March 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
The lack of Asian women in the American media back in the 1990′s to the early 2000′s was so apparent that my favorite Asian girl was a little Japanese girl with three pigtails, Kimi Finster from Rugrats. I thought she was adorable, spunky, and could really pull off her purple cowboy boots. She had her own sense of fashion, even if it never changed and included a diaper. I loved her little brightly colored cowboy boots and wanted a pair, though, back then, I didn’t think have the fearlessness (or fashion sense) to pull them off. And I thought it was a little bit silly to take fashion advice from someone who can’t tie her own shoes.
Rugrats eventually jumped the shark with the characters suddenly being pre-teens and was canceled. I forgot all about little Kimi and her cowboy boots until I started reading Rockstar Diaries and Naomi’s journal entries about how much she loved her cowboy boots. I was inspired by the way Naomi paired her boots with delicate, feminine pieces or brightly colored pieces in addition to anchoring the red color with neutrals, especially black. Seeing her photos made me remember little Kimi, and I suddenly wanted red cowboy boots, even though little Kimi’s were actually purple. My memory had mistakenly logged the color of Kimi’s cowboy boots as vibrant red, and I wasn’t about to let the reality of her boots being purple squander my decade-long (albeit dormant) dream of owning a pair of red cowboy boots.
Now, say “hello” to the Lucilles*.
As a little homage to little Kimi Finster, I incorporated the purple from her cowboy boots and the yellow from her dress into my outfit by wearing purple tights and a yellow skirt.
I love these boots. They have a cushioned footbed, which will make them so much more comfortable to walk around, especially since I will be wearing them so often this coming spring, summer, and fall– not so much winter because I will be in hibernation and refusing to step outside. I am convinced they match everything in my closet. Even if they completely mismatch some outfits, I will love the mismatchy-ness.
* The boots are named “the Lucilles” because it was the first name that popped into my head. I name all my possessions this way, and it’s worked out pretty well– Herbet the duck-shaped humidifier hasn’t complained yet. I probably should have named the boots “the Kimis”, but to be fair, the name, “the Lucilles”, popped into my head first, and I think I had chosen another name over them in a previous naming ceremony that goes on in my head. The name felt a little cheated about last time.
March 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In the early years of Wayne’s parents’ marriage, his paternal grandmother taught his mother how to cook the different recipes that his father liked to eat. Following that tradition, each time Wayne and I go up to visit his family, his mom shows me how to create one of Wayne’s favorite dishes. I usually stand next to her with my iphone to visually document every ingredient and every step and then type in all her tips so I don’t forget; otherwise I’ll be stuck in my kitchen with my toes curled in frustration while my fingers hurriedly Google random key words to figure out what I think I might have forgotten– it’s a mess. On our last trip up to see his family, she taught me how to make her wine chicken, which tastes a little sweet and a little salty and has wonderful flavor. The meat is juicy and tender, and the leftover sauce can be used as a rich, flavorful base for chicken soup.
6 chicken legs (or any combination of legs and thighs that add up to two pounds to two and a half pounds of chicken will do, bone-in is necessary for juicy-ness)
Sliced ginger (…a lot?)
1/2 cup Rice wine (refer to this picture)
1/2 cup Fermented sweet rice sauce (refer to this picture)
Optional: Goji berries and dried dates (washed thoroughly three times)
1. Blanch the chicken by gently dropping the chicken pieces in to boiling water. Boil chicken until the meat has just turned white. Rinse and set aside.
2. Pour a generous amount of sesame oil in to a large cooking pan. Sauté the sliced ginger over medium-high heat.
3. Add the blanched chicken and cook until golden brown on all sides.
4. Add rice wine and fermented sweet rice sauce
5. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
6. Optional: Add Goji berries and dried dates
7. Salt to taste
March 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
I don’t drink.
It’s not a matter of a religion or self-righteous virtue; it’s just a matter of taste. I just don’t prefer the taste of bitter things when there are so many sweet things in the world for me to taste instead. When Wayne and I go out to dinner with his friends and they order wine, I’ll occasionally opt-in for a glass. Without fail, I’ll take one sip, attempt to cover the pucker my mouth unintentionally makes, and wonder just how much it is in bad taste and etiquette to dump some sugar in the glass. And more importantly, would it work? …Anyway, Wayne ends up drinking my glass as well as his by the end of dinner.
