Did you know that you can peel garlic in 2-steps?

I love garlic, I think garlic makes everything taste better save for the few things such as fruit, garlic and fruit together? Ick. As much as I love garlic it was hard for me to want to cook with the darn little things, peeling them with such a B*!tc#, if you ever cooked with garlic and peeled them by hand you know what I mean. Then I found this amazing way to peel garlic and it really only takes 2 simple steps.  Here's how...

1. You will need a big knife

2. Use the fat end of your knife and your fist to smash the garlic. 

Do this by taking your clove of garlic and laying it sideway, take your knife with the sharp side away from you, align and gently lay the fatter end of the knife (closer to the handle) ontop of the garlic, then take your fist and smash the other side of the knife, the knife will squash the garlic on the other side of the knife (as seen below).

3. Peel

The skin of the garlic clove should come off in one piece!

Not Your Ordinary Kitchen Artwork

by Elle Moss, available at Etsy

In my personal opinion if you love to eat you also love to cook, and if you love to cook then you must love your kitchen. And part of loving your kitchen is being in love with the way it surrounds you, I'm not just talking about your oven and your utensils but loving your walls, the color, the ambience... everything. I've lived in some pretty stale apartments in my time, stale apartments with equally stale kitchens- it's hard to want to cook in a space like that, I think I ate out for most of that time and had the weight gain to prove it.  So do you love your kitchen or do you hate it?

An easy way to improve anyone's surroundings is to hang a few images, images that you love and moves you of course, speaking of which, I found some lovely food-related photographs by Elle Moss and just thought how beautiful it would make my kitchen if I could buy a couple or even just one to frame and put in my kitchen. I especially love the tea cup full of macarons (pictured above). The red apple (pictured below) would be great too, I can see it framed and hung above a basket of apples!

by Elle Moss, available at Etsy

DID YOU KNOW that you can freeze pre-cooked rice?

Back in the day before I knew a thing or two about life I hated cooking rice for myself.  For one person cooking rice seemed like such a big deal and then when I began to cook for two there was always leftover rice.

Then one day Mother told me "you can freeze rice. Just pack it in a container after it fully cools down and then you can microwave it for 5 minutes and you've got your rice!" I was, of course, pretty excited when I heard this.  You can freeze most anything- I knew this, and yet freezing pre-cooked rice never even occurred to me. The tip would be a great help in my years to come especially on days when my schedule was fully packed.  Now whenever I cook rice I make sure to make more than I need, I cool - pack - and freeze the rest. *sigh, sometimes it's the little things in life.

Cooking At Home: Two Favorite Ways To Devour Leftover Kimchi

When there is leftover kimchi, and there always seems to be leftover kimchi, I make Kimchi Fried Rice and/or Kimchi Chigae (stew). Unlike a majority of the Korean population I love my kimchi fresh, I won't eat any other kind, traditionally kimchi is well marinated; cabbage smothered with spicy seasoning and salt sits to pickle before being served. I never really liked the traditional kimchi, instead I love the freshly made kimchi, which means that I always have leftover kimchi. Fresh kimchi becomes traditional kimchi in not too long, so when I buy a batch of freshly made kimchi I have days to eat it before I won't touch it, so when the kimchi goes traditional which it almost always does when I buy a batch, I make either Kimchi Fried Rice or Kimchi Chigae with the leftovers... and both if I'm lucky!

Kimchi chigae is a stew made with your leftover kimchi and all of its juices. Pork or a meat of your choice is added along with water to create more broth. The chigae recipe is literally that simple, simple boil then simmer all these ingredients together and serve it up with rice and other sides (if you so wish).

Kimchi Fried Rice is exactly what it sounds like, fried rice with kimchi. Add your choice of meat along with your leftover kimchi and all its juices AND your leftover day-old rice, talking about the ultimate leftover dish!

Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers

I'm not really a fan of frozen food but I can appreciate their convenience in spite of the weirdness; yes, frozen food is weird to me. But some days you just don't want to go out, you're not that hungry and you really don't feel like cooking- on these rare days I bust out potstickers!  

