hungry

Stir fried udon noodles
Broccoli, fried tofu, shrimp fish balls, udon noodles and bok choy

I made this when I craved udon noodles, but wasn’t feeling the soup broth kind. I figured, how much more work is it to stir fry? It wasn’t really at all. It was one of the tastiest things I made. I am sometimes taken aback how much effort a dish takes and the return is not even close satiating my taste buds. This, however, was certainly worth the effort.

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burger heaven

Just before heading back into the kitchen, I smelled the delectable scent of the sesame seed, soy sauce, garlic, green onion turkey burgers just about ready on the stove. Popped some sesame hamburger buns in the oven for a quick warm up. I like bread when it’s a little crispy on the edges and soft in the center. After a few minutes, the warm bread aroma took center stage. Lovely.

He asked if I wanted mayonnaise, I said no. Ketchup? Nope. The lettuce and tomato suggestions were a negative as well. Without anything added at all, it was amazingly delicious. Like, really good. I had a moment after eating if I should take a photograph, but decided not to. It doesn’t look any different than any other burger really and it seemed better to describe it anyway. This is a moment when a photograph doesn’t say a thousand words. But my taste buds do.

donut reflections

donut reflections

I was making some art on MS Paint and realized, hey, I had a few thoughts. It’s written in the image above, but in case you can’t read it, here’s what I wrote:

everything has become a performance. things aren’t legitimate until there’s a brand name or a label or a degree. it feels staged. like i’m afraid to start anything because of the fear of not knowing what is validated or not. but why even care? i want to write. i want to create things. i want to bake cookies and i want to change the world for the better. i can do those things. you can do those things. we don’t need to be held back by some kind of standard we are trying to uphold or a title we need to define. i am human. you are human. can we just be humans again?

Food product review: Mong Lee Shang Coconut Milk Drink

This post is not sponsored in any way.

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For dietary reasons, my mom wanted to drink more coconut milk for her health. She came upon this at an Asian grocery store we often go to. I hadn’t tried it until earlier this year and now I wonder why I waited so long.

It’s delicious! It’s sweet and obviously coconut-y, but not overbearingly so with either taste. It is wonderful chilled and shaken. For me, it’s like a dessert in itself. The can has two sides and I happen to have taken this photograph of the side with the Chinese characters for the brand name. I just double-checked and it is in fact Mong Lee Shang. I’m not too familiar with the brand (or that I’m aware of), but I would recommend this for sure.

some home cookin’ X

Ah! It’s crazy I haven’t posted a home cookin’ post since December 2017. I’m super behind and haven’t been taking as many photographs. I’ve recently gotten back into the game though, so hopefully you can see the new dishes I’ve cooked by 2021…haha. There have been so many times in my life in which I’ve turned to cooking and baking as a way to get creative, but also to relax. I have some new dishes I tried this year, so I’m excited to show you all. Hope you enjoy!

This Vietnamese pancake is called bánh xèo. My version was pretty simple. Perhaps I’ll try this one again, but with more filling. I used shrimp, red peppers and green onions this time. I actually have enough photographs to make a DIY on this, so that may be a future post!

banh xeo

banh xeo 1

This is just a simple BLT–bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I think the bread slices are from a larger Italian loaf and the cheese is Colby.

BLT

This was a dish of leftovers of sorts. On the plate: roasted chicken, sauteed bok choy and skillet potatoes. I love potatoes so much!

bok choy potatoes roasted chicken

Just a simple spaghetti with meat sauce. This spaghetti is whole grain and the meat is ground beef. It was super easy and delicious. I was too lazy to make meatballs from scratch, so this was an easy alternative.

spaghetti and meat sauce

This is fried rice. I make this often, so I’m not sure if this is with kimchi, but looking at the color, I think it is. I had mixed in whatever I had in the fridge which were eggs, corn, pees, carrots and kimchi. The spicy kimchi definitely adds a kick!

