A Food Guide to My Spring Reading Week

Hello friends. Hope all is swell with you.

Living at home in the past week has been lovely. I can’t describe the feeling I get tasting those familiar notes in my mom’s home cooking again. Of course eating out is great – your taste buds get to experience the world! But mom’s cooking is something entirely different – it’s comforting, it’s natural, it’s the taste of home.

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My mom’s signature 糖醋排骨 (sweet and sour ribs) welcomed me home, along with some of my favourites: 土豆丝 (sauteed matchstick potatoes), 炒青菜 (baby bokchoy), 红烧猪蹄 (braised pork hock).These are all simple dishes. But it’s the one extra teaspoon of light soy sauce, or the 5 minutes less of cooking time, or that extra zing from the chopped ginger, that makes these dishes taste like home.

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Valentine’s Day

I had to set five alarm clocks to get myself to get up before my mom does. As a small Valentine’s Day gift, I prepared a surprise breakfast for my mom – hearty oatmeal with goji berries and and a poached egg hidden deeply into the porridge itself; topped with banana coins, frozen raspberries and some sunflower seeds for extra nutrition value!

*a recipe for this oatmeal, along with some other creative ways to eat oats, will be posted on the blog soon!

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The good feels were reciprocated at dinner. Mom made a table full of noms – baby short ribs, shrimp, cauliflower, just to name a few. We also opened up a bottle of Merlot. Side note: drinking wine with my mom makes me feel like a real adult.

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On Sundays, we make fries. Just kidding. This was actually only my second time making these oven baked potato wedges and if I’m being honest, I think the first time was actually better. But that’s okay! I made some guacamole to compensate for the lack of crispiness of the fries. Yeah that blob of chewed-grass-look-alike, that’s the guacamole … Blame it on the oxygen okay. And the red mess next to it? That’s a ketchup-mayonnaise mixture (fail). But as long as it tastes good right?

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On Monday I had a sushi/dim sum date with my high school friends. We went to this restaurant that just opened last summer called Fusion and it really lives up to its name. It caters a wide array of foods, from the standard California rolls to Cantonese custard buns, General Tso chicken to steamed beef tripe, and so many more. Having had sushi so so so many times, we order a lot of dim sum dishes and they were heavenly! All their dim sums are apparently made on the spot in the kitchen, unlike most Asian restaurants (unless they specialize in dim sum) that just buy the packaged frozen ones from Asian supermarkets.

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And of course there’s always room for dessert. Their mango ice cream was topnotch – tasted super rich and creamy, different from that of a typical sushi joint, perhaps it’s house-made too.

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Tuesday was Chinese New Year’s Eve Eve, or as my mom likes to call it 小年夜. Usually we save the big family dinner on 大年夜 which is Chinese New Year’s Eve. So on Tuesday my mom and I had a pretty simple meal. But she made one of my favourite Asian desserts – coconut milk tapioca. I remember making this for our Food Fair back in grade 12 but obviously my mom’s version is much better. Sometimes she would add taro but this time she chopped up some sweet potato but a nicer color and it actually tasted so delish!

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Moving onto Wednesday (Lunar New Year’s Eve), we went over to my auntie’s house and had a huge 10+ course meal with the family. It’s like Christmas all over again, but a little bit better. I wrote a blog post about it, you can read it here if you are interested in learning more about Chinese New Year traditions and the 2015 Year of the Sheep! 🙂

(https://michelleneous.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/year-of-the-sheep/)

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After overindulging in 3 plates of duck, salmon, and ribs (and some veg too of course), I needed a quick detox. So on Thursday, I made myself a smoothie bowl. Banana, apple, raspberries, yogurt, blend ’em up. Easy peasy!

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I didn’t do any ‘reading’ until the third last day of Reading Week. On Friday night, it was finally time to get my act together! Mom made a stew – with bokchoy, nagaimo (“long potato”), beef and fish balls, shrimp, oyster mushroom, and fish tofu. Yum!It was so good it made studying a bit less painful 🙂

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Saturday. It’s my last day at home! I don’t wanna leave 😦

I am writing this post as I gobble down this paratha (Indian flat bread) with an  egg (hidden inside), topped with some avocado. I couldn’t wait to eat this beaut so food presentation really wasn’t a priority here.

