Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns last week. It's another fantastic book by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner). A very beautiful, yet sad story...

Here's a discussion about the book w/ Khaled Hosseini:

Can't wait to see the movie (due out sometime next year). In the meantime, read the book!

Peach custard pie

Friday night, Patty made a peach custard pie. She used a recipe for pear custard pie (that she made a few months ago - original posting here), but used peach in place of pear.

It turned out just as delicious as the pear custard pie!
peach custard piepeach custard pie
The cool thing is that it is super easy to make (only about 10-15 mins of prep time).

Here's the recipe (from the book Everyday Food: Great Food Fast), with some slight modifications (in bold italics):

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pie dish
  • 3 ripe but firm Comice or Barlett pears, leeped, halved, and cored (we used 1 pear/peach)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cupe all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (used 3/4 teaspoon vanilla)
  • 3 large eggs (used 2 eggs)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (we didn't have any each time, so we skipped this)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; butter a 9-inch pie dish. Slice the pears 1/4 inch thick lengthwise. Arrange the slices, overlapping slightly, in the dish.
  2. In a blender, process the melted butter, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla, eggs, milk, and salt until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter over the pears (or peaches); bake until golden and firm to the touch, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperatue, dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Berrygood is berrybad...

After dinner tonight, we went to try Berrygood. It's a new Korean style frozen yogurt store not too far from our house. I had read a really negative review about this place, but we still were open to trying it. How bad can frozen yogurt be???

We tried their "Premium" and "Green Tea" flavors with mochi topping. Both flavors were absolutely terrible. The flavors had a strange "off" taste and the texture was very watery and powdery, resulting in an even stranger aftertaste.

In the (Phoenix metro) area, we like Ice Tango the best, although they don't have a location near us yet (they are opening one very near to Berrygood). There is a place near us called iSwirl which is decent.

Places mentioned:

Berrygood (various locations)
15479 W. McDowell Rd.
Goodyear, AZ 85338

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Six Ways in Which the World is Different from the Way You Think It Is

Very interesting article (especially #1 and #2):
Six Ways in Which the World is Different from the Way You Think It Is (from Nicholas Vardy's - The Global Guru)

Taipei 101 damper in action

Found out about this one via

Video taken of the giant damper ball in Taipei 101 during the recent Sichuan earthquake:

For those who have never seen it in person, this thing is massive - 728 tons, 18 ft. diameter.

This page has a good overview of the system (along w/ the same video):
deputydog - in action: a skyscraper's amazing 728-ton stabilising ball

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Packed Weekend

We had the busiest weekend ever...lots of food involved so it was a good kind of "busy".

Friday night we had dinner at Pizza A Metro (my posting about the visit). Great stuff, highly recommended.

Saturday afternoon, I had my monthly volunteering event (for Washington Street Foundation). We went to see Valley Youth Theatre's production of Cinderella at the Herberger Theater. It was a pretty good show (much better than sitting/suffering through A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail a few months ago =)

After the volunteer event, I met up with Patty at a going away party for one of her co-workers. We only stayed for a little while before rushing off to meet my some of my co-workers for dinner.

This past weekend was the grand opening of The Dhaba. The owners of the restaurant are Thunderbird alumni, so we were there to show our support. The food was great (we all shared the food so I'm not really sure what we ordered). They had a few belly dancers on hand for the festivities. Here are a few pictures:
The Dhaba - exteriorThe Dhaba - menu coverThe Dhaba - mango lassiThe Dhaba - belly dancers performing
Sunday morning, we met up with some more T-Bird friends for dim sum at Great Wall. Great Wall has pretty reliable dim sum and it's the only decent place in the West Valley. We enjoyed a ton of food...

After lunch, we headed to Tempe to see My Fair Lady at ASU's Gammage Auditorium.

The show was good, though it a bit too long (a total running time of around 3 hours). I was kind of disappointed that the understudy (Dana Delisa) was performing the role of Eliza Doolittle. I had read a few great reviews of Lisa O'Hare's performance of Eliza. Doh! Delisa's performance seemed pretty average for me. That's what we get for seeing a Sunday matinee...oh well. I thought Tim Jerome (Arthur Doolittle) and Justin Bohon (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) gave fantastic performances. I do have to admit that both Patty and I did end up falling asleep during parts of the show...we must have been tired from eating too much for lunch! Overall, it was good, although it was a bit of a let down (on par w/ Rent). I thought it was going to be a fantastic show (like Phantom, Les Mis, Miss Saigon, and Oliver).

Time for some rest!!!

