Monday, January 26, 2009

Mom's one year prayer & Brownies

So January 22nd was the one year anniversary of my mom's passing. As a result, we had some of her closest friends from church and our family come over to our house Saturday night to gather, remember, and pray for her. Of course whenever our family gathers or invites people over there is a lot of food to eat. Since I'm still working on my Vietnamese cooking.. and my family doesn't exactly praise my Vietnamese cooking... my aunts/uncles brought the food over. My dad also went out to buy some roasted pig and duck as well. Here is what we primarily had that night:
-Noodles w/ pork
-Roasted pig
-Roasted duck
-Sweetened sticky rice
-Ca Ri Ga (curried chicken soup)
-Bo Kho (beef stew)
-Tons of noodles and bread

I also tried a new recipe/technique for making brownies. I used unsweetened cocoa powder in the recipe instead of chips. It turned out very very rich- for those who enjoy dark chocolate, this would be the ultimate brownies for you. My cousin also came over to help me bake these. I had some water simmering in a pot, and put a safe bowl over it. In the bowl, I first melted the butter, then added in sugar + salt, and finally added the cocoa powder. Took it off of the pot and let it cool down a little bit. Then added the vanilla, eggs one by one, and last- the flour. Put it into a square baking pan and about 20 minutes later they're done. They may not look like much changes on the top from the time you put it in, but make sure you check it with a toothpick because it is done.. I had them out on the counter waiting to cool down after they were done baking and my aunt asked me if I was waiting to bake them. These brownies are not fluffy but rich and almost fudgey.

CoCo Crepes & Coffee

peach crepe & vanilla gelato (VERY GOOD!)
We went out to Midtown last Friday with Brian and Jonathan. Originally, we went out for "happy hour" at 630 or so, but that turned into an all night thing, which was fine. Kimmy and I spotted CoCo Crepes & Coffee across the street from Front Porch Pub, so we took a break for a while and headed over there for a little dessert. We ordered a peach crepe & vanilla gelato, and took a seat at a nice table outside - it was a nice, cool night. The crepe came out in just a minute, and it was really good. Soft crepe folded with peaches inside (just canned peaches i think, but very good and went well with the crepe), topped with a nice scoop of some really good vanilla gelato - with the classic black specks of real vanilla. We devoured it pretty quickly, probably could have gotten another, but it was nice for a dessert for both of us. Kimmy got a hazelnut latte, which was pretty good too. We had a nice break from the crowd and had a nice talk and did some peoplewatching. When we got back over to Front Porch, I told Jonathan it would be a really good place to take a date after dinner, but he had had a few Lone Stars and said he'd rather get her drunk.

Friday, January 23, 2009

a nonfood post- Discovery Green

So one place Ryan and I went to, but didn't eat at, is Discovery Green Park downtown. We both said we guess it is like the Central Park of Houston. It's a really nice park. Great place to walk around, lay on the grass, roll down a perfectly formed hill, get drenched in really cold water from different fountains, watch people walking their dogs, watch people play frisbee or soccer with their families (including people who look like the Duggars from TLC), get a bite to eat if you haven't already from the Lake House, The Grove, or from vendors. I'd like to go back and get some food from the Lake House and find a spot on the grass somewhere. I'm sure the water fountains will be packed with children running through them when the weather gets warmer around here. I think there will be shows/concerts in the spring or summer similar to Miller soon. I also think they'll bring back the outdoor ice skating each winter. If you have the free time and want to take a walk or people watch... make your way downtown.

New edit: additional childhood photos added to La Vang post below

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mekong Grill

Kimmy has been feeling kinda sick with a cold the past few days, so she wanted some pho for lunch today. We were in Cypress and needed to go to the grocery store, so we decided to go to Mekong Grill on Barker Cypress (just south of 290, in front of the Stone Gate neighborhood) since HEB is right there too. It's a pretty good place for Vietnamese food by Cypress standards at least. The prices are a little higher than most other places in other areas of town, but the bowls are huge and if you're in Cypress you don't have to drive far.

Anyway, Kimmy got a bowl of pho, the usual beef soup with noodles, and I ordered bun bo hue, which is a little different, with spicy broth and bigger noodles. Both of them were pretty good, larger bowl than either of us could eat though. I ordered some egg rolls too, but they aren't too great there.