fried rice

lemon bars

My oven’s been kind of out of service, but now it’s back. One of my most favorite desserts to make is lemon bars. They are so very delicious and cute and all around a fun sweet treat after a good helping of some home cookin’. A long time ago, I thought it was a good idea to post up food I’ve made in steps and even had a separate blog about it. It’s now since been deleted, but times like these, I sure wish I had it again. It’s fun looking back on the cool delicious (and not so delicious) recipes I’ve tried. This one is definitely a keeper. Out of all the things you’ve ever made, what’s your absolute favorite and why?

papayas

papaya still life photography

The other day, I planned to go out to the market and before I walked out the door, my friend asked me if I could get her some papayas. I affirmatively nodded as I slowly passed her by. She believes in the power of nutrition and diet. She also believes in spiritual karma and negative spirits. We agree to disagree on some values, but ultimately, we both just want to live easy. At least we think we do. We say we do.

I don’t eat papayas.

I realize that I am surrounded with contradictions. Maybe that’s nothing to make note of. Who isn’t? I like to think I try to cater to the needs of others while still trying to cater to mine; especially since they can be opposite. It’s a balancing act that I don’t usually win at, but I am getting better. I should be. I’ve been intentionally practicing the act of balance and care.

I didn’t know where I wanted to go with this post, but realized I wanted to share the message that accepting the differences of others makes us more whole. We aren’t well-rounded unless we are able to take in some form of the unknown and bridging towards another person. It’s how we change. It’s how we grow. It’s how we move on.

I don’t eat papayas, but I’ll certainly get one for you if you want one.

bún thịt nướng, fresh rolls and value through food

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I have so many photographs of food I eat. Although I did not make the food here, there’s something about keeping it as a memory for me that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. The more I cook now, I am realizing how time and care truly makes a meal taste good. There has been failures, though, in which I’d spend hours on something and it’d be such a poor reward in taste, flavor or it being too expensive. But I’ve found that the ones I take time on making or make from scratch, I get this appreciation for how the world works.

Take for example this Vietnamese dish above. It’s called bún thịt nướng (cold rice vermicelli noodles with pork and fresh herbs) and with egg rolls (chả giò). I love this dish. How much time, ingredients, and years of passing down this recipe did it take to make this deliciousness that is shared to everyone? And it’s not exclusive to just this one meal, but all the meals you’ve ever eaten at your mom’s house or friend’s house? The ones you made late at night during college in your first apartment? Or the meals you make for your children and you see how happy they are?

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These are fresh rolls. Knowing my mom had made me some growing up, I decided to make some using hers as an example. My mom puts a lot of value on food. To her, it symbolizes family, love and care. When I compliment her on her food, I know it makes her feel happy and vice versa. I know when she compliments mine, it means a whole lot to me. I used to see cooking as this huge, scary obstacle. I knew how to make basic things, but I was intimidated in making anything complex. Now? It’s just a matter of taking it step by step. In case you’re interested, I have a DIY tutorial for these rolls here that I wrote on this blog three years ago. I hope you have a yummy food day.

Food review – shave snow at Powder, San Francisco, CA

I had my first taste of shave ice in Taiwan. The summer treat was surely unique to me as I’ve never had anything like it—red beans, tropical fruits and cream topped over literal shave ice was one of the tastiest and interesting desserts I’ve ever eaten. Fast forward to my trip to Oahu after trying their mango shave ice (which is fairly different from the Taiwan version), I fell in love.

Shave ice - Oahu Hawaii
Mango shave ice in Oahu Hawaii

It was a bit sad for me at the end of that trip because I knew that no matter how many cravings I’d have in the future, I couldn’t just order this at a nearby restaurant (or fly to Hawaii however much I would like to).

So you can imagine how happy I was to find Powder, “think ice cream meets shave ice,” they say. Founders Mimi and David were inspired by the Taiwanese treat and decided to open up their own place. This cute parlor sells interesting flavors that include horchata, cereal snow, black sesame and Vietnamese coffee (and not to mention strawberry and mango).