Places mentioned:

Pizza A Metro
2336 W. Thomas Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85015

The Dhaba
1872 E Apache Blvd.
Tempe, AZ 85281

Great Wall
3446 W. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85017

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Insanely HOT

The official (reported) high today was 115 degrees.

Here's a pic from my car display (taken @ ~4:30pm):
taken on June 21, 2008 @ ~4:30pm
Do you see that??? 119 degrees!!! It was actually reading 120 right before I snapped the picture.

I spent the afternoon in downtown Phoenix (for my monthly volunteering event). Downtown Phoenix is pretty much one giant cement heat island. Actually, the whole valley is a massive heat island. It's just worse in downtown Phoenix. As I was walking to and from my car, I experienced the most intense heat I have ever experienced in my life (and I've already been through 10 summers here). It was seriously when you open the door of a hot oven and the heat hits your body. I really don't see how light rail is going to work in this city. The shade structures that they have built at the stops seem like they provide minimal coverage.'s only the second day of summer...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pizza A Metro

We met up w/ D. for dinner tonight at Pizza A Metro. I've been reading a bunch of great things about this place so I was dying to try it.

The restaurant is just to the east of I-17, on the north side of Thomas Rd. I had read a few comments that this place was hard to spot...and even though we were both looking for it, we drove right past it! (just look for the Circle K). As we were parking, we noticed a bunch of people waiting outside. We ended up waiting around 25 minutes for a table. The place is really tiny inside - only around 5 or 6 tables.

We ordered:
  • Calamari Fritte (fried calamari - $7.95)
  • Gnocchi w/ vodka sauce ($8.95)
  • Saporita - tomato, cheese, sausage, broccoli (regular size - $13.95)
  • Frescolina Fresh - tomato, cheese, prosciutto , and arugula (regular size - $14.95)
Sorry - didn't have my camera with me so no pictures...

Before our order arrived, the owner brought us a complimentary platter of flatbread and caponata. Both were fantastic - the onions were so sweet.

The calamari came next and was served with a marinara dipping sauce. The calamari was slightly overcooked, although it was still very good. The breading was nice.

Next up was the gnocchi. This was incredible! The texture of the homemade gnocchi was so smooth and the vodka sauce was really tasty.

The pizzas were both excellent. The crust was great, the sauce was full of flavor, and all of the toppings were of high quality. I would put PAM in the same artisinal category as LGO, Cibo, Pizzeria Bianco, and Settebello (in Salt Lake City). I'd say they definitely have some of the best pizza in the city. Really good stuff...

I really wanted to try the tiramisu, but we were all too stuffed to eat any i'll have to try it next time!

The only complaint we had was that it was a bit warm inside.

Pizza A Metro rocks! We'll definitely be back!

Places mentioned:

Pizza A Metro
2336 W. Thomas Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85015

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Joe is in Money Magazine!

My friend Joe is featured in the July 2008 issue of Money Magazine!

You can read portions of the article via the following links (both from
Life without Plastic
They cut out the their credit cards

Way to go Joe!

Joe is also the author of the book "I Was Broke. Now I'm Not!". In it, Joe tells the candid story of how he and his family were losing out on the "money game". If you need help with your money, read this book! By following the clear, easy-to-follow methods in the book, you can take control of your finances. You can find more details about the book on his website -

The preceding was a completely unsolicited recommendation. =)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions (from The New York Times)

Very interesting article from the New York Times:
Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions

Japan has imposed very strict waist-size limits on its citizens. According to their Ministry of Health, it's an effort to reduce weight related diseases such as diabetes and strokes, and the medical costs associated with such diseases.

Here's my understanding:
If you fail to meet the limits (33.5 inches for males and 35.4 for females) three months after your initial violation, you are subject to "dieting guidance". If you still fail after an additional six months, you will be required to take re-education training.

Companies are also subject to waist-line limits, and must measure employees, retirees, and even families of the employees. If the companies fail to meet guidelines, they face substantial monetary penalties.

WOW. This definitely would not fly in the U.S., with roughly two-thirds of the population classified as overweight and one-third classified as obese.

Are you metabo (overweight)? Yikes! According to the 33.5 inch limit, I've only got about an inch and a half to spare...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Weird things going on with our mail delivery

Two weeks ago we got a piece a mail that was sent 5 months ago. I thought it was a one time fluke...but...

Today, we got more interesting things in the mail. Including the following items:

- November 2007 issue of a magazine
- item postmarked on October 18, 2007
- item postmarked on August 15, 2007
- July 2, 2007 issue of a magazine
- item postmarked on June 4, 2007
- item postmarked on May 19, 2007 (something sent over 1 year ago!!!)

