Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

A week ago I went to an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends from church called "Friendsgiving"
It was a lot of fun and it got me started early on eating way too much in a single meal. The dinner was a potluck and the suggestion was to bring something your family traditional eats for Thanksgiving. I looked up what was eaten at the "first Thanksgiving" but all the recipes I found looked to hard or required baking which I am currently unable to do, so I made cranberry sauce. I had never had cranberry sauce before, so it was a fun and new experience.


* 1 cup (200 g) sugar
* 1 cup (255 mL) water
* 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
* Optional Pecans, orange peel, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.


1 Wash and pick over cranberries. In a saucepan bring to a boil water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.

2 At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients. We typically mix in a half a cup of roughly chopped pecans with or without a few strips of orange peel. You can add a cup of raisins or currants. You can add up to a pint of fresh or frozen blueberries for added sweetness. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice can be added too.

3 Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Cranberry sauce base makes 2 1/4 cups.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

McAlister's Deli

I seem to blog in spurts, sorry about that my one follower.
I have been to McAlister's Deli twice now so I figure it deserves a post.
The first visit was in Roswell, GA on my first day of hurrication. I ordered a pizza on a whole wheat tortilla with some sweet tea. Of course, sweet tea is a must when you are in the south. McAlister's is popular for its tea which you can buy in the gallons. I opted for a large cup of it with free re-fills! McAlister's is a nice place, you get a lot of food and servers bring it to your table for you. A meal is about $7-$11 on average, but you get enough food and drink for two servings.

I love colorful food, so I especially was fond of this pizza. I don't know if color variety is proportional to flavor but I would venture to say that there is some positive relationship between the two. It was a Mexican-inspired dish, with black beans and peppers and corn, not the typical dish you would expect to go along with sweet tea but they still made a good pair.
The second time I went to a McAlister's in Metairie, LA with some people from church.
I got a turkey and cranberry sandwich with bacon! I do love bacon, and this sandwich did not disappoint me. The bacon was delicious and I felt there was plenty to enrich every bite with its greasy and hammy goodness.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chocolate Truffles

In mid-October I made some chocolate truffles for a women's retreat. They were really tasty! I had a hard time forming them into balls because they melt so fast in your hands. Thus, they took an odd shape, but people seemed to really enjoy them.
I found the recipe on

6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup KARO® Light Corn Syrup
6 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
suggested coatings: powdered sugar, finely chopped PLANTERS Walnuts, BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut, unsweetened cocoa
48 REYNOLDS 2-1/2-inch Pastel Baking Cups

PLACE butter, cream and corn syrup in medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium heat. Remove from heat. Add semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolates; stir until completely melted. Pour into bowl; cover.

REFRIGERATE 3 hours or until firm.

PLACE baking cups on baking sheet or tray. Shape teaspoonfuls of the chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls; roll in 1 cup of the desired coatings until evenly coated. Place 1 in each baking cup. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.


At work on Thursday a customer and co-worker excitedly explained to me what a satsuma is. The customer had a green/orange citrus in hand that was a size between an orange and a clementine. She explained to me that it is satsuma season and that they are the BEST citrus fruit ever. She explained to me firmness and color of a ripe satsuma so that I would be able to buy some.
The next day Ellen and I went to the grocery store instead of running, and I decided to pick up some satsumas. They look remarkably like Clementine's, only more green and not as uniform in size. After returning home I tried the tasty fruit and discovered that it is very much like a mandarin orange. I then went home and did some research and discovered that the satsuma is the Louisiana equivalent to Florida and California mandarins. I was kind of disappointed to realize that the fruit I thought was exotic is actually just a twin to fruit I grew up with. *sigh*
They are really good, though.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mute Math

I am gradually getting introduced to New Orleans music. I love the jazz, but I also love the more alternative and rock sounds the local musicians are playing.
Recently, the Coats' introduced me to Mute Math. Love the music! Also, the videos that the band releases on their youtube channel are very fun to watch.
For music videos I recommend Typical which can be viewed as the official video or even more amazing as a live performance.
Now, I recommend watching the video, than the live performance because you will be amazed with how they are able to recreate the video live.
For a fun vlog, check out Paper Darren.
Now their debut album came out last year so they aren't new, but I have not heard of them so I thought I would share them with y'all. I just read that the band has a song on the new Twilight soundtrack, so keep you ears open for them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Manon Lescaut

