Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I've somehow adapted the tradition of meeting up with my cousins at my aunt's house for the past few Halloween's. We'd hand out candy to the kids, pig out on candy ourselves, and sprawl out over the couch or on the floor watching old horror movies. And Ray would dress up. Yah, just Ray.

Is Ray a convincing zombie? Thanks to Karen's makeup skills. We're contemplating whether this may also work as a bridesmaids look at our friend, Wendy's wedding next year. (Hehe)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Clara C

Kat and I bought tickets months ago to see Clara C live at the Rio Theatre here in Vancouver. We've always been YouTube junkies, and have followed some independent artists for years. These artists write their own music and songs, and are truly an inspiration on following your dreams in doing what you want to do. I really like Clara's C style and her voice, and she was just as amazing (if not even better) live. We supported not just by attending her concert, but we also purchased her acoustics album. Check out the preview of her Organika album if you haven't already.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween At Aberdeen Centre

I needed to make a quick run to Daiso, so I ended up at Aberdeen Centre the weekend before Halloween. At their central atrium, they had set up a Halloween walk-through as big as a backyard canopy. Meaning, it wasn't very big at all. With this cute set up outside of the tent, I was tempted to go inside. I haven't been in one of these walk-through's since going to Fright Night at the PNE about a decade ago, and to this day, I still remember how freaked out I was. If you know me, you'd know that I'm one of the best kind of people to watch go through a scary walk-through on a secret spy-cam, 'cause I'd be friggin' hilarious. Add my friend, Jen, with me and we'd be the dynamic duo of bloody-murder screams and pushing and shoving to get to heck out of there. In other words, I am a BIG scaredy cat.

Anyway, as I was tempted to walk through the tent, I watched a father trying to convince her seven or eight year old daughter to go in. She said she was too scared. The attendant also tried to convince her that it isn't scary at all. I watched the father and daughter walk in together, and literally seconds later, the daughter comes running back out saying, "I can't! I'm too scared!". Then I heard a bloody-murder scream from the father, and he too runs out. Through the entrance.

Yup, needless to say... I didn't go in.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple Galette

Been sick for the past little while, so all I want to do on a day off is rest. As much as I'd rather be hanging out at a coffee shop with a friend on such a gorgeous Fall day, I decided I best stay in (and give a bunch of apples a photoshoot) and not spread my germs around. So, I turned on Songza and cued it to "acoustic version of pop songs", and started preheating my oven. Nothing fancy. Just something rustic.

I found this super easy and simple apple galette recipe. No cinnamon or any other spices to mask the apple flavour. Just a buttery apple tart with a flakey pastry. It went something like this... (well, after just a couple more photos of my beautiful apples and apple chips).

The red ones are called Salish apples. Originated here in beautiful BC. They are both sweet and tart, and perfect for eating. The green and yellow apples are called Spigolds. They are a little more tart compared to the Salish apples, and so I decided to use them for baking... which was part of my intentions for going to the Apple Festival over the weekend.

I started off with measuring one cup of AP flour.

Then, just half a teaspoon of sugar. Followed by a big pinch of salt. 

Then, using a fork, work two cold tablespoon of butter into the flour mixture until I've reached a consistency of cornmeal. 

When that is done, work the rest of the butter (another four tablespoons of cold butter) into the flour mixture into sizes of a pea. 

After adding three tablespoons of ice water, use your hands and knead the dough until it comes together. Do not over knead or else the dough can become tough. 

Form the dough into a disc, and wrap it with plastic wrap before popping it into the fridge. Allow it to sit in the fridge for at least half an hour. 

After the dough has been completely chilled, take it out of the fridge, and roll it out between two sheets of wax paper. The wax paper will prevent it from sticking to the paper or the rolling pin. Give the dough a quarter turn while rolling to let it roll out to a circle. (And then I forgot to take photos while I laid out the thinly sliced apples onto the dough, folding the edges of the dough over). 

This is what it looks like after the assembly.

Then brush the top with melted butter, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. 

I tried to soothe my throat with a cup of hot lemon honey water while I waited for the galette to bake for 45 minutes at 350C.

It turned out absolutely gorgeous if I can say so myself.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good taste of it. With my congestion and cold symptoms, I haven't been able to smell or taste a thing. So, my family was the lucky ones who did the taste test. It's interesting baking something that you cannot smell or taste. You find yourself asking questions like, "Can you smell it from the oven?", "Are the apples sweet or tart?", "Is the dough sweet or plain?", and "Is it buttery?" because you have no clue. 

The verdict from my taste-testers : It's delicious. You can taste the butter but not too buttery. It isn't too sweet. The crust is more plain than sweet, but it allows the apples to shine (and would go perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). The crust is super light and flaky. It is really good.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nasu Dengaku (Miso Eggplant)

Unbelievably tasty and unbelievably easy to make. It took all of five minutes.

I first had this at a local japanese restaurant named Toshi Sushi on Main St. It was many years ago, and to this day, I still order it whenever I see it on a japanese menu (only, it hasn't ever been as good as the first time, depending on how well they make it). If done properly (which isn't hard at all), the eggplant melts into a mooshy, creamy consistency and flavoured perfectly with a balance of sweet and salty from the sugar and miso. It goes well with rice.

I adapted the recipe from

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apple Festival @ The UBC Botanical Gardens

This is my first time at the Apple Festival held at the UBC Botanical Gardens every Fall. Because of my work schedule, I was only able to make it on the second day of the 2-day event, and of course, by then, three-quarters of the apple selection was gone. I was however still able to snatch up a couple of bags of really good apples that you do not normally see in the supermarket.

