A-Frame Restaurant, Culver City & Happy New Year!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Cidney the Dog on New Year's Eve
Happy New Year!

On New Year's Eve Eve (get that? Dec 30th), my friend and near-relative JustJenn and I headed over to A-Frame Restaurant in Culver City/West Los Angeles. It's a new restaurant by Roy Choi...of Kogi trucks.

A-Frame is in an A-Frame building (former IHOP restaurant space on Washington Blvd.) The space is really inviting; the seating is "modern picnic" style with bench seating. Since it was just two of us, we sat family style with a group of 6 or 7 to our right and an international duo on our right (when we arrived, there was a couple speaking Chinese next to us, then two guys who spoke Russian took their place! Ahhh, Los Angeles. You rock the diversity).

It was freezing in Los Angeles (I'm sure the girls in the Wisconsin sweatshirts here for the Rose Bowl thought we were wimps), so they didn't have patio seating that night. The wait was pretty long, but the hostess was the nicest person in the world. We got hugs! Super nice!

Luckily, Jenn and I had time to catch up on things while waiting for our table, because we pretty much ate in silence. The only words exchanged were "Oh My God", "Soooo good" and "My nose is running because of the heat [from the wings], but it's a good pain."

A-Frame, Culver City, California - Collage 1
Wings ($9): Korean-style, blue cheese dressing, heirloom pickles. Jenn and I are Japanese American so we are biologically wimpy when it comes to spice. But we ate these up! The pickles were so interesting...an Asian pear was in the mix. Yum. I don't like blue cheese so I didn't try much of the dressing.

Kitchen Fries ($6): purple Okinawan sweet potato, yam, Korean sweet potato, with kimchi sour cream and sea salt. These were soooo delicious. Too bad I had to share them.

Cracklin Beer Can Chicken (Half $10, Whole $18): Peruvian-style, with century egg, salsa roja, salsa verde. OMG. The chicken was so moist, and the skin? Although the Surgeon General probably hates me for doing so, I devoured every piece of that flavorful chicken skin.

A-Frame Restaurant, Culver City, CA
Chu Don’t Know Mang ($6): Pound cake churros, cinnamon, malted chocolate milk, ice cream. Holy smokes. Pound Cake Churros...perfectly fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Please. Give me more.

And yes. Don't judge. Three of four of our dishes were fried. Diet starts later.

Sorry the photos suck. The food doesn't. If you are in Los Angeles, you should go!

Happy New Year everyone! 2011 is gonna rock!
- mary the food librarian

A-Frame website with menu. 12565 Washington Blvd 90066, Only open for dinner (as of Dec 2010)
LA Times (and pretty photos of the interior), Oct 29, 2010, A-Frame restaurant Culver City: A sneak peek
LA Weekly, Nov 9, 2010, Roy Choi's A-frame Opens in Culver City
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Mochi Making (Mochitsuki) 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mochi Making 2010

On Sunday, December 26th, family and friends came over to continue our 50+ year tradition of making mochi or mochitsuki. I was talking to my dad and he said one of our mochi machines is over 50 years old. He was trying to figure out the timeline based on his service in the Air Force during the Korean War. Yeah...let's just say my family has been doing this forever.

Mochi 2010 Collage 2
Mochi making starts with washing the rice. My mom washed 150 pounds of the special sweet mochigome rice from Koda Farms (that is 15 bags of rice!!!). It soaks overnight, then small batches are placed in steamers. Yes, we've taken the gas line from the dryer in the garage to make these outdoor steamers.

Mochi Making 2010
The hot rice is placed in the mochi machine. It's ground up and comes out piping hot!

Mochi 2010 Collage 3
Each mochi is cut off the machine and handed to the catcher who forms it into a ball and places it onto a full sheet tray (photo on right). Friends and first time mochi makers Alison and Nicole! They were awesome!

Mochi Making 2010
After sitting on a cooling rack for a bit, the mochi get transferred to tables covered in mochiko flour. Then they go off and get packed up. This goes on for HOURS. Serious...we start about 9 am and end around 2 pm.

