Simple, Subtle Beauty – Rustic Fig Galette

I mentioned earlier that my aunt has a fig tree that has been very prolific this year. So prolific that one day, she gave me a whole box full of fresh figs! It was just like Christmas! With all of the fresh figs, I knew I wanted to bake something delicious. And I’ve been itching to make a galette, so it wasn’t hard to decide to bake a fig galette!

In my mind, a galette is a lazy person’s version of pie. So this recipe was really easy, especially because I took the easy way out by using store-bought pie crust. (I promise I’ll make pie crust from scratch one day!) All I did really was roll out the pie dough, spread it with jam, cut up the figs, sprinkle them with sugar, fold up the edges of the pie dough, and bake it.

The fig galette came out beautifully, despite not being precise or perfect. There’s a certain type of beauty that comes from rustic items. Maybe it’s the homemade feel that warms my heart.Ā The imperfections and blemishes of rustic things remind me that they were made by human hands and are labors of love. Although store-bought baked goods often taste pretty darn delicious and look absolutely gorgeous, there’s something about homemade baked goods that always makes them win over the store-bought ones (for me personally). Homemade cakes or cupcakes that look professionally made, though beautiful, are not as appealing to me as the homemade items that are more rustic looking.

This fig galette is the perfect example of the beauty of rustic, homemade baked goods. Although it has many imperfections, it’s all of those imperfections that make it even more gorgeous. (Kinda like that One Direction song, right? Haha jk). Each bump and crack in the crust is evidence of the effort and love put into making it. Knowing that little fact makes the galette just a bit more beautiful because it shows the care that the person who baked it has for you. Aww how sweet! (Sorry for this bit of cheesiness, I guess I’m feeling a bit sentimental right now :P).

The natural sweetness of the figs and the buttery crust pair well with a cup of hot tea whether you’re eating the galette in the morning or at night. It’s the perfect way to finish off a nice dinner with family or friends – I can imagine just munching on it in between sips of tea or coffee and conversations with loved ones. Or it’s the perfect indulgent breakfast to eat while standing in the kitchen, soaking in the morning sunlight and reading the paper. It’s subtle, simple actions like this that warm my heart and make me feel content with life. šŸ™‚

Fig Galette
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1Ā butter pie crust recipeĀ (I used store-bought pie crust from Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 pounds mission figs, tips cut off and discarded, quartered
1/4 cup jam (I used plum amaretto jam since it was in the fridge, but use any jam you have on hand)
2 Tbsp sugar

1.Ā Preheat oven to 375F. Roll out dough to a 14-inch diameter round of even thickness. Place on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.
2. Spread jam on the rolled out dough, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Arrange the quartered figs in a circular pattern, again leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle sugar over the figs.
3.Ā Fold the 2-inch bordered edge of the crust over the figs, pleating the crust.
4. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

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Relaxing in Stern Grove with Ok Go

Ok Go at Stern Grove

This past Sunday, I went with a group of friends to see Ok Go at the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco. Every summer, the Stern Grove Festival hosts free concerts every Sunday in this beautiful park. Actually, it’s not so much a park as it is a forest… with tall trees towering over you as you walk through and wooded areas that you’d find in fairy tales. (At one point, I half expected the trees to start talking like in Lord of the Rings.)

Sitting amongst the trees (and pretending to be wood nymphs)

We got there fairly early, about 2 hours before the concert started. However, that was definitely not early enough. Some people were hardcore and arrived at 9am to snag the best spots in the park, right in front of the stage. With all of the lawn occupied by serious concertgoers, we ventured into the woods to find a decent picnic spot. Although we were hidden behind several trees, we still had a pretty good view of the stage and enjoyed a nice picnic while we waited for the show to start.

