Saturday, January 31, 2009


I haven't always been a fan of eggs. I refused to eat them until I was 12 and only then because I'd spent 2 weeks in Europe eating nothing but bread and jam for breakfast every morning. When a soft boiled egg was finally served it tasted like the best thing for breakfast ever. So for the next 10 years, the only egg I ate was boiled or in a cake.

Considering I have only started exploring the many possibilities of eggs in the last 8 years, I'm playing some catch up with all the other people who've been enjoying eggs their whole lives. I only just learned how to make proper scrambled eggs. The trick is to put the heat to medium and stir the eggs, turning it to slowly cook the eggs. Perfect scrambled eggs cannot be rushed. Older people are right: You do get wiser as you get older.

Scrambled eggs are kind of like fried rice. Not making the connection? Like fried rice, you can put leftover ingredients into the eggs to create a very hearty breakfast (or lunch or dinner). Some of my favorites are onions, ham, bacon, cooked orzo and fresh herbs. This is my new favorite way to make a very simple scrambled egg dish. Great for a hearty breakfast with a slice of toast.

Scrambled Eggs, Upgraded
6 eggs
2 green onions, sliced very thinly
1/8 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup of shredded cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbs oil

Whisk the eggs with the onions, milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with the oil. You don't want it too hot, just at about medium heat. Place the eggs in. Let the eggs sit for about a minute. Using a rubber spatula or a spoon with a wide bottom, scrape the bottom of the pan starting from the outside in. This allows the raw egg on top to make its way to the bottom of the pan and slowly cook. Repeat the scraping motion all around the pan. This will take a bit of time, stirring occasionally. It's worth it. The eggs are tender and moist. When the eggs are done to your preferred dryness (we don't like our eggs too dry), plate the eggs and have it with some toast.

The eggs are tender, wonderfully savory with the addition of the green onions and cheese, and the cheese is melty. Deeee-lish!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy - Parts 2 & 3

So in a very inauspicious start to my new year, my camera broke. The Chinese (much like many other cultures) believe that the way you celebrate the start of your new year will be an indication of how you spend the rest of that year. That's why we spend new year with the people we love - in all cultures. If I think along those lines, my year of the bull will be busy, spent with my boy, eating good food, and I will have camera problems. Great.

Since I had no camera, I have no pictures of the rest of the new year feast. You will have to rely on my skills of description to get a mentally visual and taste-ural (I'm sure there's a real word for it) idea of what we had.

On new year day, it is tradition for my family to eat the remaining half of the chicken from the day before. I'm not sure why we do this. I've done this for every year of my 30 years on this earth and when you do everything that long without thinking about it, you don't analyze why it's done. I made a mental note to task my mom the next time I call home. Perhaps it has to do with continuity? I don't know - I'm grasping at straws by this point. In addition to the chicken, we have the leftover soup made from pork, bean curd sheets, dried scallops, dried shitakes, and water chesnuts. On new year day, we made the addition of napa cabbage, or Chinese cabbage to the soup. Again, I'm not sure why we do it, but I think the Chinese term for napa cabbage is reminiscent of a prosperous word. Lastly, we had a vegetarian dish that I often see at Chinese restaurants called "Buddha's Delight." I'm not sure if this dish delighted Buddha, but it delighted Boyfriend. This dish for CNY is made of 8 or 9 ingredients. 8 is a number for good luck for the Chinese as the word for 8 sounds just like the word for "prosper." 9 is also lucky for much the same reason - though I'm not sure what auspicious word sounds like 9. My Chinese is not so...thorough. I made my dish out of fried tofu, bean curd sheets (the same from the soup), sugar snap peas, glass vermicelli noodles, sliced shitake mushrooms, sliced water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots, napa cabbage, and enoki mushrooms. The result is a jumbled but tastetastic mess of noodles and various other items of different sizes, shapes and textures. At home, we have other ingredients that sound like prosperous words. The one that comes to mind is a type of sea kelp (it's either seaweed or a mushroom) that looks just like a bunch of little worms. In Chinese we call it "Fat Choy" or "hair vegetables" because they are dark brown, very thin, and look like hairs or worms. Their texture is slightly crunchy and it's got an earthy taste to it. I personally love it. That is all over CNY dishes at home. "Fat" (pronounced "faht") being a word similiar to prosperity or success. Are you catching on to the theme?

The day after new year is officially the first day of the new year. We get together as a family and eat dinner together, symbolizing the opening of the new year. As we say it at home, "hoi neen" or literally: open the year. On this day, we eat either chicken or pork. If it's chicken, we get a new chicken and do not eat the leftovers. I have enough chicken for many dishes to come. As is normal around this time of year, I'm up to my eyeballs in chicken and am contemplating vegetarianism. Knowing that I'd be sick of chicken, I pre-emptively purchased a piece of fatty pork to roast. Roasted pork is called "siu yuuk." The word "siu" is to inspire what? That's right, boys and girls - prosperity and luck! Lucky for me, the Norwegians eat pork. Even more lucky for me, they value the inherent flavor and texture of pork skin. I found a small piece of side pork that had a segment of the pig from the rib all the way out to the skin. The ribs, or ribbe as they are called locally, were fatty and the skin was scored. It was perfect. I made a rub and let it marinate for a couple of days. On the first day of new year, I roasted the ribbe. We ate our deliciously roasted pork with sauteed iceberg lettuce. The word for lettuce is "sahng choy." The literal translation is "raw vegetable" because you can eat it raw. But it also sounds like another good luck word. It's a word usually associated with procreation and children. Being the children-focused culture that the Chinese are, of course it's a good luck word. All of our meals were had with steamed white rice.

