You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘tart’ tag.

Wow, I’ve finished my first year in graduate school. You’d think that I’d know more about brain science, but I really don’t. After all those hours spent in class and freaking out about tests and reading countless papers, I still feel so damn clueless about everything. Is it possible to feel like you’ve learned so much, and yet know so little? Yes.

I’ve spent so much time worrying whether I’d survive my first year that I haven’t had time to really breathe. But now that I’ve passed my pre-qualification exam, which basically demolished whatever illusions I had of my intellect, I’ve suddenly found myself with free time. No classes, no tests, and all this time to sit and think about my future for the next five years. So naturally, I freak out. The other day found me sitting alone in the break room trying to clear my head, catch my breathe. Because I am terrified. I’m also excited, yes. But a part of me is also beginning to see all the uncertainties in my life, my career, my faith, and my relationships. Despite how much I enjoy my work, feel secure in my faith, or cherish my relationships, there’s always a part of me that questions if I chose right. Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I becoming who I am meant to be?

I’m turning 25 this month. When I was in high school, I didn’t think that I would have these questions when I’d be 25. I thought I would know exactly what I want and know exactly how to get there. But then again, I also thought I’d be tall, sexy, and intelligent. Haha, I guess I should be more disappointed.

IMG_6742 copy

IMG_6763 copy

IMG_6777 copy

IMG_6785 copy

IMG_6804 copy

I haven’t seriously spent time in the kitchen for awhile now. Making this tart reminded me how much I miss it. Even when the flour flies all over the place, leaving streaks of white on my clothes. Even when I am left with a mountain of bowls to wash in the sink. Even when the dish doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I still love when everything comes together in the end. It’s those days where I bake for no reason in particular, other than because I simply want to, that I do my best and enjoy the most.

Maybe, I need to remember how to do science for no reason in particular, other than because I want to.

Berry Goat Cheese Tart from Pastry Affair

I didn’t really have plans for Halloween weekend, but somehow ended up watching a free screening of The Shining at Park Chalet on Friday night.  Red Rum! Red Rum!  Definitely will check back to see what other movies they’ll be showing on Fridays, especially since they offer happy hour priced drinks/food from 9 PM.  $3 beer?  $3 garlic fries?

Saturday night, my friend persuaded me to join the annual Journey to the End of the Night street game.  Basically, it’s a public zombie game where “humans” must travel by foot or public transit to five checkpoints in the city and make it to the finish line without being tagged by the “zombies/chasers.”  The turnout was amazing.  When we went to register, the line almost stretched from Cupid’s Span to the Ferry Building.  Numbers were definitely in the hundreds, which meant that there was a mad rush/stampede out of the starting point.

IMG_4814 copy

The checkpoints we had to reach before the finish line were spread out across the city: Pagoda Pl (near Chinatown), Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, Levi’s Plaza (on Embarcadero), Broadway Tunnel West Mini Park, and finally end at Crissy Field in the Presidio.  Fortunately, each checkpoint is located in a safezone which includes several streets.  Bus shelters and train stations were also considered safe.

I don’t think I’ve ever ridden the bus so much since I’ve been here.  I’m terrible at directions, so I was really glad that my group was very smart-phone and direction savvy.  Our strategy was to use public transit to get as close to the checkpoints as possible and sprint when necessary.  Of course, there were definitely runner enthusiasts who just sprinted the whole way.  We were not that ambitious.

The purpose of the game was to also help acquaint you with the city.  And even if you are familiar with all the places, it’s still a thrill to run through these neighborhoods at night.  I especially loved the fantastic view from Crissy Field Beach where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge shine across the waters and hints of a light fog hovering near the coastline.

IMG_4775 copy

To be honest, I didn’t think we would last very long in the game.  But when we finished our fourth checkpoint, I knew we had to push on to the end!  It’s actually kind of scary walking down the streets and not knowing if there were zombies that would pop out from a corner.  We were lucky that most of the chasers that we spotted didn’t notice us back, but we did have to sprint at one point to make it to our fourth stop.  We also had a lot of help from our zombie friends.

After a good four hours, we finally made it to the finish at midnight!  Whoo!  We didn’t win anything, but I left feeling very accomplished and somewhat confident that I may just survive a zombie apocalypse.

