Walking to the Ice Cream Stand (for free!)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm so excited! I got a free ice cream maker for walking around!! Let me explain...

My work's health insurance has a "wellness plan" deal with Virgin HealthMiles. You get a free pedometer and earn "health miles" based on the number of steps you take! And then you can get free stuff with the miles. Guess how much I earned in one year? Go ahead. Guess.


How absolutely cool is that?

Virgin Healthmiles pedometer
You upload the data with a USB cord (so you can't cheat!). Walk 7,000 steps and get 60 miles. Get in 12,000 steps and get 80 miles. This is actually my second one...the first one got accidentally flushed at Disneyland...Sorry, Mickey. So I always use the 1980's beeper style safety clip now.

I cashed in my health miles for Amazon gift cards and bought the $48 Cuisinart ice cream maker. My next post will be my first creation!! If you have ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt favorite recipe, please send them my way!!

Oh yeah. One last thing. Yes, I'm completely ignoring the fact that I'm using money earned in exercise on an Ice Cream Maker. But who wants to buy hand weights or an exercise video with this FREE MONEY? I'll just have to set my goal much higher on the ice cream making days!

By the way, if you work in HR or can make suggestions to them, this program really works! I've had pedometers before, but never the incentives for CASH MONEY. I quickly realized how little exercise I get on the weekend (when I seem to be in my car a lot) and how easy it is to get at least 7,000 steps by taking three short walks during my breaks (10 am, lunch and 3 pm) and running around the library. Here is an article about companies saving health care costs by investing in wellness programs from TIME Magazine.

It's going to be a cool and tasty summer!
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Lemon Blueberry Bundt with White Chocolate

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Food Librarian - Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
Lemon Blueberry Bundt
from the Nestle's website

Still working on those Costco blueberries (I think they are actually breeding and multiplying in the clam-shell box...)

Today's blueberry item: Lemon Blueberry Bundt. Yes, shocker of all shockers...Mary selected a Bundt cake!

Food Librarian - Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake Food Librarian - Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
This recipe is pretty much a buttermilk pound cake with some added melted white chocolate (didn't really taste this in the end product). Add half the batter then the blueberries. The blueberries are supposed to end up in the middle. But since I must have the heaviest blueberries on the planet (see my upside down blueberry cake from earlier this week) and I forgot to dust them in cornstarch or flour (although the recipe didn't call for this), they kinda sunk and didn't end up looking anything like the photo on Nestle's website.

Food Librarian - Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
The topping/glaze is 1 cup of melted white chocolate morsels with optional lemon extract.

Food Librarian - Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
Yeah, those blueberries were no where in the middle. But I just say the cake has its own mind and character.

Food Librarian - Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
Was it my favorite bundt? No, not really. I would rather have Everyday Food's Berry-Lemon Bundt with the lemon glaze, rather than this white chocolate glaze. But I know there are a bunch of white chocolate lovers out there so you might want to give this one a try!

Recipe: Nestle's Lemon Blueberry Bundt

P.S. Happy Birthday Karen!!!
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(Upside down) Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Food Librarian - Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Upside down)
(Upside Down by Accident) Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

Who doesn't love the Smitten Kitchen? She's amazing and always come up with the most delicious dishes.

When I saw her Raspberry Buttermilk Cake, I knew I had to make it. I love breakfast and tea cakes. I just don't like frosting...I've been peeling it off since I was a little kid!

Also, I bought the mammoth box of California blueberries from Costco and have to come up with 10 ways to use them. :)

Food Librarian - Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Upside down)
The batter came together quickly. Very easy and "lower" in fat...only 1/2 stick of butter! I sprinkled 1 cup of blueberries on top and popped it into the oven...

Food Librarian - Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Upside down)
When I opened the oven, the fruit was gone. I thought there were in the middle...but no, they were on the bottom.

Food Librarian - Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Upside down)
I probably used too many blueberries and next time I can dust them in flour or wait a few minutes before popping them in the batter. Smitten Kitchen's and Gourmet's fruit fell, but not all the way to bottom like mine.