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I loved the sweet creamy taste and texture of the snow. It’s a fun dessert to eat because you can try different flavor combinations with various toppings. It’s very similar to frozen dessert places, but it’s much lighter in texture than fro-yo and ice-cream. Seeing how it’s made was cool and if I remember correctly, they are also pretty eco-friendly, so that makes this treehugger pretty happy.

Their instagram page is pretty sweet with all the yummy photographs of the shave snow combinations. I’m a fan of shave ice and happy to show some love to a cool foodie place I discovered. They also made me feel nostalgic with their Taiwan connection. I wish there were more places out there that sells shave ice and the like (maybe they exist and I just don’t know they do?) Maybe someday.

Food review – dan tat (egg tart) at Golden Gate Bakery

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I waited in line for this flaky (does anyone else think this word looks funny? I had to Google it to make sure I spelled it correctly) crust, sweet soft custard filling for over 20 minutes I think. I told him, “This better be worth it.” He gave me this half smile and his left eye pointed sideways in doubt, “Yeah, I hope so.” As we approached the front, there were a man and a woman in front of me. Until they got their order, I didn’t realize they had ordered five boxes of these babies….each. They weren’t together as I had originally thought. I got a little worried that all this waiting in line business would be for nothing. What if they bought out the whole store before all of us (which now had about ten more people behind me) could even get our share of the day? (I am fortunate that this was my only care and worry that morning. It’s funny how much importance is put on something when our time is on the line.)

A man from the back kitchen came rushing in with two full crates of dan tats (egg tarts) with their sweet smell wafting in and out of the bakery. I was relieved to see them and my hope restored itself.

The woman at counter asked me how many I wanted. I got one, two or maybe four. But that was it. I felt silly for waiting so long and not ordering five boxes. Her face crinkled as if saying to me “Hmm, only four huh?” We tried to find a place to sit; as if we both knew this would be magical and only wanted a place that reflected the moment. When we found our spot, we placed them on the table. They were still warm, very warm. The ladies at the bakery were very adamant that they not be covered and the bag stay opened. They needed the air to make it even more delicious was what I assumed was the purpose.

So I did what everyone else does nowadays and took the perfect photograph of it before taking the long-awaited first bite.

And…

“Was it worth it?” You ask. Was it tasty? You wonder. But you know the answers already.

It was totally worth it. It was the perfect crust and the filling was so yummy. I can’t even fully describe why it was so good (but maybe this writer can) I remember thinking that it was the best one I’ve ever had. Texture of this pastry is super important and I think the experts at the bakery definitely got their method down. The filling was silky yet it was not a pudding consistency. It had the perfect crust/filling ratio. I wanted more and more. Hence, the man and woman ordering five boxes at a time.

I’ll always cherish my first dan tat at Golden Gate Bakery in SF. It was as magical as I imagined. I wish everyone could try it at least once and know that this world is not all bad when there is a place like this that exists. Yeah, there’s a cult following. Is there another bakery you know that has a website AND FB page created to tell fans when it’s open that day or not?

I felt inspired to write this after having gone through my photographs and reminisced on the good food in my life. I have been cooking a bunch lately and I feel soooo happy to get back into it. My tummy is super appreciative of it, too. Hopefully I can post a some home cookin’ food post as it has been a while.

some home cookin’ IX

I’ve been a little sick, so I haven’t made really good dishes lately, but seeing these photographs makes me smile. It’s nice to look through this cooking “diary.” For this post, there were two dishes I never made before and the others are ones that I’ve made some variation of. And for one, I store-bought the dough, so it felt a little like cheating, but it did involve baking and preparation nonetheless. When I was typing out the title, I had to Google the Roman numerals chart. Who knew I’d post this much on home cookin’? I didn’t.

