Monday, August 2, 2010

Homemade Rosemary, Tomato and Olive Focaccia

One of my favorite hobbies is cooking.  Cooking is my destresser.  After a long day at work, I look forward to coming home to my little kitchen and creating a home-cooked meal.  (An added bonus is my sous chef, Kieran, who helps me with the prep and dishes. ^_^)

I decided to try out my new KitchenAid mixer by making bread from scratch.  Not just any bread, but focaccia.  This was a tall order since this is my second attempt --- the first one did not rise and was as hard as a rock. 

The recipe was from my cooking class at San Francisco City College.  But being a rebellious cook, I made a few changes to the original recipe. 

1. Garlic-rosemary oil:
    - 6 cloves of garlic, minced
    - 1 rosemary sprig
    - 2 tsp of dried chili pepper
    - 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
    - In a small sauce pan, combine the ingredients and cook under medium-low heat till the garlic is golden.   Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  (You can prepare this a day in advance.)

2. Bread dough:
- Dissolve 1 package of dry active yeast in 2 cups of warm water for approx. 10 minutes
- Add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tsp of salt and the yeast solution into the mixer bowl
- Using the kneading hook, mix the ingredient on low setting
- Gradually add an additional 3 cups of flour to the mixture (1 cup at a time)
- Mix the dough till everything is combined (about 3-5 minutes)
- Remove the dough from the mixer and knead it for another 2 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl.  Smear 2 tablespoon of the garlic oil around the dough
- Place the bowl in a warm water bath (e.g., a pan with warm water).  Cover the bowl with saran wrap and a warm moist towel for 1 hr. till the dough doubles in size.

3. Toppings:
    - 3 sliced Roma tomatoes: In a small bowl, combine the sliced tomatoes with 2 tsp of dried basil, 1 tsp of coarse salt, 1 tsp of dried peppers.  Let the mixed ingredient sit for about 5 minutes, then drain it with some paper towels
    - Sliced olives
    - Chopped rosemary
    - Coarse sea salt

4. Assembling the bread:

    - Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
    - Once the dough has double in size, punch the dough with your fist. 
    - Generously cover the pan (9 in x 13 in) with the garlic oil
    - Using your fingers, spread the dough to the shape of the pan.
    - Sprinkle the chopped rosemary on of the bread dough
    - Lay the sliced tomatoes and olives and gently press them into the dough
    - Sprinkle some dried pepper flakes and sea salt
    - Drizzle some more garlic oil on top

5. Baking:
  - Bake the bread at 450 for 30 minutes till the bread is golden brown
  - Cool the bread on a cooling rack.  Slice the bread and use the remaining garlic oil as a dipping sauce.

The bread came out nicely this time around!  Inside was moist; golden crust was infused with the garlic-rosemary flavor; and the top had a nice texture of roasted tomatoes, olives, and crispy sea salt. 

Some things I'd like to change on the next batch of focaccia are:
    - Divide the dough in half; the pan that I used was a little small which gave it more bread to topping ratio
    - Incorporate some roasted garlic, rosemary, and olives in the dough in addition to the toppings
    - Make more garlic-rosemary oil.  It's really yummy as a general dipping sauce

I hope you try making bread at home.  Let me know if you're trying this recipe.  I'd love to know what you think!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

At the Oakland A's game with The CMO Club

I recently hosted one of The CMO Club's local events at the Oakland A's home game --- it was the A's vs. the Red Sox.  We had a private suite overlooking center field!  With the game about to start at 7:00 pm, we squeezed in about 30 minutes to discuss marketing with our speaker, Jim Leahey, VP of Marketing for the A's.  

Side note: I'm the San Francisco chapter lead for The CMO Club, a professional networking organization for chief marketing executives.  We host local dinner discussions every few months, where marketing executives could share marketing/organizational challenges, ideas, and successes.  