So, like the saying, "when life gives you a cake with blueberries on the bottom, turn the damn thing over," I served it as an upside down cake, and dusted it with some powdered sugar.

Food Librarian - Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Upside down)
The bottom had a nice crunch because the sugar topping was on the bottom! :)

Recipe: From Smitten Kitchen who got it from Gourmet. Use either one.
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Royal/T Cafe, Culver City

Friday, May 22, 2009

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
Royal/T is a cafe, shop and gallery in Culver City, CA.

I had the day off today and spent some time in Culver City. First, lunch at Royal/T Cafe and then a trip to Surfas Restaurant Supply (please, as if I could go to Culver City without stopping at Surfas...I now have enough paper products to make over 1,000 cupcakes)

Above, Royal/T Milk Tea - black tea with a peachy flavor, brewed with soy milk. I got it iced but it is also available hot. The Matcha Tea - very, very matcha...a little too strong for me.

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
It is inspired by the Maid Cafes of Tokyo's Akihabara district. All the waitress are dressed as French maids.

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
Ponzu Salmon rice bowl with seared edamame
The lunch rice set ($14) includes one salad, sandwich or rice bowl; one side order and one tea, coffee or beverage.

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
Baked Egg with fresh shiitake mushrooms and bacon
My friend got this as part of the breakfast set ($10) along with a chocolate crossiant.

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
Japanese potato salad
This was my favorite part of the meal; Japanese potato salad is total comfort food! It uses Japanese mayo and includes carrots and cucumbers. Yummy!

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
From the gallery

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
They have a large space (10,000 square feet) that includes the gallery space, store, cafe, VIP room. It is a very nice space with open ceilings.

Royal/T Cafe, Culver City, California
Royal/T Cafe
8910 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
T 310 559 6300
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Cherry Mochi Cakes - Cute and Gluten-free

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake
fresh california cherry mochi mini-cupcakes

Remember the Blueberry Mochi Cake I made recently? It has been well received by my co-workers, friends and family...and it is such a thrill when I get comments from people who made it for their family (and they liked it!)

Now that it is Summer Fruit time (whoo hoo!), my thoughts are all about the cherry. Two years ago, my friend Charlotte forwarded me the Martha Stewart Tiny Cherry and Almond Tea Cakes recipe. It is just so pretty!

But I tend to shy away from nut recipes (because a co-worker can't have nuts or seeds), so I thought...what if I make it with mochi cake!? The result, if I do say so myself, is YUM!

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake
Cherry Pitting with a chopstick! I tried my best to keep the stem attached.

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake

Since I wasn’t sure how this would all work out (read: it could be another baking disaster of mine), I didn’t want to risk wasting my very first batch of beautiful California sweet cherries! So, I made 16 mini cupcakes with fresh cherries, and poured the rest of the batter into a 9 x 13 pan and added frozen Trader Joe’s Sweet Cherries (about ¾ of the bag)

Make this easy-to-make, gluten-free recipe! Since it is made with mochiko flour (sweet rice flour), the texture is slightly chewy!

Cherry or Blueberry Mochi Cake
Adapted from JustJenn who adapted it from Hawaii's Best Mochi Recipes by Jean Watanabe Hee

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake
Mix together: 2 sticks melted butter and 2 cups sugar. Mix in 1 can evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk).

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake
Whisk in 4 eggs. Add 1 box of Mochiko (Sweet rice flour. You can get Koda Farms Mochiko at an Asian grocery store, Surfas in Los Angeles, or health food stores because it is gluten-free. I buy it at Japanese grocery stores for $1.28 - $1.50 a box). Add 2 tsp. baking powder and 2 tsp. vanilla and mix until smooth. Done! How easy is that?!?

