Sous Vide Steak Success


steak + carrots + collards

I haven’t been cooking much this September. I’ve been feeling really exhausted and worn out.  So exhausted I feel like I can’t leave the house. A few weeks ago I played two ultimate frisbee games and now I feel done after walking a mile.

Today Sam was working on some house tasks, and I decided to try out the Anova sous vide circulator that I bought during the Prime Day sale. I bought a nice ribeye steak at a local butcher shop, and decided now was a good time to try something new and try to get back into the groove of things.

Sous vide is a style of cooking in which you cook the food in a water bath at a specific temperature. The idea is you can get and keep it at exactly the right temp so it’ll be safe to eat but won’t be overcooked. I  used this recipe from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s collaboration with Anova. I only used salt and pepper on the steak.

Since a carefully prepared steak needs sides to match, I decided to see what was fresh in the garden and find recipes. I had some collards and some carrots so I opened up Edward Lee’s Smoke & Pickles  and made two of the sides. I got the book from the library after enjoying him on the PBS show Mind of a Chef. I adjusted both of the recipes a bit from what was there, reducing the fat especially.

It was a great afternoon accidentally fancy lunch. The collards and carrots are definitely recipes we’ll want to repeat to improve the sides we serve with dinner. It felt good to cook as a bit of self-care.

Collards with Kimchi
Adapted from Edward Lee’s recipe. One version can be found here

  • 1 T. Bacon fat (substitute more butter if no bacon fat)
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/2 a chopped onion
  • 2 bunches collard greens (1-2 lbs)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup kimchi chopped

Heat bacon fat + butter until butter foaming in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook roughly 5 minutes until softened.

Add collards, chicken broth, and soy sauce. Cover and cook 30 minute on medium heat.

Remove from heat and add apple cider vinegar and kimchi. Serve immediately.

Carrots with Orange Bourbon Glaze
Adapted from Edward Lee’s recipe. One version can be found here.

Recipe made for 1/4 lb of carrots since that was all I had. Scale up for more.

  • 1/4 lb Carrots
  • 3/4 T. butter
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T ginger
  • 1 T bourbon
  • juice form 1/2 orange
  • salt to taste

Heat butter up in a skillet until foaming on medium high. Add carrots and cook six minutes turning occasionally.

Add brown sugar + ginger to pan and mix for approximately 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with bourbon + orange juice. Cook for 7-8 minutes until sauce has thickened.

Salt to taste.



Lobio in London

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When I was in London I stayed near London Fields in the Hackney neighborhood. It was my first solo AirBnB experience and I stayed in a lovely apartment on the park with a couple and their teenage son. I did a lot of walking in London, which is one of my favorite vacation activities. While walking from Haggerston Park to London Fields park I passed a small cafe called Little Georgia Cafe. After looking at the reviews online, I ended up eating their one night. It was sweltering outside, so it maybe wasn’t the best plan to get stew in a hot restaurant, but this was recommended by the woman working there and it was so delicious I wanted to replicate it when I got home!

The day after coming home I worked on this version in the pressure cooker. I froze most of it and have been taking it for lunch! People have been pitying me “sad soup” lunch, but I think it’s tasty!

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Amolesili Lobio – stewed kidney bean and walnut stew
Adapted from Saveur

  • 2 strips bacon chopped (optional)
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1/2 small leek
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 lb kidney beans (pre-soak overnight if you’re not using the pressure cooker)
  • 10 -12 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste

If using bacon, cook it in a pot or pressure cooker. If not using bacon, add a few tablespoons oil in a pot or your pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add garlic, carrot, onion, and leek and saute for about 10 minutes until golden. Add coriander and paprika and cook until fragrant.

Add beans and stock. If using a pressure cooker, don’t go over the fill line of pressure cooker. If using stock pot feel free to add up to 12 full cups of chicken stock. Add red pepper flakes.
If using pressure cooker, bring to high pressure and cook for 20-30 minutes. Release using quick release. If beans are still firm you may have to return it to the pressure cooker for 10 more minutes.
If using normal stockpot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-2.5 hours until beans are cooked.