Even though I'm not an avid sport-goer, especially baseball, I could see the big contrast between the Coliseum versus the SF Giant's AT&T stadium across the bay in San Francisco.  Oakland stadium center is a mega-sport venue consisting of 3 different venues (Oracle stadium, home of the Warriors and the Coliseum, which serves both the Raiders and the A's).  Besides from being right next to the BART station, this place has no attractive quality for fans.  The industrial setting with no restaurants close by offers no recreational/social outings.  In contrast, AT&T baseball stadium is next to the bay and overlook the Bay Bridge and East Bay cityscape.  Furthermore, King St./Embarcadero  in SF has developed into a family -friendly area with many restaurants, parks, and public transportation. 

No wonder, Jim Leahey is eager to move to the new stadium in San Jose.   However, before the A's could pack up, Leahey faces many challenges as the head of marketing:  
  1. Continual delays of the new stadium in San Jose
  2. A young team with record low on wins 
  3. A drop in sponsorship and revenues
  4. Another 3-4 years at the old, out-dated stadium in Oakland (here's the recent news about the delay) 
With the postponement of the new stadium, now scheduled to be completed in 2014 instead of 2011, Jim Leahey had to shift his focus towards building a team brand.  The Green Campaign showcases up-and-coming young stars, community activities at the Coliseum, and the strong A’s tradition and history.  Even though season ticket holders and sponsorship bring in a lot of revenue, almost 50% of the revenue come from individual ticket sales, so the A's still maintain their discount game nights and offer free parking for Tuesday games.  In addition, they're collaborating with sponsors to promote community activities and cost-effective promotions (e.g., Chevy's Drive & Ride event outside the stadium).  

However, many CMO's question his strategy as biding time till the new stadium arrives.  For instance, the A's have not leveraged their fan-base through social media.  They've allowed the MLB to manage their brand on Facebook, and hardly utilize Twitter and other social media partners to engage with the public and fans.  Secondly, they've invested little in building a strong team to increase their performance and playoff chances; reaching the playoffs could generate a 90% increase in future revenues from ticket sales.  Lastly, there’s been no effort to renovate the current venue where they will be at for at least 3-4 more years.  Leahey seems to think that it would be a wasted investment since the place will be obsolete soon.  However, with minor renovation, you could bring in more sales for that duration.  
New stadium in San Jose

The new stadium promises exciting returns from corporate sponsorships, new fan demographics, and a larger population (approximately 1 million residents in San Jose).  However, the culture and demographics in the San Jose South Bay stand in sharp contrast to the Oakland East Bay.  Only time will tell if this is a good move for the A's corporation, brand, and performance.... 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Novice Web Designer

One of my new found hobbies is web design!  It's a great way for me to learn programming and express my creativity.  Who knew that picking the right color blue could take hours!??

There two great resources that I use to help me through the process --- well three great resources, if you include my fiance, Kieran, who's a programmer. =)
  1. provides free tutorials of different programing languages, including, HTML, CSS, XML, Javascript, etc. 
  2. OSWD ( is an open source web design forum that enables you to download free web design templates that were submitted by web designers.  Although there are other website builders to use, OSWD, gives you full reign to change the entire template to best suit your creativity.  With other web templates, you are confined to their preset sections and options.  Since I wanted to apply my programming skills, I prefer using a template from OSWD as a basic foundation for me to customize my own website.  

My first website was for my friend, Pahoua, who was starting her own law practice. 

Working with Pahoua, I created the design and content that emphasized her skill set and community involvement.  I also created an account with Google Analytics ( to monitor traffic to her website.  Furthermore, my fiance and I put together a lead generation database for her to capture any prospects who submitted  an message on her contact page.  We hosted the site on A Small Orange ( for $25 a year (4.5GB bandwidth).  The entire process costed about $50!  Not only was this a DEAL, but it was also a great learning experience for the three of us.  By the end of the process, the web design didn't look anything like the original template!  So check out my first website creation,, and tell me what you think. 

I'm almost done with another website and will be posting it on my blog soon.  Here's a sneak peak of the site!