Siu Yuuk Ribbe (How's that for fusion?)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp 5-spice powder (fem krydder pulver)
1 tsp sugar

2 tbs maple syrup (corn syrup will also work)
1 tsp soy sauce

Sprinkle the rub around the ribbe. Try and create a light, even covering of the rub on all exposed areas of meat. It is easy to oversalt it (I did) so just remember to go easy on it. Rub the salt and spices into the meat. Sprinkle the salt on top of the skin. This is where you can go a little more generously with the rub. If it's scored (score!) try and get some rub into each cut. Let the meat marinate at least overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit, 220 degrees celsius. Place the meat in a roasting pan and cover it with foil. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and let it bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the maple syrup and soy sauce in a bowl. When the 30 - 35 minutes is up, remove the foil and brush the skin with the maple syrup mixture. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees fahrenheit, 250 degrees celsius. Let the meat roast, uncovered, for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, turning the meat around occasionally to get an even browning of the meat. You will need to monitor the meat and so that it does not burn on top. If you choose, you can make another brushing of sauce during the final baking process. The result will be a moist pork rib with crispy, salty, slightly sweet pork skin on top. In a word - succulent. I was pretty damned proud of that pork. It's great plain but I love roast pork with Chinese hoisin sauce and hot white rice. Comfort food and lucky to boot!

I apologize for the lack of pictures but I hope the write up has inspired you to maybe try some CNY food next year or try your had at some by making Siu Yuuk Ribbe. I guarantee you, it's a winner.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy - Part I

In other words, Happy Chinese New Year (Day 1)! I'm a first generation Chinese American? Or is it second? Alls I can say is that my parents were born in China and I was born and raised in the good US of A. As such, many Chinese customs are diluted for me. At home, we celebrate for three days with three separate dinners. We have one dinner to close out the last year, one dinner to celebrate new year day and one dinner to open the new year together all done as a family.

At home, my mother just like many other Asian mommies out there, starts to cook a week in advance. The staples are pig's feet stewed in a dark, sweet vinegar with ginger and peanuts. The tendon, skin, and the bone melt a bit into the vinegar and create a thick, slightly viscous, soup that is both sweet and tart. The pig's feet are tender, ridiculously flavorful, and a dark almost black color from the vinegar. Mom also makes a stewed whole chicken with potatoes and taro. The whole chicken, head and feet included, is marinated in a sauce made from large, bright red cubes of fermented tofu called Ngam Yue, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, a swish of distilled alcohol, sugar, and five spice powder. These two dishes are the staple of our Chinese New Year's Eve dinner. Mom, of course, is a rockstar and makes a couple other dishes. There's usually some sort of leafy green and depending on how fancy she wants to get, she will make a seafood dish or something else. Sadly, I didn't pay that close attention each year. Consider it a by-product of celebrating a holiday every year your entire life. After a while, it's just what you do without question, without fail. Chinese New Year is celebrated differently in each region of China, maybe even each village. As such, some people eat out during the new year and some eat in. We eat in and we eat dishes that are very regional the the village of my mother and my grandmother.

I couldn't find an entirely intact chicken, in fact for the first hour after I left the grocery store, I wasn't entirely certain I had a chicken. What I found at the local ICA was a landkylling, literally translated to "country chicken." I know it says chicken, but I didn't know the word for turkey and who knows? Norwegian is a slightly limited language so maybe "country chicken" is Norwegian for turkey? Luckily no. I got as whole a chicken as I could find. "A" for effort, right? I let the chicken marinate overnight and then steamed it in the marinade juices and a little bit of water. In addition to the chicken, we will have have a dipping sauce made of minced green onion, minced ginger, salt and oil. With dinner we have a soup made of pork, dried scallops, dried shitake mushrooms, and foo juuk, soy bean sheets. I am sure there is some meaning to the soup and its ingredients and I'm certain it has to do with prosperity, health and wealth. I just don't exactly know why.
I'll do a little research and write a followup. There's still days 2 and 3 of Chinese New Year eatin'. Meanwhile, here's a sh0t of day one. Man, I'm exhausted.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Week in Review

Several of you have expressed concern over my lack of posts this week. To my faithful readership of 3, I thank you for noticing the lapse of questionable recipes, lists, and snarky stories. Instead of writing a small story about each day this week, and what I was eating, I decided to write a synopsis of the whole week.

First off, work bites my butt. I can't tell if it's God or the VP who heard my bored sighs during my first few months here, but someone decided to do something about it. I really wish they hadn't. I was just starting to embrace the boredom, fill my time with other rewarding work and social activities. Instead of shopping for new ingredients, making a shitstorm out of my kitchen, and dreaming up new recipes, I was babysitting egos, cleaning up other people's shitstorms, and dreaming up new, creative ways of extracting myself from long and painful meetings. I resent this work and this responsibility, now. But wait a second, who is this person? This person is a person who questions whether Corporate America (or Norway or any other country) is her bag of beans.

As part of the job, I once again was on a plane and this time to Stavanger - the Houston of Norway. There's actually not too much to say about my trip to Stavanger. The ride into the city made me seriously vomitty; the air around Stavanger is notoriously windy and rainy. The nausea lasted throughout dinner, throughout my presentation, and even into the next morning. The only actual reason I share this story of bumpy plane rides, Houston II, and nausea is because this trip took 10 hours of my day and that ate into the time I spend cooking at home. See the comment about resentment in the previous paragraph.

So what did I eat during this week? I can barely remember. I had whole wheat bread with a slice of brown cheese (I will dedicate a post to this ubiquitous brown cheese soon - it merits its own post). Once I had leftover, failed aloo gobi with curd rice but usually, dinner was eaten out - most of it pretty unremarkable. But I will make remarks anyway as it is a sad day when I no longer have my opinions.