There are rare instances when I will drink alcohol, but it is always in the form of a mixed drink, the super girly, fruity drink that completely mask the taste of alcohol and is so full of sugar that the amount of calories is comparable to a cupcake. And if I have to choose between an alcoholic drink or a cupcake, I will always choose the cupcake. My feelings on alcohol is best illustrated with how I celebrated my twenty-first birthday, a special birthday milestone celebrated all over the US, typically, with a night of legal drinking and only photographic memories since the real memories are kind of fuzzy, at best. I celebrated with fried chicken, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and a marathon of Monk. I could be ashamed at my homebody-ness, but I’m not because I thought it was a great birthday– and how could anything be bad when there is cake, especially red velvet cake?
So I think it’s kind of funny that my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe has a thick, rich, bitter stout beer as the secret ingredient. I always use this recipe when I need to make a chocolate cake because the bitterness of the beer adds a complexity to the chocolate flavor that I find missing in other chocolate cakes that are baked without a bitter beer or black coffee. I usually make the cake in cupcake form with Guinness and topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream buttercream frosting each St. Patrick’s Day as my preferred way to celebrate. But on days that don’t celebrate being drunk at 8 AM, I usually top the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting just because it’s my favorite frosting, and I like the little bit of tang in the frosting that refreshingly breaks up the richness of the moist, chocolate cupcakes.
I found the recipe for Guinness chocolate cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen. In my little baking world of one (and a whole bunch of baking utensils and butter and sugar– lots of sugar), she is the goddess. Her recipes have never failed me, and she writes each entry with clear instructions and so many tips that she learned from executing the recipe that each of her recipes feel fool-proof. Use her recipe, and the end result will be perfect. I used the Guinness cake recipe from her Irish Car Bomb cupcake recipe and paired the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting recipe from her Red Velvet cake recipe.
March 24, 2011 § Leave a Comment
One of the little quirks I have that Wayne doesn’t quite understand is that the second we cross the Delaware-New Jersey border on our weekend visits to his parents, I suddenly want to visit a Dunkin Donuts for a Dunkaccino and a frosted doughnut covered with multi-colored sprinkles. And I want to go bowling. And visit a diner. None of this really makes sense since Wayne and I live within a three minute drive to our local Dunkin Donuts but we rarely visit it, and Wayne goes bowling with his friend two, three, sometimes four times a week so I can easily join but I usually opt to stay home and fall asleep while watching something in our Netflix queue. Not to mention that I’m so pathetic at bowling that I have to use the 6lb ball and my goal is just to bowl straight (… and sometimes I fall over after I throw the ball). I actually only like diner food in theory since I don’t like the fried foods offered because they tend to be tasteless and greasy and hugely portioned; though I do like milkshakes. Mmmm strawberry…
While New Jersey is some times the butt of jokes, I seem to have gone in the complete opposite direction and started embracing all the aspects I think makes the state, New Jersey (I’m not taking “Jersey Shore” or the other New Jersey-based reality shows into consideration). With Dunkin Donuts, I think it’s the fact that Wayne’s parents live in an area where there are literally five Dunkin Donuts located on the same road, each within a minute of each other, and all the repetition breaks down my willpower and silently encourages the suggestion that my life could definitely be happier if there were more strawberry frosted doughnuts. The sprinkles looks so cheery!
March 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Please don’t ask me for directions.
I don’t say this because I think that since Google Maps and turn-by-turn navigation exist, people shouldn’t ask me. I say this because I have no clue what the world looks like in map form and I give directions based on restaurants, chain stores, and, sometimes, feelings. Those two technologies have made it easier for me to hide the fact that my idea of the map of the world is very different from an actual map of the world. Most of the time my map of the world is the mirror image, and apparently not even logic can clue me in on how to rearrange my map to match Google; I thought Japan was closer to Singapore even though Japan does have snowy winters and was surprised to hear that South Korea had harsh winters because I thought it was located closer to Vietnam even though I knew China and North Korea had a special relationship. I also thought the Poconos was located near the Bahamas.
Beyond my completely rearranged map of the world that is utterly useless, I can’t word directions in any comprehensible way that another person can follow. I’ve honestly given directions that included the sentence: “When you get the feeling that you missed the turn, keep going until you feel that feeling again, then turn”.
