Category Archives: Dinner

Spicy Fried Tempeh, and How I Miss My Mom

I haven’t written for quite awhile. Had a moment where I find it hard to process my thoughts into words. I miss having my mom around, so there’s an adult to talk to during the day when my husband is at work. Ironically, I didn’t have a good relationship with my mom as a child. We rarely talked, except when I was talking back. I didn’t know why she was so.. bitter and unloving. I’m not going to elaborate, but I discovered something when I was 16. She’s been holding so much burden by hiding someone else’s secrets just so we, her children, won’t lose respect for that “someone”. To make long story short, since then, I see her in different light.

Funny how my mom lives thousand miles away from me, but her voice is always in my head. Making comments. Sometimes it’s a nice one, sometimes it’s mocking me. When I was playing puzzles with my son, her voice in my head said “Start with the sides first, then you just fill in the middle parts“. After how many years, the memories just flooded back. Like that one time she told me how God would punish me in the future, by making me marry the boy I socked in kindergarten “so watch out, don’t hurt people“.

While driving to my grandmother’s house, we would pass a river. A really dirty one. There were people brushing their teeth there, taking a dump, taking a bath, using the water to cook their meals. I was (and still am) grateful that we have proper plumbing, so using the dirty water wasn;t necessary. Then I saw something else, I’m sure they’ve been there forever, but didn’t notice til that day. There were two men, in their underpants and wifebeaters, stomping something inside a barrel with their sweats dripping down. Undoubtedly using the dirty water, too. My mom noticed me looking at them, said nonchalantly “Oh, they’re just stomping on the soy beans that they’ll turn into tempeh“. My 8-year-old self, who love tempeh so very much, got so disgusted and wouldn’t touch it for the next 5 years. While my mom swore she never said that, I’m sure it was her selective memories playing tricks on her. Continue reading


Chicken Noodles, Comfort Me Please?

It was a drizzly, cold morning when I was waiting for the bus. As crazy as it sounds, for the past five years, I rarely go out by myself, without my kid(s). It feels liberating, yet nerve-wrecking. When I left the house, the kids were still sleeping, the boy tucked next to his dad and the girl slept soundly, the only noise was their snore.

I was going to an open house for a culinary school. About 6 years ago, I applied to this same school but due to financial and immigration problem, I had no choice but to back out. Now the latter is settled, so we decided it’s time to go back. Despite my worry about being socially inept, I made small talks without turning red (major improvement, I dare say). And heck, I like this school. There was another school that I was considering but it doesn’t fit my needs and it’s quite a distance from where I live, while this one is just a 10-min drive away.

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First Dinner in Our New Place

The thought of moving out of our old apartment was exciting and relieving. No more loud noises at 3am. No more cigarette stank seeping through our windows. No more petty fights that we could not help but overhear. But the process of moving is a pain in the ass. While I can’t really help my husband move the bigger stuff, I can’t stand the mess that’s sitting in the middle of the living room right now. Our dresser isn’t built yet, and with my habit of collecting books, we definitely need another bookshelf. My son loves our current condition, as he uses the piles of books and bags of clothes as his obstacle course.

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Bread-That-Was-Supposed-to-be-Ciabatta with Shredded Pork

Couple days ago, Danielle from Runs with Spatula gave me an award, thanks Danielle! It sounds like a fun thing to write but to be honest with you, I don’t know what to write when it comes to 7 things about myself. I will try…

  1. I’m a bookwhore. My husband hates how I leave books all around. Trip to bookstore is always filled with temptation.
  2. My yearly new year resolution is to be less profane, somehow I haven’t succeeded yet.
  3. I get all happy and excited when I go grocery shopping, and spend less than I expected. Then I will show the receipt to my husband and yap about it for a good 15 minutes til he tells me that “I don’t really care how much you save”. Ouch.
  4. Socially inept. It’s really hard for me to start a conversation. But after 5 minutes of talking, usually things go smoothly.
  5. I cannot live without chilli sauce. Or chilli itself. We buy the 136oz huge jar and it’ll be gone by the end of the month.
  6. My husband is 11 years older than me, but sometimes I look 5 years older than him. Life. is. not. fair.
  7. My right thumb nail is deformed, has been that way since I was 14. Don’t know what’s wrong with it. Anyone?