Tonight I went to the opera, so exciting!
My friend Ellen from work informed me a couple days ago that dress rehearsals were free to attend and today at work she informed me tonight was the dress rehearsal for Manon Lescaut. All in all I was pretty stocked to be there since 1) this was my first opera experience and 2) it was in Italian with English subtitles which means I got to practice my Italian!
The performance was amazing, I can't understand how people can sing so beautifully. The story-line, however, did not excite me. Manon is this young woman who, on her way to a convent, meets a young student, des Grieux, and they fall in love after about 1 second of knowing each other. Now, I'm usually a fan of romances, but the character of Manon makes you crazy mad. Her and des Grieux run away together to Parigi (Paris) at the end of Act One. When Act Two starts up, Manon is living a life of wealth with an old man named Geronte who fancied her in Act One and had made arrangements to be with only to have her abducted by des Grieux. Turns out, the life of poverty with the young student didn't do it for Manon so she went with the wealthy option of Geronte. Yet, she still longs for des Grieux and when her brother brings him to her place she begs him to take her back. The poor sap says yes but when Geronte discover the two together he calls the police to have Manon taken away. Manon is too concerned with gathering all her precious jewels to escape and so the police have her removed. about greedy, clearly jewels have a bigger place in her heart than love for des Grieux. Thus ends Act Two. Well, Act Three follows with des Grieux plotting to have Manon rescued from banishment to America (Louisiana to be exact). What is this guys problem, didn't he learn from Act Two that she can't be happy in poverty with him? Well, he fails and rescuing her but does convince the Captain to let him go along on the trip to America.
Now, I think the production I saw might be the abridged version because Act Four begins with a lot of subtitles telling us about how they lived peacefully in America together until Manon's beauty got them in trouble. The Governor's son desired to steal her away from des Grieux and after a bitter fight which ends with des Grieux killing the son (well, he fears he is dead but we don't actually know if he dies) the two flee. When Act Four opens Manon and des Grieux are roaming aimlessly through the barren and uneven country starved and dehydrated. *SPOILER ALERT* Manon can carry on no longer and sings of her sad sad story. She sings, and sings, you keep thinking, "Oh this must be it, she is going to take her last breath" but then she comes back for some more. She FINALLY dies and the play ends. My friend tells me most operas have the prolonged death scene, so I am now prepared for that I suppose.
All in all, it felt great to be back at the theatre. I have been longing for some performance for my enjoyment and now feel my thirst has been quenched for a month or two.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Art for Art's Sake

Art for Art's Sake was this weekend. I went to the Uptown celebration that is free, and close to home. Basically, a bunch of art galleries and boutiques on Magazine Street have open houses where they serve wine and hor' devours, and some hire bands to come and perform. So, imagine walking down the street at night with live jazz music on every street corner and wine in hand, as you stop by different art galleries to admire the beauty and soak in the life. It was so much fun. After a bad day at work, this was just what I needed to unwind. I'm realizing the city is a very "come as you are" kind of place, very laid back. I saw people dressed up in heels and dresses and people wearing t-shirts, jeans and flip flops, and no one looked out of place. There were whole families, elderly couples, young couples, singles of all ages, and near new-born babies. My favorite memory was seeing 10-12 year-old boys pouring wine into the glasses of 50-60 year-old women. That is how they do things in New Orleans.

Rue de la Course

Did I mention that this is the very first cafe, scratch that it is the very first business I ever visited in New Orleans? In Summer 2006 when I came down here for summer project this is the cafe where my small group leader took me and the other two girls in my small group for our first meeting.
The people are not super friendly, I'm told it was once on campus but the University did not extend the contract because the business was not student friendly.
The coffee is pretty strong, and the facilities are great with fee wifi and two public restrooms. As I said before it is a little pricey but I am realizing that is normal for New Orleans coffee places. How I miss moderately priced high quality coffee from the west coast.

