Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!

May 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear Mommy,

Thank you for the dimples. You didn’t give me just one, you gave me four!

Thank you for always being my biggest admirer, even when I wasn’t feeling very pretty.

Thank you for always being my advocate for my dreams and convincing Dad to let me go to my art high school to study painting and then talking him into letting me run away to LA to attend USC.

Thank you for driving to Virginia every day for work even though we lived in Baltimore so I could continue to attend my art high school.

Thank you for always making my favorite foods whenever I am home. My favorite dinners are always the ones you create.

Thank you for always listening to me and letting me feel as if I can talk about anything with you.

Thank you for being so welcoming of Wayne. From the first time you met him, you were ready to love him and accept him as family. You even knew before I did that I would want to date him.

Thank you loving me even when I was an asshole for so many years during puberty. I know I didn’t act like someone you would like until after I went away to college.

Thank you for always being a wonderful mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!

PS. Thanks for posing in pictures with me even though I always made ridiculous faces.

PPS. Thanks for driving to Long Island even though we lived in Baltimore on a weekly basis so I could attend my art high school, Dad.

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Meet Mika

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.

Family Dinner

March 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

One of the unspoken agreements I made with my mom before I moved out of her apartment and into an apartment with Wayne was that I still came home occasionally for dinner. Somehow, that agreement naturally worked out into a routine of Wayne and I going over to my mom’s once a week for dinner. It has never been a set day to be repeated each week, just whenever our schedules match up since sometimes she works late, my younger brother has an exam to prepare for, or Wayne and I have other plans. There were a few times when Wayne and I went over for dinner more than twice a week. We have been pretty consistent with going over for dinner each week, with there being only two times that we didn’t go over at all because someone had a cold.

Friday and Saturday nights are lovely all in their own rights, but I absolutely adore the nights when we all sit down together as a family. They are my favorite nights of the week. I love being able to chat with my mom, and while sometimes we’ll talk on the phone during the week, my favorite way to talk to her is to actually be able to see her and talk about our family in China, how my Dad is doing, or even just what sales are really juicy that weekend. I was such a brat growing up, especially in high school, that it was hard for us to have really meaningful conversations where I was honest. It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized how unconditionally supportive my mom has always been and that she is actually one of my favorite people, and now I tell her everything. After freshman fall semester, I always so looked forward to going home to see her, and I had an equally as hard leaving after each break.

I also really enjoy seeing my quiet, shy brother bond with Wayne because it’s something that I find hard to do myself since I don’t really know that much about my brother’s interests and he’s not very talkative. I just end up buying him a lot of video games. But with Wayne, it’s perfect because Wayne is very talkative and so friendly so that he is able to draw my brother out of his shell. And they talk about video games so much, it’s almost a different language to me.

And I’ll admit, a good amount of the fact that the family dinner nights are my favorite nights of the week is because of the food. My mom makes all these mental notes about the meats and dishes Wayne and I love and prepares them so deliciously and so lovingly each week. And there’s a home-y-ness to the all dishes that make each bite taste so much better than any restaurant even if the dishes at restaurants are more complex and expertly prepared. I can’t achieve that in my foods I create unless they are the recipes given to me by my mom or Wayne’s mom (which is actually one of the reasons that I love going up to visit his parents because sometimes I get to help out with the cooking and make photographic records of all her steps*).

This week’s dinner was especially wonderful because I had been craving duck, and my mom, without knowing of my craving, made duck following my dad’s recipe, which has been my favorite method of preparing duck, much more than Peking duck. The shortribs were made for Wayne since she made note early on how much he loves beef. The clams are for me because everyone in my family, immediate and extended, knows of my ridiculous love for clams, because, when I was ten and visited China, my aunt’s father-in-law cooked clams for me for every meal– oh God, no joke, breakfast, lunch, and dinner–for an entire month because I would always ask for it. It was around ninety meals with clams. And apparently no one thought it was weird that my breakfast consisted of rice, clams, and pound cake with hot water sweetened with a very generous amount of honey. If they did, they kept it to themselves out of fear of my aunt’s wrath since she considered me to be her surrogate daughter. And the Chinese vegetable (Kai lan? It’s hard for me to know the names of Chinese vegetables because I’ve only know them as “eat this” all my life) is my mom’s attempt to passively tell us to eat our vegetables.

