Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Angry Korean Lady

August 5th, 2013

I had the most amazing lunch at the quirkiest of food establishments. Angry Korean Lady in the Imperial Plaza is run by - well - an angry Korean lady. She calls herself the AKL.

I tried to get her photo but every time I held up the camera, she gave it the bird. Oh well. Truth in advertising.


From the moment you walk up to this very small space, you a greeted with hostile signage. When you walk in to the small room, more commanding signage telling you how to order and what to do, on both the walls and each tabletop.

Her House Rules, as she calls them, sound like me talking to my kid: "Write down your order and BRING IT TO ME IN THE KITCHEN..." or this hilarious gem: "After you place your order  and you bother AKL more than 3 times I will post the DO NOT DISTURB sign. This means on your next visit you CANNOT order food and you CANNOT eat your friend's food. You will only be allowed to WATCH others enjoy AKL's cooking."

Sean acting as our waiter

Sean acting as our waiter

I was kind of scared already, but I was with my friend Sean, and he's AKL's friend, so I figured I was "in." Still, I was nervous to talk to her.

Turns out she's a pretty nice, self-taught home cook whose Korean food is so tasty that diners are willing to risk insult and the possibility of being ordered to wash all the restaurant's dishes to eat there.

For a hole in the wall, it attracts all kinds of diners, including local music celebrity Raiatea Helm, eating at the next table the day I went.

Raiatea Helm

Raiatea Helm

Everything on the menu looks fantastic; the family-style menu Sean picked for us was amazing.

We had kal bi, spicy chicken (which I ordered at Spice Level 0 because I don't like spicy, and then I got a sort of scolding from her), meat jun, and man doo. Enjoyable.



Kal bi

Kal bi




I recommend it, and I am even thinking of booking it for a private party (minimum 20 pax, maximum 24, minimum food order per person $30, reservations at least one week ahead).

If you go, make sure to check out the door sign on the Vietnamese nail salon to the left. It's equally as friendly!

Half sheet brownies

May 31st, 2013

One of the hotels I work at had a fundraiser for Charity Walk. I offered to donate something. The night before, I baked a half sheet pan (18 x 13") of brownies.


In the morning, I was talking to my friend Paul as I drove in. In answer to the common question What are you doing today? I responded, "We're having a bake sale, so I made a half sheet of brownies and I'm bringing it in now."

Which opened more than one question, apparently. Keep in mind he was at a field trip at the zoo, chaperoning three kindergartners, so he was distracted and couldn't hear me that well.

"A what?" he said.

"Bake sale," I answered.

Pause. "Are you guys doing that badly?" he asked.

Brownies and baggies! Dude! 4/20!

Brownies and baggies! Dude! 4/20!

"Ha ha ha. No, it's for Charity Walk," I clarified.

"What did you say you made?" he continued.


"What kind of brownies?"

"Half sheet."


"H a l f   s h e e t," I enunciated over the background din of of small children.

"Oh! I thought you said hashish," he laughed.

"No! HALF SHEET," I emphasized.

Hashish brownies. Sheesh. That is an entirely different kind of bake sale.


February 18th, 2013

I had to work slightly later than usual to greet an arriving VIP, and arrived home at 7:30 p.m. one night. Olivia had just been tucked into bed and was trying to stay awake to see me.

I tiptoed into the bedroom to kiss her and her sleepy eyes opened. Though I had prepped her for my lateness, she still gave me the usual grief over not being home earlier to see her.

"Honey, I'm usually home for dinner. Do you know how lucky that is? A lot of mommies and daddies work jobs where they can't do that," I said. I was thinking of all the odd swing shifts at 24-hour organizations, like news, hotels, military, or any number of stores in today's nonstop society. "If I have to stay late some of the time, it's OK, because most of the time, I have regular hours."

That seemed to placate her. She then asked me a really cute question that caught me off guard. "When you work late, do they give you a snack?"

"Well, sure they do. Remember I have the employee cafeteria that I took you to before? Not everyone has a cafeteria, but I'm lucky to work at a place that does," I reminded.

Olivia seemed happy to know her mother wasn't going to starve. (For that matter, I'm happy, too.) "What kind of snack did you have today?" she continued.

Actually, I didn't eat dinner before I left. I just wanted to go home, so lunch was my last meal. We have a zillion junk food snacks in the cubicle office where I sit. I just said what I ate last. "I had spaghetti with bread," I answered.

"What about dessert?" she quizzed. This kid. Priorities!

"I had jello," I said.

"Jello! What color?!" came the slightly more excited response.

"Rainbow," I said.

"RAINBOW?" Olivia exclaimed. It's her favorite. "Why didn't you bring me some?"

