Yaddo Artist Residency

November 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Saratoga Springs. Woods. Snow. Books. Wine. Lots of wine.

 

Bliss

October 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

Camping. Cooking. Writing. Mick. Visra’s farmhouse in La Honda, San Francisco. Building a yurt. Heaven. Lamas.

Scallion Crazy

September 18, 2010 § 5 Comments

Nadiah came over for dinner today for the first time in my new crib. She is one of my fellow filmmaker friends. Check out her work @ http://www.wayangworks.com

The tradition is that I cook dinner and Nadiah brings desert. For today we ended up with a mix bag of Asian foods and a lesson – A little bit of scallion goes a long way!

Chinese chicken and corn soup with scallion:

Quinoa with black eye peas, bamboo shoots, scallions, peppers and shallots. Not exactly Asian, except maybe the bamboo part:

Cold tofu with sesame oil, scallion, ginger and soy sauce.

Cold soba with sesame seeds, scallion and soy sauce.

Scallion scallion scallion!

And Nadiah made a coconut puddle with sweet mango!

A yummy dinner! And more leftovers to munch on before leaving for camping @ San Fransisco!

Greenpoint Home Bliss

September 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

Yesterday Cablevision finally came and fixed up our new double boosted wireless internet, super fast :). immediately last night was the latest night I’ve been to bed for the last week.

Yesterday Moonchi, at age 5 month, got spayed! Shawn took her to Greenpoint Veterinary Hospital at 10am and I didn’t pick her up until 6pm. She was very hungry and purred with a very weird sound, like a hookah… lol

Queen Moonchi I, queen of windowsills and professional terror of basil plants. 🙂

Happy finds @ farmer’s market @ McCarren Park:

In the pass week, I barely left my apartment and tried to catch up with writing deadlines. I kinda liked hibernating at home once a while. It makes me start to notice and appreciate little things more.

Made English as usual:

Thank whoever above us for fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes:

Made rather healthy fried rice with fresh corn, spinach, tomato, eggs, shallots, basil and dried shrimp:

And made cream pasta with fresh salmon, orange bell pepper, asparagus, black pepper and lemon zest.:D:

Also bought Moonchi some Greenies treats and this Holistic Cat Treats that has Tilapia, Clams, Shrimp! Moonchi is a happy kitten!

I’m leaving to my friend Visra’s farm in San Fransisco on Monday! Going to be writing, hanging, camping with some classmate and my professor Mick! Looking forward to it!

Moved In – Hello Greenpoint!

September 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

I just moved into my new apartment in Greenpoint! I absolutely LOVE this place and feel very blessed. We took Moonchi to the Greenpoint farmer’s market at McCarren park earlier today and she was a big hit, winning hearts of many young girls 🙂

I’m still in the process of decorating. I used to be very inpatient when it comes to building a new home. But this time I’ve decided to take my time and really find the right items for this space before purchasing everything from Ikea.

The kitchen, however, is high on the decorating list:

Day #2:

Day #11:

Got myself a new Le Creuset stock pot as a new home treat:

Shawn brought me lilies at night:

Moonchi enjoying the empty living room:

Unlike the previous crazy moves I was unfortunate enough to experience in New York since 2004, this move was surprisingly Zen. Shawn and I decluttered earlier in the spring that made packing easier. Declutter is better than an hour spent with your therapist in my opinion. We dragged bags of clothes that reminded me ups and downs of my early twenties all the way to Salvation Army, hoping they would do some good. I finally filled boxes of old documents that in a way recorded my search for maturity. Filing is surprisingly empowering.

Since I won’t have internet until the 15th, I’m blessed with more time to read and watch movies.

I started reading “Disgrace around 10am, and for few attempts I tried to put it down to eat, watch movies, shopping for a new soy candle and hand soap, cook. I succeeded in doing all that. Then at 3:30am, I’m still up reading the book. I have to say since “The Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao“, I haven’t read a book so engaging for the past 5 years. It’s truly a masterpiece. Chilling. Makes me feel sick at thought of putting it down.

I also watched Antonioni’s “L’Avventura” again.

This time with an audio commentary from film historian Gene Youngblood. It was like being in a master directing class. Antonioni, how I wish I was smart enough to learn more from you three years ago!

