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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Christmas morning is my husband's favorite time. He loves to see what Santa left him.

He also likes making ebelskivers--a Danish fluffy pancake that can be stuffed with anything. I found this recipe on This Christmas, he stuffed the ebelskivers with Nutella and coated them with powdered sugar. They're best while they're still hot.

You'll need an ebelskiver pan

The final product, dusted with powder sugar.


1 cup flour
2 Tbs sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 dash ground nutmeg
1 dash ground cloves
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves together in a large bowl. Mix in the egg, milk, butter and vanilla until just combined.

Heat an ebelskiver pan over medium heat, prepare with cooking spray.

Pour the batter into each cup to about 1/3 full. Add filling and fill with batter until 2/3 full. Allow the batter to cook in the bottom of the cup 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Don’t forget which cup you placed the batter in first. Use a long skewer to lift one edge and give it a ¼ turn. The uncooked batter will spill over into the cup and cook. Continue lifting and turning the edges until the batter is fully cooked into a gold brown ball. Drain on paper towel.

2013 12 25

Monday, December 30, 2013


What's Christmas Eve without a nice bowl of cioppino? It's so easy and quick to prepare.

I buy jar cioppino sauce. I've made my own but frankly it doesn't make a lot of difference because the seafood take center stage.

The final result. Just add a salad and crunchy hearty bread and you've got a delicious meal!


32-oz Cioppino sauce
1 lb mussel, cleaned & debearded
1 lb clams, cleaned
1 crab, cooked, cleaned & cracked
1 lb white fish filet, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Add Cioppino sauce to large pot and bring to boil. Add mussels, clams and crab. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add fish and shrimp. Stir gently to immerse fish and shrimp in sauce. Cover and cook additional 5 minutes until cooked. Add parsley, if desired.

Serves 4.

2013 12 24

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hang Ah

Hang Ah is a Chinese restaurant located at 2130 Armory Road in Santa Rosa. They have egg foo yung on their menu. I avoid restaurants that have egg foo yung because it reminds me of bad Chinese restaurants we used to visit in Ohio. But, they actually have pretty good dim sum so we decided to try some of their other menu items.

Prawns with Honey Walnuts--$13.95. This is my husband's favorite dish and he orders it whenever it's on the menu. I don't particularly like it because I don't like mayonnaise on my shrimp. This dish was okay. The prawns were large but the walnuts were overtoasted.

Yu Shang Eggplant--$9.50. This was pretty good. The eggplant was cooked through but not mushy and it had a nice garlic, soy sauce flavor.

Chicken Chow Mein--$8.95. Not bad but nothing special either.

Final impression: it's okay in a pinch but I still prefer the Chinese restaurants in the south bay.

2013 12 23

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Crab Cakes

Crab season finally started and we had our first steamed crab of the season. We like to get live crabs, steam them and dip the crabmeat in a ginger/soy sauce mixture. It's simple but delicious!

We had leftover crab and made crab cakes with them. I like my crab cakes plain as well. Here's the recipe:

Crab Cakes

1 lb crabmeat, picked clean
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbs mayonnaise
2 Tbs Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 cup herb & garlic breadcrumbs
1 stalk celery chopped

Mix egg, mayonnaise, Worchestershire sauce, Old Bay Seasoning and breadcrumbs until combined. Add celery and mix well. Fold in crabmeat, taking care to avoid breaking up the crabmeat. Divide into 8 portions and form each into a thick patty. Coat with additional breadcrumbs and place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate at least an hour.

Heat oil in skillet and fry the crab cakes on each side until golden.

2013 12 21

Friday, December 27, 2013

Curried Carrot Soup

I don't like carrots. I don't like the smell of raw carrots and I don't like the texture of cooked carrots. My husband bought 10 lbs of carrots from Costco and needed to do something with it. I found a recipe for curried carrot soup on Martha Stewart's website and my husband made it.

I was shocked that I liked it. It was delicious--spicy and sweet all at the same time. And, healthy to boot!