I grew up with homemade dumplings. I remember my mother sitting at the kitchen table with a very large mixing bowl full of ground meat mixed with green onions, garlic, tofu and stuff, and a stack of small round dumpling skins- I always tried to stay out of her site on these days for fear she might ask for help. Making twenty-five or even fifty is one thing, but hundreds! Come on! We would eat them for months of course, she'd freeze the pre-made dumplings and bust them out on cold days to make hot dumpling soup, awesome. While my mom could sit there content, slowly wrapping dumplings for a 1/3rd of the day I on the other hand, don't have the patience to sit around and prepare dumplings (call me young), naturally I just buy them. 

I stereotype frozen food, the stereotype is that they definitely don't taste as good and maybe even taste a little stale because of the whole frozen part, and that frozen food is definitely weird (and I don't mean this in a good way) because the food themselves can survive way past their natural due-date- I know, that's what frozen food is all about, but still... it weirds me out.

When I first decided to try out Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers, which was roughly 5 years ago, I was definitely preparing myself for the worst. But of course, as you probably already saw coming, I was pleasantly surprised< smiley face to that.  They're uber easy to make and actually, quite delicious. The meat is flavorful and my potstickers always come out wonderfully perfect, kind of crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside. I have yet to compare Trader Joe's potstickers with Korean-made or a Korean brand one- I suppose that'd be the real challenge (soon to come!).  Getting down to the point, these potstickers are practically as good as the real thing, honest!

I've been eating Trader Joe's frozen potstickers on and off for about 5 years now, and when I'm eating frozen potstickers I always get Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers. During those 5 years I've definitely made them a few different ways, steaming them, frying them, even adding them to soups.  But I've found that the best way to cook and eat the potstickers is simply to follow the cooking directions on the back of the package, if so... you'll find yourself looking at a plate full of just-crisp browned skinned dumpling with moist flavorful middles. 

If you're up for a fun challenge and would really like to try and make dumplings/gyozas from scratch try the recipe from Maangchi

The most amazing food site run-in


I'm not really sure how I ended up on this awesome site, Food52Shop, but it is truly awesome, heaven for all you food fanatics out there.  Food52Shop is like the Gilt site for food which is actually linked from Food52.com (which is also uber great btw, more on this below).  Basically Food52shop is focused on everything food, selling items for only a limited time. 

From limited specialties such as the heirloom beans & mexican chocolate...

Not to mention things you've never dreamed of such as the fresh-packed Portuguese Sardines from Bela...

But also offers great cookbooks, not just any cookbook...

And yes, even table linen such as the new Heirloomed table linen collection by Icemilk Aprons...

And when you thought it couldn't get any better, they even offer workshops, classes and immersions, even at far away lands.  The one below is the Betty Fussell & Cocinar Mexicano for food writing and cooking at Posada del Tepoztlan!

If you love the Food52Shop your just going to die when you visit the Food52 site, which has tons of great articles on everything food, of course, and with beautiful pictures too!  Food52 is a must checkout site for all food lovers, your going to love it!

Check out Food52Shop for yourself or simply check out Food52 for a more general look & a read-through through their fabulous articles.

Cooking At Home: Kimchi Fried Rice BABY!

Apparently the Fresh Kimchi at the Korean Market near my home only sells in one size, a very large batch, large for two people at least. So with a large bag full of Fresh Kimchi left from our curry dinner I decide to make Kimchi Fried Rice, Mr. Borscht loves this!  If you like Kimchi then you're going to love Kimchi Fried Rice.  This is how I do it.

1.  Day old rice (I used about 2-3 cups of day old rice)
2.  Kimchi and its juices, roughly chopped (the amount is upto you depending on how spicy and how much kimchi you want in your fried rice, I like my Kimchi Fried Rice to be loaded with Kimchi so I used about 1 1/2 -2 cups of chopped kimchi)
3.  Kimchi juice, 2-3 ladles full
4.  Your choice of meat, or none at all if you wish (I usually like to put bits of left over korean bbq but I only had sandwich ham, so sandwich ham it is!)
5.  1 1/2 tbsp of butter


STEP 1:  Heat a large heavy skillet on med-high heat then add the butter to melt.

