Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicken Tikka Masala

I've been craving Indian food for the longest time. And while the origins of this dish may not truly be Indian according to some sources, I usually end up going to an Indian restaurant to get it, thus the association. With so many recipes online and so many cookbooks, it's hard to decide which recipe to try, especially when you're desperate to get it perfect on the first go! So I did a little research, found a few recipes that sounded promising, and proceeded to create a new one based on what sounded right from the few chosen. The end result- sheer deliciousness. While admittedly it different from the versions I've dreamt about from far off places, it was nice enough to satisfy my senses and leave me with a rounded belly. Behold, my chicken tikka masala.

I marinated about a pound and a half of chicken breast that was cut into cubes in a mixture of 1/2c. beaten plain yogurt, 2 tsp of fresh ginger and garlic paste, juice of half a lemon, 1 tsp each of coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala, 2 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, some salt, and some green cardamom seeds. Let that sit in the fridge for an hour. I also wanted to have some potatoes in the mix, so I diced some potatoes and fried them to add in later.

For the gravy, I chopped up an onion finely, fried it in a mix of about 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and butter, with another tsp of ginger and garlic mashed up, and thin slices of one serrano pepper. When it all seemed to become one mixture, I added a few tbsp of tomato paste, a tbsp of chili powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tsp coriander powder, salt and black pepper, a pinch of paprika, 2 tsp of cumin and a little water. Mixed it up and let the sauce thicken, then added about a half cup of heavy cream. Then I added the potatoes and let them soak in the flavors on low heat. By then, the chicken was marinated long enough, so I pan fried that since we don't have a grill, and poured everything into the pot with the gravy and potatoes. Mixed it all up, let it simmer for about 10 minutes, and then it was ready to serve. I garnished it with a bit of freshly chopped cilantro. Yumminess.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Photo editing

It's like painting without the imperfections, mess and fun smells. I started teaching myself how to use some new photo editing software yesterday, after my dear friend and amazing photographer lovingly chided me, calling me a "booby" and told me to get with the program. How did I do? Is the first one totally overkill? This is a photo that I posted recently from Laguna, edited with 2 different programs. I tried to play with the saturation, but when placed consecutively, the top one looks a little Disney, and the bottom a little pasty (this was posted previously). Hmm. What do you think?

Chicken pita

Was feeling a bit lazy and a bit Mediterranean the other day... made a chicken pita sandwich with all the fixins. Grilled kabob-flavored marinated chicken, sliced up some marinated artichokes, roasted red bell peppers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, spinach, tomatoes, seasoned with a little balsamic vinegar and oil, and a little salt and pepper. All that was left to do was grab a warm pita, slice it in half, peel it open, and stuff away! Yum.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top of the World

Or just Laguna, that is. I am enjoying the mild fall season in southern California... the days are great, and the sunsets too.

The ocean is teeming with life!

Me and my partner in crime on this beautiful day. He's kind of shy.

Gratuitous sunset shots.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Carne Asada

So it looks like I'm back on my cooking run- hold onto your drool! I am still encountering the same issue of photographing and cooking and eating all at the same time... the photos are not quite what I would hope them to be. In all my eagerness to swiftly capture the visual essence of the food before satisfying the rest of my senses, I find the minor imperfections that could easily be forgiven with a little finger swiping and licking in all other cases linger on in the photo. *Sigh*

Let there be carne asada!

There are probably more than 100 ways to make carne asada, to marinate the meat, and the toppings that can go on top are plentiful. If you'd like to know how I made mine, here is the general recipe. I eyeball my measurements in almost all of my cooking, so not much can be said for accuracy in the recipe, but I'll do my best to provide general estimates:

Take 1 lb. of ranchera steak/skirt steak, and place in bowl. Dice a quarter of an onion finely, add to the meat. Sprinkle garlic salt lightly over each piece of meat, add in the juice of two limes, 2 pinches of cumin, a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, freshly ground black pepper, and if you're feeling a little gringo, a splash or two of A1 sauce- the kind with cracked black pepper flavoring is nice. Mix it all up, let it stand- the longer the better, then grill it all up till done, chop it into pieces, and there you go. Put the meat on some warm corn tortillas, add a dollop or two of Mexican cream, a little pico de gallo or salsa of some sort and you have a delicious, and very affordable little meal. 1 lb. of meat serves 2-3 people.

