Dear Baby

Chris and I wrote this letter to our baby a few weeks ago and I intended to post it last week but I guess baby had other plans!

On Monday, August 10th we welcomed Lyra Roseminh Selin at 3:15pm. She weighed 5 pounds 6 ounces and measured 18.5 inches.

Here’s what we had to say:

Hello Baby!


You’re almost here! I want you to know we’re very excited for you to arrive. Your Daddy has this image of you busting through the front door with a suitcase in each hand. He is silly like that. Almost as much as your Momma. I hope you don’t mind but I really want to dress you up in fun costumes. But your Dad keeps telling me you’re not a pet dog, WHICH consequently gave me the idea to get your outfits at Petsmart. Don’t worry. He vetoed that idea. (Realistically, your arms and legs would be hard to line up.)


We named you after someone who is playful, smart, unruly and fearless. We hope you will be all these things. You don’t have to like cooking, or skiing, or camping (seriously, you don’t have to like camping). It would make us happy if you were nobody but yourself. I want you to have your father’s patience and reserved nature but it’s okay to be impulsive too! Pee into the wind! (Figuratively.) Daddy hopes you’ll be a hard worker like Momma. Do what you feel is right and don’t take no for an answer.


We can’t wait to show you San Francisco, have you play in the dirt and just see how blue the sky can be. Daddy can’t wait to show you what nature has to offer. And, we can’t wait to have you taste mangoes, ice cream, avocados and broccoli! We’re already excited to take you on your first adventure – a plane ride to New York.


We hope you will always be present in each moment of life as it unfolds. Aka, put down your iPhone and look up at this beautiful world we live in! Take all of it in. Life is fleeting.


You’ll have to forgive us since we’re new at parenthood and you’re kind of like our first pancake. The first pancake is the one that is always a little funkier and more unusual than the other pancakes. I am a first pancake so I should know! But we will always be the people you need us to be. We are already your biggest fans.


Love,


Momma & Daddy
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Dried Apples (Without a Dehydrator!)

I love apples! I don’t have a particular one that I like as long as they are firm and crunchy. Soft apples are the worst. The apples we received (see last post) turned on us really quickly. They became soft and mealy. I tried eating one and throwing lots of salt on it, but it still didn’t make it any better. I’m not a big fan of apple things in general – like in cake or pie, or things like apple butter, applesauce, etc – so I was at a real lost on what to do with five flats of apples until I discovered you can make dried apples in your oven!

I don’t own a mandolin so I cut the apples into thin slices (about 1/8 of an inch) really carefully and slowly. In the beginning I cored the apples, but then realized that was a waste of time since I could just use the whole apple. I placed the sliced apples on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a 225 F degree oven. After an hour or so, I flipped the apples and left them in for another hour or so. Then I lowered the temperature to 175 F and left them in for another hour. After, I placed them on a baking sheet to cool down. They are so tasty! And it’s such a great way to use up apples past their prime.

Tomorrow we find out if we are having a boy or a girl. So far, the Chinese gender prediction chart says we are having a boy and the Mayan gender calendar says we are having a girl. Either way, Chris and I decided to keep the gender a secret until August! We think its more fun that way. 

Minnesota State Fair

…aka the new happiest place on Earth! That is, if you like to eat fried food on-a-stick, check out tractors and rodeo shows, admire butter sculptures, go on carnival rides, and watch farm animals giving birth, the Minnesota State Fair is definitely way better than Disneyland! It was so much fun, I want to go every year.

Top left to right clockwise: Fried pickles!, Blue cheese corn fritters were to die for, Big fat bacon on a stick, Spaghetti and meatballs on a stick.

Chris and I flew to Minnesota over Labor Day weekend for a wedding. The wedding was at an Environmental Learning Center in Spicer, MN which is located about 2 hours west of Minneapolis. It was so beautiful!

Compared to California, Minnesota is so green and lush…and full of corn. If there was one word to describe our whole trip, it would probably be ‘corn.’ We drove through a lot of corn fields on the way to Spicer. I’m pretty sure we ate corn at least twice a day, every day we were in Minnesota. It was really delicious.

Eating roasted corn with butter and salt at the State Fair.