STEP 2:  Once the butter is melted enough to coat the pan add all of your chopped kimchi and its juices, fry while occasionally giving it a stir for about 7-10 minutes.  Cooking the kimchi on the pan this way first will create a more robust flavored kimchi fried rice.

*Note:  If you're worried that you may not have added enough chopped kimchi to the pan, not to worry you can still add more at any time.  Just remember that the later you add it to the mix the less fried/cooked it will be.

Spread the kimchi out once put into the pan so that it will cook evenly.

STEP 3:  Add the rice and give it a mix making sure to break-up the rice and coating it with the Kimchi juice.  Fry whilst occasionally giving it a stir.

STEP 4:  At this point you can add in your already cooked meat into the mix.  I diced my sandwich ham like so (pictured below) and simply tossed it into the pan with the rest of the cooking ingredients, you simply need to warm up the meat.

*Note:  At this point I usually add a couple of ladles of kimchi juice from the kimchi container (or bag, in my case).  Adding in extra kimchi juice makes for extra kimchi-tastic fried rice.  You can always forego adding in more kimchi juice if you desire a lighter tasting kimchi fried rice.

STEP 5:  The kimchi fried rice is ready to serve when the rice begins to really stick to the bottom of the pan, if this is happening way before you can simply add more butter, or if your healthy conscious you can add more kimchi juice.

*Note:  Once I have to begin scraping the rice off the bottom of the pan while cooking is when I know when my kimchi fried rice is ready. If you like your kimchi fried rice less fried then simply take the pan off the heat sooner, remember that everything that goes into your kimchi fried rice is already cooked so there is no harm in less cooking time.

Cooking At Home: Curry with the works

Images of curry over rice with a side of kimchi is what I remember when I think of comfort-food my mom used to make.  It just so happens that the weather is now quite chilly after the long stint of a hot-hot summer, I think it even rained today for a bit :) which makes me very very happy (hence the smiley face.  It also just so happens that I know, via a short chat on IM with Mr. Borscht, that he is having a very bad day, a day where nothing... and I mean nothing, is going right. So it's Tummy to the rescue!  Curry over rice with the works will be prepared for dinner tonight, a perfect dinner for an awful & cold day.  I can practically smell the aroma of spices and curry, I can practically taste the chunks of vegetables and meat, mmmmm~ so good.

Here we go!

All the vegetables I am using is optional, you can literally make curry with any vegetable you like or simply have in the refrigerator, you can also make this curry vegetarian and knix the meat entirely.

1.  1 small onion (peeled and medium diced)
2.  1 large potato (washed & cut up into large dices, peeling is optional)
3.  3 carrots (washed & sliced, peeling is optional)
4.  1-2 zucchinis (washed, halved lengthwise and sliced not too thinly)
5.  Choice of meat enough for 2-3 people cut into bite-size piece (you can buy stewing meat which is already cut-up in pieces, or simply buy meat to cut-up)
6.  2- 3.5 oz packs of Golden Curry (mild, medium or hot spice level is up to you)
7.  Water, enough to cover all the vegetable and meat in the heavy skillet or pot
8.  1-2 tablespoon of olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet or pot, I used a heavy skillet with tall sides
9.  Cooked white rice

Once you've prepped all your ingredients (cleaned and cut all your vegetables and meat), heat the skillet (or pot) on med-high heat and add olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet (or pot) just so that the vegetables won't stick.

1.  Add your medium diced onions and meat, stir occasionally so that the meat and onions don't stick to the skillet (or pot).  Cook until onions are just beginning to turn color, the meat will be cooked on the outside and fleshy light pink on the inside.

2.  Add the hard (longer cook-time) vegetables, in my case they are potatoes and carrots.  Stir all the ingredients together in the skillet (or pot) and allow it to cook for about 3-5 minutes more stirring occasionally.

3.  Add the soft (short cook-time) vegetable(s), in my case it is the zucchinis.  Stir all the ingredients together in the skillet and allow it to cook for a minute more.

