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Posted on Jan 20, 2012 in Dear Diary | 49 comments

Year of the Dragon

Monday marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, and it’s an extra special one this time around because it’s the Year of the Dragon!


So fierce. (source)

You see, I wasn’t just speaking figuratively when I said that 2012 was going to be my year. I am a dragon, which not only means that I have the best of all the Chinese Zodiacs (duh), but it means that this is literally my year! And we all know that I am definitely planning on making the most of it.


(source)

Though it is tradition to celebrate on new year’s eve, which would be Sunday, my family is having our big dinner on Saturday instead. Some of my extended family is coming up from Virginia Beach and it’s sure to be a loud, boisterous, Whasian celebration!

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According to the unfailingly accurate sources of the internet, “those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Dragon are energetic and warm-hearted, charismatic, lucky at love and egotistic. They’re natural born leaders, good at giving orders and doing what’s necessary to remain on top.”

The noble knowledge house of Wikipedia adds the following descriptors: “Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.”

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Though I’m not sure if every adjective on that second list holds true (arrrrrgh, I’m so violent, I must punch things!), in general I think that the first description is pretty accurate for me! (Well, the lucky in love part remains to be seen, but I’m yet a mere dragonling, so I’ve got time, haha.) I am definitely energetic, I consider myself a fairly charismatic person, and as for egotistical? Well, I write about and take pictures of myself 5 days a week, so you tell me. ;)

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Dragon. Rawr.

When I was in college, I actually came close to getting a tattoo of the Chinese character for dragon (“Lóng“) and a dragon design encircling it. I ended up chickening out, partly because I couldn’t decide where to place it, and partly because I’m a wuss. I’m just not sure I’m enough of a rockstar to pull off a tattoo. I still think about it sometimes though, and I would want the same thing if I were to get one someday (and would have to hope that people don’t think of me as just another girl with a dragon tattoo, haha.)

This artist at DeviantArt must love me very much to create a Chinese zodiac using Gir! Ahhh! I love it!

I’m looking forward (well, somewhat apprehensively) to the craziness that I’m sure this weekend will bring. Saturday also marks Daxter’s birthday, so you better believe there will be celebrating on that end as well. Have a great weekend everyone, and gong xi fa cai!

Hey baby, what’s your sign?

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Posted on Sep 14, 2011 in Food | 20 comments

Mid-Autumn Festival

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, friends!

Moon CakeHot, hot, hot!

You know our family loves our Chinese lunar celebrations! Technically, Monday was the actual date of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a Chinese lunar harvest festival. Since our family wasn’t able to do anything on Monday, we made Tuesday the day to celebrate instead!

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The ‘rents, the bro, Taylor and I all ventured out to the Hong Kong Palace in Seven Corners for dins. Mom was naturally in charge of ordering, and we ended up with quite a spread!

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Spicy lamb dish

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Bok choy with mushrooms

I didn’t take pictures of all of it (there was also fried fish, giant prawns with spinach, and kung pao chicken!), but suffice it to say it was good eats.

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My (first) plate, hehe.

Unfortunately, I’m feeling a little under the weather (yet again) and my throat was/is literally on fire (perhaps I wore it out vlogging? Haha) so I didn’t get to eat as much Kung Pao as I would have under normal circumstances.

Luckily, my favorite part of the Mid-Autumn Festival is not spicy in the least!

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MOONCAKE!!!

Mooncake is a traditional festival treat made with a filling of sugar and lotus seed paste (sounds so appetizing, I know, but I love it!) and sometimes baked with an egg yolk inside (the “moon”, which I don’t actually like, so fortunately this one didn’t have one.)

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My mama brought one to the restaurant for us to share! Which is necessary, because just one of these little 4-inch suckers could set you back at least 800 calories! Yikes.

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I think NOM pretty much covers it.

Don’t worry though. Even though dessert was mooncake, I couldn’t end my night at a Chinese restaurant without a proper Chinese fortune:

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Finally, the Deus Ex Fortune Cookie I’ve been waiting for to answer all of the “what am I going to do with my life?” questions! I wish there were such a thing as a food lawyer. I think I would be really great at defending the peas. ;)

Are there any less-mainstream holidays or traditions that you celebrate? I love my Whasian heritage because it lets me run the gamut in terms of holidays to celebrate. Plus, I get two New Years!

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Posted on Aug 23, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food, Recipes | 23 comments

East Meets West (Yet Again)

You guys know that I’m not exactly what I’d term “picky” when it comes to cooking. I play pantry roulette on frequent occasion because I am too lazy to follow real recipes, and it usually works out.

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As always, the game started with a rousing round of “what ingredients do I currently have in my possession that are still okay to eat?”

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It can be a risky game. RIP, my friend.

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Pantry, pantry, what’s in the pantry?

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But otherwise, it was all chop-chop-dice-dice-cook-cook-done!

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And, lo and behold, surprise success yet again! I’m giving all the credit to my Whasian roots this time.

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Putting my new post-HLS recipe-writing skills to use…

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Green Curry Mac & Cheese
Print this recipe!