My favorite part of the fair, besides the glorious yet reprehensible gluttony, was definitely the fried corn fritters with chimichurri sauce. It was utterly exquisite and perfect in all its fried glory – soft and chewy on the inside with a nice, golden crisp exterior that was well seasoned. The bleu cheese added a nice creamy, velvety texture to the corn fritter and didn’t overpower the taste of the sweet corn. It was literally the most perfect thing I’ve ever eaten. Drool.

Also high on my list was the freshly made ice cream. We ordered the chocolate vanilla sundae with strawberry rhubarb. It was to die for. I would honestly go back just to get the ice cream next year. We really liked Sweet Martha’s cookies too which I learned is an iconic institution at the MN State Fair. Imagine getting an overfilled bucket (or cone) of warm, ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies that just melt in your mouth. In the 12 days the fair is open, Sweet Martha’s grosses $2.5 million dollars! That’s a lot of cookies.

So many things to eat, so little time (and stomach space). Next time, we’ll have to plan spending at least a few days at the fair to cover all the things we want to eat/do. I didn’t even mention there are live concerts each night! See how awesome this fair is?

Saffron Jewel Rice

It’s been way too long since I posted a recipe. You know, life, busy, yada yada yada. Chris and I made this rice dish tonight for dinner and served it with braised lamb shoulder with tomatoes, carrots and onions. The inspiration being I really wanted to make something with saffron and so we came up with this Moroccan/Middle Eastern-esque menu. Weird how random ingredient leads (or possess) us sometimes.


This weekend was busier than usual. Lets see. On Friday I got rear ended while waiting to make a left turn by a car that was being rear ended by the car behind him. That wasn’t so much fun. Still need to get back to all the insurance agents. On Saturday, I was at the Ferry Building all day at the market helping my friends at Three Babes sell pies! It was a lot of fun, very tiring, but fun. The day started off on a scary note however as the person in the stall next to us had a seizure. I could feel my heart racing the whole time. I called 911 for an ambulance while my friend helped stabilize him. Then security and more help came, and then soon after first responders arrived. It was a lot for a Saturday morning.

My evening was a bit more festive. I co-hosted a bachelorette party for two friends who are also sisters! It was a lot of fun. I miss being silly and going dancing.

Today, Chris and I took some time to unwind. We went to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park and you know what, it was actually warm and nice out. I always forget how massive and totally awesome the park is. It’s really beautiful.

And overall, my time is consumed with getting ready for Bay Leaf Kitchen’s first week of summer cooking and farm camp starting TOMORROW. Squeals! It’s an organization that I am leading with my friends Elianna and Rachel. Follow us here, or here, or here! I guess I should get ready for bed so I can be all smiles for the little campers. It definitely helps having such a delicious dinner 🙂

Note: this recipe is a teensy bit of work but the payoff is worth it! And yes, those are corgi napkins. I am that girl.

Saffron Jewel Rice 
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine
Serves 6

Get

  • 1/2 teaspoon lightly crumbly saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 wide strips orange zest, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • small pinch of cardamom, ground allspice & ground cumin
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook
*Sprinkle the saffron into 1/4 cup hot water, let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 2 cups water, the sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the orange zest and carrot, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl; set aside.
*Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cinnamon stick, cardamom, allspice, cumin, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Add 3 cups of water, increase the heat to medium high and simmer until the water has mostly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Cover the pot with foil and the lid, reduce the heat to low and cook until the water is completely absorbed, about 12 minutes. (This took about 17 minutes for us.) Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.
*Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pistachios and almonds and cook until just lightly golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the dried cranberries and apricots, and 1 tablespoon of the prepared saffron water; stir to combine, then transfer to a bowl and set aside for topping.
*Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork; discard the cinnamon stick. Transfer about half the rice to a serving bowl. Add the remaining saffron water, 1 tablespoon butter and the reserved orange peel and carrot to the rice in the pot and stir gently. Add the yellow rice to the white rice and gently toss; sprinkle with the pistachio mixture and parsley.

Enjoy!

Ho Chi Minh City: Hello Vietnam!

Banh mi, egg rolls and Vietnamese coffee all day, everyday. Pretty much sums up our trip. You can probably stop reading here. If you must know more, I suppose you can continue.

Chris and I decided on Vietnam after making a short list of countries we liked to visit. The runner-ups were Argentina, Costa Rica, and Thailand and we are both so happy with our decision. We have already talked about going back!