2013 12 20

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bravas, Healdsburg

Bravas is a tapas restaurant owned by the Starks Restaurant Group. It's located at 420 Center Street in Healdsburg. There's a Happy Hour Sunday through Thursday from 3-6 pm. The portions are smaller than their regular menu but it's a good way to sample different tapas. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing experience.

Red Sangria--$5. This was okay. Not the best sangria I've ever tasted but not the worst either. It didn't have enough fruit flavor. I was glad it was happy hour price.

Crispy Anchovy Tostada--$1.50. The fishy taste overpowered the dish.

Goat Cheese Tosatada--$1.50. This was the best dish of the evening. It was a nice combination of goat cheese, marinated onions, balsamic vinegar and truffle oil. The flavors melded well and it was delicious!

Serrano Ham & Manchego Cheese Bocadillo--$1.50. Spanish ham & cheese sandwich--nothing special and greasy.

Creamy Chicken Croquettas--$3.50 for 4 croquettas. The outside was crispy but the inside was too creamy and there wasn't enough flavor.

Crispy Pig Ears--$3.50. This was nothing special. The slices of pig ears were too crispy. There was a splash of anchovy vinegar but not much else on it.

Duck meatball bocadillo--$3.50. This was the 2nd best dish of the evening. The duck meatball was flavorful but it was a small dish. Three bites and you were done.

Dungeness Crab Fideua--$11. This was a small portion--just about 5" in diameter. The fideua was in a tomato base and not sofrito base. I thought this dish was just okay.

2013 12 15

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Geumsunsa Templestay

I had read about templestays in Korea and signed up for a 2-day, 1-night program. I wanted to learn more about the Buddhist life. It's easy to sign up online at

I chose Geumsunsa. It's just outside Seoul, easy to get to by public transportation, yet it felt remote in the mountains.

1. Take the orange line subway and get off at Gyeongbokgung(경복궁).
2. Use exit No. 3 and walk straight forward about 70 m to the bus stop.
3. Take the green bus No. 7212 at the bus stop.
4. Get off at the bus stop, Yibukodochung(이북오도청) after a 20-minute ride. It's the stop right after the bus makes a U-turn.
5. Walk along the main road to the north for about 20 minutes. The first 10 minutes is a walk on the road; the last 10 minutes in up a hill. If you have heavy suitcases, write the temple ahead of time and they will send a cable cart down to the parking lot.

Sign pointing the way.

Entrance to the temple.

View of Seoul from the temple.

Bell tower.

On the grounds of the temple.

Temple building.

The program begins at 3 pm with an orientation. We arrived around 2 pm and were issued our purple temple uniform. There were about 25 of us from all corners of the world.

Bowing to the buddha.

Our group.

General Schedule

First Day
15:00~16:30 : Registration & free time
16:30~17:30 : Orientation (learn about etiquettes in temple)
17:30~18:30 : Temple Dinner
18:30~19:00 : Tolling a bell & Evening Service
19:00~20:00 : Walking in peace(or Conversation with a monk)
20:00~21:00 : Let it be
21:00~ : Sleeping

Second Day
04:30~05:00 : Early morning Service (Optional)
05:00~06:00 : Seon Meditation
06:00~07:00 : Temple breakfast
07:00~08:00 : Communal work (optional)--I weeded while my husband swept the grounds
08:00~09:30 : Walking Meditation along the tranquil forest path
09:30~10:30 : 108 prayer bows
10:30~11:30 : Temple tour
11:30~12:00 : Comments and photo
12:10~13:00 : Temple lunch
After lunch : Departure

We slept on mats in the communal room--separated by sex. There is a locker to place your belongings but there is no lock. There was a washroom and shower--soaps and small towel were provided.

It certainly was a very peaceful experience and I'm glad I did it. I learned how to meditate and to appreciate what I have. The vegetarian meals were quite good, the walks in the woods beautiful but the 108 prayer bows made me sore for days afterwards.

2013 09 21

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bulgogi Lunch

We were in search of bulgogi. A lot of restaurants don't have self-grilling for lunch. We found this restaurant in the basement in Insadong. 

