Sunday, January 29, 2012

an open letter to pancakes

pumpkin pancakes
We need to talk. 
I know I've neglected you and often said I hated you. I called you dry, flavorless, and unappetizing. I'm sorry, Pancakes. Pumpkin changed my mind about you. I've realized you can be slightly sweet and oh-so-tender with the right ingredients. I'm over Waffles and French Toast. Be mine. XO. 

Here's a fact about me.
I used to strongly dislike pancakes.
(Yeah, I know. I have a [failed] pancake recipe here. That time I was having a WEIRD craving, thanks to Joy the Baker's mouth watering pancake recipe collection.)

Before I ate these glorious pumpkin pancakes, if you were to ask me the following questions - which of these choices would you like to eat or drink for breakfast? Pancakes or battery acid? - I would have chosen the battery acid.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

news, updates, and muffins


Oh hi, how ya doin'? I'm all and well.

Okay, just kidding. I'm not. Being a teenager in this world seriously sucks. Maybe I'm just saying that because I have midterms in a couple of days and my skin is breaking out like crazy. I'm bereft of skin knowledge because my skin has never caused me any problems. I just do my daily cleaning routine and I'm good. Ugh, not anymore.

Hypothesis: If I stop eating foods filled with sugar, then I will have my old skin back. Does that make sense? Will it work? I can't help my stress; I can't even manage that ish. So, new diet it is. Hopefully I can stick to my new vegan diet. Oh God. I'm scared.

Oh, and the muffins you see above my lil rant? They're good. Not great. A solid A-. It's my fault though. I made crazy adaptions both by accident and on purpose. The first adaption was adding Craisins. THAT addition was good. The ones with Craisins were 10x better than the ones without. Next, I filled the tins with batter BEFORE they had time to rise. I thought the instructions said that they will rise in the tins. I'm an idiots sometimes most of the time. I also halved the topping amount. I bet they would taste better with more butter and sugar. What wouldn't? Another mishap was putting the batter into baking cups rather than a sprayed muffin tin. I made two without cups, just to experiment, and they held up better. Moister. My last mistake was over baking them(?). Maybe it was baking cups that caused this because the sans cup weren't burnt on the bottom like the ones in cups were.

Yeah, so take my advice and don't do the things I did. Except adding the Craisins. THAT, my friend, was a good move.

See ya on the flip side.

Friday, January 6, 2012

confessions and the best brownies ever


Confession #1. I used to hate, with a capital H, shredded coconut, bananas, and yogurt. I think it was textural thing. I've grown out of it, evident by my love for flaked & toasted coconut, banana bread (I made two different kinds on NYE, by the way) and banana cake. Also, fat free Greek yogurt? With honey? Uh, best "healthy" snack/quick meal ever.

Here's another confession. I was dreaming about these brownies in English today. (Sorry, Mrs. Cap!) While the class was murmuring about chapter seven in The Great Gatsby, my mind was absorbed with an image of brownie.

A sweet piece of dense heaven that has the richness of a chocolate bar. What would go on top? A salted caramel sauce? Mm. Oh wait, no heavy cream. Hm, what if something went inside? A cream cheese swirl? With... uh, hm. Coconut? Yes! Coconut and chocolate. Like those chocolate macaroons. Never had one though. 

And that's how this baby came into creation.

the best brownies

Monday, January 2, 2012

good riddance, two thousand and eleven.

2011 has been one of the most turbulent years for me.

Perhaps it's because 2011 is the year I turned sixteen.
Or because I had to balance doing schoolwork with studying for the SATs, sleeping, and exploring new culinary adventures.
Or because the Arab Spring occured. It kept me up some nights, thinking.
Or the Occupy (insert city name here) riots started, which also kept me up.

I went through both laughter and tears, blessings and curses. I made new friends and lost a very special one.

One of the most intelligent, frank, and funniest boys I ever had the pleasure of knowing left us on December 29th. For seventeen years, he bellowed his distinct laugh and made his friends and family laugh and smile with his antics. It was holiday break, time for relieved sighs and hours spent with friends and family. It was time to start fresh and anew. But three days before we rang in the new year, he passed away due to heart complications.

When I found out, I couldn't stop crying. He was one of my best friends two years ago. Although we grew apart, he still knew just what to say to make a girl smile. We had a social science fair we were both attending together in mid January. I was so excited to be with him again, to hear his hearty laugh, and to laugh at his jokes. I wanted to tell him the things I couldn't tell him two years prior. I was waiting for that fair. After I stopped the tears streaming from my eyes, the fact that I wouldn't see him at that fair wandered into my mind. The fact that I still had things to say to him made my heart pound against my chest. I was filled with regret but I was helpless at this point.

Grieving is a such delicate topic, laced with intricate feelings. It is reflects different on everyone; it is an unique experience. I never had to grieve before. This was the first time a loved one of mine passed away. Parents' of close friends have passed away and my heart ached for my friends. I cried for them. Baked for them. But I never used a whole box of tissues in two nights, like I did on December 29th and 30th.

The end of 2011 was a terrible one. I couldn't ask anything worse. The start of 2012 wasn't dandy either; my emotions was still ripped and raw from his death.  My heart still pounds quickly when I hear or say his name. Instead, my friends and I refer to my friend as "he" or "him". Half of the world is male and yet when I say "he" or "him", my friend understands me, and vice versa. You know what's beautiful? More than 400 people came to a memorial service at our high school. Knowing that some many people love and care for him makes me smile uncontrollably. He touched so many hearts in his seventeen years. He was something special. I will never forget his sweet smile or his hearty laughter. Unexpectedly, I learned lessons from him. 1) Live every second like it's your last. 2) Speak up and say what's on your mind because you never when the person you want to say it to will disappear. I will keep his memory with me forever. However, I must plow through life, complete my goals, and celebrate my achievements. I can't linger like this anymore. By regretting and dreaming, I bring my own tears and heartaches.

When I got my appetite back, I ate a plate of makeshift penne cacio e pepe my mother made. (That lady has a gift with Italian cuisine, I swear!) The next day, I made it again and had two bowls for breakfast. Although it wasn't exactly the same cacio e pepe you saw here or here, it was simple, delicious, and filled with just enough unami to make me sigh. Oh carbs, how I love you so! Here's a recipe that might make you laugh due its simplicity.