Thursday Stuff

L.A. Stuff

While I lived in Los Angeles, I used to go to King’s games maybe once a year or once every two years. I’ve never been a huge fan of ice hockey but the times I attended King’s games I always had a great time. The games were always fast paced, action packed, and there’s nothing like the sounds of blades cutting across the ice. Although I didn’t follow much of the King’s season, I did pay attention when they made it to the playoffs and were somehow headed to the finals. I’m proud to be a Los Angeleno at heart, and proud that the King’s won their first ever Stanley Cup Championship! Congratulations, Kings! …It’s good to be King.

I wanted to share a photo of me standing just 3 inches away from the 2007 Stanley Cup trophy shortly after the Anaheim Duck’s won, but I couldn’t find the photo!!! My co-worker and I were fortunate that the Duck’s brought the Stanley Cup to the non-profit where we worked, but alas, with no photo to share with you on this post, it’s just a distant memory of my past.

Time Management Stuff

I’m still hard at work at trying to get my new website organized and this is taking more of my time than expected. Without getting into the tedious manual labor details of what I’m doing, suffice it to say, I’m glad I only have a 162 posts versus 562 posts to update.

We’re also enjoying the sunnier weather these days and I’m happy to report that so far, we’ve escaped the claws of June Gloom. In the mornings, Bebe E likes to look out the window and say, “It’s a nice day today, mama! What are we going to do?” Needless to say, entertaining Bebe E is my priority, and the more I entertain the more tired I am at the end of the day, and less inclined to work on my website project or blog. That said, moving forward, if you notice that I’m not updating my blog as frequently as before, you know that I’m either hard at work on my new website, or sadly, hard at work sleeping – likely around the same time Bebe E goes to bed… somewhere between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm!

Zoo Stuff

For any of you in Southern California with young kids to entertain, a nice little place to spend a few hours is the Irvine Regional Park. This park is home to the tiny Orange County Zoo, and for $ 2.00 you can see a few owls, goats, bunnies, hens, snakes, beavers, mountain lions, and California bears and walk the entire zoo in under 30 to 45 minutes. Also available at the Park are pony rides, horseback riding, paddle boats, and a train ride for the kiddies. It’s not the San Diego Zoo, but Bebe E enjoys it. We recently met some good friends of ours at the Regional Park for a little picnic and fun. The kids had a great time.

Hello Kitty Stuff

A recent outing resulted in a nice little find….

My little one was hesitant to let go of her new find while I took a photo. I’m not so sure who was more excited about our little find – Bebe or Mommy. This summer we’ll be making our own ice pops!

Basketball Stuff

Now that Bebe E is getting bigger, we’re exploring sports beyond swimming. Two weeks ago she had her first basketball class. Taking a fundamentals basketball course might seem a bit premature at her age, but it was great timing considering we spent the past several months cheering for the Lakers. She was excited about taking this class.

One of the things Bebe E began doing is pulling up her socks all the way up to her knees. When I first saw her doing this, I was naturally curious since I don’t typically pull-up her socks all the way.

Mommy: “What are you doing, baby?”

Bebe E: “I’m like Ko-be.” At first I thought she was referring to a friend with a similar name, but when I asked again, she said, “NO! Kobe Bryant!”

Mommy: “Oh, you’re like Kobe Bryant who pulls up his socks up to his knees when he plays basketball.”

Bebe E: “Yea, Mommy! Like Kobe Bryant and Ay-num N’ By-num!”

Mommy: (Laughing) “Like Ay-num N’ By-num?!? Do you mean, Andrew Bynum?”

Bebe E: “Yea, Ay-num N’ By-num!”

Smile Bebe! You’ve got your superstar socks on!

I just laughed. It’s funny what kids overhear and interpret. That’s my little girl! Aside from knee-high socks which apparently invoke superpower basketball skills, an added benefit of taking this basketball-for-tots class is that Bebe E’s vocabulary is growing. The other night she was lining up cards on the floor and she said that it was the “baseline”. Now that one took Daddy off guard.

Happy Thursday!

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2012 Memorial Day Weekend Take-Out Bento | Japanese Lunch Box

One of the great things about living in Southern California is that we have a number of Japanese take-out bento restaurants that are within our reach.

On Saturday morning we woke up and decided to take a quick trip to the beach and pick-up bento at a Japanese take-out restaurant that we like to visit occasionally, Betoss. Every month they usually have a special on a different bento, or Japanese lunch box. Our favorite is the $4.99 chicken teriyaki special. It’s a bargain, and it tastes great.

The chicken teriyaki bento comes with rice, umeboshi (pickled plum), chicken with bell peppers, Japanese style potato salad garnished with a tomato and kaiware daikon (radish sprouts), tsukemono (pink pickled radish), and a small side dish of gobo – ninjin aemono (burdock root and carrot appetizer).

