Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pineapple Stuffing Recipe

Here's a recipe for Pineapple Stuffing that I tasted at a company potluck lunch. It was absolutely delicious - unexpectedly sweet and very simple to make. It would go well with a baked ham or pork or chicken dish. And it can transform into a dessert if you add some vanilla extract. I'm going to make this dish soon and post a picture!

1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
5 slices bread, cubed and dried

1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add eggs, 1 at a time.
3. Stir in pineapple.
4. Fold in bread cubes.
5. Place in 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
6. Bake 1 hour at 350 F degrees.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yes To Carrots Lip Butters

Back in November, I went to the Beauty Sample sale hosted by Pretty City and sponsored by Shape Magazine. (Click here to read the post). Here is a picture of all the samples that I received that night!

I only started to use some of the samples but the first one that I was really excited to try was the Yes To Carrots lip butters! These are organic products as recognized by the US Dept of Agriculture. This means that products are made with all natural ingredients, no animal testing and paraben, petroleum and phthalate free. But the important test for me was the smoothness of the lip balm on my lips - it really moisturized my lips and I felt good about using a healthy product.

There are different flavors which are really fun - Carrot, Berry, Citrus, Mint and Melon. So forget your ordinary chapstick, and say Yes to Carrots! For purchasing locations in the United States, click here. Or for more information on their full line of products, go to the website:

And look, even Oprah has jumped onto the bandwagon. In their December 2008 magazine, they reviewed this product and said "Rehab lips with shea butter and beeswax in Yes To Carrots C Me Smile Lip Butters."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cajun Gumbo

One of the few dishes that Jander can cook without supervision is gumbo - cajun-style. If you've never been to Louisiana, you probably never tasted it or even heard of it. In fact, when discussed in conversation, most of our friends are curious as to what 'gumbo' really is! Well, it's a thick soup or stew-like mixture of meat and/or seafood and vegetables normally served over rice. We also add tons of cajun spices (we like Tony Chachere's seasoning blends) to give it a slow spicy burn in the mouth and throat. This dish is absolutely yummy and perfect for the winter!

The base for the soup is a thickening powder which gives it a nice brown color. We normally add a can of diced tomatoes, diced potatoes, carrots, green beans, and okra. As for the protein portion, we like chunks of dark chicken meat or sausage, shrimp or crawfish (to make it an truly authentic cajun dish).
After several hours of slow cooking, here is a picture of the gumbo we made today! We skipped the rice but dipped it with Italian bread instead. It tastes even better the next day so we always make a big pot for leftovers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Baked Japanese Cheesecake! Part 2

Here's my second take on baking the Japanese cheesecake that I posted earlier. I mixed in some green tea powder into the milk which was beaten into the softened creamcheese. It didn't look as 'green' as I had envisioned but I hope it tastes good.

I reviewed additional recipes on Japanese cheesecakes on the Internet (here's my favorite), and I realized that my waterbath should use hot boiling water. Instead, I used cold water. The cheesecake also shrunk from the 8 inch cake container - but I learned that that I should have left it in the oven for an hour to cool down. And I'll do a taste test to determine if I should put more green tea doesn't even look like I put the green tea powder inside! I will have to try these tips next time to help improve my cheesecake.

But voila, here is my second attempt which turned a nice golden brown on top (which I believe is the desired effect).

Feedback on the cheesecake: It was delicous!! Very light and airy especially compared to a Costco cheesecake. The flavoring could be more green, in my opinion so I will add even more green tea powder in my next batch!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Baked Japanese Cheesecake!

What exactly is a Japanese cheesecake? Interesting question. The only answer that I can come up with is that it is lighter than the traditional American cheesecakes devoured at Cheesecake Factory. I sprinked in green tea powder in the mixture in my attempt for a marbelized cheesecake swirl...but sadly, it came out looking like sprinked dots. I'll need to find out how to do this in the future!

7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar (baker's sugar)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch (don't use flour)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch cake tin with cooking oil spray. Beat cream cheese with milk to soften. Add half of the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy.Gradually add remaining sugar and cream of tartar, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes. Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently. Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface. Place cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven. Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean.

