Thursday, May 26, 2011

Palate cleanser

Also, we eat asparagus.

thick asparagus spears
{thick asparagus spears}

Brushed with olive oil, roasted* until they are tender, thick enough to require a knife.

Spring is definitely here.

* Is roasting the food thing of the 2000s? Are we going to look back and wonder why we roasted every vegetable we could get our hands on? Like the 1960s and their obsession with canned cream of mushroom soup? I don't care - I love it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Burger battles

We tried Five Guys. I had noticed them springing up (are they originally an east coast thing?) but we aren't usually in places where we have to rely on fast food, so our intake has dwindled down to nothing. Driving to get food makes no sense to me when we live in a city with this much traffic. I'm not getting in the car for anything other than a really good meal and I'll usually whine a little if we have to cross Fairfax to get to it. I still have my favorite fast food places (I grew up in Orange County, you guys - I know a lot about drive thru), but we mostly only hit them up on road trips. Although they are opening a Chipotle just a three minute walk from our apartment and I'm already concerned about how I'm going to control myself.

On our extremely efficient Ikea trip the other weekend, we realized we needed to eat and I remembered that Angel had mentioned Five Guys last month and there happened to be one in the shopping center.

five guys
{five guys}

First of all, someone should warn people that this is a lot of food. We split a big burger (which appears to just be a normal burger but with two patties - shouldn't that be made clearer on the menu?) and regular fries and it was overwhelming. We didn't finish everything. The free peanuts were nice, the fries were good. But I'll still take In'N'Out over Five Guys. The buns and toppings were clearly inferior here, and that actually makes a bigger difference to me than the meat.*

If you are looking for a really awesome burger (as opposed to a good fast food version) I highly recommend Tavern's Niman Ranch burger. You can only get it on the bar menu, but it blows everything else out of the water and it comes with sliced pickles that are so good that it might be my life's goal to crack their recipe. Umami burger, Father's Office and Golden State are my other LA recommendations, with an honorable mention for 25 Degrees at the Roosevelt Hotel.

* I deleted and re-wrote that paragraph ten times. It goes too far into review territory, and I hate to think I'm spending this much energy talking about fast food. BUT, I spent that much energy thinking about it, so I guess you're getting it, unedited. If you'd rather have a short version, it would be "meh".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The weekend, briefly

We drove up the coast for a weekend full of wedding activities and old friends.

gassing it up
{gassing it up}

rehearsal dinner
{rehearsal dinner table}

rehearsal dinner
{rehearsal dinner wine}

lace, cowhide
{lace, cowhide}

flowers, waiting
{flowers, waiting}

wedding lights
{wedding lights}


camping, mountains
{camping, mountains}

As part of the wedding party, I didn't get as many pictures as I might have otherwise, but it was amazing to be right there as my friend of 18 years (!) got married. D and I both went to school with her from fourth grade all through high school, so we both had a wonderful time catching up with old friends. Oh, and I got to wear fake eyelashes, which always makes me happy. I'm a minimalist when it comes to make up, but I will go for drag queen eyelashes whenever there is a halfway decent excuse.

The wedding was on a nature preserve, nowhere near anything, so a lot of us camped after the wedding and woke up to share (seriously excellent) breakfast burritos with the bride and groom. I treated myself to a single cup of glorious coffee (my first since the caffeine hiatus started just over two months ago), because a chilly morning at a gorgeous campsite wouldn't be complete without one.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cake day

I'm not doing this today, but rest assured that I'm taking a rain check and I fully intend to cash it in later. Eating birthday cake is one of my great joys.

cake in bed
{cake in bed}

Today we're driving up to Santa Barbara so I can stand up with one of my dear friends (from high school!) as she gets hitched. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reading, lately

the emperor of all maladies

2.5 weeks of hard reading. Which isn't to say that it isn't excellently written (it is), just that I got to the last few chapters and kept having to re-read paragraphs to really understand the biology. And I have a biology degree. Now that I've scared you all off, I highly recommend it. I had to wait 5 months for it to be available at the library and it was worth it.

Followed by ...


1 easy day of reading. I'll admit it was kind of a relief. Also, that I have heretofore been watching 30 Rock mostly because of Alec Baldwin (you have to admit he kind of steals the show), but I'm now a little more in love with Tina Fey. Even though that cover is so visually disturbing to me that I think I'm going to remove the dust jacket.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The weekend, briefly



bradbury building
{bradbury building}

neon, meat
{neon, meat}

el atacor
{el atacor #11}

Weekend notes: 

My tendency when things get frantic is to go a little crazy, leading to the sort of unfortunate spiral where you realize you haven't eaten or showered in a week. I've been trying to change the pattern by instituting a new rule - when you have twenty things to do and only enough time to do half of them, bathe first (a shower will suffice if necessary), preferably with a glass of wine, then eat something, then proceed to your task list. I can almost guarantee that you'll find at least a few things on the list that no longer seem quite as vital.

D had his wisdom teeth removed, approximately ten years after everyone else did. Lack of insurance makes you extra cautious of getting dry socket, so he's been leaning heavily on ice cream, gelato and shakes.