Open breakfast sammie

I love this breakfast snack! It's simple, flexible, and oh so tasty. I use Trader Joe's Four Cheese sourdough bread, but have also used regular sourdough from anywhere else, and it works well too. Toast the bread lightly, spread on some cream cheese, add a layer of tomato slices, and dust the top with a little salt n pepper, or even better, some lemon pepper, or Goya's adobo seasoning- the ones with the red or yellow tops are tried and true in my book. :) Yummy in my tummy.

The incredible, edible egg.

I'd never run across this before... but I think I had twins! The two yolks that are attached to each other hatched out of the same egg.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Traveling on a budget

These were posters inside one of the Border Control buildings.

The stuffing of the passenger seat had been removed, and this man had been sewed into the seat. An infant car seat had been placed over the man/chair to disguise some of the patchwork that had gone into tucking him away. Here he is, partially disassembled.

Here a woman was hidden away inside the dashboard.

Cruzando fronteras

The annual APHA conference was in San Diego this week. I joined a Border Health tour down to San Ysidro to visit a bi-national clinic there, and was also able to enter quarantine HQ at the border.

Dr. Talavera is standing in the central square of the border clinic, sharing some of its history with us.

They are building a new neonatal center this year, with hopes to complete the project by the end of next year.

From inside border security, we could see the heavy traffic coming through the líneas.

Someone was apprehended while we were visiting...

This the western-most point of the border between the US and Mexico. They say that within the next year, there will probably be a triple layered metal fence to replace what currently shares the likeness of a shabby beach hostel property line drawn in the sand. Although not depicted in this shot, there is constant military surveillance by land, air and sea. American territorialism at its finest.

I really wished I'd had my other camera with me that day. Perhaps one day I will return, but surely things will have changed by then.


A short visit to San Diego brought a romantic little smile to my face for having chosen nursing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

i miss japan...

A day in the life of a piece of sushi on a kaiten...

Friday, June 27, 2008


It's been a wild ride, Bill. :) Otsukaresama~

Saturday, June 14, 2008

the Getty

3 years living in southern California, and i finally made it out to see the Getty Center in LA last weekend. it's beautiful! a bird's eye view of LA in every direction from the top of one of the loveliest constructions in the city. i was inspired.

Friday, June 13, 2008


in case you were starting to worry about my blog content going down the gutter, i made sure to photograph my latest favorite dish for the lazy. i love pizza, it's so fast and easy to make, but making dough and waiting for it to rise doesn't work out so well when i get a sudden craving for it. sure, i could prepare dough way in advance and freeze it or save it in the fridge, but then that may very well have balked the advent of... dah dah dahdahhh!! pizzilla! otherwise known as tortilla pizza! mmm. tortilla and pizza goodness all rolled into one. flawless.

and just so you know, i just made up the name right now, so you may not want to go around asking your friends if they've tried pizzilla just yet. but maybe one day, my friends, maybe one day! (i just googled it, and all this other fonkay stuff comes up. word.)

what you do is take 2 flour tortillas (2 for thickness), spread on a little tomato sauce, sprinkle on some onion and garlic powder if you like that stuff (i love it!), then throw on whatever goodies you like! in this one, i sliced some tomatoes, crimini mushrooms, arugula, and 3 kinds of cheese: gruyere, sharp cheddar, and asiago. top that off with a light sprinkling of oregano, and voila! c'est pizzilla! just kidding. you have to bake it first.

luckily, this little gem of the lazy can be cooked in a toaster oven! set it to 350, pop it in until the cheese melts and the tomatoes look cooked- the edges where the skin is will be wrinkly like the lips of an aged smoker. delectable thoughts, que no? and then switch it to broil for a few minutes to give the top layer of cheese a nice kind of crispness to it, and maybe a little beautiful brown color. be careful putting it in and taking it out since even once it's done, the tortilla won't be stiff like a regular pizza pie.

so here is my pizzilla. it was totally tasty!! give it a whirl!

HB Belly 'n' Bazoombas

I went to a belly dancing show last week in Huntington Beach at the Pelican Isle. It was a pretty interesting show, with a menu that listed anything you could possibly imagine ordering at any given restaurant at any given time. I suspect from the food I had ordered, that the chef had once worked on a ship. I'll leave the ambiguity of that statement up to your imagination. :) Given that I once dated my very own Bulgarian babe who had abs that could roll like ocean waves, and had met several women throughout the 7 seas who know their way around a hip scarf or two, I can't say the show was the most authentic of performances I'd seen, but it was great to see the tradition so passionately reinvented in the western world. I wonder only now, if I've ever seen a belly dancer without ginormous bazoombas.

