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Sundae in the Park

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Everything posted by Sundae in the Park

  1. Sundae in the Park

    Dinner - The Polyphonic Food Blog

    Tried this eggplant with garlic sauce America's Test Kitchen recipe that seemed to be everywhere on the internet this week. I liked that it uses regular eggplants and basil, since I can't reliably get (good/cheap) Asian eggplants or Thai basil (at all), and I love Thai-style eggplant-basil dishes. There is a lot of lime in this dish, which is great, but has to grow on you if, like me, you aren't used to your brown sauces tasting so bright. The more I eat the more I like it. I think it's a keeper for our house. Did I ever mention that I used to hate eggplant and red peppers? Now they are among my favorite foods.
  2. Sundae in the Park

    Restaurant Specials for Furloughed Federal Workers

    All hail Jose Andres...again...for helping out and continuing to spark the conversation. This is an emergency’: José Andrés to open relief kitchen for federal workers during shutdown
  3. Sundae in the Park

    Dinner - The Polyphonic Food Blog

    We've taken to roasting our tri-tips instead of grilling them, as it requires far less meat-sitting. There's 100% less thrilling flame flare-ups but a lot more pan juices. We buy the untrimmed roasts and trim them lightly, which works out great for self-basting while grilling, but is less useful for roasting in a pan, so we've been trimming more carefully. The meat is much more tender but lacks the charred exterior - not a bad trade off, but we will still grill on occasion. We made the last one a few nights ago with mashed potatoes, sauteed zucchini, and mushroom cream sauce, and are just now finishing it up as sandwiches. Two nights ago we made chicken pot pie soup, because I wanted a pot pie but didn't feel like messing with pastry. And then I went and finally tried the no-knead bread recipe that I've been eyeing for years. That bread recipe is very forgiving and we were happy with the results. I couldn't believe that I made pretty bread! Last night was pad se ew with chicken, because we were out of beef and had fresh, soft noodles that couldn't wait. Beef > chicken in this dish but we managed to get a decent bit of wok hei charring on the noodles.
  4. Sundae in the Park

    Help with Hosting: A topic for party planners and hosts.

    This is sounding like a really delicious party!!! Since others have suggested eggs, you could also do deviled eggs, though they are stinkier. Our party go-tos that always get devoured are the deviled eggs and pesto chicken or pizza rolls.
  5. After a quick visit this Christmas, I'm reminded to tell people that there is NO FOOD available in the park! My family ("...there has to be a cafeteria or something somewhere in there.") was a bit annoyed at the outset that I kept harping about bringing everything we would want to eat/drink (though you can fill up with water at a couple BUT NOT ALL of the visitor centers), and to be prepared to stay in the main part of the park all day long once we entered ("...we'll just drive to 29 Palms and grab some food for lunch"), but were quite happy once we were there and they understood. It takes a while to drive through the park, even just the upper loop (29 Palms to Joshua Tree), so planning to drive out for a meal and come back in is really, really inefficient. So plan ahead and enjoy! Even if you don't plan to rock-climb formally (there are tons of local outfits that will take you out for a few hours), if you like rock-scrambling, this is the park for you! The rock piles and cliffs by the Indian Cove area are phenomenal for scrambling and easy climbs (look carefully at just about every pile/face and you'll see a climber or a whole climbing class) and extremely accessible (it's only a 5-minute drive in, compared with entering the main portion of the park, so this is a part of the park you could visit briefly to climb/play/walk the nature trail and grab food somewhere on highway 62. Also, there is no pay station to enter this portion of the park.). Hidden Valley inside the park has a nice, flat, 1-mile loop that contains many tall rock piles and walls particularly begging to be climbed.
  6. So they didn't have to quite shut down as feared, though some areas were briefly inaccessible, but all parts of the park are back open today. Unfortunately, is sounds like some parts of the park were and are being damaged, mostly because some people can't help being jerks (off-roading, cutting down Joshua trees, trash and 💩 everywhere). Good for local businesses (for now), but concerning for the health of the park as the shutdown continues.
  7. Sundae in the Park

    Help with Hosting: A topic for party planners and hosts.