Mochi 2010 collage 4
The mochi packaging "store". We make packages for family and friends. After mochi making, the Mochi Express delivery process begins. We deliver most of it by car, but also vacuum seal some and ship it off to relatives in Vermont!

Mochi 2010 - Collage 5
Food. Food. Food. We had the typical Japanese American potluck...some sushi, rice dishes and lots of Mexican. :) See the Mochi Factory Gingerbread house? JustJenn made it and you can read the post here. I made a few food items and will be posting them soon!

Mochi Making 2010
The Japanese have been making mochi since them ancient Japan years. I'm sure the Samurai Warriors had a bouncy house too, no? Since we have lots of kids coming, the bouncy house is awesome.

Mochi Making 2010
Oh yeah, not just kids end up in the bouncy house! :)

Mochi 2010 - Cidney Collage
Finally, this was Cidney the Dog's first mochitsuki too! She was so excited to meet everyone and was very good. However, when everyone left, she whined for a few seconds, "Where did the party people go?!"...and then crashed out. Mochi making is exhausting!

Mochi Making 2010
A friend of the family came for the first time and said, "My best friend is Japanese American, my husband works for a Japanese company...and I've never heard of anyone doing this." Yeah, that's pretty much true! Some families may make very small batches, but most Japanese and Japanese Americans will buy mochi from the store. Our family is kinda crazy making 150 pounds of mochi. Ha ha. However, it's sometimes the only time I see my cousins and their kids all year...so I'm glad we have this tradition!

Mochi 2010 collage 1
Happy New Year everyone! I'm looking forward to heading over to JustJenn's New Year celebration where she makes all the traditional Japanese New Year's food and puts a toasted mochi in a bowl of special soup called ozoni...bringing you luck and good health in the new year.

Links: JustJenn's recap of my family's mochi making
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The Mochi Factory...in Gingerbread by JustJenn

Monday, December 27, 2010

JustJenn's "Mochi Factory" Gingerbread house
The Mochi Factory Gingerbread House

I hope you and your loved ones had a lovely Christmas! My December consists of:
Dec 7th - My Birthday. Yes, you may have heard about that! :)
Dec 25th - Christmas
Dec 26th - Mochi Making with the family
Dec 31st - New Year's Eve

Every year, my family makes tons and tons of fresh mochi (pounded rice cake) for a Japanese American New Years celebration. I'll post about this year's mochi making next...but on Christmas, my friend JustJenn dropped off the most awesome gingerbread masterpiece! Check it out!

JustJenn's "Mochi Factory" Gingerbread house
Since she was a little girl, Jenn would make elaborate gingerbread houses with her mom (a librarian). And you wonder how Jenn grew up to become an architect, huh?! Now Jenn makes them with her boys!

See the Mochi conveyor belt in the window! Too cool. The mochi pieces are represented by cut marshmallows.

JustJenn's "Mochi Factory" Gingerbread house
You can see thru the window and the conveyor belt goes up the side of the house! Jenn draws out ARCHITECTURAL plans for her gingerbread homes. Yes, gotta use that degree for good and yum.

Mochi Factory Collage 1
The mochi conveyor belt climbs up the side of the house. The lamp post is a lollipop! The top of the house is covered with chocolate licorice. Awesome!

Mochi Factory 2
Did you see this detail? The fish pond is sprinkling sugar and the goldfish is, naturally, a cheese goldfish. Everything is edible! Jenn uses royal icing as her glue.The walkway is a fruit leather and the railings are pretzels.

My whole family was in awe during mochi making! And the kids were good that they didn't pick off all the pieces. Thank you sooo much Jenn for including our family tradition in your gingerbread tradition!!!