Panna Cotta Tart with the chocolate almond graham cracker crust that I used from the last post.  I paired these with roasted grapes that I roasted with balsamic and honey.  I would use a regular tart crust instead of a crumb crust if you don’t want crumbs to float to the surface, but mine tasted just fine.

Last week was Juan’s birthday!  Even though I couldn’t celebrate with him, I figured I could still bake him a tart and eat it for him.  Since both of us love chocolate, this double chocolate tart was perfect for the occasion.  And to show my appreciation, I thought I’d write about a moment in our conversations that really inspired me.

This is a post about my weakness.  About a moment that I am not proud of, but I will write it here so that I do not forget.

You’ve always said that you see so much good in me.  The truth is that it’s so easy to put up a kind face and speak kind words and do kind acts.  Sure, some of that may genuinely come from the heart, but more often than I care to admit to, I do it because I know it’s the right thing to do.  But just when I want to pat myself on the back for being so righteous, I see that I’ve never been Good at all.

Juan, I confess that I am fickle.  In love and in life.  I find it easy to be discontent because my heart always wanders to the things that I don’t have.  My eyes see all your deficits but are blind to my own.  And I love with a selfish affection–only when I feel like it and hardly when it’s inconvenient.

IMG_4670 copy

It was a snide comment.  I can blame it on stress or fatigue, but neither can really justify my words because they were said with the intent to wound.  I knew they would, so I said it: “You’re not so bright, are you?”

Yea, I knew it was wrong, but at the same time, I took in smug satisfaction knowing that I had said the thing that would cut you the most.  And the most horrible thing was that I wanted to say more; I trembled to see just how far I can push you.

I never thought that I would judge you for your educational level, socioeconomic background, professional accomplishments, financial success, or even physical appearance.  Not only because it is not fair–you were not privileged, you were not lucky, you were not raised in affluence, you were not me–but because none of these “markers of success” says anything about strength of character.  Yet, my cruel words showed that I judged you for everything that I didn’t want to.  There was something inside me that wanted to say that you were not good enough for me.

IMG_4689 copy

I expected you to be angry, yell or shout, maybe even cry.  But what you said in response completely blew me away. Instead of telling me off, even though you had every right to, you told me about your moment of weakness:

There is guy in my class who obviously grew up in the ghetto.  I could tell because he walked and talked like a guy from the ghetto: uneducated and pretentious.  It made me mad to see him act like he was better than everyone else.  I thought, “I’ve done better than him even though I had grew up in the ghetto too.”  After class, I saw that he was walking and trying to impress a girl; so I got into my car and drove past him, thinking that I can use my car to show off and make him look like he was less than me.  “He has to walk home, but I don’t.”  And it suddenly struck me that I was judging him for things that he probably couldn’t control.  But even worse was that I thought I was better than him.  This is not why I was blessed with this car.  So I stopped and asked God to forgive me.

And then you said:

I want to see our relationship like I see mine with Christ.  I may not always see Him all the time, but I know there is nothing else out there that can compare to Him.

IMG_4701 copy

Juan, thank you for your story.  I can’t quite articulate why it “spoke to me.”  I just know that I was struck in that moment by your gentleness, steadfastness, and grace.  I knew that what I needed in a guy wasn’t riches or prestige, but someone who walks with God.

Thank you, for grounding me in the things that matter the most.  I may have been blessed with education and opportunities, but you…you were blessed with faith.

Feliz Cumpleanos!  Treinta y dos!

Chocolate Tart from Dulce Delight (I used almonds instead of hazelnuts)

A friend recently asked me, “What would God say?”  I was prepared to listen to his troubles, ready to commiserate and sympathize, taking care to leave my faith out of the conversation out of respect for his beliefs.  Because I figured the last thing a dejected friend needs is someone to preach at him.  So I was taken aback to have this question thrown at me.  I’m definitely not the fastest thinker and neither can I articulate very well in awkward situations.  All I could muster up was: “He would say, trust me.”

After stewing over this for a good couple of days, there’s nothing I would change about my answer.  It’s generic and cliche, utterly dissatisfying, I know.  But truth is, if we were looking to God for an answer to right all the wrongs in our lives, then I think we would be sorely disappointed.  He would never tell you what you have to do to get ahead in your career.  Or how to repair your relationships with your family and friends.  Whether you should make that decision or turn another direction.  He would leave those choices up to you.  But he would ask you to find him first.

