Category Archives: Uncategorized

4 Ways to Save On Groceries

Groceries

I read that about 40% of produce in America gets thrown out. I’m guilty of throwing away half a head of lettuce, old avocados, etc. In addition to reducing food waste, I’m also on a mission to pay down my debt this year so I’ve been brainstorming ways to save on groceries.

1/ Buy from bulk bins. Grocery stores including Whole Foods, Smart & Final, and Sprouts carry grains, nuts, spices, trail mix and more so you can buy what you need. I appreciate that I can buy a tablespoon of poppy seeds rather than buying a $5 jar and only use it once or twice.

2/ Find multiple uses for produce items. I bought some frozen artichokes this week and it’s been a fun challenge to find multiple ways to incorporate them into my meals for the week like this recipe and throwing them into an omelette. I love that Chef Julie has this post on multiple uses for lemons on her blog.

3/Dedicate one night of meal cooking and planning for the week. This is so helpful! I typically spend a few hours on Sunday night to get a head start on the week. Going to the crowded grocery store on Monday night and wandering the aisles is no bueno for me. Below is my sister’s photo of her spicy peanut salad she shared on instagram (looking good!). Reliable sites for finding recipes and ideas include theKitchn, DALS, and this blog.

alice cooks

4/Use leftover veggies for chicken broth. Throw them into a freezer bag for future broth. Check out my recipe; homemade broth makes amazing soups, risotto, etc.

What are your tips and trips for saving money on produce and other groceries?

 

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Vancouver

Hi there! I took a much needed vacation to Vancouver earlier this month and wanted to share some snapshots from the trip. We split up our time between Whistler and mostly exploring Vancouver. Btw, April apparently is a really affordable time of year to visit. Our direct flights were about $200/RT from LAX! What a great excuse to explore this beautiful city.

Whistler is about a 90 minute drive from the city and the drive getting there is GORGEOUS! Having lived in SoCal most my life, I’ve never seen so much greenery or water for that matter. Compared to our drought-stricken state there was water trickling down the side of the mountain. O_O Can we import some of the water to our arid climate?! I digress… we made stops along the way and visited two suspension bridges (Capilano and Lynn Canyon), which I highly recommend!

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We spent a full day skiing/snowboarding in Whistler which was an adventure for me since it was only my second time ever! I was so concerned with nailing down the basics (thanks to my patient teacher & friends) that I didn’t take the gondola to the top of Blackcomb! =( Just means I need to make another trip there. Btw, the water and air is so different up there!

It’s so interesting that Whistler draws visitors and seasonal employees from around-the-world! We met other Americans, Polish instructor, Aussies, etc., and everyone was super nice. Who wouldn’t be happy to live/work/visit Whistler?

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The Food. Chinese, Indian, American, Japanese-Canadian, Canadian. We enjoyed it all, 5 meals/day. The standouts include Vij’s Indian and Peaceful for Chinese food, although fresh seafood from Granville Island Public Market is a very close 3rd. Below, Vij’s lamb popsicles in a curry sauce and Peaceful’s dan dan noodles. Below that is poutine from Fritz’s (poutine is gravy and cheese curds over fries) and steamed dungeness crab (from Nova Scotia).

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Sometimes the most memorable travel experiences are the ones you didn’t plan/anticipate! Haha.. we took a 30-min seaplane ride above the city and enjoyed an aerial view of the city, both urban/modern and breathtakingly green!

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For lodging, we rented an airbnb condo in the heart of downtown (w/a corner view of Stanley Park) which was perfect for our party of 5 that was very affordable and convenient option. Not only was our flight inexpensive, the exchange rate was in our favor (about $1 US = $1.20 CD) which helped too!

I’m blessed to have both the luxury of time and company of travel buddies to enjoy a great city like Vancouver and all it has to offer. Hope you enjoyed my YVR travelogue and have an upcoming summer vacation to look forward to 🙂

kimchi making class

Last weekend I took a kimchi making class at the LA home of a Hae Jung Cho, professional chef and master preserver. I had a blast learning how to make 3 types of kimchi: poggi (whole napa cabbage), kkakdugi (diced radish), and oi muchim (cucumber salad). Learning how to make poggi kimchi gave me a newfound respect for the generations of Korean women that make it.

sok for kkak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kkakdugi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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kimchi grp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it was a lot of work, I enjoyed the experience and getting my hands dirty with Korean red chili powder, garlic, ginger, and learning the names of the herbs that go into the sok (or ‘filling’ of the poggi kimchi). I always see them at the Korean supermarket produce section but never know what dishes they’re used in.

4 days later, fermented kimchi :)

4 days later, fermented kimchi 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I definitely plan on making the oi muchim and kkakdugi as both were very easy and not labor intensive. Not sure if I’ll make the poggi kimchi again, at least until I live in a home with storage space for ginormous size mixing bowls (that I can easily fit in). I told my mom about the experience and she said, Don’t make poggi kimchi, it’s too much work. Just buy it!. For reals, mom.

