A Lesson In Preparing Seafood

Last year, I was invited to participate in the Taste of Georgetown’s Iron Chef Competition with Yelp. I was paired up with a local chef to create a meal using our secret ingredient, red snapper. While we did not win, I was proud of myself for creating a delicious entree and was excited about the possibility of using red snapper in my recipes down the road.

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Fast forward a year later. It was a long summer afternoon and for the first time ever, Rob and I had not committed ourselves to anything. It was time to resurrect my red snapper dreams…and this time I was not going to get some high falootin’ filet at Whole Foods, I was going to do a whole fish bake, Laura Ingalls Wilder style.

I headed out to Grand Mart, a local Asian grocery paradise and found exactly what I was looking for…and for a steal I might add! The eyes were not exactly the clearest, but it was about 9:00 pm (I get most of my weird ideas in the night time) and I didn’t really have any other options. Plus it was already gutted so that was already a plus. I put it in a plastic bag and off we went!

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The recipe was amazingly simple: I stuffed the insides with fresh rosemary and lemons and seasoned the outside with a variety of spices, slammed it in an oven and fifteen minutes later I was rewarded with white flaky, buttery fish perfection.

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Doesn’t this look so freaking rustic? I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything but it is totally Kinfolk worthy. That being said, I neglected one big step in preparing fish. Apparently… you have to scale it first.

What?!!

As a child, I prided myself in being able to gut and scale a whole fish in less than 15 minutes (I was definitely a card carrying member of Club Swanson) but as an adult I have gotten used to the conveniences of frozen, skinless, and deboned fish from Giant. It was a sad day indeed.

The fish was still pretty awesome (scales aside) and the meat was moist and flaky but you bet your bottom dollar that I will be recreating this recipe soon, fish scaler in hand.

Everybody Vamanos!

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Last week I went to Mexico and fell hopelessly, deeply in love with a little brown boy named Ronin. You may remember that I mentioned Ronin a few weeks ago and that although he was cute, he was still a baby blob. Well, now at two months old he is a baby blob that can smile and coo and keep eye contact with you. He also loves belly rubs.

We were in Mexico to celebrate our friend Erica’s wedding (Erica also happens to be the sister of Rob’s brother’s wife which is why Ronin was on this trip). This trip was vastly different than my Cancun vacay of years past, but in a good way. Playa Del Carmen is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen….miles and miles of powder soft white sand and gentle turquoise water. You could see straight through the bottom of the ocean and it was not uncommon to see schools of fish swim by.

We stayed at an eco resort so there were tons of animals that roamed around the grounds. Everything from lizards, iguanas, donkeys, cats, trained birds, and even monkeys were in plain sight at all times. How cool is that?

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While most of our time was spent lounging on the beach (or dancing at la discoteca) we went EXTREME for one of our excursions through Edventure Tours. Our full day tour included an ATV ride and zip line through the jungle, snorkeling in an underground cave (Holy Xanax Batman! I’m not going to lie, I barely saw any fish in here because I was too busy having a panic attack in the dark), swimming in a cenote (beautiful, serene and refreshing) rock climbing, repelling and snorkeling with the sea turtles and a carol reef in Akumal (Rob got nervous because I swam over a sting ray, but luckily I survived).

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The trip was amazing and was a great reminder that I need to go on more vacations.

Let Freedom Ring!

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“Mommy! I want to live in an apartment building!” – Kassie

This little one had a blast at Kimi and Uncle Rob’s apartment building this past Fourth of July. She oohed and ahhed over the balloons and red, white, and blue sprinkled cookies at the front desk, got tons of attention from the other residents in the building who probably have not seen a child in years, she explored the spray ground across the street, and even got to watch three fireworks shows (Capitol, National Harbor and Alexandria) right from our rooftop.

There was a buy one, get two free sale at the fireworks stand across the street which also allowed us to expand our nighttime amusement. Luckily, my sister and I were able to get over our childhood fear of holding sparklers just in time to join in on the backyard fun!

 

 

A Night Out in Centreville

I grew up in the town of Centreville, Virginia. When I moved there at five years old, it was pretty much a one horse  town. We didn’t even have a Burger King until I was a junior in high school. I lived on five acres of land and one time when I was walking my dog I saw two emu running in the woods. It turns out they had escaped from the emu farm down the street.

A lot of things have changed since my family moved out of the area several years ago, now it is known as Little Korea with attractions such as Spa World (a 24 hour Korean bathhouse) and Bon Chon (Korean Fried Chicken) running the show.

Our friends Timmy and Samantha recently moved out there so when they invited us for a night out it involved three of my favorite Korean things: soju, karaoke and late night barbeque!