Back to food, last week I made two huge loaves of ciabatta from Peter Reinhart’s book, Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It was good but definitely not ciabatta. It doesn’t have huge airpockets as it should be. I love eating ciabatta just as is, without any adornments. Unfortunately, this bread-that-was-supposed-to-be-ciabatta (BTWSTBC) is too dense to eat as is. So I decided to slowcook a piece of pork shoulder butt with ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, paprika, garlic and dried chilli flakes. And shredded it by hands and top the BTWSTBC with the shredded pork.  Continue reading

Red Curry, We Had Poor Man’s Curry Yesterday

Seattle’s weather is pretty interesting. You can get sunshine, wind, hail and snow all in one day. I like to joke how Mother Nature is PMSing, and when she’s in shitty mood like this, I’d love a bowl of comfort, please. What can you make from 2 baking potatoes, and half of chicken breast? Well, if your pantry is like mine, you can make Thai curry! While I can’t say it is authentic, but it’s better than most Thai places we’ve been to. Spicier and has more flavors than the bland-ish curry they serve.

Usually when our fridge is fully stocked, we’ll put kabocha and bamboo shoots into the curry too. But because I wasn’t well prepared this time, it was just potato and chicken breast. But what important is the curry paste. As long as you have good curry paste, you’re good to go.

Stuffed Bitter Melon Pyramid, No Wonder He Likes It

I can’t believe I used to hate bitter melon. The bitterness is actually so natural now, I can’t have enough of it. Funny how my son loves it, although it’s not his “favoritest” food, he doesn’t show repulsion (like I did) at all. Kids nowadays are so picky, I’m glad mine is not!

Of course, having the stuffed bitter melon arranged like a pyramid helps too. But since his food intakes are 90% homecooked, he had no choice but to eat what I make. After awhile, it’s his choice to eat homecooked food. He’d picked bitter melon over chicken fingers from nearby fastfood chain anytime.  Continue reading

Get to Know It More, and You’ll Love It

Have you ordered food at a restaurant, with high expectation, but it turns out to be a flop?

We were shown a duplex unit in Ballard, and loved it. It was within our price range, on the ground floor (we have a stomper here) 2 bedrooms, bigger than our current rental and it has washer and dryer in unit. It felt too good to be true, and it was. The next day, the agent said that the owner decided against renting it and wants to sell it. That was like the flopped dish. You were expecting it to be so good, it makes you moan. Turns out it makes you moan out of disappointment.

But then, have you ever had food that looks so-so if not unappealing but it leaves you sated and happy?

Yesterday, we stumbled upon this ads for a rental in Greenlake. It’s an apartment complex with more than 5 units on premise. We felt iffy because for one, most resident managers look at us as nuisance (thank you kids) and for two, it might not be the first floor (it wasn’t mentioned in the ads). For three, more neighbors to deal with (not that we don’t like our neighbors, but our current neighbors on the left hand side are bad enough to make us worry).

When we were met by the resident manager, I was relieved. She loves kids! Of course she didn’t say that, or it might be an overkill. But we can sense it and it feels sincere. Also she said that there are other kids in the building, slightly younger than my son. And then she walked us to a ground floor unit, I was pretty much so happy at that point, I grinned from ear to ear (yeah, I haven’t mastered the art of hiding my feelings). Yes! The one available is the ground floor unit! And the neighbors? That part, I don’t know yet but it’s a corner unit so nothing much to worry. So far, it has everything we need. With 2 kids, it’s a necessity to have washer and dryer in unit.

We sent in the application and hopefully we passed and get it (I think we should.. unless they have other people who applied before us). So right now I’m just crossing my fingers! 

That Greenlake apartment is like the food you expect to flop, but turns out to be the one that makes you feel sated and giddy with excitement.

That kind of food looks like this.

Ham hock is not appealing at all, thank you Mother Nature. But it’s oh so good when cooked to perfection. The meat falling off the bones, with the chewy yet tender skin. Stewed for so long, you can taste the deep, dark soy sauce and garlic in every inch of the meat. Coupled with crunchy chopped red chilies. What is not to like?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have second.

You need to get to “know” it more, and you’ll love it. ps: Eat with your hand (whichever you prefer) for maximal pleasure.