Saturday, November 5, 2016

Persimmon Cake

my dad's persimmon tree is blowing up! i can't eat enough to catch up, so i thought i could experiment with some recipes.

In my hunt for a persimmon recipe, everywhere I looked referred to the david lebovitz persimmon bread recipe.

I decided on this one. simple and I have all of the ingredients

well...I'm still getting used to this convection toaster oven. At an hour, i checked the cake with a toothpick and removed it. yes...its a little darker on top than i expected. After 15 minutes it fell a little, but it still looked like things were gonna turn out okay.

i was worried it was overdone. boy howdy was i wrong. Although the toothpick came out clean, the inside was like a bread pudding. Like a delicious persimmon pudding cake

The flavor was awesome. i don't think i'd want it coming out "right".

I did change the recipe a bit. i hand mixed things so that may change how things mixed together. I also used less nutmeg than the recipe called for. The persimmons are really over much that i just scooped out the meat and smooshed it between my latex gloved hands instead of actually pureeing them. And probably the biggest deal - i forgot to add the baking soda. I had so many recipes open on my surface that i think i just looked at another page, forgot, and never looked back.

here's the recipe as I made it, adapted from

1 Stick (8 Tbsp) Butter at room temperature
1 3/4 Cup baking sugar
2 Cups Persimmon Puree  - or in my case, just over two cups of persimmons smooshed between my fingers.
1 1/2 Cup whole Milk
2 Cups Flour 
1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/8tsp Nutmeg
To Make the Persimmon Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, grease and flour an 8 inch baking dish
  2. mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon and well as possible.
  3. Add in eggs, milk, and persimmon puree, and gently combine until smooth and creamy
  4. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
  5. Gradually blend the dry mixture into the persimmon mixture
  6. Spoon into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  7. Allow to cool slightly, and serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

City Cafe

Owned by the same person that owns Lucky Boy, we had to try City Cafe even though its a completely different restaurant. More upscale, seemingly nice dining. They have a HUGE long bar the runs the length of the restaurant and a decent outside back patio protected by small trees to help you forget that you're basically sitting in the parking lot.

The one thing that this place has going for it - good priced pitchers of beer. A pitcher of Stella Artois is $16.50!

Those prices are not reflected in the food though. Although tasty so far, everything is about $2 more than it should be. That doesn't seem like much, but it will keep some people from coming here regularly.

At the table they give you house chips - yum. house made lightly seasoned kettle style chips. Delicious and begging for a dip (they have a carmelized onion and a blue cheese dip. We've tried the onion - good but portion is pretty small. Probably okay if you're not sharing.

This time I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with wedge fries. It was good. Easy to eat, the ciabatta wasn't hard so it didn't tear up my mouth and the pesto sauce on it was yummy. 

But service was an issue. When our server took our order we got a pitcher of stella, two mugs, and a black iced tea. Out come the beers, but no tea for me. I had to remind him after the food arrived. When the food was delivered the girl asked if i wanted some ranch or ketchup with my fries, I said both and she said good choice. I never got either. I ate my dinner and a few fries, which i probably would have been fine with if she didn't offer or suggest a dipping sauce. 

These little things need to get tighted up.  If you're gonna charge top dollar, you better give me top service.

Congregation Ale House - Azusa Chapter

In all of our time in Altadena, we never went to the Congregation in Pasadena. It just never seemed like a place I would want to go.

 A little further east there are less choices to we finally made our way to Congregation Azusa chapter.

The first time we stopped by we didn't stay. It was actually just like what we thought it would be. LOUD and CROWDED. It was a tuesday night, and I wasn't feeling all that great, so we left and tried a small chinese place that is now one of our favorites Tasty BBQ Kitchen . That place deserves its own post!

I went to the Congregation websites a few times afterward and we decided to try again for a happy hour. Drinks are still on the pricier end, and they don't have any beers we like, and the ones that are on the border of being okay might be removed from the menu -- they're taking away lagers.  Sorry folks. I just hate the hops.

But I digress. The food there is actually really good.

duck and bacon sausage. Meaty and delicious. Joe's staple order here now and possibly the best sausage he's ever had.