Bølgen og Moi, Briskeby - I met my friend, The Italian Rabblerowser, for drinks and dinner after a long day of idiocy and an after-work course on a new software tool. I needed the drink. We decided to meet in our neighborhood and have pizza at her favorite pizza joint. She's Italian, I trusted her. As luck (or God or that wily VP) would have it , the restaurant was packed and had no space for us. Instead, we made our way up to Briskeby to a restaurant we've both been to before. The Italian Rabblerowser has been for burgers in their casual cafe and I'd been once before for their prix fixe menu in the quieter, modern-design dining room. We both enjoyed our past meals so we were hopeful for our night of much needed good food, good wine, and good conversation. Bølgen og Moi fulfilled 2 out of 3 of our goals. The dining room was quiet enough to hear ourselves speak but not so quiet that we felt hushed. The waitstaff, like the waitstaff all over Norway, was pleasant but gave us our space. It was a good sign that I saw a man rolling out pizza dough to order so we both decided on made-to-order pizzas with our glasses of Ripasso. After placing our order, we were brought an amuse bouche and table bread. The amuse bouch was a cream of celeryroot soup. It was rich and playful in its presentation. The little bit of creamy soup was served in a miniature cappuccino, frothed on top, and with a sprinkle of nutmeg to inspire a casual coffee amongst girlfriends. The table bread was a chewy, crusty bread with a lovely, garlicky spread to spread on top. Dinner started off well enough. Then after an extraordinarily long time, our pizzas came and the disappointment in them was immediately evident on our faces. The Italian Rabblerowser ordered a pizza topped with ham, artichoke and sun-dried tomato. From my vantage point at the table, I could not immediately recognize the artichoke and the ham from the sauce and cheese. I may have also been distracted by The Italian Rabblerowser unhappily tapping her knife at against the overly crispy, charred crust. I ordered their take on the classic margherita pizza. A margherita pizza is simple: tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil. My pizza came with a dressed salad on top. The not-so-fresh-mozzarella cheese was waxy and melted all over the top of the pizza. The dough was overdone and a little too crispy for my personal preference. The dressed salad of lettuce and corn was just an anomaly. I didn't understand it - were they trying to make a statement by switching out the basil with a lettuce leaf? And what was with the corn? I got about 2/3 of the way through the pizza before putting down my knife and fork. The hand holding the fork was red and sore from grasping my fork so tightly as I sawed into my pizza. I was done. My review in short: Definitely go to Bølgen og Moi, have their prix fix menu, have their burgers but save your money and avoid the pizza. Their wine list is pretty nice, too.

Real, homemade Indian Dinner - Remember how I said that most of what I ate this week was unremarkable? This dinner was the exception. A friend, another recent transplant, invited me and a few others over for a girl's dinner at her house. After arriving late (thanks to that damned job again), I was immediately sucked into the makings of a good dinner amongst new girlfriends. A half empty bottle of wine was on the table and the girls were already hooting with laughter. I stripped out of my winter armor as soon as I could and jumped right in. I had seriously considered not going, not wanting to hold up dinner and making my way to a new neighborhood alone but I was so glad I did. It also helped that my friend's doting husband picked me up from the T-Bane station. Soon after I sat down, I was served a plate of homemade chaat. HOMEMADE! Chaat is the umbrella term for the roadside, savory snacks served in India. I've never been to India but I've been to Artesia in Southern California and I'm told that's a close second. And I've had good chaat. It's hard to find chaat in Oslo, like it is to find any truly authentic dish. We have some decent Indian food here, but it's the stock curries and naan. No chaat. Not until tonight. The hostess made each and every component of this type of composed salad. She layered diced, boiled potatoes, boiled chickpeas, cilantro (coriander), diced onions, dahi vada (fried balls of lentil flou, soaked in yogurt), crispy homemade chips, and a tamarind chutney. It was heaven. The flavors of the chickpeas, the yogurt, the cumin, onion, cilantro and sweet tamarind were distinct yet played in harmony. Texture, which is a big thing for me, was varied. There was the starchiness from the potatoes and chickpeas, crispiness from the chips, smoothness from the yogurt and a hearty meatiness from the vada. One of the best plates of dahi chaat that I've had in a long time. Dinner was no less extraordinary. The hostess made homemade naan, a thick bread usually cooked in a tandoor. We used the naan to sop up the curry from a red bean stew. It was just barely spicy but fantastically fragrant and flavorful. In addition to the curry, we had mutter baingan, a saute of eggplant and peas. We also had bindi masala, a dry dish made of okra (bindi), onions, and ginger. In addition to the naan, the hostess made a cumin fragranted rice. The table was silent for the first time all evening. We stopped sharing dating nightmares, gossip, and all conversations about Obama - we were focused on the food. For dessert, we had a homemade gulrotkake (carrot cake) and cream cheese frosting. I was so full I could have rolled myself down the hill to the car. This dinner in all its hard work, vibrant flavors, colorful conversation was the highlight of my week.

So, a summary of my week in review: work bites my butt, I didn't have enough time to cook and write about my cooking, but thanks to my girlfriends it still ended on a happy note.

Stay tuned...Chinese New Year is coming up and I intend to celebrate it here in Oslo by cooking what my mom makes at home.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ramen - it's not just for starving college students

It's also for starving adults living like college students! I just cleaned out our bathroom today. Unlike my college days, I have a little Roomba helping to pick up all the dust and hairballs on the floor. Like my college days, the bathroom was disgusting. I won't get into the particulars of what was crusted around the sink, how hard I had to scrub the toilet, and just what was that on the mirror? This is a food blog; I want to inspire hunger and creativity! So even though I'm trying to live my life like an adult, I do still occasionally eat like I'm in college. I love ramen noodles - both the OG Japanese miso or shoyu variety and the fake stuff that comes in cellophane packages. I don't love them the same (come on, give me some credit) but each has their place in my life. Also, ramen houses are hard enough to find in the US. I'm not ready for the disappointment of not finding it in Oslo; I'm still holding onto hope. In lieu of having fresh ramen noodles in steamy, fragrant broth, I make the instant noodles I find here.

Sometimes on a weeknight when we're too busy for a real, 100% homemade meal, I cheat. I make instant noodles. Now before you chide me, or disregard the merit of this blog, let me reassure you that I cannot just serve us a bowl of noodles in MSG broth. I do like my mom does - I add stuff (Happy birthday, Mom!) It's ramen for grown-ups! In this instance, I added sliced chicken breasts and boiled some bok choy to make it a bit more well-rounded. It's all in the and learn.

