Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Dark Knight

You've seen it, right?

Bale continues to be the ultimate "real" Batman, dark and brooding, conflicted, a little off his rocker, yet also a very charming Bruce Wayne. Oldman conveys honor and earns respect and audience cheers for his good guy, Commissioner Gordon. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, well, they're Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.  Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart are the new kids on the Gotham block, who lend earnest and dependable support.  Director Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Prestige, Memento) creates a foreboding, moody art film which happens to have a huge special effects budget.

And then there's Heath Ledger.  He is terrifying, mesmerizing, unforgettable as The Joker.  Just ridiculously superb.

But you know what I'm taking about, right?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Blog

I've started a new blog that focuses exclusively on my foodie adventures called Kim's Culinary Diary.

Please visit and enjoy!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Latest Single I Love

I don't listen the radio much any more, but on a roadtrip I happened to hear the new Coldplay single, Viva la Vida. I'm a sucker for the strings. I'm a sucker for the orchestral pop-ness of it all. I'm a sucker for the lyrics of pride and lament. I'm a sucker for Chris Martin's performance, especially "upon of pillars of salt and pillars of sand" and the "ohs" in the last third of the song.

This one's on repeat and played loud.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Summer Break

My, oh my. I am officially on vacation. It took me some time to get rid of my waking-up-at-5 AM body clock. Ugh. I'm happy to say that I am now sleeping in until 7:30 AM.

G & I started off my summer break in a big way by seeing Iron Man on its opening day. What a fantastic way to welcome the blockbuster season. Last summer, almost every big summer film was a big disappointment. Iron Man was pure fun. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect as flawed gazillionaire Tony Stark. And if you see the film, stay through closing credits!

G & I hosted his sister and bro-in-law for a weekend in Ann Arbor. We had a blast and mostly just caught up while we ate and drank. Oh, and we broke out the board games. Yes, we are party animals.

The leaves are finally back on the trees and my garden is in full bloom. But spring just can't seem to fully win yet. Last night we had a frost warning and had to protect our herbs. Jeez, enough already.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finals Week

It's time for my Breakfast and Pantry practical already. Here's what the test is on:

Sunny side up
Over easy
Soft scrambled
Hash browns

and a wild card dish. I drew a frittata which is an open-faced omelet.

Today, the Chef said that we could make the eggs and then finish up with pancakes, hash browns, and the wild card dish tomorrow. I felt ambitious, so I went ahead and made the frittata as well (filled with bacon bits, red onion, red pepper, and cheddar cheese).

I missed a total of 1/2 point so I was ecstatic. I'd never poached an egg in my life before this class and now I'm a pro. My partners call me the Egg Queen. Who knew?

Three days 'til summer vacation!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bette Davis Centennial

April 5th is the centennial of Bette Davis' birth, so TCM is appropriately celebrating with a day long Davis fest.

I've been a lifelong Bette Davis fan, but I've stuck with what I know for the most part. I've seen All About Eve, Now Voyager, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and yes, Return to Witch Mountain, at least a dozen times each. Last year, G & I caught The Petrified Forest (1936), a tour de force starring not just Davis, but a villainous Humphrey Bogart. We also watched Dark Victory as well and were mesmerized.

Whenever I'm lucky enough to see a Davis film that's new to me, I'm wowed. "Why haven't I sought out more of her work?" I say to myself each and every time. So thanks to TCM, I'm filling up the DVR with The Letter, Jezebel, and Dangerous.

Just a note: If you haven't seen All About Eve, I highly recommend it as your next classic film rental. That 1950 screenplay is better than most scripts that come out of Hollywood every year since.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Photos from Pastries Class

I want to brag about my work, but I don't have the proper cord with me to download from my phone. So please consider this a space holder for now...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Long Day

Started the day in B&P class where we made a muesli (oats, milk, sugar, lemon juice) which will sit overnight. Tomorrow we'll take it and make parfaits with it, so I'm told. We also made pancake batter and practiced our griddle technique. I'm not really into pancakes (I'm more of a French toast/waffle girl), but I have to admit, this was a top notch batter. The pancakes were super fluffy. Our fellow students couldn't wait to get their hands on them. We had to find some maple syrup for them too. They're so demanding.

