A few weeks ago, my mom sent me an email out of the blue:

Bí, don’t bake for thanksgiving dinner.  I want u to relax and enjoy the time home.

Ugh. She knows her girl.

The sad truth, however, is that I wouldn’t have been able to muster up the energy if I tried. My life has been consumed by grad school, such that any free time is spent frantically downing wine and/or uselessly laying in bed until noon. This time last year, I was spending entire nights baking mass batches of chocolate chip cookies. Now? I spent my first vacation day at home sitting in front of my computer, troubleshooting statistics problem sets for hours. (Technically I was still in the kitchen doing this, but the fact remains: things have changed.)

That said, I’m still able to do some “normal people” things this year. Chief among these: practicing gratitude.

As always, I am thankful for the unending, unconditional love of my friends and family. These past few months have truly tested the strength of each and every one of my relationships — and what necessary trials those were. They’ve also required that I open myself up to others, to create the opportunity and space for new friendships. It has been incredibly reaffirming to know that I have so many gracious, generous people in my corner.

Unlike previous years, however, I am also grateful for change. Radical, all-consuming change.

I have never been a risky person. I enjoy, for the most part, dreaming from my bubble of safety: romanticizing lives separate from my own, safely ensconced in the world I’ve created for myself. This year, however, I closed my eyes and stepped out (or maybe sky-dived) of my comfort zone. As has been documented here, it has been terrifying, taxing, traumatizing, tearful… and so transformative.

Beyond all reason, I’m enjoying — or, at the very least, valuing — the life I’m building in Texas. I will always hold San Francisco dear, but, in hindsight, it seems a vision now: a mirage that would fall apart it I looked beyond the surface. Houston feels authentic and true, misshapen and solid and forged in fire. I clung (and continue to cling) to California out of fear. Texas makes me brave. As deeply painful as 2015 process has been, I am so grateful for it.

Other things I am thankful for this holiday season, in no particular order:

  • My car. Nine years goin’ strong now (including a semi-cross-country trip). What a fuckin’ champ.
  • Carbohydrates, and my newfound ability to eat all of them.
  • Frank Ocean. Miguel. Blood Orange. Music by babes for baby-making.
  • Snapchat.
  • My beloved Houston homies, formerly known as “the Goobers” and now referred to as “Julez and the Virgays.”
  • Spooning.
  • Master of None, particularly its excellent use of the fig tree analogy. Very honorable mention to You’re the Worst.
  • Valhalla.
  • My little sister, without whom I’d be utterly lost (even if she doesn’t know it).
  • Spotify Premium. So, so worth the chunk of change.
  • My huge bedroom windows, which bring so much lovely light into my space/life.
  • Sleep. Oh god… sleep.

And, of course, this little haven here. Thanks for listening.

peak grad student achieved

We were in lab when I got the text from N: “Free food in Farnsworth Pavilion at 6pm.”

I excitedly broadcasted this news to A & B and wrote back. “What kind?”


A’s eyes grew wide. “Im so hungry. I want that.” I furiously texted N back asking for more details.

  • Yes, it was for an event.
  • No, we didn’t have to stick around for it.
  • Yes, I could bring a few friends.
  • No, I couldn’t just bring my entire lab.
  • Yes, we should get there ten minutes early to grab the food.

We scheduled our walk over, down to the minute. “Would you like to sign in?” someone at the reception table asked. I stammered a bit before N strode over and spouted off some nonsense about our belonging there. In an act of mercy, he made us look less useless by “volunteering” us to open up the trays of food.

Um… Where the fuck is the dinnerware? I wondered as we surveyed the (delicious-looking) spread. We need to grab the food and get outta here. I began panicking at the prospect of the room filling with actual event participants, who would then witness us, in our yoga pants and unwashed hair, scavenging for food. My soul sister A read my mind and immediately went on the prowl for plates, running over to the coffee shop and convenience store across the way. Whoa. We are desperate as fuck, I congratulated ourselves.

Back in the event ballroom, someone had finally brought out the dinnerware. Unfortunately, now people were too polite to break into the food, including myself (a total fucking trespasser). Exasperatedly, I turned to N and put on my most pitiful puppy dog eyes. “Could you please be the first one to start eating?” He looked amused. “Okay.” I happily trailed him as he made his way across the buffet, low-key filling my plate with four times as much food. Shameless.

Moments later, as A, B and I sat in the student center stuffing our faces with chicken kabobs and hummus, we spotted a nearby hallway emptying of business school students. In their wake, they left behind buffet tables full of food. Wordlessly, my friends and I made eye contact.

“I nominate B,” I said. She nodded.