The Neutral Ground

I mentioned this place before, the coffeehouse with the open mic night.
After an evening in the French Quarter, I concluded the night with a trip to The Neutral Ground where Craig Paddock was performing. Another friend from church, Craig is an amazing musician. He plays a style of music he sometimes refers to as sock (soul and rock). He has a voice that doesn’t match his appearance, his sound is soulful and at times raspy. He is a great performer; he really knows how to talk to the crowd. His performances aren’t such that he just goes through the music, he stops and talks to the audience, shares some jokes or stories. He plays a variety of songs, some he has written and some covers of more famous musicians. I am told he was once in a Beatles cover band, although they never made it to their first show. This does explain why he performed Beatles’ songs both times I have seen him. This night he even threw in some Sufjan, I appreciated this because not to long ago I was talking about him to someone I met in New Orleans and they had no idea who he was. For a minute, while Craig was singing Chicago I went back to Zellerbach Auditorium with Stephers, Molly, Caleb, Donna, Anna….I don’t in anyway want to compare Craig to Sufjan, because they are not same—Craig is one man playing guitar and Sufjan is an entire band and orchestra—I’m just beginning to appreciate more how powerful music can be at triggering memories.
Craig is awesome, check him out on Facebook or Myspace.

House of Blues

Friday October 3, I finally took a trip downtown! I’ve been to the French Quarter plenty of times as a tourist, but it took two months of living in New Orleans for me to go.
I went to the House of Blues where I met up with a lot of people from my church; we were all there to support someone from our church named Chase McCloud. Before that night I hadn’t heard any of his music, and to be honest the performance before him made me skeptical. The first band to play was a group named Horizon. Horizon is comprised of three angsty teen boys who look like every other high school boy in tight jeans and a t-shirt. And the kids at the House of Blues were so annoying. I don’t know how many times a little 13 year-old trampled on me. They all oozed with immaturity. They reminded me of how immature I was at that age, and it made me embarrassed for 13 year-old me. I was reminded of how my patience for teens gets smaller and smaller as I become older in age.
Chase McCloud is not a teenager and thankfully his music was angst-free. I was truly surprised with how much I enjoyed his music. I even bought a CD.
After HOB a group of us went to Crescent City Brewhouse for food.
I shared the buffalo wings with a friend, the wings were so good! They were not to spicy but had a slight kick, and were glazed with something involving nuts which added a slight sweetness. The appetizer only came with 6 wings, and sharing meant I only had three which in my opinion is not enough considering there deliciousness. After that I was still hungry so I got the vanilla ice cream dessert with praline pecan topping—SO GOOD! I’m discovering that I like anything with praline pecans and for me vanilla ice cream is one of my favorites, so combining the two is destined to work.
Some people I was with ordered the baked brie. I had some and it was pretty good. Brie is my current favorite when it comes to cheese, and I have not had any since I was back in Berkeley at Edith’s house. I went to Robert Fresh Market the other day and the cheese selection was big compared to the supermarkets I normally go to, but the brie was all packaged and fake looking. My stomach light up when I saw the cheese section and sank when I realized I would not be finding decent brie there. All that is to say that when we were at Crescent City I was delighted by the brie and the apple topping that came with it. My brie desire has been temporarily appeased.
The restaurant is kind of on the pricey side. Though the appetizers are affordable (the wings are $7.95) they don’t give you the satisfaction of a meal. Buying a couple appetizers and sharing would make it affordable and from what I sampled the appetizers are pretty good. I am told you can find coupons around the city for buy one get one free entrees, when you present an out of state license/ID.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jazmine Cafe

Two posts in one day, y'all are getting spoiled. Don't get used to it, once I find a job I am sure the posts will slow. Ironically, that will also be the time in which I actually have money to go out so people aren't always paying for me. What a sad truth, oh well.
I went with three other people from the team to a Vietnamese restaurant named Jazmine Cafe for lunch today. Dave and Jessica, a couple on the team recommended the place so I visited with some high expectations. I settled on a lunch special, Vegtable Summer Roll Noodle Salad Bowl (Bun Cha Gio Chay), and opted for the soup (chicken broth with vegetables) rather than the salad since I had a poor salad experience the day before. I noticed that the restaurant had bubble tea slushies and I have been looking for some good boba drinks so I decided to try the Green Apple slushy with tapioca. I don’t usually like the slushy drinks because they make the boba hard, are sweeter, and as the drink melts the taste deteriorates. All these things were true of this drink, but I expected it so I wasn’t disappointed. I prefer a simple milk tea with boba, but I don’t have a whole lot of choices in New Orleans so I thought I would try it anyways. I was excited when I had finished the liquid and what was left was thawed bobas, that was a pleasant surprise at the end.

The soup was really good, the broth was so flavorful. My friend Jessica says that the soups are really good here and that when the weather starts to cool off it is definitely worth trying more of the soups. I think I will, based on this experience I am happy to return for more.