** Updated to add JustJenn's post about her Mochi Factory...you have got to click here and see it. It includes the behind the scenes architectural drawings, paper mock up and hints for making your own masterpiece! **
Next post, Mochi making!
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Happy Holidays from The Food Librarian

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Other Mary's Frozen Bundt Wreath
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

See this frozen nature wreath made in a BUNDT pan? How perfect is that? But you're wondering...don't you live in Los Angeles? Well, yes, but I have a wonderful blogger friend, Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet who made this lovely outdoor wreath with her adorable kids in Connecticut.

The pre-K teacher at Mary's son's school created this project. I laughed when the instructions said to either freeze it in your freezer, or Leave. It. Outside! I'm a native Los Angeles girl, so the thought of something freezing while sitting outside is completely foreign to me. Here are instructions to make this Bundterrific Holiday decoration. (Yes, we'll have a whole craft section on next year's I Like Big Bundts...hee hee)

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends!! Tomorrow, my extended family and friends will come over for our annual Mochi making day. I learned from my father that my clan has been making mochi for over 50 years!! I'll post up the mochi making later this week. Here is 2009 (JustJenn's post), 2008 and 2007 post about mochi making! Merry Christmas!!! - mary the food librarian
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Agar Agar or Kanten Fruit Jellies (aka Vegan Jello)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
Fruit Jellies made with Agar Agar or Kanten

Whew. Tomorrow a new oven gets installed. My cousin bought a double oven. Sweet. I'll be a baking machine in the mornings. But, until then, I'm continuing on my no-bake desserts! Today, more freaking Jello...but this time it is made with agar agar or kanten!

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
Today, I'm going to my roots for Agar Agar or as it is called in Japanese, Kanten. Oh, Google the term and you'll get lots of info. It's made from seaweed (The Tokyo Foundation has a photo essay). The last time you saw it was probably at the bottom of a petri dish in 8th grade science. You may have seen it in a Japanese restaurant as Anmitsu, a fruit cocktail, red bean and kanten cube dessert.

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
Agar agar has lots of advantages over gelatin or Jello. First, it doesn't smell like gelatin. When you bloom unflavored Knox gelatin, you know there's gelatin in the room. Second, Agar Agar can withstand warm conditions. Most Asian countries use agar agar and it gets damn hot in the summer. It sets up super fast, even without refrigeration (although I recommend refrigerating your dessert). Since it is made from seaweed, it is vegan and kosher. It's also a "diet" food in Japan. They were on a big kanten craze because it has no calories and lots of fiber...making you feel full. Of course, I add sugar to mine, so don't hop on my diet train.

However, the texture is different! Agar Agar is definitely firmer than Jello - it doesn't giggle or melt on your tongue. Not everyone will like it, but that is their loss. :)

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
There are a bunch of different products out there. Kanten sticks (found in a Japanese grocery store), agar agar powder and flakes. You need to soak the sticks before use, and I read online that different brands/types might set up different...so I'm making no guarantees on this recipe.

Since I bought my Kanten powder at the Japanese store, the instructions were in Japanese. I photographed the instructions and sent them to my friend, Yuko in Japan to translate! Thanks so much Yuko!! Each envelope has 4 g of powder. I've seen large bags of Agar Agar in the Chinese market too. Everyone says it is crazy expensive in the health food store or vegan section...so you may want to wander into an Asian market if you have one nearby.

By the way, you need to check out Vivienne from Green Cilantro's absolutely beautiful fresh fruit mold - stunning! She's a creative genius! I'm definitely going to try this!

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
For these treats, here is what I did:
1. Place 2 cups (about 500 cc) of water in a pot.
2. Sprinkle one 4 g envelope of powdered agar agar into the pot.
3. Add 1 cup of sugar (I wasn't adding any fruit juice (a popular option) because I wanted the jelly to be clear...but it was a little too sweet. Sorta like eating firmed up simple syrup. Next time, I'd cut the sugar)
4. Bring to a boil and stir to make sure the agar agar dissolves. Boil for 1-2 minutes.
5. Pour into molds. Remember, agar agar makes things firm up super quick so you need to have everything ready! I used my mini tartlet molds and one ramekin, with fresh raspberries and canned mandarin oranges (my favorite comfort food). I don't use the tartlet shells very often, so it was fun to pull them out!
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Chocolate Rice Krispies or Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats - Everyday Food