Similar to my Sweet & Whasian Tofu, this “dish” (I use the term very loosely) has a whole east-meets-west-in-your-mouth kind of vibe to it. Creamy and zesty, this one is potentially very weird, yes, but good! You’ll end up with plenty of curry sauce leftover as well, so bring it to work and pour it over some rice for a fast and delicious homecooked meal!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 (6 oz.) box of Annie’s Organic Shells & Cheese (White Cheddar)
1 tablespoon green curry paste
1 (14 fl. oz.) can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1 large tomato, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Set a pot of water on the stove to boil. Heat olive oil in a saute pan to medium heat, then add garlic and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions become translucent. Add zucchini and bell pepper, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

2. While veggies are cooking, add the noodle shells from the mac & cheese to your boiling water. Cook per the instructions on the box, then set aside.

3. In the same pot you cooked your noodles in (or a separate one if you don’t mind doing more dishes) mix curry paste, coconut milk, fish oil and cheese packet from mac & cheese over low heat until all is dissolved thoroughly.

4. Add cooked veggies and chopped tomato to curry mixture and bring the sauce to a simmer. Allow to simmer and reduce for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, or until curry is of desired thickness. Pour some of the sauce over noodles and enjoy!

Strange? Yes. But delicious? Definitely. And a much fancier take on just a plain ol’ box of mac & cheese, don’t you think?

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See? I told you there’d be leftovers.

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And judging from the way these vultures were buzzing around, it must have smelled good, too.

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No curry for you!

And just one more…

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We’re dogsitting for my sister right now, in case you couldn’t tell.

Are you a fan of fusing cuisines together? Or does this seem like it’s just a little bit too weird for you? I’m always interested in other people’s take on it, but I find it fascinating. I mean, I kind of AM fusion, you know? So why wouldn’t I want to eat Whasian food?

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Posted on Apr 19, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food, Recipes | 16 comments

Updating My Traditions

 

 

Thank you to Log Cabin for sponsoring my post about updated traditions in my household. To learn more about Log Cabin Syrups (which are all free of High Fructose Corn Syrup), breakfast for dinner, and other new ways to update traditions in your home, click here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

 

 

 

If any of you loverly readers out there have perused the sidebar of my blog, you’ll see that under my shining face is a li’l mini-bio of yours truly complete with the word “Whasian.” For those of you who are unaware, “Whasian” is a portmanteau (check out that word usage!) term for people of combined Caucasian and Asian heritage. For example:

White (like my Oregonian Father):

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Plus Asian (like my Chinese Mama):

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Equals Whasian:

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The first photo is of my siblings, myself, and our equally Whasian cousin. Naturally I tried to pick photos that highlight my “mix” the most. Since, you know, I currently look like this:

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True story: When my family and I went on a cruise vacation after my Freshman year of college, the boat photographer thought that I was Ben‘s GIRLFRIEND, not his sister! Augh! Gross! The humiliation!

ANYWAY. Growing up, my mom would make us fantastic, home-cooked Chinese meals that she had learned from her mother, that her mother had learned from her mother, and so on, and so forth. Tradition is a HUGE part of Chinese culture, and it also happens to play a big role on Pop’s side of the family tree as well. It’s always been important for me to try and incorporate traditions of both sides of my family into my daily life.

Fully inspired by both my Chinese and Caucasian heritage, I offer you…

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Sweet ‘N’ Whasian Tofu
Print this recipe!

This was a brand new recipe for me because until Sunday I have the added challenge of making everything I ate vegan as well, but I think it still definitely embraces its purpose. It’s a healthy, vegan update of one of my mom’s most famed and delicious traditional dishes, Sweet and Sour Pork! Her traditional recipe includes pork butt (heehee) and a sauce that includes a good deal of sugar. I added in some good old fashioned American touches by way of Vermont (maple syrup, a lower calorie sugar alternative) and even good ol’ Oregon in the form of grapes (channeling those Willamette Valley wines!) and a few berries (of the blue variety.)

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Sauce:

2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup (normally I would have used organic ketchup, but I was lazy and didn’t want to go to the store, hahaha.)
1 tsp corn starch or flour (I used whole wheat flour)
Salt & Pepper

Whisk sauce ingredients together. Set aside. Ta-da!

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Main Dish:

1 block extra firm tofu
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup edamame
1 cup red grapes
1/4 cup blueberries

Press your tofu. You can either do this with a tofu press, which I obviously don’t own, or by putting the block of tofu in between two heavy things lined with paper towels, with more heavy things on top.

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See, Laura? I’m already putting my birthday wine to good use! ;)

After the tofu is even firmer and a lot of the moisture has been pressed out of it, cut it into adorable little cubes. Chopping tofu is so fun! If you like, you can throw a quick little marinade over it in a bowl – I did 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to let the flavor really soak in.

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Then toss into a sauté pan, heated to medium heat with the oil of your choice (I used coconut.)

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I’ve found the secret to really great tofu is to let it sit and cook long enough until it starts to really brown. Mm-mmm. Next step is to toss in the veggies (but not the fruit!)

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Remember that sauce we set aside? Add it, yo!

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Let the sauce simmer and sizzle and reduce until it’s all delicious and thick and nom-tastic.

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Finally toss in the grapes and bluebs, then dish it out! I served up mine on a half-cup of quinoa, so I guess you can add another dimension of America (as in, South, get it?) in for this dish, hehehe.

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Consume with chopsticks or fork, at your leisure. :)

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It turned out great! Sweet, savory, a little sour and totally delicious. Success! What are some ways that you’ve updated some family traditions of your own?

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