My lunch was quite good, too. It was so filling and for a good price, only $6.25+tax for the food. The sauce/dressing they provided I think was lacking in flavor which made the noodles pretty bland. Some people like the dressing lite but I prefer something with more flavor to hide the lack of flavor that noodles naturally have.

Curry Corner

Ever since One Dollar Curry House opened on Oxford in Berkeley I have found myself regularly craving Indian curry, so when I noticed that there was a curry place across the street from Rue de La Course I promised myself I would check it out sometime. After passing by several times I finally decided yesterday that I had gone too long without curry and I caved. The restaurant is new so no one I talked to had tried it, so I went in hoping for the best. Unfortunately, I was not impressed and the food only made me crave more curry, better curry, rather than appeasing my appetite. The two workers were friendly and nice, and to be honest I felt bad for the business because I was the only person there. For all I know they could have had a really big lunch rush, I went at an awkward time of 4:20pm so it does make sense that the place was not overflowing with customers. Nevertheless, when I entered the restaurant and the workers immediately offered me assistance I felt compelled to buy. I looked at the menu and cringed when I saw the prices, $8.95 for Chicken Masala! I know that curry is generally expensive, but I am more comfortable with paying around $6 especially since I will need to buy naan. But, for $8.95+tax I got rice, chicken masala, and something with spinach, plus a small side salad. The rice was fine, the chicken masala was spicy and good, and the spinach stuff was a good combination. The side salad was small and the leaves were reddish, and over all the portions for all the food was small. I also purchased a naan for an additional $1 and the total came out to be $10.85. Now, that sounds like a reasonable price to some and as I said the food was alright, but the quality of the food was comparable to one dollar curry house where I pay less than $5 for curry and naan and even though the food is not near Naan ‘n Curry quality, atleast the quality matches the cost. As I said the portions were really small and the naan was so small, it was about the size of a medium flour tortilla which even for the small servings they provided was not enough to finish my curry. The place is set up like an express Chinese food place, where they have the food already cooked so you can grab and go. This is convenient, but it means you are paying for food that is of a lower quality because it is not fresh. The menu at the restaurant is constantly changing, so this means if you try something you don’t like chances are the next time you go that item will not be on the menu, so variety is a plus.

Here is a picture of the food. Indian curry, I think, always looks bad in pictures but maybe you’ll think it looks good.

Monday, August 4, 2008

chapter 1 of New Orleans food

I have now been to a few New Orleans places and rather than writing one for each I will compile them all into one entry. My hope is that I will re-visit these places and write individual posts that give them the individual attention they deserve.

1) Lebanon's: rather than chips and salsa or bread and olive oil you get as a starter at Mexican or Italian restaurants, this place offers pita bread and hummus to customers. I quite enjoy hummus and pita so this was a wonderful surprise, and I discovered that you can request wheat pita if you are after a healthier alternative. A couple people I went with raved about the spinach salad which to be honest looked amazing, but I decided to try a falafel. The falafel was good, the hummus was a bit too tangy for my likings so I was unable to finish that last couple bites. It was a filling meal that ended up being messier than I had expected

2) Neutral Ground Coffeehouse: I'm not entirely sure how to accurately describe this place because I've never been to a place like it before. It has the vibe of a very mellow Albatross in that it provides an atmosphere of playing board games, only it is not nearly as crowded or loud. But, it is a coffeehouse, not a bar. I went on a Sunday because Sunday night the coffeehouse has open mic night beginning at 7:30pm. There is actually a bible study that meets on Sundays at 7pm at the coffeehouse and I ended up going with some friends who attend the church that hosts the study, we went to hear the study and stay to watch some friends perform at open mic. I have to be honest I didn't actually buy anything because I am still looking for a job thus money is limited, but the atmosphere at the place was so great that once I have a job I am totally hoping to spend some money on lattes and teas. The performances were really good, too. There were a couple performers who are from New Orleans, so their songs were about the city and the people and the experiences. I love when performers are completely vulnerable and you can tell that they are singing straight from their heart. John Earl is one of my favorite performers of the night and the reaction of the crowd when he finished made it clear that I was not the only one in the place who thoroughly enjoyed the performance. He opened with a song called Suicide Rewind about a suicide attempt turned into a call for God, it was a really big song to start with but it showed the audience that he was for real. Another song he sang was Gold Beneath Your Feet which was inspired by the sirens that ring along the streets of New Orleans, it is a song that reminded me of how much people love this city and how much they yearn to see a brighter day for the city, and that's a cry I share.
My words really don't properly convey John Earls talent.