Ramen for grown-ups
(this recipe serves one, but can easily be scaled up to serve many more - just use more ramen)
1 package of your favorite ramen (if you want more "authentic" skip the Maruchan or the Cup o'Noodles and go for something with an Asian writing on it)
A generous handful of bok choy - cleaned, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces.
1 cooked chicken breast cut into bite sized slices. I used a rotisserie I bought at the store.
1 1/2 cups of water (Use more water if you want the broth more mild, use less water if you want a stronger taste)

Place the water into a small pot and add the flavor packets included with the ramen. Bring the water to a boil. Now listen to me: follow my directions just as I say it. This is not a time to use your brain - really, borrow mine. Boil first the noodles. Cook the noodles to your preferred doneness - like my pasta, I prefer my ramen noodles to be al dente, or slightly chewy and underdone. Once the noodles are done, use tongs or chop sticks to lift the noodles out of the water and place it into your bowl. To the pot of boiling, flavored water add the vegetables and cook the vegetables to your preferred doneness. I also like my vegetables al dente. When the vegetables are done, lift those out of the flavored water and arrange it on top of the noodles. Arrange your meat on top of the noodles. If you are using raw meat, you can also boil the meat in the noodle broth and then arrange it on top of the noodles. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles, vegetables and meat. Add a squirt of Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce for a little bit more heat. When you're eating your ramen, it's only polite to slurp up the noodles as loudly as you can. No joke.


Protein - I have personally tried this with ham, beef slices, chicken slices, scallops, and shrimp. All very good. Just remember to cook the raw stuff.

Vegetables - You can use any vegetable you find on hand. Sprouts, spinach, broccoli, gai-lan, carrots, turnips, peas (though they might be hard with chopsticks), snow peas, and rucola. Really - ANY vegetable.

Don't want to use the MSG-laden flavor packets? Sub out the water with chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetable broth.

Don't want to use the deep fried noodle pellets from the package? Use fresh egg noodles or dried egg or rice noodles.

You have no excuse not to try this for quick dinner.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My first crack at cooking Indian

I have always loved Indian food. All of it - the curries, the biriyanis, the chaat, dosas and idli. I love it all. I love it even more if it's unpretentiously served in the cafe that doubles as a grocery store. I love it most if it's homemade. I have been blessed to have Indian friends who cook for me and love having me over for dinner. They are why I know the difference between a chapati and a naan, how to make curd rice at home, and that curry is not always yellow. Despite the fact that I know how eat Indian food, I don't know how to cook it. I have always wanted to learn how.

Thanks to my good friend, LWD, I now have the spices needed to make Indian food at home! LWD and her mother picked out some basic Gujurati spices and mailed them to me in India. It was so incredibly thoughtful and sweet for them to take the time and effort to select spices for the beginner Indian cook. LWD and her mom sent me packets of tumeric (urdur), fenugreek seeds (methi), cumin seeds (jeera), anise seed (ojmo), paprika powder (murcha), mustard seeds (ruy), coriander seed and cumin powder (dhana jeeru), asafoetida powder (ing), and garam masala. The minute I opened the cannister, I was enveloped by the warm smell of the spices. In addition to the wonderful smell of the spices, all the packets of spices were so neat, labeled and colorful. They brought immediate inspiration.

For dinner, I wanted to make my favorite Indian dish - aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower). I had a friend once chide me for ordering aloo gobi at an upscale Indian restaurant in London but I didn't care - I love aloo gobi. What I made tonight was not the aloo gobi that I love. I made a few big mistakes with this dish. When mixing the spices, I added a spice that did not belong because I misread the package - I thought it was a garam masala instead of a tandoori masala. Oops. The curry was a bit more sour than I expected but I balanced it out with a little bit of sugar. In addition to the extra spice, I also burned the cumin. Also, I didn't have any coriander powder or any fresh coriander (cilantro) so I tried to make my own out of coriander seeds. I tried to grind them with my spice grinder but that didn't work so I broke them up with the back of a wooden spoon and tossed it in. In hindsight, I shouldn't have done that. In addition to the mistakes I am prone to making on my own, the directions on the recipe I found were...lacking. The directions did not provide instructions on what to do with half of the ingredients so towards the end, I used my best judgment. All in all, it wasn't a great aloo gobi but it was edible. Just goes to show that if you throw enough salt into something, it can taste good.

In addition to the aloo gobi, I tried to recreate an Indian taro fry that a friend made 5 years ago. Let me preface this recreation with the circumstance which led me to taste this dish. I worked with this friend, really a very shy colleague, years ago and he brought this taro fry into work for lunch one day. Because I did not know that Indians used taro, I was curious about how the fry tasted and asked if I could sample it. He graciously let me eat out of his lunch box - I have no shame. It was so good that I am STILL thinking about it today. Since I had some taro and some fun new spices, I decided to try and make the taro fry at home...and the result was pretty darned good. I have included the recipe below.

Indian Taro Fry
1/8 cup oil
4 small taro, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (ruy)
1 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp tumeric powder (urdur)
3/4 tsp of coriander seed and cumin powder (dhana jeeru)
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder
1/8 tsp asafoetida powder (ing)
1/4 tsp salt

Mix the garam masala, tumeric, dhana jeeru, asafoetida, and ginger powder in a small bowl with about a 1/2 tsp of water to create a dry paste. Heat the oil at medium high heat in a non-stick saute pan. When the oil is hot, put the cumin seeds and mustard seeds into the pan and saute. You want the seeds to pop without getting burned. After about a minute, add the onions and garlic and saute until soft. To the onions, add the diced taro and the spice paste and stir vigorously to evenly coat the taro. Add a little bit of water, about a quarter cup, to the mixture and reduce the heat to medium/low. Add the salt and let the taro cook until it is tender. Check for seasoning. The taro will be a bit viscous but it tastes lovely.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Treasure Trove

Today, my friend Nina took me to my new favorite food store in Oslo. We went to A, a new Asian market located in Ethnic Town. I've been living in Oslo long enough to know that grocery stores rarely exceed the size of an average convenience store, your local 7-11. I've been living here long enough to know better than to expect that every ingredient I need can be found. I've been living here long enough to make do with vegetables that are far from where they were grown - and they look like it. Or have I?

