Winter in SoCal.
Up until recently did the weather decide to emulate winter here. It’s finally chilly during the daytime & we no longer crack the windows in the apartment! No longer wearing shorts & a tank top – I am wearing socks, tights & a zipped hooded sweatshirt. You have no idea how much I love this!

The timing is long overdue, since it’s the holiday season. I’m feeling so thankful these days for everything in my life.

This is going to be a really quick post, as I’ve got appointments to catch & work soon after!

IMAG0526 1

I wanted to post this adorable picture of some Forelle pears that I got from Sprouts yesterafternoon. According to Stemilt Orchards: “Forelle pears are one of the oldest European varieties, and are believed to have originated in the 1600s in northern Saxony, Germany. The name Forelle means “trout” in German, and was likely given to the pear because it has similar coloring as a Rainbow trout. German immigrants brought Forelle pears to the U.S. in the 1800s.” Fascinating! These pears are so dainty, I couldn’t resist putting my Christmas ornament next to them for scale in the above picture.


Also pictured are some chestnuts that I plan on roasting & setting some aside for a chestnut chocolate cake… Stay tuned!

Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season!


Yikes, I’m realising that nearly every post that I do post.. I am apologising for the dramatic gap of time that has elapsed between all of these posts. I will make no more promises (though as you can guess.. I am really busy <my job, phototherapy appointments, yoga center work trade, etc..>, hence the lack of consistent and frequent I imagine most people are often too pre-occupied to blog..of all things) but I will say: I think of blogging often yet by the time I get to it . .— you get the point.

But honestly, where has the year gone? It seemed so long ago when my husband & I booked our holiday airfare.. and yet lo & behold, we are departing in just over 3 weeks! I am incredibly excited. I love going back home (the PNW) + the holiday factor = just the best occasions to get out of here and to see the people we love! Furthermore, I am SO excited to bake pies upon pies for my family..especially since I no longer bake for a living now.

Minecraft Jack-o-Lantern

Had to share a picture of my Minecraft-inspired jack-o’-lantern! I adore it.

This would be our third autumn in SoCal & honestly, up until very recently, it felt like summer would never end (the heat of the day would be in the upper 80s). Halloween coincided with some lovely (& much needed) rain showers. To my delight, the mornings have since been nippy & I’ve even been able to wear actual pants + a quilted fleece zipped hoodie, drink hot beverages, indulge in steaming bowls of phở & revel in the stunningly cloudy sunsets (that now, thanks to daylight savings time.. is far too early).

I hope everyone had a lovely Samhain/Halloween! But most importantly, happy autumn!

I know, I know. It’s been about two months since my last post – many apologies! For about half of July, we’ve been on the road, seeing family & out camping – for the remaining half of the month, we’d been vastly occupied packing up our apartment and experienced the throes of moving!

My husband & I had a short layover in Seattle before meeting up with my family. Luckily it overlapped with Il Corvo‘s weekday lunch service (the times that we have stopped in Seattle, would coincide on the weekend)! We were in for a treat.

What is Il Corvo, might you ask? This establishment serves the most life-changing handmade fresh pasta in all of Seattle/possibly the West Coast. My husband & I would frequent the pasta shop in its early days of inception (co-existing inside a gelateria behind Pike Place Market) so much that Mike (the chef/owner) would come to be recognise us wherever we may be in the city (i.e. browsing the specialty food items in Pike Place’s DeLaurenti’s, etc.). Since we’ve moved to SoCal; we hadn’t been able to see their new permanent location until this most recent trip. 

il corvo work benchMafalda

Pictured above are the beautiful pasta-making tools on display, the marble work bench that doubles as communal dining/seating during service, the wonderfully sunlit space (thanks to the gorgeous Pacific Northwest summertime) & my dish: mafalda with white beans, boquerones, parsley, lemon & garlic. Heavenly. All I have to say is, if you truly appreciate amazing pasta – this place is worth going to.. Hands down one of the top 5 incredible food places in Seattle (in my opinion). If you’re into pizza, I’ll have you know – Mike has opened another establishment – Pizza Gabbiano – Roman-style pizza by the kilogram. I, for one, am looking forward to checking it out – & am curious if any of you guys have ventured to Corvo or Gabbiano (which, can I take a moment to appreciate the names of these places?? Corvo means crow in Italian & gabbiano means seagull – love it!). 