Ho Chi Minh City was brimming with energy when we arrived well past midnight. Chris and I went to a bar near our hotel in the backpacker district for a fresh coconut and to people watch. (We would be the type of people to go to a bar and order a coconut.) I am OBSESSED with anything coconut now – ask my cousin Stephenie.

There is definitely a cosmopolitan vibe to HCMC. A lot of young people and a lot of coffee shops!

My favorite site was the Ben Thanh market. There are clothing and souvenir stalls but also food stalls – both prepared and fresh produce along with meat and seafood.

It was probably the closest thing to street food we had while there. The street food looked incredible but I was a little iffy eating it after I noticed how they use water from a hose to wash the dishes. I’m thinking diarrhea on your honeymoon is something you try to avoid… And now I have officially talked about diarrhea on my blog.

My favorite Vietnamese dessert – Che Ba Mau.

The people are very friendly in this city (well almost all, there was this one taxi driver…) and the food was AAAAAMAZING. I seriously could eat Vietnamese food all the time. My absolute favorite meal was probably our breakfast banh mi from BB Banh Mi & Cafe. The baguette they used was to die for. I’m telling you, what makes a good banh mi great is all in the baguette. You can quote me on that.

On a non-food related note, I really enjoyed visiting Jade Temple. There was something so serene about watching people pray and reflect. It was a calming experience and made me feel grateful for the life I have.

We also visited the Reunification Palace which is great for a mini-crash course in Vietnam history. The one thing I might advise on skipping is the views from the Bitexco Financial Tower. It was 200,000 VND to go up to the sky deck to see 360 views of the city which was cool, but I’m not sure it’s worth 20 USD.

Chris and I absolutely loved HCMC, the pulse, the people, and the food. Though we agreed its not the city for everyone. There are some scammers out to get you (ahem, taxi man), the city is loud and crowded, and the streets maddening. I saw a t-shirt that summed up driving in Vietnam. It had a picture of a traffic light and next to the green light it said, “I can go.” Next to the yellow light it said, “I can go.” And next to the red light it said, “I can still go.” Not only are the traffic lights mere “suggestions” but all lanes on the road and even sidewalks are fair game! It was part thrilling and part terrifying to cross the road but when in Rome!

Vietnam: Our Honeymoon in 10 Photos

Vietnam was incredible! I almost don’t want to encourage people to visit because I don’t want it to be overrun with tourists, but honestly, you should go…and go now! Before it gets touristy and all…

Chris and I did a South-to-North tour of Vietnam. We started in Ho Chi Minh City, and made our way to Phu Quoc, then Hoi An and Hue, and lastly, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.

Here is a glimpse of our trip:

This is the usual scene on the streets of HCMC and Hanoi: people gathered on the streets perched on little stools cooking and sharing food.

The best breakfast ever! The classic banh mi sandwich with an egg. And it only cost $1!

 Fresh coconut!

The seafood market in Hoi An:

Cha Ca Va Long – the best meal I had in all of Vietnam! White fish seasoned with fish sauce, shrimp paste, and tumeric served with fresh noodles and morning glory, topped with dill.

Girls dressed in ao dai – the Vietnamese dress.

Water buffalo in hiding:

And here’s a gratuitous #honeymoonselfie:

More pictures and details to come! I am actually taking a red eye tonight to NYC. (Please note I am not the jet-setter I appear to be.)

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

…aka the easiest thing to make ever!

I couldn’t believe how easy this dish was to put together and how delicious it was. The curry powder, garam masala and coconut milk packs in a lot of flavor. I almost feel like I shouldn’t even post it because it’s so easy. But I like easy and I think others do too 🙂 Plus the last couple of weeks have been b-a-n-a-n-a-s for me so recipes like this are much needed.

Sadly I did not have time to take a prettier picture of this but after 7 hours of cooking on low, the chicken was super tender and shredded very easily.

Hope you all will try this out!

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
Recipe slightly adapted from The Lemon Bowl

Get

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk, light
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • cilantro for garnish

Make
*In the bottom of a slow cooker, whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, curry powder, garam masala, cayenne, and salt.
*Add chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is coated evenly.
*Cook on low for 7 hours.
*Stir in peas and lemon juice just before serving. Serve over rice or naan and top with cilantro.

Enjoy!