I did until we walked into A this afternoon. A - I wonder what it could stand for? Asians? Availability-of-near-impossible-goods? Awsomeness? First off, this place was large. At first glance, it looked like the size of a small 7-11 but then you round a corner and there's a whole other 7-11's space to be explored. This market was stocked with the standards - oyster sauces, more than one brand of soy sauce, fermented tofus, black beans, and fish in various jars, and instant noodles in glittery, cellophane packages. That they had these items was nice but what made it great was the variety in brand names for each item- I no longer had to make do with what I could find. They had rows, rows, of fresh vegetables. Fresh, Asian vegetables. True, all the vegetables were neatly wrapped in cellophane bags or in individually plastic wrapped to foam trays but they were there and fresh if not free for me to go through, but beggars can't be choosy. I found different varieties of eggplants, 2 types of ginger, bok choy, gai-lan, choi-sum, and a whole bunch of other vegetables I can't even name! Here's a picture of one of the cases of fresh vegetables. Look at this! It's dao-mieu, the young vines of a bean plant. These vegetables are tender and so lovely quickly sauteed with a little bit of garlic and salt.
I even found this little cherub! This, for those who don't know, is a durian. As you can see, the durian is a large, spiky fruit that is green and unwieldy. What you cannot see from this picture is its unmistakeable smell. Some might even reach so far as call it a stench. I think it smells like garbage. Not fresh garbage; garbage that's been sitting out in warm weather for a few days garbage. However, I am told that if you can get past the smell the taste is wonderful. Something that is sweet and with the consistency of a custard. Despite the fact that there is a fruit that tastes and feels like a custard, I still haven't been able to gather up the cojones to try it. And here it is in Oslo, sitting like a little orphan left alone in its tiny little cradle/shopping cart asking me if I'll take him home. Someday...someday.

After a quick perusal of their impressive noodle collection (I even found fresh egg noodles), I meandered over to the frozen food section. I found a lot of frozen fish, both whole and and cutlets, clams, muscles, tiger shrimp, crab claws, and meat. In a different case, I found premade dim sum items such as this har gao (shrimp dumplings), shiu mai (pork dumplings), and egg rolls. I also found these ground shrimp wrapped around a sugar cane, a staple Vietnamese appetizer. It was a fun freezer case to peruse.
It was a great little trip through the slush down to Ethnic Town. I didn't buy too much, just a little bit of lentils to make dal, some semolina for polenta, a couple of potatoes for aloo gobi, and some vegetables for a healthy week. It was more gratifying to see what was available to me should the mood strike to make an authentic Chinese meal. It was gratifying to see that I had options.

For dinner tonight, in celebration of finding fresh Asian vegetables, was some bok choy and some boiled taro. Taro is a root vegetable that looks completely unappealing. It's small, and dark brown, kind of like poo pellets but hairy. The inside, depending on its variety, can range from purple to paste grey to a pearly white. Cooked, it has the viscosity that okra has when you cut into it. Sounds not so pretty, right? If you like potatoes and all lovely things that are starchy, you will like taro. Taro also comes in different sizes, again depending on its variety. The ones featured here are the small type. My favorite way is to boil them whole, peal and then salt them. Sometimes to switch it up, I dip it into soy sauce - but only on my wild days. I've also had them in an Indian curry and it was so delicious.

Simple Bok Choy
1 bunch of bok choy, washed, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup broth, usually I use chicken but since I had that boatload of frozen ham stock I used that.
1/2 cup water

Smash the garlic and remove the skin. Bring the broth, water, and garlic to a boil. When the water is at a hard boil, add the bok choy and simmer until they are tender. It won't take very long, depending on the amount of bok choy

Friday, January 16, 2009

Trip, trip, trip down to Trondheim

Last night, I traveled to Trondheim to speak at our office there for about 3 hours. I’m not Public Speaking’s biggest fan so I wasn’t terribly excited about the trip. When I arrived, I was completely taken by surprise by how gorgeous that city is. It is a small, seaside town on the west coast of Norway. On the drive from the airport to the city, there are picturesque landscapes and waterscapes. Trondheimsfjorden sparkled in the afternoon sunlight and the windows of the quaint farmhouses gave off a warm and inviting glow from the decorative lights on the sill. The houses in Norway are beautiful in a way that is accessible. There are a few breathtaking manors scattered across the country but the true gold lies in the wooden farmhouses that look like what I think would be the result if Ralph Lauren decided to go Shabby Chic. They are chic yet homey, farmhouse function meets comfort, clean lines and colors that manage to still be very warm. I am in love with these houses, though I could never maintain that style. It’s too easy for me to cross the line and stay permanently in shabby.

Due to my travels, I ate an orange and a handful of trail mix for dinner – nothing really blogworthy. I was cranky last night after getting home so late and I was tempted to post: I hate the world. Go find your own damned food. But that would not have been very nice.

Stay tuned for tonight – I’ll either write a review on a pizza restaurant in Frogner that I’ve heard great things about or I’ll do a post featuring more leftovers. Guess which one I’m leaning towards?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Almond Apple Chicken Salad

Have some leftover chicken you don't know what to do with? There are gazillions of things you can do with leftover chicken. Soups, casseroles, chopped into a salad, tossed into a pasta...I can get all Bubba Blue on you and drone on and on for days, but I won't. Instead, I go into detail on only one recipe. This is quick and very simple; it's less cooked and more thrown together. It's great for a Wednesday night when you're exhausted and just want a quick, satisfying, and fairly healthy dinner.

