Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Miso Catfish Sous Vide

I have to learn how to get the fish out of its sous vide package in a prettier fashion. In any case, here is a picture of the sous vide process:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Little Dumpling Squash

To mangle The Beatles:

Little dumpling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little dumpling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

So cute:

Halved the little dumpling squash lengthwise and scooped out the seeds. A little olive oil, salt, peppper, crushed red pepper, cinnamon and into the oven for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, my sous chef browned some ground beef with salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Drained and reduced the juices and sauteed shallots and maitake mushrooms (also called "hen of the woods"... my "that looks weird, I want to eat it!" purchase at Ranch 99). It was pretty good... mild, a little nutty. Reintroduced the beef to the mixture with cooked rice and cilantro. This was the stuffing for the halved squash.

I finely chopped some cilantro leaves and stems and roughly chopped some mint. The cilantro went into the dressing my sous chef was putting together (olive oil, lime juice, red chili and garlic sauce). The dressing and mint dressed the stuffed squash. Sweet and spicy.

Pictures for Surfsister, but I think I need Soul Brother #1 to take the food photos. The little dumpling looked better than this photo and tasted way better, too:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Braised oxtail stew

I find Alton Brown entertaining and useful. He used short ribs for his stew episode, but I'm partial to oxtail... especially as I horde the small bits of vertebrae in preparation for another round of beef stock.

Seared oxtail and beef stew meat before coating it in a mixture of tomato paste, paprika, oregano, thyme, rosemary and braising it in the oven at low heat for 4 hours.

Two days later (because I didn't have time to finish on Sunday), I sauteed onion, carrots, potato, leeks, peas in beef fat before dumping the braised meat and liquid into a stock pot to soften the vegetables and serve.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Tried out the recipe in Gourmet magazine. Pureed Parsnips with sauteed brussel sprout leaves. The combination of textures was fun. The snap of the brussel sprout leaves and the mellow flavor was good with the aromatic puree.

I think, though, I like roasted parsnips better than boiled. I like how the parsnip caramelizes when it's roasted.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's best not to reply

The best and worst thing about Facebook is that people from your past somehow come into your present. It's been a while since I checked in on Facebook, but this morning, while standing in line at the polls, I surfed the web on my phone and logged into Facebook to read some "status updates" - most people writing their support for Obama. One of my Facebook "friends" - a woman I knew in grade school and was in marching band with in high school, a girl who was my best friend for a couple years in junior high - was supporting McCain. Luckily, she lives in New Jersey, so her vote doesn't count (I say that jokingly as someone who has spent too many months playing with electoral maps).

Anyway, Pandora's box was open. After Obama's speech tonight, I couldn't resist getting online to check in on the status updates of my Facebook "friends." And there was her status update: "[Facebook friend] says the downfall will begin."

Seriously? I wanted to reply. Seriously? Do you think we're all going to become Communists? Or wear burkas? Or worst of all, become Communists wearing burkas?

It's best not to reply. It's late. I'm looking to pick a fight because I'm wired in such a way that I stand off from emotions and look ahead and worry. The McCain campaign revealed too many insane people who call themselves American. The crazy Halloween scrooge lady who wouldn't give candy to kids unless they supported McCain. Joe the Plumber who is voting against his interest and whose only reply to being questioned is, "Look it up yourself. Look it up and see why I believe what I do." "Terrorist"-shouting men calling to "kill him!" And not the least of all... Sarah Palin.

I live in the same country as these people. These radically religious, incurious, anti-science people share the same American citizenship as I do.

Tonight, it's best not to reply.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Roast duck and kabocha squash

I've been trying to overcome my fear of autumn/winter squashes. I've always loved how they looked, but feared that they tasted too much like a pumpkin which I've never really been fond.