Right next to Bentoss is the Mitsuwa Marketplace (Japanese supermarket), and there, we picked-up some inari sushi, or what we like to call “footballs” in our family. It’s sweet fried tofu wrappers with sushi rice inside.

While not homemade, sometimes, a simple take-out bento can hit the spot and make for a nice picnic outdoors.

While it was clear, blue skies and white sandy beaches at Newport Beach, the weather turned a little cool and breezy. We quickly ate our chicken teriyaki bento, put on our hoodies (because Bebe E and I just got over being sick), made sand castles, looked for sea shells, caught sand crabs and headed home for a nap. It was a nice Saturday picnic at the beach.

In the future, I’ll share Bebe E’s bento that I make for her sometimes. It’s simple, usually involves leftovers but it’s always a hit with her.

Happy Wednesday!

Judy

Tito’s Tacos

I don’t want to get in the habit of posting my jaunts dining out, since I don’t dine out very often, but this week I find myself compelled to share yet another favorite Westside Los Angeles eatery: Tito’s Tacos.

Tito’s Tacos is nothing short of a historical landmark.

Anyone who grew up in Los Angeles or has spent a significant amount of time here, know’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about. When we locals move away from L.A., and we’re back in town, despite the multitude of first-class restaurants within our reach, we’re still compelled to make a special trip to Tito’s for some good ol’ fried tacos, a burrito or tamale. Their chips with fresh salsa or guacamole are also quite tasty and very addicting.

When I was a kid, there were countless times that my family picked-up tacos for a quick and delicious weekend lunch or dinner. Whenever we saw that cardboard take-out box, we knew it was taco night. I remember as far back as elementary school and middle school, having dinner at my BFF’s house or at my friend’s house down the street, and seeing that same box on their dinner table – taco night.

As we grew up, Tito’s Tacos became a great way to celebrate Lakers games with friends and family, huddled around the TV, especially during the playoffs. Tito’s is simply good ol’ L.A. comfort food.

These days, when I take Bebe E to visit my parents in L.A., occasionally I’ll take her to Tito’s Tacos. It’s still around, after ALL these years, and it’s a great feeling to be able to take her to a taco joint that I grew-up with. On our way to Tito’s, she’ll tell us she wants a taco, but when we get to the order window, she always says “burrito”. She likes their no-meat, bean, cheese, and rice burrito. Recently, she’s been eating this with guacamole. (Don’t worry folks, she only eats about a quarter of the burrito. I usually eat her leftovers.)

The other day we drove up to L.A. to order sushi for a party we’re having on Saturday, May 5th which is widely known as Cinco de Mayo, but perhaps lesser known as Kodomo No Hi (Japanese Boy’s Day | Children’s Day). After a quick stop at the WLA Nijiya Supermarket (located in what is known as “Little Osaka”) to place our order, instead of hanging out in that neighborhood for good Japanese cuisine, we headed down to Culver City to Tito’s Tacos. As expected, when we arrived, there were lines outside the order windows, but thankfully, we arrived just shy of noon so we didn’t have to wait too long.

It had been a few months since we enjoyed Tito’s so it was a treat to eat some crunchy shredded beef tacos topped with lettuce and cheese.

Tito’s Tacos menu is pretty simple.

They offer shredded beef tacos or shredded beef tacos with cheese (our favorite). After a change in ownership a couple of years ago, they started offering chicken tamales, in addition to their original beef tamales, but they don’t compare. The beef tamale is far superior. This is my Dad’s favorite.

Then there’s the burrito. They offer an all beef burrito, to which you can add rice, beans or cheese in any combination. You can also order a no-meat burrito with any combination of rice, beans and cheese.

Finally, there’s the cheese enchilada (no variation of this), tostada, and the sides: rice, chili con carne, refried beans, and guacamole. Each order comes with a handful of complimentary tortilla chips and fresh salsa. It’s a great old school taco joint that I’m proud to say that I grew-up with.

After lunch Bebe E asked if we were napping at Obaachan and Ojiichan’s (my parents) house and if we were eating dinner, and sleeping over too. It seems we’ve been having more sleepovers there while Dada is traveling (as recently as last week), but I tried to explain to her that today’s trip was a day visit, and that she could nap there, but Dada was waiting for us so we were going home that night.

Of course, after dinner she convinced Obaachan to bathe her before we went home because, as she says, “it’s fun taking bath at Obaachan Jiichan’s house”. And all the while she kept asking me if we’re sleeping over and that she really wanted to eat breakfast there. I think my Mom was pretty happy to hear her granddaughter didn’t want to go home. Perhaps she’s just like her Mama and is an L.A. girl at heart. :)

Have a great weekend!