Meanwhile, puree walnuts and olive oil until smooth. Set aside.

When beans are cooked, ladle half of the beans to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot.

Stir in walnut puree, cilantro, dill, parsley, and salt to taste.

Berlin: Sam’s First Taste of Flammkuchen


Our flight from Amsterdam to Berlin was supposed to leave at 9pm, but the plane was late arriving because of thunderstorms in Amsterdam. By the time we finally left, the pilot told us that there was a good chance of us not reaching Berlin that night, because the airport CLOSED by midnight. We’d then have to turn around and land in Hamburg. Sam and I had NEVER heard of this before, and the Israeli guy next to us on the plane was very upset about this possibility. I’m glad we made it to Berlin, but at least we had some people to call if we had been stuck in Hamburg for the weekend!

We made it to Martin and Monika’s apartment very late and they were great hosts for the weekend.

On Saturday after an excellent late brunch of bread, meat, cheese and fruit we took a stroll around the central area of Berlin (Alexander Platz to Potsdammer Platz). Since it was the same day as the Champion’s League final in Berlin, Juventus vs Barca, the central area was packed with fans so we retreated in the heat to a Beer Garden and the cool, refreshing Radler that awaited us there. Radler is the best thing on a hot day: lemon soda (like sprite) mixed with beer.

That evening we went out for Flammkuchen and Beer before watching the Football match. This was Sam’s first taste of Flammkuchen and it was a hit! Flammkuchen (literally Flame Cake) is traditionally more from the South of Germany bordering France, and is known in France as “Tarte Flambee”. Legend has it that it was invented when bakers would test the wood burning ovens temperature by tossing in some flat dough. If it burned or caught on fire, then it was too hot. One day someone decided to top it with sour cream, speck (thick bacon), and onions and the rest was history!

Our first full day back in Seattle was also a hot day and we decided to test out some of the recipes we found online. I opted to not go for the yeast dough recipes as we enjoyed the crispness and flatness of the one we had in Berlin.


Flammkuchen Dough
Adapted from

  • 200 g (7 oz) All Purpose Flour + more for rolling out dough
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 175 ml water
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together. Dough should not be sticky, so add more flour until it comes together and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. Dough can be used immediately.

Classic Flammkuchen

  • 1 Flammkuchen Dough recipe
  • 7 oz Creme Fraiche (can also use sour cream. I didn’t have quite enough creme fraiche so I cut it with some greek yogurt)
  • Speck / Pancetta / Bacon cut thinly
  • Red onion cut thinly
  • Scallions (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 450F.
  2. Pan fry bacon until lightly browned. It will also partially cook in the oven so you don’t want it crispy yet.
  3. Roll out dough and bake on pizza stone or cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
  4. Take dough out and layer on creme fraiche. Top with Red Onion and Bacon and any other toppings.
  5. Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

London and Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower salad

I just got back from a three week trip to Europe. It was the first time in five years that I’ve had more than a week off and it felt FANTASTIC. I barely thought about work and felt like I had little or no stress.

I’ll talk about more of my trip in a few other food related posts, but I’ll start with my first stop: London.

I traveled by myself to London and arrived Friday afternoon. I was really lucky to be able to spend so much time with my friends Will and Alyssa over the three day weekend. The highlights of our time together was:

  • The British Museum – I especially enjoyed seeing the Assyrian collection which was very large. Seeing the cuneiform writing and the Rosetta stone was also very thrilling!
  • The Churchill War Rooms – I wanted to do this over churches/art museums because it’s something uniquely British. There’s an excellent portion besides the bunkers that has a history of Churchill’s fascinating life, although I wish it had been better organized for the path one wanted to take. Did you know Churchill was somewhat of a onesie inventor? He loved to wear them, especially as an outfit to put on during an air raid.
  • Pubs – the pub culture was great in London, especially as Will, Alyssa and I all have a great appreciate for good beer. The meat pies were also very delicious. On Friday afternoon it was fun to see business people in suits all out on the street in front of pubs with their pints of beer.IMG_20150522_174159_079
  • Boat ride to Greenwich – I felt like Greenwich was completely overrated, but it was nice to spend an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of London. The boat took us to the Thames River Barrier which was an awesome feat of engineering. It was constructed to protect London from periodic flooding.