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake
You can add frozen blueberries to the mix or layer them into the batter. Or, as I did for this one, add fresh and/or frozen cherries. I covered some and just popped the cherry in other...both ended up the same; I would do the easy method!

I made 16 mini cupcakes and baked them for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees…until they were a bit golden on top. The remaining batter went into a 9 x 13 pyrex glass pan for 60 minutes (check at 50 minutes).

For the mini cupcakes, I sprayed the tray with Baker’s Joy. However, if you were going for totally gluten-free, please just brush with melted butter.

Food Librarian - Cherry Mochi Cake
Cherry Mochi Cake - Give it a try!
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Fresh Mango Bread - Tuesdays with Dorie

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Food Librarian - Fresh Mango Bread
Fresh Mango Bread. Deliciousness in a carb.

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Kelly of Baking with the Boys selected Fresh Mango Bread on page 45 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

I love mangos! Plain mangos. Mangos with chili pepper. Mango lassi. Oh yes, I heart mango!

Food Librarian - Fresh Mango Bread
I cut the bread into little pieces to make it easier for my co-workers to grab a bite. The pottery is my platter from Gary Holt Pottery in Berkeley, California (see this for more info).

This recipe took 2 1/2 small mangos to get the right amount of diced mango. The bread was very very easy to mix and put together. I skipped the raisins and went all mango, all the time.

Food Librarian - Fresh Mango Bread
While baking, I thought the bread would overflow out of the pan! It really doomed up...but then fell while cooling. That happens a lot with my breads...they are such a tease in the oven.

Food Librarian - Fresh Mango Bread
The bread had a nice blend of spices, and the fresh mango was delicious. Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers! You can find the recipe on Kelly's website Baking with the Boys or buy Dorie's great book!
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The end of SFAD! Summer Fruits are here!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Food Librarian - Summer Fruits!

I know, I know.
I live in Los Angeles.
I have absolutely no right to complain about anything weather or season related.

However, I also don't know when seasons happen. I just got back from DC and everything was green and flowers were blooming after a season of "brown, brown, brown" (says my ex-pat Los Angeles friend). We don't get huge notices like that here.

My sign of summer? One word. STONE FRUIT! (okay, two words).

My heart skipped a beat when I went to the Farmer's Market and found apricots, white peaches, cherries and even more perfect California strawberries! Whoo hoo!

If I lived anyplace else, I know that I would suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Here in Southern Cal, I do get something similar: Summer Fruit Affective Disorder or SFAD :) I live for my stone fruit season!!

Food Librarian - Summer Fruits!
California strawberries, apricots, white peaches, cherries! And some baby bok choy and Chinese broccoli in the back! Serious yum!

I don't know what I'm going to bake with these...they might just get washed and eaten! But I wanted to share the end of my SFAD! And I hope these fruits come to your area or backyard soon! :)
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National Chocolate Chip Day - May 15!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Food Librarian - National Chocolate Chip Day, May 15th
Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!

I usually only hear about food related days after the fact...but today, I saw that it was National Chocolate Chip day and hit it!

These are Dorie Greenspan's Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
(found on page 73 of Dorie's fantastic book, Baking: From My Home to Yours)

They are truly one of my favorite cookies ever! And they are one of Lee's favorites so I made them as a parting baked good to Racheal and Lee (with two bags of frozen cookies are now in the freezer).

Food Librarian - National Chocolate Chip Day, May 15th

I'm running out the door to head to Dulles! See you back home in Los Angeles soon!

Proceed with Caution has the recipe posted here when it was her choice for Tuesdays with Dorie.
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Mini-Yogurt Cake with Strawberries

Food Librarian - Mini Yogurt Cake and Strawberries
Mini-Yogurt Cakes with Strawberries and Yoplait Vanilla Yogurt

Today's my last day visiting my friends Racheal and Lee in the DC area. Yesterday, I made a light dessert with some ingredients we had on hand.

