Archive | August, 2014

Raspberry FIG Challah

28 Aug

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I said pretty much all there is to say about this amazing weekend yesterday– luckily, now we have some scrum-dilly-icious bread to talk about today!

I found this delicious jam-laced challah idea over at Girl v. Dough. In addition to this amazing recipe, she is a great resource for making bread and I highly suggest you head on over there for some great tips and tricks. I followed her bread instructions exactly but subbed the jam for one without all the sugar–y’all already KNOW I think this FIG jam is the business. (Confused about the mid-sentence caps? recall this). I did a test run two weeks ago and have to admit that even I, Ms. Gluten-Free-Even-Though-I’m-Not-Allergic, ate half a loaf.

This bread is NinjaKef approved, and JetSet suggests smothering it in peanut butter. Though you should be warned that this may result in your looking like this:

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She’s normal. He ain’t. Not a lot more I can say about that.

Since I used someone else’s recipe directly I won’t commit recipe plagiarism–just go right on over here and check it out!

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Wedding Wednesday– We’re Engaged!

27 Aug

Close readers may have noticed that there was no Malaysia Monday this week–and that’s because our weekly alliterative blog post has been usurped by exciting and amazing news–BFKef is now FianceKef! We are doing our happy dance, big time.

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There is so much to say, but first I have to give so many, many thanks to the love of my life for putting together such an amazing surprise. He really took the time to make a moment that was as meaningful as it was memorable. I’ve always known a life with this guy would be full of surprises–now I know just how great they will be!

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Last picture as BFKef!

One of our favorite places to relax is PurplePenKef’s country house near Charlottesville, which was formerly a one-room school house (and, thus, is known as the School House). We try to make a trek with friends every summer, and this year BFKef was especially excited about going down with a group for our anniversary weekend. MamaKef didn’t raise no fool–once BFKef started hatching this plan I pretty much knew it was also going to be our engagement weekend, but I played along and secretly planned an outfit and a hair cut for the Big Day.

Little did I know, KMBGKef was on the case. Just a few days before we left for the School House, this master of deception took me out to dinner and gave me this big speech about how she figured I was expecting the engagement to happen over the weekend, but BFKef was working on something else and so she didn’t want me to be disappointed when it didn’t happen at the School House. Since I have been waiting on pins and needles for this engagement since about our fifth date, the thought of waiting even a few more days was absolutely torturous to me. I was trying to maintain some perspective–what’s a couple days when we’re talking about the rest of our lives?–but perspective is not really my strong suit so I spent the rest of the week trying to give BFKef the stank eye only when he wasn’t looking.

We got down to the School House on Friday and had a most lovely evening–SummitKef earned her spot as the only person I will ever share a kitchen with, NinjaKef and JetSet made it down with MollyMarymountKef, and good times were had by all. Lots, lots more to say about the food and the company, but let’s stick to the task at hand, shall we? #ImEngaged

Saturday morning I woke up like a little kid the first year she finds out Santa isn’t real–hoping against hope that maybe there was still some magic to be had and that KMBGKef had just been throwing me off the scent. I wore an uncharacteristically put-together outfit just in case I was getting engaged later that day, but since I had cancelled my hair appointment I had to wear my glasses because I still only had one eyebrow. We headed out for a local winery, which I thought had been JetSet’s idea–turns out, BFKef and KMBGKef had somehow stolen a Sunday without my knowing to scope out Virginia wineries. Their little secret Sidesways trip brought us to Prince Michel, who couldn’t have been more gracious hosts.

After a tasting that was really fun–seriously, you need to try a wine that tastes like chocolate–we took a tour. I was starting to think it really was just a a nice day at the vineyard… but then I noticed the tour guide (who was hilarious) checking his phone a lot and start to stall. When he started telling us about the pallets they use to stack the boxes of wine on top of one another, I realized I was either on the strangest tour in wine’s history or maybe something was going on. We got to the “final room” of the tour and the guide made a big point of being loud and knocking on the door, so at that point I knew something was up… but all I figured was that KMBGKef had come and that she was part of the surprise engagement.