If this post were a complete food documentation of our trip; it would be absurdly long. However, here are some highlights:

WA cherriesBB Peach Pie
My mother went to her local orchard & picked 30+ pounds of Bing cherries for me to bring to my in-laws (I know, what a sweetie my mom is, albeit a wee bit overboard in generosity!) – in which a cherry pitting party ensued. The four of us hunkered down and filled 7 gallon ziplock bags of pitted cherries! As the upcoming days coincided with the Fourth of July & a family birthday (in which the birthday patron had a strong penchant for cherries), I could not resist making a pie.. or three (maybe I do take after my mother afterall)! Pictured above is a gluten-free blueberry peach pie that is looking quite patriotic & tastes like sweet sweet freedom (;

North Beach PTseaglass haul


Many a day was spent visiting, playing games (namely Carcassone & Nertz) and also taking some Northwest beach walks – pictured above is en route to Glass Beach in Port Townsend, WA. Glass Beach gets its name because it’s where remnants of Victorian glass shards (back when they used to dump glass-trash into the port) tumbled up & down the beach over the past century turning into sea glass. Little known fact: I adore beachcombing for sea glass.. I could do it for hours. Pictured above is my sea glass haul which is my biggest load yet! I must concede that I did have some help from my husband & his parents with the sea glass collecting. I even found some thick lavender-slate-coloured glass that we suspect that’s come from a shipwreck – fascinating to speculate upon. I think what attracts me to sea glass collecting, is that these little pieces of human-manipulated silica-turned-trash, have tumbled away daily for decades – in a sense, eroding away back into the beach and sea. Not any two pieces are the same : the composition of glass, the hues and tints, the way that the piece has originally broken, has yielded a unique piece of glass. A lot occurs on any given beach aside from the obvious tides coming in & going out: beach frequenters of all ages, dogs, maybe even a landslide, beached sea mammals, etc etc. How long does a single piece of sea glass lay undetected next to other pebbles and rocks before being picked up? Where and how did it migrate along the way? Kind of a metaphor for life.

Salt Creekwild mushrooms

Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of photos of our camping adventures – my phone/camera was often on the verge of being completely out of battery and also, wouldn’t you say that constantly being on your phone while out in nature detracts from the experience? I certainly think so. Pictured above is the morning tide out, exposing these small islands enveloped in a glorious sea fog in Salt Creek Recreation Area in Clallam County, WA out on the Olympic Peninsula. This was a really neat campground – our campsite was close to the beach (you could hear waves crashing into the shore at night), there were some fun trails (even encounters with deer trampling through trails and empty campsites!), interesting bluffs & a sweet stretch of tidal pools – but prominently on Tongue Point. You could even see British Columbia from the shore (which is why this was a strategically-placed WWII fort site called Camp Hayden). Also pictured, are some interesting wild mushrooms that I came across on a hike which only makes me nostalgic for foraging for golden chanterelles (they show up during autumn)! I love walking through forests, there’s so much to see when you take the time to pay attention. Lastly, I’ll leave you a picture of some adorable baby crabs that we’ve found while exploring tidal pools. Summer adventures at their finest.


Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

In wake of recent changes – but most importantly to celebrate my husband’s victorious accomplishment: graduating summa cum laude with his MFA in 2 years (this degree typically takes a 3 years to finish) – I made a 9″ gluten-free blueberry pie. Various family members flew down to see the graduate degree hooding commencement ceremony (thank goodness it was indoors & also, only for people who have earned their Master’s or Ph. D’s!). After the ceremony; we had a simple but delicious barbecue at our apartment – with the crowning treat being this pie! Quite a few of us couldn’t do gluten so I thought that I’d utilise my pie-making skills & make a gluten-free pie. For those who don’t have a lot of pie-making experience; I will say that making it with gluten-free ‘flour’ is a test of patience.. but definitely feasible! & worth it.

Fruit pies (particularly the berry-kind), truly herald a celebratory sentiment & that summertime has truly arrived! An unfortunate aspect of baked fruit pies is that if the filling is underbaked – it is thusly watery. & a watery pie is a disappointing pie to have indeed. To prevent the pie filling from being watery; I cook down the pie filling in advance so that it thickens quite nicely once it is baked. I usually make the filling the night before assembling the pie (if you are in a pinch for time, you can easily get away with making the filling a few hours before, especially if you chill the filling quickly. It also goes without saying, you can also make the filling days in advance if you wish).

<enough to fill one 9″ pie; I know it seems like a lot of filling but believe me, it will cook down & fill your 9″ pie shell quite easily>
1 # 4 oz of blueberries (frozen, if fresh is unavailable)
2 T of gluten-free all-purpose flour (you can substitute cornstarch, if that is what you have on hand)
3 oz of granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 T of lemon juice
1/2 t of sea salt

Toss the above ingredients & combine into a saucepan. Put it on medium heat until it simmers. Lower the heat to a continual simmer; allowing the berries to cook through. Be sure to stir occasionally throughout. If the bottom of the saucepan sticks, lower the heat & continue stirring. When the mixture thickens, remove from heat & transfer to a heatproof bowl & allow to cool. Be sure to refrigerate the filling before using it (warm filling onto pie dough would be disastrous).

The pie dough. I used Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour & modified this recipe.
The result was satisfactory! It had a nice flaky crunch to it (probably due to the use of the pastry blender & the cold pats of butter I put in it). My husband didn’t realise that the pie was gluten-free & in fact, he thought that the pie was fantastic. So have that, you anti-gluten-free-baking naysayers!

<enough for one 9″ latticed or double-crusted pie / or two 9″ single-crusted pies>
1 1/2 C gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 C unsalted butter (very cold, cut into cubes or little slabs)
4 T almond milk (or any sort of ‘milk,’ almond milk just happens to be what I had on hand at the time)

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar & salt). Using a fork or a pastry blender, quickly cut the cold butter into the dry; until it has the consistency of coarse wet sand. Pea-sized clumps of butter is permissible; sometimes I use my fingers to break them up further & incorporate them into the mixture. At this point, forgo the fork or pastry blender and incrementally incorporate the almond milk until just combined. Be careful not to over do it; we just want a cohesive mass (but not to the point where it’s just one big hulking pliable piece). Divide the dough in half; flatten onto waxed paper (or even plastic wrap) into disks. Either use plastic wrap to cover them or stick them into zip-lock gallon bags. Lay the covered or sealed disks of pie dough onto a flat surface in the fridge to chill for about an hour before using.

