Retro Foods

So. What happened? My most previous post was dated April 13, one day before my 40th birthday. Almost as if at, bloggers 40 and older are no longer allowed to write about trivial stuff like food and fitness. Their blogging cards are taken away. Or, maybe, shortly after my birthday the family and I left for a fabulous Hawaiian vacation, then I got lazy. I mean busy. Real busy.

But, all along I’ve been taking pictures, so I’ll be posting pics and stories over the next weeks and will catch you up on the goings on at the chattycha household and beyond. Mother’s day and Father’s day have come and gone, but you’ll be able to experience them again right here.

Let’s start with this one, the birthday cake I conjured up. I was feeling kinda retro, it being the start of my fourth decade. I am a child of the 70s, and this is a cake of the 70s (or maybe even earlier. Who knows.These food fads come and go).

A pineapple upside down cake. Marschino cherries, brown sugar glaze. Very easy, very pretty, very tasty.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Kid’s verdict: “I like it, except for the pineapple.” … Ooooookaaaaay then.


Next up: A retro potluck. We were tasked with a dish that grandma used to make, or something like that. I knew I wanted to do a jello salad, then discovered this gem on AllRecipes. Extremely easy: 1 container of Cool Whip, 1 container of cottage cheese, 1 box of orange-flavored Jell-o, 1 can each of mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple.

Mix well, chill and serve.

Orange Jell-O salad AKA Orange Fluff

Comments I received on this one: “Exactly how Mom used to make,” and “That’s not retro, that’s at our Thanksgiving table every year.”

Odd and strange, but surprisingly yummy. Good for one day only. The next day it starts to separate and gets leaky and stuff.

Mind you, I never had these foods when I was a kid. Certainly my grandparents, whom I saw only a handful of times on accounting of their living in Taiwan, never ever made this stuff. My parents wouldn’t have, either. It’s all foods I assumed “Americans” ate. It’s the 70s childhood I envisioned. How close was I?

Classic Toll House Cookies

WP_20150115_004We (meaning me) baked cookies for the kid’s class right before her birthday. Her birthday landed on a holiday (MLK) so I had her bring in treats on Friday. So the schedule was, Tuesday: shop for ingredients. Wednesday: make the dough. Thursday: bake the cookies. Friday: bring the cookies. Thursday, Friday, Saturday: eat the cookies.

I asked her what kind to make and she said chocolate chip. So at the store I picked up a package of Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels (is there any other kind? Actually there is. There is milk-chocolate morsels, which the kid picked up instead of the SS and which I immediately took from her, put back and picked up the RIGHT ones, because there can be ONLY ONE. And that one is SEMI-SWEET. Got it?)

I checked the back of the package for the recipe. Made sure we had all the ingredients and picked up the ones we didn’t have (brown sugar), and the next day we made them, exactly as the recipe called for. No crazy substitutions this time.

There is tradition. And then there’s Toll House Cookies.

When the kid took a bite her reaction was. “MMM … they’re kind of salty.”

Yes, kid, yes they are. My favorite part of these cookies is that salty sweet aftertaste. No other cookie delivers that taste. It tastes like childhood. The good kind of childhood.

Thanksgiving Desserts 2014

pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Pie!!!!

I made a pumpkin pie because I always do. It’s my thing: pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. Seriously, you can’t find an easier job (unless your job is to have your wife make the easy pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.)

This year’s pumpkin pie was the easy one that was essentially the recipe you find on the side of the can, with the most difficult part being making the crust. There’s always this weird part in the process where I suddenly panic that the pie pan/crust is too large for the amount of filling, then I throw it in the anyway and somehow it always works out. I wish my AllRecipes app could let me leave a note to myself for next year that says, “chill out, it’ll all work out” but it doesn’t. So, memo to self to ask the app makers to create a memo section.

The kid and I did this first one together, and by 4 p.m. on Wednesday the pie was already cooling, and I felt like doing something more. The kid had been talking about carrot cake for quite some time so I decided, what the heck, I really want to bring something else. The kid did not feel like helping this time.