Wrong. Turns out, BFKef had gathered all of our closest friendfor the loveliest surprise of my life. It was so amazing to open that door and see BFKef’s sisters (WokeUpThisWayKef and SoulFoodChefKef) who came all the way from NY, my sister (who drove 1.5 hours to VA, then had to drive 6 hours to NY that night!), ThisIsYourLifeNowKef behind her fancy camera, and pretty much everyone else whom I love all in one room. I am not often speechless, but BFKef managed to render me so!

engagedBFKef said some lovely words about how I will be his #1 Goddess for the rest of all eternity  (well… that’s what I heard, anyway) and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said a very, very enthusiastic yes! I was so surprised and just kept looking at him and saying, “But I was so mad at you!” And then, I had to give KMBGKef a stern talking to about playing with the emotions of a nearly-engaged woman–safe to say she will pay for it in humiliatingly-shaped pasta at her bachelorette party. We got in touch with our family (even my grandfather had known before me!) and enjoyed such a special afternoon with our friends.

Obviously this is an exciting time–but none of it would be as meaningful without t the absolutely overwhelming support of our family and friends. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate each and every contribution to this amazing day–from BabyKef’s stunning decorations to the awesome playlist to all the traveling and planning, it really was the perfect afternoand I am so thankful to you all. More pictures to come once ThisIsYourLifeNowKef recovers from her own romantic weekend!

I can’t imagine I’ll post something about engaged life or the wedding every Wednesday–my friends have already provided more than enough gracious “uh-huhs” about engagements and weddings and all that for one life time — but when I have something to say, I’ll put it here. I’m excited to link up with Courtney, Jordon, Meredith, and Mary for this week’s edition of Wedding Wednesday–make sure you check them all out!

Protein-Packed Costco Meal in 10 Minutes or Less!

19 Aug

Costco- truly the land of plenty. I try to stick to one simple rule when shopping there: if we don’t already consume it in the Kef household, we don’t need to give it a whirl in bulk proportions. Seems reasonable right? Well- I broke that rule big time yesterday with the help of MarymountKef and am now the proud owner of three new pairs of running gloves (which should come in handy tonight during my 86F run), 400 thread-count sheets, and a lot of apple cinnamon chips. But the fun didn’t end there–I also bought new bean-based noodles and frozen quinoa. Why is that crazy? Well, I don’t really eat beans or quinoa, and I usually am not that into things with noodles or frozen food that isn’t ice cream. So basically, I looked at a HUGE amount of a new item and said, “Meh, I’m not really into any of the components of this, but I’ll see how I feel about 11 servings of it without so much as tasting it.” Twice. Luckily, the gamble paid off and I now have two new products worth sharing!

The first– black bean spaghetti.

mainimage__52508_1405393272_1280_1280I have no real reason for not eating beans often, but they’re not paleo and I feel way bloated after eating them, so I’ve been avoiding them. But when I saw that, unlike most gluten-free noodles, these guys have no weird stuff in them– 92% beans, 8% water–  it seemed like a thing to try.

The second–frozen quinoa and kale.

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Note: not my nicely-manicured thumb nail.

Again–quinoa is not totally my thing for no particular reason (unless you count the destruction of Peru’s agricultural system particular), but I figured this is would be a great alternative to rice for BFKef, who can’t stand the idea of a meal without a grain. The Costco package comes with four steamable bags with 3-4 servings in each, so I am hoping BFKef will microwave one of these guys on Sundays and use it for his lunch all week. A girl can dream.

So what did I do with these the massive amount of things I don’t eat all that often? Well, I put them all together to make one huge meal, of course. And it was delicious.

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On the blog today: billions of things I don’t eat with a side of condos for sale.

This meal was laughably easy– I threw the noodles in boiling water, microwaved the quinoa/kale, and then threw in some edamame (because there wasn’t nearly enough protein already between the beans and the quinoa) to the already-boiling noodle water in the last minute or so of cooking. I added sriracha to BFKef’s and sesame oil/tamari to mine and called it a meal.

I was impressed by the texture of the noodles –they really had a spaghetti-like consistency. The quinoa and kale was YUMMY and perfectly spiced. BFKef liked it as well–the true test will be whether he makes it for himself or not.  If I ever have to buy a year’s worth of stuff I don’t eat again, I’ll start here.

