Monday, June 24, 2013

Honeydew Sorbet

File this one under the "Perfect Dissertation Desserts" heading. My current dissertation-writing diet consists of foods that take minimal amounts of time to prepare but are maximally flavorful--and healthy and seasonal enough to make me feel virtuous for actually not eating horribly while thesising!

This honeydew melon sorbet was first inspired by my craving for nostalgic, childhood summer treats that I had while spending sticky, hot summer months in tropical Asia as a kid. For some reason, I don't see honeydew-flavored desserts in the States very often, but it's quite a popular dessert flavor in Taiwan (and elsewhere around that area, I suppose). So I set off to create my own. The trick to a really good melon sorbet is to start with a really fantastic melon--look for ones that feel heavy for their size and that smell quite fragrant. (It helps to have a good nose. :)) Then, the little surprise ingredient in this particular sorbet that adds that extra oomph is two spoonfuls of condensed milk, which provides just a soupçon of creaminess to the sorbet so that it doesn't feel like you're just eating fruit ice. (My apologies for the French. Dissertating has a way of bringing out the most obnoxious sesquipedalian inclinations in all of us.)

When I had my music trio over for rehearsal recently, I ended up serving the honeydew sorbet in a Taiwan-summertime-dessert-inspired trio with almond jelly and a Yakult granita (you know, because trios have to have dessert trios.... #metadessertcommentary), but the sorbet makes for a perfectly satisfying end to a quick summer dinner on its own, too.

Okay, crawling back into my cave of thesis-ing now....

(P.S. A quick reminder, for those of you who follow this blog via rss feed on Google Reader, Google Reader is going away come July, so please do make sure you transfer your feeds to another reader. So far, I've been trying out Feedly: find dfb on Feedly here.)

Read on for recipe....

Friday, June 21, 2013

TGIF: Happy Summer Solstice

{taken with the iPhone}

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! This summer might be a quiet one here on the blog, since it's been decreed the Summer of the Dissertation for me, which basically involves hunkering down and madly scribbling out a Ph.D. thesis in two months. Baking, photography, travel--all non-essentials, basically--are being cut down to the bare minimum. But, two months of this self-imposed jail, and there is light at the end of the tunnel!

In the meantime, I couldn't miss watching the Summer Solstice sun set on the Pacific Ocean, so after a long day of work, we traversed the Santa Cruz Mountains to the beach just in time to see the sun dip below the horizon.

(Also, you know when you've been working on datasets for too long when you go to type out "sunset" and accidentally find yourself typing "subset." Sigh.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

TGIF: The Berkeley Hills in June

While in the UK, I had a chance to hike through the British countryside, and though the sheer green-ness of it all was stunning (and charming, replete with fluffy baby sheep and long stone walls), it left my native California heart a little home-sick, craving the rolling gold hills of the aptly-nicknamed Golden State.

So the first chance I got this week, I escaped to the Berkeley Hills to see some of the proper California "countryside" that I grew up with. And it was really the Bay Area in all its glory--the golden grass, the tall, refreshingly-scented eucalyptus trees that creak in the wind, the wild blackberries glistening alluringly behind poison oak, ...and of course, the beautiful fog of Bay Area summers that tumbles in each evening, fast and furious from the ocean. Oh, California, I really do love you so.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interlude: Lovecrumbs, Edinburgh, Scotland

I'm alive! Really! I still exist.

This past Friday evening, I disembarked off the plane from London to find myself suddenly thrown back into my normal life in the Bay Area, after nearly two months away of non-stop traveling--first Los Angeles and driving back and forth all over California, followed by two weeks in the UK. That's the funny thing about coming back after traveling so much: the returning is probably more jarring than the going, because you realize how much you (and your home) have changed in such a short time.

While my head is still reeling from the transition back to Real Life, here's a quick interlude of one of my favorite cafés that I encountered while traveling: Lovecrumbs, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I was barely in Edinburgh for 12 hours before one of the friends I was visiting snapped her fingers and exclaimed, "You have to go to Lovecrumbs while you're here. It is so, so up your alley." And she was right.

Walking into Lovecrumbs was like walking into a perfect marriage of hipsterdom and that wonderful UK tradition of afternoon tea and desserts. In other words, a sort of heaven that warmed my little West Coast, foodie/photographer heart. The desserts on offer were displayed in an old rickety wood cabinet; there were mismatched chairs and vintage plateware; and one eating "bar" in the back was made from an old upright piano with its hammers and guts exposed. Mix this all with the beautiful Scotland northernly light pouring in through the windows, and you can imagine why I was so immediately smitten.

I ordered the Victoria Sponge, which I thought was suitably British, and my friend ordered an apricot flapjack (a different entity from an American flapjack; in Scotland, it's a granola-bar-esque thing). There's just a way that the people in the UK do the simple jam + cake + cream combination that's quite perfect in its understated purity of flavors and especially apropos alongside a hot cup of milky black tea in the afternoon. (The tea came with a personal thermos of hot water for refills! yay!) Every time I come back from the UK, I find myself wishing desperately that we had this same afternoon tea type culture in the US. It makes life so much more civilized!

Despite my groaning about being home, I am looking forward to finally straightening my life back out and not having to live from a suitcase anymore. (Namely, I won't miss the constant confusion over which clothes need laundering and which are safe and sufficiently un-smelly to wear.) Hopefully things will sort themselves out soon, and recipes will magically begin to appear on the blog again. :)