So, inspired by a recent Jamie Oliver show, last night I did a riff on his warm Asian salad of roast duck and pumpkin with kabocha squash. I basically wandered the Santa Monica farmers' market after not surfing (because of fear of rainwater contamination from the first storm of the winter). I looked for interesting squash to try out. Besides the cool name, I liked how it looked like a pumpkin but wasn't.

Really lovely and sweet with a sweet potato texture after roasting in salt, pepper, and crushed red chili. The edges were nice and caramelized and it was a good counterpart to the duck. Threw it together with a spicy soy sauce lime vinaigrette, cilantro, and mint.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sous vide

Last night, I was feeing a little like autumn, so I rigged up my own sous vide apparatus for a catfish with brussel sprout leaves. I dressed it with olive oil, shallots, thyme sprigs, and a couple cloves of crushed garlic (removed when served).

Instead of using a crazy expensive silicone wrap, I realized that I had bought Reynolds oven bags when I had a coupon and was curious as to what it was. It's been forgotten in the back of my bottom drawer until I learned about sous vide preparation. Worked beautifully.

Accompanying the fish were roasted parsnips and sauteed chanterelle and brown mushrooms.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Molecular Gastronomy: a foody masturbates

Sunday, I learned a few of the basic processes that makes up this movement of Molecular Gastronomy.

Mostly, I find it wanking off about food... more so than usual, that is. I appreciate it on an esoteric, aesthetic level, but I find that when I want to eat a mushroom, I actually want to eat a mushroom and not just breathe the flavor in a foam. I like texture and chewing. I don't necessarily want essence of pea puree to explode in my mouth like stale baby food.

The most successful dish, I thought, was the seared duck breast (because it was cooked conventionally) which was topped with pineapple caviar. I did like these little bursts of fruity flavor and will probably be taking this technique home with me. The sweet and acid flavors of the caviar worked nicely to offset the fattiness of the duck.

In order to make this "caviar," combine juice with sodium alginate (a thickener) and then dribble drops into a calcium chloride bath. Osmosis sucks the water out of the juice drop and creates a cell wall around the drop. An example from Youtube:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cooking for Gordon

I had a dream last night that I was cooking for Gordon Ramsay. Unlike my dream of Anthony Bourdain, this was not a sex dream.

Instead, it was about learning, gaining knowledge, and earning approval.

Friday, October 17, 2008

TV Review: Presidential Campaign

I realized that these debates are really bad television. In good serial TV, each episode builds on what the viewer knows from past episodes and rewards the repeat viewer. Finely crafted TV is good enough to suck in new viewers without being boring to repeat viewers. These debates -- and probably presidential campaigns in general -- are REALLY BAD TV.

They just repeat the same things over and over... "he voted present," "he's going to raise your taxes," "use a scapel instead of a hatchet," "he started his campaign in a terrorist's living room," etc.

This does not reward the repeat viewer AT ALL.

Tony Soprano for President!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


This weekend, I volunteered as a surfer to help mentors and their students in the ocean.


It was a great experience and the kids' enthusiasm reminded me that it doesn't matter if the conditions are bad, you can get stoked by just being in the water.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Outta the way, kook! Woof.

3rd Annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon is Sunday, September 7.

This year's doggie surf clinic photos have really got me in stitches. From this weekend's photos I found my soulmate in a grumpy bulldog. These two pictures in a series tell it all:

Photos by Michael Schrager

Monday, August 25, 2008


Rocco DiSpirito is one of the contestants of DANCING WITH THE STARS this coming season?

I guess he likes being on TV better than being in the kitchen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Wire

I just got the email telling me that my pre-order of the final season of THE WIRE has been shipped. Woo!

I can't wait to watch some really good serial TeeVee again. I've been catching up on EUREKA, but it's no BUFFY.

Maybe McNutty and Bunk will be inspiration for me.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wotta Cock-up!

Usually, I'm quite a mellow restaurant patron. I've never sent anything back and I always tip the waiter (percentage depending on service). But Saturday, I sat with my husband's work friends at a Mediterranean restaurant -- which was my off-the-cuff choice because no one could decide. There, I realized I have been watching too much Gordon Ramsay.

