Weekend Cooking: A trip to Sonoma County


Sonoma County (like nearby Napa Valley) is all about wine. But on our three-day trip, we didn’t visit any of its lovely wineries, nor drink any wine. But we did eat and drink (I just had a few sips! Sad!) at two breweries – Half Moon Bay Brewing Company in Half Moon Bay and the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. Russian River Brewery is known for its Double India Pale Ale called Pliny the Elder which has won several awards and which my beer-drinking father-in-law enjoyed, but I really liked their Irish stout called O.V.L. Stout, which had a velvety chocolatey finish. I never quite understood how a stout could taste ‘chocolate-y’ (not chocolate) until I tried this one. Dark and just gorgeous. I wish I could have had more than a few sips!!




The Russian River Brewery also has a mean list of pizzas but this Omni pizza we ordered was a bit too salty for me. I actually preferred their gorgonzola salad.




The food at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company was better (it was more of a restaurant than a pub). I had a nice Dungeness crab roll with a side salad (didn’t photograph well) but the husband really enjoyed his fish and chips (well, it was garlic fries – but so so good!).



Besides all that eating and hanging out at the hotel (unfortunately it was a bit more chilly than we anticipated and only managed to swim once), we hit Howarth Park, a lovely community park in Santa Rosa for Wee Reader to sit the miniature train, the old carousel and just to run around the playground. He declared it “fun!”. So it was a lovely couple of days out with the family, despite not having any wine in wine country!







Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Bookish (and not bookish at all) links (17 July 2013)

Right, so these are the recent blog posts/articles that I’ve been hitting the ‘save for later’ button on Feedly for recently, in case anyone is interested!


I have yet to read anything by Karin Slaughter but after this interview with Gillian Flynn on Omnivoracious, I am curious. Have you read Slaughter’s books before?

Added Raising a Reader after reading Sunlit Pages’ review (via Avid Reader’s Musings)

Dewey Decimal jewellery! Cute!

“The more important a book is, the less likely there is to be anything at all on its cover (look at most editions of “Ulysses”).”

– The New Yorker on the decline and fall of the book cover

Ok I so have to make these monstrously large cookies from Levain bakery that Brown Eyed Baker posted.

What’s better than fried chicken? Ayam goreng! Ayam = chicken. Goreng=fried (in Malay). It has the addition of curry powder and spices in the marinade. The Food Canon’s recipe looks yummy!

Be prepared to drool when you click on David Lebovitz’s post about eclairs in Paris. Apparently it’s the new cupcake.


Bookish (and not bookish at all) links (June 30)

The Guardian has a great list for summer reading

Jamaica Kincaid interviewed by Guernica magazine:

“Guernica: What was your favorite part of writing See Now Then?

Jamaica Kincaid: Did you come across the reference I make in the book to OutKast? It’s toward the end. I was so pleased when I realized I could do that. The family lives in the Shirley Jackson house, and at some point, the mother is apologizing to the son about her failures. Somehow in that part of the book, the lyrics “So fresh, so clean,” and “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson” made their way into the writing. It made me laugh so hard when I included that. I thought it was so amusing. I’m afraid the reference has gone unnoticed by most. But when I read that part of the book to an audience, the younger people listening absolutely get it. That was my favorite thing: the fact the older people miss it and the younger people get it.”

That just makes me want to read everything she’s written – and listen to Outkast!

After reading this interview with author Michelle de Kretser, I added the Miles Franklin Award-winning book to my TBR list

A Bling Ring inspired reading list at Flavorwire

Jackie of Farm Lane Books has listed her favourite books of 2013

I love the sound of these matcha mochi cupcakes at Tiny Urban Kitchen

And this herbed potato salad with yoghurt at A Couple Cooks sounds like just the thing for a hot day

What I’ve been up to

Reading: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (library e-book); The Red Chamber by Pauline A Chen

Watching: The Good Wife and Iron Chef America via Amazon video

Drinking: Longan and red date tea. This being my ‘confinement’ month, I’m supposed to be drinking and eating confinement foods that help regain strength, improve breastmilk supply etc. So this ‘tea’ made from dried longans, red dates and rock sugar is a daily drink for me, as is chicken or fish soup with ginger.