Here is the cheesecake as it came out of the oven. However after 30 minutes, the cake deflated a little and easily separated around the edges. But once it was presented on a pretty plate, it looked (and more importantly, tasted!) delicious!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Baked Carrot Cupcakes!

I continued my baking marathon this weekend by making carrot cupcakes with whipped creamcheese frosting. Thanks to my friend Saori, it was very quick and fun to make the recipe. And are you interested in how they turned out? Well,....they were super delicious, moist and of course, sugary! I cannot take credit for this recipe, so if you are interested in making these cupcakes, click on this link: Karen's Cookies Cakes & More. She has tons of yummy baked goods pictures and recipes.

Karen's recipe for Carrot Bread/Cupcakes/Loaf:

3 cups grated carrots
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 1.5 cups white sugar (depending on your taste, but for me 1.5 cups was perfect)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or 2 8" cake pans or 1 loaf pan or muffin pan(s). In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in eggs, oil, vanilla, and nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Since I made cupcakes, I baked it for 30 minutes for the full-size muffins and 20 minutes for the mini-muffins. Here are some pictures of my baking process:

Grating the carrots turned out trickier than I thought. Who knew that carrots would dye my Cuisinart a nice shade of orange??

I baked the batter in mini and full-sized muffin tins.

And here's my first attempt at frosting cupcakes with a knife...I will have to improve my frosting techniques next time. This was a fantastic whipped creamcheese frosting from Karen's blog. I alternated between walnuts and red sugar as topping.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Baked Oatmeal-Butterscotch Cookies!

Today I wanted to bake cookies for the Christmas holiday and Jander suggested gingersnap cookies. I didn't have a recipe on-hand but instead I offered to make oatmeal-butterscotch cookies which he gladly accepted. (I don't think he had a choice in the cookie type though, hehe). I posted a recipe for these cookies last month so I thought it would be a great time to make it. They were really easy to make and it made my entire kitchen smell wonderful.

And yes, they were delicious! They are best eaten straight out of the oven. Tips: Bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies but I baked it for the full 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Reduce the amount of butterscotch if you like it less sweet.

And if anyone has a gingersnap recipe, please share with me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recap of the Year

As the year is almost coming to an end, I thought I would share some of our favorite postings we've written so far. I can't believe it's only been 9 months since starting this blog - I look forward to more blogging in the days and months ahead! Keeping a blog has made me remember all the delicious foods I've eaten, from forgotten tapas at Las Ramblas to over-rated Asian bistro at Moca and memorable birthday celebration at Wolfgang's Steakhouse. But the year is not always about eating, I've also baked some delicious food in my own kitchen! From the Chinese sticky rice to the banana muffins that I made last month, I look forward to cooking them in the future as classic dishes.

And how can I forget about my private tour of Yankees Stadium? The stadium is no longer standing but yet I had a chance to walk around the locker room, the private lounge and sitting in the dugout! What a fantastic night in June. It is definitely a small perk of volunteering but only because I wanted to meet a celebrity - Josh Lucas. Hehhehe. Another favorite memory from this year was my trip to Hawaii. I loved eating all the food especially the spicy ahi. Ahhh and ever since then, I've been a huge spicy tuna lover! And I look forward to going back to the island for more delicious seafood and sashimi! In fact, Jander and I even tried to recreate the memories by going to Roy's Restaurant in NY. Alas, the food was not the same.

Here's a picture of the Christmas tree at South Street Seaport. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Restaurant Review: Pio Pio

If you are looking for an inexpensive family-style restaurant that serves delicious chicken and side dishes, look no further! Pio Pio is a Peruvian restaurant that serves rotisserie chicken marinated in a special Peruvian sauce. We ordered the Peruvian Combo ($24) which comes with a chicken, large french fries and avocado salad in addition to a Chicken Pio ($12). The sides are delicious and highly recommended. We tasted the fried calamari ($10) , seafood salad ($14) and sausage and fries. The portion sizes were generous. I was impressed with the amount of seafood in the salad - endless amounts of shrimp and calamari!

