Monday, January 31, 2011

Decompress

We like to chill on our bed and decompress after work and school.  Grace has a little cold, poor kiddo.

Watching King of the Hill.  Always good for a chuckle!

Friday, January 28, 2011

GILT Group

I'm a total latecomer to the GILT Group, but there must be people out there that haven't heard of it besides me so I'm sharing the news.  There are many of these members-only, "sale-a-day" sites, but this one has got to be my favorite.  The selection is really well-edited and so chic.  Here are some of my favorite picks:

For little girls:







...and their mamas:


Thursday, January 27, 2011

We got so lucky

I know everyone thinks their own baby is cute, and Darren and I are no different.  After Sophie, we didn't think we could love another baby as much, but Gracie stole our hearts with her super-smileyness.  I hope her happiness lasts a lifetime.

video

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Cook a Steak in the Oven

















I just cooked a really good steak.  And it was so easy, too.  This is a big deal for me because steak is my Achilles' heel when it comes to cooking.  It was always too tough, overdone or raw.  I could never get it just right, until now.  I used this method and I had the perfect ribeye in about 10 minutes.

The only variation I made on the steps below is that I marinated my steak in Mr. Yoshida (for a sweet teriyaki flavor) for a few days in the freezer instead of just making it with salt & pepper, as instructed. 

What You Need

Ingredients
One approximately 1-pound ribeye steak, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
Canola or vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Equipment
Cast iron skillet
Long tongs
Very thick or well-padded oven mitt

Instructions

1. The first, and most important, step in cooking a great steak is to buy a great steak. The best way to do this is to go to a local butcher, preferably one who either raises the animals himself or sources them from a local farm. The beef should be at least partially grass-fed and humanely butchered. Look for steaks that have been dry-aged to intensify the flavor, too. I buy my steak from a butcher at my local market; they raise the animals on a farm nearby and dry age the beef for at least a couple weeks.

2. Buy a rib eye steak. It should be at least 1-inch thick and have some fat marbling around the edges. Again, buy the best you can. No matter how expensive it is, it will still be cheaper than eating out on Valentine's Day! Expect to pay at least $10 to $15 for a pound of steak. If it is less than that, pass it up. I live in the Midwest, so prices aren't too bad here. If you're in the city, you should probably expect to pay at least $20 per pound. 1 pound of steak will easily feed two, and can be stretched to three or even four people.  (I got my ribeyes from Whole Foods.  As soon as I brought it home, I put it in a large freezer bag with Mr. Yoshida Gourmet sauce to marinate and stuck it in the freezer for a few days because I didn't know when I would be making it).

3. Now that you have your rib eye steak, open the package and drain out any juices. Blot the steak dry with paper towels or a rag. Let the steak come to room temperature, if it isn't already.

4. Turn on your oven and heat it to broil. Put a cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up with the oven.  (If you are marinating your steak like me and not using the oil, salt & pepper recipe here, then just make sure to rub the inside of your cast iron skillet with an oiled paper towel before sticking it in the oven.).

6. Pour a little canola or vegetable oil (about 2 tablespoons) into a small bowl.

7. Put about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt into a ramekin and mix in a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

8. Brush the oil all over the steak, coating it generously on both sides and on the ends.

9. Now sprinkle the salt and pepper mix generously on both sides of the steak, patting it into the steak so it sticks.

10. Turn on a stove burner to high heat.

11. Very, very carefully remove the hot cast iron skillet from the oven, using your thickest and most reliable oven mitt or pad! Place it over the high heat and use long, sturdy kitchen tongs to place the steak on the hot pan. It should sizzle immediately.

12. Cook the steak for 30 seconds, then flip it over.

13. Cook the steak for an additional 30 seconds on the other side. Then, again carefully, put the skillet and steak back in the oven. Cook the steak for 2 minutes. (Don't forget to turn off the burner) Open the oven and carefully flip the steak, using the long tongs. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 2 minutes. At this point your steak will be medium-rare (as seen in the photos). If you prefer your steak closer to medium, add 2 minutes to the oven time.

14. Take the steak out of the oven. Turn off the oven. Remove the steak from the pan and put it on a large cutting board. Cover it with aluminum foil and let the steak rest for about 5 minutes.

15. Slice the steak against the grain and fan slices out on each plate. Serve immediately.

image and recipe from The Kitchn

Saturday, January 22, 2011

6 months

My baby is 6 months old.  I can't believe it.  These days, she's still the happiest person I know, smiling at everything and everyone.  This girl will beam as soon as she makes eye contact with you.  She's also rolling, rolling, rolling, pushing herself up high when she's on  her belly, and starting solid foods.




I love this picture of my two girls!

Under the Weather

Sophie started at a new ballet school recently.  The facility is a lot nicer and they seem to be learning real ballet positions (not that I would know the difference).  Unfortunately, Sophie is suffering from a double ear infection and was just not feeling it today.


She pulled her hood up and was yawning.  This picture says it all.

Hmmm...maybe I'll see what the teacher is doing.