Or a man who didn't totally dig them.

Monday, May 26, 2008

if you don't build it, they will still come

and in turn, it appears that if i don't take photos for long enough, they too will still eventually come to me.

lately i've been hearing from various people that gmail has been experiencing a few glitches in the way of e-mail addresses overlapping, and messages intended for one person instead reaching another with a similar address- for example, vs. so this happened to me today, and i have become the recipient of a plethora of flirty photos from what looks to have been an interesting girls' night out. here are a couple of photos of my e-mail twin.

Friday, May 9, 2008


i seem to have temporarily abandoned my intended combination of arts. it isn't that i haven't been cooking... it's more like the food turns out so well that i eat it before i remember to pull out the camera. delicious new couscous recipe, ropa vieja, sopa azteca, yucca con arroz y frijoles... the list goes on and on. but i felt it was a loss to not write at all simply because there was no visual media to go along with it. in addition, i was getting tired of seeing the cornbread nipplets, delicious though they were.

today was my first day at the new job. i've been excited and anxious about all the newness going on recently, but by the end of the day, something clicked, and things felt right and good. so although the weather today was gloomy and chilly, i felt happy and tickled by the time i got home and so tonight i post my happy pigeon man photo, quite possibly the gentlest soul in Marina del Rey.

Friday, March 7, 2008

muffin bits

Behold, the misguided results of my first attempt at making cornbread from scratch. Perhaps a little too much baking powder and too little space in the mini muffin tins caused the innocent batter to roam down toward the red light district. I present to you my unintentionally formed, cornbread nipples.



fully titillated:

Taste-wise they were pretty good. a bit dry, but I think this might have been because they were in such small muffin tins. A larger baking dish might have produced a more manly chested, moister bread.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


will you be my snowheart?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flat + Bread ≠ Naan.

I've been playing around with baking flat breads since my renewed cravings for Indian food led me to explore the wonderful world of 'naan'. I have the bread part down, and I have the flat part down. How they make it so soft and pliable though... this is still a mystery to me despite dear Manjula's teachings.

She makes it look so simple... and really, making simple bread isn't hard at all, but it just doesn't quite make it to the naan stage. ::crinkles nose:: I even have a stone tile in my oven so that the heat bakes the dough evenly. Instead of naan though, it just bakes itself into... regular bread, no matter how I mold it. (nyuk nyuk!) It still turns out delicious, and goes great with spaghetti sauce, Nutella, plain, or with any other spread, but the result was unintended, and thus a 'naan' factor.

So before fully losing myself in ridiculous bread puns, I took a little break from the naan attempts, and decided to experiment a bit with some cheesy types of bread. My favorite so far is this lovely little bun, stuffed and topped with Gruyère. About 10 minutes in the oven, and it's a cheesylicious masterpiece.

Incidentally, it's hard to find a dish that will hold a bun just right for display... a basket might have been more suitable, and the white background to deal with the flash... well, I used a white plastic cutting board instead of something a little more reflective. I might have to step it up a little perhaps. I'm also having difficulties photographing my food before eating it. Admittedly, I ate about three of these before I decided to photograph this lovely nugget. Melted cheese just makes everything so groovy... ::swoon::

Monday, January 14, 2008

Warner Springs Ranch

I've been somewhat out of commission lately, but hopefully my body is on the mend and my culinary enthusiasm will be back to what it was prior to my subjection to the American health care system, a.k.a. hell. In the meantime, I spent the weekend here:

It's a little known hot springs location somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a few miles off the 76 and just off the 79 in southern California. While it's close to the edge of some gorgeous desert canyons, it's also close enough to some fertile mountains where fruity deliciousness abounds! Fruit or veggie, the argument doesn't linger for very long, as everything out here is turned into jam.

Waters that bubble up boiling from the earth form these stinky yet beautifully colored little springs, which are then channeled into a pampered human containment field. It's a strange sensation dipping into an entire swimming pool full of steaming water in the middle of a balmy California winter after having sat in what much resembles the upper photographs while having snow fall down around my shoulders.

Eventually we took a little drive out to the desert to see what all the bikers were revving their engines at...

And found Fort's Point...

Which overlooks...

Ever inspired by natural beauty, my mother displays a rarely seen expression of unbridled enthusiasm, as well as an uncanny likeness to the ever so dear, Kim Jong Il.