My first stop, even before going to my AirBnB rental, was at Ottolenghi’s Spitalfields location near Liverpool Street station. It was definitely the best meal of my whole trip, and all I got was a variety of take-away salads. It was so delightful that it was also one of my last meals in London as well! I’ve never had vegetables like this before, and the spices used were so different that what I normally eat.

Ottolenghi is the cookbook author of Jerusalem, Plenty, and Plenty More and is really “hip” right now. My mother-in-law and some of her friends are huge fans of his cookbook. After sampling straight from the source I came home feeling motivated to try new recipes.

The recipe can be found straight on Ottolenghi’s site. The website doesn’t contain directions (they are in the Jerusalem cookbook but all one has to do is roast the cauliflower and then combine all the ingredients).

There weren’t any pomegranates at the grocery store, so I added some Trader Joe’s Pomegranate vinegar to the dressing to add some of the flavor.

I really liked the salad but Sam said it smelled like German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) and refused to eat more than a bite. It has cinnamon and all spice in it, so the flavors are a bit different than in a typical salad and closer to red cabbage territory. I liked it so that’s all that matters!

Kitchen Nook Progress

IMG_20150103_113547_582IMG_20150103_113513_599My house was built in the 50s, but the area off the kitchen was built in the 90s and was built from garage space. Our garage is laughably narrow so it was probably actually a good thing that they took this space from the garage. The kitchen nook has been on of the most neglected place in our home so far. It’s been a dumping ground for stuff that doesn’t quite fit in the kitchen or hasn’t been put in the garage yet. The pictures on the right show that it’s been in a haphazard state: too big dining room table moved in their once we bought one for the dining room, mismatched chairs, random lamp, and random stuff on the table. I’m also not a fan of the light green paint that extended from the kitchen to here.

I knew I wanted to paint it a clean white. Since this room gets a lot of light, the white would work. Small, dark rooms don’t do well with white because the white tends to get grey and dirty. Here’s the result!

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I bought the bench on craiglist for $75. It actually has a corner part you can see above, but since that didn’t have a leg for support we didn’t want to attach it until we could build something. It’s clearly handmade and fairly sturdy, and the seats have some shallow storage space in the bench seat. The table I bought a bit later on craigslist for $50. It’s very sturdy and it’s got two small fold down leaves.

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I also took some leftover paint from the kitchen and repainted this little IKEA cabinet that was left in the house when we moved in and was originally painted the same light green color as the previous walls in this space. It now ties in nicely with the kitchen. You can see my silly outfit in the reflection of the cabinet in this picture!

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I’m not sure about what to do in this space in the corner. The kitchen cart fits there, but I’m thinking of putting some shelving above it to hold my cookbooks, which are currently living in the dining room. The room also needs some art to break up the blank walls. Here you can see the great view into the back yard!

winter 2015 312 This space is also a bit of a mystery. It currently has this wire frame set of drawers that we moved from the garage to make way for some more space, but it definitely doesn’t fit or belong here. I’m considering putting some sort of pot/pan storage as it’s too narrow. I’m looking at a few different options like shelves or hooks or a pegboard.

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The Kitchen Repainted

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I painted the kitchen a long time ago, but never posted anything. It’s not terribly exciting, but makes me happier than the light green that was there before. The before picture of the light green-ish paint is below.
before kitchen

I wanted to paint some sort of COLOR in the kitchen, since a lot of other things are fairly neutral. I ended up getting a sample of the Behr paint Bayside to try out and liked it enough to buy some to paint.