    Is it a meal or just a cocktail party? Even though they are not necessarily individually substantial, adding nuts (glazed or spicy), olives, fruits, and dark chocolate would round out a nice list of one-handed snacky options. Maybe add another dip or two with bread/baguette slices, and/or a satay? It might also depend on the wine theme. For a real meal you could lean towards more dinner dish-type options like casseroles, sandwiches/sliders, or meat/bread rolls.
  8. Sundae in the Park

    What Are Your Kids Eating Tonight?

    Blessing and good luck to all the furloughed workers, workers without pay, and most of all, the contractors who almost certainly won't get paid. We've all been cranky and picky coming off various illnesses, but we got a family hit yesterday with chicken tikka masala curry and rice. Everybody ate (at least some of) the same thing, so we're taking that as a big win.
  9. Sundae in the Park

    Learning Mandarin - My New Year's Resolution

    BTW, I have the intro to Mandarin Rosetta Stone program, and while I like it, I actually don't think it's great for someone who doesn't already have a basic Chinese vocabulary (they "teach" vocabulary by showing pictures of multiple things without telling you what the word means in English! What the heck?). My husband, who took Mandarin in college, doesn't really like it or find it helpful to refresh his memory. A conversational group is perfect, the best way to learn about people, culture, and pronunciation, but I would also suggest checking out library for books and/or audio/visual resources or free online resources.
  10. Sundae in the Park

    Learning Mandarin - My New Year's Resolution

    Interesting! Please keep us updated, kat. This is something I've been thinking about, as my spoken and written Mandarin are horrible (a complete waste of a decade+ of Chinese school) BUT my listening/understanding skills continually surprise even my parents. It comes from growing up in a household where the adults primarily spoke Mandarin and the kids were allowed to speak (mostly) English. When I'm thrown in with a Mandarin-speaking group for a while, lots of conversational vocabulary comes pops up in bits and pieces. Now that I have kids, I would like them to have some grounding in the language, but am unsure how to achieve that given how useless I think forced instruction is and how little I am able to speak it. Maybe try to get them hooked on a YouTube series/TV show we watch together? Chineasy seems like a good game-like introduction. Can't wait to hear more about your learning journey.
  11. Hahahahaha Rasika got name-checked (or actually, probably a product placement, but that's kind of weird) on Season 2, Episode 1 of Designated Survivor!! Apparently it's where President Kiefer gets his takeout chicken korma? LOL, that doesn't even sound like something they would have on their menu (I checked, it's not there now). Note that the episode aired in late September 2017, which is possibly interesting or completely unrelated to the Michelin announcements in October 2017? What can I say, I've been bingeing on the show and now have conspiracy theories on the brain 😉
  12. Sundae in the Park

    Dinner - The Polyphonic Food Blog

    Yep, squash has been soupified, and we're hoping it will be enough to see us through to the end of my sickness. I cubed it, tossed with oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted it with chunks of onion until caramelized. Threw it all into a pot with some dried sage, veg stock, and some sherry; whizzed with the stick blender; and stirred in some cream and lots of salt at the end. It's thick and rich tastes like the holidays come again. I think the rest of the family is having chicken tenders tonight while I have more soup.
  13. Sundae in the Park