Searching for Renminbi In Dumplings

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

For the last dinner at my Bushwick apartment, I made Chinese dumplings with my American boyfriend and my Ghanaian roommate, the old-school Beijing style. We were amateurs. Clumsy hands, awkward chopsticks and embarrassingly shaped little lumps of dumplings that barely survived the boiling water. We laughed at our effort and I couldn’t help to remember how it all started.

I grew up in one of those concrete residential buildings the government mass-produced that scarcely exist anymore in today’s cosmopolitan Beijing. In my fuzzy memory, these buildings were many shades of grey – grey windows, grey balconies, grey stairs and grey doors with the occasional bright red “Five Good Family” certificates posted on them. The first time I learned how to make dumplings was in my grandmother’s grey kitchen, during the Spring Festival in 1990. I was eight years old, and there was nothing more exciting than this annual gathering.

The preparation usually started days before. My grandmother, a vividly animated woman who proudly gave sermons about when China still had an emperor and cursed out Chairman Mao openly, while preparing some of the main dishes – beef stew with potato, steamed fish, braised lamb, Buddha’s delight, etc. All my aunts and uncles prepared the soups, numerous cold dishes and desserts. My parents, as usual, brought gifts from America and Europe instead. My father had traveled all over the world before I learned how to walk, and my mother had so many friends that she was never a “dutiful” daughter-in-law.  They were the odd-balls of the family. They were considered too “western”, never cooked anything at home or taught their daughter how to cook.

It was the year of the Horse. My cousin and I made menus, and drew little horses on them. We set the plates, made little nametags for each family member to assign their seats. We decorated the room with festive items. And we acted as waiters with as much pride as the Grenadier Guards who served the Queen.

On the day of the festival, everyone, even my parents, got together and made dumplings. We put a few Renminbi (Chinese currency) coins in some of the dumplings. Whoever got them would have good luck for the coming year. I remember treating the dumpling-learning process as the most important art project of my life. Carefully measuring the perfect amount of fillings, gently placing it on the dumpling skin, cautiously dipping my fingers in water so they wouldn’t get too wet, and finally, with so much effort, shaping it into a dumpling. I was so nervous I went through the whole process of sculpting each dumpling without breathing. After finally letting some oxygen into my lungs, I stared at the monstrous looking thing on my palm and wondered; maybe I could just smash it onto the wall to see if it would stick, or bounce back and attack me. I peeked over at my cousin’s perfectly shaped dumpling, and blamed my parents for my inability to be “traditional”.

I had always believed that it was because I wasn’t “traditional” enough, that year and all the years after that and before I packed my bags and moved to England, I never got a Renminbi coin in my dumplings. Sometimes I stuffed myself to the edge of insanity so I could get a coin – no luck. Everyone else got them, at least once. They always made a gasping sound when their teeth hit the hardness of the coin. And everyone else cheered and applauded. I never knew how that felt, and I blamed my parents for that, too.

Exactly twenty years had passed since that morsel of memory. While now, I’m capable of cooking a full meal in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen, my family, who no longer lives in those grey buildings, also no longer gathers to make dumplings together at Spring Festival. They are all busy working, decorating new condos, vacationing in Australia and attending parties. I heard they all tried to take my grandmother out to fancy restaurants that specialize Spring Festival dinners for the past year. And because everyone couldn’t get together all at once, she ended up having to eat four times. She told me that the restaurants had dumplings too. And if you requested, they would put Renminbi coins in the dumplings. I thought if I ever find myself in Beijing in February, I’d tag along my grandmother and try my luck again.

Happy Weekend Cooking

August 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

I made black eye pea salad with quinoa yesterday! Inspired by Jess’s recipe. This was the first time I cooked quinoa. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was.

EVOO, chopped basil, parsley, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vingar, salt and pepper. WHISK.

I got organic black eye peas from a can. Make sure you soak it in water to get rid of the bitter taste. Cooked me some quinoa.

Add the rest of my favorite vegetables, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, peppers.

I like spicing things up with those little Japanese chillies. Chop them up and put them into just about anything.

I add sesame seeds to a lot of my dishes. In Chinese medicine, sesame is a good kidney and liver tonic, a great blood builder! Besides it’s super yummy.

And mix it up! I made enough to eat as salad along my other dishes the whole weekend!