We got up and entered the hallway, B leading the charge and shout-asking, “Can we have some food too?” The servers stared at us for a second before handing us take-out containers. I flipped open my Styrofoam box and proceeded to fill it with approximately three pounds of gourmet catering.

A few hours later, N texted me again from the event ballroom. “There’s more food left.” I told him about our second raid. His response made me beam with a bizarre sense of pride.

“What a grad student.”


pumpkin pie + giving thanks

This time last year, I was bursting with obnoxious holiday spirit. I spent my time planning elaborate Friendsgiving feasts, dreaming up gift ideas, and blasting Christmas music day and night.

Cut to 2014: I’ve barely enough energy to feed myself, let alone write Quality Blog Content/grad school applications (equal priorities in my life, in case you’re wondering). This, of course, is not meant to be a complaint — just an excuse for my silence around these parts. I’ve got so much I want to do and share, but I’m letting other, perhaps more important things, take priority.

One of these important things is, predictably, clocking in time with my loved ones. Most of my Thanksgiving weekend was spent in the company of my family and friends; the remaining time, hanging out by my oven. I was a girl on a mission, determined to demonstrate my love and affection through sugar and butter. Among the many sweets to leave my kitchen: pumpkin pie, with a secret ingredient… Continue reading

Friday finds

This weekend, I’m bidding temporary adieu to my loyal sidekick, Jay, who will be touring Europe for two weeks. Oh, you know, just a day in the life, no big deal. Though I won’t be flying out intercontinentally, I will be hopping around the Bay quite a bit and keeping busy: my first baseball game, a day trip to the river, and plenty of time with girlfriends.

I’ve also got two somewhat blog-related news to announce.

As disclosed recently, I basically reversed the results of my diet and exercise regimen during my vacation. Not only that, but my cravings are back in full force; this afternoon, I found myself breaking into a six-pack of Oreos on autopilot. One day, I’ll learn moderation…. but until then, I’ll continue running intense nutrition experiments on myself. The day after Labor Day until Halloween, I’ll be back on a Whole30-style regimen. Expect fewer restaurant reviews and more recipe posts. I can’t wait to start cooking for myself again!

Secondly, I’m debating over whether or not this series, Friday Finds, should continue. It might be too frequent, considering there’s been a slowing of actual content posts. It’s also a bit time-consuming to curate regularly, especially now that I’m launching into grad school application season. I may make it a bi- or monthly feature — we’ll see.

Brunch in infographics.

Eddie Huang kills it — it being the deplorable Bill O’Reilly.

When I first scanned the title, “I don’t want Taqueria Cancun to win best burrito,” I felt my blood boil. The joint makes my favorite Mexican food (and green salsa) in all the land. Then I actually read the article, and understood. Sigh.

A handy anti-hangry guide for SF jetsetters.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival lineup is out! I’ll be seeing Conor Oberst and company for the fourth year in a row. Looking forward to it.

Changes abound with Labor Day and the turning of the seasons. A wistful tune seems appropriate:

NYC: Dominique Ansel — and yes, the Cronut™

It was still dark outside when I woke up. Murky blue light filtered in through the lightwell, dimly illuminating our New York City flat. Jay lay fast sleep beside me. I got up, got dressed, and slipped out of the building. I was a girl on a mission.

Briskly, I walked down Houston Street, crossing from the East Village into Soho and praying I wouldn’t be too late. From a few blocks away, I spotted the line. Already?, I thought to myself. Hurriedly I placed myself in the queue and breathed a sigh of relief.

I was at Dominique Ansel Bakery… and I was about to get me a Cronut.

If, for some reason, you haven’t heard of a Cronut, then why are you reading this blog? Just kidding. Really, though, this hybrid croissant-doughnut has “rocked” the “food world,” infiltrating “mainstream pop culture” and effectively “going viral.” According to the Cronut 101™ page (yes, really), chef Dominique Ansel spent two months developing his proprietary recipe for laminated, fried and filled dough. Since then, it’s enjoyed nearly hyperbolic popularity, with people going to very great lengths to obtain one. People lose their shit for this baking breakthrough; think five-hour waits, black market prices, and three-week advance reservations. It’s also launched legions of knock-offs — and subsequent copyright infringement lawsuits. What, did you think this was some kind of joke?