Be sure to have an ample amount of workspace for assembling your pie! Also, I hope you have some excess gluten-free flour to use because without it; assembling this pie will be an incredible test of your patience.
You will need a rolling pin, your pie tin or dish, a bench scraper, your pie filling & the pie dough disks. It is imperative that once you take the dough out of the refrigerator – that you work quickly with it. Flour your work surface; carefully and evenly roll out one of the disks into a quarter-inch thick circle. Be sure to alternate sides of the disk, so that you can roll out the dough out evenly. However the caveat is that if you flip the pie dough circle-to-be too often, it may crack (since there is no gluten to bind the dough together). Lay your sufficiently rolled pie dough circle onto your pie tin or dish; pressing it into the sides and bottom of the tin/dish. If you are having trouble with cracks; just gently press the surrounding dough, smoothing it (thus repairing) into the crack. This is only the bottom of the pie & no one is going to stop to examine the pie’s bottom! The pie dough bottom is now ready for the filling! Evenly fill the pie shell. If you are wanting to do a lattice topping on your pie – roll out the remaining pie dough disk into a quarter-inch thick square or rectangular shape. Using your bench scraper, cut even strips of pie dough & carefully lay them on top of the filled pie shell. Interlace them if you’d like. For the excess pie dough ends of the strips, pinch them onto the bottom pie shell; forming an edge; going around the top rim of the pie tin or dish. With any excess pie dough pieces; I would pinch them off and mold them onto the uneven parts of the pie crust edge… Can I just add that describing this is much more difficult than simply demonstrating it? If you’ve never formed a pie shell before; it takes a lot of practice (to the point where it gets intuitive!) I highly recommend Youtubing a pie shell forming demonstration… But if you prefer a ‘rustic’ pie; free-form all you want! Anyhow; once you are satisfied with the assembly of your pie; refrigerate your pie until it is time for it to go into the oven. I prefer to bake pie hours before it is served (fresh is best!). Also, your kitchen/home will just smell HEAVENLY.

Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Once the oven is almost to temperature; use a pastry brush to brush cream (half & half, milk, whatever you may have) onto the top of the pie, getting into the lattices. Then sprinkle it with coarse sugar (I use turbinado; not only for aesthetic reasons but it adds a fantastic crunch). Then place the pie onto a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, I rotate the pie and bake it for another 10 minutes or accordingly. When checking for done-ness, I look at the blueberry filling – if it is slowly oozing out of the lattice like a thick molasses; that is my cue that it is ready to leave the oven! The pie crust itself should also be a lovely golden (but barely brown) hue, cracking ever-so-slightly. Allow to cool for a couple of hours & it is ready to serve! Depending on how generous your servings are, it can feed up to 8. I only refrigerate pie when it is down to a couple slices. The pie does keep for at least 3 days at room temperature . . Though I have doubts that it would even last that long!


I feel silly for posting this picture of a bag of Canadian ketchup chips (this particular brand of chips) but I figured, it is a lingering remnant in relation to my last post. I chanced upon these at World Market & excitedly grabbed a bag. I didn't mention this in my last post but we did a bit of sampling of Canadian ketchup chips (not to the level of being connoisseurs of course). It is always so lovely to prolong the nostalgia of a holiday (a honeymoon no less!) when the day-to-day grind of life persists. Eating these tangy, savoury yet sweet crunchy chips has given me a few moments where I would distinctly remember driving down the Trans-Canadian highway, passing by shorn & frosted mountains, evergreens dusted with snow & snow flurries swirling in the wake of our tire tracks.

I’ll spare you my generally jaded feelings about St. Valentine’s Day.. It could be because I am in love – engaged – or simply because my fiancé & I have extremely busy schedules in which there will be days where we don’t see each other for more than half an hour (if at all) – despite the fact that we co-habitate!! Therefore, we were especially looking forward to having a nice date night! We don’t do the silly commercialised elaborate gift-giving; it’s often been exchanges of the following: a sweet valentine love note to a single-stemmed rose & in years past, accompanied by Theo Chocolate confections or a bottle of port. Our tradition would be to have an amazing dinner at our favourite French café in Seattle called Le Pichet. As this was our first Valentine’s Day in SoCal; I decided to bring a bit o’ Seattle to us: I ordered the Casanova caramel collection & the FareStart mirepoix caramel collection from Theo Chocolate. I was particularly excited about the mirepoix caramels, they are in the following savoury+sweet flavours: celery herb, caramelized onion, carrot coriander & bay fennel. Needless to say, the fiancé was pleasantly surprised to see these treats.


