October 31, 2013

my first home brew: brown ale via brooklyn brew shop kit

A month later and I have my first home-brewed beer. It was a simple and straightforward process thanks to the Brooklyn Brew Shop beer kit! I used their Chestnut Brown Ale and ended up with a nice brown ale sans the chestnuts (I didn't use any chestnuts). Read on to go through the fermenting process with me, or check out the haphazardly snapped photos to get an idea of it...

The written directions for making the wort are very clear (more detailed than their video) on the BBS website, but what helped me tremendously was reading this book, recommended by my cousin, an avid five gallon home brewer. The book goes through the step-by-step process, and it also educates you on the science of what's happening as you brew as well as some good tips of what you want to avoid. A good read in my opinion, and one that helped me understand making wort. Once I made the wort, into the carboy everything went. After that, I imagined gunk or bubbles forming within a few minutes, but it didn't. I got nervous because nothing was going on (it also didn't help that I thought the temperature of the wort was a little too cool to activate the yeast). I'm not sure why I thought it would be similar to bread making-- activate the yeast and a few minutes later it's ugly and funky looking. After watching and obsessing, I decided to walk away and see if it would do it's "thing". Sure enough, the next morning I awoke to lots of fermenting action-- bubbles, bubbles, and more bubbles. Yes! My beer was fermenting! The rapid bubbling continued for a good 12-24 hours (depending on when it started in the middle of the night). After the rapid bubbling subsided, the trub formed at the bottom of the carboy and tiny bubbles continued at the top. I let it ferment two weeks in the carboy before bottling, then had them sit in their bottles for another two weeks before throwing my first home-brewed beer party.

A few tips on the kit, it doesn't come with everything you need to brew, but the things left out are items you'd probably have in your home kitchen: large sized mesh strainer, a funnel, a few large sized pots (at least 8-10 quarts), and a large container for the sanitizer, like a bucket. Once you're ready to bottle, you'll also need a bottle capper, bottle caps, and some empty beer bottles. All of these can be purchased off the BBS website, but I took a trip over to the local brew supply shop and picked up the bottle caps and capper, along with a large size funnel (for the brewing part), and some extra sanitizer just in case. I was happy to support a local business, but not only that the items were more inexpensive, I got them immediately, and didn't have to pay for shipping. It was also fun to chat with the owner and employees about beer, and as a brand new brewer, ask them any questions or concerns I had about the process. For bottles, I collected and used empty ones instead of purchasing them new.

Overall, the process was fun, I learned a lot, and the outcome felt rewarding. Takeaways from the experience: 1) Most important thing in the process is to sanitize everything. 2) Have fun!

Perhaps there will be a blonde or amber ale in my next carboy?

October 28, 2013

music mondays

Another week to bless and be blessed!

October 25, 2013

finally, friday

Morning walks in the mist are kind of nice. Probably because no one is out and it's quiet and peaceful. Hoping you're able to find some peace and quiet this weekend to reflect on life's beauty. Have a wonderful weekend!

Kendama is such a cool toy, I totally want one now.

Again, addicted to watching short videos on sustainable eating. Gotta love the Perennial Plate and their recipes too.

I do think creatures and animals know when something is going on, kind of a sixth sense-- animals flocking towards shore before tsunamis, dogs barking if strangers are at the door...

A peek into what a week of groceries around the world looks like. Womp, womp, the US is of course filled with processed foods.

This sea captain must have been so devastated and sad to see (or not see) this on his journey.

October 24, 2013

cooking thai: tom kha with mushrooms and tofu

The weather is inevitably going to get colder and colder as winter approaches and I definitely have been feeling a bit of the chill in the air lately. It totally made me want something soupy and comforting, so I decided to make one of my favorite Thai soups, Tom Kha Gai, without the Gai. I used this recipe, but substituted chicken broth for veggie, and chicken for king oyster mushrooms and tofu and it was delicious. Mind you, I've also made it with shrimp instead of mushrooms and tofu and it was just as delicious, if not more. I highly recommend trying this wonderfully easy recipe on your own!