This carrot cake is courtesy of AllRecipes (my go-to for these types of things), with a few substitutions. I replaced a 1/2 cup of oil with applesauce. I used a combination of plain greek (2%) yogurt and skim milk/lemon juice as a sub for buttermilk (none at the store, which maybe is what you get for going there on the night before the big day). And left out the coconut flakes due to preference (everyone else’s, I suspected). Also, maybe 1/4 cup of raisins instead of the cup in the recipe. Mainly because of what we had in the house.

It was yum. I used Chef John’s cream cheese frosting, which I couldn’t get quite smooth,but was great nonetheless. In fact, the kid, upon receiving her piece of cake, licked the frosting off, including the middle layer, and left the cake be. She gave it a sideways thumb (unlike the thumbs up she gave that pumpkin pie). I suppose the only reason why it wasn’t a thumbs down was that cream cheese frosting.


Lastly, the husband’s aunt brought a beautiful pie courtesy of Lisa DuPar catering. Pecan, with a spiced whipped cream. Amazing. I may or may not have gotten up at 5:45 a.m. today to cut myself a slice because I didn’t have any at dinner last night, on account of how full I was yesterday.

A few random food pics of sweet things from yesterday:

My snack before heading over to "Papa and Gaga's" ... Added to the list of pumpkin stuff I tried, and liked. Prior to the eating workout I went for a run. 4 miles = 400 calories = justification for a second slice of dessert

My snack before heading over to “Papa and Gaga’s” … Added to the list of pumpkin stuff I tried, and liked. Prior to the eating workout I went for a run. 4 miles = 400 calories = justification for a second slice of dessert


I don’t drink soda much anymore. But it’s hard to pass up a glass of Martinelli’s.


The two-layer cake was surprisingly successful. How do I repeat this every time?


Busy kitchen

PLUS, the Seahawks won! WOOT. Truly thankful, indeed.

Pumpkin Eater

This is what I was thinking, and then B.J. Novak posted this on Instagram:


This seems to be an all-pumpkin edition of my favorite magazine

View on Instagram

Where, then, I decided I didn’t have to say it, I can just “heart” it. But, I just wanted to warn you, a few more pumpkin baked goods may be in our future…

Speaking of pumpkin, it is officially Pumpkin Spice Latte season. No doubt you’ve already heard the John Oliver rant about Pumpkin Spice. And why am I capitalizing Pumpkin Spice? The thing is, he’s kinda right. Every year I suddenly get totally excited for pumpkin spice lattes! Oooh! Ahhh! Every year, I order one which comes out to be some ridiculously expensive, like $5 or something. And every year I take that first sip and I’m like, Oh, this doesn’t taste as good as I remember it tasting. Yet, for some reason I can’t learn from my mistake? Maybe this is why SBUX only brings out this syrup for a limited time. They expect you to forget, until the hype starts up again and then Oh no, you got me again.

This year, though, I did remember and I went all crazy on the PSL. I ordered it with soy and suddenly it was saved. It was also 60 cents more, so, yeah, not doing that again (I drink Americanos. I’m not used to spending $5 on a drink. Unless it’s my free sbux reward, then I’ll do whatever I can to make it worth my while). But now, I’ve had my one PSL and I won’t need another one until next year. And this time I’m putting a tickler in my calendar to remind me, order it with soy.

But let’s get to where I’m really going with this … So far this season I’m on my third can of pumpkin puree. aawwww yeah! One can was dedicated to trying to perfect the pumpkin pie smoothie, which I’m still working on (Note to self: the “lite” coconut milk from PCC is nasty. Stick with Trader Joe’s). Today, as I was cruising through Insta I noticed a repost from paleomg that triggered something in me. So the kiddo and I took out our tools and got to work on Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars. You might have thought I gave up on paleo baking after those atrocious Raspberry Lemon Muffins (I am still shuddering). Well, the thing is, it’s hard to go wrong with pumpkin and chocolate. That, and I still had a little bit of almond flour I was looking to get rid of. So, pumpkin bars it is.