Overall I do like it better than the green (which was also painted on the laundry room door seen below), but I don’t think it’s quite right for the long term. Long term we’d probably do some kitchen remodel. Probably paint or reface the cabinets, new countertop, redo the floor since some of the parquet got a bit water damaged from the beer fridge in the kitchen nook. We don’t be looking at renovating for a while though, because the kitchen is perfectly usable and we’re fairly happy with it right now.


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I think the Bayside color does look good with the grey in the dining room, and flows fairly well. It was really tough figuring out a color that would go with the warm wood color of the kitchen, and I think I did an alright job in injecting some fun, and getting rid of the light green paint I didn’t like.

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The Long Room: A Start

The third bedroom is the last major room in our house to get any sort of attention, and it’s been a dumping ground of sorts. I’ll be able to get the piano from my mother’s house that I learned to play on, so I wanted to get things started by putting on a new coat of paint. Clearly this whole space needs a lot of work, but I think it has a lot of potential given the size of it and all the natural light.

Here’s the view when you come in the doorway for the room. I’d like to keep the desk and bookcases in the same general space, but will probably upgrade the bookcases and the chair in the future. I’d like the area where the twin bed currently is to be a comfortable seating and reading area.

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This is the view from the desk area. I’m planning on putting the piano on the left back wall, and then putting a sleeper sofa or something like the Ikea Hemnes Daybed that can work as guest space when we have people to visit. For now I’ve also set up my yarn and some other craft stuff on the right side.

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The white bookcase Sam bought from Goodwill and the wood one is pretty broken, but my stepdad gave it to me for free. The desk is my former dining room table that I moved from the kitchen nook space, where it was clearly way too large. I think it’ll end up doing nicely here for now!

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I definitely need to get rid of the valances here, because they definitely aren’t my style. (Although they appear to be lovingly handmade!). I included this picture because the blossoms on the tree outside are really beautiful, and really crazy for February.

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We painted all the existing Behr paints we had to test with. The Classic Silver is our living room color and the Grape Creme is the small bedroom color. It’s crazy how different (and wrong) the living room color looked in here. We narrowed it down to Gray Morning and Contemplation. We ended up choosing Gray Morning and I’ll show the first half painted in the next post.

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Shoyu Chicken aka “I’m going to show you some chicken”

When Sam and I have been to Hawaii to visit Sam’s dad, we do pretty much three things: go hiking, go swimming, eat plate lunch and poke. One pretty much only deserves plate lunch after a long hike and it sure can be tasty.

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One of our ridge hikes on Oahu

We discovered the joy of Shoyu chicken at Yama’s Fish Market in Honolulu after a long ridge hike. We were looking for Poke so found this deli on Yelp and ended up also ordering some Shoyu chicken. Shoyu just means soy sauce, as far as I can tell, and this is kind of like a slower cooked teriyaki.

We usually make it with bok choy, broccoli, asian broccoli or some other green. We’ll usually saute those in vegetable oil with a splash of sesame oil (a little goes a long way!) and some mirin and soy sauce. This braised bok choy from Serious Eats is pretty awesome, but it involves searing the bok choy first and then braising, which takes a lot of time. The extra pan sauce you get that’s a bit thick is really nice.

We’ll also serve it over rice with some Furikake on top! Furikake is a rice seasoning mix. While in Hawaii we also had Ahi and Ono encrusted with Furikake, so that may need to be a future post!

Here’s the recipe I use, adapted from Heather Likes Food

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  • 1.5 cups Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Mirin (or sub rice wine vinegar)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs


  • Mix all ingredients but the raw chicken in a bowl or large  measuring cup
  • Add chicken to slow cooker
  • Pour liquid mix over the chicken, making sure that it’s covered
  • Cook on High for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours
  • When done cooking, take a cup liquid and reduce on stove for a few minutes to thicken the sauce
  • Serve over rice

The small bedroom painted!

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I tackled painting the small room before Thanksgiving! I was thinking of doing a DARK color like blue or grey but everyone was against it: Sam, my mom, my sister. Sam suggested a purple and at first I wasn’t sure. I got samples for Behr’s Lavender Champagne and Grape Creme. The Grape Creme ended up being the winner! It’s the perfect purple/grey and was a nice compromise between Sam and I. It’s also more towards the dark side so it made me happy too!