It was an absolute given, then, that I’d spend one of my mornings in NYC in pursuit of this popular pastry. On a Wednesday morning, at 7:30 am, I was lucky number 13 in line. Already, there were staff on hand to control the unruly mob [of sleepy tourists with nothing better to do on a weekday]. The employees would periodically make announcements: we would enter in small groups and could buy two Cronuts max; this month’s were flavored with morello cherry and toasted almond cream. About an hour before doors opened, a person donning a chef’s toque used shiny silver tongs to hand out tiny, freshly-baked madeleines: a deliciously light treat, with delightfully crisp edges. This amuse-bouche was followed by small plastic cups of juice, which made me feel like I was running a marathon (except I’d been standing around instead of engaging in physical activity and I was drinking fancy lemonade instead of Gatorade). This also made me feel like I was a mentally unstable person, waiting an inordinately long amount of time for a $5 treat and receiving charity/pity in the form of free samples.

At 8:00 am sharp, none other than the man himself opened the doors to the establishment. By that time, the line had grown and stretched around the tennis court by the shop. As part of the first batch of customers entering, I paused to gaze meaningfully upon Dominique Ansel’s noble visage. He smiled noncommittally back at me. I prayed that some of his brilliance and success had rubbed off on me through our shared moment in time. Satisfied with our exchange, I went inside — and after half an hour, I had the goods.

Continue reading

Friday finds

love Trader Joe’s, especially during the holiday season. There’s a magical, spirit-lifting air that settles in over their aisles of festively-packaged goods. Yesterday, while strolling blissfully through my local TJ’s, I noticed that they’d finally re-stocked their Speculoos cookie and cocoa swirl butter. I’d been dying to try this newest variant of their popular gingerbread spread, striped with Nutella-like cocoa hazelnut cream. In my eagerness, I bought two jars — but, in my defense, it’s almost always sold out because people (like me) hoard them! In any case, I may have to return the spare. For one thing, it’s super saccharine, even for a sweets addict like me. Secondly, I can’t justify its caloric content; it’s pure blood-sugar-spiking madness. Thirdly, and in spite of it all, the swirl is insanely addictive; I finished 1/3 of the jar in one sitting. Too much of a good thing…

Two words: Doritos bread. Okay, three more: with Doritos butter. (Bon Appetit)

This Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks that this Thanksgiving survival guide exists. (Serious Eats)

A fascinating look at Olympic athletes’ (very variable) bodies. (My Modern Met)

A brave soul tests living off of Soylent, the nutritional powder, for a month. Crazy or cool? You decide. (Vice Motherboard)

Crab leg collab: 2 Chainz x Jourdan Dunn. (Life and Times)

Friday finds

In a bit of a contradiction, I am bursting with anticipation for a weekend full of nothing. For once, no grand plans, no trips, no parties… just sweet nuthin’. I want to embrace all the summer laziness I can!

Hot dogs or legs? You decide. (Little did I know that the above shot from Vegas would fit so perfectly into a single-subject blog!)

The Scientific American’s food issue asks that age-old question: Why does food taste so delicious? (The Scientific American)

Food52 and Serious Eats’ cherpumple-off, also known as the most hardcore bake-off ever, truly awes and inspires. (Food52)

Guys with fancy lady hair. Junior prom hair on a man? Yes, YES, a thousand times yes. (The Bold Italic)

Boxed brownies + magic. Check out the comments for tons of incredible tips! (Serious Eats)

Julia Child was wrong — don’t wash your chickens! (KQED)

Eater’s Shitshow Week is here, reminding us that (1) the world of food isn’t all cute Instagrams and (2) nothing is better than a good ol’ rant — or two. My personal rant? Restaurants with lack of signage or incredibly obscure storefronts. There’s nothing I dislike more than inaccessibility. (Eater)

happy 101st birthday, Julia!

(Photo: NY Mag)

Today marks the 101st birthday of the cooking world’s patron saint, Julia Child. Unlike so many food lovers, I actually had very little exposure to Julia and her cooking, writing, and joie de vivre. It’s a smidge embarrassing to admit, but it was only after watching Julie and Julia a few years ago that I began to understand the rightful obsession with this woman. Not only was she a culinary genius, but a larger-than-life personality to boot. I’ve collected a few of my favorite quotes from her (and trust me, it was difficult, as this woman was made for soundbites!).

On the United States:

How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?

On ingredients:

There is nothing worse than grilled vegetables.

On dieting:

I’m awfully sorry for people who are taken in by all of today’s dietary mumbo jumbo. They are not getting any enjoyment out of their food.

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.

I don’t eat between meals. I don’t snack. Well, I do eat those little fish crackers. They’re fattening, but irresistible. — Ed. note: Girl, I totally get you. Goldfish: the Achilles’ heel of eaters since the beginning of time.

On cooking-as-a-life-lesson:

You must have discipline to have fun.

You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.

No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.