**

Other than English breakfast, I made steamed eggs! One of my favorite eats my mom made back home. Whisk one part of egg and two parts of water together. Steam for 5-10 minute. Dash some dark soy sauce and sesame oil and sprinkle chopped scallion. It’s light, healthy and fluffy, a great treat for a lazy morning. Also great when you’re sick and don’t feel like eating solid food.

**

More black eye pea salad and lemon cream pasta. Whisk fresh lemon zest and juice with heavy cream and EVOO with some salt and pepper. Pour over cooked pasta and steamed broccoli. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Easy dinner served!

**

Time for some meat! I made lamb chops with balsamic reduction. Chop up some shallot and garlic and let them cook in balsamic vinegar until it reduces to 1/3. Enjoy the blissful smell!

Season lamb chops with salt, pepper, mixed spices and some paprika. Pan-sear.

Corn and summer squash. Lightly sautéed.

Yum!

**

We are ready to move in two days! Packing is always fun. Declutter makes me happy. Moonchi also had a great time terrorising suitcases and cardboard boxes.

I also had Japanese food, fish katsu bento box and also pulled pork arepa! Great weekend for my tasty bud.

Ten Commandments For Dog Owners

August 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

1. My life is likely to last 10 – 15 years. Any separation from you will be very painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want from me. Do not break my spirit with your temper, though I will always forgive you. Your patience and understanding will teach me more quickly those things you want me to learn.

3. Have me spayed or neutered.

4. Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for your kindness than mine. Don’t be angry with me for long, and don’t lock me up as punishment. After all, you have your job, your friends, your entertainment. I have only you.

5. Speak to me often. Even if I don’t understand all your words, I understand your voice when it’s speaking to me. Your voice is the sweetest sound I ever heard, as you must know by my enthusiatic excitment when your footsteps fall upon my waiting ear.

6. Please take me inside when it’s cold and wet. I’m a domestic animal and am no longer accustomed to the bitter elements. Keep my bowl filled with clean water; I cannot tell you when I’m thirty. Feed me good food so that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to be by your side and stand ready, willing and able to share with you my life, for that is what I live for. However you treat me, I’ll never forget it.

7. Don’t hit me. Remember, I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hand, but I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me, for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food. I’ve been out in the sun too long, or my heart may be getting old and weak.

9. Take care of me when I get old. You will grow old too.

10. When I am very old, when I no longer enjoy good health, please do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I’m not having fun. Just see to it that my trusting life is taken gently. And be with me on that difficult journey when it’s time to say goodbye. Never say: “I can’t bear to watch.” Everything is easier for me when you are there. I will leave this earth knowing with my last breath that my fate was always safest in your hands. I love you.

I don’t even remember where I got this list, but I had it for four years now. I read it once a while to remind myself how lucky I’m to have my dog Taytay as my companion. He lives for me, and sometimes I forget that and take him for granted. So I’d like to share this list with all the dog owners out there. We’re very lucky.

English Sundays

August 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

In my New York City home there is a sunday tradition – English breakfast.

I spent most of my teen life in Brighton, England, a beautiful seaside town where the pace of life was slow and it was nice to walk in the rain. I would have been an angry girl if I ended up in New York City back then, but being in Brighton made my teenage a mellow experience – listening to Suede and smoking on the grey stone beach between classes – my high school was ON the beach.

The whole four years were a blur, a very careless and content blur. And to celebrate that blur, I always made myself English breakfast on Sundays.

My English breakfast, or “fry up” as we call it since everything is cooked in one frying pan, usually includes:

Grilled tomato
Honey-Maple baked beans
Toast with Marmite* (Yes, I LOVE
MARMITE)
Eggs
Hash browns (I substitute with home fries at times)
Sausage/ham/bacon

Everything needs to be cooked in one pan, that’s the fun part.

I fried potato with a garlic/parsley/EVOO blend and some paprika. Salt and pepper.

Then I just put everything I can find in my fridge this morning into the pan. Honey-maple flavored baked beans, tomatoes and breakfast sausages. Not very original or authentic. A bad karma for missing my farmer’s market yesterday.:(

The lack of ingredients didn’t matter. It still made my Sunday morning. That girl who hurried into her school uniform and ran down the century-year old stone stairs so she wouldn’t miss her breakfast before chapel started is sitting right now in my Brooklyn apartment and enjoying the bliss.:)

Moonchipic

August 25, 2010 § Leave a comment