Galbi--W10,000. This was actually not good. It needed more flavor and the meat was tough.

Tofu dregs--W5500. This is a dish with mashed tofu in a spicy broth. Not much else in it. Skip it.

2013 09 20

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jongmyo Shrine

Jongmyo Shrine is a World Heritage site that houses the spirit tablets of the Joseon kings and queens. Their spirits are believed to reside in holes bored into the wooden tablets

On the day of our visit the day after Chuseok, there were musical performances on the grounds throughout the day.

Not sure where the spirits live.

2013 09 20

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park

Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park is a large urban development project that is still under construction. It will eventually have a park, fashion plaza and underground mall. If you're short on time, skip this.

This is made of recycled plastic bottles.

2013 09 20

Saturday, December 21, 2013


We had read about a restaurant in Insadong that served good mandus. You can recognize the restaurant by the huge mandus being made just inside the front door. These mandus were huge--three were large enough to feed 1, or a not-so-hungry 2 people. 

Simple banchans of cucumbers and marinated onions. There was also chap chae, which we loved.

Kim chee & spinach in soybean.

We ordered the seafood haemul pajeon, which was crispy and quite good. This was much better than any I have had in the US. W12,000.

Mandus--Korean wontons for W6500.

2013 09 20

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday Night Dinner

This week's dinner had my favorites: crab cake, risotto & duck!

Tortino Di Granchio: Sauteed Dungeness Crab Cake Garnished with Basil Aioli & Crispy Shoestring Garnet Yams, paired with 2012 Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay, Wetzel Family Estate

Risotto Al Savor: Arborio Rice Cooked with Homemade Pork Sausage, Organic Spinach, Ricotta & Parmigiano-Reggiano Topped with Walnut Gremolata, paired with 2012 La Merika Vineyards Pinot Noir, Central Coast

Petto D'Anatra: Garlic-Herb Marinated Duck Breast Garnished with Cannellini Bean Ragout Flavored with Slow Cooked Onions, Escarole & Bacon served in Chianti Reduction Sauce, paired with 2010 Whitehall Lane Winery & Vineyards Cabernet Blend, Tre Leoni, Napa Valley

Crostata Di Mele: Apple Galette Served with Vanilla Custard, paired with 2010 Oberon Moscato, Napa Valley

2013 12 19

Thursday, December 19, 2013


We had some time to kill while waiting for the Secret Garden tour at Changdeokgung and went into Changgyeonggung, which was right next door.  This is the Palace of Flourishing Gladness, which was turned into a zoo during the Japanese occupation. After you’ve seen one palace, you’ve seen them all. This one looked just like the other ones. We walked to the edge of the palace grounds and saw the Crystal Palace on the lake--this was the distinguishing factor .

2013 09 20

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Changdeokgung & the Secret Garden

Changdeokgung is another of the royal palaces in Seoul. It means Palace of Illustrious Virtue and is a Unesco World Heritage property. It was built in the early 15th century as a secondary palace to Geyongbukgung, destroyed by the Japanese in the 1590s and rebuilt as the primary royal residence until 1872. It was used well into the 20th century.

Apparently, it's a popular place to take wedding photos.

The Secret Garden is part of Changdeokgung. Admission is by tour only and cost an additional W5000 (included in the Integrated ticket). You could reserve online or show up on the day to snag one of the remaining 50 tickets. The English tour is at 11:30 am and 3:30 pm. The tour takes 70-90 minutes and takes you into the inner sanctuary of the king, where only invited guests were allowed. It’s a very peaceful area with a park-like setting. There is a lot of walking, up and down hills. 

At the end of the tour, we were shown a 700 year old juniper tree. This is near the main entrance.

2013 09 20

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another Porridge Breakfast in Seoul

Near Bukchon Hanok Village, we found a restaurant serving porridge--Korean Traditional Porridge Restaurant. It's on Samcheongdong gil, leading to the village.

Beef with mushroms for W8000. This was a huge bowl and could easily feed 2. It was 3 times the portion of the porridge we had at the beginning of the trip

 Beef with seaweed for W7000.

2013 09 20