.

This light green beauty caught my eye because its different and has the potential to grow into a lovely cascade.
I couldn't pass up this blushing succulent. I'm excited to see how the coloring changes (or doesn't) as it grows.
 I think they make a lovely pair.
My first two are doing well. The smaller one is doing a lot better since we've moved. I think he likes the fresh air and morning sunshine.
Isn't she lovely? Evan and I went to Home Depot last weekend to pick up some bamboo stakes for the tomato plant. And I came home with this cactus, too. I just couldn't pass up this little bit of sunshine. 
I think the cacti look good together.
My brood of cacti and succulents...hanging out on the patio.

My tomato plant is producing baby 'maters like gangbusters. At last count there were 17.

The first tomato to bud is now the size of a large marble and other bunches have appeared. They just need to ripen! Thank goodness autumn in the Bay Area is hot and dry.

October 18, 2011

Apple Goodies

I went home this weekend to visit my family and make our annual pilgrimage to Apple Hill, a magical place nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada where one can find an array of delicious treats, fresh apples, orchards of pears, u-pick pumpkin patches, gourds, confections, handmade goodies, wine, and much, much more. 

We packed a picnic lunch, checked out the arts and crafts, and ate our way through our favorite spots and discovered some new ones, too.

And, of course, I didn't come home empty handed. 

October 13, 2011

Harvest Time

I love autumn centerpieces, especially when they're on my coffee table. 
I found these fall-centric goodies  at a local market. I've never seen the ridged gourds before and I can't recall seeing the mini corn in the markets last year. I got very excited when I saw them and the temptation to splurge was too strong to ignore. Thankfully, the splurge didn't cost me too much. 

October 11, 2011

Sushi Adventure

This Sunday I was ambitious, adventurous, and hungry. This Sunday I made sushi.
Salmon with chive roll and veggie roll with tobiko. 

Inside-out roll with sweet soy sauce shrimp, cucumber 
and avocado topped with salmon and hamachi. 
Accidentally massive, but tasty nonetheless.


Spicy salmon and avocado poke hand roll. (pre-roll.)

 I also made shiitake miso soup (with homemade dashi), ahi poke, and rice. Sorry, no pics.

October 9, 2011

Tomato Update

More flowers, more budding tomatoes...despite the week of rainy weather. It's sunny and warm today and I'm hoping it'll stay that way.

October 1, 2011

An Adventure

Evan and I went on an adventure today. We traversed many neighborhoods and under the bay to get to San Francisco's Japantown. There we meandered through stores filled with every imaginable import from the land of the rising sun. 

I tried my best to exercise self restraint, but alas the lure of bento supplies, adorable ceramics, kawaii stationary, and sushi cookbooks proved too strong. 
Super kawaii.
I tried my best to resist, but this bear face seduced me.
Yummy things inside.
We treated ourselves to a super tasty lunch of sashimi bento and ramen at a place called Kushi Tsuru, and then topped it all off with a crepe...Japan style. 

Belly Good Cafe & Crepes
Plastic food for an authentic experience.

Too cute to eat? I think not.
Yes. Cornflakes.
The End.