i haven’t painted anything in a few years, so i thought i might have forgotten, but actually i got a lot better! i painted two as christmas presents – one for my parents, one for my brother and his wife – and another as a birthday present for my mom.

here’s my 12″x9″ version of van gogh’s mountainous landscape behind saint paul hospital (1889) for my brother and his wife:

wing mountains

the sky turned out way better that i expected. the field was kinda hard and still has some issues. next time i gotta get a smaller brush. i like it though.

next is my 12″x9″ version of van gogh’s wheat field with young wheat and rising sun (1889) for my parents:


i think this one is my favorite of the three. i love the original one by van gogh because it’s so vibrant and warm. the field came out pretty well.

and here’s my 14″x18″ version of monet’s poplars on the banks of the river epte (1900):

i think everyone else likes this one the best. i didn’t like it that much right after i painted it, but it’s growing on me. this one is larger, so i got in more of the details. this is the first one i painted, so i was most rusty. i think next time i can do a little better with monet.

i just finished reading this great book i borrowed from the library titled van gogh – master draughtsman. this is like the first art book that i have read from start to finish. really good. i never really saw any of van gogh’s drawings before reading this book, but man, they are awesome. i think i like his drawings even more than his paintings! it was also interesting to follow his development as an artist from this perspective. he really worked at his art. like he started out as nothing special (his early drawings weren’t so good actually), worked really hard and deliberately at improving, and then, well then he turned out to be like a genius.

anyway, hopefully i can paint more and get better!

food resolutions for 2009

my brother inspired me to make some food resolutions for 2009:

1. cook more – right now we usually only cook twice a week. after march, we’ll have to cook more anyway, so that’s good.

2. learn how to use our new babies – my brother and jen gave us two early wedding presents – 12″ all clad fry pan and 7.25 qt. le creuset (kiwi). they are so beautiful.

3. learn about wine – i still have notes from tom mannion’s wine class… something to start after march.

4. learn more of mom’s recipes – mom’s food is still my favorite.

5. learn how to bake a good batch of chocolate chip cookies – mine always don’t turn out right.

6. cook more mushrooms and fish – i am getting over my mushroom phobia, and cameron is trying to let cooked fish back into his life. he said he was traumatized as a child when his parents tricked him into eating fish by claiming it was chicken. anyway, we are both making progress!

7. blog more – hopefully after march.

anyway, this christmas we received two new cookbooks (atk family baking book and atk best slow & easy recipes), plus me and cameron bought each other two cookbooks (barefoot contessa back to basics for me and two meatballs in the italian kitchen for cameron). lots of new recipes to try!

looking forward to march when the madness will be over! also excited about having our own fridge and kitchen.


we had another delicious thanksgiving this year. there was a ton of food and leftovers, but i LOVE thanksgiving leftovers. it means i can eat ham for breakfast, lunch, and dinner :D

here’s the big feast:

thanksgiving feast

mr. taketa made the turkey, mrs. taketa made mashed potatoes, aunt ivy made potato egg salad, marci and craig made vietnamese rolls and spinach cream rolls, grandma made stuffing, aunt gwen brought rum cake, and we made roasted red pepper dip, green beans, ham, and cranberry apple pie. everything was great!

roasted red pepper dip
from eggs on sunday

roasted red pepper dip

Adapted from Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin
1 can white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, navy, etc.) — drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers (homemade or from a jar, patted dry)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Variation: omit the cumin and add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Place the drained beans, red peppers, salt, cumin (or basil), paprika, garlic cloves, olive oil, and vinegar in a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Serve as is, or refrigerate until later.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

comments: roasted red peppers are so good. we bought a bag of red peppers at costco, so we roasted 3 of them for this recipe. we also bought broccoli and carrots from costco. dude, costco is so dangerous. i want to buy everything there. THE MORE I BUY, THE MORE I SAVE. anyway, the dip was good, kinda similar to hummus, next time we might add something to make it a little spicy.

spicy parmesan green beans and kale
from everyday italian (giada de laurentiis)

green beans

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (about 14 mushrooms)
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and slice into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt (TOO MUCH)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale (1/2 pound), rinsed, stemmed, and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, green beans, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the green beans are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the kale and continue cooking until the kale has wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

comments: ok first of all, i gotta say in general, i don’t really trust giada. i guess the thing that gets me is she doesn’t eat regular portions of her food. she said she just eats really small portions. small portions are fine for her, but if it’s different for me if i’m going to eat her food as a regular meal, esp all those really rich recipes where she puts in tons of cheese, fries a lot of stuff, etc. i’m not mrs. healthy, but i have my limits… plus food tastes different depending on how much you eat of it. like one time i had this asian spaghetti with seaweed, pickles, and a soy sauce based sauce. it was really good for the first few bites, but it was really unpleasant by the end of the meal because it was too salty and i got tired of the taste.

anyway, despite my mistrust, i actually really liked this recipe. maybe we can trust her when she doesn’t go insane with the cheese/cream/butter. all the elements work well together, nice flavors. i am starting to like kale a lot. oh, one thing is she calls for too much salt. the first time we made this, it was way too salty. this time we added about 1 tsp and that was perfect. just add to taste. nice beans from costco.

the love of my life

heavenly ham

mr. ham (pineapple mango maple syrup glaze)

cranberry apple pie
from atk (don’t know how long this video link will be up)

pie assembly

i saw this in the atk newsletter, and it sounded really good. i used tyler florence’s crust recipe (the one for the peach/nectarine pies) because i like that crust a lot. maybe i should have made a thicker crust though. next time i’ll try the atk pie recipe. the pie was delicious! there was only one piece left at the end of the night. the cranberry part was really yummy by itself actually. i’d just eat that stuff straight. you could probably use it as cranberry sauce too.

cranberry apple pie

r.i.p. mr. potholder

here’s the exciting start to the big thanksgiving feast we had:

r.i.p. mr. potholder

this is even better because this is the third potholder i’ve killed in a year. i think mrs. taketa is going to hide them from me soon.

#1: nobody told me the potholders were stored in the oven… small black burned areas when it came out.

#2: i forgot that the potholders were in the oven… it had small little flames when we took it out.

#3: i totally remembered to take out the potholders this time. then i smelled a really strong burning odor. i looked in the oven, and the potholder was stuck to the hot metal at the top of the oven, completely aflame!!! i ran into the other room and was like, “something’s burning!!!” mrs. taketa grabbed some tongs and threw the flaming potholder into the sink and put it out with cold water. the potholder must have been stuck to the metal so i didn’t see it. what the heck???

r.i.p. mr. potholder.