The interesting thing about this place is that there are always different people working there. We think the owners decided to hire a few of their neighbors or something. The inside of Mekong Grill is decorated with the leftover decor from an Italian restaurant that used to occupy the building. Garden scene painted on the walls, faux finish bricks-peeking-out-from-under-cracked-plaster and everything.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Giao Xu Duc Me La Vang

So each Sunday- my dad and I try to go to church, then meet up with my sister at my mom's. From there we usually go eat and it is typically always at the same places- Pho in the Hong Kong market center off of Veterans or Cuu Long off of 249. This past weekend, we didn't go to either of those places. Instead, we went to Our Lady of La Vang church off of 249 & Old Foltin Road for their annual festival. I remember going to this church as a child- it is where I had my first holy communion and spent countless Sundays at Sunday school. I remember a dinky blue building and a small church with green glass windows. I recently found photos of my sister and I performing some sort of dance at this church where I was dressed all in baby blue with wings holding a basket around my neck that contained glitter in it. Anyways, this isn't the place I remembered. They built this HUGE church which I would except to see at a temple but not here. There are dragons all over the roof and then at the very tip... a cross. Hidden behind this huge thing is the old church and the no longer blue school building. Next to that was where the festival was being held.

They had tables set up for you to start buying New Year gifts for others, a whole wall lined with food and food, big stage for entertainment (although we only got to see dragon dances and them showing/naming lost children..), smaller tent for games and to buy random things, and another small area of moonwalk type things for the kids to play on. Since it was cold, Ryan and I both had Pho. Dad, my sister, and my brother in law had Banh Cuon. The lady making the banh cuon was awesome- I wish I could make it like that. Dad also bought us some goat meat to eat, and I tried to take a photo of the people next to us eating baby duck eggs. Don't worry, if you aren't in the mood for Vietnamese food... make sure you stop by Fry R Us instead.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Breakfast Klub

Kimmy and I went to get breakfast today at the Breakfast Klub with Claudia (or "K"laudia as their menu might say). We've been wanting to try this place for a while. Apparently this is where Jay-Z and Beyonce eat when they're in town. They are known for their Chikin Wings and Waffles, and their Catfish (err.. Katfish) and Grits. I got the wings and waffles, and Kimmy and Claudia got French toast and waffle breakfasts. Everything was pretty good. The wings were just a little spicy and fresh out of the fryer, burned my mouth on them pretty good. Next time, I think I'll be trying the fish & grits.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Seoul Garden

Since my sister Kim is leaving in the next day or so, I asked if everyone wanted to meet up for dinner Tuesday night. I told her we should go down to Bellaire or go eat some Korean food. She chose to have Korean food. We went out to Seoul Garden- a place we've been to many times and the place where I first tried Korean food. The place still looks the same- water wheel up front- and smells the same. The smell instantly seeps into your clothes and everything you wear. This place has become a little stingy and pricey over the years. We now have to have "pive" dishes for "pive" people. If you have had Korean food before, you know "pive" dishes would be waaayyy too much food and not necessary. We settled for ordering some appetizers...

We had:
1) Gyoza (Japanese fried dumplings)
2) Shumai (shrimp dumplings)
3) Geem (dried seaweed)
4) Bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef)
5) Gal-Bi (short ribs)
6) Dakgogi (chicken)
+ all those side dishes of pickled things (kim chi, seaweed, bean sprouts, salad (my favorite), tofu, potatoes, cucumbers, etc)

Tons of food- we ate it all and still smell like it too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Farrago World Cusine

A friend and I met up for dinner tonight. Jonathan suggested Farrago and so that's where we went. It's in midtown and was easy to get to tonight since it was pretty much empty. There was plenty of free parking in the garage connected to it. It's a nice place, but since there wasn't a lot of people a lot of the staff just standing around. Even people from the kitchen were out in the dining room because they had nothing else to do. Anyways, here is what we had:

Appetizer: Fried Eggrolls
lobster, crawfish, cream cheese, goat cheese and chinese mustard
These were very creamy. I liked them- but who wouldn't like them? The Chinese mustard was on the side and I didn't even use it because the egg roll had enough flavor on it's own. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of them... they look like an egg roll. lol. I did remember to take a picture of our entrees though...

Friend's Entree: French Chicken
grilled, mushroom risotto, asparagus & lemon caper oil

So if I were to go back, this is what I would get because it was really good! I liked each part of this dish when I stole bites off of her plate :)

My Entree: Lamb Shank
braised, tomato, dried fruit, basmati rice, cilantro & lime

Yeah, I didn't care too much for mine. It was like eating fatty meat with tons of tomato and minute rice.

Jonathan said their burger was good so maybe I'll give that a try next time. Overall, I wouldn't mind going back if that's where people want to go, but I probably won't suggest it on my own- too many other places to try.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Steak, Potatoes, Asparagus

So Ryan and I finally had the chance to cook dinner- and by Ryan and I, I mainly mean Ryan.. I assist from time to time I guess.