*NOTE:  Although it is important to first cook in the groups described above (1st onions and meat, 2nd hard vegetables, and 3rd softer vegetables) the amount of time to cook each group is up to you.  If you like your onions completely disintegrated then cook your onions and meat for longer before adding the 2nd and 3rd batch of vegetables in.  I tend to like my vegetables soft but not completely falling apart and so I cook each batch only a few minutes.  If you like your vegetables like mine and cook each batch only a few minutes at a time and are worried that the vegetables will be too hard or the meat not cooked all the way through, not to worry because the next step is to add water and to boil away, this will give your vegetables and meat ample time to cook through if it hasn't already.

4.  Add water to the skillet (or pot) so that the water just covers all the vegetables and meat in the pan. With the cover off let the mixture come to a boil.  Once the mixture comes to a boil lower the heat to simmer, cover it up and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes (or more if you'd like, but keep in mind the longer it cooks the softer the vegetables will become), 10 minutes is always pretty good for me.

roughly skim off any foam that forms at the top.

5.  After about 10 minutes or so lower the heat to low, break-out the curry, break-up the curry and add it to the hot, just barely simmering mixture.  Mix it up good!  Watch the mixture become a lovely golden brown!

*Note:  How much curry you add to your curry mixture is up to you.  I've seen people who make their curry watery but I like mine slightly thick so I always add a little bit more curry to the mix.  And remember the golden rule: you can always add more; so if you're not sure what consistency you like begin by adding the curry from one small box, stir, wait, and see, maybe even take a taste test, and if you want to add more curry for a deeper flavor or thicker texture add more. If you find that you added to much curry and the mixture is way too thick for your liking don't panic, just add a bit of water to the mix to loosen things up a bit.

This is what the block of packaged curry looks like, it's literally a block of curry.

Below are pictures of different kinds of Golden Curry:  Golden Curry medium spicy, Golden Curry mild spicy, Golden Curry hot spicy, I believe they also have Golden Curry super spicy.

Once the curry mix is complete, pour the mixture over rice, you can even pour the mixture over noodles as well- I've never tried this before but I bet it's pretty good.

I'm sure curry over rice is a good meal in itself but I always like mine with a side of Fresh Kimchi. I bought tonight's Fresh Kimchi from the Korean Market (located in LA, Beverly & Kingsley).  The Fresh Kimchi here is absolutely wonderful, my favorite place to get Fresh Kimchi if I'm unable to steal any from my Ma's.  Fresh Kimchi and curry over rice?  Yum, so good. I'm sure this will make Mr. Borscht feel alllll better.

Options on vintage-style kitchen scales

If I was more of a baker then I'd probably already have a vintage-styled kitchen scale, then again, maybe if I had a kitchen scale I'd be more of a baker.  A friend of mine has an electronic modern kitchen scale, he swears by it, I saw him use it on occasion and I swear by it too but when it comes to thinking about purchasing my own kitchen scale I just can't help but be attracted to the vintage-style ones.  They're so cute with their large dial faces, swinging needles and metal bowls.  Below are a few options of vintage-style kitchen scales, ranging from "pretty darn expensive" to "man, that's really affordable". 

Front and back view

The kitchen scale & clock from Terrain is pretty expensive and would definitely put a dent in my pocket book, on the otherhand the scale which is made of recycled aluminum and is stainless steel and has a 6.5lb capacity and 1oz. sensitivity doubles as a clock, whether this is worth the price... totally up to you.  I would probably forego this very cute kitchen scale by Terrain for something more affordable, I already have a built in clock on my stove anyway.

                           AVAILABLE AT AMAZON

The Polder kitchen scale available at Amazon weighs up to 11 pounds and is made of stainless steel and has a removeable bowl (pretty much all vintage-style scales have removeable bowls). The Polder kitchen scale comes with a 1yr warranty.  Compared with the Terrain kitchen scale the Polder seems more attractive to me, maybe not in looks, but definitely by price and usability. The Polder scale is able to weigh roughly 5 pounds more than the Terrain scale, and the polder scale is also made of stainless steel.