I'm a bad mom. It's what she would do for me. She tried to bring home a piece of her popsicle so her father and I could try it. Sweet, huh?

I decided to turn the tables and ask her something. "So. How do you think snack time goes for Mommy? Do you think my boss makes us all sit down quietly to show that we're ready to eat?"

She looked at me like I was ridiculous. "I don't know about work!" she said. Oh. Silly me for asking.

Salvation of the car-nanas

February 13th, 2013

I wouldn't be a real American if I didn't contract everything into its most monosyllabic possible combination. Case in point: Bennifer, JLo, etc.

Naturally, the logical shortening of the words "car bananas" is "car-nanas," our family's wonderfully efficient way of making fun of my latest ditziness, as detailed in the Car Bananas blog.

Carnanas: it refers to when I bought bananas and lost them in my little compact car for a week, and then couldn't figure out what the banana smell was every time I entered the car.

I know. How does this woman have a graduate degree?

Anyway, who's got the last laugh now? When life hands you overripe bananas, you make banana bread!


Here's the great recipe I used from Chef Joanne Chang's recipe book, Flour:

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 t. baking soda

1/4 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. kosher salt

1 c. + 2 T. sugar

2 eggs

1/2 c. canola oil

3 1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/2 c.= about 340 grams)

2 T. creme fraiche or sour cream

1 t. vanilla extract

3/4 c. walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Makes one 9" loaf.


Put rack in center of oven, heat to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9x5" loaf pan (*though as you see in my photo, I used muffin tins and freelanced on the time!). In bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Set aside.

Using stand mixer with whip attachment, beat together sugar, eggs on medium speed, 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. On low speed, slowly drizzle in oil. Should take about a minute.

Add bananas, creme fraiche, vanilla. Continue to mix on low speed until combined.

Using rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and nuts until combined. Pour into pan.

Bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until golden brown on top and center springs back when you press it. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes, then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

*I'm not a pro baker but I got lucky. I watched the muffins and used the finger test, so mine were ready after 22 minutes. I also substituted 1/2 c. bittersweet baking chips 60% cacao, because I live with chocoholics. It all turned out really well!

Enjoy... thank Chef Chang when you make this... and just know that you don't have to ripen your bananas in your car for a week. You could probably just let them sit on the kitchen counter! LOL

Cake pops

October 5th, 2012

It is a natural fit for a cake decorator wanna-be to eventually discover cake pops. My friend Joy, who went with me to cake classes, gave me a recipe book by Bakerella on how to make this trendy treat.


Naturally, Olivia was all over this. I was, too. The book made the cake lollipops look so good, I was interested in trying my hand at it.

Basically, you take a cake, crumble it up, roll it with frosting, and dip it in chocolate. It's not too hard to do. You could make all these fancy shapes, but I admit, I lose patience for the detail work.

Olivia was very excited to help me- er, correction. Olivia let me help her make the cake. I was just there to read directions and pick up heavy stuff, like the Kitchen Aid mixer.

Mixing in frosting to crumbled cake

Mixing in frosting to crumbled cake

After it was baked and cooled, she really enjoyed the crumbling process. "I'm good at destroying things. I'll do that," she said. Right she is.

She smashed the cake up into little bits and then took great pleasure in mooshing the buttercream frosting around with her little fingers. If you do this with your child, expect to be reminded every three minutes that they want to lick the beater/bowl/spoon/spatula.

By the time it came to rolling the balls, she lost interest and told me to finish up. So I rolled a sheet of balls and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. You can put sticks to make it like a lollipop, or you can leave it alone and serve it as a ball. We did the latter.

Finally, I had some semi-sweet chocolate chips lying around and some extremely hot chili-chocolate that came from a speciality store in Portland. I cannot eat it. Nobody I know can eat it, even people who said they were accustomed to "very hot" spice. (I don't know true chili-heads.) I decided to use it up by mixing tiny amounts in with regular chocolate, so the chocolate in my cake balls was ultimately a tiny bit hot, but perfect for all the adults who tried it.

I let Olivia dip the balls into the melted chocolate, which was great fun for her. While the chocolate hardened in the refrigerator, Olivia enjoyed licking the spoon and bowl. She complained initially of the chili heat, but said she could tolerate it enough to finish cleaning the bowl of chocolate residue. When it was all clean, she downed two glasses of cold water in quick succession. That is what I call a trooper.


It was decent fun to make and tasty to eat, but I'm not sure I'm going to make this too often. It's a great way to use up cake scraps from actual cake projects, but I personally am not interested in baking a cake just for this, only to rip it all apart.

Do you make cake pops?