If you’re in the LA area and interested in taking a kimchi making class or Korean market tour, check out this interview with Hae Jung Cho where it also lists her contact info. The beauty of the internet, that’s how I learned about her kimchi making class.

cachi coffee in la palma (OC)

The fun thing about following friends on Instagram is discovering cool new places. As a foodie, LA and OC are full of small, independent business owners who bring their unique perspective. One of my childhood friends had on his IG feed,  this cute, mom-and-pop cafe, Cachi Coffee, located in a business park complex in La Palma. I’ve been there about a couple times as my parents’ home is just a few miles away.

They serve Stumptown Coffee! Although I’m not a coffee connoisseur/snob (really, I love McD’s coffee), I love the the toffee undertones and it’s smooth flavor. I recommend their cafe mocha or a latte. As a tip, if you check-in on Yelp, they’ll discount 10% off your bill.

If you go during lunch, their salads and paninis are also popular (but I haven’t tried it yet). Because they mainly serve the corporate offices nearby, they’re only open Monday-Friday and from 6:30am-3:30pm. If you’re in the area, I recommend you stop by for a drink!

cafe mocha

cachi interiors

cachi cafe interiors

iced latte

chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

Lately, my weeknight meals have come from the freezer section of Trader Joe’s (lucky for me  that I live a short walking distance from one). I want to blame the late summer heat wave or the being the thick of busy season at work, getting home at 9pm some nights. It makes me appreciate those nights when I have the energy and time to cook up something from scratch (and from the heart <3).

A close friend of mine recommended that I try this recipe and I’ve made this dish twice for my family. Wasn’t sure how my Korean food, garlic-loving parents would like it but I think all the garlic and tender chicken (hello dark meat) won them over.

Let me just preface it by saying the garlic flavor isn’t gonna make your nostrils flare or give you garlic breath for days (thank God!). Since it gets slowly cooked down, it’s sweeter and milder despite high number. Trust me on this, it’s French comfort food (and not too heavy).

chicken with forty cloves of garlic (adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s recipe)
serves 4-6
3 heads of garlic (yields about 40 cloves)
3 lbs of chicken (combo of thighs, wings, drumsticks w/skin on)
salt and pepper
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB olive oil
3 TB cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups of white wine (I used chardonnay, any white wine that’s dry)
3 tsp fresh thyme, divided (will use 2 tsp for garnish)
2 TB all purpose flour
2 TB heavy cream

Note: there are recipes that don’t call for cognac like this one to have one less item on your grocery list. Don’t know if the dish will drastically taste different but just less French sans cognac. I bought mine at CVS but you can find miniature bottles at liquor stores or retailers like BevMo since you only need a few tablespoons. Also, buy already peeled garlic cloves to save you time. 

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in a big pot (w/thick bottom) or Dutch oven over medium high.
2. Saute chicken skin side down for 3-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.
3. Lower heat to low-medium and add garlic cloves until evenly browned. Careful not to splatter the oil.
4. Add 2 TB cognac and 1 1/2 cups of wine and return to a boil (alcohol will burn off).
5. Place chicken back into the pot with 1 tsp of thyme. Cover and simmer (very very low heat) for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. Check the chicken after about 25 minutes to see if it’s close to being done. Want to avoid dry chicken.
6. Transfer chicken to a large plate and keep warm by covering with foil.
7. In a small bowl, whisk half the sauce and flour. Add to the pot. Raise heat to medium and add 1 TB cognac and 2 TB heavy cream to make your sauce. Let it boil for about 3 minutes. First give it a taste it and then add salt and pepper accordingly.
8. Serve chicken and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

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mise en place (can’t forget the Korean newspaper)

browning the ckn

after browning the chicken

ckn finished!

Ta-da! First time, the gravy was a bit thick and on the salty side. My second attempt, gravy was a thinner consistency but a bit bland. Maybe third time’s a charm? I’ll let you know.

pretty ckn!

My friend who recommended that I try making this recipe sent me a picture of her restaurant quality dish. Bella! Great tip for garnishing the dish with fresh thyme.

sangria

I’m a creature of habit. As much as I love trying new eateries, exploring an unfamiliar city, and meeting new people, I find comfort in my go-to’s. Friends where you can pick up where you’ve left off, a tried-and-true neighborhood brunch spot, an old pair of jeans, and so on. My weekend had a bit of both.

Trusty old faves like this little oneduncana memorable lunch at this new (to me) spot

geko teiMy summer go-to’s are road trips to SD/SB, beach bonfires, happy hour, BBQs, picnicking at the Hollywood Bowl, and sangria. Sangria reminds me of my travels through Spain and enjoying tapas on a warm summer night.

simple sangria (serves 3-4)
3 cups of wine (red or white)*
1 cup of Sprite or 7-up
2 white peaches, chopped into ½ inch chunks
1 orange, chopped into ½ inch chunks
1 orange, juiced
1 pint of raspberries (optional)

Add everything into a pitcher and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or best overnight. Pour into wine glasses over ice. Serve with cheese and crackers or charcuterie.

sangria*Can use a variety of wines, red or white, depending on what mood you’re in. For red, I’ve used Sangiovese, Rioja, and for white, Sauvignon Blanc, Fume Blanc, but really pick something you enjoy drinking by itself.

Note: when I make sangria, I don’t use precise measurements. I just pour in a little bit of this and that and taste as I go. Adjust the level of sweetness based on preference. I chose to share this recipe because you don’t have to make simple syrup but rather use Sprite as a shortcut. Enjoy!