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When Life Hands You Lemons…: On Cooking Failures and Asking for Help

lemons

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. This adage took on its literal meaning when I brought home a bunch of lemons to make citrus cookies, failed in my attempt, and then resorted to making lemonade. The cookie recipe called for the zest of ten lemons. After all was done, including painstakingly zesting each lemon by hand, the result was a cookie that was simultaneously too sweet and too bitter, and didn’t quite hold together. Ah, well, at least the lemonade turned out!

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May 21, 2015   No Comments

(Half) Marathon Cookies: My treat for me

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I did it, I did it! I completed the Chicago Spring Half Marathon on Sunday. The night before the race, the forecast showed a 50-some percent chance of thunderstorm, but in the end, the weather cooperated. Indeed, it was a beautiful morning to be outdoors.

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May 18, 2015   No Comments

Cucumber + Pickled Red Onion Salad

cuc salad

Search “Asian salads”, and you’ll find plenty. Some of them may call for a ginger or miso dressing, and some of them may be topped off with Mandarin orange slices, or fried noodles. But traditionally, Asians don’t eat salads. I am not exactly sure why. I know that Chinese people tend to believe that a real meal should be served hot.

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May 13, 2015   No Comments

Who’s your Momma?

momma

Mom eyeing the cute cupcakes at my cousin Jun’s wedding

Who is your Momma? How would you describe her? I often hear people describe their mothers in relation to themselves. I do this too: My mom is my protector, my supporter, my inspiration.

It’s natural to understand people and things in relation to ourselves, but maybe this tendency is particularly strong when it comes to the way we look at our moms. They have given us so much so willingly, and though we appreciate it, it is also easy to grow accustomed to seeing our mothers as our givers, and only that.

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May 9, 2015   No Comments

“What’s cookin?”: On quick meals and small talk

Asparagus

In the Chinese language, ‘how are you’ is not used as a greeting. Instead, it is commonplace for people to greet one another by asking, “have you eaten?”

I imagine that it can be puzzling for new immigrants and English-language learners to be greeted with a ‘how are you’, and then to watch the greeter quickly shuffle away before having the chance to answer. When I tutored English to Chinese exchange students, I had students asking me, “When Americans say ‘how are you’, do they mean it?”

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May 4, 2015   No Comments

The Worst Diet Ever

bland food

I am on the worst diet ever: the-road-to-recovery-from-stomach-flu diet. So, I am warning you now: what follows may be the least appetizing blog post ever to be published on a food blog. I can own that, after all, there are plenty of mouth-watering food photos and recipes on the internet.

I have been out of commission recently because I caught the stomach flu. And I hope you never ever get it because it is the worst! But in case you or a friend is ever so unlucky, you ought to know what foods to eat, and what to avoid. I happen to be somewhat of an expert in this area, as I was particularly susceptible to stomach sickness as a child.

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April 4, 2015   No Comments

My Saturday Lunch (Thank Goodness for Food Trucks)

donut and pierogi

Pistachio doughnut from Doughnut Vault and mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies from Pierogi Wagon

March 21, 2015   No Comments

Nopales Taco and My First Spring in Chicago

raw nopales

My first attempt at preparing nopales, and I have a needle prick to prove it. Lesson learned: use tongs.

This month marks my half year living in Chicago. Since my move, I have been attempting new things, culinary and beyond–like cactus. Though common in Mexican cuisine, nopal, a species of cactus, was unknown to me until my neighbor Jessica invited me over for dinner, where she served nopales wrapped in warm, soft tortillas. I was pleasantly surprised by nopales’ ability to retain flavor, and its tender yet crunchy texture. It was so satisfying that trying it once was not enough. Luckily, Jessica lives only a few blocks away, and Mexican grocers are abundant in this new city of mine.

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March 19, 2015   No Comments