Almond Apple Chicken Salad
1 1/2 cups of diced, cooked chicken - breast, leg, and thigh all work great.
3/4 cup small diced apple - any variety is fine but I like the crispness, tartness, and color of a Granny Smith
1 finely diced scallion
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tbs mayonnaise, you can certainly use light mayo
2 tbs plain yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the diced chicken, apple, scallions, yogurt, and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Check the seasoning and re-season if necessary.

So what would you do with this salad? I sandwiched it between two toasted slices of lingonberry juice bread but it would be equally delicious with another dark, sweet bread such as squaw bread. Regular toasted white or wheat would also make an excellent bread choice. Watching your carbs? Scoop it onto a bed of iceberg lettuce or cuccumber slices. It's also great with crackers, in pita, or endive leaves. Here I go again, getting all Bubba Blue and his shrimp on you. The message here is that this is a very versatile meal...and a great way to clean out the fridge!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lemon Cake for the Ages

Tonight, I am baking the lemon cake for a friend who is leaving our place of employment in search of more productive waters. She's obviously going to do great in her new job and she's probably going to make a ton of new friends so I wanted to bake a little something for her to remember me by. How do I know this lemon cake will make me unforgettable? I have experience and proof. When I was living in Chicago my friend JP came to visit. JP, like me, spent most of her time living out of a hotel room so I decided to make a homemade meal during her stay. For dessert one night, I made this Lemon Yogurt Cake and for a year I had requests from JP to mail said cake to whatever city she was staffed in. Even today, she said she was watching the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten making this cake on TV and she thought of me. So THAT is how I know my friend is not going to forget about me when she leaves our company. This cake is THAT good. Thank you, Barefoot Contessa.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:nocoupons
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 176 degrees Celsius. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
1. When whisking in the flour, don’t worry about getting all the lumps. You just want to make sure the flour is mixed into the batter. Overmixing will make the cake tough and chewy.
2. Before pouring the syrup over the warm cake, make 6 small holes into the cake with a cake tester/meat thermometer for better absorption of the lemon syrup.
3. The cake must be completely cooled and the syrup mostly absorbed before putting the icing on the cake. I know 1 cup of powdered sugar to 2 tbs of lemon juice seems like a lot but don’t mess with the ratio too much. You need that much sugar for the icing to set. You want a drizzly consistency so that the frosting drizzles thickly off the spoon. If it’s too thick, add a couple of drops of lemon juice and mix well before trying again. A little liquid goes a long way.

Great with a black or green tea.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Better than take-out

Chinese food is very simple and healthy. For centuries, the southern Chinese diet mainly consisted of rice and vegetables with just enough meat added to a dish provide a little taste and texture. Getting your full servings of vegetables in a strictly Chinese diet is not a difficult thing to achieve. Since our visit to Ethnic Town resulted in a couple of sacks of Chinese vegetables, I decided to make a Chinese dinner tonight. Chinese food is deceptively simple. All you need are a few staple sauces and some fresh vegetables and a good saute pan. It IS that simple. Don't believe me? I will walk you through a very simple and versatile Chinese meal.

Stewed Pumpkin with Pork Slices
Courtesy of Mom
1 small pork chop, sliced into bite sized pieces. It should yield about a cup of sliced pork.
1 Small, green pumpkin - peeled, de-seeded and diced into one inch pieces
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs canola or corn oil
1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
drizzle of sesame oil
1 1/2 tbs black bean garlic sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1 1/2 cups water

1. Mix the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and pork slices in a small bowl. Set aside and let marinade for 15 - 20 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a deep saute pan or a non-stick pot. Saute the onion slices in the oil at medium-high heat until the onions are fragrant and just starting to soften. When the onions ready, add the pork slices to the pan and saute until the slices start to brown. Take out the browned onions and pork slices and set aside. There's no need to cook the pork all the way through as the pork will finish cooking at the very end of the cooking process.

3. To the hot pot, add the pieces of pumpkin, black bean sauce, and hoisin sauce and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the water to the pot and turn the heat up to high. I say to add about a cup and a half of water, but all you really want is enough water to cover the pumpkin. Scrape the bottom of the pot to de-glaze any of browned bits of pork and onion. Let the pumpkin and water come to a rapid boil and bring the temperature back down to medium-high.

4. Let the pumpkin mixture boil pretty rapidly until the pumpkin is tender. Depending o the pumpkin, it will take about 10 minutes. Once the pumpkin is tender, add the pork slices back into the pumpkin and mix well. The pumpkin sauce should not be dry but it should not be watery either. The water will have reduced a bit and the pumpkin will have thickened the sauce just a little.

5. Depending on the starch content of the pumpkin, the sauce may or may not thicken. If you find the sauce is still too watery, the trick of all Asian mommies is to mix about a teaspoon of cornstarch with about 2 tbs of cold water. Mix the cornstarch and water well and add it to the boiling pumpkin, stirring the pumpkin while you add the slurry. You want to stir the pumpkin as you add the thickener to ensure you don't have a lumpy sauce. Add just enough cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce to the desired consistency.

Confused about the consistency? If the sauce looks like a broth and is very watery, you will need to add the slurry. If the sauce is very dry, lumpy, or thick add a little bit of water to loosen it up. To check for the consistency you're looking for, if you're uncertain, take a spoon and dip it into the sauce. If the sauce coats the spoon, then it's thick enough.

6. Plate up! At home, we eat it family-style so I always plate it up into a big bowl.

Don't eat pork? This dish works equally great with sliced chicken or sliced beef. I'd avoid fish as fish tends to fall apart.

Don't eat meat? Leave it out! It still tastes great.

Can't find my pumpkin? Use a different type of squash. I would recommend butternut squash, kombacha, even sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are a bit more watery so you'll need less water. It would even work well with starchy root vegetables such as potatoes or taro.