 

 

Malaysia Monday: 6 Days in Kota Kinabalu, Part I

18 Aug

Here we are at the start of another week, which means more Malaysia! Last week we recapped our time in George Town (Penang), where the buses are awesome, the street art is cool, and the food is amazing. This week, we’re moving on to the island of Borneo, state of Sabah, and city of Kota Kinabalu (KK). For the Carmen Sandiegos out there, here’s our flight path from Pennisular Malayasia to Malaysian Borneo:

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Arrival: The flight from Penang to KK was easy; the disembarking process, however, was anything but. Prior to the moment the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign was turned off, I had always believed that two pieces of matter could not occupy the same space. Clearly, my fellow AirAsia passengers did not buy into commonly-held theories of physics, and the second that little “ding” went off people were running up and down the aisle as if it were the autobahn. I did not have one iota of cultural consideration for this little difference in disembarking process and thought if I just stood firm I could instill into people the age-old School Bus principle– moving vehicles are emptied in exactly ONE fashion: by alternating door side, driver side in rows until everyone is out. No one was impressed by this, and finally one small grandfather who was trying to be the THIRD person standing across the aisle implored to me to move with an annoyed, “Please, hello!” This would become the catch phrase of the rest of the trip.

Night 1: The difference between George Town and KK is similiar to the difference between Portland and Seattle– in this case, George Town is the funky, artsy little town whose quirk and character is apparent on every block, while KK is the more urban, business-heavy city that lacks distinct charm but has a ton of cool, outdoor stuff to do very close by.

 We kept hearing about the Hawker Food–street food in a central, usually-outdoor food court–of KK, so we settled in at the modest-but-totally adequate Eden 54 and ran off to a waterfront hawker outpost. JetSet went crazy and ordered grilled stingray (which I had reservations about but turned out to be a great treat), we had some grilled squid, and even an avocado milkshake, all for about $25… yes, for the two of us.

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Stingray so hot it steamed up the camera lens

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Grilled squid

IMG_1397It may look like JetSet and I are enjoying one avocado milkshake with two straws… but actually we are both holding ourselves up on the table to keep our feet clear of the rat who was trying to dine with us. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Day 1: Cooking Class and Sapi Island 

We spent most of the first day in KK with a local gourmand, Remie Law, who gave us a tour of an amazing food market and taught us how to cook local produce. We had SUCH a good time with him (so much so that I’ll devote an entire post to our day with him on a future Monday) and learned a lot in our time. We started off the day at a huge food market, where I took approximately 6,000 pictures of food. Just a few:

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Sorry, pig lovers

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JetSet learning to moonlight in the local 60+ band

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After the market, we went back to Remie’s suburban home (complete with awesome organic garden), where we proceeded to fry the ever-living Jesus out of some very worthy produce. We even took a selfie. More on this later.

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After our day with Remie, we decided that Ferragosto so far had been heavy on the trekking and far too light on the tanning, so we headed out to Sapi Island, part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. A 20 minute boat ride from KK’s Jesselton Point wharf, these islands were described to us as “just okay.” Exhibit A:

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Not too shabby. We enjoyed the sunlight that was left (warning: you will have to move a lot as the sun sets to catch every afternoon ray–better to go in the morning!) and headed back for an Afternoon Caffeinated Beverage at (where else?) the Dunkin’ on the wharf.

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For dinner we checked out El Centro, which people who have ever visited the developing world will recognize by the name “Whitey Central.” Despite the advertisements for organized bar crawls and small groups of backpackers, it’s a nice place–good vibe, strong drinks, and not a rat in sight. We had nice salads and a delicious bowl of fruit topped off with champagne cocktails. It was also the sight of a very rare occurence: below, JetSet googles something (concentrating VERY deeply) that proved he was right and I was wrong. It doesn’t happen often, but let the record show it did happen once… though I can’t remember what it was about. IMG_1516

Day 2: 

We spent the whole day on Mamutik Island, which was just as beautiful as Sapi. We ate lunch at a restaurant there and watched as people pranced around the beach with Selfie Sticks. Not familiar? Neither was I, prior to this trip. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you— THE SELFIE STICK:

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We were pretty much the only people who weren’t walking around with our phone/camera attached to one of these bad boys. We were also the only people who didn’t make peace signs in every shot. Oh–and also pretty much the only people on the beach who weren’t spending our precious time in the sun using a selfie stick to take shot after shot of ourself MAKING said peace sign. We must be old.