Really good. How do I know they’re good? 1) I’ve had about 5 of them. 2) Husband said, “hey, these are really good!” (I know!!) 3) The kiddo, whining because she kept chomping down on a loose tooth, continued to shove one in her mouth while whining and crying about the pain in her mouth. 3a) She LOST her First tooth in an Ooey Gooey bar, so these treats are going to be something I’ll remember for a while now.


Ooey gooey chocolate chip pumpkin bars. @paleomg said to make them right now, so we did.

View on Instagram

Truth be told, these are actually not paleo. I used almond flour, but didn’t have tapioca flour, so instead used sweet white rice flour that I did have. Also, I used regular chocolate chips, not those fancy Enjoy Life ones. Are those changes part of why they are really tasty, and why I fully expect this family to polish off the batch by the end of the weekend? Possibly. I’ll live.

Pumpkin season

So the third week of September happened and without any warning fall arrived. Just like that. A week of waiting for the bus in the rain at least ended in a weekend of sunny, but cooler weather. On the up side, pumpkin season! I’m no longer a pumpkin spice latte lover that I once was, but I couldn’t resist buying my first can of purée to whip up these treats.
First up, pumpkin spice smoothies, based on this recipe.

Instead of apple juice I used about a tbsp of honey, and garnished with walnuts, which I had on hand. This made 2 small servings, which were the perfect size for the kiddo and I. Two thumbs up.

Today it was pumpkin bread and mini-muffins. Based it on an Allrecipes recipe, but altered it so much I’m just going to rewrite it here:
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pumpkin
1/2 c brown sugar / 1/4 c white sugar / 1/4 coconut sugar
1/2 c applesauce
2 eggs

1/4 – 1/2 c lite coconut milk

Optional: walnuts, chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds

Preheat 375. Grease your tins. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Then the wet in a large bowl (not the coconut milk). When adding the dry with the wet, use the coconut milk if the batter gets dry.

I used my small loaf pan, where I added walnuts and pumpkin seeds on top. Then with the rest of the batter I added a handful or more of semisweet chocolate chips.

The mini muffins took 15 minutes. The small loaf (no pic) took about 45 min.

Both got good ratings from the family. Really, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin spice.

Blueberry coffee cake

Reason #56 why it’s fun to work where I work: the people. The people also probably is reasons # 1 – 55, or at least is a big part of it. Let’s take Ginger, for instance. Ginger is known for her baking. The 14th floor all knows Ginger for her amazing cakes. And if you are on the 14th floor and you don’t know, then I’m sorry because you are missing out. Indeed, when I was on the 16th floor, I was lucky enough to have a few scouts on 14 to alert me when a certain chocolate mocha cake was present, so that I could find a reason to mosey on down to 14 and have a taste. Ahhh.

Anyway, Ginger and I went running this one time (truthfully, just the one time. It’s been quite busy at work, and I am there to, work and stuff). Ginger forgot some socks. And, because I have also forgotten socks before (and underwear, and bras, and everything else I can think of), I always keep extra pairs with me (in my backpack, in my desk drawer, in my gym bag). So I was able to lend her a pair.

A week or two later she came by to return them, and ALSO dropped off this delicious blueberry coffee cake.

Blueberry coffee cake

Blueberry coffee cake

Aren’t I the lucky one? And based on these recent blog posts, is there any real wonder why my weight has crept up this summer? The pieces are all finally coming together. In my mouth.

Sweet treats from ‘The Paleo Kitchen’

I’ve mentioned before I enjoy the food blog PaleOMG. Juli, the blogger, is young, down-to-earth, often hilarious and sometimes a bit neurotic. She seems to pretty much have her s*it together at the ripe old age of 26, having been through the types of food issues that so many women have, and being willing to share her story. It took me most of my life to realize this in myself, and I’m still struggling. Also, her recipes are good, with her Almost-5-Ingredient-Pizza-Pie being among my favorites.