The chef demonstrated a French toast technique near the end of class. He also showed us how to make one of the custom salad dressings for the school restaurant, an apple cider vinaigrette.

Once B&P ended, I walked across the hall to the pastry classroom to volunteer for the afternoon. There's some black tie gala being held at the school this Saturday so all of the chefs are looking for volunteers to prep food and desserts. I volunteered for pastries for extra credit. Whoo hoo! Two of my favorite classmates also stayed late today; we made pecan flan, linzer tarts, and yellow and chocolate short dough. I had so much fun, I might stay late again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Class--Breakfast & Pantry

Today was the first day of Breakfast & Pantry. What a breath of fresh air. A week of demos and lectures before we really hit the kitchens full-time. We work in groups of three. We actually get to eat what we're cooking. And the chef is...a goofball. I know, I know. It's disrespectful to call him that, right? But he is a goofball. I say it with love.

After a brief introduction to the class, Chef demonstrated egg cookery 101. Sunny side up, over easy, over medium, scrambled, and omelets.

Toward the end of class, Chef let us go to the kitchens to practice these egg techniques. Dozens of eggs, clarified butter, lots of saute pans. I'm a newbie when it comes to runny yolks. I've only just started to be able to appreciate dipping toast into a runny yolk. So trying to make sunny side up eggs is a bit of a challenge. Just not my personal preference. I also learned a new way to cook an omelet. Chef acts like he's scrambling the eggs first and then mushes them all back together. He places the fillings on top (today we used ham, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese) and then rolls the omelet closed and onto the plate. We'd never seen such a fluffy texture. We were impressed.

The biggest challenge in all of the egg prep is controlling the heat of the burner. The chef wants no color on any of the eggs. At home, I like browned edges on my over medium eggs so I'll need to readjust.

Tomorrow we continue with eggs--poaching technique and Hollandaise sauce.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm Back

Well. I've been MIA pretty much since I started my Pastries I class. Pastries class was a big monster that swallowed me whole. I could easily list a myriad of reasons why this particular class had its way with me. But I'll save you from that. Because as of Friday morning, Pastries I is over. (Insert various screams of joy here.)

Not only did pastries rule my life this month, but on a much happier note, March is birthday month here at our house. So in addition to pastries hell, we did partake of our share of celebrations. And of course, there was my trip to Italy at the beginning of the month. Sigh. I'll be filing my Italy report next week.

First though, here are some photos that I neglected to post last month...some tasty treats I made in baking class.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vanilla Cheesecakes

Well, this isn't the exact cheesecake that my partner and I made in class today. But it's close. I swear. It was a thing of beauty. I checked out the restaurant before I left school and there it was, offered as dessert. It was a proud moment. I'm going to start taking my camera to class everyday. There are definitely some Kodak moments happening.

Several of my classmates were sleepwalking today, but we made it, we made it through our first week of pastries. Besides finishing up the cheesecake, my partner and I made chocolate chiffon cakes. We whisked some cocoa with hot water, then added egg yolks, vanilla, oil and dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda). Then we used a Kitchen Aid to whip up egg whites with a tiny bit of cream of tartar and a good amount of sugar. Once the whites were shiny white and fluffy, we folded them gently into the chocolate batter and ladled the batter into 9" and 3" pans. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I'm Listening To...

Early '08 edition:

Sheryl Crow's new CD, Detours
I'd heard great things about this CD, so I bought it as soon as it was released with what was left of an iTunes giftcard. It didn't disappoint.

David Gray's Greatest Hits
Great British pop.

Bruce Springsteen/Magic
I love this CD. Radio Nowhere made me seek it out, but now I gravitate toward Livin' in the Future and Girls in Their Summer Clothes.

