white elephant sale

February 29, 2012
from the oakland white elephant sale

Every year the Oakland Museum hosts a "White Elephant" rummage sale from donations given throughout the preceding year. They collect and organize everything in an enormous warehouse and for one weekend, host their sale.

I was fortunate enough to get presale tickets to the warehouse from my friend Melissa so I didn't have to brave the crowds on the one weekend open to the public. The warehouse is overwhelmingly stocked with amazing finds. I walked in, couldn't believe how big the place was, and completely forgot to take any photos.

But here is my loot from the day-- all for about $35.

1. ruffly high-collar shirt
2. cheese knife
3. cheese cutting board with inlaying knife
4. decanter
5. personal library labels
6. vintage florence postcard
7. gelato ice cream scoop
8. set of napkins
9. thermos
10. dan haren bobble head

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, I highly recommend going!!

PS - Happy Leap Day!

the irresistible pink box

February 28, 2012
the irresistible pink box

Whenever I see a pink box I know good things are coming.

egg custard tarts + milk
sponge cake
pineapple bun
sunday afternoon at melissa's

The box is like wrapping paper holding something precious, made with care. In this case, freshly baked egg custard tarts (still warm!), sponge cake, and pineapple buns from Wonder Food Bakery. I see these as Oakland Chinatown's greatest achievement.


February 27, 2012
cinnamon and powdered

I had just gotten off BART and was on my way to the Oakland White Elephant Sale when I saw an entire cafe dedicated to beignets. I, of course, had to order some. And I, of course, couldn't sit down to enjoy them because I was running late.

I picked up a beignet and as I began walking, a gust of wind blew powdered sugar all over me.

poster child

Surely, I should be their new poster child.

"the morning after" pancakes

February 24, 2012

I don't know why I named them this. It felt right.

I think there's something comforting in knowing you're going to have pancakes when you wake up. The inevitable dust of flour. The lumpy batter. That you're patient enough to wait until all the pancakes are done rather than eating them as they finish.

I like that they stack and keep one another warm.

a heap
blueberry win
best with honey butter

These are Martha's buttermilk pancakes-- except I accidentally added two extra tablespoons of butter and added blueberries.

And, as if they couldn't get any better, I served them with honey butter. No syrup necessary.

honey butter:
When butter is at room temperature, mix three parts butter with one part honey until combined. Do not refrigerate-- store at room temperature in an air-tight container.


blueberries and fluff


February 23, 2012
everyone in the kitchen
tapioca + milk tea

Our dinner party wasn't fancy-- David and Kyle made chili, Amy and Norris made corn bread, Jamie worked on tartine appetizers, and I made my shells. It seemed like a strange combination but everything worked together really well and everything finished cooking around the same time.

Dinner was hearty and warming but my favorite part was seeing six of us squeezed into the kitchen, working to bring the meal together.

The homemade milk tea and tapioca weren't bad, either.

crab, pea, & leek-stuffed shells

February 22, 2012

When my friend, Anna, cooks, she almost only uses Martha Stewart recipes exclusively. At first I thought this was a joke, and then I thought it was cute, and then I realized it's brilliant. Before this weekend I'd never made a recipe from my seasonal Martha cookbook. I'm not exactly sure why I decided to bring it with me for our staycation, but it was the perfect book to bring along.

This recipe was conveniently located in the "February" section of her book, and when David's mom gave me pasta shells for Valentine's Day, I knew destiny (or Martha?) was calling me to use them.

with the bechamel

crab, pea & leek-stuffed shells
adapted from Martha

9 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, halved lengthwise, cut into half-moons, washed well, and drained
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces claw crab meat (I got mine from Trader Joe's)
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lemon
1 pound jumbo pasta shells
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch minced parsley leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cook the leeks in 3 tablespoons of butter, about 5 minutes Add the peas and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the peas are also cooked (2-3 minutes). Once cooked, transfer the vegetables to a large mixing bowl and mix together with the crab meat.