IMG_3349 copy

IMG_3352 copy

Maybe “trust me” isn’t what you want to hear when you’re down in the dumps, but maybe it’s exactly what you need.  We all pray when we feel helpless in our circumstances.  If you listen to those prayers, they’re all about getting into that particular school, getting that girl, getting that promotion, getting the perfect house; because we think that if we get all these things, then we won’t have to ask for anything more.  But there’s always another thing after that hurdle.  When we do get into that school, get that girl, or get that promotion, we rejoice: “Hallelujah! Our prayers were answered!”

But what do we do when things don’t turn out the way we want them to?  Are we prepared to say, that even though we have no clue how things can be solved, and even if he does not answer our prayers the way we want him to, and despite our confusion and despair, we will still trust that what he does is exactly what we need.  So the only thing that we ask for, above everything else, is that he stand by us for whatever comes.

If I can say this prayer genuinely, then I think everything else won’t be so difficult.  Oh, it’ll still be hard.  But at least now, I have peace.

IMG_3353 copy

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34

Maybe the best thing you can do for yourself, is to stop trying so hard to solve everything.

White Balsamic Custard Tart from Bon Appétit

Lately, it seems like everybody is getting married.  In the past year, three of the post-docs in the lab have gotten hitched, engaged, or soon-to-be engaged.  My fellow lab tech is now sporting a ring that extends almost 1 cm above her finger (I may be underestimating here).  It’s so huge that it can double as a self-defense instrument, like pepper spray; except, instead of blinding someone with a chemical irritant, she can leave a diamond shaped hole in their eyeballs.

It hadn’t really hit me yet that I was reaching a marriage-able age.  After all, the people I knew getting married were all older than me by a few years.  And even rumors about high school classmates who have made the jump seemed so far removed from my reality.  But I guess I have to finally admit that my cohort—at least some of us—are becoming adults.

Two weeks ago, I flew to Chicago to attend a friend’s wedding.  She was my best friend in high school.  I remember her as a history buff, grammar freak, Starbucks addict, and an incredibly loud commenter while watching movies at the theater.  She introduced me to Korean pop music, caramel frappucinos, extreme procrastination, and a spirit of vibrancy and spunk that brought out the best in me.  She was a frequent online companion during the wee hours of the morning, my favorite person to rant to, and an ideal confidant when it comes to the matter of boys.  She ogled pictures of Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney, and on my chemistry notes, you would find her works of doodle art.  She helped me ask my crush to junior prom and she was first to hear the details of my first kiss.  To see her get married was a mix of the surreal and the sentimental, with a permeating sense of time passing.

The wedding was lovely.  I walked into the chapel just as G- and her dad were preparing to walk down the aisle, and she looked stunning.  What struck me more than the delicate folds of her dress was the smile of genuine happiness and the grace and maturity she exuded.  Despite the big time gap since I had last seen her, I felt tender pride and real joy to see her celebrate this milestone.

Now that her wedding’s over, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see her next time.  There have been plenty of days where I’ve thought about writing an email or picking up the phone, but I don’t.  I can blame busy schedules or long work hours, but the truth is that I’m afraid.  I’m afraid of those long awkward pauses and forced niceties that make up the vapid conversations between people who have nothing in common yet try to feign genuine interest.  I’m afraid that if I reach out this time, after so many missed opportunities, there would be nothing left to grab onto.

Someone wrote once that friends who have grown apart are like strings that had been cut, their loose ends flailing in the breeze.  But sometimes all that it takes to recover a friendship can be something as simple as tying a knot.

I don’t believe that friends have to stay by your side forever.  We all have our own lives to pursue, obligations to meet, agendas to make.  But I do believe that connections between people are never really lost forever, despite the time and the distance.  Put on hold, maybe, but always there if you dig down deep enough.

It’s been a long time since I’ve baked anything.  These pictures were taken months ago when I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner, and I needed to bring a dessert I could whip up in half an hour.  I thought it was best if I used a recipe that I had already tried.  This Lemon Tart was way better than the first time I made it, which was more than a year ago.  I’m glad to know that I’m actually getting better at baking (and all that entails is being able to tell when butter is “fluffed” or when whipped cream is “whipped”).  I’ve also realized that I should remember to write down how my food tastes.  This tart was made so long ago that I can’t remember much about it except that it was good, so I guess you have to take my word for it.