Figured it’d be an easy paint job to knock out, but as I needed to do trim, ceiling, doors, and the walls it actually took me a few hours over the course of several days. West Wing used to be my go to painting show but I finished it. I started watching Scandal and pretty much finished the short first season while painting.

Of course I didn’t take good before/after pictures. I took these after I had painted the trim. Before I painted it white, it was painted the same yellow as the walls. You can also see we originally oriented the bed along the wall under the window.

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Here are the rest of the after shots. I moved the bed so the headboard was on the wall with the window. I think that really improved the room!

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I took a look at the random pile of paintings and pictures we have that came from our previous places or from stuff my parents had. I grabbed this Ikea print that was framed and the colors look good in the room! I’d like to add some more art in the room but didn’t have anything that seemed quite right in the pile at this point.

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We got a new rug for the living room! And it ended up being quite the saga. I’ve learned the past few months that it is really TOUGH to find the right rug. I think it’s even harder than choosing a paint color (and more expensive)!

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Since upgrading our sofa and living room paint color, I’ve been looking for another rug to replace the dark blue one. The dark blue one is fine but just looked too dark. Sorry for the bad phone quality on the picture. It was just a phone pic I shot when we got the rug delivered


And here’s a reminder of what we were working with after we painted!
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I was originally looking at a bunch of different geometric styles online and in person.

I really loved some of the rugs in West Elm, specifically liked the Vines Wool Rug. For some reason Sam HATES this rug. I think the berber texture of the rug just isn’t his style.

West Elm Vine Rug

We ended up ordering a Pottery Barn rug, but shipping was very expensive so ended up cancelling the order. We were a little afraid the blue-ness of it wouldn’t be the right shade in person, but liked the geometric print.

We then ordered this RugsUSA rug and had it delivered. It actually looked good and seemed like good quality… but something didn’t seem quite right to us. On the right is the picture I took with my phone when we rolled it out partway. It just didn’t feel like it belonged in our home for some reason.




I then tried to sell it on Craigslist and internally within my company’s for sale mailing list, and had an unsuccessful and time consuming attempted sale. Now it looks like one of my close friends wants it for her living room so it’ll all work out! Rugs USA actually has a good return policy. I would just have to pay for shipping back, but figured I’d try to avoid the hassle of the packing it up again and shipping it. In retrospect, it would have been easier to pay the return shipping fee rather than deal with a few different potential rug buyers.

I thought that maybe the reason something more “modern” didn’t look right at our place was because both Sam and I are used to see more traditional rugs at our mother’s houses. My mom found this rug on craigslist for $280 and we ended up getting it to see if it would work in the space. It feels cozy and homey to us right now and it ended up being a pretty cheap option! It’s in great condition and 100% wool, which was something I was looking for. My mom even said she’d buy it off of me for her cabin when it’s completed if we didn’t like it. All in all, I think it’s a win! It is really traditional though and when I showed a coworker she said “It looks like grandma’s house!”

It has really grown on us over the week. It’s pretty muted in tone and has some light shades of blue and green that work well with the walls and some of the art in the room.

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Here are some more pictures of our living room. We got Sam’s grandmother’s watercolors framed. I’ll probably try to include close ups of those in another post, but they look wonderful over the couch and we’re so happy to have them up.

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The living room is really coming together well and there’s not much more to improve! There are a few more things it would be nice to do:

  • new lamp for the side table by the door – the current one was my bedside lamp from the dorms and doesn’t give quite enough light
  • new throw pillows
  • a wall sconce for reading above the corner of the sofa
  • a fireplace insert – my father has one that we can have, we just need to transport it over and get someone to install it

There are a few things longer term we’ll want to change in the room:

  • recessed lighting or track lighting. The living room gets so dark!
  • media console – the Expedit works great and looks fine but it’d be nice to get something with a little more oomph and style some day!