After the owner/host/waiter seated us in the small restaurant, no menus came after many many minutes, so I got up and muddled around the wait area to find only two menus available. I brought them back to my table and people perused. A busboy came by with water and asked us if we wanted soda or tea. G wanted wine, but the busboy didn't understand, so I said, "vino?" and he seemed to understand. He came with an Asahi beer. Everybody had a good laugh and G started drinking it anyway.

More minutes went by. I saw the owner/host/waiter take the orders from the tables against the other wall of this 10 table place, but he didn't come to take our order. Oh, well. No matter. We were talking. More minutes and no service. Finally, I got up to make myself a nuisance. I wandered back into the wait area. I also hovered around the kitchen to see the busboy and another Spanish-speaking employee diligently working. No sign of the white-haired owner/host/waiter. I wandered back to my table, but I could sense G's work friends getting restless.

I dug around the wait station and found the wine list to get the price of the beer. I threw down some bills for the beer and told my party we were going.

Still no service in the dining area.

The only question I got was from the couple sitting next to me. The man had been speaking French with the owner/host/waiter and he asked, "Are you going?"

I said, "Yes. I was here before and the food was good, but..."

"The food is good, but it is very long. I have told him he needs more help."

His American date then said, "Where will you go? The Italian place next door is very good."

I felt weird about the recommendation from the date of the friend of the owner, so I tried to thank her and leave quickly.

She continued, "Or if you want really good Mediterranean food, there's this place--"

"Don't say that. We are here. It is not appropriate."

I laughed and said, "Yes, I feel bad. Don't tell me."

I could hear the couple arguing as we walked out the door.

This was the first time I'd ever walked out of a restaurant. If I were more like Gordon Ramsay, I might have waited for the owner and told him "wotta cock-up!"

Baby steps.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


That was panic-inducing. It was the biggest one I've felt in my short 7 years in Los Angeles.

Wasn't sure what to do, and now I know.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

No reservations?

I had a dream about eating with Anthony Bourdain. In essence, it was a sex dream even though there was no sex.

It left me wanting to eat, to have an adventure, to get out and do some vaguely hallucinogenic things again. I have been whittling away my days in front of the computer rather fruitlessly. I read the news about elections, recessions, and wars. Things seem to go in my brain and rattle around a bit without getting processed before going out again.

I feel age hardening around the edges and I find myself silently stewing in anger during the day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I heart Joss Whedon

...and Barney, too.

Dr. Horrible


Testing out the mobile blogging. If it works, I'll be posting
probably no more than usual.

Sent from Gmail for mobile | mobile.google.com

Blog from phone

Sent from Gmail for mobile | mobile.google.com

Monday, June 30, 2008


I was never a morning person. My friend Megmegam liked riding with me to pre-dawn morning location shoots because she would get in the car and light her cigarette and I would grunt good morning and off we'd go in silence.

Then I started surfing and I would anticipate my alarm and be in the water pre-dawn, waking up in the morning light with a wave under my bum.

But my nature never changed. I was never a morning person.

I find now, post-professional movie-making, post-wedding, and amidst adjusting to Valley girl life as a weekend warrior, I am reverting to my natural non-morning person state. I am grumpy, I am lazy, I have a hard time waking up in the morning.

This is attitude is carrying on into the day now, too. I have to figure out how to get back in the water soon.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Wedding went well...

Well... apart from one major freak-out.

Hey, we're married. And everybody enjoyed the reception.

I came home to meet a horrible cold and my head hurts so much right now my stomach doesn't know if it's hungry or wanting to throw up.