    Low- and no-carb recipes

    Good Earth sweet and spicy tea is my new obsession and a great weapon when the cravings for a sweet drink hit. I've only tried the orange caffeine-free kind so far (it has a Rooibos base), though there are a few flavors in this line. I have no idea how the blend does it but, much like a perfectly balanced long island iced tea, this stuff alchemizes into a genuinely sweet taste to the tongue without any artificial flavors or calories, so doesn't need any additional sweetening. I'm not quite sure how they do it, but here is the ingredient list: organic Rooibos, organic chicory root, organic cinnamon, organic rosehip, organic honeybush, natural flavor, organic lemongrass, organic chamomile, organic peppermint, organic ginger root, organic orange oil, organic orange peel Other than the "natural flavors," I can't see anything suspicious in there. A HuffPo blogger looked into the natural flavors thing a few years ago, but the report back from the company doesn't seem too damning to me. I got some for my diabetic grandma, as she was greatly impressed by the naturally sweet and warming flavor (and she is usually only into expensive Chinese teas). It tastes amazing hot, warm, or cold. I really hope it doesn't turn out to be bad for me!!! I can get it pretty much anywhere - Vons (Safeway), Sprouts, and I actually first tried it while it was on demo at Costco, though I haven't seen it there since.
  14. Sundae in the Park

    Low- and no-carb recipes

    Hey all, if you have any ideas, I could use some help! I've got at least 7 more weeks to go of a low/no carb diet (gestational diabetes) and am reaching my tolerance for grilled veg and meat/fish and cheese and eggs in any form. I did see the low-carb pasta and T-day threads here on DR, and searched quite a bit on the internet. I've made meat muffins, egg muffins, meat/egg muffins, salads of every sort, and grilled or roasted pretty much every vegetable I like ad nauseam. I rediscovered olives last week and curried chicken (and egg!) salad and there was quite a bit of chili in rotation for awhile, but beans are carbs as well! (Carbs lurking EVERYWHERE!) I am dying for pasta and rice but using all my pay-to-play exercise to eat some fruit and dairy every day. Whole foods (small amounts of potatoes, corn, peas) don't seem to spike the ol' blood sugar as much as anything processed (any form of bread, tortillas, etc.). I know it's a really first world problem to have and I do recognize that I'm incredibly lucky to have easy access to tons of of healthful and delicious food...I'm just sick of what we've been eating and feel bad for my poor, mutually suffering (his choice, the trooper) husband. So any recipes that even tweak our usual list would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
  15. Sundae in the Park

    Vacation Ideas

    For a short trip in winter why go far or cold? Miami, Nashville, or Charleston should do the trick, staying in the same time zone, and all work with or without kids. A little further afield Mexico City is interesting and delicious. San Diego is lovely but blander than the rest of these ideas.
  16. One advantage JJ has over other bakeries is that the DTF wait (among other attractions) keeps business moving briskly, so the items are are constantly being refreshed (there are at least two more bakeries on the same block with little/no visible foot traffic while walking down the block, as compared to the constantly swinging door at JJ). The downside, however, is that they are sometimes out of the things you want - no curry pastries were available during this visit We missed them but got some lovely pork buns, a few cake slices, and some fluffy raisin rolls instead. A long line here also moves quite quickly, as they have several registers.
  17. In addition a full suite of typical Taiwanese bakery items, J.J. Bakery in Arcadia (I've only been to that location) also has a limited selection of cooked/hot breakfast/dim sum foods (at least in the morning), making it an even more attractive alternative to Din Tai Fung when the lines are too long. We've had the turnip cakes (no longer crispy on the edges if it's been sitting there a while, but otherwise quite good) and the big meat and vegetable buns (very good. I love giant buns, and the fillings are flavorful, plentiful, and not at all sketchy tasting/feeling). It's great fast food. I've also run in an grabbed bakery items before/after a DTF run many times, and they have always been good, if not particularly memorable. In case it's not obvious, they also serve hot and cold drinks, including boba drinks. The one time I got a boba tea it was perfectly fine.
  18. Sundae in the Park

    Happy New Year, My Friends!