 

 

*Have you ever tried to get a recipe from an Asian mom? It’s always “a little bit of this”, “a little bit of that”, and “oh, I just throw in an amount I feel comfortable with”. My mom a repeat offender of all these phrase, and it is so hard for me to get recipes from her.  Wayne’s mom is pretty good about showing me her measurements, but I take pictures– lots and lots of pictures– just in case.

A Very Off-balanced White Balance Dinner in DC

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

I like when Wayne and I have people over for dinner and when we get out-of-town visitors. However, I especially love when our family visits so I was excited for his sister’s visit.

Meet Christina.

She is younger than Wayne by four years and is studying to save the world in Baltimore. She’s quite the smartie and equally as pretty. She would be one of the reasons why people would think life isn’t fair since she has both brains and beauty except they wouldn’t be able to think negatively of her because she is also very sweet.

Yesterday her train arrived just in time for dinner, except we still hadn’t decided on where to go to dinner. I didn’t prepare dinner because, no matter how hard I try, I can’t recreate the feeling of comfort and home-y-ness in my food like my mom or Wayne’s mom easily can, and we thought that going out to eat would be more fun since DC has many very tasty eateries.

We went to La Tasca in Chinatown for dinner because I was craving squid ink paella and Christina had never tried paella before. It was a last minute decision since  Bodega in Georgetown (my favorite restaurant for dinner in DC, purely because of their squid ink paella) and Jaleo in Penn Quarter were both fully book for the night, we forgot to make reservations. I can’t rank La Tasca because it has a very special place in my heart since Wayne and I had our first date there. Even if the food were horrendous– which it isn’t–, I would love that restaurant if for no other reason than the memories of that first dinner. However, I will say that I prefer the squid ink paella at Bodega because the rice was al dente and chewy whereas the squid ink paella at La Tasca was softer and a tad bit on the mushy side. I still enjoyed it though because I love the taste of squid ink in pastas and rice dishes. I do prefer the sangrias at La Tasca over Bodega and Jaleo. I like that La Tasca’s sangrias are more fruity and sweet and able to mask the alcohol better than the sangrias at Bodega and Jaloeo since I don’t like strong drinks.

Even though we didn’t have the foresight to make reservations for dinner, I did have the foresight to make a reservation at Co Co. Sala, a chocolate lounge, for dessert.  It was Wayne and my first time visiting the lounge in addition to it being Christina’s first time. It had been a place that Wayne and I frequently said we would try out but we never made the effort because we don’t go into DC that often due to laziness, especially after dinner when we typically lose the food coma battle. The lightning was very dark– the few sources of light being the small lanterns at each table and dimmed recess lights above– and the music was very loud, but the decor was chic and elegant.

Of course none of that really matters, because all I care about are the desserts. And the desserts were divine and so decadent. The portions are very small, which I thought were perfectly sized since some of the desserts were so rich that if they were a larger size, the richness would be overwhelming. However, the assessment could have just been for my plate of dessert, “Chocolate Onyx”, which consisted of three desserts: a brownie that held vanilla crème brûlée that was encased in dark chocolate mousse with a pool salted caramel as the topping, a chocolate sorbet, and a small cinnamon toffee bon bon. Just reading the description of the Chocolate Onyx plate makes me thirsty. But it was so very good.

Christina picked the “Raspberry Affair” dessert plate, which consisted of a white chocolate and raspberry mousse atop a pile of crispy chocolate pearls, a pomegranate and champagne sorbet (that Wayne loved), and a small chocolate that contained goji berries. Her dessert plate was just sweet enough, delightfully fruity, and very refreshing– especially a couple of bites of my dessert plate.

I thought the chocolate lounge was fun to try, and I would love to return for our next special occasion.