What I didn't expect was the turnout. I knew it was a popular festival but I was still surprised by the crowd. Parking close by was hard to find, so most people ended up at a parkade about a five minute ride away. Good thing there was a designated bus to take people from the parkade to the festival site. So we got to ride on the special bus.

We got there about half an hour after opening, and there was already a huge line-up to get in. There were a lot of families with kids, so it was much suitable that we had brought our friend's daughter along with us.

There were big pies and individual-sized pies of different flavours. Plain apple, strawberry apple, blueberry apple, raspberry apple... you name it. I got an individual-sized plain apple pie, and it was super delicious. I, of course, have to take my obligatory photo of the inside of everything I eat so you could see. Meanwhile, I was busy reading up on every apple description and sampling dried apple chips, and forgot to take photos of the actual piles of apples.

Ray chomps on a perfectly red Salish apple. Both sweet and tart. A perfect eating apple.

Lyla got the enjoy a little bit of the children's area.

Aurora Golden Gala and the Salish apples are a local type of apple. We are ever so lucky to have fresh fruits growing nearby. And they are yummy. Crisp and sweet. The Golden Gala is a little sweeter than the Salish.

Time to sample those apples.

Even though I spent 5 years studying at UBC, I don't remember coming into the Botanical Garden. With entrance to the Apple Festival, everyone got to enjoy the grounds of the garden. 

We were lucky we decided to purchase apples right when we got in, because by the time we left, they were all gone!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vancouver, The Place I Call Home

There is no doubt in reasons why Vancouver has been voted one of the most livable cities in the world time after time. I'm pretty lucky to call this gorgeous place my home. I took my phone and snapped a few pictures while I took a stroll around False Creek. It is, however, unfortunate that those construction cranes now seem to be a constant in our city's landscape. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bean Around The World

One of my favorite things to do is to hang out at a coffee shop. With family, or a friend, or alone. I could people watch. Have a good conversation with a friend. Read a book. Fiddle with my phone. Or stare out a window. (Yah, I do that too). I've been to quite a few coffee shops, but definitely haven't exhausted them all especially since they are so darn popular here in the west coast. But time after time, I still find myself coming back to Bean Around The World on Main St. I'm sure every local who frequents coffee shops has their own favorite for their own reasons, but I think this one would be mine.

I can't really pinpoint what makes it my favorite. Close to home? Good selection of drinks and treats? Abundance of free reading materials? Always a seat available? Hustling and bustling yet quiet environment? Plenty of window seats? Outdoor seating? Close to boutique shops on Main St? Big enough tables for me to spread out laptop, phone, newspaper, books, and everything else if I needed to? Friendly staff? Hmm, yes to all of the above but yet.. don't really know why it trumps any other good coffee shops. I guess I just like sticking to what I love.

I had the day off today, and I decided to make the most out of this gorgeous Fall day, and woke up at an hour when I'm normally still snuggled under my covers. By 9am, I was already sipping on my London Fog at Bean Around The World, watching people come and go with their morning coffee. One of the best things must have been seeing people rush off to work knowing that I didn't have to. I read a little and checked my email. After an hour of lounging around, I drove a few blocks north to meet up with my parents for brunch at Joe's Grill. Coffee shop and brunch (also one of my favorite things)? My day off was already to an awesome start.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The night after Thanksgiving dinner, we went for a healthier dessert - that is, dragonfruit. It apparently has a more formal name called "Pitaya" or "Pitahaya", and is the fruit of several cactus species. I was always kind of intimidated by this fruit. I mean... how do you even open it? But now that we've had it many times in the past few years... and if you're wondering, we can tell ya this is how it works. 

You can peel the red skin off like a jacket. It feels almost rubbery. But the inside flesh is very similar to a kiwifruit.

It has many black seeds that are edible, and gives it a nice subtle crunchiness when you bite them. 

We like to cut ours up into pieces before we devour. The flavour isn't very strong. It's sweet and refreshing but can be somewhat bland, which can be deceiving from its vibrant red exterior. I gotta admit that the first time I tried it, I found it rather disappointing. I was expecting a more exotic flavour. But now that I know what to expect, I quite like it. 

A bowl of dragonfruit and pomegranate makes for a healthy dessert.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Carla Hall's Chocolate Ganache Pumpkin Cake

I remember the first time I had this cake. We were having a staff meeting at work at 8am, and Dee had brought in some leftover cake from her Thanksgiving dinner. I was half asleep but jolted awake from the yumminess of this cake. Whoa, this is good, I remember thinking. And that was a year ago. 

When this year's Thanksgiving rolled around, I was still thinking about this cake. So, I asked Dee for the recipe. After four hours in the kitchen in a sunny Fall afternoon, I was able to re-create this super delicious cake for our family Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's. Everyone loved it. 

It consists of four layers of pumpkin-spiced cake, sandwiching decadent layers of pumpkin mascarpone, and topped with a dark chocolate ganache coating. (My ganache turned out a little thicker than it should be hence the goop on the sides instead of a drizzle). It was absolutely to-die-for. 

We brought home some of the leftovers, and we had cake the following couple of days. It was like a sweet ending to each day. In fact, it was better the following days because the cake had firmed up a little, and the flavours have soaked in. Just as good as I remembered it from last year. Want a good pumpkin cake recipe for your next Thanksgiving party? You gotta try this one.

I am thankful for family, friends, and health. Happy Thanksgiving!