There are several locations located around Queens and Manhattan with the original store in Jackson Heights Queens. I heard from my friends that it is actually quite small there. But I would recommend the location that I went to in Manhattan - 210 East 34th Street. New York, NY 10016.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Restaurant Review: Joe's Shanghai

Joe's Shanghai Restaurant
13621 37th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 539-3838

The first Joe's Shanghai Restaurant was opened in Flushing, NY back in 1995. Since then, they have expanded to Chinatown and Midtown Manhattan. I haven't been to the Midtown branch yet. Out of the other 2 restaurants, I consider the Flushing branch to be the best. Since it's also the closest, that means I can (and do) go there a lot!

The food consists of the standard fare you can bite into at any authentic Chinese restaurant. It's good and inexpensive, but not great. So what exactly is so great about Joe's Shanghai that has celebrities, tourists, and New Yorkers alike coming back over and over?

Three words for you. Xiao Long Bao. Or for you English types, Little Soup Dumplings. Yeah, they're that good! Each succulent dumpling is packed with a little pork meatball and filled with a yummy meat broth. There is also another variation available that uses crab meat instead of pork, but the pork ones are my favorite. They're cheaper too so that's a double bonus if you ask me!

If it's fresh out of the kitchen, I'd advise nibbling a hole in it to either spoon in some of the soy/vinegar sauce to cool it down and add some bite to it or slurp out the soup - otherwise you're going to give your mouth/throat some serious burns. A cartoonist, Robert Zimmerman, drew a cartoon that was published in a newspaper some time ago detailing this vital dumpling eating technique.

Soup Dumplings : A Survival Course
Robert Zimmerman

Lastly, if and when you go, make sure you go early! And when you sit down, order your dumplings right away! They eventually run out of dumplings when it gets late in the evening and then you're stuck eating good-but-not-great Chinese food.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Neutrogena Event with Lucky Magazine

Last night, I attended the Neutrogena Event sponsored by Lucky Magazine. The "Beauty and Bubbly" event featured make-overs by professional make-up artists, opportunity for a photo shoot, and food! Cupcakes! Champagne! Sparkling water! And the best part, we got to hang out at an awesome penthouse apartment in lower Manhattan. (If it wasn't for the light rain, we would've hung out on the terrace!)

The make-overs were the highlight of the event. We were lined up outside of the bedroom where the 4 make-up artists performed their magic using Neutrogena events. I was more interested in getting new tips and trying a new look for my face. Surprisingly, she gave me smokey eyes which I absolutely loved! She created a large crease to create depth in my eyes (since they are flat) and brushed a highlighting color close to my brows. She also put lots of eyeliner (which required 4 cotton squares of eye make-up to remove!). The only thing I didn't like about my make-up was the super bright red lipstick she used for my lips! It was such a super stain and difficult to remove! Otherwise I was quite pleased with my new look and I already started applying some of the tips to my daily look.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Heroes Superpower: Regeneration of Angst

If you haven't been watching Heroes, I suggest that you stop reading now. While I'm not going to be summarizing any episodes, sooner or later (right after this sentence!) I'm going to refer to something that just happened and I don't want to ruin your Heroes fix.

So I just finished watching Heroes and I'm very upset with newest inconsistencies in the portrayal of regeneration:

1) Earlier in the season, future Peter Petrelli gets shot by future Claire. Since his powers are being suppressed by future Haitian, he is unable to regenerate and dies.

2) Moments ago, Claire died as a result of the gunshot wound inflicted on her by Elle. Since her powers are being suppressed by the eclipse, you might think her death would be permanent. Nope. When the eclipse passes, she comes back to life and regenerates.

3) At the same time, Silar dies after Noah slits his throat with an exacto knife. Does he die? Of course not! Just like Claire, he comes back to life and regenerates after the eclipse passes.