I first started listening to Ok Go in high school, after seeing their famous treadmill video. However, my favorite video remains to be their “A Million Ways” video, in which they perform an amazing choreographed dance in someone’s backyard. I distinctly remember watching that video whenever I wanted to procrastinate doing homework and secretly longed to get three friends to learn the dance with me. However, I could never convince my friends to do it. šŸ˜¦

The concert was great! Ok Go is definitely a fun band to watch live. They do crazy things on stage, such as play one of the songs only using hand bells and shoot water-soluble confetti out of giant cannons. The show was so entertaining and a majority of the crowd was dancing and rocking out. It was a great afternoon filled with food, music, and friends. Not to mention, the weather was absolutely gorgeous! It’s days like those that make me absolutely, whole-heartedly love living in the Bay Area, despite all of the hardships and difficulties I’ve been facing in grad school. Even though grad school has been a tough journey, fun and relaxing days consisting of treks into the city and hanging out with friends make it much more enjoyable.

Summer Blues


Summer is quickly coming to an end… at least it is for me, since classes start tomorrow! Eeks! How did time fly by so fast?

This summer, I traveled and ate my way through Boston, New York City, and San Diego.

Boston Done Right: Paul Revere, Cannoli, MIT, and the Charles River

Sights of the City: Times Square, Taxis on 80th St, View from Empire State Building, Downtown Manhattan

NYC Eats: Shake Shack, Chelsea Market, Momofuku, Doughnut Plant

Peaceful La Jolla

I also finally crossed off a few items on my baking to do list (but still haven’t tried making my own kimchi! need to do that soon!).

Purple Ombre Cake – Check!

Kolaches – Check!

And I spent valuable time and made amazing memories with my friends and family. Even though I was working everyday, this was actually one of my most fun summers.

To express my summer blues (and match my blue floral dress), I did a variation of blue ombre nails. I was inspired by this nail design from Miss Renaissance. I had slightly darker shades of blue than she did, but they worked well.


Although I’ll miss the laid-back, relaxing vibe of summer with the sunny days (well, only after the fog has burned off) and the rather peaceful feel of campus that comes with the absence of undergrads, I’m looking forward to what this new school year brings. Fall semester is always a fresh start for me – it feels more like New Year’s to me than January 1st. With a new season comes new friends, experiences, and memories. So, even though I’m a little sad to see my summer end, I’m excited to see what fall brings. Plus, I’ve been dying to make some pumpkin and apple desserts!

City Girl

View from Empire State Building

I think I’ve always been a city girl at heart, despite not having grown up in a large city. Although I do enjoy the serenity and tranquility of nature, I am truly satisfied by the hustle and bustle of a metropolis. So when I was planning my short vacation for the summer, I knew I had to visit the largest, most famous city in America: New York City.

View from Bryant Park

I’ve only visited NYC once before, when I was ten years old, which was before 9/11. So, I’ve been way overdue for a visit. My family went two years ago, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them since I had just started a summer internship at Stanford. But this year, I decided that I was finally going to visit the city that never sleeps.

Times Square

Since I hadn’t visited New York City in over ten years, I made a fairly long list of things I wanted to see, which consisted of mostly tourist destinations. I only had three days to cram them all in, so each day was packed with running around the city, visiting New York City’s most famous sights. Luckily, I’m the type of person who enjoys doing things all the time at a fairly fast pace. I hate waiting around and wasting time (so much that I can’t stand waiting at bus stops… which often results in me walking to the next stop and then watching the bus pass me by. -_-). In fact, I consider it a good day when my feet are sore and swollen from walking around the whole day. Because of this, I didn’t have too much of a problem seeing everything I wanted to see.

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

I made the standard NYC tourist stops, including Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MOMA, Wall St., and Empire State Building.

Wall Street

The steps of the Met

Inside the Empire State Building

I also visited the Highline Park (an urbanĀ elevated park that stretches for about 10 blocks along 10th avenue), the NY Botanical Gardens (which is having an exhibition on Monet’s gardens right now, so beautiful!), and Chelsea Market (almost equivalent to the Ferry Building in SF).

