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Monday, January 29, 2007

Dinner tonight: Ponzu-Marinated Salmon with Baked Brown Rice

I went a little fish-crazy in the frozen foods section of my local Trader Joe's last week in a valiant effort to up my lean protein intake. I really don't eat a lot of red meat--it's a pain to cook, all bloody and expensive, and despite the risk of salmonella bacteria, chicken and fish are so much easier. My grandma Kazuyo is the family fish expert, and she whole-heartedly recommends the Trader Joe's frozen fish selection. Besides, all a girl has to do to prepare for dinner like this is just pull a filet out of the freezer and pop it into the fridge to thaw in the morning...the worst part of the ordeal is prying open the vaccum-sealed packaging!

Back to Grandma Kazuyo, she has been gracious enough in the past twenty-odd years to let me stand behind her in the kitchen and learn somewhat how to make the world's greatest Japanese food, with a few shortcuts along the way. For my dinner tonight, I was tired of my usual student-y semi-Italian fare (boil water-put in pasta-whole wheat if you are feeling guilty-drain pasta-sautee vegetables and perhaps shrimp or bacon-add pasta and cheese) and had time to prep a little beforehand.

You can buy bottled ponzu sauce (it's usually used for dipping), but it's essentially made up of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and lemon or yuzu juice with a zest garnish. The soy sauce gives the fish a wonderful dark hue, and if you love salty food as I do, a good savory bite. Because of the salt content and marination, the fish will end up dark and slightly drier than other preparations of salmon, but I've found that it combats any sogginess frozen fish may have.

For the salmon:
1 salmon filet, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1 thumb-sized knob of ginger root, peeled and cut into chunks
a couple of dashes of chili oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Rinse off and pat your salmon filet dry. Combine all ingredients in a plastic sandwich baggie and allow to marinate in the fridge while you take a nap between classes.
2. Spray a baking sheet or small baking dish with vegetable oil. Drain the liquid out of the plastic baggie, rinse and pat your fish dry. Pop into an oven at 370 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for ten minutes.
3. Pull the salmon out of the oven and dot with butter. Return to oven for another five to ten minutes, depending on what doneness you like. Remove skin from the filet before eating if you like.

I happen to have a faulty, forty-year-old dinky little rice cooker that absolutely fails to cook rice properly and a gas stove that won't maintain low heat without the burner going out, so I have to resort to cooking rice in the oven. Tonight was, in fact, my first try. Alton Brown has always been an excellent source for basic recipes and procedures that I, as the daughter of non-cooking parents, have no idea what the hell to do with. Thus, his recipe for baked brown rice became the basis for tonight's side dish.

Baked Brown Rice with Mushrooms:
1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sansho powder (you can find this at your Asian grocery, it comes in a little green bottle)
1 cup mushrooms, lightly sauteed
1-2 cloves of garlic, lightly sauteed

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the chicken broth, olive oil, sansho powder, mushrooms, and garlic into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, covered.
2. Measure out the brown rice into a baking dish and spread it around until in an even layer. Pour the broth mixture over the rice and stir to combine. It will be hot, so be careful.
3. Bake uncovered in the oven for an hour, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. If you are impatient like me and open the oven door every five minutes to check on it, add ten minutes to the cooking time. (Use those ten minutes to cook the salmon alongside the rice.)

The resulting pilaf is nutty, crunchy, and wholesome. It makes about three cups of rice, so put some away for tomorrow. I just had a mounded cup of rice with half of my fish filet, and the butter definitely mellows out the slightly teriyaki-tasting salmon. If you are a veggie fan, add green beans or a salad on the side. Let us know if you try it!

No Wonder It's On Sale: the Anthropologie Shoes Edition

The entire lifestyle and aesthetic schemes that Anthropologie stores sell are so fascinating, one cannot help but be sucked in. If you've ever seen their window displays, you'll know what I mean. Unfortunately, things have gone a little wonky with the actual apparel Anthropologie is selling on their website, particularly the shoes. Now, I adore about seventy percent of the shoes, so much so that I want to put them in my mouth to see if they actually TASTE like sweet, sweet candy. The remaining thirty percent, on the other hand, are somewhat hideous, to a shocking degree. Anthropologie, really, if you WANT gorgeously fabulous girls to live your deliriously sunshine-y, vanilla-cupcake-y, traipsing around Europe in a beret, pumps, and giant appliqued flowers lifestyle, try to stop convincing us we need to look like hobos or The Incredible Rubber-Bendy Woman.