March 20, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Maybe there just aren’t enough holidays for me–even makeshift ones like Nutella Day– so I’ll take some of the important holidays to me and celebrate it multiple times. Fortunately for Wayne, his birthday is one of my favorite holidays, so ever since he started dating me, he celebrates his birthday at least four times in a span of one week: with his friends, with his family, with my family, and with me. Sometimes there’s a drunken birthday night thrown in, so maybe five times. It’s a lot of cake and a lot of off-key singing for him all in one week. Maybe next year I’ll have the foresight to plan ahead to for us to fly over to where ever his best friend Dan is attending medical school and celebrate with him.
We visited his family this weekend to celebrate his birthday with them. Wayne’s dad took him golfing with some family friends while I did some grocery shopping with his mom for his birthday dinner. Wayne’s mom bought him a chocolate cake with fresh fruit filling from a bakery inside a local Chinese grocery store.
March 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Wayne and I are up in New Jersey this weekend to celebrate his birthday with his family. One of my favorite reasons to visit Wayne’s parents is that I get to see this sweet little girl:
Meet Mika, Wayne’s family cat. She prefers to drink water from cups and is disenchanted by the water given to her in small bowls. She loves snuggling, and she purrs as loudly as a lawnmower. I love the fact that she slept with me last night regardless of the fact that I’m pretty sure it was because she considers the guest bedroom as her room and I was just sleeping in it.
March 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Wayne is super lucky in that a large majority of his college friends have moved to the DC area as well! We celebrated his birthday by going out to eat Korean barbecue with his friends and then everyone came over for beer, off-key singing of the birthday song, and chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, with a generous cup of Guinness in the batter to celebrate his birthday also being on St. Patrick’s Day.
March 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I feel like I can learn a lot about a person by visiting his or her bathroom. I don’t mean that I pay attention to whether or not the person opted for the good toilet paper, or the person’s teeth brushing technique based on the amount of toothpaste spittle on the mirror, or even the general cleanliness of the bathroom. No, I mean the bathroom reading.
In the bathroom I shared with my new-age, incredibly artistic industrial engineer roommate, Andrea, who would frequently bemoan about having to give up her soul to work for the machine to make money to fund her art, she filled our bathroom with Popular Science magazines and World on Fire by Amy Chua, back before the rest of the world knew her as “Tiger Mom”. Cheng-yee always kept several volumes of Get Fuzzy comics in her bathroom, which I thought were incredibly fitting and telling of her personality and her sense of humor since she loved Bucky’s sardonic humor and and Satchel’s sweetness. Of all my friends, she’s actually the sweetest and most kind, which I thought was interesting considering her cynical sense of humor. She’s the Singaporean girl outcome of Bucky and Satchel being shoved into one body. My cleanest and most practical roommate, Diana, would keep her bathroom extremely neat and clean but offered nothing to read, because it was just a bathroom. She preferred to read her fashion magazines at the dinner table. Unfortunately for Diana, she had Andrea, Cheng-yee, Momo, and I as roommates, and we made her life a mess, at least physically. In our living room, we had one coffee table, one floor lamp, and one tv stand with a 12-inch tv that was so old that it came with a built-in VHS player; the room was pretty barren. Yet we managed to completely make a mess with all our shoes, school books, used water bottles for recycling, empty pizza boxes, and anything that happened to spill on the floor that wasn’t liquid.
Now, in my shared bathroom with Wayne, the bathroom readers are the occasional Car and Driver magazine and a tattered– the edges of the spine are white, the pages are yellowing, and the covers’ edges are peeling–paperback copy of Ray Romano’s Everything and a Kite. I first read it when I picked it out of the biography section of my neighborhood library when I had to do a biography project for school in 9th grade. Unfortunately, it had been mis-shelved, and I had to pick a different book, one that actually was a biography– interestingly I ended up reading Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, and this was before I loved food as much I do now and before she became one of my favorite food people, right up there with Ina Garten. I love her Tender at the Bone far too much to subject it to the daily bouts of high humidity and occasional weird smells of our bathroom. It isn’t that I don’t love Everything and a Kite that I subject it to such harsh conditions; it’s more the fact that the book has been with me since freshman year of college when I found it again in a bookstore, and it has lived through several moves and several bathrooms.
