DarwinDiscovered_PipaTofu-10Tofu. Shrimp. Fried-ness. What’s not to love? You probably won’t find pipa tofu on your standard Chinese carryout menu (but are you really eating that crap? *puts on judging goggles*). If you’re at a higher end restaurant you might see it on the menu- if not, ask the waiter and they will hopefully know what you’re talking about. Or you could take off your lazy pants and whip this up at home. I made these for a friend that stayed with us for the weekend a while back, and she asked to eat leftovers of this for two meals (in addition to dinner). Yea, they’re pretty tasty.

But first off, the question you’ve all been wondering: what is a ‘pipa’? Good question, friends. A pipa (pronounced PEE -pah) is a traditional Chinese string instrument that looks like so:

pipa

Pipa tofu is named after the pipa’s shape, but in reality I think the tofu ends up taking on an oval shape as it gets fried. Maybe that’s just a commentary on my frying abilities.

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DarwinDiscovered_PipaTofu-9Basically you gather some ingredients together, mash them all up, form them into little pipa shapes – *cough* oval – and fry. You can deep fry the tofu, and it will taste amazeballs. Or you can opt for the healthier option and pan fry them instead. They’ll still taste amazeballs. Your call.

DarwinDiscovered_PipaTofu-8 Serve the pipa tofu on a bed of bok choy or Shanghai bok choy, and accompanying sauce on top.

Ingredients and recipe after the jump.

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Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Let’s talk about comfort food. A piping hot bowl of broth, flavored with fragrant sesame oil and tender loving care. Baby bok choy greens. A satisfied tummy. And wontons…lots of wontons.

Literally translated,  ‘wonton’ means ‘swallowing a cloud’. While various Chinese regional cuisines have their separate interpretations of wontons, I’m going to talk about Cantonese wontons today- because that’s what I crave when comfort food-itis pops up. Growing up, I recall skipping around the kitchen, helping (okay, pestering) my mother and grandmother as they folded a batch of wontons. You don’t make a single serving of wontons. Instead, you make as many as you have wrappers for (a typical pack contains around 75) and freeze the remainder. This makes wontons an excellent now and later dish.

Folding wontons requires an itty-bitty learning curve, but goes quickly once you get the hang of it. If you’re with a group of friends or have willing minions, the wontons are folded even quicker. Wonton folding party, anyone?

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

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Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Darwin, Discovered- Wonton Recipe

Recipe after the jump.

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The Waffle Window
3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR

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Portland is well known for its many breakfast destinations. Whether you’re looking for simple cafes, fancy coffee shops (stump town), crazy donuts (voodoo), or a hearty sit down brunch, Portland has something for everyone. The Waffle Window is another quick and delicious breakfast option, an unassuming (literal) hole in the wall next to the Bread and Ink Cafe, serving up crisp, golden waffles topped with sweet and savory ingredients.

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(Above: my brother and I deciding from the selection of delectable treats)

Our choices on this particular morning included:

  • The Whole Farm” – thick cut pepper bacon, sauteed mushrooms, spinach, roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes, and chevre cheese atop a crispy, sugared Portland-style Liege waffle;
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Dipped Waffle – waffle with creamy peanut butter with generously drizzled chocolate;
  • The Rose City” – fresh local strawberries, rose cream, whipped cream, and a rhubarb sauce set on a sugar waffle;
  • Cold Chocolate Dipped Waffle – dipped in chocolate and refrigerated, this is exactly what it sounds like – a chocolate covered sugar waffle!

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(left: The Rose City; center: Peanut Butter Chocoloate; right: The Whole Farm)

The sweetness of the sugar waffles provided a delicate contrast to many of the savory ingredients, which is why I think The Whole Farm and its cousins (a bacon-less Farm Fusion, a spicy bacon cheddar jalapeno, and a Bacon/Brie/Basil with peach jam) are must-haves when you come to Waffle Window. Not to mention the fresh fruit in the Rose City, their complex selection of dessert waffles (blueberry cheesecake or waffle ice cream sandwich, anyone?), and you can’t forget to take a cold chocolate dipped one for snacking on the road.

With all prices lower than $6 (mostly in the $4.50-5.50 range), this is a breakfast that won’t blow your budget. And while you are around, check out the neighbouring Hawthorne District, a fun and ecclectic area to explore in SE Portland.

I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves for this post. The test garden has been around for close to 100 years, and the folks here know their flowers. Best of all? It’s free! Bring a book, find a bench, and smell the roses.

DSC01265-77  DSC01266-78DSC01268-79DSC01272-80DSC01274-81DSC01292-85  DSC01278-82DSC01279-83DSC01281-84DSC01295-86DSC01297-87DSC01307-88DSC01318-91  DSC01314-90DSC01319-92DSC01320-93DSC01329-96Want more things to do in Portland? Check out these other posts:

10 Things to Do in Portland

Weekend Snapshots, Portland Edition

Travel Notes: Destin, Florida

Tucked away in the Florida Panhandle on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay lies Destin, otherwise known as “the world’s luckiest fishing village.” If you’re Destin-ation bound (heehee), Destin’s white sands and emerald green waters are sure to please. Here are our notes from our weekend in Destin. Have fun!

Getting There and Around

The closest airport to Destin is Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS), followed by Pensacola (PNS) and Panama City (ECP). VPS is approximately 20 minutes away from Destin, while PNS and ECP are approximately 1 hour away. You’ll need a car to get around; I didn’t see much by the way of public transportation.

Stay

We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson for 28,000 Club Carlson points. The hotel was no-frills, but it had free Internet and breakfast, so for 28k points you can’t really complain. It is located across from Henderson Beach State Park and right in the middle of Destin, so location was ideal. The hotel also had free fresh-baked Otis Spunkmeyer cookies nightly!

Travel Notes: Destin, Florida

Eat

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BeachToteEssentials

The number one reason summertime is awesome? How about getting the golden glow of a nice tan – a great pick-me-up to leave those doldrums of winter behind.  If you’re going out to the beach this summer, make sure to take these along with you:

1. Oversized tote.

This J.Crew tote is neutral enough that I wouldn’t feel guilty passing it off to Darren if I got tired of carrying it *ahem*. I like the versatile look of this one from Land’s End, which will take you into fall and beyond. Need something punchier? This Target tote has a fun print and won’t break the bank, and this PVC one will keep your goodies dry.

2. Oversized beach towel.

It’s happened to us all- you fall asleep on the beach, roll over, and face plant into a mouthful of sand. This towel is 39″ x 67″, so no sand-munching. I also like the tassels on this preppy number. Not big enough for you? This blanket has weighted pockets to hold down unruly corners, and this one folds into its own pocket.

3. Sunscreen.

I’ve tried the spray kind, and while convenient, it just doesn’t offer adequate coverage for me. This Neutrogena one can be used on both face and body (it’s non-comedogenic). If you tend to get sweaty, I recommend a waterproof + sweatproof option. I also use this on my face before I run outdoors, and it doesn’t budge. Don’t forget to protect your lips either! And if you’re still not an SPF believer, hopefully this NYT article will convince you otherwise.
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