Carnitas Pizza - good, but needs something...some kind of dipping sauce - it was actually really good dipped in the garlic rosemary mayo i got to accompany my onion strings

Onion Strings with Garlic Rosemary Mayo and Sweet Chili Sour Cream - these were good, but i wouldn't order them again. Too difficult to eat. Too difficult to dip.  Tater tots and chips still win the side battle here.

Chips with Sweet Chili Sour Cream and Pesto Ranch dips.  There's just something about crispy chips and sweet chili sour cream

Braised short rip sandwich - it was good. Nice flavor and horseradish sauce, but I would be mad if i paid full price for it. Its definitely too small.

One mark down - the service has been REALLY SLOW!!! At times I think there was one person both running food and taking orders at the counter.  We were going to order another beer, but there was no staff on the floor and the line at the counter was atleast 3 deep, of which we had to wait in line anyway to close out.  Hopefully management will adjust schedules or hire more staff.

We'll be coming here for happy hours to eat, but you won't be seeing me here on Tuesday nights (trivia night) or anytime its crowded and loud.

PS - they also have a really good jukebox that is not priced all crazy.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Cocineros Express

On our quest to find all the delicious food around, we also wanted to eat something that wasn't going to be too expensive so we tried out Cocineros Express.  This little mexican joint in on Foothill, just West of San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa.  

Located in a small parking lot next to a donut shop, dominos, and liquor store, its not much to look at from the outside. Inside there are only about 4 tables, and a menu that isn't exactly easy to understand.

There is really only the pictoral menu, not telling what comes with anything or what meats they have. And I have a feeling there is more on the menu than what is shown in the pictures.  On their yelp page is, what looks to be, a takeout menu that is much more understandable, but that was nowhere to be found in the restaurant.

i got 3 tacos al pastor. They grill their corn tortillas with oil, so its extra delicious, but extra oily.  They come with cilantro, onions, and either red or green sauce. At $1.40 each, they were really good.

Joe got 3 carnitas tacos and rice plate which was $6.99.

The ups - they have a "salsa bar" which includes a few salsas, pico de gallo, pickled vegetables, jalapenos, etc. The downs - small eating area so people waiting in line basically have their butts in your face, small parking lot, and their drink machine wasn't working so it was bottled soda or go to the liquor store if you had something specific in mind.

But for the prices, it was all pretty decent and Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday they have taco nights - $.99 tacos from -7-10pm (certain meats only chicken, carnitas, al pastor, carne)

I think next time i'll try a burrito, or torta, or sopes, or gordita. I guess i'll be coming back more than once in the future.

Cocineros Express
200 W Foothill Blvd 
Azusa, CA 91702

pretty potatoes

pagoda was eyeing my potato pre-bake ---man, does that dog love carbs and butter!!

joe went out with a friend tonight, so i decided to make myself a pretty potato. Super simple and pretty and i wasn't starving so it all worked out.

-1 potato
-clove garlic
-1 T melted butter (or enough to your liking)
-1T olive oil

Basically I mandolined a russet potato the long way, arranged them standing in a floral spiral in the oven proof single serving ramekin, poured over a little melted butter and olive oil. Mandolined a piece of garlic and placed the slices in between the layers of potato, covered loosely with foil and baked for 50 minutes at 400°

In the end, this is what emerged. Crispy on the top, baked buttery garlicy goodness underneath. 

I ate mine with some sour cream and some flap steak. Okay - so it was probably not worth all the trouble, but it was fun and delicious. Different than a hasselback for sure. I think a smaller serving would look awesome on a plate. 

Monday, September 26, 2016


Polish sausage is salty, but delicious
 wikipedia kielbasa

sorry folks, just eating some breakfast meat leftovers

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dia De Los Puercos - Thumbaeating

A few weeks ago I heard that Dia De Los Puercos was opening a brick and mortar not too far from me in West Covina. Joe was still in China at the time of opening so I held back, HOLD HOLD HOLD.

Finally he arrived back in the states, and surprisingly he agreed to tacos over his standard in-n-out. Super shocking.

Located in a strip mall just south of the 10 freeway, the place is pretty unassuming. The gentleman at the front (who we later found out was one of the owners) was super friendly.  Good start. We decided to sit at the bar and, like we usually do when trying a new place, ordered a ton of food.