I submitted an inquiry via the US Postal Service's website. I'm very curious as to what's going on with our mail!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Handy Andy

I just finished up a minor home improvement project today.

Since moving in to our house, we've always complained that the "toilet" room in our master bath is too dark. I'm sure we're not the only ones, but we do a bit of reading in there now and then... =)

This past weekend we finally decided to replace the light fixture. It was a small, cheap dome light, flush with the ceiling. We went to Lowe's and found a nice looking pendant light. As I was uninstalling the old light fixture, I found a little surprise waiting for me...a nice hole, adjacent to the hole for the light fixture (the old fixture conveniently covered this hole). Thank you very much to the installer for doing such a quality job!

Here's a pic of the fine work by the original installer:
lighting fixture hole
The new fixture would not cover this hole, so it was back to Lowe's to buy some spackling and a patch kit. The bright side of this - I got to learn how to repair drywall!

Here's the new light fixture:
new pendant light
It's sooooo nice! We now have a bright light in the perfect position...for reading...hahaha. Another thing that's kind of cool is that the perimeter of the fixture has small holes which throw off little specks of light around the ceiling. You can kind of see them in this picture:
new pendant light
Yeah! Scratch another one off the list! I think that's it for small ones. About a month ago, I finally got around to installing a ceiling fan in our master bedroom. Here's a pic:
ceiling fan in master bedroom
Next up: more bathroom improvements!

We want to change out the hideous Hollywood lights above the vanities in both of our bathrooms. The ones that are in almost all newer homes today...

Another project is replacing the frameless rectangular mirrors (which cover a major portion of the walls), with framed mirrors.

Do you have a ceiling fan that needs to be installed?
How about a new light fixture?
Hole in the drywall?!?

Let me know! I'll work for (good) food...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beijing Chinese Cuisine

Just had maybe the worst Chinese food ever...

We made the mistake of going to Beijing Chinese Cuisine for dinner tonight. It's a brand new restaurant very close to our house. The dining room is quite nice although the tables that they have chosen do not seem like they are properly designed for tables of four. If you have a party of four, each person will have one of the table legs right in front of them...very awkward. There was only the two of us, so we moved towards the middle of the table. The first thing I noticed was that all of the customers were Caucasian (big warning sign!!!). I'm guessing there aren't many Asians in the area, so I can overlook that one.

We ordered Mango Beef ($9.95) and Eggplant Pork ($9.95).

The mango beef was definitely one of the strangest dishes I've ever had. The dish become stranger and stranger as I ate it. I have no idea how to describe this dish...I was just too bewildered at the time.

The eggplant pork wasn't much better. The eggplant was undercooked and it was swimming in gravy.

The rice was terrible...

Yuck, yuck, yuck!!!

Service was pretty minimal. Basically, someone came by to order and drop off our food.

We finished maybe half of each dish. We both didn't want to eat either of the dishes for lunch the next day, so we didn't take any of the leftovers. We got up, paid, and left, completely disappointed.

I would rather eat at Pei Wei or Panda Express.

Unless you can tolerate mediocre Americanized-Chinese food, I recommend that you stay away from this place.

Places mentioned:

Beijing Chinese Cuisine
Northwest corner of Indian School/Litchfield Rd

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pizza (Grimaldi's) and a movie (Kung Fu Panda)

I had a craving for pizza so we went to Grimaldi's for dinner. We went to a new location at Park West in Peoria. We ordered the following:
  • 12" pizza w/ italian sausage and mushrooms ($9 + $2 + $2)
  • small caesar salad $9
  • lemonade $2.50
The salad was decent. It was a pretty typical caesar salad. The portion was just enough for the two of us to share.

The pizza was pretty good. The tomato sauce had a nice spice and the toppings were good. I especially liked the mozzarella cheese - they use larger pieces of cheese, not shredded.

After dinner, we went to see Kung Fu Panda. This is only the second movie we've been to in the last 6 months or so. While we were in LA last weekend, we went to see (more like I got dragged to) Sex and the City. If I ever get around to a posting for that trip, I'll write about it then. In any case, we've mainly been renting movies from work (Thunderbird's library has a pretty good DVD collection) and redbox.

Back to Kung Fu Panda...this is an animated movie that just came out yesterday. The main character, Po, is voiced by Jack Black. There are lots of big name actors voicing characters (Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, etc.). I thought the use of Jackie Chan (voicing the character of Master Monkey), was a waste. He only had a few lines (maybe less than twenty words total).

The movie was very funny. I can very much relate to Po - he loves to eat! If you like animated movies, check this one out.

Places mentioned:

Grimaldi's (various locations)
9788 W. Northern Ave.
Peoria, AZ 85345