Boiled Chinese Broccoli
1 bunch of Chinese Broccoli (Gai-lan), washed and trimmed
2 tsp sugar
1 - 2 tbs Oyster sauce, or to taste
2 tbs canola or corn oil; you want an oil that is very mild in flavor and has a pretty high smoking point.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the sugar to the boiling water. Add the gai-lan to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 - 5 minutes depending on the amount of gai-lan. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan until it shimmers. When the gai-lan is tender, take it out of the boiling water and plate. Drizzle the gai-lan with oyster sauce. Drizzle the hot oil over the gai-lan and oyster sauce. BE CAREFUL. The oil is very hot and will pop and sizzle when it comes in contact with water. I use a spoon and drizzle the oil very gingerly over the vegetable. The hot oil finishes the dish and heats up the oyster sauce.

Gai-lan has a slightly bitter flavor that is very similar to broccoli rabe. The sugar is added to the boiling water to balance out the bitterness of the vegetable. When purchasing gai-lan, look for stalks that look vibrantly green and tender. I also always check the bottom of the stems to make sure there are no holes cracking the stem, indicating a not-so-fresh product. The flowers sprouting at the very top of the vegetables are entirely edible and delicious.

This dinner is great with steamed white rice and it's healthy, to boot! I do hope you try it. Chinese food is a lot easier than the bad Chinese restaurants lead you to believe (and a lot tastier!). When you make this at home you know there's no MSG!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oh Nuts! original plan was to post a fabulous Lemon Shrimp Pasta that I was making for dinner but after a couple of technical mistakes and some deliberate disregard for the directions, it didn't turn out very good (surprise!). Instead, I will post a success from this morning.

I made some sweet-spicy nuts from a recipe I found on one of my favorite food blogs: Smitten Kitchen. I brought the nuts to a friend who was meeting me for lunch and I could tell it was a hit when she took the baggie of nuts out after our meal to have with our coffees. I could further tell it was a hit when Boyfriend tipped the small bowl of nuts directly into his mouth. So, this recipe is a winner. Also, as Smitten Kitchen suggests, it'd be so pretty as a hostess gift. Given the cost of nuts in this city, it'd be just a little more expensive than bringing a bottle of wine.

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts
Inspired from: Smitten Kitchen

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar (I used light and it was still delicious)
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (It wasn't hot at all. You can definitely up the pepper. I will likely try it next with 1/4 tsp...if not more)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups whole pecans, unsalted
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, unsalted
1 cup whole cashews, unsalted
1/2 cup whole, unpeeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water, cold

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, 150 degrees Celsius.
Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. It's important to break them up while they're cooling. If you try when they're fresh out of the oven, the sugar is still molten and will A. hurt you and B. just stick together again. When it's too cool, it might be a little hard to break up. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Banh Reu, it's what's for dinner

Boyfriend and I made the trek east to Oslo's Ethnic Town. This is a small area just east of the city center where the minority is the majority. Most of the stores are non-Norwegian and proudly display a whole manner of ethnic foods, goods, and pastries. I've written a whole post on Ethnic Town and won't repeat myself. Instead I will take advantage of technology and kindly link you to the post: Ethnic Town

Today, we made our way to ethnic town for 2 things. 1 - We wanted to try a Chinese restaurant we'd heard a lot of very good things about: Taste of China. This was our second attempt to try this restaurant and much to our frustration we were disappointed to find that they still haven't returned from their holiday and were still closed. That was a bummer. Then I suggested we try a fairly authentic Vietnamese restaurant just up the street. That too was closed. It was the absolute monarch of bum-smackers because I was starting to get pretty hungry and everyone who knows me knows I'm not nice when I'm hungry. Boyfriend, in full panic mode, suggested the first restaurant we saw: a less-than-clean kabob place. By this point, I was already disappointed and likely to dislike whatever I had for lunch so I agreed. We each had a lamb schwarma plate that wasn't so bad except it was covered in Pink Mayonnaise Sauce. But, onwards and upwards to the other fine points of Ethnic Town. The second reason that brought us east was a restaurant supply store I'd visited when I first arrived in Oslo. I didn't find what I was looking for (there seems to be a theme to my day) so we headed to the Asian market. Finally, I was happy amongst the shelves of fish sauces, fermented tofu, black bean sauces, pickled vegetables and instant noodles. I loaded up on the fresh Asian vegetables I can't find at my local grocer and day-dreamed about elaborate Chinese meals I'd cook at home. Stay tuned...

While in the area, I picked up a little snack for dinner. What I picked up is called Banh Reu, small steamed cakes made from rice flour and topped with yellow mung beans, dried shredded pork, tiny fried shrimp, egg yolk bits, and green onion. Each little cake is dipped into the oh-so-pungent and oh-so-delicious fish sauce. The result is a chewy and crispy bite combining the flavors of shrimp, salt, sweet, and deep fried onion. Not as good as what I got at home, but I am thankful I get some at all. Here's a picture of what these banh reu look like.
And for dessert, we had baklava and an assortment of other flaky, nutty, syrupy pastries. Go big or go home.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blue Plate Special 2.0

If this title doesn’t tell you that I work in IT, I’m not sure what will. For those of you who don’t get the reference, I will take no part in your geekification. If you really must know, wiki “web 2.0.” I made individual servings of old fashioned meat loaf and served it with garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes and sautéed rucola.

I really like this meatloaf recipe that I have adapted from the classic meatloaf. I don’t like the flavors of Italian sausage so I omitted it entirely from the recipe. The other classic meatloaf is to mix 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 ground pork, and 1/3 ground veal but I couldn’t find ground veal at my grocery store so I decided to test it out using only ground beef –and guess what? It’s delicious! It’s a little leaner than the original meatloaf as I used a very lean ground beef found here in Norway. I tried to infuse additional moisture by use of the vegetables. I think this is especially important if you are using very lean meats or poultry. My very favorite part is the ketchup baked on top.