So here's a quick version of what we/he did. I'm probably missing a few steps but you get the idea:
1) buy some good steak
2) season it - nothing special- salt, pepper, some herbs
3) preheat the oven and heat 2 frying pans
4) cut up some onions and garlic
5) cut and wash some asparagus
6) boil a pot of water
7) in one pan- add splash of olive oil, add some onions and some garlic- let cook for a little bit, then add asparagus - stir every now and then if you'd like..(don't forget to season them too)
8) in the other frying pan (make sure it is really hot)- put in steaks and get a nice crust on both sides - not more than a minute on each side (only flip once)
9) after a good sear, place steaks in oven to finish cooking for a few minutes
10) add olive oil and the rest of the onions and garlic into the pan you cooked the steaks in - stir it up and pour over steaks once they are done cooking and have had time to rest for a bit
11) turn off boiling water and add instant mashed potatoes (yes we used instant not home made...)
12) plate it up!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gorditas Aguascalientes

Brian loves this place because his magic book of Houston food tells him to love it, but it's actually really good homemade mexican food - pretty sure we've been the only non-hispanics in there both the times I've been. We've gotten food there before for hangover breakfast, but I've never sat down to eat there, but Jonathan and Brian and I decided to go there for lunch today.

The waitress came up to us and says "¿algo para tomar?" and Jonathan looked puzzled, so I said "what do you want to drink?" As we were ordering drinks, I contemplated the horchata but settled on water this time, and some guy comes up to our table with some gold chains asking if we wanted to buy some. Well, not asking, just hand modeling them and raising a hopeful eyebrow really, but the proposition was clear. I didn't see him doing this to any other table, so I'm not sure if it was just because he saw us pull up in a BMW tagged "STOVE" or what, but we didn't buy any. The only thing I can compare it to is being asked to buy balloon animals or something at Chili's or one of its inbred cousins, but being asked to buy gold chains is much more exciting.

Then it came time to order, Brian got "enchiladas tex mex", Jonathan got two breakfast tacos (and didn't finish them), and I got some Carne Guisada. I've always known what it was, just never got around to ordering it anywhere, so I did this time. It was really great. White people can think of a spicy tomato-ey mexican pot roast, and that about gets you there, but it's something that you've got to try if you're interested in it. I really think it would be a good hangover cure too, just like the huevos rancheros that I've gotten there before. I like to eat it by scooping a piece of the meat up in a bit of tortilla, so that the sauce gets soaked in and nothing gets wasted. (I didn't take pictures while we were there, I didn't think to until Kimmy texted me asking me if I was going to post about lunch, and I was already done by then. - But this picture is pretty close to what I had, except refried beans instead.)

Ok seriously..

We do want to keep this blog updated with stuff... but we just haven't cooked or gone out to eat where they have interesting things to take a photo of.

One night, Ryan and I went on a search to find a random spot to have dinner so that we could post on here... but we ended up in very typical places with food we've had before. So it was unsuccessful..

Here is a list of places we've been since we haven't been posting..
* The Stover's Holiday Cocktail Party- great appetizer type food - crab cakes, bacon asparagus, etc, and pomegranate martinis. It was good food and a nice party.
* Uncle's house- he's the big chef on my side of the family so of course we had some good Vietnamese food - Bun rieu
* Newman house- Christmas eve dinner #2- great chicken fried steak + sides
*One's a meal- Greek Village (I prefer Niko Niko's but if you want to watch strange people this is a place to go- never know who is going to come to our table next, what those group of odd looking men were gathering about (dungeons and dragons?), how many people work there, and where our waitress went (she just left))
* E*star- Chinese buffet... well... what can I say about that?
* Tina's family's house- eating Vietnamese food while freezing outside to the point where it's hard to enjoy the food but I'm really hungry so I'm going to keep eating in this windy cold rainy weather.
* Chick fil A- always good and always want some on a Sunday
* Dairy Queen in Giddings, TX - right before they were closing and a worker accidentally knocked the bucket of water she was using to mop the floors over and the sounds of Chewbacca was our cue to leave..
* Popeyes in Austin- best fried chicken side dishes of the fast food chicken places I guess..
* Wedding reception in Dripping Springs- good cake, cheese, meat, etc
* Hickory Street in Austin- I liked my sandwich, others were ok- I touched the sandwich they gave me and then switched out to give to someone else since I got the wrong sandwich..
* Pho Thaison in Austin- eh, ok place- Pho seemed alright - my Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio was ok.. probably wouldn't order it again though if I went back there
* Red Robin in Austin- good burgers and it was Ryan's first time there- he got the one with the fried egg on top (makes me miss Kitox in Waco). I agree with Ryan on this one though, we'd rather go to Fuddruckers
* Pancakes from a box- even though they were from a box I liked them- liked them even more with chocolate chips

I think that sums it up... I'll try to take more photos from now on - sometimes even if they are boring...