On days that I’m baby-free, I like to escape the house and get some work done at a cafe. I’m lucky, given that Berkeley has about as many cafes as it does people. There are several characteristics that make for a desirable study/work cafe. Over the years, I’ve narrowed down the list to these five important factors: good coffee, reliable internet, available parking, plentiful electrical outlets, available seating. Generally, the order of importance varies. Some days I ride my bike, and parking is irrelevant. Some days I’m only using Photoshop, and internet isn’t a factor. One thing’s for sure, good coffee always hovers at the top. That is, until the day Sarah took me to Asha Tea House. The minute I walked into the downtown Berkeley cafe, I knew I was in for a treat. Berkeley has always been a great boba tea town. Most of the time those places are more of a quick, take-out variety. Asha, however, has a slower pace to it. In fact, there’s plenty of seating, and many of its patrons are UC Berkeley students buried in their laptops. While there are plenty of different types of tea (at least for my liking) the emphasis is surely quality over quantity. Needless to say, I’ve become hooked on tea . . . it sure took me long enough!. I even know the difference between bubble tea, and tea with boba (bubble tea simply refers to the frothiness from being shaken). Anyway, I hope you give this recipe a go. I’d love to hear from all you more experience tea drinkers out there. What are your favorite methods of fancy tea consumption? Anything else I should try?
My DIY antennae are always in full sensory mode, especially at the start of fall. I love the challenge that the holidays bring as each year, I find myself aiming to turn up each project just a few more notches from the previous year. So now that Halloween is just around the corner, I am ready for the ghoulish and the macabre. When I spotted a pair of candlestick holders, casted from plaster, via the one and only Martha Stewart, I knew I had to recreate them. But not without adding my own little twist, of course. It was my first attempt at casting using plaster and I must say, it’s one of the most satisfying processes. A piece of advice before starting: embrace the imperfections, which are bound to happen, especially if this is your first time casting. The flaws add to the feel of the candlestick holders. After all, they were dug up from 6 feet under . . .
The weather hasn’t cooled down in LA yet, but I’m ready for fall and some good fall comfort food. Let’s start with some extra-sharp white cheddar mac n’ cheese, shall we? I’m a huge fan of mac n’ cheese and have made many different variations using different types of cheese, but the classic cheddar is still my favorite. I’ve used extra-sharp white cheddar here, which goes so well with the acorn squash. You can use any type of squash you’d like, although you may need to adjust baking times. Next time I’ll try making this with kabocha squash, which is sweeter than acorn squash, and would be wonderful with the sharpness of the cheddar cheese. This recipe is going to be on rotation for the next few months!
Warning: I’m about to get really nerdy for a moment. Feel free to skip to the bottom of the post for the shake recipe. FYI, I’ve been drinking them for dinner all week and still can’t get enough . . . almost a gallon of ice cream later. Oyy!! Anyway, on to the dorky stuff. I think I’ve mentioned before how big of a fantasy sports geek I am. Well, this year I played in four baseball leagues! It was probably a few too many, but hey, there’s only so many productive things you can do while lying awake at 5am with a screaming baby. Also, given that my beloved Oakland A’s were a mess this year, a little extra motivation was required for my baseball consumption. Miraculously I managed to finish in first place in two of the four leagues!! Both wins came down to the wire. You should have seen me last weekend, frantically switching between one random baseball game to another, the occasional football game in between. What a mess I was/am. At least my recent milkshake habit didn’t start until after the season ended. Even I have my limits.
I have a confession. I’ve never rolled my own sushi before. I think my motivation to learn has always been deterred by my utter delight in going out for sushi. My go-to is always a generous assortment of sashimi and if I’m at my local spot, I always order one extra special item: a salmon ceviche roll. There’s something about the addition of vibrant cilantro and spicy jalapeño to the citrus cured salmon that makes this combination so clean and deliciously explosive! It was just a matter of time before I committed myself to recreating it in temaki form. Because 1) I need it on demand and 2) hand rolls is the easiest way to ease into sushi making. One step at a time, right?
Testing new cocktail recipes isn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds. Especially considering that I tend to recipe test in the morning. The last thing I want/need to be doing is drinking alone at 9am. What might seem like an entertaining day at the office can quickly transform into me drooling on the living room floor in front of Family Feud reruns. [Side note: I’ve been watching Family Feud since the Ray Combs days, and I have to say Steve Harvey tops my list of hosts – yes, including Richard Dawson. Don’t even get me started on Louie Anderson.] That said, it’s inevitable that after a while my palate begins to tire. Whether it’s the acid, the sugar, or ultimately the alcohol, I often don’t trust my tastebuds by the end of the day. Audrey to the rescue!! Not only does she have a remarkably discerning palate, but she happily welcomes a freshly shaken beverage after work – a luxury I had to live without during her pregnancy. No bueno! So, when I handed her my latest concoction, and she promptly declared it one of the best cocktails she’s had in years, I took notice. The star of the drink is certainly the St. George Green Chile Vodka. Each sip contains an insane amount of vibrant green chile flavor. Super compelling stuff!! For this reason, I wanted to pair with simple flavors that would keep the chile as the star, but subtly complement in their own way. Lately, we’ve been making a ton of dishes from Plenty, where mint and cilantro are often used in combination. Unfortunately, mixing herbs is less common in cocktails, yet thankfully was just what this recipe needed. I hope you give it a try, and at very least pickup a bottle of green chile vodka. It would probably make for a mean bloody mary. Just saying . . .