Eating: things I’m probably not really supposed to eat as it’s not exactly confinement foods like sashimi and a divine key lime tart and a cilantro lime sorbetto!

Also: nursing the baby every 2-3 hours, changing plenty of diapers, trying to spend time with Wee Reader, napping or just lying in bed whenever I can



Midnight madness


Ah so that’s life with a newborn. I had nearly forgotten.

The feeds every two hours (or less!!), the struggle to emerge from sleep in the early hours, the initial pains of breastfeeding, the many diaper changes, the tiredness, the tiredness, the tiredness.

But unlike two years ago, I now have a new midnight fees companion – my kindle paperwhite! And it’s been such a good friend, letting me make my way through e-books of all kinds. Ok so my other best friend is my iPhone on which I watch Netflix – I’ve been watching Mad Men and foodie documentaries – cos sometimes the only thing that helps prevent those eyelids from closing is a good TV show.

But here’s what I’ve read recently:

Musicophilia – Oliver Sacks
Another fascinating read from Sacks. Parts of which were a little too much for a sleep-addled brain. Lighter fare next time!

Travels with Charley in search of America – John Steinbeck

Loved this travelogue. The last time I read Steinbeck was too long ago and I’m looking forward to reading more now.

Swamplandia! – Karen Russell
Weird and so wonderful. Reminded me of Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
A fun enough read but I’m not sure that I’ll continue with this series.

And I’m currently reading:
Fear of flying – Erica Jong

Prince of tides – Pat Conroy

And here’s the reason why I was in bed before 9 and up again at 11 (and also why there aren’t nice images of book covers on this post) with proud (or unsure of what to make of him) big brother:


Wee Reader is two!

That itty-bitty thing we brought home from the hospital in 2011 is now a little boy. How did that happen?

I don’t talk much about my family on this blog but I am going to make an exception today and devote this post to my son.

Because someone is two! And that is a fantastic milestone.

So much has happened in the past year. He learnt to walk! He learnt to talk! He beat his eczema (well most of it)! He’s thrown a tantrum! He’s eaten his first wheat products! He’s become a pro at the playground! He’s become so much more confident in whatever he does. And yet still has that ability to amaze me everyday.

We had a little party at home on Saturday with some friends and grandma who flew in from Singapore on Thursday to celebrate!

There was shepherd’s pie, fried vegetarian beehoon (vermicelli), spinach and strawberry salad, barbecued sausages and corn, samosas and spring rolls. And some car-shaped agar-agar (jelly), cupcakes from an egg-nut-wheat-dairy-free box mix (much as I hate mixes, I still haven’t figured out egg-free cakes) and an egg-free, nut-free train chocolate banana cake from our favourite bakery (they say it’s nut-free but their other cakes do contain nuts so I was still hesitant about feeding this to wee reader. Turns out he didn’t really like it, except for the fondant!). The kids had fun with his new water table, the weather held up well and a good time was had!


Grandma made him an apron! He received so many awesome gifts, including some fun books!

Weekend cooking: Happy Lunar New Year


A jar of my mother-in-law’s homemade pineapple tarts, handcarried from Singapore in December. They are rather delicate, thus the crumbs.

It’s not the Lunar New Year without something sweet in the house! In Singapore, we’d have all our favourites like kueh bangkit, pineapple tarts (ok so we do actually have these since the in-laws brought them from Singapore in December), bak kwa (a kind of barbecued pork jerky).

And so while it’s not exactly a traditional Chinese cookie, I made oatmeal raisin cookies (via the Rachel Allen cook book Bake! – someone has put up the recipe here – I did reduce the sugar to about 180g and added some cinnamon) and some banana bread as I had three too ripe bananas sitting in my freezer and I hate turning my oven on for just that one thing (recipe via Smitten Kitchen – but minus some of the spices which I didn’t have).


Great with a glass of milk!