So I haven't been in the water as a married woman yet.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Last surf before I get leashed to the ol' ball-n-chain

Yesterday's birthday surf was okay. Today's surf, however, was super-fun! I can't think of a better way to spend my last surf session as an unmarried woman. I was on the Cooperfish V-Bottom and I am starting to figure out the board. I haven't got it completely under control yet, but I've discovered how fun the bottom turns are on it.

There's also something about the board that makes me feel like I'm about a foot above the wave. On one wave, I literally hopped to adjust my position. Both feet were off the board and I felt like I was floating. Then I got to drive into the turn from the tail. It almost felt like I was making a sharp 90-degree corner.

The major thing I can't get is when the wave breaks on the shoulder in front of me and I am not in a position to kick-out. Usually, I like to kick the board over and hit the whitewater and use the whitewater to straighten me out toward shore. This board doesn't like the whitewater. The V-bottom gets tippy and bucks at the turbulence of the white water. Pretty much every single time I tried to end a wave like that, I lost the board and had to swim. I needed the exercise anyway.

This afternoon I bought a waist-cinching corset and shaping underwear to wear under my wedding dress.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...

After a lifetime of no traffic tickets, I've gotten 3 in the last two months. I don't know if it's just all catching up to me or what. I admit guilt to the first two: 1) I didn't come to a complete stop (but it's a friggin' Prius and if I'd bumped you going 2 miles an hour, you could just push me back to a stop); and 2) I was speeding on the 405 going to Huntington for a surf at 6:30am on a Sunday morning (wouldn't you?).

But today I won't eat the ticket I just got. I stopped at a familiar light for a "no turn on red." I waited and waited and waited. I waited until the cross-traffic used their left turn signal. I waited until the giant van made it's U-turn at the left. And when it cleared, I started moving. I was turning as my red light was changing to green. Not soon after, I saw the flashing lights and it was game over. The cop even admitted to me that she saw me wait at that light, but because of that FRACTION OF A SECOND where I was moving as the light was red, I was busted.


I think I know why this is happening. It's because I am not paying as much as Mr. Hum-V to fill up my Prius's gas tank, so I am being targeted to pay the State an equal share in tickets.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm no expert, but...

Because a triathlete was killed by a shark in Solana Beach this morning, the LA Times linked to an old article about a rise in shark attacks off California's coast.

The last line reads:

"Experts advise caution when entering shark-infested waters."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Freak out subsides

He sent me an Excel spreadsheet with yes, no, and maybes tallied. And using his advanced Excel skill-set, he made a working worksheet with tallies broken down into categories of family, friends, and Pennsylvania community. It's a thing of beauty and I feel much better.

We are seriously talking about this song for our "first dance":

Nothing says love like an Excel spreadsheet.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wedding freak-out

I haven't had one of these in a while, so I thought I'd share.


I thought this was going to be a manageable wedding of around 100 people. Today I find out that there are about 43 members of the community -- his family's community, not even members of his family -- who are showing up. And there are probably going to be MORE. This number does not include his family and friends.

And he wants to reconsider my idea to do assigned seating! I can just imagine my gay Athiest Jewish New York friends accidentally ending up at a table with more conservative small-town Muslim immigrants. I'm not calling it Gaza, but it will be awkward.

Do you know how many people are coming from my side? This includes family and friends. 48. That breaks down to 21 family and 27 friends. I have 1 cousin who's not sure and 3 friends who are also figuring it out. I have a spreadsheet with people's names and tick-marks as to who is coming and how many children. That's right, I've counted the CHILDREN so they can have seats.

I think it might be easier to get married to a woman because she might understand why being organized about this shit is important.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Good surf, bummer discovery

Sunday was fun. I had a bunch of crap waves, but I had two stand-out lefts that kept me carving and a bit of stepping. Those two waves made the whole session worthwhile.

Unfortunately, I found out as I was putting my Cooperfish into the car that the nose that had previously delammed from my neglect a few years ago, is now showing signs of coming apart again. The rails about 5 inches from the tip of the nose are cracking and I'm not sure what to do. Those rails are pretty sharp and thin.