 

 

La Tasca in DC Chinatown
722 7th St NW
(between N G St & N H St)
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 347-9190

Co Col. Sala
929 F St NW
(between N 9th St & N 10th St)
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 347-4265

Babysitting

July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I get this feeling that all the loving people in my life like to tag-team babysit me. Every spring break at USC, I stayed in LA. And every spring break, I always had one or two roommates ask their guy friends or boyfriends to check in on me occasionally, or just straight up babysit me. Even now when I’ve graduated and am currently away from my old roommates, there will always be someone I love who worries that I won’t be able to sleep alone. This was clearly demonstrated in a conversation with my mom earlier today:

Mom: So I was wondering if you wanted to come home to sleep since Wayne is leaving tonight and going to be gone a couple days? That way you won’t be lonely.
Me: …But aren’t you, Dad, and D (nickname for my little brother– just so you know, neither his American first name nor his Chinese first name begin with a “D”) leaving in the early morning to go to China?…For a month?
Mom: Oh, right. Will you get scared sleeping alone? Call a friend and have her sleep over.
Me: I think I’ll be okay, Mom.

While others might think this conversation would be annoying if they were to have it with their moms, I thought it was really sweet.

A different kind of homesick

February 19, 2010 § 1 Comment

Whenever I miss someone, I tend to eat foods that remind me of that person.

During the entire time I was in LA, I missed my mom desperately, to the point where a part of me would dread my flights back to LA because I would have to leave her and I’d spend my first night back crying. I constantly made a sweet mung bean soup because eating it reminded me of all the times she used to make it for me during the summers because she knew it was my favorite. However, now that I’m home with my mom again, I still miss people.

I drink so much tea because it reminds me of all the times Miri (my GORGEOUS genius) and I would go to different cafes and tea houses in K-town. I like to soak shiitake mushrooms because it reminds me of Chengyee’s (the deceptively sweet hamster) obsession with mushrooms and how she would eat anything I cooked for her as long as there were mushrooms. I adore crème brulée because it reminds me of how last spring I finally, FINALLY figured out what I could make for my Diana (my beautiful picky eater). It was her favorite dessert. Unfortunately, after I realized that she loved crème brulée, I wouldn’t stop making it so there was a month where I made several ramekins of crème brulée each week just for her. I like eating pasta because every time it reminds me of all the nights Momo (my little bunny) would make pasta for dinner and sit with me while I studied. And I make brownies specifically from the box because of all the nights back from the beginning of high school and through college winter breaks when Naomi (my little butterfly) and I would crave gooey chocolate during our sleepovers and she would always have a box handy. While we’ve both graduated to making brownies from scratch, I still prefer the brownies from the box because of the memories.

I miss them all, terribly.

La nourriture et pour l’amour de ma famille

February 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

“You should eat more Chinese food. It’s good for you; it’s in your genes– it’s what your body knows. Don’t confuse your body with Italian meatballs all the time.” — My Dad

Three years away at college on the other side of the country and the sunny Socal sun can’t prevent the occurrence of my occasional tinge of separation anxiety from my family. One would think that I would have adjusted by now– that flying back to school by now would be routine and without any tears. Or that I would put up a fight when I stay with my mom in Virginia during summer and winter breaks and away from any and all friends– too far away for old friends to drive–, instead I find so much joy in just spending time watching a movie with my brother, eating out with my mom, or food shopping with my dad while he points out fake designer bags that women are toting. One of the highlights of my winter break was watching “Deal or No Deal” with my dad and brother. However, I don’t believe it to be pathetic; I find it…comforting and reassuring to be so in love with my family.

I cook certain foods purely because they make me think of my parents.
I make maopo doufu, rice porridge with salted duck eggs, or rice balls with peanut filling because I always think of my mom when I eat them.
I bake fish in a foil pouch with honey and onions because it’s my dad’s favorite way of cooking fish.
I adore spicy braised beef noodle soup because my mom and I would go to the noodle restaurant next to my SAT class and we would order two bowls, one spicy and one not, for lunch every Saturday I had class.

It must be hard for my mom to be so far away from her mom.

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