Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting? Waiting for that ‘perfect’ something, or someone (in some cases)? I find myself saying, “I can’t wait until…” or “I’ll be happy when…” a lot. Often times, the larger of these statements are boggled by some kind of grandiose expectation that meeting a specific event, experience, or even person could be the cure-all to my problems, the pivotal moment in which life magically gets better. For the longest time, judge me not, my statement of choice was, “I can’t wait until/I’ll be happy when I’m 30.” Actually, to be quite honest, it still is. 30, to me, has always seemed like the perfect number or age for life to fall into its rightful place. That is, the age at which I’ve presumed I’d have a stable and satisfying career, marriage (perhaps), savings account, and so on, and so forth. Essentially, the age at which I’d have it all together…or, so I’d like to think.
I hate to break it to you, guys, but I get rather idle come summer time. Granted, the weather has been much less than perfect lately, but nevertheless, it is still summer and I live in Hawaii (yup, there I go again, rubbing it in). And it’s sunny out (for the most part), it’s too hot inside without AC, and I sure as hell don’t feel like turning on the stove. Seriously. Unless, it’s to toast up these babies. Because these babies are, simply-put, amazing.
I truly kid you not. These glorified simple sandwiches are the perfect balance between sweet and savory, light and decadent. It’s the easiest (but more importantly, tastiest) on-the-go sandwich to avoid being cooped up in a hot kitchen on a sunny summer day. Continue reading →
Most of the time, I enjoy baking and cooking alone. This can typically be attributed to two things. The first being that, well, I’m Haein and I am the clumsiest girl I know. In other words, I like sparing myself the shame, so please continue to keep me on that culinary pedestal as I continue to make a messmasterpiece in my kitchen. The second being that having the kitchen all to my lonesome gives me a deep sense of serenity and control – and who doesn’t want complete and total control?! Oh, right, and peace.
But, every once in a while, I have the unexpected pleasure of friends willing to help or learn or just eat in my kitchen (as opposed to my dining room, I guess). My most recent catering event was one such instance of true camaraderie.
One of my best friends was here this past week from California and she’s just left, leaving me feeling bereft. She spent one of her first weekends home helping me prepare for the biggest baking extravaganza of my still-developing life. Not just her, but also several more of the most kindhearted and compassionate friends I have. They volunteered their time and energy to help create a success beyond my imagination. Success for me, of course, being all-inclusive of my ability to occasionally stuff their mouths with so-called mistakes or “extras” (though there really weren’t any) in addition to shoving extra jars of homemade strawberry jam or fresh ricotta cheese into their arms.
Guys, I did it. It’s finally over. Mother’s Day 2012 at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar was a huge (and not to mention, all-consuming, body-exhausting, & mind-blowing) success! A widespread brunch/lunch buffet of Japanese fare was followed by “Strawberry Spree” Sweets buffet (by yours truly), where 460-something voracious, yet surprisingly pleasant, guests devoured 1800-something servings of 12 different types of strawberry-themed desserts within a span of 5 hours and 3 full-seating turnovers. Let’s not forget that this was, believe it or not, after these bottomless bellies were stuffed with mountains upon mountains of sushi, tempura, udon, salad, chicken, king crab, and God knows what else. All I really want to know is, who are these thoroughly inhuman people with such exigent appetites and where on earth did they come from? Because I have this ever-growing hunch that I must be related to them. After all, there is a most uncanny resemblance between my belly and theirs.Stomach resemblance aside, there may have been little else alike between these wonderful guests and I. Though the picture doesn’t show it (thank God), I slept for a very true-to-saying, painstakingly short-and-sweet 45 minutes. The grueling fun-filled hours leading up to that nap and the even more agonizing joyous hours that followed were wholeheartedly dedicated to baking and assembling a mass amount of the greatest (and most practical) homemade desserts I could muster up and create from scratch. Exhausted as I may have been, and trust me when I say exhausted is a euphemism for the physical state I was in at the time, this project was my absolute pride and joy from unshaped, prenatal beginning to expectant, postnatal forthcoming. It was Mother’s Day, for crying out loud, and this project was my beautifully overweight newborn. Continue reading →
My idea of the quintessential birthday party doesn’t necessarily mandate a towering 3-layer cake. Mainly because every time I try to bake one, all I seem to create is a very tasty mess of sorts. So, instead, I resort to marinating meat. Lots of it. Short ribs, the Korean way, to be exact.
Because my idea of the perfect birthday party consists of just 3 things: a family of friends, perfect weather, and a beach barbecue. All of which I happily had (and then some) at my birthday last week. Continue reading →
I’m not a believer in perfection, in life nor in the kitchen. Every endeavor we choose to undertake is an additional notch in our endless belts, a constant work in progress. That said, I present to you two things: my very first and very own Hungry to Happy recipe with all its dreaminess and tasty imperfections and a newly rejuvenated and more hopeful me, freshly graduated with a college degree and henceforth, thrust into the “real world.” Talk about accomplishments, these are huge notches for me!