    So, the hoopla about plastic straws is based on a bunk metric, BUT the opener it provides in the conversation about plastic pollution has been amazing. Vox has a good summary of the plastics problem and every little step that each person takes can help. I've never really used plastic straws but there are lots of other places in my life I can work on reducing/eliminating single-used plastics, especially in the arenas of takeout meals and bulk groceries. We've used cloth bags for groceries for years, but lately I've gotten lazy about using those tiny produce bags that can't even be reused for garbage, so it's a good time to buckle down again, with the new year as a fresh start. Let's be better together!!
  19. I've been meaning to try 101 Noodle Express for a while, since it specializes in some of my favorites items in Chinese cuisine - noodles and dumplings. I had passed it over in favor of trying other places because the flagship item, the Shangdong-style beef roll, isn't my favorite. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out I didn't like them as much at other places simply because they weren't as good. Here, they are the highest expression of the snack, consistent and omnipresent at every table for a reason. The crepe-like bing is thin, flaky, and rich, but not oily. The beef is high-quality and sliced uniformly thin. There is just enough cilantro, scallions, and salty-sweet bean sauce to bring balanced flavors and textures. In case you aren't familiar with the beef roll (I think A&J recently put a version on the menu, but I never tasted it there), here's a nice description. The balance and uniform thinness of the layers, as well as tight wrapping, is key. We ate most of our roll at lunch and promptly ordered another to go (they travel really well!). We also got some dan dan noodles, which had a tiny kick but weren't particularly spicy (which we were expecting, since this is decidedly not a Szechuan place) and the hand-torn noodles were pleasingly chewy. We didn't have room for dumplings, but the many plates of pan-fried dumplings we saw scattered about the room were plump and had golden, crunchy-looking bottoms. We were at the Alhambra location, which is a casual strip-mall spot serving budget-friendly, simple, snacky food until late night (1 AM). They have a few other locations in Arcadia, Culver City, and Irvine. I learned one thing about their operations from their website that I find very promising for visiting other locations: 101 Noodle Express boasts a central, factory-like kitchen to secure quality control of its franchises.
  20. The beef rolls at the Arcadia location are just as wonderful as I remember from the Alhambra location! We ordered one for there and one to go, and now that the extra roll is gone we wish we had ordered a couple more. We also got the pan-fried lamb dumplings and the non-spicy beef noodle soup. The dumplings were plump, rich, and so juicy they were practically soup dumplings! They also sell dumplings frozen to take home and next time I think we'll do just that. The noodle soup had pleasantly chewy hand-torn noodles and good, beefy flavor. The Arcadia location is just about across the street from the original Din Tai Fung plaza in a kind of dumpy strip mall, and I think we'll be eating here from now on. There was quite the lunch rush a bit after noon on a holiday-ish weekday, and they are cash only so plan accordingly.
  21. Sundae in the Park

    Dinner - The Polyphonic Food Blog

    We're having soup to beat the Sick for the next few days. A brothy chicken soup and lentil soup as well. If they're not enough to do the job, I have a big butternut squash that will be roasted and pureed into more soup. Die germs, die!
  22. Sure, this story on the Bar Keeper's Friend website is a promotional entry, but it is still hilarious/awesome and that is the same pan I just bought, looking so very shiny and new after a good scrub! So...I think I'll be getting some. Well played.
  23. Sundae in the Park

    What Are You Baking?

    We made a lot of cookies for the holidays over a few weeks and stored most in our freezer, to be pulled out as needed (a saving grace for unexpected last-minute gifts!): 3 batches of almond joy cookies (a winner of a new recipe this year) 1 batch of chocolate, mint-chip cookies 1 batch of chocolate, peanut butter-chip cookies 1 batch of gluten-free, salted peanut butter cookies 1 batch of sugar cookies from a tube 2 batches of cranberry-orange cream scones (another winner of a new recipe and great for using up excess cream) 1 batch of molasses cookies 2 batches of nut-horns 1 batch of paciencia meringues Given that we also received dozens of cookies and other baked gifts, we are SO bakery-ed out!
  24. Sundae in the Park

    Christmas Meal - What Are You Doing?

    Christmas Eve for us since we became officially Southern Californian has been beef and pork tamales with assorted salsas and guacamole, adobo black beans, salad, and a Christmas cookie assortment. For Christmas Day, we meant to put on a few more dishes, but sick kids only allowed us to make the beef tenderloin with bourbon mushroom sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and carrots, cranberry slaw, rolls, and more cookies, which was still tons of food.