Rilo Kiley/Silver Lining
I have this band's latest CD, but I can't stop listening to this single.

By the way, all of these tunes are especially important to me right now because I play them SUPER LOUD in my car to ensure that there's no falling asleep at the wheel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Plum Market

OK, you know you have a serious obsession with food when you note on your calendar that a new market is opening in town.

G was in Boston for the week so on grand opening day I drove from school straight to the new Plum Market. I did a quick walk of the entire store, oohing and aahing at the carnival of colors, aromas, and gracious, lovely people offering free samples. The market not only offers the usual products, but there's a small See's Candies store inside. And I found bags of Peet's Coffee. Coffee we always drink when we go to San Francisco. See's Candies, Peet's Coffee? My little heart skipped a beat.

I couldn't wait to tell G that Ann Arbor has hit the big time. Yes, he's not as excited as I am, but when I told him that there's also a Zingerman's Cafe there? He was at the front door with his boots on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Next Class

Today was my introduction to Pastries I. Four days a week and did I mention that I have to wake up at 4:30AM each morning? Maybe I have. So let's see...3:49PM...I've been awake for almost twelve hours. Anyone want to place bets on when I fall asleep on the couch tonight?

Pastries promises to be challenging. The chef is a different kind of instructor than what we've been used to. He's very structured and stresses professionalism, organization, resourcefulness. I don't mean to say that the other chefs do not do this. It's just that this particular chef is especially...serious.

Our class just finished goofing around in the bakeshop. That early in the morning, either we were punchy from lack of sleep or we were trying to find toothpicks to keep our eyelids open. So trying to be diligent and focused pastry chefs for five weeks proves to be entertaining.

We'll be rotating stations each week--custards and creams, puff pastry/pate a choux, pies, tortes/cheesecakes, fruit desserts.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Baking Final

From the lack of posts in 2008, one could call me a slacker, but no. Not only have I been inundated with homework and school obligations, I've been adjusting to getting up at 4:30AM.

Our five week rotation in Baking went by in a flash. We definitely got into a routine here at home. On Fridays, G would ask, "So what did you bring home today?" His favorite? Cinnamon rolls. Drool.

Last week, my practical exam consisted of baking kaiser rolls, pumpkin bread, and oatmeal apple cinnamon chip cookies. Here are photos of my finished products.

[Photos soon!]

And now, I must try to go to sleep for my way-too-early wake up call.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Screen Actors Guild Awards

I have been a slacker this year. I haven't seen many of the nominated films, but I still wanted to write about the winners Sunday night at the SAG awards:

Daniel Day-Lewis/There Will Be Blood
Does anyone ever have a chance when Daniel Day-Lewis decides to work that year? This man amazes me.

Julie Christie/Away From Her
I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't seen any of the best actress nominees (SAG or Oscar). I'm Julie Christie-ignorant. I think I watched Shampoo once, oh, and I saw Heaven Can Wait. Probably not the stellar points on her resume.

Javier Bardem/No Country for Old Men
When I do make it to the movie theater, this will be the film I choose to see. The Coen brothers just won the Directors' Guild Award. The cast won the Best Ensemble Award Saturday night. Javier seems to be the man to beat. I wondered if the voters would go sentimental and give the win to Hal Holbrook, but they opted to do that in the next category instead.

Ruby Dee/American Gangster
Eighty-three years old! Yes, I missed this one too. I've heard that her performance lasts a few minutes in a 157 minute film. Her only true competition seems to be Amy Ryan from Gone Baby Gone. Ryan's won this category at every other award ceremony up until this weekend.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Settling back into my school schedule has been a bit tricky obviously. No posts for weeks!

My first class in this rotation is Baking. This is week three already. The class is set up in groups of three students at each of five stations. Each week the groups rotate to a different station.