We went to a few of our favorite places downtown, which is a treat because we almost never have time to stop down there. I'll share more later but the awesome neon signage is from Grand Central Market, my absolute favorite place in LA (I have a passion for markets and grocery stores).

We were supposed to split those tacos but I ended up having to do the lion's share of the work (see: wisdom teeth removal, dry socket potential). I would never presume to label anything "the best taco" because tacos vary widely and so many factors are involved and you always have to know what to order. El Atacor #11 is up there, though. The asada narrowly beat out the barbacoa this time, but it's a contentious battle.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mothers' Day weekend, briefly

Oh, you guys. I always manage to forget about May. It wallops me every year. And this year it started with some particularly annoying setbacks, which took up approximately 2.5 times as much time as you would reasonably anticipate. So here I am, behind. Don't worry though - we've mostly been living on soup from Trader Joe's, so you haven't really been missing out on anything. (I recommend the roasted red bell pepper and tomato, highly).

Mothers' Day weekend was a whirlwind. D and I are blessed with four mothers between the two of us and we're eternally grateful for it. Even the ensuing holiday chaos and the overeating of sweet foods is fun, but we were fairly wiped out for a few days following. And I didn't even have to bake anything this year, just show up!


circe ears
{circe ears}

tulips, greens
{tulips, greens}

mother's day donuts
{mother's day donuts}

mother's day 2011 - garden roses
{garden roses}

Weekend notes: 

We went to Ikea for one item (bed slats), purchased said item, and left without anything else. Victory!

We sometimes buy gifts for mother's day, but only if one of us has a brilliant idea (trying hard not to buy random and possibly useless gifts just for the sake of having something to give). Otherwise, we do flower arrangements for everyone. This year I picked out a bunch of tulips and then cursed over them. I always forget how much trouble I have arranging them.

I made us pick up donuts even though we knew the rest of the day was going to involve a) a waffle bar and b) pineapple upside down cake. I had to sweet talk the donut lady into making us some fresh cinnamon sugar (NOT cinnamon sugar crumb) donuts. Hot donuts are the best.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Monkey bread

I mentioned that I made monkey bread for Easter, along with the cinnamon rolls. I just used the same dough I used for the cinnamon rolls, melted some butter, mixed up some brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and rolled my sleeves up.

monkey bread prep
{monkey bread prep}

Because I had never made it before, I used Deb's general instructions, although not the recipe. If you do this (and you should, because it's delicious) do pay attention to her actual instructions. I had more dough than I needed, and I overfilled the bundt pan, recklessly ignoring her instructions to leave plenty of room in the pan (after they are risen in the pan, you want 1 - 2 inches of space at the top and I'd recommend 2).

I don't have pictures of the hilarity that ensued, but you can imagine it - opening the oven on Easter morning, 20 eager people standing around waiting for brunch, only to see little rolls of dough launching out of the pan and all over the oven (they actually popped, rather than just oozed - it was rather impressive). Please note that I was not seeing the hilarity at this point, but I simply plucked the upper layer out of the pan as gracefully as I could and let it finish cooking (and poured myself a mimosa).

monkey bread, easter 2011
{monkey bread}

Luckily, it worked out.

monkey bread
{monkey bread, consumed}

So in sum, monkey bread itself is forgiving. All you need is a sweet yeasted dough, melted butter and some sort of sugar/spice mixture. But do follow the baking instructions.

Personally, I liked the monkey bread more than the cinnamon rolls on the day of, but found them lacking as leftovers. Because they're completely coated in butter and sugar, they don't retain any crisp outer texture after being stored. Happily, this stuff tends to go quickly, so you probably won't have an issue.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The cutest

The only thing better than licorice allsorts? Mini licorice allsorts.

mini licorice allsorts
{mini licorice allsorts}

For serious.

mini licorice allsorts
{mini licorice allsorts, in hand}

My mom and my sister conspired to find them for my Easter basket, since I'm fairly indifferent towards chocolate bunnies. I managed to make the jar last for two days, which I felt was an accomplishment. 

I know you're going to want to know where they bought them (so you can track them down yourself if you're a licorice afficionado, or so you can avoid them if it makes you gag) and I think they came from CostPlus. I usually get my licorice allsorts from there because they stock the Bassets brand, which is my personal fave.

Oh, and they didn't come in the jar, that's just how my sister packaged them. I'm sure they originally came in a little plastic bag of some sort.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The weekend, briefly

quick baking
{quick baking}

rolling out
{rolling out}





lacma at night
{lacma at night}

sunday nachos
{sunday nachos}

Weekend notes: 

Strawberries were on crazy sale on Friday and we had cream left over from Easter, so I took advantage and made us a rare non-company dessert. Strawberry shortcake is possibly the easiest thing to make - it all comes together in under 15 minutes, really. No pictures of the finished product because it was too dark. (The recipe I use is here - I used milk instead of cream because I only had enough cream for whipping - it was perfectly fine)

Emily's parties are always amazing - all the details were perfect and the margaritas were strong. Luckily, D and I bused it, which was perfect in the warm weather and we made a quick stop to play around at the art installation at LACMA.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest post, part two

The second half of my guest post on sewing is up on Jamie's blog today - go check it out if you're looking for some suggestions on getting started with your machine! (The first post is right here, if you're looking for advice on machines and supplies)