Friday, September 25, 2009


Wow. I didn't realize how badly I needed a vacation. For awhile there, I just thought I couldn't get my lazy self to do the work I needed to do. This picture sort of gives you an idea of my mental state:

The past 2 weeks in California have been great, relaxing, and necessary, but I am very happy to be back. For one thing, I've come back to a Seattle that is in the process of transitioning from summer to autumn. For me, the new year always begins in September because that is when school starts again. I always enjoyed the newness of starting a new grade: new books, new pencils, and a new start. Plus, the weather is starting to cool down too--the refreshing bite on your cheek as a cool breeze blows by is always welcome. Also, autumn is especially great for one of my favorite activities: baking. When it's chilly outside, there's nothing better than curling up on a couch, with a book, while you've got something baking in the oven. The smells, the anticipation of something yummy to devour--total happiness! As it is Friday, and if any of you out there have time this weekend, maybe you too should indulge in this activity! To aid you, I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes for chocolate chip cookies.

My mother is a pack rat, but in the best way possible. She is the devoted sort, that takes the time to clip recipes, ideas, and articles and file them. I am thankful for that, because sometime during my teenage years, I decided that I wanted to find the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. A quick perusal of the recipe clippings folder, and I found a bunch of recipes for chocolate chip cookies that had come out of contest that the Seattle Times was hosting. I immediate chose the grand prize winning recipe. It is a true winner, and so easy to do too!

Dave's Chocolate-chip Treasure Cookies
Makes about 3½ dozen (approximately 2-inch cookies)

-- 1½ cups ground graham-cracker crumbs
-- ½ cup all-purpose flour
-- 2 teaspoons baking powder
-- 1 can (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
-- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
-- 2 cups flaked coconut
-- 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
-- 1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a bowl, combine the graham-cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder. In a mixer bowl, beat the condensed milk and butter until smooth. Add the graham-cracker mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts; mixture should appear to be lumpy and dry.

3. Shape dough into 1½-inch balls and place onto ungreased cookie sheets, allowing room to spread. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to racks to cool.

Submitted by David A. Vargus

The only changes I made to this recipe was to substitute hazelnuts for walnuts. A little more expensive, but completely worth it. Plus, if you're will to crush the hazelnuts yourself, Trader Joe's sells a big bag of them for a fairly reasonable price. And honestly, crushing them is kind of fun, as well as cathartic. And for those of you who are not big fans of coconut, please don't let the coconut scare you! It is still delicious and I have had coconut-haters eat three of these cookies in one sitting. And I can tell you this: if you feel like you're being squashed by a gigantic beach ball, baking these is a must.

Happy Baking!
Solstice Festival photo taken by Quy Q. Dinh
Cookie photos taken by Tams

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

MEMORY: For the littlest brother

I am leaving for California tomorrow for two weeks! My youngest brother, Andrew, is beginning college down there, and I already know I'm going to miss him terribly. He is the baby of the Dinh siblings, and the thought of him starting college brings on some bittersweet thoughts. How did he grow up so fast? More importantly, how did I get old so fast? And yet, I am so happy for the many opportunities and new adventures that will be in store for him. He is a wonderful brother, and he deserves so much. Such is the opinion of a biased sister. I know I speak for our other sibling, Vinnie, on this point as well. One thing that I had heard from others who have moved to California, is that my brother will probably not want to move back to Seattle. In case this does happen, I compiled some reasons to entice Andrew back to the Emerald City.

1. BBQs at Golden Gardens

2. Adventures with Vinnie!

3. To make sure Mom's plants do not take over your room.

4. Going to the Fremont Solstice Festival with Dad

5. Checking out cherry blossoms at the UW. Bet your new school won't have these...

6. Just one last shot of a sunset in Seattle

Good luck Andrew! Vinnie and I are so proud of you and love you so, so much.
J & V

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


In honor of my new green hiking backpack, I decided to compile a photo essay with green as the main color theme! My old orange backpack's waist strap broke (um, don't ask how), and I needed to get a replacement. As I was thinking about this post, I was wondering if I even had enough photos to make this essay work. As it turns out, I must be a hobbit because greens and yellows seem to really catch my eye. Goodness knows, I'm just about as short as one! Thank goodness for those who know me, my feet are not as hairy.

An open field--Spokane, WA

Grapes--Walla Walla, WA

Green Decadence Roll at Wasabi Bistro. One of my favorites!

Spring in the Arboretum--Seattle, WA

Fresh Fish at Pike's Place Market--Seattle, WA

Yellowstone National Park, MT

Asian pears in my parents' garden. Not quite ripe--yet!

Hope you enjoy the greenery!