Pictured are some of the Casanova caramels: (clockwise from top right) honey saffron, lavender jalapeño, pink salted vanilla & last but not least, ginger rose. Exquisitely delicious.

Since I was in the spirit of elegant treats, I made macarons to share with my co-workers, friends & family. I made two varieties: honey rose & toasted coconut + burnt sugar. They were promptly devoured & next time, I really ought to make more.. (but can there ever be enough macarons to satiate everyone? Doubtful!) Stay tuned for a future macaron recipe post (:

ImageWhat could invoke romance more than honey & rosewater? These turned out beautifully – I made sure to go gently with the rosewater – no one likes to bite into rose potpourri (blech!) I would like to note that the awesome pale pink hue of the macarons is from India Tree’s natural food colouring/decorating set that I procured from Sur la Table (both are Seattle companies; what a coincidence (: ) The red colouring is actually from beet juice !! Pretty awesome as I am never keen on red dye 40.. India Tree’s Nature’s Colours decorating set is a bit pricey but I think it’s worth the investment, as a few drops go a long way – you should be able to use this amount for most of a year (unless you use food colouring a LOT..)

ImageSomewhat romantic. However, definitely delightful. These were made out of whimsy to accompany the honey rose macarons. I had a lot of fun making the toasted coconut macaron shells & assembling them with toasted coconut & burnt sugar Italian buttercream & burnt sugar caramel centres. The macaron shells are not tinted by any sort of food coloring – but rather, blessed by the oven! As nerdy as it may sound, this is one of the many reasons why I love baking & pastry. Practically magical.

Whether you had a nice Valentine’s Day.. Or if it was just another Thursday.. I hope & encourage you to treat yourself. Either way, that was two weeks ago. I’m having a hard time believing how February, in all its brevity, is really over!

Hello March..

The Chinese lunar new year fell on February 10th this month – & for most Chinese people (born outside of China or no), this is a major holiday, in a sense, to spend time with their loved ones & partake in family traditions to welcome a new year. For those that may not know, this is now the year of the snake (one of the 12 animals of the zodiac). This would be my first new year away from Seattle. Luckily I have family in Northern California! After some deliberation, we decided to drive up to see my grandfather, mother (she flew in!) & the cohort of relatives – lots of cousins, aunts & uncles to visit with. Despite the all the time travelling (it was about an eight hour drive each way); it was a fantastic visit. A lot of traditions & new year’s feasting ensued.

ImageA couple traditions that I like to partake in is cleaning the house before the new year (a very literal Chinese spring-cleaning, if you will) & hanging up new year decorations – in my case, it’s hanging a good fortune character (福 fú) on our front door. Its function is to usher in some good chi our way as well as give our apartment a festive touch!


Before trekking back to Southern California, one of my aunts gave me this treat!  Zhong (spelling & dialect variations are jung, zongzi), a bamboo-leaf wrapped steamed glutinous rice cake filled with a savoury mung bean paste & usually salted pork belly – the origin of this particular variety is Vietnamese. As you can imagine, there are a plethora of regional variations of zhong. Out of the many festive food items, this would be one that I strongly associate with Chinese new year.  One could eat it sliced & cold. Or heated up. But my favourite way to eat it is pan-seared & drizzled with honey! The contrasting textures of the crispy outside & the bamboo-leaf fragrant sticky glutinous rice.. in addition to the sweetness from the honey & the saltiness from the mung bean paste & pork. To me, it is reminiscent of maple syrup-drenched pancakes & bacon. Such a nostalgic treat.


The Chinese lunar new year festivities are generally celebrated for fifteen days – ending with the Lantern Festival. Judging from a lot of my friends’ facebook photos overseas – they are having a blast! & eating delicious sweet rice dumplings. (I am extremely jealous). Whether you celebrate the lunar new year, I wish your coming year to be full of good health, fortune & prosperity. 新年快樂 (xīnniánkuàilè), 萬事如意 (wànshìrúyì) !

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