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My Family

This holiday weekend meant that I got to spend the week playing with my new camera and photographing the people I love most in the world, my family!

You all know Rob, my husband, who begrudgingly became the subject of many images this weekend while I tested all of the settings out.

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Kat and Kristina are my two sisters and they have been my built in best friends since birth. Kat is a year younger than me so people always confused us twins growing up. Kat is married to Paul and she has a four year old named Kassie who is the spitting image of her. Kristina is my youngest sister. She just graduated from college and just got a job as a nurse at the same hospital where my mom works at (which also happens to be the same hospital Rob’s mom worked at and before we even dated she was a nurse for Rob’s grandma when she was in the hospital….and apparently my dad played tennis with Rob’s dad but that is another story).

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Kevin and Kristopher are my fourteen year old twin brothers and they are the absolute loves of my life. Growing up they were extremely silly, outgoing kids but as they are nearing their teens they have mellowed out to thoughtful and artistic kids. Growing up they had three older sisters so they were conned into doing a lot of girly activities. I think they are thankful to have Rob in their life. Ever since they were six years old they would try to call me in advance of hanging out to see what Rob was wearing so they could dress like him. Now they are schooling him in basketball!

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Kassie is my four year old niece and she is the smartest, sassiest, funniest kid I have ever met. The things that come out of her mouth have us rolling on the floor for hours on end.

Scene: Imaginary Tea Party
Kassie: Here’s some tea Uncle Rob!
Rob: Mmm, what kind of tea is this?
Kassie: It’s a surprise!
Rob: No seriously, what type of tea is this?
Kassie: I told you Uncle Rob’s its a surprise! ::whispers to her bear Rafi:: It’s actually jasmine tea.

Scene: On the Couch after a BBQ
Kat: Kassie, we have to go! Your Dad is getting tired!
Kassie: He wants to leave so he is pretending to be tired!

Scene: One Year Old Birthday Party
Me: Nice hair Paul!|
Kassie: ::loud sigh:: He spends HOURS on his hair!

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Alina and Ronin are the newest additions from Rob’s brother’s side. Alina loves to twerk and vogue.  She loves to eat, and when you feed her she will jump from side and do a little dance. Kassie has nicknamed her Alins. Ronin is only a month old so he is still developing his personality! So far he seems really chill and quiet though!

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Making Love Out Of Nothing At All: Hot Crusty Bread

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I’m not going to lie folks, after making this loaf of bread this afternoon, I have decided to moonlight as an artisan bread baker on the side. This bread is perfect: crusty on the outside and light on the inside with tons of air pockets and cragulations. Rob was the ultimate taste tester because he tries to avoid carbs as much as possible. As he buttered his fifth slice of bread, dreams of my new side hustle filled my head. It’s seriously that good y’all. The best part? It’s so easy that even a Suburbanette can make this bread!

If you have ever purchased a loaf of bread from the supermarket and looked at the ingredient list you will be shocked to see all of the unpronounceable additives that are used to make the item shelf-stable. Not so farm fresh at all! This bread is super simple: add yeast, flour, water, and salt and bam! It’s so rustic, I could picture Jesus breaking bread with something like this back in the day.

I jacked this recipe from Simply So Good, a Grandma from Utah with four kids owns this blog so you KNOW it’s got to be good. Check out her site for more tips…she and her blog following have been perfecting this for years!

Also in between mixing together my ingredients and letting my bread rise I got my very first DSLR camera. So halfway through this post you will have a few lovely photos to accompany this blog post.

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 cups of all-purpose flour (I use organic, unbleached because I’m high falootin’ like that), 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast, 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

2. Add 1.5 cup of cold water and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated.

3. Set aside and put plastic saran wrap over the bowl. Leave out for 12 – 18 hours.

4. Come back to your bowl and gawk at how high the dough has risen! Mine doubled in size. Woop!!!

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8. Put bread on a floured surface and gently form it into a round mound. Add saran wrap and let sit for another thirty minutes.

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9. Heat oven to 450 degrees and add cast iron pot or other oven safe covered dish to oven to pre-heat.

10. When thirty minutes is up, put bread mound on a piece of parchment paper (to prevent sticking) and into the pot it goes.

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11. Cover with lid and bake in oven for 30 minutes. This was my first time using my sunshiney cast iron pot that my aunt got me for the wedding. Look how happy it looks!

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12. It’s time for the big unveiling! Open the pot lid and check out all of your handiwork. The bread should have puffed up as well. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes to brown the crust.