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Annnnnd my last meal at home. It was an all vegetarian meal with layers of flavor! (Yes you can eat eggs if you’re vegetarian. Only lacto-vegetarians do not eat eggs.) Needless to say, it was scrumptious as usual and it makes me want to go back to my tiny apartment even less. But you got to do what you got to do. Toronto and school work, here I come!

x.

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Year of the Sheep

Baaaaaa! Happy Chinese New Year! Or as some like to call it, Lunar New Year!

According to Chinese Zodiacs, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep 羊 (or Goat). Each year is associated with a zodiac animal and the cycle repeats every 12 years as there are 12 animals. The last Year of the Sheep was when I was in grade 2… wow how time flies eh?

I did some digging on the mighty interweb and found that people born in the Year of the Sheep tend to be polite, filial, clever, and kindhearted. They also have a “special fondness for quiet living”. Do you know someone in your life that’s like this? I sure can think of someone close to me that matches these descriptions! It also says that these people’s lucky colors are brown, red, and purple; and their lucky flowers include carnations and primroses. If you know someone born in the Year of the Sheep, consider getting them some beautiful flowers in the new year. 🙂

The actual date on which Chinese New Year takes place varies from year to year, so I was super excited that this year’s (February 19th) matched up with my spring Reading Week so I could come home and celebrate it with my mom. We went over to my auntie’s place on the 18th, which is essentially the Chinese New Year’s Eve, and had a delicious family dinner.

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Yeeeeah, as you can see, it was a feast. 10+ course meals FTW amirite.

Chinese New Year is great, it’s like we get a second Christmas! We get to be with family, eat great food, and sometimes we even get gifts! As many people may know, a Chinese New Year tradition is for seniors and elders to give the younger people in the family red envelops, aka. 红包. It usually carries money and the red color signifies good luck, good fortune, and good health. And to be honest, the amount of money doesn’t actually matter, it’s the thought that counts! 🙂 My family (aka. my mom and I) used to do it a lot back when we lived in the China, where we always celebrated the holiday with our entire extended family. But since we moved to Canada, it’s only mine and my auntie’s family that are here so this tradition kind of faded away. To my surprise though, my mom actually gave me one this year! I must say ’twas great waking up to a red envelop this morning !

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As my grandparents would say 恭喜发财 万事如意, which can be translated to “May prosperity be with you and best luck with everything”! It’s a traditional Chinese saying used most often during this time of the year, wishing everyone good luck and prosperity in the upcoming year. So on this New Year’s day (大年初一), I’d like to wish all of you, everyone, a good 2015 and may your year be filled with good health and happiness! 🙂

Happy Chinese New Year! 祝大家在羊年喜气洋洋 得意洋洋!*throws confetti*

x.

Tea with Bree

Spontaneity is something I have learned to appreciate very much since I started university.

One of my housemates, Bree, is probably one of the coolest people I’ve met in my life, so far. We’ve had so many instances where a quick 10-minutes conversation turns into hour-long talks about film, religious beliefs, and loving life. Our friendship is interesting – I think we’ve got just the right amount of privacy to ourselves. On the one hand, we can talk about profound and deep things that we only share with those closest to us; on the other hand, with every conversation we have, we learn something new about each other. And I love that.

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Bree’s art works.

I discovered today that Bree owns a Pentax Q pocket camera. I’ve seen so many similar models on Tumblr but to touch and work with it in real life for the first time was, frankly, quite exciting! It’s dainty and light, easy to work, and can definitely produce some v nice images.

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Poster and light wreath with semi-inverted build-in filter.

The Pentax Q also comes with two interchangeable lenses, including a fish-eye one. Some people think this is overrated (to be honest, I was one of them) but man, once you’ve worked with it, it’s hella rad.

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tbh probably thinking about my next meal

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Last comment: David’s tea’s rooibos is very tasty. I recommend it.

x.