First things first. I get the novelty of serving food in Styrofoam and on pizza pans, but it was difficult to deal with and we really wanted some plates since we were sharing.  And they only have plastic utensils - not even the thick good ones, so get ready for some bending, and you have to ask for them. I guess they expect you to use your hands, which i'm fine with for some things, but sticking a sopes in my mouth is not an easy task and i prefer to cut mine up. Beers are also poured in thin plastic cups, no pint glasses here.

mexi corn

*mexi-corn - this was awesome and super hot (i think i'm still a little singed). Like the elote on a stick you might find on a corner, but cut from the cob so its easier to eat and the bacon is EXTREMELY crispy.

*sopes - one asada, one mochomos. We didn't know what mochomos are. Either did the guy behind the bar serving us :( but we decided to try it anyway since there were no carnitas on the menu.  Very similar to carnitas cooked with less seasonings. The sopes "cake" was difficult to get through with a flimsy plastic knife, but the flavors are good and you can really tell things were home made.

los 5150's

*los 5150's - nachos with asada and barbacoa - the seasoned crema on this was awesome. And they do some fried oaxacan cheese on top that sits like a pancake covering the whole thing. Chewy and salty and delicious, but you can't get through that with a plastic knife so getting your hands in there is the only way to do it.

the homie
*the homie - this is the only burrito on the menu. I got mine filled with barbacoa, but the real surprise here is that there are ooey gooey fried eggs and french fries inside. The only burrito on the menu is a breakfast burrito! I got some sort of guac salsa for this one which was awesome. Similar to the one at el pollo loco - which i for one love that sauce. Really. If i ever go to el pollo loco i practically fill a bag with containers of that sauce. mmmm. but i digress...

Joe also had an estrella del mar (fish taco) and the darth mariachi taco (pork belly taco). Both were good, but I probably wouldn't order them again. I think the tortilla just isn't my style. Its so fresh and has so much moisture still in it that I felt it was a little...soft. The flavor was good though. The pork belly was 3/4 inch cubes of pork belly deep fried - crispy and sort of like soft chicharrones on the inside.  That taco wasn't really dressed up and a little difficult to eat.

All in all we'll probably return.  The owner came over to talk to us for a bit and gave us some background on himself. Super friendly. I always like when owners work the place and seem like they actually care about how things are running.  All this food, plus 2 beers and a cucumber agua fresca came in around $62. We could have gotten away with half of the food, but it was the first time..and we know how that goes. The owner even said he though either we were reviewing the place, or we had a serious case of the munchies :) ha!

Dia De Los Puercos
222 S. Citrus Ave.
West Covina

Monday, August 29, 2016

cookies - chocolate chip

Round two of trying out the new countertop convection oven.

I forget how glorious a homemade fresh baked chocolate chip cookie is until i have one. Then i feel like banging my head on the wall wondering why oh why did i veer from this delight for so long.

i went with a tried and true recipe. Thank you Martha. I realize that the Martha Stewart soft and chewy recipe is essentially the toll house recipe minus the nuts, but I don't include nuts in my cookies anyway.

I didn't even take out my hand mixer. I went old school and mixed the batch by hand in a stainless steel bowl with a wooden spoon. Nothing complicated about it and people have been baking long before kitchenaid existed. Don't get me wrong. I love my stand mixer and hand mixer. And i will use them forever. But i'm not fully unpacked from the move and my kitchen isn't really done so i have to go sans electricity on the prep of this.

I baked a few batches - between 8-9 minutes. 8 minutes was still gooey in the middle. 9 was crispy but had that delicious brown butter flavor.

I love the cookie base on this. I need to try some additions though. I'm thinking of adding some coconut next time. 

Martha Stewart Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla ( as always, i am heavy handed with the vanilla)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12 oz) chocolate chips (just dump the bag in)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

cookies - coconut macaroons

I love this recipe. It's been a staple at my house for atleast 10 years. I'm gonna guess longer, but who knows.

My husband doesn't like coconut, so I don't always get a chance to make them for just "house eating" cookies, but they make an appearance every year around christmas.

I made them as the inaugural baked good at our new house. Mostly because they're super simple, don't require any appliances, and joe's out of town for work, so i can eat 'em by myself and take some to the family tomorrow.