My favorite and "Will Buy" kitchen scale is Sur La Table's Taylor Red kitchen scale.  At $29.95 the Taylor Red kitchen scale is the most affordable and has a 11 pound capacity, is made of stainless steel design with a colorful red accent... and of course, has a removeable bowl for easy usage.  The fact that it's the most affordable and can do what a scale is supposed to do PLUS look good! - Yea, hands down, I'm all over this one.

Bloody Halloween Cupcakes

Design Fetish posted an image of Bloody Dexter Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery (unfortunately for us Californians that's in New York). The Bloody Dexter Cupcakes were made with red velvet, vanilla icing, red dyed simple syrup and glass shards of sugar, so while we can't fly across the country for the Bloody Dexter Cupcakes perhaps the baker in you can make your very own for Halloween.

Cooking At Home: Pickled cucumbers & tomatoes!

Homemade pickles is something I've never thought about doing, pickles was always something my mother bought, so after many years of habitually buying pickles it never occurred to me that I could actually pickle my own vegetables and that it would be easy too.  Mr. Borscht is always going on and on about how his grandmother used to pickle everything for the winter and how it was so great, this began to make me think about pickling.  And so, with my very own pickling cucumbers grown right in my backyard I decided to try it out.

First of all, there are so many different ways of pickling, there are sweet pickles, spicy pickles, regular pickles, even fresh pickles that you can eat the next day, the list goes on.  Mr. Borscht is not a fan of the sweet pickles and nor am I so I decide on a regular pickle recipe that has a little added spice to it for something just a tad different.

Unfortunately I yielded only two pickling cucumbers from the garden (they were the only two ripe enough to pick) and the recipe is for a dozen pickling cucumbers so I decide to wing it and add, in lieu of the 10 missing cucumbers, tomatoes in instead and also altered the recipe so that less amounts of the ingredients were added thus making it suitable for pickling about 7 cucumbers instead- the alteration in the recipe was done since I was pickling two cucumbers and 8 tomatoes instead of 12 cucumbers as the recipe was asking for; it was a rough estimate on my part but it turned out pretty well.


1).  Twelve 3-4" long pickling cucumbers (I used two cucumber halved & quartered depending on the size and  8 tomatoes on the vine, larger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than regular tomatoes)
2).  2 cups water
3).  1 3/4 cups white vinegar
4).  1 1/2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
5).  1/2 cup white sugar
6).  8 cloves garlic, chopped (I added the garlic using my garlic squisher which comes out minced rather than chopped)
7).  1 1/2 Tbsp coarse salt
8).  1 Tbsp pickling spice
9).  1 1/2 tsp dill seed
10).  1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
11).  4 sprigs fresh dill weed
12).  Three 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars & their lids


1).  In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers [and the tomatoes], water, vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, dill seed, and red pepper flakes.  Stir, and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve.

2).  Remove the cucumbers to three 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars [I stored mine in one big jar], placing 4 cucumbers into each jar.  Ladle in the liquid from the bowl to cover.  Place a spring of fresh dill into each jar, and seal with lids.  Refrigerate for 10 days before eating.  Use within 1 month.

I tried one of the pickles on the 10th day after refrigeration and found that the pickles were still a little hard and that the ingredients tasted very separated (the flavor was too salty and too vinegary); which lead me to conclude that the cucumbers and tomatoes were not yet done pickling.  I allowed the cucumbers and the tomatoes to sit for another 7-10 days, when I tried them after the extended period of "sitting" time I found the pickles to be absolutely wonderful!  The vinegar, salt and other spices had proper time to marry resulting in the pickley taste we all love so much.  The tomatoes also came out deliciously!  If you've never tried pickling tomatoes I highly suggest trying it out, in Russia pickled tomatoes are very popular, yes, it may sound a bit odd, "pickled tomatoes", but they are very tasty!

Pickling at home whether it is cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots or whatever is so exciting to do and surprisingly easy, I'm not sure how I'll ever go back to buying pickled anything!- I suppose that's a good thing.


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