So why is future Peter Petrelli dead while Claire and Silar are still among the living? I don't get it! I was happy when the Claire & Silar drama queen patrol bit the dust, only to be disappointed when they were almost immediately returned to inflict their angsty parental issues on me. Blargh!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Restaurant Review: Sushi A-Go-Go

Sushi A-Go-Go
1900 Broadway NY NY
Tel: 212.724.7340

This is a bit late, but better late than never! After our pre-Thanksgiving Day trip to see the Macy's Parade balloons, we hit the streets to satisfy my craving for all things Japanese and came across Sushi A-Go-Go on the way from the Lincoln Center.

Since we weren't that hungry, we skipped the appetizers - but I'll mention that they seemed to have the standard fare that you would expect to see on any Japanese appetizer menu.

For my main course, I ordered the Sushi & Sashimi Tasting ($19.50), which consisted of 1 California Roll, 3 pieces of Tuna sashimi, 3 pieces of Salmon sashimi, 2 pieces of Halibut sashimi, and 5 pieces of sushi.

My other (and better) half ordered, ironically enough, the Half and Half Sushi ($17), which consisted of 1 California Roll with Tobiko, 3 pieces of Tuna sushi, and 3 pieces of Yellowtail sushi.

For dessert, we split the Decadent Chocolate A Go-Go ($8).

Or in plain English, the Molten Chocolate Cake with Green Tea Ice-Cream. This is probably what we liked most about our dinner.

The sushi and sashimi was decent - above average, but by no means earth shatteringly great. I was disappointed that the sushi/sashimi entrees did not include a choice of either a salad or miso soup - in my experience, that is the norm at most Japanese restaurants. If I worked or lived in the area, I could see myself coming here frequently for a quick Japanese fix. If that is not your situation, unless you're already doing something else in the neighborhood (like watching an IMAX movie or seeing a show at Lincoln Center), I would not recommend coming here purely for the sake of eating here as there are better places that are similarily priced.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Behind The Scenes: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Balloons

There's a darker side to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Balloons that they don't want you or your kids to know about.

Ronald McDonald and Hello Kitty harbor a secret love for one another that only comes out the day before the Thanksgiving Day parade. Ronald indeed is lovin' it judging from the collapsed state that Hello Kitty is in.

And after rampaging through the streets of Manhattan, Shrek has finally been brought to task. Interestingly enough, Shrek seems to be happy with his situation. Or perhaps he just has his eye on a tasty looking orange snack.

And to think that parents bring their kids to this event! Shame on them!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation with Pictures

Here are some pictures from the Macy's Balloon inflation for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day Parade as posted previously! The viewing started at 3pm and ends at 10pm. The crowd was huge with lots of parents bringing their kids in strollers. Luckily, we were able to whiz past by them with our quick feet but there were still lots of people in our way. They were still inflating a new balloons including some new ones debuting this year (Keith Haring's Heart Balloon, Horton the elephant). I wish I could see Hello Kitty (first flight in 2007) but it was still only partially inflated by the time I past by. Sadly, I didn't even recognize Snoopy in his aviator outfit (first flight in 2006). He looks really cute in the signage.

Here's the main signage with Pikachu in the background.

Ronald McDonald!

Smurfs is making a debut this year! Finally, I don't know what took so long!

Another new balloon - Buzz Lightyear from ToyStory! To infinity and beyond...

Who can resist Kermit the Frog?

Here's Shrek! His eyes made it look like he was staring at everyone.

Watch the Thanksgiving Day parade on channel CBS tomorrow! Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone! gobble gobble.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Banana Mini-Muffins

I baked a small batch of banana mini-muffins over the weekend. It was absolutely delicious! (Even Jander ate some and he HATES bananas. The bananas made the muffins moist and I couldn't even taste it. Note to self, I can put more bananas in the next batch!)

You may ask why I baked mini-muffins instead of full-sized muffins or even a loaf of bread... Well the answer is simple, I only own a mini-muffin tray so that's what I made! Here's a picture of my (half-eaten) treats.