As soon as all the ingredients are chopped up and ready to throw in the pot, you immediately feel like you're in a Thai restaurant from how fragrant everything is.

For those wondering about the Thai ingredients used and what they look like I've pictured them below (Exact amounts of what's in the soup are not shown).

October 22, 2013

taking stock

BCBG cashmere cardigan, Wilfred tank, and pants, Birkenstock sandals

I'm an avid reader of The Day Book blog, Sydney is too funny of a writer and her family is adorable. When I saw her do this post from another blogger I immediately wanted to do one as well. So, here's mine!

Making : plans to bake with a friend this week.
Cooking : Thai soup for dinner. Tom kha gai without the gai because I'm pescetarian, of course.
Drinking : water. So grateful that I have access to as much clean water as I want.
Reading: Seal Team Six.
Wanting: more people to care about the oceans and realize how easily we destroy them.
Looking: at Sephora's website to use the friends & family discount I got on my shampoo/conditioner.
Playing: Not Even the King by Alicia Keys on my iPhone.
Wasting: a $10 off coupon from Sur La Table-- anyone want it?
Sewing: A cushion cover for an ottoman I'm re-upholstering. Don't worry, it'll be done next year.
Wishing: I had a kendama so I could play.
Enjoying: the quiet in the house.
Waiting: for a friend to call me back.
Liking: that I won't have a car payment soon!
Wondering: what life will be like in 10 years.
Loving: neroli.
Hoping: plane tickets to Alaska go down.
Marvelling: at the shells I collected on the beach the other day. Each one is so amazingly unique.
Needing: to bring out a cozy blanket for Fall.
Smelling: my candle that's burning. If you must know, it's Aloha Orchid by Capri Blue.
Wearing: jammies and my everyday silver rings.
Following: my dreams and my gut.
Noticing: how cold it's gotten the past couple days.
Knowing: His love is comforting.
Thinking: about my plans for the remainder of the week.
Feeling: cold.
Bookmarking: places I want to travel to and recipes I want to make.
Opening: a new box of sugar cones to go with my gelato.
Giggling: is the best with my niece.
Feeling: good.

October 18, 2013

finally, friday

If only it were that easy, right? Or maybe it is? Happy Friday folks, enjoy your weekend!

When thinking about tropical destinations Vietnam never really comes to mind but maybe after seeing these beaches you'll think differently, I know I did.

So beautiful you're left speechless.

A cute DIY for Fall decorations.

For a smokey eye I have always loved Bobbi's version (also here), it's typically been the same over the years with lots of layering and the darkest colors closest to the lash line. Overall, it's much more wearable and less like you got socked in the face.

October 17, 2013

high tea fit for a... baby girl

One of my very good girl friends is having her first baby and it's a girl! So of course, we had to throw her a baby shower. I co-hosted with another friend and we decided on a tea themed shower. It's sweet, girly, and we knew our friend would love and appreciate having tea together.

There were lots of tea-like things to eat, some typical baby shower games, and of course lots of hanging out and mingling. I can't wait to meet you Sophie!

October 15, 2013

baked eggs for breakfast


Baked eggs are so great for breakfast and for multiple reasons. First, they are versatile. You can throw whatever you want in them and in this specific instance I just used whatever was in the fridge and it was delish. Second, people say you eat with your eyes and this dish surely gives off a nice presentation, making it that much easier to eat and enjoy. Third, you throw all the ingredients together, leave it in the oven and do whatever you need to do to get ready for your morning. Fourth, depending on what you put inside it's generally pretty healthy. I like mine accompanied with toast and coffee, black of course.

If you need some ideas of what to put in yours, here's what was in mine:
- San Marzano tomatoes (blended up to use as the sauce to cook everything in) but if you have fresh tomatoes I totally recommend using those
- Chopped up chanterelle mushrooms tossed right into the sauce
- One egg (or two if you're hungry) tossed right in
- Feta cheese sprinkled on top
- Salt and pepper on top to season
- Baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or just until the whites are all cooked (this leaves the yolk still runny)
- After it's done baking, I topped mine with slices of avocado and fresh arugula

October 14, 2013

music mondays

Have a great week everyone!