Anyway, she co-wrote a cookbook, The Paleo Kitchen, with fellow blogger Civilized Caveman, who I’ve read, but I enjoy less.

So, they have this cookbook. AND they were coming to Seattle in support of said cookbook. To not just any bookstore, but the independent bookstore that’s a couple miles from our house, Ravenna Third Place Books. The one the kid and I have been frequenting on a regular basis this year. So, I really felt like I should be there. Not only did I decide to go, but I was going to BUY the book AT the bookstore, and not on Amazon like I normally would. You see, I had recently finished this book about Amazon (borrowed form the library, but read on my beloved Kindle), and it kind of turned me off on supporting Amazon. So in solidarity to my indie bookstore (I bought the last couple of Harry Potters there, even showed up at midnight to pick my copy up), I bought The Paleo Kitchen there, for full price. That plus some books for the kid and a Theo chocolate bar (it’s hard to find that Chai Tea flavor. Third Place is one of the few places that carry it, so I can’t help but buy a bar when I’m there, you know, for just in case.) and I was out 50 bucks. Gulp. Supporting the indies, I kept muttering to myself.

Anyway, I showed up, got great parking, bought the book, took the kid to dinner in the back at Vios (there is a restaurant, IN the bookstore. They serve Greek-inspired food. And espresso. And gelato. This place is my dream. Oh, and there is a pub downstairs, but that’s another story of another time). By the time we were done with dinner the front of the store was packed for the author presentation. I ended up hanging with the kiddo in the kids section, and just listening to them speak. It was kind of cool, because readers often feel like they know a blogger personally, especially one like Juli, who seems to share a lot more than just food tips and recipes. That was kind of neato. Not neato? The lame questions that were asked.

What I loved that George said was about substitutions. It irritates me when, right after Juli or George have posted a recipe, the comments start popping up … “I love this recipe for Slivered Almond-Almond Flour cookies, but I’m allergic to Almonds. Do you have a substitution idea?” Here’s an idea, if you’re allergic, then find another recipe! Anyway, George basically said, if we say to use coconut flour, it’s because it’s the best ingredient for the recipe. If you tell me you made the recipe but swapped in one thing for another and it didn’t work out, it’s because you didn’t make the recipe. It’s like, yes, they MUST get annoyed with all those questions, and his statement there kind of made me thing. YES! So annoying.

People kept asking a variation of “What’s your dream food, your favorite cheat, etc etc” Poor authors sort of kept saying the same thing over and over … I kind of wanted to tell the crowd of chicks (it was, like 95% women. just a sprinkling of males in the crowd) … IT’S A LIFESTYLE. They don’t miss that stuff because they’ve made a lifestyle decision.

Well, anyway. I can yell all I want, but I’m just like those girls, I suppose. Deciding to chow down on one last doughnut before starting another bout of clean eating (tomorrow, I swear!) I’m heading into dangerous territory where my poor eating habits are beginning to affect my workouts, and my overall well-being. But I love those darn sweets. Did you not read that sentence where I bought a chocolate bar at a bookstore? Don’t judge, okay. And just because it’s paleo doesn’t mean it’s not high-calorie. It’s just a different kind of calorie.

So. Clean eating starts tomorrow. Which means less paleo-izing to satisfy a sweet tooth.

So I best be testing out these recipes today, right! Here are a few pics of the first two recipes I tried from this cookbook. They are both dessert/sweets (see paragraph above). It’s been a little warm, and I’ve been a lot lazy, but the pulled pork is next on my list to try. Until then, have a look-see:

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread from The Paleo Kitchen

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread. I didn’t swirl the topping enough. but it was yummy regardless. This is one of those few instances where I’m not going to say something about being disappointed with the paleo-version of a dish. This one, was pretty close to the real thing.. Not too eggy, as paleo breads can be. The banana bread was probably the best paleo bread I’ve made … could have been sweeter but I ran out of bananas.