Anyway- that night we ate at Kohinoor, another Indian restaurant that was absolutely insanely delicious. They even had fish tikka, which I had often thought should be a dish but didn’t know existed.IMG_1526

After dinner we took a little stroll along the water front, and somehow we landed in a chain resto-pub along the lines of Applebees for a beverage. Luckily we did, because we ALSO stumbled upon an awesome power ballad cover band. The room was pretty empty but we were really enjoying ourselves and sang/danced along to all the songs. They asked for requests, so of course we drafted up this note:

IMG_0360.JPGAnd proceeded to make absolutely FOOLS of ourselves when they played our requests. And yes, we were in a bar called Cock & Bull. It’s true.

Day 3: North Borneo Railway

Every Wednesday and Saturday, one of the resorts in KK runs a restored steam engine to Papar Town. They’ve made SUCH an event of it–everything in the train has been restored to “bygone era” status, and you do feel like you’ve traveled back in time a bit. Breakfast and lunch are served on the train, and there are stops along the way at a temple, a small town, and a large market. When the Kefs were kiddies, our grandparents took us to all kind of train-related things, and so JetSet and I have major nostalgia for the locomotive. Pictures do it better justice than description, but I will say this was one of my very favorite bits of the whole trip. Also, this is pretty much the only time I’ve been on vacation and thought, “Wow, I wish I had kids with me.” All the kids on the train were so cute and having so much fun!

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Not sure if they did the whole peace-sign thing in the 1950s, but we’ll go with the anachronism.

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Of course, we had to make a spectacle of ourselvesIMG_1537

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IMG_1594Needless to say, United Airlines could learn a thing or two.

After working on the railroad we wanted to continue our life of leisure out on an island, but as it was already mid-afternoon, it didn’t make sense to take a boat out, chase the sun as it set, and take a boat back… so instead, we just set ourselves up for some sun on the wharf. We thought it would be a major “what the hell are those two doing?” moment, and were both a bit disappointed to find out that no one paid us one bit of attention. Shame.

Come back next week to find our how I almost died on Mt Kinabalu, our bike trip through the jungle, and the time JetSet ate 57 pork products in one sitting.

 

Date Night Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

14 Aug

BFKef and I love a date night–sometimes we’re fancy and try one of the 15,524 new restaurants on 14th street, other times we go to an event around DC, and every now and again we get really wild and see a movie (usually when there’s a new Marvel movie out). All that is fun, but my favorites are the date nights we have at home–on those nights, I make a nicer-than-usual dinner, pop open a bottle of wine, and try to make a little tablescape out of the ottoman that doubles as our table. Last night, it looked like this:

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So what differentiates a Date Night from another night out with your beloved? Here’s what it is for me:

1- I wear clothes that don’t lead others to believe I’m a camp counselor. In addition to dressing up, I even wear make up, which makes BFKef even happier than finding out that yoga pants are not, in fact, the outermost layer of my dermis. I get a kick out of dressing up “for” BFKef– reminds me of the days when we first started dating when AKAKef and I would go through every outfit (and I use that phrase loosely) in my closet before I met up with him for a date, and reminds BFKEf that I still got it 🙂 .

2- I drink alcohol. Between working 12-hour shifts that start at 7am and training through DC’s hot summer, I usually get up between 5 and 6 am–not really a lot of wiggle room for an alcohol-induced snooze button. BFKef loves an adult beverage and it makes him happy when I imbibe too, so I make a point of getting drinks with dinner to prove it’s an official Date Night. This usually elicits a manly “woooo!” from BFKef.

3- I don’t invite other people…unless they’re on designated Date Night, too. Need I say more? It’s not fun getting all dolled up if the people you invite show up in sweats.

This week’s date night was at home, and I made a delicious and blessedly easy chicken and brussels sprout dish. BFKef gave it rave reviews and was pleased as punch–date night always seems to go better when I give that man some meat! #NoMoreVegDateNights

Do you do date night? What do you do? Have special “rules” to differentiate date night from other nights?