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats - Everyday Food
Chocolate Rice Krispies with Bittersweet Chocolate Drizzle

Happy Tuesday! I'm in complete denial that Christmas is coming soon. Complete denial. I turned on the TV and saw "It's a Wonderful Life" playing...and wondered why they were showing that! I think Los Angeles' recent heat wave (it was 80+ degrees) didn't help any. But today it will be freezing ;) with temperatures below 70 degrees! Bundle up Los Angeles! So, the little Santa hat on these treats is the start of my holiday spirit.

The official name is Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats thereby avoiding all mention of name brands. But everyone knows it's Chocolate Rice Krispies made with Valrhona Dutch Cocoa and Trader Joe's Bittersweet Chocolate.

My oven is still out of commission. Ugh. Sorry for the lack of Tuesdays with Dorie today, but here is another no-bake treat. (Dude, remember yesterday's Christmas Jello? It was mentioned on the LA Times Food section blog, The Daily Dish! So cool!!)

Add cocoa powder to your usual Rice Krispies treat and top with a bit bittersweet chocolate. What can be easier? In the holiday season, you can even toss a few Christmas sprinkles on top!

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats - Everyday Food
I put them in individual cupcake holders (I buy them in 500 count packages at the restaurant supply store) to make them easier to grab at the library.

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats - Everyday Food
Have a great day! - mary the food librarian

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats - Everyday Food 

  • I used a restaurant 1/4 sheet pan
  • Be sure to let the chocolate drizzle set before trying to wrap it in plastic...just sayin'
  • I cut mine smaller and got 48 little squares
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Christmas Broken Glass Jello

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Broken Glass Christmas Jello - Food Librarian
Christmas Broken Glass Jello

I have a thing for Jello. I've loved it since I was a kid. It was early "cooking" - hey, you learn how to measure water and stir! And patience as you waited for the Jello to set. So, I wanted to make a Christmas-themed Jello dish.

And...the oven died or is very sick. It's getting a check up now, so I'm making no-bake items. 

Broken Glass Christmas Jello - Food Librarian
I received this beautiful dish for my birthday from my friend Jessica. And her boyfriend Andy did a great job wrapping the gift! (Andy, your bow was awesome! ;)

For the regular Broken Glass Jello, you use 4 different flavors (3 ounce boxes). For the Christmas one, I used a 6 ounce box of Raspberry and Lime. Here is the full recipe for Broken Glass Jello.

Broken Glass Christmas Jello - Food Librarian
Carefully mix the blocks of Jello in a 9 x 13 pan. I have started to line my pans with a big piece of plastic wrap. This makes it so much easier! I'm able to lift out the fully set Jello onto a cutting board and cut it up. The edges have some "wrinkles" from the plastic wrap, but you can chop that off if you wish.

Let the sweetened condensed milk mixture cool a bit (or you might melt the cubed jello pieces), then pour over the cubes. I like to skim off the bubbles for a cleaner finish, but you don't have to do that.

Broken Glass Christmas Jello - Food Librarian
My co-workers really like Jello too. One person walked into the break room, and shouted "Jello!!" This is a festive, no-bake, super easy recipe that spreads lots of Christmas joy! Recipe here.

Here are some of my other Jello creations. Yeah, I like Jello! :)

Row 1: Valentine's Broken Glass Jello, Candy Corn Jello Bundt, Coffee Jello
Row 2: 5-Layer Jello, Cantaloupe Jello Bundt, Ice Cream Jello
Row 3: Lakers Jello, Easter Jello, Broken Glass Jello
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Bouchon Bakery Pop-Up Store - Beverly Hills

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Los Angeles - Want a great way to ring in the holidays? Head to Beverly Hills and pick up some Bouchon Bakery goodies...especially the chocolate chip cookies. Get some for yourself and a few for Santa.