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13. Ta-da! Your bread is done! Remove from oven and let cool. Or if you are like me burn your fingers while you are cutting into it because you just can’t wait! What’s the point of eating homemade bread if it’s not poppin’ fresh and hot out of the oven?

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14. Share the fruits of your labor with a loved one and pat yourself on the back. Congratulations, you are officially an artisan bread maker!

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Pantry Aloo Tikki

 

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Who could forget the summer of 1996? Madeline Albright was appointed the first secretary of state, Clinton and Gore won the national election, and Tupac Shakur was shot in Vegas and later succumbed to his injuries. It also marks the year that I first tried Indian food.

My two best friends were Katie Snow and Shruti Bargoti and we did absolutely everything together. To celebrate Shruti’s 12th birthday, we listened to “Gangsta’s Paradise” on repeat, stayed up late to watch “Now and Then” on video fast-forwarding the part where they showed Devon Sawa’s naked butt which was way too scandalous for our group, and ordered a large Papa John’s pizza with extra garlic sauce on the side. Life was good.

However, life was about to get better because after being friends for three years, Shruti’s mom had finally decided it was about time that our ragtag group of friends try Indian food for the first time. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical (even the ethnic food my dad made at home was too ethnic for me!) but one bite of her spicy fried potato patties and I was hooked! A life long addiction to Indian lunch buffets has followed me ever since.

Only recently did I learn the name of the dish Shruti’s mom served me: aloo tikki. Apparently it is a popular street food dish from Northern India.

I had a big bag of potatoes that were about to sprout so I decided that today would be the day that I would make this beloved dish my bish. This recipe is in NO WAY authentic but my adaption can easily be made with ingredients that can be found in a well-stocked pantry.

Rob was hesitant to try it so I only fried him one patty at first. He ate three more immediately afterwards!

Suburbanette’s Pantry Aloo Tikki

1. Boil seven small or medium well scrubbed organic potatoes with skin on until soft on the inside
2. Remove from water and add handful of frozen peas to water and quickly cook
3. Add peas and potatoes to large bowl and sprinkle liberally with garam masala, curry powder, tumeric, garlic powder, salt, paprika, ginger powder, dried onion…and basically whatever you think will taste good together. Mash until all ingredients are incorporated.
4. Add some panko bread crumbs to bind mixture.
5. Form mixture into patties with hands and roll the outside in bread crumbs.6. Lightly oil a hot skillet
7. Brown patties in skillet until crispy on the outside
8. Eat and enjoy! This would be amazing with a yogurt or mango chutney on top.

 

Looking Forward to 2014

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In 2014, I resolve to:
* Live in the moment and enjoy the simple things in life
* Keep my succulents alive
* Find one new friend
* Finish my craft projects: embroidery, calligraphy, sewing, stamping
* Start a small family business
* Put shelves up in my kitchen

There Goes Halloween

I present to you, Rob and I’s first couple costume as a married unit:

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This photo was taken by the fabulous David Dang, at Yelp’s Twilight Rendezvous at Eden last week.

My actual Halloween was spent at my parent’s house, helping my little brothers,Kevin and Kristopher cull through their interesting candy collection.

Kassie dressed up as Sleeping Beauty. This is a real conversation between her and my sister:

Kristina: Excuse me, do you know where my niece Kassie is?Kassie: It’s me Kristina! I’m Kassie!
Kristina: Oh no? Really, because all I see is Sleeping Beauty!
Kassie: No, really Kristina! It’s me! I’m Kassie! I’m BROWN!!!!

Going to the Chapel of Love

Robert and I attended our first wedding as a married couple this weekend. Before the bride made it down the aisle, it was all water works on my end. I’ve been a guest to about a bazillion weddings but once you are married the feelings you have are completely different. Everything to the emotions that you feel walking down the aisle, seeing your husband for the first time, and speaking sacred vows..weddings take over a whole new meaning!

With that being said here are a few of our favorite wedding ceremony highlights and a few fun facts.
* The church we got married in held it’s first mass in 1895 and was where President John F. Kennedy’s funeral took place.
* Rob and I got married in a traditional Filipino/Spanish Catholic style wedding. In pictures 10 and 11 you will see examples of the cord and veil ceremony which symbolizes clothing the couple as one and everlasting fidelity.
* My wedding is the first wedding I did not cry at (ok…for the first thirty minutes). To stop myself from crying when walking down the aisle, I sang the chorus to “What What in the Butt” the entire time.
* This church surprisingly did not have any issues about strapless dresses but I felt uncomfortable baring my arms so I was able to get the off the shoulder top custom made for my dress.
* Kassie was one of three flower girls. While walking down the aisle, she stopped and blew a kiss to her daddy! What a princess.

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