Eat around the World: Ring-shaped food (recap)

I think I was just being funny when I decided February’s theme would be around foods shaped like rings. Valentine’s Day is in February, so there are engagement rings. And the Olympics happened this month, so there are the Olympic rings. I think I was just being goofy at the time. But I have to say, I had a lot of fun than I expected exploring this shape. I did have bagels, but I did not find any true ring-shaped ones. Or maybe these bagels were so big, it was no longer ring-like. I did not get a chance to make any ring-shaped food since my donut mold was in a box as my kitchen cabinet had to stay empty for the majority of the month.

Continue reading Eat around the World: Ring-shaped food (recap)

Eat around the World: Cookies!

Every year in November and December, I like to occupy the oven to bake cookies all season long. Up until a few days ago, rather than placing the focus on experimenting with different types of cookie recipes, I would try cookies from different bakeries around Los Angeles.

Continue reading Eat around the World: Cookies!

Best of 2020 according my photos

I barely posted in 2020 but I did take plenty of photos throughout the year worth their own post in the future. To make it easy, I’ll review my year based on the photos that are currently in media library otherwise, it would be me spending many hours going through my hard drive.

In late January to February, we travelled to Italy, France, and Germany. Who knew that returning to the U.S. we would have an epidemic that quickly turned into a pandemic. Who knew that it was going to be our last big trip for the rest of the year? I realized on my media gallery I only posted some food photos of the trip — I promise I’ll get around to posting the travel photos in a future post. Maybe I’ll bring back Travel Tuesday?

With the pandemic came the stay-at-home order at California. I also found out I was pregnant. To reduce my risk, I had to stop taking public transit to work and started driving. I’ll admit, it was nice getting to work faster than usual. I also used that opportunity to explore usually crowded places like Santa Monica. One weekend I wanted to go to Santa Monica Promenade to go to one of my favorite bakeries. When I got there, I was bummed to find it was temporarily closed — as was other businesses on the Promenade. It was surreal to find these usually touristy places completely empty on a Saturday.

At work we received an overwhelming amount of donations from the community ranging from cards, care packages, and meals. It was a nice morale booster that carried the hospital through the year.

Then I gave birth to my first baby. I kept my pregnancy quiet on social media. I am so glad I did. I already knew we were not going to have a baby shower, I was not expecting gifts. Instead I wanted to focus on taking care of myself throughout my pregnancy. I only announced her arrival.

I spent December experimenting with different cookie recipes for the first cookie swap with friends. It was a lot of fun trying out different cookie recipes. After giving birth, I felt like I was in a slump; I spent my days changing diapers, feeding Lana, cleaning the house, walking the dogs, and exercise. I think researching recipes, making, and tasting the cookies revived my creativity.

Lens-Artists Challenge #129 – Favorite Images of 2020

Five Things Friday: Welcome to 2021

Five things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you!

Happy New Year!

1. My Mommies and Me

I found this article on Longreads and to me, it is very telling of a divisive America and also how the internet has transformed the way people think (or not think) for the worst. I have come across a lot of things that Alexandra Tanner has mentioned from lizard people controlling us, the Great Awakening, 5G causes COVID, anti-Semitism, etc. I don’t think it is focused on just moms who use social media, I’ve met a lot of different people spreading crazy misinformation.

2. Cookie swap 2020

Here are the cookies I made. And below are cookies my friends made. Honorary mention to my mom. She made some cookies too.

To be honest, I don’t recall all the cookies. The top left cookie is peanut butter oatmeal. On the second row from left to right: white chocolate chip with almond flour, pecan cookies, and chocolate chip coconut. Bottom row from left to right: matcha rice flour, matcha mochi brownie.

3. First hiking trip as a family of five (dogs count too)

4. My public library

I found out that I can use my library card to access The New York Times. Yes! I don’t need to wait another month to look at five recipes for free!

5. Getting my stimulus check…no matter how little.

During maternity leave, I exhausted my disability insurance a month ago and my paid time off for the year two weeks ago which means I did not have pay for the last two weeks of 2020. When I received my stimulus check yesterday, it lifted my spirits that I did get something.