Food Librarian - Mini Yogurt Cake and Strawberries
And yes, those are glass coasters! :)

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Yogurt Cake
This is 1/4 of Ina's recipe, and it made 5 regular size cupcakes.

sift together (dry):
1/4 c + 2 T flour, 1/2 t baking powder, dash of salt

whisk together (wet):
1/4 c yogurt (I used French vanilla Yoplait yogurt), 1/4 c sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 t zest (I used orange because that is what we had on hand), 1/8 t vanilla

oil: 2 T oil (I used vegetable oil, but have also used olive oil)

1. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until smooth.
2. Fold in oil until combined.
3. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
4. This only makes 5 cupcakes...if you want the full recipe for a loaf or cake pan, click here.

Ina's recipe has a lovely lemon syrup, but I didn't have any lemons. I split the cupcake and spread some strawberry jam in the center with diced strawberries. I filled and topped one of them with the remaining Yoplait vanilla yogurt.

Food Librarian - Mini Yogurt Cake and Strawberries
The lemon sauce would have been great on this, but luckily the fresh California strawberries were nice and tasty.

Racheal's breakfast baby shower
Since Racheal's big blowout California baby shower was postponed because she is now on modified bed rest for early contractions, I made a small breakfast shower to present her with gifts from friend and former neighbor, Diane and me. Yes, that's the Cinnamon Chocolate Bundt cake I love so much! :)

And if you think Racheal and I just sat around vegging out and eating for a week, you are wrong. We had a book discussion group too! Well, sorta. We watched both BBC's "Colin Firth in his glory" Pride and Prejudice as well as Bridget Jones's Diary. Then we had a lively discussion comparing the two movies that are based on Jane Austen's classic. Deep, in-depth discussions of Mr. Darcy's gaze at Elizabeth while she played the pianoforte, and when Mark Darcy looks at Bridget during her blue soup dinner! And, we discussed the latest issue of People...since we both read it cover-to-cover. Such an academic vacation, no?

Racheal's breakfast baby shower
If the mom is this cute in these hooded towels, the baby boy is going to be adorable. Before the trip, I took my mom with me to Babies R Us and she was amazed there was a whole wall dedicated to pacifiers...times have changed from cloth diapers!

Racheal's breakfast baby shower
Thanks Racheal and Lee for letting me stay at your new house! I enjoyed hanging out with you and your three other sons, cats Jake, Elwood and Samson! Can't wait to see you when you visit Los Angeles with your newest Baby Boy in October! Love, Auntie Mary
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Newseum, Washington DC

Newseum, Washington DC
Newseum in Washington DC has a lovely terrace and great views

I'm a total news junkie.

I tell time by NPR's hourly updates. I volunteer at KCRW's pledge drive. I know I'm supposed to be on the road if I hear the Today Show theme song starting to play. I check BBC, NYT, CNN, and others all day. I read the LA Times over breakfast, and Newsweek during dinner. I want Carl Kasell to record my voicemail.

So, of course, I headed to the Newseum in Washington DC! And, oh my gosh, I LOVED IT. This is a fantastic museum! You should go!!!

It is fully interactive and makes good use of all the multi-media available today. I cried in the Pultizer Prize Photographs Gallery...they have interviews of photographers on a loop, and stories about them next to their powerful and iconic images.

Newseum, Washington DC
This exhibit has both professional and amateur photographers. It is amazing! More info: FOTOBAMA and FotoWeek DC 2009.

Newseum, Washington DC
The late Tim Russert's famous whiteboard.

Newseum, Washington DC
This is part of the Journalist Memorial. A touching tribute to those who lost their lives bringing us the news. Daniel Pearl's passport and laptop are included in the exhibit.

Newseum, Washington DC
Well said.

And here is something I picked up in the gift shop:
NewsJunkie - from Newseum
If you are planning at trip to DC, make sure the Newseum is on your list!

555 Pennsylvania Avenue (at Sixth Street NW)
Washington DC
888/NEWSEUM (888/639-7386)
$20 for adults
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