No-Bake Tropical Escape Cookies

No-Bake Tropical Escape Cookies. These were tasty, though I wouldn’t trade them for an actual tropical escape. They tended to crumble a bit, though. Had to eat a two-bite treat in one big bite to avoid having them fall apart. I ate a lot of these.

No Bake Tropical Escape Cookies.

This was the first recipe I tried, and it was super easy, especially when entertaining a little sous chef.

All in all, it’s a good cookbook. I wished each recipe had some additional perspective on what they were thinking/inspired by to create the recipe. It was pretty straight forward in the recipe portion, with bios/paleo info in the beginning. An enjoyable read, and the photos are impressive.

Though I might have been happier had I saved some money buying it on Amazon (No! That’s wrong, keep your moral high ground, aaaaaaaaahhh!)

Paleo baking

It’s funny, the 180 i did on Whole 30 and Paleo. Whereas at first I thought, how could I possibly eat clean without some funkily fake baked god? Then I realized those fake bakes are never as good as the real thing. Right now I’m not really following either diet to a tee, though still visiting my fave blogs regularly, so I decided to have a little kitchen fun.

I’ve been craving toast lately, so last week I baked a paleo bread. It was all right. I found a medium sized loaf pan and used that in an effort to keep the bread looking like a quick bread. You can’t create a sandwich with it, and looking back I see now what I really wanted was a sandwich. Instead I enjoyed a toasted slice in the mornings with my usual egg, or some freezer jam.


Then I made this thing that was called a sweet potato brownie? Really not a brownie, but a decent cocoa-flavored sweet potato square. The kid enjoyed them, more so than the paleo bread. But in the poor paleo bread’s defense we also had this sweet yeasty cinnamon bread in the house, with a sticky sugary glaze strewn across. She much preferred that.

Back to the sweet potato brownie, aka the CFSPS, it is not something I’ll repeat. I’ll use that SP for a tasty patty/bun, and buy a brownie from the store. They have gluten-free ones, you know…

Well, that was a fun weekend afternoon project. Next time I’ll just read a book.

Cake for breakfast? OKAY

Happy birthday to me. Let’s take a moment to remember last year’s birthday cake debacle. I decided not to try that again. This year, all I knew was that I wanted cake for breakfast, which meant I would need to bake a cake the day before. NBD.

I went with something I’ve done before. This recipe is from a book, an actual hard-copy book … one that I don’t own, actually. My friend photocopied the recipe for me and I have it in one of those plastic sleeves in a huge 3-ring recipe binder.

Guinness Cake, with a cream cheese frosting, intended to mimic the frothy head of a pint of Guinness.


So I made this Sunday, and on Monday morning I cut it in half and brought one half with me to my CrossFit class, at 6:30 am. Kinda freaked the husband out, cuz when he opened the fridge at 7am, half the cake was gone. ha ha.

I worked out, came home, took a  shower and cut a small slice for the kiddo and one slice for me.


Probably not the best post-WOD meal (5 rounds of 5 pull ups, 5 chin-ups, 25 wall balls), and actually I felt a little ill for a bit afterwards, but would I do it again? Um, YEAH!!

Later on the family trekked out for a hike around Discovery Park. A rare sunny, dry day. Enjoy them while you can, friends.



Nian Gao 2013

A little celebration for the lunar new year, which happened at the end of January. My sis mentioned she was going to try to make Nian Gao, aka New years cake and that triggered the idea for me, too. It helped that for once I had the ingredients on hand. I did another baked version this year, though someday I will try the steamed version. The recipe I tried was an individual cake recipe, so I used a muffin pan. I didn’t get the brown chewy crust like it should have. They were okay, not great, possibly due to the changes in pan. Steamed next time. For reals.

For comparison here is last year’s cake.