Judy

Urth Caffé

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who loved dining out in Los Angeles. Then she grew-up and moved away; not far away, but far enough.

After moving away, she still visited Los Angeles and occasionally dined at her favorite restaurants as a singleton, but the frequency of visits to her favorites markedly declined during her post-L.A. life.

She tried desperately to find new favorites in her post-L.A. neighborhood, but alas, “you can take the girl out of L.A., but you can’t take the L.A. out of the girl”.

Moving presented wonderful life changes such as marriage and a baby, cooking more often and dining out less frequently. No complaints. Family life proved to be rewarding.

One day, the girl and her baby were in L.A. for a visit with her parents and they were driving down Main Street in Santa Monica. Lo-and-behold, a fashionable eatery with an outdoor patio and people buzzing around caught the attention of her hungry eye.

Urth Caffé.

She did a double take, as the only Urth Caffés she’d visited were located in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills and it had been YEARS since she dined there. What was this?!? A new Urth Caffé location just minutes away from her parents’ home?

She pulled a quick u-turn, parked, and in went the girl, baby, and her parents. Brunch included a Mexican Omelette, Egg White & Spinach Breakfast Panini, and a Classic Belgium Waffle with Fresh Fruit. Thus began the love affair between girl and Urth Caffé.

* * * * * * * *

Urth’s specialty is exclusively organic coffee and tea.

I’ve always loved tea, and at one point in my life, I dreamed of becoming a purveyor of fine loose-leaf tea. Alas, that dream was and still is a mere dream, but I often enjoyed returning home from trips abroad with tins of my favorite loose-leaf teas from Fortnum & Mason and Fauchon. From business trips to San Francisco, my husband would return home with lovely and fragrant Asian tea leaves from Red Blossom Tea (near Chinatown).

Today, many high-end brands of loose-leaf teas can be found at specialty stores in the States or easily purchased online, but lately, I’ve been known to treat myself to an occasional visit to Urth Caffé for an organic English Breakfast Tea Latte or Matcha Tea Latte. These are DIVINE! The quality of the tea is far superior to that which you will find at a Starbucks, Peet’s or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Don’t get me wrong, for mere convenience sake I have been spotted at the latter three retailers slyly feeding my tea latte craving, but it just doesn’t compare.

Below is my latest obsession: Organic English Breakfast Tea Latte from Urth Caffé. It’s a beauty, isn’t it? The tea is of excellent quality, it’s flavor is neat, and the black tea is bold and strong. The creaminess of the milk and hint of sweetness are perfect compliments to this black tea; it’s the perfect tea latte.

Recently, in exchange for some lovely artwork, I treated one of my besties to a nice lunch at Urth Caffé. It turns out that we share a love for the same sandwich: the Portabella Panini. It’s made with grilled portabella mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, arugula, grilled artichokes and pesto goat cheese (oh how I LOVE goat cheese). It’s the type of sandwich that is SO good, you’ll find yourself craving it.

Now you know. I’ve confessed my weakness for organic tea lattes and fresh eats from Urth Caffé. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping by for breakfast or lunch, or even a cup of tea | coffee and dessert. I should also mention that their desserts are also divine!

Addicted to Urth,

Judy

Chicken Soup & CBS Gig

We’re sick again. At the beginning of last week I felt as though I was coming down with a cold. My throat was feeling slightly uncomfortable and my body felt heavy. After three days of eating chicken soup and taking it easy, I felt that I succeeded in fending off a full-blown cold.

Yesterday morning I was nuzzling Bebe E when I noticed her neck was just a little warmer than normal. A quick check of her temperature indicated only a slight fever at 99.2. I decided to wait to give her a fever-reducer but by lunch her fever was up to 102. After a little soup for lunch, ibuprofen, and a good nap, her fever was temporarily contained and she was back to her chatty self. Unfortunately, by 9 PM her fever returned at 103. I’m hoping she will be OK and that we won’t need to take a trip to the pediatrician today.

Last Monday, I made chicken soup for myself. This Monday, I made the same chicken soup for Bebe E. Continue reading

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs | Decorating Eggs | An Easter Egg Hunt and A Pony Ride

I considered a non-food related, no-recipe blog post about our pre-Easter weekend extravaganza. However, after a little thought I changed my mind and decided on a post about “perfect” boiled eggs, how to color them with simple food coloring, as well as to share a few crafty ideas for decorating eggs.

Before we get to the cooking and decorating of eggs, I’ll share what I really wanted to write about, which is our pre-Easter weekend extravaganza at the Irvine Regional Railroad Park.