The first week, my group baked quick breads: cranberry blueberry muffins, loaves of banana bread, chocolate chip scones. We worked on breakfast pastries/special breads last week. Lots of making dough, rolling it out, folding it over, spreading in two pounds of butter (you heard right), and then letting it rest. Our finished products were individual danish, danish coffee cakes, loaves of brioche, croissants, and the piece de resistance--cinnamon buns.

This class is a huge change of pace from first semester classes. It's much more laid back and frankly, not as challenging. I'm not complaining though. Being able to take it a bit easy for five weeks is a gift.

The biggest challenge? Getting to class on Friday mornings by 6 AM. Ugh.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

On Vacation...Jan.6-11

We're in Florida soaking up the sun. More posts when we return.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


So first-run episodes on TV have about run out due to the writers' strike. (Go, writers!) G & I decided to check out some TV shows on DVD, shows that we either skipped over or just missed.

We discovered the mastery of 24 last winter and became addicts (season six notwithstanding). Now, we've become followers of Lost. We've watched three discs, each with four episodes, and at the end of each one, G & I look at each other and say, "What the...???"

I love the fact that the cast is huge and practically unknown, at least to me. Matthew Fox was on Party of Five in the 90s, but I never watched a single episode. The one actor I recognized was Dominic Monaghan who plays rock star Charlie. It took my watching eight episodes or so though before I stopped thinking about hobbitses.

So many secrets. So many mysteries on that crazy island. So far, our favorites are Locke and Sawyer. Now we just have to protect ourselves from accidentally hearing or reading plotlines from seasons 2, 3, and 4. Wish us luck.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Desk Calendar

My mom-in-law gave me a desk calendar for Christmas. Each day lists a book recommendation. What a fantastic way to start the morning. I sit down at my desk, rip off a page, and discover a new book to add to my exceedingly long library request list.

A sample (courtesy of Amazon):

A History of the World in 6 Glasses/Tom Standage
Standage suggests that each epoch, from the Stone Age to the present, has had its signature beverage—and takes readers on an extraordinary trip through world history.

Evenings at Five/Gail Godwin
Godwin lost her companion of nearly 30 years, the composer Robert Starer, two years ago, and this book is a devoted, quirky, wry and surprisingly powerful fictionalization of aspects of their life together as working artists.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Jimmy Cagney

There are some classic movie stars that I've completely missed. Whenever I can, I try to catch up and learn about the actors & actresses that I missed when I was a couch potato kid. I discovered William Holden in my early 20s (hubba hubba), Joel McCrea, Dick Powell...

TCM is showcasing James Cagney this month so I've set my Tivo to collect some of his work. I've always known about him, always heard accolades, but my childhood memory of Cagney is seeing him make a final appearance in the film Ragtime. I've never seen any of his classic films.

First up is White Heat, not one of his early works, but one of his best and most memorable. He plays, of course, a tough guy, this time with mama issues. He's the feared leader of a gang of thieves and he's fantastic. Cagney is ferocious as Cody Jarrett. He's a smart criminal with insanity in his genes. His wife doesn't love him, but stays with him out of fear. His own mother is part of his gang! Only when an undercover cop infiltrates his gang does Jarrett meet his demise, screaming out to the one person he loved the most, "Top of the world, Ma!"

Next up: a total departure from the tough guys, George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Up a Notch

One of the cooler things I've enjoyed as I've become a better cook is taking something mundane and turning it into something...well, special.

As a young single gal, if I had oatmeal in the morning, the oatmeal came out of a packet. If I had beans and rice (which I did, often), it came out of a box.

Now that I'm more at home in the kitchen, I enjoy everything I make, no matter the amount of effort, whether it be a Thanksgiving turkey, a roasted carrot, or a bowl of oatmeal.

That was breakfast this morning--oatmeal, made in a sauce pot on the stove, sprinkled with brown sugar and topped with sliced banana and dried cranberries. A treat just for myself and a great way to start the day.

(And boy, can I make a mean bowl of beans and rice now.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hope your new year started off right, just like ours did!

Michigan Wolverines 41
Florida Gators 35