My favorite writers are Zadie Smith, Haruki Murakami, and David Sedaris. I love reading their writings when I wake up four hours too early on a lazy Sunday or when I spend hours in a bookstores curled up with my knees to my chin in a chair. But for our bathroom, I prefer to keep to Everything and a Kite because it’s the literary (erm, am I really going to use the word “literary” here? It feels morally wrong and kind of cheapens the word) equivalent of really comfortable, worn sweatpants. I really love Ray Romano’s sense of humor in the book even though I wasn’t a fan of his show because all the fighting and yelling became tiresome. I remember standing in the library, reading through the first couple of pages, and I knew this book was aligned with my sense of humor when I read this passage on the third page:
“I think writers put all that stuff up front because they’re afraid to have you dive in too fast. They want to let you “tiptoe” into the book, like it’s a cold swimming pool. Get your feet wet in the Intro, splash a little Foreword on your chest. That way, by Chapter One you’re warm and comfortable, and if no one’s around, you pee in it.”
What my bathroom reader ultimately says about my personality, as my former roommates came to regret, is that if I become comfortable with a person, I’ll end up bringing up TMI topics as casually as if I were chatting about the weather because nothing is TMI for me. The topics aren’t so much TMI because they’re raunchy or offensive, but more so: God, why does anyone need to know that? Everything and a Kite isn’t raunchy nor does it really dive over the TMI line, but Ray Romano talks about the humor in his life and it’s such comfortable, funny read, and I like being comfortable, even while running errands in my fuzzy Paul Frank monkey pants.
March 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Wayne went to DC last Friday and stumbled upon Hot n Juicy Crawfish, a seafood restaurant that specializes in crawfish with varying spice levels and seasonings to pick from that is located in Woodley Park, immediately across the street from the metro station on the Red Line. He loved it so much that he took me there on Sunday, just two days later. We went there during the off-hours, the awkward time during the afternoon that is way too late for lunch but a bit too early for dinner, so there was no crowd if there usually is a crowd. Outside seating is offered but was completely full when we stopped by; the inside was pretty empty with only two other groups getting their hands dirty with peeling and eating the crawdads, shrimp, and crabs. We were seated quickly at a table that was prepared in advanced for the messy mayhem with a disposable, plastic table covering and had plastic bibs wrapped around our necks before I even knew what was going on; it was as if the bib just suddenly appeared around my neck.
Wayne ordered two pounds of crawdads and one pound of shrimp, all with the “Hot n Spicy” seasoning and “Spicy” spice level. What we both thought was odd was that in order to get a free small corn on the cob and small red potato, we had to order in increments of two pounds of crawdads, otherwise each was $0.75. Typically, these items come free regardless of how much is ordered at other restaurants. I guess it is one of the luxuries this restaurant indulged in with being one of th few restaurants in the area serving crawfish, but the corn and potato are still overpriced. The crawdads and shrimp came out hot in two clear, plastic bags. As we dug in to the bag of crawfish, I quickly realized that my interpretation of “spicy” was very, very wrong and my lips hurt from burning. Wayne was in sinus-clearing, eyes-tearing heaven while I was in sinus-clearing, lip-burning, sudden-unbalanced-inner-ear confusion and simultaneously wishing that the restaurant offered mango lassi. I ate two crawdads before relegating myself to only eating the shrimp and corn and on the cob, which were no where as spicy as the crawdads despite being ordered with the same seasoning and spice level. The shrimp were big and juicy and deliciously well-seasoned. They came with the heads on and tasted fresh. I liked them so much that I didn’t feel too bad about not being able to eat the crawdads, though I’m looking forward to coming back and ordering a medium level of spice. I think we might need to order another pound of crawdads in the future because Wayne finished the two pounds easily and started work on our bag of shrimp before we finished eating.
One thing I especially liked about the design of the restaurant was that there was a sink with soap and paper towels located in the back outside of the bathrooms so it made washing up much more convenient since our hands were incredibly messy. Something that Wayne and I didn’t really bother to consider before coming Hot n Juicy, even though we knew were coming, was to not wear white or light colors. Wayne’s shirt ended up with some crawfish juices splatter and has spent the past day and night soaking in a tub of water with Oxiclean.
PS. To see the menu with the seafood and seasoning options and the prices click here.
Hot N Juicy Crawfish
2651 Connecticut Ave NW
(between N 24th St & N Woodley Rd)
Washington, DC 20008