My next step is to create my own website from scratch, and hopefully it's good enough to be shared in OSWD.  =)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Boycott M. Night Shyamalan's false version of Avatar: The Last Airbender!!

You're never too old to watch cartoons or read children novels.  The Harry Potter and Avatar: The Last Airbender series have become worldwide sensations, each with a large adult following.

Well, it might be presumptuous of me to rank The Last Airbender with the popularity of Harry Potter.  However, this kiddie cartoon also created a fantasy world complete with a rich culture, mythical creatures, and crazy adventures.  Originally aired on Nickelodeon, the 3-part series follows an young monk, Aang, and his buddies as they travel to different nations, each with a unique culture and martial art ability that originated from the 4 elements (air, fire, earth, and water). 

What makes this story so fascinating is that it introduces East Asian (primarily Chinese and Japanese) philosophy, culture, and theology to American children.  The main characters are:  Aang, a Buddhist monk;  Katara and Sokka, who are from an Inuit tribe; Fong, a Han Chinese girl, and Zuko, a Japanese warrior.

The different geographical locations resemble scenes from ancient China and Japan, Buddhist temples, and the North occupied by Inuit tribes.  These correspond to the Earth, Fire, Air and Water nations, respectively.  The people of each nation have a unique fighting style that is analogous to the element's characteristics:
    - Water nation (Inuit tribes) use "waterbending" which is Tai Chi
    - Earth nation (the Chinese empire) uses "earthbending" which is Hung Gar
    - Fire nation (the Japanese empire) uses "firebending" which is Kung Fu
    - Air nation (the Buddhist monks) uses "airbending" which is Ba Gua

My pathetic description of the show doesn't do it justice.  To better understand the background and character development, refer to the wikipedia entry.  Or better yet, WATCH THE SHOW!!!

Although Avatar is a children's cartoon, it has a rich and intricate story.  As an Asian American, I grew up watching Chinese movies and learning Eastern philosophy; it was so refreshing to see this being recognized in mainstream America, particularly among children!

But back to my plea for you to boycott M. Night Shyamalan's version of this beloved show.... Instead of leveraging the popularity of the show to broaden the awareness of  Asian culture and diversity, he chose to kowtow to Hollywood's money-driven, distorted view of "diversity."  He cast white actors to play the main characters!  Not even Hapas; they're not good enough either! 

Ok, I'm not going to play the "racism" card because that's not the real reason why I'm so disappointed in Shyamalan.  In his defense--although a really bullshit reponse--he said that he DID cast a lot of Asian actors (as secondary or background actors) and plans to have the Earth nation be in Africa with African American actors.  The latter comment really enrages me!  That just shows you how little understanding of the story his guy really has!  It's not that easy to substitute locations and people because they mean something to the story.  Africa can't substitute for China: in an important scene, Iroh (Zuko's uncle) tries to teach Zuko about life and patience through the act of tea drinking.  Imagine opening a tea shop in Africa ...  WTF!!   This "tea drinking" is a familiar Chinese ritual, and appears in many old-school martial art movies.  Since Shyamalan cast Indian actors in these two roles, this very familiar East Asian philosophy practice loses its context.  There are many other incongruous scenes, and each just distorts the essence of the original children storyline even more.

"The original series Avatar: The Last Airbender was highly regarded and popular for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Its fans take it for granted that its heroes are Asian. Why would Paramount and Shyamalan go out of their way to offend these fans? There are many young Asian actors capable of playing the parts." --- Roger Ebert.

Marketing 101: Do not lose track of your product and customers, especially your loyal customers.  Not only do you lose followers, but the losses can snowball via negative word of mouth.  Case in point, ME.

I'm very frustrated, disappointed and sad that they've turned a great learning experience into CGI porn (action without brains).  Instead of watching this filth, check out the cartoon series!  If you are going to see it, buy tickets for another movie and then sneak in.  That way, you're not contributing to their revenue.   =P