This is really a test for the mini convection oven I got from joe for christmas, and as a gift for our wedding..yes, we got it as a gift, joe didn't realize it, and bought me another one for christmas. Bed bath and beyond is so wonderful for when things like this happen. They gladly take one back and give us a gift card.

preheat oven to 350


1 14 oz bag sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup flour
1-2 T vanilla (i'm ALWAYS heavy handed with the vanilla)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
pinch + salt

  1. combine flour and salt in medium bowl
  2. add coconut, toss to coat
  3. stir in vanilla and condensed milk until well combined
  4. place golf ball sized rounds on lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. These don't spread, but you don't want them to steam too close to one another. I like the crisp outside with the chewy insides.  (I recommend using a cookie dough scoop for this process. it makes things worlds easier. I don't know where mine is right now and tried to do this by hand. It was a sticky mess. Not difficult to clean up, but they are definitely not precise and the cooking cannot really be measured accurately because of this.)
  5. bake for 20 minutes. They should start getting dark around the edges and top. Delicious carmelized coconut bits.
  6. Let cool and enjoy

**okay - so the batch in the picture was balled by hand. That was the sticky mess i refer to in step 4. I also tried the "just scrape off a spoon with a rubber spatula" method. They were bigger, and not ball shaped at all. But it turns out they are just as delicious. There is more surface area and less precise rounding making for more crispy goodness in all the nooks and crannies. Everything cooked wonderfully in 20 minutes.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

I've decided to start trying to make more soups. It started about a month ago when Joe was sick and I made chicken noodle soup...but i had made so much broth we also made a thai soup. YUM!!! Will definitely be making those again.

I had bought a bag of broccoli at costco and it just lasted too long. There was only so much broccoli salad I could eat.

I started by sauteing a shopped onion in about 2 T butter, and added some salt and pepper

Add about 3 T flour to the mix and cook off the flour

I went ahead and added about 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cube of chicken broth.

I cup up some broccoli. About 3 cups and not too chopped since i just wanted to cook it down, but not be super mushy...i was gonna blend it later.

Once the broccoli was cooked. I took the pan off the heat and used the immersion blender. Just a warning - this guy can get messy, so be sure to use something with high sides as to not spray creamy not broccoli all over the kitchen. 

Once blended, return to low heat and add about 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese.

stir stir stir. melt melt melt until done.

I would have liked to add a little Tabasco to it, but we don't quite have a fully functional kitchen or pantry yet, so i'll take what i can get.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Thumbalistening - Matt Minigell and Annabelle Lord Patey at Junior High 8/12/16

I didn't know if I was actually going to end up going to this show. I'll be honest. I hadn't listened to one lick of either of their music. But it was Friday night, an early show, I'm alone all night, and it's Mary Lou Lord's kid so I figured, why not. Maybe I'll catch a good Pokemon in this area of town I'm not usually in. (and no. i didn't)

Lets get this straight. Junior High isn't exactly what most would consider a "venue". Its a non-profit with a galley style brick and morter - the front 1/3 selling artists goods, the rear 2/3 has a table and chairs for audience and a small area with PAs set up for live acts. There were only about 20 people in the room and all seats were taken. I'm guessing most has heard about the site from Annabelle's parents. At 36 years old I was the youngest person there. Okay, some people had brought their small children, so I was the youngest person who chose to be there up until Matt started. Then two more of us "youngsters" arrived.

Matt performed first.

I have to say I was impressed. I don't know what I really expected.

Even as young as he is, in such an awkward place, he handled live performance well. 

And he can actually play. I know. That sounds like such an asinine comment, but there are so many people that love music, that want to make music, but just don't have the time in, experience, or sometimes plain flat out, the talent to do it.  

Just to be clear, he is not one of those. He can play. He has stage presence. He can write. I just love seeing young talent make good music.  ahhhh.

Now, you have to be into that brooding, singer songwriter thing to know what I'm talking about. It took me back to the late 1990's. When I was a late teen finding my way through my own musical tastes. Listening to Sonic Youth, Elliott Smith, Pavement, Ben Lee, and Weezer all in one go.
 Honestly, things with me haven't evolved that much. 