Since it is a new year, my time off balance is now renewed and ready to be used for the year. I am returning to work in a couple of weeks and I’ll use two weeks of paid time off to cover that — I still have plenty of time off I can use in the event me or my daughter get sick or if I go on a short vacation. To be honest, maternity leave has been a lot of time card gymnastics. I should be grateful I got majority of my maternity leave paid through my disability insurance and that I am healthy enough where I had plenty of paid time off to get paid to be able to extend my leave. Also, I should be grateful I have savings…but I am more glad I did not need it.

#weekendcoffeeshare: Have some cookies!

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us!  What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans?  Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

Wow, it just occurred to me this is the last weekend of 2020. What am I doing this weekend? Well two of my friends and I are doing the first ever cookie swap. We agreed to meet at my house to swap our cookie boxes and have lunch. It is different from years past where we had much larger gatherings and everyone brought their own food. We would eat, chat, do a White Elephant gift exchange, and play games for hours until it got really late.

The rules of the cookie swap are simple: bake up to three different types of cookies and each box must have a dozen. We also agreed on a theme and we decided to do travel theme. Actually it started with one of my friends who said she was planning to make some Mexican cookies and it sparked an idea to do a travel theme. It is fitting since we all like to travel and we have not been able to travel anywhere this year.

My cookie box theme is New York City and I based the cookies off of my time there. The first cookie on the top row is the Black and White cookie. This cookie can be found in NYC delis. The dough is cake-based and so soft. For this recipe, I used store bought frosting instead of making the frosting — I did not have time to practice it. I did not have buttermilk, so I instead mixed 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Top: Black and White Cookie. Bottom (from left to right): Cuban Sugar Cookie with Passion Fruit Jam, Compost Cookie (inspired from Momofuku Milk Bar)

The next cookie I made (with the assistance of my nephew) is a Cuban Sugar Cookie called “Torticas de Moron.” It is a sugar cookie with a lime twist. I made this cookie because when I was at NYC, my friend and I would eat breakfast at a local Cuban café almost every morning. I could not find any guava jam in any grocery store. To substitute I used passion fruit jam. I enjoy making this cookie and would like to try it with dulce de leche and eventually guava jam if I could find it.

The third cookie is the Compost Cookie based off of the cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar. I remembered the first time I had the Compost Cookie, it was so unusual to have potato chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, chocolate chips, and butterscotch all in one cookie. What I did differently was skip the graham cracker crust recipe and instead crushed the graham crackers. I guess I was tired trying a new recipe just to only used 1/2 cup of graham cracker crust for the cookies. What would I do with the rest of the graham cracker crust? Of course make pie, but I think I’ll take a short break from baking desserts.

I have plenty of cookies leftover after baking for most of the day. I have plenty to give. Here, have one or some. Do you have a cookie recipe? Comment below!

For other plans for the rest of the weekend, I am working on my 21 for 2021 list. I am also working on writing a reverse 20 for 2020 list, reflecting on all the things I did this year.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Experimenting with cookie recipes

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us!  What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans?  Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

Have some cookies! I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen in preparation for our first ever friend’s cookie exchange. Instead of the usual get-together with Friendsgiving in November followed by Christmas Dinner/White Elephant party in December, we’ll be doing a cookie exchange where we mail each other cookie boxes. We came up with a theme, and this year’s theme is travel since we have not travelled anywhere all year long.

One of the cookies I’m testing out is the Icelandic Pepper Cookie. I like the direction it’s going because it reminds me of gingerbread, but lighter with the warming spices of cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. I am still tweaking it to get the texture I want. Hopefully I get to do some fun shapes for the box.

Icelandic Pepper Cookie attempt one

I’ll be baking different cookies this week to figure out which ones will make its way to the cookie box. In terms of variety, we agreed the maximum for each set is three different types of cookies. I think three different cookies for a box is reasonable in comparison to the New York Times cookie box (there’s at least eight types of cookies!). Testing out different recipes in December is quite a time crunch. Why did I not test different cookie recipes throughout the year? Oh well…this cookie exchange happened so spontaneously. We came up with this idea a week ago. Maybe even when things return to normal and our traditions resume, the cookie exchange can be part of it.