To dress up the dinner a little bit, I quickly sautéed rucola with a very little bit of olive oil and garlic and I made mashed potatoes with garlic infused cream and parmesan. Of course, if you’re looking for ways to cut calories (especially in this post-holiday season of resolutions and detox) you can always boil the potatoes in just enough chicken stock to cover the potatoes and mash that all together into a lighter, healthier side.

1 lb of ground beef, I prefer to eat one that is not so lean but for health purposes, I buy lean and it works out fine. Chicken and turkey can also be used.
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used sourdough)
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated onion
1 tbs grated garlic
½ cup chopped scallions
2 tbs butter
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
2 large eggs, slightly scrambled
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper
¼ c. finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 176 degrees Celsius.
In a skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions, carrots, garlic, and scallions for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover the skillet for another 3 minutes until the carrots soften. To the mixture, add the salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and the 1/3 cup of ketchup and mix well. Let it cook for an additional 1 minute and then turn the heat off and set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, vegetable mixture, bread crumbs, eggs, and parsley. I choose to mix it by hand because I like getting as dirty as possible when cooking. Also, I believe there is no better utensil suited for this job than your hands.

You can form the meat into a loaf pan and cover the loaf with the remaining ketchup. What I chose to do was to use my floppy silicone muffin tins and make individual meatloaf muffins for each person. Just fill each muffin tin with enough meat so that it mounds just a little on top. Cover each little mound with a brush of ketchup. You don’t really need to grease the pans as the meat will shrink and pull away from the sides making it very easy to pull out with tongs or a fork. This recipe makes about 10 small meatloaf muffins.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad...I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad.

So what are some of my favorite things? I am sharing them today. Being that this is a food blog, I will be featuring only my favorite items to the theme of Kitchen and nothing more. Keep your chones on.

1. My favorite kitchen gadget is my microplane, without a doubt. It grates cheese, garlic, onions, spices (such as the nutmeg shown in the pic), citrus peel, and on occasion - my fingernail. I have been in love with this tool since the day I got it. If you don't have one, I urge you to get one. Even if you don't cook much, it's just so much fun to have around.

2. Who cut the cheese? I love cheese and I love this cheese slicer. This slicer makes even little slices to top crackers, fill sandwiches or roll into lefse (a tortilla like flatbread here in Norway). It took a few coaching sessions from Boyfriend to get just the right slice but once I got the hang of it, I've been slicing cheese all on my own just like the big girl I am.

3. Who doesn't want the perfect scoop? I know I do! With the help of my mini ice cream scoop, I always get the perfect little scoop. Whether it's ice cream for my ice cream sandwiches, a little mound of sour cream, just the right amount for a potato latke, or 2 scoops for cupcakes - the result is always just what I need.

4. Boyfriend owns a lot of electronic gadgets and knick-knacks. When shopping with me at the local kitchen tools store, he remarked that kitchen gadgets are to me what electronic doo-dads are to him. He's absolutely right. I have a whole drawerful of little gadgets with dubious uses that I bought because they looked interesting. One such item is a chatchke that measures out spaghetti portions based on the number of people dining. Well, there are two issues with the gadget - A) I don't always use spaghetti and B) it's a bitch to use. I got uncooked spaghetti everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Anyways, I digress...#4 isn't about the useless spaghetti tool. It's about one of the gadgets I bought on a whim and totally love. This is my risotto spoon. The idea is that the hole further moves the grains of rice making for a more creamy risotto. I can't say that I have noticed a difference in my risotto with the use of this spoon but I feel like serious risotto maker just holding it in my hot little hand.

5. Tired of tongs that don't pick up? Hate it when your tongs scratch up your nice teflon pots and pans? Me I bought a teflon coated tong and have tossed all my old ones away. I do almost everything with this - I pick up items, use it to serve, pull pasta out of its cooking water, and then toss that same pasta in its sauce that's been cooking in a non-stick pan! I love it! This is easily the most frequently used item in my kitchen. Look at's like a natural extension of my hand. Get one!

6. Cutting makes me happy. Slicing, dicing, chopping, and hacking away at something calms me like swinging a golf club might calm somebody else without an affinity for cutlery. This knife is my favorite. I heart it.

7. Do your friends accuse you of being anal retentive? Do you NEED to get every last bit of batter or frosting out of the bowl or else it just eats you up inside? If the answer is yes, then you must get a really good rubber spatula. My favorite is from Williams-Sonoma in the US but any good rubber spatula will will change your world.

8. Jars - I dig old glass jars for holding stuff. Homemade salad dressing, a balsamic reduction, leftovers, tea, whatever. I just think it's prettier in a jar.

9. Labeled sauce pourers. I'm sure there's a real term for this but I'm just too tired tonight to remember it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I used the term when shopping for them. My old Italian teacher used to say, "La Vecchia e' brutta" or roughly translated, "Old age is a bitch." Anyways, what was I talking about? Oh yes, sauce pourers. I label mine. CRUET!!!! Oh, thank god...that was bound to bother me all night.

10. Gettin' crazy with the label maker. I labeled all the major shelves in our kitchen. It doens't help. Things stil get put in odd places but most of the gratification was putting the little labels on the shelves for the promise of organization. This one is where I keep all the stuff my mom sends me.

11. The French got something right! Well, ok fine...a lot of things but most of them are to do with food. I love baking on my Silpat. I don't think I'll ever bake cookies directly onto a cookie sheet, foil, or parchment paper again. Je t'adore, Silpat. Je t'adore.

12. As you can tell, I'm a little bit anal retentive, I like labeling things and I like organization so it makes a world of sense that I would own something like this. This is the world's best sink caddy. It's got a spot for our round pot scrubber, our long scrubbers for hard to reach places, our sponge and our pan scraper. Gold Star to Boyfriend for finding this little gem while I obsessed about which small rubber spatula to buy from Williams-Sonoma.

13. Who doesn't love fake cheese out of a can? This stuff will last beyond Armageddon. It's also what's for dinner when Kimberly doesn't cook.