But alas, like all other works in progress, there’s always room for tapping, tweaking, and discovering. Case in point, this near-perfect Green Tea Cheesecake. After having baked more than a couple cheesecakes using a number of wonderfully decadent recipes in my not-so-lengthy lifetime, I decided to get experimental and forge my own. It was alluring with its creamy and earthy filling, rich and toasty crust, and tart and juicy raspberry, but it wasn’t perfect. To my utter horror and glee, it was baked for my first catering event (with the restaurant I represent) for an affluent group of socialites at an effulgent palace of a home. Despite the petrifying need for “perfection,” though imperative at that moment and in others, my minor shortcomings didn’t hinder my ability to learn, to succeed. Continue reading →
Sometimes, a hiatus is in order.
Life can be much too hectic at times, even for your average 22-year old, college student who loves to bake, cook, and write. The truth is, everyone needs a break, even when it means peeling yourself away from the things you love to do.
These last few months have been both immensely taxing and astonishing to me. I caught a most severe case of Senioritis leading into my first month of my last semester as an undergrad student. Classes were ditched, assignments missed, and I played hooky left and right to no end (until now, that is). Meanwhile, I found love in an unfamiliarly familiar, irrationally justified, and imperfectly perfect person. And like all other great loves in life, it was completely unexpected. More untimely and unexpected is the fact that I am currently in job-limbo after having made a bold (and admittedly a little impetuous) decision to leave my precious hostessing job at a restaurant that I have come to cherish as my home over the last 3 years. With all that said and done, a hiatus was and still is undoubtedly in order so that I may refresh, venture forth, and excel in the perpetually uncharted future.
And though my future (post-hiatus) may not be as discernible (nor brilliant, dare I say) as that of The Pig and the Lady’s, I still find myself extremely lucky to have experienced this pop-up restaurant phenomenon prior to their break and my own.
As August and summer inevitably draw to a sweltering hot end and my last semester in college resumes lethargically, I can’t help but wonder, ‘what’s for breakfast?’
It’s the timeless and unwaning question that immediately enters my mind upon waking and sits there until happily answered Monday through Friday (or whichever days I am – *eh hem* – required to be present and awake behind a desk in a less-than-comfortable classroom). In the past, this question would sometimes be answered by melodious noises and heavenly aromas elicited by my mom in the kitchen. Other times, this question would be answered as early as the night before consequent to my excited and persistent chirping to have something to dream about and look forward to come morning. Breakfast is one meal I can have at any given hour of the day and if you couldn’t tell, it happens to be my favorite kind of fare. From veggie-stuffed omelets to pastries and bacon to Crème Brûlée French Toast, hey, what’s not to love?! Continue reading →
As I’ve been gathering up the mismatched and hitherto disregarded pieces of my scattered brain, one thing has been steadfast which has allowed me to maintain my sanity (a little) and keep me from feeling completely incomplete. I’m talking about friends, the mere existence of them.
Some friends you make in kindergarten over chocolate-covered fingers and faces during the ever-anticipated recess. Some you happen to meet in playgrounds and day cares, instantly making you mischievous partners-in-crime. Others you grow up with, remembering everything about them from their first bicycle to their first heartbreak. Then there are those that you meet in between and along the way, that fit into and fill the deepest crevices of your heart – making you feel whole, unbroken. The ones that aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear – for your sake and not theirs. The ones that transcend the constraints of both distance and time. The ones that you can call at practically any hour on a whim to have a drink or some ice cream, just because. I am blessed to have met these friends, amongst whom I have made a family of. And today happens to be one such friend’s birthday. Happy birthday, Joanne! Continue reading →
There are childhood favorites, likeStrawberry Jam, or post-adolescent necessities luxuries, like sweet and juicy fruit-infused booze. After working days on end, I can’t imagine a better way to spend a well-deserved day off than to sit outdoors, basking in the infinite and inescapable sunlight with a dripping watermelon wedge in one hand and a nice, cold glass of watermelon soju in the other. Along with the cozy smell of yeast and flour that makes bread, the warmth and softness of freshly washed-and-dried laundry against my face, and the sight of my dog,Chino. making feeble (and more often, not-so-feeble) attempts at “rolling over” in hopes of getting a tummy rub, my heart flutters when the sun is beaming, forcing me to wrinkle my nose and squint my eyes. It also swells with glee when watermelons are in season. They’re my absolute favorite fruit.
They’re mouth-watering and bursting with brightness, flavor, and juice, undeniably singing “summer is here!” And paired with some soju, I can’t help but to think (with all 22 whopping years of me): life just can’t get much better than this. Continue reading →