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Easy Date Night Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

 

  • 2 chicken thighs (I used boneless and skinless)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • cumin, to taste
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 lb brussels sprouts, halved.

 

Assembly

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium pan. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. I used mostly pepper and very little cumin.

2. Place chicken thighs in pan and sear for 5-10 min, until very crispy.

3. Flip chicken. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for 15 min.

4. Toss brussels sprouts with salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste. Add to pan (REMEMBER THAT PAN WILL BE VERY HOT) and return to oven. Bake for another 15 minutes. Chicken will be very crispy and smell delicious!

 

4 Ingredient Coconut Lemon Popsicles

13 Aug

I came across my popsicle makers yesterday, shoved up in the top cabinet where I keep all my seasonal stuff. My first thought was, “OH I’ll have to make some popsicles this summer,” immediately after which I realized that this summer is already, in fact, more than half over. Y’all KNOW how I feel about August (one long month of Sundays)–so I had to shake off the “summer’s almost gone” blues and whip up some pops–stat.. I saw this recipe for coconut lemon pops, and decided I’d take a turn at taking out the refined sugar and adding another fruit. Et voila! Just about the easiest, most refreshing treat you could ever want, all before the end of another summer’s day.

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Coconut Lemon Popsicles

Ingredients

  • juice of 2 lemons (I got a bit more than 1/3 c using a hand juicer)
  • 1 c full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4-1/3 c frozen blueberries
  • maple syrup, to taste (I used about 3 TBS and mine came out very tangy)

Assembly

1. Assemble all ingredients. Stir vigorously in a bowl.

2. Pour into popsicle molds. Add sticks. Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours. To remove, run warm water over the outside of the frozen molds and loosen gently.

SoulCycle DC Review

12 Aug

The wait is over–SoulCycle has finally opened its first studio in DC!

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I first experienced SoulCycle (or simply “Soul,” as devotees call it) a few years ago when I was in NY and in need of a bike + run workout before my first triathlon. QueijoKef preaches the gospel according to Soul and convinced me that I should give it a whirl. If you’ve never been to a SoulCycle class, it’s basically spinning on crack spiked with a dose of positive self talk.Where most spinning studios rely on black lights and strobes, Soul keeps the room dark and lit only by candles. There’s no drill sergeant shouting to keep you moving–most of the instructors employ a low, “look-inside-yourself” voice. And just when you think 45-minutes of riding in place can’t be innovated, they throw in some micro-movement weight training, and your whole damn body burns (don’t get cocky and take the 5 lb weights–the 2 or 3 lbs will do you dirty enough. Seriously.) Add amazing music and the fact that I sat next to Tom Colicchio during my first class and I was hooked!

So I was pretty stoked when I heard Soul was coming to DC. I headed over there this morning for Megan’s 8 AM class. Like most Soul locations, there’s a coed locker room plus gender-specific bathrooms and showers (but I think there are only 4 showers–so give yourself enough time to wait on line). The studio itself is huge, with 50 or so bikes. I arrived early for once in my life, got some help adjusting my bike and got ready to go. I picked Megan’s class on purpose–I’m a sucker for people who list their grandparents as their inspiration–and she did not disappoint. She’s fun, snuck in enough choreography to keep it interesting (but not so much that it was distracting…I hate that) and really pushed us all to go farther than we thought. Sometimes the motivational parts of Soul can seem a little hokey–people are paying almost $1/minute to sweat in $80 LuluLemon shorts…”you yourself are enough” messages feel a little tone deaf– but Megan was a totally authentic and positive instructor. When she told me I could make today better than yesterday, I believed her.

Since it has been a minute since I’ve found myself on a Soul bike, I had forgotten how utterly uncoordinated I am–if Soul is “dancing on a bike,” as they like to describe themselves, then I am doing the Elaine dance. That aside, I had a great class.

Bottom line: Soul is a really fun way to shake off a bad day, kick start an exciting week, or re-energize a workout routine. I ride 2-3 times a week, so the hefty $30-per-class price tag is prohibitive for me, but it’s a great experience worth a try and I look forward to dropping in every now and again.

Welcome to DC, SOUL!

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