For the complete recipe, click here, courtesy of All Recipe. Since my muffins are so small, I only baked it for 20 minutes and I sprinkled crushed walnuts on the top! It also tasted better when I dribbled some maple syrup on the top right before baking.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Restaurant Review: Republic

Republic Restaurant
37 Union Square West NYC

If you're in the mood for noodles or Asian-inspired dishes and you happen to be in the Union Square area, then you might want to eat at Republic. This contemporary restaurant offers noodles as its main dish (obvious in the website and signage), however there were more non-noodle options on the menu. Tables were reminiscent of park benches and arranged like a school cafeteria...wooden benches at picnic style tables with cubbies underneath the table for our coats and purses. Parties of two were seated with other strangers, so groups of 4 are optimal.

Here are some pictures of the food we ate for dinner: seafood dumplings, chicken with noodles in coconut broth and calamari. The seafood dumpling were alright, nothing special. The sauce had a nice wasabi (spicy) flavor. Jander was not too impressed with the coconut broth in his noodle soup. And we both agreed that the calamari was over-fried. But the chili dipping sauce was tasty. Overall, we would probably eat here again but there are plenty of alternatives in the area to go first.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My recipe for Chinese Sticky Rice with Pork Sausage

If you are looking to eat Chinese comfort food, here is a wonderful dish that I recently learned how to make. Growing up, my dad would always make this during the winter months. It was hearty and flavorful. Best of all, all the ingredients are mixed in the rice. I didn't need to grab any other food from the table because it was all in one dish. While most people serve this as a side-dish for a multi-course meal...I always get full from just eating a large portion of the rice!

Before I began to attempt to cook this dish, I consulted different recipes on the Internet. The best one coming from epicurious. However, I changed the cooking style and eliminated some ingredients when I made my dish.

  • 3 cups Chinese sweet rice (short-grain) - May be substituted for 2 cups of sweet rice and 1 cup of Jasmine rice if you do not like it too sticky
  • 1 cup Chinese dried black mushroom
  • 5 links of Chinese sausages (6 to 8 oz total)
  • 1/2 cup of baby dried shrimp
  • 1 cup of Chinese vegetable head (may be substituted for whole chestnuts)
  • 2 tablespoons of Asian sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1/3 cup of Chinese rice vinegar (optional, may be substituted for medium-dry Sherry)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion greens (optional as garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper (optional)

Special Equipment: a rice cooker and a sharp knife

  1. Start by soaking the mushrooms in water overnight. When you are ready to start cooking, soak the dried shrimp in bowl of water to clean. Set aside.
  2. Put the 3 cups of rice into your rice cooker. Soak with tap water for 30 minutes. Then put 3 cups of water into the bowl and start to cook the rice. (The ratio of water to rice is about 1:1 You may put 3 1/4 cups of water but not more otherwise the rice will turn out soggy.)
  3. Start to prep the ingredients for the filling: Drain the mushrooms and squeeze excess liquid. Rinse mushrooms, discard the stems and coarsely chop into tiny cubes. Remove the casing from the pork sausage and dice them into small cubes. Repeat with the Chinese vegetable; remove the hard exterior of the vegetable with a knife and then dice into small cubes. They should all be in similar size.
  4. Heat up a pan with sesame oil. Add the Chinese vegetable and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add in the mushroom and continue to stir-fry. Next add the pork sausage and dried shrimp. Stir in the dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and rice vinegar. Add salt and white paper for taste. Continue to heat until all ingredients are cooked through. Remove from heat.
  5. By this time, the rice in your rice cooker should have finished cooking. If not, wait at least 15 minutes before continuing. The rice should be as dry as possible.
  6. Transfer the filling ingredients from the pan and slowly stir into the rice cooker. Start by putting half of the filling into the rice cooker and add more while mixing it with the rice. Stir from the bottom to distribute ingredients. Cover the rice cooker and keep it in the 'warm' position for another 10 minutes before serving.
  7. Garnish with the scallions before serving. Eat immediately while hot!

Notes: I leave out the salt since the pork sausage is salty enough. Some recipes require cooking the rice in chicken broth for additional flavor but I don't think that is necessary. Feel free to eyeball the filling ingredients - add more or less according to your taste. I like pork sausage so I add 5 links but 3-4 would also be fine. I've also seen some recipes which include bamboo shoots which would also work for the extra crunch. Jander suggested that I do this but this is the same person that wants me to separate out the scallions...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Captains of Industry: Magic Johnson - Part 2

Continued from yesterday's Part 1.