Oh all right, I'll dance!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tiger Wounds


By now, everyone's probably heard about Amy Chua's controversial memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother".  In it, Chua describes her stringent method of parenting her two daughters, who by most accounts have become successful young women.  To get them there however, Chua told them they were "garbage", denied them extracurricular activities (like sports), chose the instruments they had to excel in playing, and deprived them of food and water when they didn't want to practice.  Sounds monstrous, right?

Two articles today have responded to this book very well, I thought.  The first, called "'Tiger Mothers' Leave Lifelong Scars" by Lac Su.  This article hit close to home with me, and I felt very empathetic towards the author's painful journey and his desire to raise his children with love and compassion.  The other which is a more academic response, is from Rabbi Schmuley Boteach: "War Cry of the Values-Based Parents."  Although it's hard for me to fight my lifelong Confucian-based programming that academic and career success are the ultimate goals, I find more and more that I'm most interested in raising compassionate, independent and happy girls who make a positive contribution to society and have a healthy dose of self-esteem.  Whether they get there by climbing the corporate ladder or building outhouses in a third world country makes no difference to me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dancing Legs

These may be some of the cutest dancing legs ever!

Grace in the jumperoo

Monday, January 17, 2011

A more perfect mom

Images like this one taunt me, making me imagine there are better moms out there making these lunches for their children.  If you're like me and want to self-flagellate, check out more lunch inspiration at LunchBots.

My inspiration.  Is that sad?

image via LunchBots

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Why doesn't it surprise me that one of the designers for Williams-Sonoma has such a gorgeous kitchen?  I love the vibrant colors!




all images via Elle Decor

Reality Bites

Ok, maybe it's not so bad. Taking a short vacation gave me a bit more energy and renewed my determination to regularly start cooking dinner for my family again. It might surprise people, but eating at home is really hard for us. It's not that I love restaurant food, but working 10-hour days while having two little kids and keeping house really drains me. So the prospect of planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning fills me with dread. But, today I am trying to be a little more prepared. I pre-marinated and froze all my meat for the week. I'm hoping I can keep this up!

The week's menu.  Clearly, pork chops were on sale at Costco.

This is the best part about being at home!  Grace is starting solid foods.  She likes blowing raspberries with her food more than ingesting it.  Very messy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back on the Beach

Day 2 of our L.A. trip was mainly a recovery day. We were so exhausted from Disney that we (I) could barely function the next day. The highlight of Saturday was that we visited one of my favorite LA cafes for brunch. Every time we go to Back on the Beach, it's a beautiful day. The food is just OK (maybe even below average), but it's right on the beach, you eat with your toes in the sand, and there's a phenomenal sand playground adjacent to the cafe. All the beautiful parents, and I mean "Hollywood beautiful", take their toddlers to play there. They were probably wondering what I was doing there!

Communal sand toys.  What a great idea.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Disney

What a whirlwind 24 hours it's been for us so far!  We started off late last night by flying into LA.  Woke up this morning at the crack of dawn, went to California Adventure and Disneyland, lunched with the Disney princesses, walked around both parks, visited Jenny's apartment in Newport Beach, went to dinner in Little Saigon, and picked up pastries at 85C Bakery.  No naps for the kids, and no tantrums either!  Hallelujah!  I'm updating this blog in a zombie state, so please excuse my rambling...here goes:




Sophie was an angel on the plane ride.  Here she is enjoying juice while watching Beauty and the Beast (the movie) and following along with the story in a separate book.

Bodhi and Sophie waiting for us to get ready in the morning.  They are all hyped about Disney!

I love my princess.  This day is totally for her!

First "celeb" sighting.  The Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonder-man", as Sophie would say it!

Cruella from 101 Dalmations.  She's seen this movie at school!

Waiting for a picture with Ariel at our character lunch.  Ariel was beautiful!

$50 for jello and string cheese?!  Let's face it, you're paying to meet the princesses.  Darn you Disney!

Snow White and her mini-me

Sleeping Beauty.  Love the matching poses!

Beauty and the Beast is Sophie's favorite movie of all time.

Cinderella: "Take the picture already, lady!"

Dessert was unexpected and very pretty.  Too bad we were all stuffed and tired already.

All the cool peeps have stickers all over their bodies too.

Best. Aunt. Ever.  Seriously!!  She spent the last 24 hours being a "parent" and doing toddler things with NO BREAK.  24 more hours to go, Jenny!

Never saw the movie, but I can still enjoy the photo op.

You can tell Sophie likes getting her "face" put on.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

I loved that I didn't have to go on the rides!  Thanks Jenny.

More obligatory character meetings.  How do they all stay so chipper?


This part of the Disney visit was "Mily" time.

This is seriously the best corndog ever.  Little Red Wagon, guys.  Freshly battered dogs.  Don't miss it!

Here's a ride I opted out of.

Does anyone ever take more than 10 licks on these things?  Worst value for your money ever.


That's all folks!  Stay tuned for more tomorrow!  Hopefully it will be a much more relaxing day.