Oh well, I'm drying it out and I'll re-assess later.

I guess it's back to the 8'0 Raw. Or maybe I'll get back on one of my 7'0"s for giggles.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Love Affair Continues

The seal found my tail again today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Seal hearts Cooperfish

After a dry six weeks, I had a pleasant but pretty uneventful surf except for the fact that I was being sexually harassed by a seal. Okay, it wasn't really harassing ME, but it was lovin' on the tail of my Cooperfish Hornet.

Since I'd lost that will to surf for a while there, I decided the best way to feel good about being in the water was to take out my favorite board. That Raw board just wasn't giving me a reason to wake up in the morning.

As I was sitting on the Hornet, I happened to catch some movement underwater and glanced back to see the seal submerged, batting at the pintail with it's front flippers. Aw... kinda cute. Okay, wave.

Then as I was sitting on the Hornet trying to stuff some floating plastic bag into my wetsuit to be emptied later into a bin, I felt a brush against my leg and I screamed like a little girl and paddled like a maniac. I think I shocked the swimmer trying to get into shore. SpongeBob laughed, "Was it the seal or the swimmer against your leg?"

"I hope it was the seal!"

Later, as I was lying on my board, SpongeBob called over, "The seal is lying on the tail of your board!" I glanced back, and indeed, it was resting its head on the tail of my board. I figured I could live with that since I was doing pretty much the same thing, hanging out, sunning myself. I turned back to the horizon. Then I felt the board start capsizing and I glanced back to see the seal trying to haul itself onto my board.

"He's humping your board!" Sponge Bob shouted.

Okay. I know most people's mornings aren't complete without a little animal/inanimate object touchy-touchy, but by this point I was feeling a little jealous. My board, and if anybody's going to straddle it, it's going to be me. I paddled like a maniac.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Step Aerobics

In my quest to lose 30 pounds in a month (I'm kidding), I went to a step aerobics class this weekend instead of subjecting myself to urban runoff. I was cocky at the beginning because I instantly remembered how to do a grapevine. It was somewhere during the "revolving door straddle turn diagonal kick combo" that I decided just to hop up and down in a sort of frenetic jitterbug.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Leash is Cursed

Saturday morning didn't appeal as I looked out at Home Break. I heard someone say the Porto jetty was overhead, so I decided to wander out there. Not to surf! Just to watch!

As I pulled up in the parking lot, I saw a lot of rolling water with set waves walling up. With no one on them, the waves looked deceptively makeable and small until a particularly big wave would roll through and erase any doubt that this was THE OCEAN.

A couple of guys were gabbing behind me in the parking lot. As I was lacing up my running shoes, one of them kept talking about how he'd go out if he had a leash and "I'm going to go home and get a leash."

I turned to him and asked him what length. 8-foot, 9? "Here, take mine." The back of my car seems to have collected a couple of neatly coiled longboard leashes because I dislike using them so much. "I'm pretty sure this is the 9-foot one."

"No, I can't take your leash."

I shrugged, thrust the thing at him. "No worries."

He thanked me as I jogged off toward the jetty. (The jetty was a great show, by the way. Better shape there, but a harrowing drop that closed out quickly if you weren't in the right spot. A few spongers in the mix just screeeeeeming along the face with amazing speed. But that's not the point of this story.)

I jogged back and marveled at the handful of people who were scattered out at different "peaks." I couldn't imagine what they were thinking. If I were out there... I wouldn't be out there.

From my vantage point on the bike path, I could see a big set on the horizon. Paddle!!! The shortboarder who had been flirting with the line made it. Then I saw a longboarder further down the shore paddling hard to get outside this thing. Uh-oh. This was an eerily familiar sight.