Throughout his performance I just kept thinking "I'm so glad kids like this are out there" and "man, that boy can play a guitar". But I also thought things like "where is he going with this music" as in, this style of music, though beautiful, haunting, and oh so relate-able, has such a hard time being sold. But Thanks Mary Lou for the heads up on this one. I'll be listening for him.

Then along came Annabelle 

She is such a tiny thing, at only 17 - I would be scared shitless. 

Her voice is delicate, and sometimes the nature of the lyrics seem bigger than her. But I hear more to her than that. I hear her in a few years, being more comfortable and loud with the world around her. 

By now the sun was set and the kids in the crowd were growing more restless so she had some things going against her in this small room. 

I'm excited to watch her too. I want to see her in 5 years. A little more time and exposure under her belt. 

These two were a joy to watch. Seriously, i think i was smiling the whole time. Not just from listening to good music. But knowing that there is a youth culture out there, listening and writing, When its so hard for me to see and find, they've got it in their hands.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Music to my ears - nice as fuck

I've been listening to the nice as fuck station on iHeartRadio recently. I need to research how they do their algorithms.

I won't mention any names, but some things make sense. Some things don't.

Worth giving a listen to:
Jenny Lewis 
Au Revoir Simone
The Like

Monday, August 1, 2016

Portugal 2015

In November, we were able to go to Portugal on a semi- spur of the moment trip.  Friends asked us if we wanted to go with them to a time share, but we'd have to stay on the couch in the living room. Fine. We'll do it. It'll be a fun trip and we probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. Then we realized, well shoot, you can get decent airbnb's for cheap - like $34 a night cheap near the beach and really nice places for just a few dollars more. Sorry friends, we'll meet you in Portugal, but we'll be finding our own accommodations not on a couch - in an awesome multi-bedroom apartment in the thick of things.

we had a layover in Germany (necessary beer and brats)

We landed in Faro. From there we rented a car and drove up to Lisbon.  The streets are crazy. Small, one way, hills, paved with hand placed and chiseled stones. We found our apartment, our home for the next few days, looking down on the city.

joe on the narrow steep steps leading to the apartment

The host of our airbnb said to go to a place nearby for dinner. Locals type of place, but they have good food. After walking around the surrounding blocks and not finding what she was talking about at all, we decided to stop in here. Tiny place, with a grill, and that's about it. Buy some chicken and rice and go home to eat. No one there spoke any english, but they were so friendly and willing to deal with us...and the food was delicious. Went back to the apartment to realize this was the place the host was talking about. Lucky!!

pastel de nata - oh how i wish there were pastry shops everywhere at home like there are here

murals and paintings are everywhere

This is the door to a TINY glove shop in Lisbon. Go here. The place has history. They grab your hand and know your glove size. They fit you on the spot. And there's always the smell of leather. And if you happen to go when Joe and I did, there will be a ridiculously attractive male (even Joe mentioned it when we walked away), who was very friendly and spoke english,  waiting to buy gloves with his German Shepherd. 

we stumbled into this amazing alley - covered in murals

cinco lounge - the place was empty when we got there, but it had an interesting vibe so we decided to stay for a drink. Best Decision Ever. The bartenders were super friendly, spoke english, and made great drinks. We ordered off the menu, but gave them freedom to make us whatever they liked and it was awesome. Drinks served under herb smoked glass domes, fresh grilled peppers (yes, that is a stovetop in front of me at the bar), things ablaze! We were lucky that they had the time to treat us so personally. I don't doubt that the drinks are as good on a busy night, but the showmanship couldn't nearly be as one-on-one.

We started our drive back down to the Algarve, taking a ferry across at setubal, just because.

stopping at isolated beaches along the way

until we made it to our apartment in Olhos de Agua

view from the room

had to stop for lunch in Lagos

sunset and dinner in Sagres

beers in Albufeira - so inexpensive!!
view from our apartment in Olhos de Agua near Albufeira

Beach near old Albufeira

We met up with our friends for a day in old Albufeira. The streets had been flooded a few months prior and the damages are still prevalent. Many businesses are not open - pumping water from their basements. The stone roads being re-made by hand. Empty spaces where pavers had been being filled in with concrete.

But this guy - his bar along the beach was open. Tiny place. Great guy. Came here from Africa and stayed.