A Healthy Obsession

13 September 2008

I am obsessed with produce. And I am not so sure this is a good thing.

Although I’ve inherited my parent’s frugality and want to keep up my credibility as a normal (and thus poor) grad student, I spend shameful amounts of cash on novelties like tie-dyed peppers and albino carrots. All members of my family know that to accompany me to a farmer’s market or Whole Foods is to sacrifice the better portion of a weekend day, and thus politely (or not so politely) refuse my entreaties. I finally realized that my love of fruits, veggies, and fungi had gone too far when I calculated that nearly half of my conversations revolved around the superiority of organic strawberries or crisp mixed greens.

I am still unsure of how I should deal with this addiction (realization is the first step?), but I will leave you with some photos from the Fremont Farmer’s Market as evidence. No doubt, you will see me there again this Sunday morning.

Baking is an art too!

17 July 2008

I could not sleep without posting pictures of a cake that I made yesterday. Better while it’s still semi-fresh, I guess. And before I eat so many slices that I’m sick of it.

We had an abundance of apricots growing out back that were just about overripe, so I considered it my familial duty to make something out of them. I can’t be that useful around the house with a broken foot, but perhaps baking up treats is enough.

The fresh apricot upside-down cake recipe that I found from epicurious was very intriguing. I kinda like pineapple upside-down cake, but my mom used to make it with canned pineapples and maraschino cherries, whose artificialness now scares the heck out of me. And I will spare you the story of how they are made. It gives me nightmares.

The cake turned out pretty well—even with serious substitutions. I added much less butter and sugar in the topping than the recipe calls for (as suggested by many reviewers) and used yogurt instead of buttermilk. I used a sugar substitute in the actual cake since my dad and grandmother are diabetic and added some toasted walnuts for some crunch. I suspect that a vegan version of the recipe would be equally delicious.

The result was quite pleasing. The apricot layer was thick and sweet like preserves, but the butter and sugar topping imparted a gooey caramel richness that enhanced the flavor. The cake itself was quite moist with a classic vanilla flavor. While my family always at least pretends to like what I bake, they seemed to truly enjoy this cake as everyone took seconds.

I don’t really believe (or adhere to) the theory baking is an exact science. I usually throw in my ingredients without measuring and substitute with abandon. Although the results are not always perfect, they are usually pretty tasty. But perhaps I am just not picky with sweets :)

So onto my afternoon adventure. It was pretty warm inside, so I had a craving for something refreshing and more interesting than plain sparkling water. A quick peek inside the fridge revealed limes and mint…materials perfect for a virgin mojito. It hit the spot.

* I revised this post a bit since the pictures disappeared and the overall layout was annoying me. Please excuse the awkward start–comments and suggestions are of course welcome.

my mehndi attempt (palm)

my mehndi attempt (palm)

I have all these crazy ideas for this blog and future projects and such, but I figure I should focus on my original goal–showcasing some art and craft (and food?) that I’ve recently created or contemplated.

So, I shall start by giving you the rest of the mehndi design series and sharing some thoughts about it.

I worked on these in my dorm room in my crazy pre-thesis state senior year. I was desperately in need of a productive and creative distraction and mehndi designs are the most satisfying craft I’ve found so far. They use soothingly repetitive motifs and can be as simple or complicated as I desire. Most importantly, after sketching out a basic outline I can spend hours filling them in and can really get into one piece without being stuck/blocked.

Paper is also easier to work with than actual mehndi on hands. The medium is less forgiving–I find it hard to make precise designs or fix blurry shapes using the thick paste. And it is difficult to plan a design that works with the shape and contours of hands. The designs I enjoy creating on paper don’t seem to work well on hands as you need more confident and bold strokes. Experienced mehndi artists impress me because they are able to create complicated designs (like the one below) consistently and quickly. And their work is gorgeous.

Beautiful and intricate mehndi design from my cousin's wedding

I think I’ll stick to paper for now, but would love to experiment more with mehndi on hands in the future.

It’s a start

8 July 2008

Welcome to my new, exciting, and hopefully regularly updated blog.  I must admit that this whole blogging process is rather intimidating.  While visions of beautiful and witty posts swim through my head, they do not seem to want to land on the page.  Well, this is a start!

Although I played around with a couple of themes, I settled on a craft blog to motivate me to do more artwork this summer and share it.  I must warn you that it may suddenly turn into a food blog, as that is what I tend to read and daydream about these days.

Crafting has grown into a pretty big part of my life.  I still haven’t outgrown my fascination with packages of art supplies that span the entire visible spectrum and my first origami crane was a momentous occasion.  Sometimes when I haven’t colored or touched a gluestick in weeks,  I feel an intense urge to create something (preferably, something shiny and pretty) and will stay up many hours obsessed with finishing this project.

The picture above is an example of one of my favorite sketches (and one that inspired the header)  that I drew in a late-night creative session.  I’ll post the rest of the series and a description in a day or two.

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