October 11, 2013

finally, friday

Flowers I picked up from the flower mart last weekend. Dahlias are my fav.

If you don't already know, over the past couple years I've become obsessed with the military. I've watched many a movie, finished every episode of Surviving the Cut, and am mid-way through my Navy Seal book. Today, a very exciting movie comes out, Captain Phillips. The movie is based on a true story, and regardless of the controversy, I'm super excited to see it! I haven't been this excited to see a movie in a long while, so you bet I'm going to be watching it tonight... but before that I'll be babysitting my nieces and then finally bottling the beer I brewed two weeks ago. It'll still need a couple more weeks in the bottle before it's drinkable, but I'll let you know how that goes in a future blog post. Have a fantastic weekend everyone, enjoy!

So crazy, cool, and creative all at the same time.

I can't help but think about a certain scene in Finding Nemo after seeing these.

Great photos, but my favorite is definitely the first one, there's so much juxtaposition in it.

I can vividly remember my first hot spring experience last year in Japan and seeing this brings me back...

October 10, 2013

salt and straw style: almond brittle with salted ganache ice cream recipe

The other day I had a craving for ice cream, but not just any kind of ice cream, one that would require traveling over 600 miles to get to. Please allow me to tell you about this wonderful place. Salt and Straw is an ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon and it is amazing. It's probably my favorite even over the ice cream shops in SF (BiRite, Humphrey Slocombe, M&M Miscellaneous, Smitten, etc). The flavors are unique, delicious, and the vibe is reminiscent of an old ice cream shop. C'mon, with flavors like bone marrow and smoked cherry, pear with blue cheese, or cheddar apple pie how could you not love it already? I had a friend recently come back from Portland and he had a seasonal sea urchin flavor!

Aside from the unique and seasonal flavors they have some staple, year-round flavors and the almond brittle with salted ganache happens to be one of them. I absolutely fell in love with it when I tried it. So much so that I had to go back the next day to get more. Needless to say, this is why I had to try to recreate it. About a year ago I attempted and got a pretty close match so now with a little work I can curb the craving whenever I want... aaaaand now you can too!

Salt and Straw style almond brittle with salted ganache ice cream:

Almond brittle (I like to make this a day ahead)
1 cup of chopped, unsalted almonds
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup water

Warm sugar and water in saucepan on medium heat until it's liquified and turned a nice amber brown (be careful not to burn, it can turn quite quickly). Once it's an amber brown color, lower heat, stir in the chopped almonds then remove from heat and spread onto parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool. Spread it so there's one layer of almonds (not piled high) so it's easier to break up later. Once cool, break into large pieces, place in a sealed ziplock bag, place dish towel over bag, and use mallet or meat tenderizer to break. You should have pieces that are anywhere from the size of a garbanzo bean and slightly bigger. Put brittle in the fridge so it's cold when you add it to the ice cream.

Salted Ganache
1/4 heaping cup or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt (I like a little more than 1/4 a teaspoon salt in mine, but taste test it and see if you like more)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Add all ingredients to double boiler and melt to smooth consistency. Taste for saltiness (I like a tiny bit more salt than 1/4 teaspoon in mine). Let ganache sit out for at least 30-45 minutes to cool before adding to ice cream. Once cooled add ganache to a piping bag (or ziplock) and use a smaller tip. You don't want to pipe a huge glob into the ice cream because it will freeze as one big glob, so use a tip that will pipe roughly the circumference of a pencil.

Ice Cream base

The ice cream base I used is David Lebovitz's vanilla bean recipe sans vanilla bean (I just used vanilla extract). I also used 2% milk instead of whole (because that's all I had) and six eggs instead of five because I can't count.

Tip: Most ice cream recipes say to leave the ice cream mix in the fridge overnight to chill, but I never plan that far ahead so I always chill the ice cream in an ice bath (just put the bowl over a bigger bowl filled with ice and water and stir the mixture to cool it) to make it really cold and then go straight into the ice cream maker.