So, instead of visiting every store in my area to yell at the innocent (but undeniably adorable) shopgirls about how some of their shoes make me feel like fire-ants have crawled under my eyelids, I shall use this lovely blog to publicly scold Anthropologie. Case in point number one:
The Angitia sandal, described as "bedecked with teardrops of bronze tower above a roman column of smoky stacked wood," which is, in fact, grammatically incorrect. Teardrops of bronze tower? Really? Nothing about this shoe screams "ROME!" to me, except for perhaps the discomfort they would cause one's feet and the vast amount of dirt collecting between one's toes.

Next, we have the Sequoia boot...pant...shinguard...leggings:
It's just too creepy. I cannot handle the Mystery of the Phantom Boot/Disembodied Leg of a Page-Boy right now, you guys. Oh, and thanks for that note that the LACES are decorative, Anthropologie, I would have been sorely disappointed to see that I couldn't actually tie up my new, zombie-flesh-colored boogings. Boogings, or Loots? Which do you prefer?

There was another heinous pair of orange knit boots that was a travesty against womankind, but these regularly-priced "Aspen" boots will have to suffice in their place:
Oh, hooray for the Yuppie Moccasin Boot! Doesn't it sort of make the feet look like the Quaker Oats Grandpa? No?

Now that you have survived the Hall of Horrors, feast your eyes upon the "half-spat" boots...

I physically yearn for them. Augh. THOSE are the kind of kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, kill-a-guy-with-a-sideways-glance kinda boots that a real woman needs. If only they were on sale, and not the hobo shoes!

images from anthropologie.com.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

with a little help from my friends

Part of why I decided that I wanted to be involved in a beauty/lifestyle blog was looking at the great community of beauty blogs out there already. I'm a huge fan of the blogs in the sidebar and read them whenever they update, with particular favorites being Beauty Addict and Blogdorf Goodman. If a product gets a good review from either of them, you can bet that I'll be clicking their links and checking them out. One of my favorite lip glosses (Sue Devitt's Taza) was recommended by Beauty Addict, and I got a sample of L'Artisan's Tea for Two based on Blogdorf Goodman's Wear Your Stash challenge.

In addition to blogs, though, I also read several forums and review websites, ranging from Beauty Addict Magazine and its forum to Meg's Makeup, which I've signed up for. I'm highly suggestible, so I love to see what people recommend.

I've also been looking for a new face wash routine. I'd been using a facial scrub that was probably too harsh for my skin, causing break-outs on my cheeks (ayyyy!). It was browsing through Meg's Makeup reviews that I discovered Suki skincare, a wholly organic line for sensitive skin. Since the product had unanimously good reviews, and the sample kit was a good deal, I bought the sample kit last weekend to try it out.

To fully disclose how great this product is, I started using it at Ground Zero -- my cheeks were broken out and I've been in a very hormonal week. I've only been using the Lemongrass cleanser, the Willow toner, and the Chamomile serum and only at night, but I can definitely see a change in my skin and I haven't even been using it for a whole week. Karen and Kati have both been subject to me pinging them online saying, "You've got to try this, you've got to try this". The scrub smells like ginger ale and the toner/serum smell like delicious chamomile, which is perfect for winding down and getting ready for bed. I fully intend on buying the full sizes of these three products once I run out of the samples.

Suki skincare can be bought at your local Whole Foods or natural food store or online at SukisNaturals.com (and they add samples when you buy online!).

image from sukisnaturals.com

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Style and Celebrity: A Study of the 2007 Golden Globes

Dear readers, allow me to preface this short photo-essay by saying that I refuse to watch awards shows on television. If I wanted to watch celebrities pat themselves on the back, I would go live in LA. Also, Ryan Seacrest is a waste of good oxygenated air.

Now, a message to all the celebrities out there: well done, people, you managed to get to the Golden Globes, drink, clap and smile beatifically for several hours. I certainly would high-tail it out of there after the red carpet--whose strappy heels weren't digging into their precious insured feet, or stylist-recommended "invisible" underwear riding up ever so awkwardly after that kind of ordeal? I applaud your resolve and stamina, I do.

Shall we begin? I believe the proper etiquette is for us to start with the unaccompanied ladies and minors. Behold, Sarah Jessica Parker:

I'm fairly sure many women my age still harbor some love in their hearts for SJP from her days on Sex and the City, but my shriveled coal-tar heart says she has a horse-face and should generally avoid wearing dresses the same color as her skin, albeit with a bit of glitter and bland tailoring. SJP also appears to be declaring war on her own neck, and perhaps got too involved in a slumber-party bout of "light as a feather, stiff as a board." Sarah Jessica, really, darling, don't you know that your best feature and most flattering accessory will always be that ADORABLE husband of yours?