View from the Highline Park

NY Botanical Gardens Conservatory

Chelsea MarketĀ 

If you’re visiting the city, I highly suggest taking the Staten Island Ferry, which takes you from Manhattan to Staten Island in just under 30 minutes. It’s a beautiful ride with great views of the city as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The best part is that it’s FREE! I didn’t get off and explore Staten Island, which I’ve heard is kinda boring, and instead just hopped back onto the next ferry going back to the city.

Staten Island Ferry and the Statue of Liberty

I also highly recommend visiting the 9/11 Memorial. It’s a truly poignant spot to reflect and remember the lives lost that fateful day. Since I haven’t lived through many historical events, I haven’t felt the gravity and sobering effect of memorials… until I visited the 9/11 Memorial. I couldn’t bring myself take a picture of me standing in the memorial because I knew the pain and sorrow of 9/11 since it was an event that I had actually lived through, rather than one I had just read about in history books.Ā Although it had such a solemn effect on me, the memorial was absolutely beautiful and helped remind me to be thankful for each day of my life.

Overall, I’d say my trip to The Big Apple was a success! I saw the sights and bright lights of the city that so many people, including myself, love. What I love best about New York is that there is always something to do or something to see. The city moves at the speed of light and has new experiences waiting for you at every corner. Consisting of a mix of wandering tourists and brusque locals, the city has a little something for everyone.

Tecate Cupcakes

This past weekend was definitely festive with both the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo falling on the same day. To celebrate, my friends had a Cinco de Mayo barbecue featuring carne asada, grilled pineapple, and of course, margaritas! I was planning on making margarita cookies from this recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen. But I didn’t have any tequila on hand and didn’t think it’d be worth it to buy a bottle if I was only using a few tablespoons. (I guess I could have saved the rest for margaritas and tequila shots :P)

So instead, I decided to make Corona cupcakes from thisĀ recipe on Erica’s Sweet Tooth. But since I couldn’t find any Corona in our house, I used Tecate instead. The recipe is a pretty standard cupcake recipe, except that it uses beer for moisture instead of milk or water. Although I couldn’t really taste the beer and I’m pretty sure none of my friends noticed it, the cupcakes were still delicious!

I was a little too lazy to make my own cream cheese frosting, so I just added the zest and juice of one lime to some leftover store bought frosting sitting in my refrigerator. I think it was really the frosting that did it for me. Yes, the cupcake is super moist and tasty, but the frosting is what made me want to eat another. The zest and juice really packed a lot of flavor into the frosting without making it too sour. I’ll probably make it again for another cake/cupcake in the future since it was so good (and super easy to make).

These cupcakes are a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or kick off summer! Which I can finally do, now that my finals are over! šŸ˜€ However, life as a grad student doesn’t include any summer vacation – only long hours in the lab. Call me a nerd, but I’m super excited about it!

Tecate/Corona Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth andĀ Miss Make

For the cupcakes:
3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lime zest (I used the zest of one lime)
1 cup Blue Moon or Corona or Tecate beer, plus more for brushing on tops
1/4 cup milk
Lime wedges and sanding sugar for garnish (I skipped this)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add eggs, beating after each addition then add the vanilla and zest.Ā (I apparently can’t read, and added all of the eggs in at once. They turned out fine)
5. Combine milk and beer and alternatively add this mixture and the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture with the mixer on low speed, starting and ending with the flour.
6. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.Ā (I made 13 regular sized cupcakes and 32 mini-cupcakes)
7. When cupcakes are done, poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes with toothpicks and brush some beer on each while still warm. (I tried doing this, but the spooned the beer on top instead. It didn’t really work since the beer just spilled over the cupcake. It probably works better brushing the beer on top, but this step doesn’t really seem to be that necessary)
8. Let cupcakes cool and frost with lime cream cheese frosting.

For super easy lime cream cheese frosting:
1/4 cup store bought cream cheese frosting
Zest and juice of one lime

1. Add lime zest and juice to cream cheese frosting
2. Stir until get desired consistency.