EASTER EXTRAVAGANZA

We took Bebe E to what I will refer to as her first “public” egg hunt and she had fun. (Mommy and Daddy might have had even more fun simply watching her!) She seems to remember last year’s egg hunt in Yin Yin and Papa’s (her paternal grandparents) backyard and how her cousins helped her hunt for eggs and put them in her special quacking-duck-Easter-basket, so she was excited when we told her that we were going on an egg hunt at the park with other children; a first for Bebe E. Continue reading

Pumpkin Pancakes & Monterey Bay

Until our visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the farthest road trip we had ever taken with Bebe E was to San Diego for a visit to Sea World or the San Diego Zoo, which is a mere 1 1/2-hour drive. However, since our 17 hour flight to Beijing, we’ve gotten bold as parents.

Just prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday, Bebe Dada invited us to accompany him on a business trip to Northern California. He suggested we take a road trip and that we visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. At first, I was hesitant to embark on a long road trip, but considering how well Bebe E did on our trip to China I figured we would manage somehow.

In fact, she did quite well on her first trip to Northern California. Well, with the exception of about 1/2 an hour on the drive up when I fell asleep after lunch and Dada was left to fend for himself while driving through Paso Robles and appeasing a whinning Bebe in the back seat until she finally fell asleep. After a car ride singing to Bebe E’s favorite nursery rhymes and Japanese children’s songs, we arrived in Monterey Bay in the late afternoon, just in time for a walk before sunset.

We spent one full day at the Monterey Bay aquarium, from opening ’til closing, and we saw A LOT of marine life yet we find ourselves looking forward to another visit one day. Our favorites, by far, were the touch pools and the beautiful star fish, jelly fish, turtles, giant octopus, sea horses and the Open Sea Exhibit. We also enjoyed the Bat Ray exhibit but we were too frightened to touch them.

Not the best photography, but Bebe E standing in front of the aquarium watching the fish swim by captures all that was magical during our visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

There’s something intriguing, yet very relaxing and tranquil about watching fish swim in an aquarium. Bebe E has always loved fish, whether we spied them in fish tanks at restaurants or people’s homes, in ponds and in lakes. It’s no surprise that we gave her little goldfish for her birthday – – – her first pets! She was extremely delighted. I admit, I failed to keep the first 4 or 5 alive for longer than two days, but thanks to the tender care provided by Aya-chan, the last four that we adopted at the end of summer have happily lived in our home for the past few months.

Getting back to our little road trip….

The drive back to Southern California was much easier. The morning we departed, we drove from San Jose, where we were visiting friends, back down to Monterey Bay. It was a quick and uneventful drive. There, we stopped to take the 17-mile drive along Pebble Beach and made several stops to admire the beautiful ocean scenery. Bebe E kept telling us that she wanted to play in the sand with her “sand tools” but we hurried her back into the car as we were on a schedule to get back to Southern California… And never mind the crazy, crashing waves that would have swept our daughter away… no sand tools… nuh-uh.

We ate lunch at the local market and happily found the food to be surprisingly good. Afterwards, we quickly hopped back on the highway and it was prime time for Bebe E’s nap.Thanks to all the festivities of the weekend, she fell asleep instantly and took a fabulous 3 – hour nap. Upon waking, she was in a fantastic mood and literally talked our ears off for 2 1/2 hours STRAIGHT, as we drove to Los Angeles where we made a pit-stop at Bachan and Jichan’s home for dinner. I told my husband that I couldn’t believe our baby talked for THAT long and was happily entertained the entire time she was chatting. He simply stated that, “she’s just like her mother.”

The weekend after we came home I was still obsessed with pumpkin. I’d already enjoyed my favorite pumpkin cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, and I’d already made a huge batch of my favorite creamy pumpkin soup. While I was almost inspired to try my hand at baking my first ever home made pumpkin cheesecake, I shied away, and instead, thought I could whip-up a quick batch of instant pumpkin pancakes using my favorite out-of-the-box Krusteaz Pancake Mix, but woe is me – – – I didn’t have enough mix. In order to feed my craving I reluctantly Googled a recipe for home made pumpkin pancakes, but it was surprisingly quick and easy to whip-up, and even better were the results!

These pancakes turned out beyond thick and fluffy, with pumpkin-y goodness and were absolutely yummilicious! You won’t be disappointed with this recipe. The whole family enjoyed these pancakes and I’m happy to bank this recipe in my blog-a-la-family-cookbook.

Pumpkin Pancakes
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Roasted walnuts, for garnish
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish
  • Pure maple syrup, for yummy goodness
1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve with maple syrup and garnish while hot.

NOTE: If you use walnuts to garnish your pumpkins, be sure to roast them in a pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes until crisp.

 Adapted from Allrecipes.

Have a wonderful week!

Cheers,

Judy