One of my favourite Lunar New Year treats is nian gao (年糕) a steamed sweet glutinous rice cake (recipe here). I’ve never made it myself before as there are plenty of varieties available in the Asian supermarkets here (such as brown sugar, coconut). Here’s what I like to do with it: slice it, dip in an egg batter and pan-fry for a crispy sweet eggy breakfast! Nian gao, which can literally be translated as ‘year cake’ is traditionally offered to the Kitchen God to stick his lips together so that nothing bad will be said!


Tastes better than it looks!

One of my other favourite New Year traditions is yu sheng (a raw fish salad) which I’ve previously mentioned here but it is difficult to find in the Bay Area and in the first place, with the pregnancy, raw fish is out for me. So no yu sheng this year!

Sweet treats or not, have a happy Lunar New Year! 新年快乐!万事如意!

SoCal again!


There was snow on the mountains as we drove south on the 5, luckily this wasn’t reflective of the weather to come! It was indeed warmer in San Diego and Anaheim than in the Bay Area.


All that sugar was making my hand tremble…. Haha, not really, but these tiramisu pancakes from Cafe 21 (which I shared with the husband as well as a prosciutto omelette) in downtown San Diego was awesome! Sinfully so!


Another sinful treat (not on the same day that is) from Azucar in Ocean Beach, a Cuban-influenced patisserie which we first visited in November and which I was determined to return to, because it was just that good (so is their coffee). This was chocolatey and crunchy and just a delight to savour.



Did you guess it yet? We went to Disneyland! It was wee reader’s first visit and I had been worried. Worried that it would be too much for him, that it would be too crowded, too tiring. I am a worrier.

But it turned out great! The first ride he sat was Dumbo and he loved it so much he didn’t want to get off. He loved pretty much everything that went round and round, like the rocket ride pictured above (he rode it twice), and clapped and laughed during It’s A Small World (which was Christmas-themed!). But his favourite ride was interestingly enough, the train that goes around Disneyland. He sat it three times! Of course he cried when getting off some rides and wanted to be carried when waiting in those long queues. But at least there were none of the tantrums and screaming incidents that we spotted throughout the park.

And since we had grandparents in tow, the husband and I were able to pop over (having first collected FastPasses) to sit the more adult rides like Star Tours (we are big Star Wars fans) and Indiana Jones (we are also big fans). I wasn’t really supposed to sit these rides, since they do say ‘expectant mothers should not ride’, and at 21 weeks I am indeed expecting (due in early May). But these weren’t exactly Six Flags upside-down and head-spinning rides so they were fine, and fun!

It was a great week-long trip, and made for great memories and photos. I don’t expect wee reader to remember much (or any) of this in the future, but I’m sure the rest of us will!

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas presents are wrapped and ready under the tree. The grandparents have settled in, having arrived a week or so ago from Singapore. The butter cookies have been baked (it doesn’t feel Christmassy till the cookie cutters have been used!). The ham is in the fridge, ready for its beer bath later. It will be accompanied simple salad, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and a pear bread pudding with a salted caramel sauce. In case that’s not enough, there’s coconut ice-cream in the freezer. I think we’re almost ready for Christmas. At least for Christmas Eve dinner.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Oh and I opened some Christmas presents early (they arrived via amazon). A food book and Lucky Peach magazines from my parents and sister in Singapore. A lovely red teapot from the husband!


Coastal getaway

We hit Santa Cruz and Capitola for two nights for some sea breezes, seafood and sightseeing with the visiting grandparents. And of course this being Northern California, fog.



We had some yummy Italian food at this tiny place in Capitola called Caruso’s, like my spaghetti carbonara with thick chunks of pancetta and homemade pasta. And made sure to stop by Gizdich Ranch for some Very Berry Pie and a slice of Olallieberry. So good.

I brought an couple of different books to read: Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I was hoping to do some reading during wee reader’s afternoon naps, but it turns out that he didn’t nap – new environment, strange crib, all that excitement, and those mini naps in the car. Still I managed to finish Wild, with much admiration for Strayed’s determination, sorrow at her past, and hopeful for her future. A must read! I’m still working on Shades of Grey, but it’s been quite fun so far.