Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday gardening with gG

We had an old wooden planter which was looking very sad with a couple of overgrown chrysanthemums. It was time for me to do something about it, so I went out to get four pots of flowers to decorate the planter.

gG loved the smell of flowers (or soil) as I placed them on the patio table while I was cleaning up the old soil in the planter. He came right next to them and enjoyed them as he sipped a glass of water (he loves drinking out of the "blue cup" that we get from our dentist office).

We had great time to spend the sunny and not-to-hot Sunday afternoon! End result? I think we did okay:)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hiking at Wilacre Park

Amazingly there are lots of hiking trails around Hollywood. Wilacre Park is one of them. It is located on the north side of Hollywood Hills and the trail is faily short although some parts are steep and perfect for a strenuous workout if you can jog up. In fact, we saw a few people jogging up and down the trail despite the heat wave of 95F!

Park Entrance

Yep, we picked the best day and best time of the day to hike up to 1,060 elevation^^; It was around 95F outside, and we started the hike right around 1:30pm when the sun was attacking us like laser beam. But the view along the way to the top was great and the plants were beautiful.

View of Valley

Me at the top - water time!

Little Friend

Beautiful Flower

Close to the top, the trail merges with two other trails. One goes down to the paved road and the other goes down to another park and another trail. Most people just turned back around and take the same trail back to the parking lot, which we also did except at the half way, we explored wilder and narrower trail for a while. Yet, downhill was indeed a joy :) It was almost 4pm when we got to the bottom and the tilted sun was beaming through the trees calmly. Trail Map of Wilacre Pak can be found here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How Bob spent his birthday

April 18th was Bob's birthday. It was a gorgeous day. The morning sun was beaming into our living room beautifully. As I went out to the backyard wondering what my hubby and cat were doing, I found them on the grass :) I had to take a few pics. Bob was as if back in the life of hippie era. Then he made himself a toast with lots of butter and cinnamon sugar. To my comment of "hmmm, is that enough butter?," he replied back "it is my birthday."... Okay. Then to burn the calories he has taken, we went to gym and worked out. But then, Bob wanted to have a carrot cake at Tender Greens since "it was his birthday"...ugh ^^; In order to maximize the calories anyone can take in one day, I took him out to dinner to Palm. Palm is a famous steak house which we used to go quite often when we lived in West Hollowood. We found another branch in downtown LA about 5 mins drive from our house. The place was rather full but we managed to get a booth seat. Stuffed ourselves up with 3lb lobster, 14oz filet minion, wild mashrooms, and keylime pie! Oh boy. Birthday is all about all you can eat!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Japanese dinner week

Somehow after coming back from Japan, I had more craving for Japanese food. So, on Monday night, I made four dishes. One was a little dish with very thinly sliced pork, which I can only get at the Japanese grocery stores. I wrapped cheese and green beans in them, lightly breaded them, and fried them. Then I made "Asari Sakamushi" by steaming Asari with Sake..literally, Tofu Salad with sesame and vinaigrette dressing, and simly boiled Satoimo (type of taro). My hubby who typically doesn't like taro even liked these boiled ones. You peal the skin off and eat it as is (with maybe a bit of salt). And on Thursday, I made a very simple dinner with five dishes. Well, two out of five were already made, so I only made three by myself. The main dish that day was "Unagi", my hubby's favorite. You can buy a packed Unagi, and you just have to warm it up using microwave :) For the side dishes, I made Miso soup with Tofu and Aburaage (take a look at the definition here: Wikipedia - Aburaage), Naganegi Sumiso Ae (boiled leek with Miso and vinaigrette), Itame Yamaimo with cheese and Shiso (lightly sauté Yamaimo=yam with Ponzu topped with cheese and Shiso leaves) assorted with boiled celery, and Gobo Salad (gobo=burdock) which we just bought as is. And on Friday, we just grilled a whole bunch of Kushis like chicken, shrimps, quail eggs, sausages, pearl onions, and small rice balls. Althuogh they look burned in the pic below, they were actually perfectly done! And they are so easy to make. Try!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Japanese Food

Everytime I go back to Japan, I get intrigued with the culnary culture there. Japanese food, unlike French or Chinese, it typically try to emphasize the natural taste of the seasonal ingredients rather than putting taste to them with heavy sauce. Maybe I am biased as I grew up with the food, but I just love the "simplicity," although I admit I am also a huge fan of French and Chinese :)

These are the spring veggies. You do Tempura with them, or you could simply grill them or saute them with soy sauce, mirin, sake, or dashi or any combination of them.

"Izakaya" we went during my recent visit had many great fish dishes. And they were unbelivably fresh and great. I can no longer tolerate any kind of sashimi we get here in LA :-(

Three small dishes. The top right dish is boiled Hotaruika (small squid). The top left dish is coocked scallop. The bottom dish is coocked scallop egg and organ (probably liver part based on the black color, which you typically don't eat unless it is VERY fresh)

Sashimi and Sushi. All fresh!

And, of course, you cannot forget Yakitori and Kushiage! Kushiage is typically prepared individually in front of you, so that you get to eat freshly fried Kushi=skewer.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Angeles National Park: Picnic near Switzer Falls: Apr 5, 2009

Drive north on route 2 until you come to La Canada Flintridge and climb up the mountain road for about 10 miles, you come to this beautiful area called Angeles National Park. Drive further up the mountain, there is a picnic area which leads to the road to Switzer Falls.

Okay, this was the first time for us to be up there, and we didn't know what kind of picnic area it would be, so we were not prepaed for hiking at all, but we did enjoy lunching out in the woods and did some strolling towards the falls.

The picnic area is equipped with grills (not fancy but functional enough). You can do BBQ and enjoy dipping your feet into the creek - during the summer. You can hike to Switzer Falls, but you do need a pair of walking shoes for sure. According to the guy who went to the falls, it looks like 2 miles to the bottom of the falls and 2 miles up and 2 miles down to and from the falls. We are up for it next time!

Nectarine Tree

You might remember last year's sad event of us trying to cure what appeared-to-be--olives-but-then-turned-out-to-be-nectarines:( The tree gave us hundreds of nectarines last year, but over time it started to get too tall and branches were hanging downwards. During the winter time, without the leaves or nectarines, it looked sad.

On January 18th, our kind neighbor Ed came to fix it by pruning the tree! It was the first experience for us to learn how to prune the tree, too. In fact, pruning is artwork. It is almost like sculpturing. Take a look at the before and after pictures below.

Now it is April. The nectarine tree is getting bushier than ever and started to form many little nectarines all around the tree. We should have lots of nectarines this year, too!