Putting all the ingredients together

Follow the instructions on your ice cream machine to make your ice cream. Mine is a Cuisinart and works great. Once it's ready add in half the almond brittle and just let it run long enough to mix (if you leave your ice cream mixing for too long you'll have butter so the ice cream should look slightly frozen and be able to loosely hold it's shape, but not completely like solid ice cream). Shut off machine. Scoop some of the ice cream in a container and pipe in some ganache (I did mine in random lines and squiggles). Add more ice cream on top, then pipe more ganache. Repeat about three to four times or until all the ice cream is in the container. Try to work quickly doing this so the ice cream doesn't melt too much. Freeze container for 8-10 hours before serving. Serve in bowls or cones and top with remaining almond brittle. You will have a smooth and creamy, deliciously sweet and slightly salty treat. So, so good.

The ice cream will keep for about a week, but I'm sure it will be gone before then. :)

October 08, 2013

an indian summer

This past weekend was so warm all over the Bay Area, and for someone who is a heliophile, I absolutely loved it. I'm hoping the warm weather lasts for a little while longer before the Fall chill comes through.

A few weeks back I went through my entire wardrobe and purged. As I went through my closet I was disgusted with how much I had and didn't wear. I ended up with three garbage bags full of clothes and accessories. I'll be donating everything to those that need it and will appreciate it so much more than I have. Something so simple as purging made me realize and re-think how I shop. Since then, I've been out shopping with friends and purchased nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yeah, it's a new thing for me and I am loving it.

That being said, I still have a few garbage bags worth of clothes to wear so if I shop, I'll be shopping my existing closet. I've already re-discovered and fallen back in love with this pineapple necklace and have worn it for almost a week straight and counting.

San Diego Hat Company wool cap, TNA muscle tank, Paige destroyed denim, Birkenstock sandals, Jcrew pineapple necklace

October 07, 2013

music mondays

That soulful voice of hers. Totally vibin', happy Monday!

October 04, 2013

finally, friday

Was so excited to find these felting kits at Daiso this week! Already made some super cute props for this weekend. Oh, and yes, I just had to show off my japanese nail art, heh :)

Happy Friday folks, I've got a busy weekend ahead as I'm co-hosting a high-tea themed baby shower for a friend and there's still lots to do, but it's sure to be a good time. Hope your weekend is a fun one!

As they said, this did make me smile.

These are the cutest measuring cups I've ever seen.

I know I've mentioned her before, but I totally admire how resourceful and talented she is... I only wish I could hold my breath for over four minutes to catch my protein.

Some pretty cool features on iOS7 I would have never known about, so I'm sharing with you.

October 03, 2013

sweet, sweet petaluma

If you're looking for a nice, quiet day trip for the weekend and you live in the Bay Area, Petaluma is a quaint, fun town to visit. Though it's a small town, there is still enough to do to keep you busy for the day, or maybe even two. From ice cream parlors, to homemade personal-sized pies, to it's small music venue, artisan coffee, and a variety of restaurants to choose from you are sure to have a day filled with lots to do and see. I went specifically for a small concert so really had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by this town's charm. I would absolutely recommend going to the Petaluma Pie Company (get their sour cream apple pie) then hit Acre for some coffee, enjoy an Italian dinner at Cucina Paradiso, and if you still have room for dessert swing by Lala's Creamery for a sundae.

October 02, 2013

levain cookie inspired recipe

If you've been to Levain in NYC and had their cookies, namely their chocolate chip walnut cookie, you know exactly why I dream of that cookie. Levain's cookie is probably one of the best cookies I've had (it's tied with Anthony's cookies in SF) it's no wonder I crave it often. This cookie is nearly perfection with it's crisp outer shell and ooey-gooey, warm inside. Imagine each bite filled with big chocolate chunks and the perfect amount of walnuts to complement. I researched online to find a copycat recipe and came up with this one. While it's not an exact match, it comes in really, really close and sure does satisfy any urge to hop on a plane just for a cookie. Eat them straight out of the oven and I swear you will want to eat another (though they're huge, as are the ones in NYC, so you probably won't). Once they're cooled, pop them in the microwave for 7-10 seconds and it's just like they came right from the oven.

I used pecans in place of the walnuts because that's all that was around the house, and I have to say, I think I almost like it with pecans better.