Bouchon Beverly Hills Bistro has a Bakery Pop-Up for the month of December. Unlike the other Bouchon restaurants, Bev Hills doesn't have a stand alone bakery at this time.

JustJenn and I headed over to the Bouchon Bakery on Tuesday. She's been to the restaurant and I'm JustJealous.

THREE Chocolate Chip cookies are $6. These are so good I would have paid $6 for one. But three? What a deal and soooo delicious! Jenn picked up the Bouchon Bouchons (bouchons are the chocolate cork, brownie-like yummies) ($9 for the bag) and they were delicious. (We went on my 40th birthday and I brought out my 40th candles to celebrate!)

Tony Kanal of No Doubt at Bouchon Bakery Beverly Hills - Pop Up Store
Our celebrity sighting of the day was Tony Kanal of No Doubt eating at the Bouchon Bar. We didn't bother him, but did take this photo from afar. (Used Picnik to blur out the rest of the people.)

Ahhh. Beverly Hills. I forget how fun it is to wander around the completely manicured spaces. I'll definitely be back before the end of the month!

Bouchon Bakery Pop-Up
Month of December 2010
11:30 am - 7:30 pm
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

* Updated to add the price of the Bouchons (12/11/2010)
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In Memoriam: Peter J. Corpus

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peter J. Corpus (1959-2010)
Colleague, Friend, Advocate and Funny Guy

Today, we will remember a dear soul, Peter J. Corpus.
Peter left us too early and so unexpectedly before Thanksgiving. Peter has worked tirelessly for the good of all people, especially the Asian American, Pilipino with Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), and GLBT communities. These memorials from API Equality-LA, GAPSN, Asian Journal and LA Times say it all.

Peter and I met when we worked together at Project Angel Food in the late 1990's. Project Angel Food is an amazing non-profit that prepares and delivers meals to those with HIV/AIDS and life-threatening illnesses. Along with John, Christopher, Helen, Jami and Racheal, we formed a great group of fundraisers and admin staff. Those times together are remembered so fondly.

I remember Peter's laugh most of all. In fact, when I hear his name, I don't see his face, I hear the hearty, crackling laugh that is Peter J. Corpus. We would sit in the little staff area of Project Angel Food's offices on Sunset Blvd and we go through the joke:
Knock, Knock...
Who's There? 
John Who? 
John the Baptist (accompanied by a sprinkle of water!)
Peter, we will all miss you so much. My deepest sympathies to your family and friends. May you make lots of people in heaven laugh as much as you did down here. - mary

Conservatory of Flowers - San Francisco Golden Gate Park
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40 is Awesome! Thank you so much!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

40th Birthday Eating

Thank you sooooo much for all the birthday messages!!! Oh my goodness! Lots of messages from lurkers and blogger friends alike close and far. I spent half the day eating with friends, and the other half checking my phone calling out all the places "Ohio, Pennsylvania (them lots of blog readers in the fine state of Pennsylvania!!!), Rhode Island, Texas, UK, Canada..." Every message Made. My. Day. Thanks so much!

Here is a little collage of my day...
JustJenn and I went to Forage in Silverlake and had the best sandwich and sides, then we went to Beverly Hills for the Bouchon Bakery Pop-Up store for to-die-for chocolate bouchon and chocolate chip cookies (posts coming soon). I went to Crate & Barrel, purchased a new cake stand for myself, and had them gift wrap it! Heck yay. When you are 40, you do that sorta thing in Beverly Hills.

Then I donated a pint of blood (starting my 40's with some good karma! :) and headed out to Downtown LA for Pitfire Pizza with my friends Helen, Alison, Rosie, Jessica and Andy. It was delicious and lots of fun!

And to my Northern California friends, I'm coming up in January to celebrate my 40 1/12th birthday! :) Hee hee. Well, I'm not kidding. See you soon! :)

Thanks everyone for an awesome 40th birthday! - mary the food librarian

P.S. And yes, of course, I carried around my "4" and "0" candles in my purse all day and whipped them out at every location. Doesn't everyone?! :)
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The Food Librarian's 40th Birthday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Food Librarian!
I'm 40!
Happy Birthday to Me! :)

Whoo hoo! I'm freaking 40! Now that I'm part of the 40-49 demographic bubble, I'm asking you for a favor...