3) Juan's Flying Burrito: Pretty good Mexican food, I ordered something simple because the Popeyes from the night before had kind of made me hate myself.
side note: I like Popeyes, I mean its fried food so its kind of hard to say no but the truth is that it is one of those foods that after you eat it you immediatly regret the decision because the grease kind of makes your insides cry.
Anyways, at Juan's Flying Burrito I ordered bean tacos and opted for an avocado addition (I'm from California, I HAVE to have my avocado!). The avocado was a little brown but it wasn't bad. I have to continually remind myself that California is an anomaly and that I shouldn't be disappointed if produce in other places does not live up to the high standards I have acquired as a California-native. The truth is that the tacos were good, a little greasy and the filling was more than the wheat tortillas could carry which made it a bit of a mess, but the meal was good and I will be re-visiting the place because I liked it so much. The chips and salsa were good, too, the chips weren't too salty which I found is a common problem and the salsa was just the right amount of hot for my taste buds to handle. I know this review lacks enthusiasm and I am probably not doing a very good job of convincing people that it is worth visiting, but I think its worth checking out because I have heard numerous people talk it up.

4) Rue de La Course: I actually visited this cafe for the first time two years ago when I was down for summer project, it was the first place I visited with my Bible study so it has this special place in my heart. Today when I went back for a team meeting it had a nostalgic feel. It is in a really nice (in an old sense) building that was once a bank. The ceilings are very high and decorated in wood etchings. The cafe is actually pretty popular among medical students (so I hear, and I did see a couple people in scrubs while I was there). It vaguely reminds me of Morrison reading room although I am not entirely sure, I think it must be something in the design and the fact that it was filled with people reading. I had an Iced Chai which was good, but expensive. I spent $4 on a medium and the thing with this place is that the menu doesn't list prices so you are unpleasantly surprised by the total after you have already put in the order. I recommend coming here to study because the atmosphere promotes that, but bring your own drink and if you feel guilty about being there and not buying a drink, go with a frivolous friend who will by a drink. BONUS *This place does have WiFi*

Good grief, only four days in New Orleans and I already have four places to talk about. I need to slow down or else I'm going to pull something.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pizza Antica

Pizza is a definite favorite of mine and so I was excited to try this place out. Aurora and Jason wrote a review for it while working at the Piedmont Post, and since then they have been devoted fans. After hearing so much about it from them, I was unsure whether the place could live up to the high expectations, but it surpassed them. We started off with a salad of Vine-ripe Tomatoes, Housemade Mozzarella and Fresh Basil with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Aged Balsamic. The plate was brought out so quickly, we hardly had to wait. The mozzarella was more flavorful than any kind I have had before and I think the Balsamic really helped bring out the flavor. Although the tomatoes were a little green I blame this on the current tomato shortage and not the restaurant. All three of us enjoyed the plate and just as we were finishing the appetizers, our pizzas were brought out. We ordered two large pizzas, the number 5 (Sweet Corn, Arugula, Bacon and Basil) and the number 6 (Heirloom Potato, Caramelized Onion and White Truffle Oil) and devoured them entirely. The pizza is made on a thin and crispy crust and neither of the ones we ordered had tomato sauce, these are characteristics of my preferred style. The number 5 was my favorite. Something about corn on pizza amazes me, and this corn was sweet as promised and paired with the bacon it made for a truly flavorful pizza. I have been craving bacon for a long time and this bacon hit the spot. It was crispy and not burnt. I have found that many people are unable to get the crispy without burning the bacon, but Pizza Antica succeeded and my month craving of bacon was finally satiated. The number 6 is Aurora's favorite because she absolutely loves White Truffle Oil. I thought it was plain when compared to the sweet number 5, but it was definitely good. I actually wonder if you can go wrong with anything here because my first impression is that it is all really good. Considering the fast service, the friendly server, and the taste I would say this is probably my favorite pizza I have had anywhere in the Bay Area. I love me some Cheeseboard, don't get me wrong, and I love being able to eat some pizza on the grassy median while cars speed by, but if you are looking for something classier I recommend Pizza Antica.