THESE ARE SO EASY.. except for the cutting the potato part. They were tough for sure, but when it’s all done and you’re dipping fries in ketchup.. you’ll be SO HAPPY you did it! It’s really simple and the sweet potatoes are flavorful on their own. It definitely made me rethink ordering these in restaurants, since they’re so easy and cheaper to make at home. I don’t remember the exact seasoning we used, but it consisted of paprika, salt, pepper and probably garlic powder.
Here they are uncooked. They weren’t uniform in shape, but as long as you have them somewhat similar, they should all cook through okay. This was my first time making this!
This was so delicious! Brown rice bowl with egg and tomato stir-fry and cooked spinach. It’s simple, easy and vegetarian!
I was inspired by Cindy’s recipe on her blog Cookies & Chemistry.

This egg and tomato stir-fry recipe can be found on Cindy’s blog Cookies & Chemistry.

Tomato, mozzarella cheese, lettuce toast with basil pesto. MMM!! Refreshing. Can’t go wrong with tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil combo.

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Shrimp mashed potato balls. I had to use up a lot of frozen shrimp before their expiration date and decided to create something different. I’ve never made this before. It was really tasty, but there’s a lot of prep that goes with this. I made the mashed potato from scratch and getting frozen shrimp ready takes a bit of effort since it needed to defrost. This is the kind of food that was hard to just eat one of. Leftovers were glorious! I can’t remember what sauce we used to eat with it. It might’ve even been something simple like ketchup or barbecue sauce.

Lemon cream cheese crescent dessert. Bought a Pillsbury’s dough sheet to make this. We had leftover cream cheese from a work gathering and lemons in the fridge to use… we liked these very much!

spaghetti & meatballs digital art

Cooking used to be so intimidating for me. Early on, my mom would ask for my help in the kitchen with simple tasks like cracking eggs in a bowl and making scrambled eggs. I remember one of the first times I did it and pieces of eggshell fell in. She didn’t look bothered at all. “No big deal,” her attitude said to me, as she picked the pieces out. She would ask me to saute some veggies as she would chop more for our dinners a lot of the nights. I really value this time in the kitchen with her. We would have conversations about all sorts of things. She used to tell me how important it is to be able to cook for myself. And she’s right.

spaghetti and meatballsText in the image is: it just takes one dish…one of the first things I ever cooked successfully (on my own) was spaghetti and meatballs. the sauce was my favorite. now, I love cooking.

some home cookin’ VIII

I finally remembered to take some photographs of some dishes I made with yellow squash. There’s no dessert-making nowadays due to the change in weather. I’ve been inspired to cook more of what I’ve been craving—Asian dishes. I tweaked them a bit and luckily there were still good. I also made a dish that was a combination of all my leftovers I had to use up and eggs that were soon expiring. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the greatest creation. It was like quiche, but without the delicious crust! Either way, I’m glad to have tried it out at least once. Photos are below, have fun :) (By the way, the photographs aren’t the best quality, but I hope to take better ones for the next one.)

Chicken salad with Greek yogurt from the cooking website, Damn Delicious. The sweet grapes matches really well with the savory chicken and tangy Greek yogurt.

Tried to make a nice egg bake that involved leftovers and fresh veggies (orange and yellow peppers, yellow squash, cooked ham, & mushrooms). I also had to use up eggs from the fridge. It was okay. I would prefer to have had a crust with it. The texture and taste seemed like it was missing something. At least food waste was prevented :)

Korean gaji-namul (eggplant side dish) with green onions, hard boiled egg and brown rice. I have never tasted this from a restaurant, so I’m not sure if I made this right, but I really liked it. The eggplant pieces were steamed, which was a healthier way of cooking. I used a recipe from Korean chef Maangchi on YouTube. She has such a lovely personality and makes cooking seem fun :)
Chicken, bok choy and brown rice. I can’t seem to remember the sauce, but I think it was with soy sauce and hoisin sauce. It was very soft and flavorful. I was on a rice bowl kick!
Korean turkey bowl (the recipe originally used ground beef, but I used ground turkey) and I added yellow squash. SO GOOD! It’s really easy to make, too, which is always a good thing.