Magic Johnson's sense for business also stemmed from his family. When he was growing up, he was the youngest and always picked on by his brothers. Unfortunately he was also taller than his brothers so the "hand-me-down" clothes were always short on him! He also told a story about his first negotiating obstacle. Around the time he was a teenager, his mom decided that the family would change religion and become a Seventh Day Adventist. This required going to church on Saturdays. However his basketball games were always on Saturday so he would miss them. He talked to his mom about changing back to his old church which held services on Sunday. Of course his dad and brothers were in agreement because they didn't want to miss watching the games either. After a month of back and forth, his mom agreed to his terms.

I believe the main reason for his business entrepreneurship stemmed from his childhood years, growing up poor in a racially diverse town. He always wanted to help people and give them a chance to do something different with their lives. Throughout the interview, he spoke about his calling to help Urban America. After his diagnosis of HIV, he went through a depression period. His wife supported him but also helped him to snap out of his depression by kicking him out of the house (literally) and telling him not to come back home until he "became the man that she married." He always knew that business was in his blood and he also recognized that densely populated urban communities were ripe for commercial and residential development. He partnered with major brands like Starbucks (of which he's the only outside partner), 24 Hour Fitness Centers and T.G.I. Fridays to lead a major economic push in these urban communities. In his partnership with Starbucks, he talked about removing the scones from the baked goods and offering baked goods this the community would actually eat...eliminating the elevator music and playing Jazz. It wasn't the $4 cup of java that he felt that people were opposed to, but the lack of customization for the people he felt were customers in urban neighborhoods.

He also answered questions were taken from the audience. The most poignant one came from an 8 year old boy named Ian. He wanted to know if Magic preferred to be a basketball player or a businessman. The answer? A businessman because he has helped changed more people's lives. This is a man who wants no part of politics (dismissing the idea to run for mayor of Los Angeles). He also is perfectly content with his role in basketball which is part-owner of the LA Lakers. Although if asked to become the NBA Commissioner, he wouldn't say NO. But it is refreshing to listen to someone talk earnestly about his charitable work and who uses his talent to help other people in his community. Bravo!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Captains of Industry: Magic Johnson - Part 1

Last night, I attended the Captains of Industry series talk sponsored by Business Week and held at the 92nd Street Y. It was the first in the series for the season. Previous honorees included GE's Jeffrey Immelt, Sun's Scott McNealy, HP's Carly Fiorina and Amazon's Jeff Bezos. They are certainly "Captains" in their own right, but Magic Johnson???

Prior to the event, my only recognition of this man is of an athlete and HIV spokesperson. I knew little of him but can only bow in awe of his superstardom. The setting was intimate. The auditorium at the 92nd Street Y can seat several hundred people but many seats were sadly empty. Magic entered on stage after a brief introduction by Business Week's editor-in-chief Stephen Adler. Stephen told a brief story about Magic's first meeting with the LA Lakers. The management team took him out to a fancy dinner to negotiate his contract. They ordered a fish dish which Magic never even heard of...and proceeded to offer him $400,000 a year. He did not have a manager to negotiate on his behalf (I think he was only 19 at the time) but he was business-savy enough to know how to negotiate. He politely turned down the offer and also returned his fish order back to the kitchen. The LA Lakers were surprised by this young man's negotiating skills and continued to woo him with a higher salary - up to $500,000. Whoo hoo! In the late 1970's that was considered a large sum of money.

The interview went back and forth between Magic's basketball career and his business. I was impressed with the laid-back and honest answers that he provided in the hour long talk. While it is without question that he is a talented basketball player, he always had aspirations to become a business person. While growing up with 9 siblings in a small-town in Michigan, he was exposed to the hardships of life from an early age. He had to work different jobs as a young boy including one where he had to clean an office building of 7 floors. He would indulge in cleaning the top floor of the building which contained the offices of the CEO. Magic recounted how he would sit in the leather chair in the office (which was a little too small for his body) and play the role of the CEO by pressing the intercom button and calling for his secretary for coffee and newspaper. He would do this for two hours everyday. His advice to young people? "You have to imagine yourself in your dream job. Dream big."