Moving on, we have Exhibit B, Reese Witherspoon:

Obviously, a photographer asked Reese about Ryan Phillippe, and all she could do was revert to being a twelve-year-old girl, give him The Hand, and say "OH NO YOU DIDN'T." We shall never speak of Ryan ever again, but Reese, what happened to your fabulous vintage style? What is this sunshine-yellow nonsense all about? Your fashion behavior tempts me to make a new rule: never wear a color brighter than your own hair color, because it will make you look drab and blah. Rule made.

Next, the ever-so-fabulously-bodied Beyonce Knowles:

Unfortunately, Beyonce's original event gown was stuck in traffic and she was forced to craft a dress out of leftover hair extensions and glitter. Call it a modern, urban interpretation of Lady Godiva, if you will. I will begrudge her some originality points, however, since she's actually posing in a flattering (if theatrical) manner AND glamorously accessorized--good call on the gold cuff, BK!

Last in the unaccompanied ladies category, Teri Hatcher:

Why does she always look like one or more of the following:
1. drunk
2. stoned
3. a man?

Our next category is couples. First up, the two I have crowned King and Queen of the 2007 Golden Globes, Watanabe Ken and his lovely wife, Minami Kaho:

GLORIOUS. Take a lesson from their book, American movie stars, and wear things that are well-tailored and bespoke. It's really not all that hard. I'm looking particularly at these two, just to compare:

Come on now, you two. Angelina, being covered in tattoos is not classy (although the jury is still out on matching your gown to your tattoos), nor is transforming the formerly hot Brad Pitt into a young Robert Redford. NOT. CLASSY. You two are supposed to be the World's Greatest Philanthractors! Please act like it. Watanabe Ken, you may lead by example.

Next on my list are Kiefer Sutherland and the actress who plays Jack Bauer's too-skinny girlfriend on 24.

I will bet you five dollars that they just watched the video of Kiefer diving onto a Christmas tree on a very large screen. Awesome.

Last but not least, by far my most favorite same-sex couple photographed at the Globes...Martin Scorcese and Steven Spielberg.

Scorcese says, "OH HAHA SPIELBERG, I WILL EAT YOUR CHILDREN." My goodness.

Overall, I was happy that my heroine Helen Mirren won some very deserved awards. My homegirl Mariska Hargitay and serial killer boyfriend Dexter, however, were totally shafted and I will never forgive the Hollywood Foreign Press until they win next year. Did you hear that, guys? WIN NEXT YEAR.

(All photos from Reuters and/or Yahoo!.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Bee's Knees

I have to admit, I'm completely addicted to all things lip gloss, lip balm, lipstick. I buy them whenever I see them and keep them stashed in my purse, my office, wherever. One of my best friends once said to me, "My goal is to have a lip gloss in every single purse I own." I currently have eight in my purse, as well as one office-only. And that's not even the start of it.

Three of those eight are the Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers in the cute Lips-to-Go kit, which I received for Christmas (yay!). They come in a black cotton pouch, which has a handy mirror inside the top flap. The three colors are Champagne, which is a pale pink shimmer, Nutmeg, a shiny bronze (which I am wearing today), and, my all-time favorite, Rhubarb.

This is my third Rhubarb Lip Shimmer, as the first one went through the washing machine (it was in the pocket of a pair of pants -- tragic!), and the second one... well, it's still good, but now I have a new one in a cute container! Rhubarb is a great pinky-red, and, according to my mom, the most flattering lip color I own.

Lip Shimmers are also inexpensive, and can be bought online at Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, Ulta, and, of course, Burt's Bees.com.

The only problem I have with the Lip Shimmers is that they don't have SPF in them, which is unfortunate if you're planning on spending some serious time in the sun or the snow (yes, you need SPF for the snow, too!). Alas. Otherwise, they'd be the perfect lip balm.

image from ulta.com

Monday, January 08, 2007

Obviously stop procrastinating is not one: Resolutions 2007

Well, it's 2007, and I can safely say I have already been to three states this year (four if you count the evil luggage eating Denver Airport,) so travel more probably does not need to be on this list. Things that do:

-Continue to workout three times a week this year, and increase it to four or five a week. I'm shooting for consistency.
-Do yoga more often. Some would consider this part of the last one, but I'd like to be doing a half hour of yoga everyday, regardless of any other workouts. This may require getting up very early.
-Continue to try new things. Some of the more interesting things I tried last year were Open Sea Kayaking, and eating snails. I hope to continue to the trend. So far so good, I had my first facial ever last week and it was very nice.
-Eat healthier. This has been one I've been gradually working on over the past two months or so, and it is going well. I don't want to fall back into my old simple carb loving ways though, so it shall be a resolution.
-Organize my room. It is filled with stuff right now from when I moved, and I would like to just get rid of stuff that I don't want or need and just get every thing tidy for once.
-Write my thesis and graduate, already.
-And lastly, I'd love to read fifty books that aren't chick lit and that I haven't read before within the next year.

