So, first week of work down and I’m still alive! It’s true that it’s a little overwhelming, but lots of things make it more than okay — foremost that I’m lucky to be working with great people who don’t mind that I have no idea what’s going on yet. But also — what gets me excited in any situation, of course — food. Like ordering food on the firm. (Staying late is so okay when I can get sushi fo’ FREE.) And Keurig machines in our kitchens! And, lastly but not least-ly, this pumpkin spice latte syrup.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
Okay, so I just wanted to say that to be dramatic. Haha. But today is the day I finally start work at my law firm. Full-time grown-up “associate” work for the first time, ever! It’s been almost three months since we took the bar exam, and after my whopping 90 days of funemployment, I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to enter the real, real world.
Oh man, these cupcakes. These cupcakes! I know there are a million pumpkin cupcake recipes out there, but this one is special to me, if only because it took me about six tries to get right. (Which is kind of weird, now that I think about it, given that I just said that there are a million other recipes I could have chosen.)
I grew up in a relatively small city in the South. It’s big enough to have an airport, but small enough that that airport only has five gates (and one direct flight to NY that I never take because it costs approximately a billion million dollars) — big enough that some people have heard of it, but small enough that a nod and an “Oh, right, right,” is as much as they can muster. 🙂 (Occasionally, I’ll meet someone who actually drove through it.) It was also small enough that, growing up, I can remember the first restaurant of almost every kind of unusual cuisine opening up in town — the first Korean restaurant, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. — and I can also remember the first time I ever had any of those kinds of foods. The first time I had pork bulgogi, then known to me only as “Korean spicy BBQ pork,” I thought it was the most ridiculously delicious dish I’d ever tasted, and I thought that that one god-like restaurant must have been the only place in existence that could create such a magnificent mouth-party. Logical. (And thus began a lifelong love affair with Korean food.)
A few months ago, in the midst of bar exam doldrums, I came across this recipe for banana bread bars with brown butter frosting that looked mindblowing. But, given our extremely sedentary (nearly vegetative) lifestyle at the time, I omitted the frosting and ended up making only the bars, with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. And they were absolutely fantastic just on their own! No frosting necessary (though the brown butter frosting does sound pretty out-of-control). The cake was pillowy, moist, and banana-y, but not so dense and cloying as a typical banana bread; I was actually surprised by how soft and chewy the texture was. They were so good that even Bowl #2, enemy of sweets, ate at least half the pan. As good as they were, though, at the time I felt it was a little lackluster just to post a couple of squares of banana cake with no frosting, so I figured I’d make them as cupcakes or as a regular loaf later on, and shelved the idea.
I have a problem. It’s now been a week and a day of my visit home to my parents. In that time, I’ve baked three dozen mini matcha shortbread cookies, a dozen almond rosemary shortbread cookies, some topsy-turvy cinnamon rolls (next time I’ll roll you properly, little ones), pumpkin cupcakes, and green tea cupcakes. It’s a little excessive. It’s gotten to the point where, every time I come into the kitchen, my mother cries, “Not again!” and leaves the room muttering about her waistline.
Hi again! This past week, I said a wistful goodbye to paradise and headed back home to visit my own parents, while Bowl #2 stayed in Honolulu for a little while longer to enjoy some alone time with his family. It was the perfect, lazy, relaxing trip (and I already miss Bowl #2’s mom so much!) but it was time to go home. Honolulu, I’ll be seeing ya.
Coming from a Chinese family means that I ate a lot of weird things indiscriminately when I was growing up. But we never really had a lot of anchovies. Actually, up until recently, I really only knew of anchovies as that one American pizza topping that all the fictional characters hated in the books I read as a kid. (Babysitters’ Club, anyone?)
OK, so I know what this looks like. It looks like another summer recipe. (After I already posted a fall recipe, saying that it’s fall.) But it’s a really versatile summer recipe! You can sub apples and make it a fall recipe! Or sub frozen blueberries and make it an anytime recipe. Plus, some people in the world haven’t even had summer yet. And maybe some people live in a magical place where white nectarines are in season all year long. So I’m going to say it’s appropriate, and just run with it.
All right, so I might be breaking some of my blog rules (gentle guidelines?) with this recipe. It’s not technically difficult — if I made it, it’s definitely not — but it’s a bit of a hassle. And it’s not super great for little households, since it’s at its best when first made. But it’s homemade japchae! Homemade japchae. I just couldn’t not. This is one of my favorite noodle dishes, Korean or otherwise. I love anything both savory and sweet, I love chewy and textured noodles (soft noodles are the worst) and I love bulgogi. And this is all of the above. It is heaven. On a green plate. Plus, the recipe for bulgogi that I’ve included is simple and great for little households, so there is that.