Happy Birthday to the Food Librarian!
You know that person in the office or group of friends that loves birthdays? You know, the one who makes cakes and banners for cubicles? The crazy lady who yells out "Happy Birthday" with a huge smile when the birthday boy or girl walks in? Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, that's me. I love birthdays because it is your little special day.

I love when people stop by and yell out Happy Birthday. I've been known to let it slip that it's my birthday when I'm out...(well, I just flat out tell people at the counter ;). I'm not into birthdays for the parties or gifts (not that I turn them down...hee hee), but I seriously love having people say "Happy Birthday" on my birthday.

So, if you are lurker who's read this blog and never, ever comments, now is your time to come out of the woodwork and send me a birthday greeting! Yes, I'm full-on asking for birthday messages to carry me into my 40's! Also, I would love to hear where you are from too! (I was shocked to have so many international Bundt makers...I would love to get birthday greetings from far and wide! Squeal!)

I hit two bakeries this morning, and going out with friends for lunch and dinner. I'll report back on the fun!
  - mary the 40 year old Food Librarian

P.S. The yummies are a mocha cake roll (of course, no frosting!) and strawberry mochi (filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream) from J&J Bakery.
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Carnival Paradise Cruise - Celebrating Birthdays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Carnival Paradise Cruise - Dec 2010
My former co-worker, Helen, and I went on the 3-Day Carnival Paradise Cruise (Long Beach to Ensenada) to celebrate our birthdays! I'm turning 40 tomorrow, and Helen celebrated her 50th-ish on the trip. It was our first cruise for both of us, and we had a great time. Lots of laughs and fun...and we were sober (unlike 90% of this party boat). I brought along Tuxedo Sam (Sanrio's awesome penguin character who is perfect because he is wearing a sailor's hat!) and he, as you can see in the photos, had a good time too. Hee hee!

During the cruise, I didn't have internet access and felt a bit of Twitter withdrawal. So, here is my post...all in 140 or less character Twitter posts that I would have sent had web access not been so bloody expensive.

  • Eating on a cruise is like dining and dashing...only legally
  • Our safety talk is conducted by a Northerner (England) #helenishomesick
  • There ARE adequate lifeboats aboard. #notthetitanic
  • It's been an hour and we haven't eaten #letsfixthat
  • I need a nap. I need a snack. I need a nap. I need a snack. #cruiseissues
  • Prohibition ended Dec 5, 1933. Cruise lines celebrate this day I'm sure.
  • Cruising is part Frat party, part Summer camp, and part Las Vegas.
Picnik collage
  • We're eating at the bar to watch the Chelsea football game, and guys are already drinking. It's 8 am.
  • Our excursion was the "Behind the Scene" tour. Met captain & crew, saw the recycling center, laundry and galley. #geekyawesomeness
  • Walking the I-95 area on "Behind the Scene" tour was like being in a Discovery Channel show. #socool
  • We figured out how to avoid most of the smoking areas.
Carnival Paradise Cruise 2010 #3
  • We went to the Menorah lighting ceremony. Got a dreidel and had some latkes and challah. #diversityrocks
  • I worked out everyday on the jogging track...and ate everything to wipe out that progress. 
  • Stairs are getting harder to go up. Must be the weight we are gaining.
  • The Friends of Bill W. meeting is held in "America Bar" 8th level. #seriously
  • The Captain and Officers are Italian #hothothot 
If you want to see more photos, here is my Carnival Cruise Flickr set.  - mary the food librarian

P.S. I bought myself a new point-and-shoot camera for my birthday. It is the Sony DSC-H55 and I really like it. Easy to use, pretty good in low light, automatic macro setting (when you get close up), and you can easily set the white balance (All these photos are taken with my new camera, and I mostly used the "automatic" setting).
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