Hopefully this will be a far better year for awesomeness than 2006. Let's make it rock.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Resolutions for a new year: 2007

I think 2007 is going to be a pretty good year. As years go, 2006 was sort of mediocre. Sure, there were good times with friends, dim sum in snowstorms, new directions and all that good stuff. Still, there were polonium-12 poisonings, various surprisingly good-looking celebrity babies were born, Saddam Hussein was hanged, and Democracts won over Congress and Senate. 2006, you gave us a nice variety of outrage, joy, shock, and pleasantry, but I expect that 2007 will be AWESOME. So, on a smaller and much more superficial scale, I have some of my New Year's resolutions to share:

1. Exercise (bloggers! they're just like us!) and strength train at least three times a week. This includes and will be instrumental in my general goal, which is to...
2. Drop a dress size by the summer. Homegirl has been chubby since the sixth grade, and it's time to change.
3. Wear more skirts, and shoes with kitten heels. They may not be pink and frilly, but my daily wardrobe could definitely use a little girly-ing up with skirts.
4. No more frivolous "but it's so cheap!" purchases: only buy clothes that can be incorporated into a professional wardrobe. I am, after all, scheduled to enter the work-a-day world very soon. A carefully planned professional wardrobe will go further for me than a new hoodie that I'd only wear for pajamas, even if it does have owls on it.
5. Read more poetry. I've never been much of a creative writer myself, but I had recently forgotten how beautiful words can be until I caught a reprinting of a Nabokov poem in the January Harper's Magazine. Glorious.

That's really it, keep your fingers crossed for me that I can make time to get all of this done...in addition to this blogging adventure, school, part-time work, and plans for the future, of course!

Easy Apple Custard

I am a rampant baker after the sun goes down. There's just something about having a warm oven on a cold night that makes life great. After a tragic disaster trying to force a store-bought frozen whole wheat pie crust out of its aluminum shell and into my ceramic tart pan, I winged this yummy ol' thing out of fridge remnants for dessert. This can be made as a filling for a tart or pie, as in this recipe on which my version is based, or simply baked in a dish for a simple, healthy, hearty dessert. You can also double the custard recipe

5 medium apples, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji, or any mixture of apples you have around.
juice of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves, nutmeg, cardmom, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, or your favorite spices.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)

1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1/6 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
3/8 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Peel apples and remove the cores how you wish. Slice apples to 1/4 inch thickness.
2. Toss apple slices in a bowl with the lemon juice, spices, vanilla, sugar, and butter. Allow to sit for a while as you clean up the apple peels and cores. Stir occasionally, as the juices and whatnot will gather at the bottom of the bowl.
3. Butter or spray your chosen baking dish with canola oil. Pile in the apple slices, leaving the juices in the bowl. You may arrange the apples decoratively if you have the patience, or just pour them in and squish it all around so the slices lay flat on top of each other.
4. Rinse out the apple bowl and dry. Whisk together all of the custard ingredients until smooth and small bubbles appear at the edges of the mixture. Pour the custard mixture over the apples evenly, making sure to leave some room between the top of the apples/custard and the lip of your baking dish--this will bubble up in the oven.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately thirty minutes, or the top layer of apples is slightly browned. Allow to cool with the oven off, or on the counter and enjoy!

This recipe has a huge, wonderful allowance for additions and adjustments--add lemon zest, ginger, powdered tea leaves, chocolate chips, caramel, raisins, anything you have on hand. I served it with some whipped cream (from a can, of course, only the best) after dinner, and then had some for breakfast this morning with plain yogurt and tea. Delicious, better for you than a pastry, and just as satisfying!

Monday, January 01, 2007

viva la resolucion!

Welcome to The Periodic Elements of Style, the triple-owned blog about life, living, and style. We're kicking off the blog with the beginning of the year, so here's to 2007 being bright and beautiful from the get-go!

My New Year's Resolutions:

- wash my face every morning and evening EVERY DAY -- that means no more slacking on the weekends!
- only eat "good" chocolate (See's and above) and, when I do drink soda, only drink "good" soda (Stewart's, Henry Weinhardt's, Thomas Kemper, etc.)
- cut down on the spending -- try to limit the Sephora, MAC, etc. splurging. Find what I really *need* and buy that. *Need*, not *want*.
- clean and organize my living area and keep it that way
- work out! use the gym membership twice a week OR sign up for a weekly dance/workout class OR walk/run every weekend.
- shave, exfoliate, and moisturize more (I know, I know, I know!)
- hands off! Stop picking at my cuticles, stop putting my hands on my face...
- make The Periodic Elements of Style as awesome as I possibly can!

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