....To be continued in tomorrow's Part 2.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Playing Bears

A family that lives on the outskirts of West Milford , NJ decided to build a sturdy, colorful playground for their 3 and 4 year old sons.

They lined the bottom with smooth-stone gravel all around to avoid knee scrapes and other injuries. They finished building it one Friday evening and were very pleased with the end product.

The following morning, the mom was about to wake up the boys and have them go out to play in their new play center. This is what she saw from the upstairs window:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Beauty Sample Sale

Tonight I went to the Beauty Sample Sale hosted by Pretty City and sponsored by Shape Magazine. What is the Beauty Sample Sale, you ask? It's a a beauty bonanza bringing together the best names in beauty, all under one roof.

This was an awesome event to attend. Guests received sample complimentary beauty services courtesy of the world's prettiest brands, from hair care to skin care from cosmetics to cosmeceuticals. Oh and did I mention the free goodie bag full of sample products? We were also treated to free drinks (midori sours) and appetizers (mini cupcakes and choco truffles) at the bar.

The cost of this event is $10, but Shape Magazine offered a free registration code for its readers so I was able to attend the event at no cost. There were lots of people at this event, mostly women of course. The best table was a Spinning Wheel where guests received prizes based on the number on the wheel. Cool prizes included a white Shape vest, large size samples of night cream and shampoos, Venus razors, a Shape measuring spoon and light blue Shape knapsacks.

My only complaint of the evening was that I waited in a long and confusing registration line but it wasn't necessary to receive the free gift bag (filled with even more goodies). I would recommend going early to avoid the crowds. Here are some pictures from the event:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Restaurant Review: Yamaguchi

63 Main St
Port Washington, NY 11050

To some, Yamaguchi is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chugoku region of Honshu island. To those in the know, it's a crazy good Japanese restaurant located just steps from the LIRR in Port Washington, NY.

After months of hearing about this great place from our friends Sorry-hime and You-sama, we were finally able to hook up with them to see for ourselves what was so fantastic about this place.

To start off, we had kaki age (fried oysters)
and beef tataki.

The beef tataki was served with some kind of ponzu dipping sauce, while the kaki age was served with both BBQ and tartar dipping sauce options. They were both comparable to what we've eaten at other Japanese places.

We followed this with nasu hasami age:

You're probably wondering "Well, what the heck is that?" Nasu hasami age is fried eggplant stuffed with crabmeat and fish paste, served in a special sauce with ginger. Before I say anything else, let me clearly state that I-HATE-EGGPLANT. I dislike everything about it - the color, the taste, the texture - it's pure UGH! And yet, the nasu hasami age was one of dishes I liked the most at Yamaguchi. So I'll amend my hate statement to I-HATE-EGGPLANT-EXCEPT-FOR-YAMAGUCHI'S.

For our main course, we had 2 orders of the Chef's special. The special is $40 per order and comes with 1 sushi roll - it is not listed on the menu. We also ordered some uni (sea urchin) on the side since Sorry-hime and You-sama are uni crazed!
Keep in mind that since we ordered TWO(2) specials, the amounts of sushi and sashimi are roughly doubled. I couldn't name everything in a technically correct manner, so what you see is what you get! I will, however, call attention to the ike nestled underneath the clam and the scallops that you cannot see in this picture behind the clam.
Our orders came with an unagi (eel) roll and a scallion & fatty toro (tuna) roll.

The fish was some of the freshest we've had in New York City and the menu was reasonably priced - slightly upscale, but not overly so. But the real endorsement comes from my fellow blogger. She normally refuses to eat anything raw, but she happily scarfed down everything. I think she's close to making a real breakthrough and soon I won't be ashamed to be seen in a Japanese restaurant with her!

I would definitely recommend this place and hope to return soon (*psst* Sorry-hime!).