He was not in a good spot. Big wave, lots of water, and he's not going to make it over. So he turtled at the only moment you could in this situation. I couldn't see him, but I knew what was happening because it happened to me. Turtling, he was getting sucked up and over. That board was broken. As sure as I knew mine was snapped when I was underwater, I was equally sure his gone. I looked for him in the whitewater after the wave broke and started to get a little panicky because he wasn't showing up. Finally, I saw his black outline amid all the white. And then I saw something skittering toward shore. Half a board.

So I continued walking back to the parking lot. (I supposed I had stopped because those waves had stopped time.) As I got closer, I saw the surfer with the broken board walking with his friend. The surfer was the guy to whom I gave my leash!

I felt awful. Sorta. He might not have gone in if I hadn't given him my leash right there. He might have gone home for his leash and realized that going out in that water was not rational. Then again, he might have gone home for his leash and gone out anyway. He was making quite a lot of talk with his friend about doing so.

One thing I am certain of, the leash is cursed.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I have been watching the Rotten Tomatoes for our film and for Fool's Gold and seeing that, in quantifying something unquantifiable, Rolling Stone had it right:

"That generous half star rating I tacked onto to this comedy abomination is all for Paris Hilton. [...] You've been warned. But it's still better than Fool's Gold."

Our film is just as bad or maybe even slightly BETTER than Fool's Gold which was made for 10 times as much money.

Just looking on the bright side!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Demon Dog

The boy has the loudest quiet dog in the world. In preparation of our married life, we've started divvying up the household chores and walking Demon Dog in the morning hours comes under my purview because, theoretically, I have long shed my natural bitter morning 'tude for the joys of surfing.

However, I have not surfed before work on a weekday for a very VERY long time - ever since the movie filmed last year. Sorry for the plug:

Anyway, this morning, I did not want to leave the warm bed. Otis The Dog is not a dog who whines nor does he make much vocal noise at all. Instead, the bubbah shakes his head, thwapping his ears so it sounds like a tiny helicopter stalling out over and over again. He also stretches. This in and of itself is fine, but when combined with claws grasping into carpet for leverage for his downward-facing-dog position, I find the prolonged stretch to be as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard. He does not whine or growl or bark but sheee-it... passive-aggressive much?

The worst thing about morning duty, really, is knowing there was a time I would have willingly hopped out of bed to get dunked in freezing ocean water. Shivering bleary-eyed under blue skies this morning and waiting for the bubbah to take a dump, I started thinking about surfing for some reason and I missed it.

Demon Dog and Puppet: "we are going outside now... we are going outside now... we are going outside now..."

Monday, January 21, 2008


It's been a long time since I've been on anything other than a single fin or a 2+1 set-up. This old 8'0" I'm currently riding has a glassed-on thruster set-up and I admit I'm really enjoying the drive.

Friday, January 11, 2008

No pork and alcohol

So, I really need to surf this weekend and I'm kind of hoping that it's going to be big because I have a dinged and buckled ugly 8'0" with which to play Bumper Boards.

Last weekend I met the future mother-in-law for the first time and I'm pretty sure it went well. I think. I guess. I don't know. The boy tells me it did, but I didn't really get to know her. She's an immigrant Indian Muslim widow living in small-town Pennsylvania. I'm marrying her atheist son, but I'm doing a Muslim Nikah ceremony for the sake of familial harmony.

My parents, immigrant Chinese Buddhists who lived in small-town Illinois for 25 years seem to be the more liberal party in this matrimonial negotiation. And let me tell you, it absolutely blows my mind to be using the word "liberal" to describe my father! I NEVER thought as I was growing up that he'd end up to be the "cool" one.
My sweet and accommodating mother just wants me to be happy and will do anything asked of her, but that only causes me to get defensive in these matrimonial negotiations because I want to protect her from discomfort and awkwardness as much as I can. I am just frustrated whenever I think that the more liberal party has to bend to the more conservative one.

So, I'm going to try to stay away from crowds this weekend if it's big because I have this feeling I'm going to be doing some really stupid stuff in the water.