In the same skillet, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter. Once browned, slowly add the flour while whisking the butter and flour together. Once incorporated, slowly pour in the milk-- a little at a time and while whisking to create a thick béchamel sauce. Once the mixture thickens and begins bubbling, remove from heat and add the heavy cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large pot, cook the pasta shells for 5-7 minutes, just before they become al dente. Once you drain them, stir in a drizzle of olive oil so they don't stick together while you assemble.

In a buttered 9x13" baking dish, spread a cup of the béchamel sauce on the bottom. Mix another 1 1/4 cups of the béchamel in the crab and vegetable mixture. Begin stuffing the shells with spoonfuls of the crab mixture. Once the shells are filled and placed in the baking dish, spread the remaining béchamel on top of the shells. Mix the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle the mixture on top of the pasta.

Bake 375°F for 25-30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the pasta is bubbling.

a cheese board pizza picnic

February 21, 2012

One of my favorite things about the Hobbit Castle was that it was right by Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Before planning our big night in, we spent the afternoon out having a pizza picnic on the median divide (i.e. between opposite traffic roads) on Shattuck.

pizza picnic
cute norris
kyle + pizza
cheese board
pizza picnic
thinnest crust

The line for Cheese Board Pizza was something ridiculous, but even more surprising was how quickly it went by. Cheese Board is unique in that they only serve one type of pizza each day so everyone's orders are limited to how many pizzas rather than the ingredients on them.

We couldn't find seats but ended up setting up a little pizza picnic of sorts on the grass outside in the perfect California winter weather. The pizza was thin crust, flavorful yet simple, and reminiscent of the pizzas I ate in Italy. In short, we loved it.

PS - A few weeks ago, I did an interview with Tara which is up on her blog now. She asked a lot of insightful questions and even though some of my answers have changed, it's nice to see how I've grown in just a few weeks. She says a lot of kind words (I'd blush if I could) and made me proud to be part of such a loving online community. #2 and #3 in the "7 things" about me section are my favorite.

the hobbit castle weekend

February 20, 2012
window sill
blue tiling
the hobbit castle

This weekend my friends and I rented this gorgeous Hobbit Castle in Berkeley to host a little dinner-and-games-party-staycation.

Needless to say, there will be a lot of beautiful (food centric) things on the blog this week.

office space (part two)

February 15, 2012
hydrangeas from jessi
handle with care

Hydrangeas from Jessi, my sweet boss.
A momento from Handle With Care Shop.
The tiny baby Jesus I got(/won?) from our Mardi Gras king cake.
And a dainty little succulent, just because.

wishing you potatoes

February 14, 2012

"Well, there's a lot of reasons. I mean, roses only last like a couple weeks and that's if you leave them in water, and they really only exist to be pretty. So that's like saying 'my love for you is transitory and based solely on your appearance.' But a potato! Potatoes last forever. In fact, not only will they not rot, they actually grow stuff even if you just leave them in the sack! That part alone makes it a good symbol...but there's more! There are so many ways to enjoy a potato! You can even make a battery with it! And that's like saying 'I have many ways in which I show my love for you' and potatoes may be ugly, but they're still awesome so that's like saying 'it doesn't matter at all what you look like, I'll still love you.'"

Except for the year we were 6,142 miles apart,
I give David potatoes for Valentine's Day every year
It's a little tradition I adore.

Happy Valentine's Day ♥
. . .
{potato sources unknown}

before i knew what i was doing

February 9, 2012
IMG_1471 sunset

I often think about my pre-blog life and secretly beat myself up for not writing things down, for not taking photos, for not taking the time to make sure I remember.

IMG_1482 sunset

And then I found these photos from my 2007 archives, about a month or so after I first bought my camera. I don't remember why we came here, only that we did. I have vague memories of us harmonizing to "The Only Gay Eskimo." I didn't really know how my camera worked-- I just set everything to AUTO and snapped when it felt right.

But I love these photos and how they look, unedited. I look at them and feel surprised that something so beautiful came from me before I knew anything about cameras.

And then I remember that this isn't my work at all-- it's nature in all its own glory.