Monday, December 28, 2015

Latkes and the Like

We'd never made latkes before, but I randomly thought that it would be fun to try making them for brunch since Hanukkah had just passed and fried potatoes on a Sunday morning sounded like a pretty good idea.  Traditionally, latkes are eaten to commemorate the small bit of olive oil that miraculously lasted for eight days when the menorah was lit during the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem. The first latkes were not necessarily made with potatoes, though.  The Jews fried whatever they could find in olive oil to celebrate Hanukkah.  Likewise, we fried a few different things - Russett potatoes, yams, and zucchini.

Nowadays, latkes are often enjoyed with sour cream and apple sauce.  I made yogurt-based toppings and chopped a fresh apple to make apple sauce, rather than getting sour cream and Mott's.  Wes also hand-packed and seasoned a few lamb patties and fried a couple of eggs to complete the spread!

Monday, December 21, 2015

This is How We Roll: Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

Good friends make fresh pasta for each other.  That is how things "roll" with Vivian and Nhan, anyway.  Vivian showed us how to make ravioli with her trusty hand-crank pasta roller first.  She really likes Vetri's recipe, which requires nine egg yolks, or eighteen, if you messed up the recipe like Wes did!  Luckily he noticed right away, but it didn't save us another run to the supermarket in the rain.  Anyway, when Vivian told us that she was coming to our area for the day, we offered to return the favor with pappardelle - our favorite pasta shape for Wes's awesome lamb ragu.

Seems like a lot of trouble, but it is so worth it to make our own pasta.  To me, it's fun in an almost childlike way, much like making cookies from scratch for Christmas.  Also, it was the perfect way to spend a rainy night in with friends.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Special Olympics Fall Games

A few weekends ago, we volunteered to join the media team for Special Olympics Southern California to photograph the Fall Games, which was a huge event attracting more than 1,100 athletes from across Southern California who competed for gold, silver, and bronze medals and ribbons in soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, and more.

Daily, I work with kids who are functioning far below their chronological age level, and I try my best to help them be as independent as possible in the school setting.  Though it can be challenging, I find my job very rewarding and fun.  While Wes has not had much exposure to interactions with kids with special needs, he has a wealth of experience in sports photography.  Since high school, he has been shooting football, soccer, volleyball, waterpolo, etc., with his trusty 4-megapixel Canon 1D.  He also shoots games at Pasadena City College and Azusa Pacific after work these days, just for fun.  So when this opportunity came up, we both thought that it would be a cool way to merge our interests in a place outside of the kitchen.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving, the Wong Way

Thanksgiving with the Wongs.  It's one reason that I married Wes.  All of my past Thanksgivings up to my first one with the Wong family have been fun, but not too unlike other big family dinners with relatives and cousins squeezed around long tables covered with a mixture of Chinese restaurant party trays and whatever the women felt like cooking that day.  Of course, I've had a fair share of dinners comprised entirely of dim-sum take-out with the Wongs as well.  However, Thanksgiving is a culinary affair that is never to be taken lightly by the men of this family.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Halloween: Bridezilla & the Helpless Groom

We were not planning to do anything on Halloween this year.  I don't know how I ended up standing in a check-out line that wound through the aisles at Party City for some fuzzy devil horns, whipping out the entire eyeshadow palette, and digging the veil out of our wedding memory box which Wes had just moved to the back of storage.  Wes doesn't know how he ended up getting painted with fake blood, carving a pumpkin at two o'clock in the morning, and busting out his camera tripod and flash snoot for an impromptu photoshoot.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Danshui - Taipei by the Sea

Danshui or Tamsui (淡水), literally “clear water,” is a lively yet laidback seaside district in Taipei known for its street life and scenery.  Only a short train ride away from the city center, I—flanked by Wesleys—hopped aboard the MRT and headed out there to catch the sunset (my brother’s last, and my first in Taiwan).  It was perfect timing for my brother to join us in exploring our country of heritage for the first time together.  My brother wasn’t even born yet the last time I went to Taiwan with my family.  It was surreal that we were doing this.

My parents have shared many good times in Danshui in their youth.  Dad was a college student in Danshui for two years.  He went to school and lived in a dormitory up on a hill overlooking the water, with an unobstructed view of Guanyin Shan, the mountain in the background of some of these photos.  He told me that the mountain is named after the goddess of mercy, Guanyin, because the peaks resemble the face of the goddess lying down - but only from higher up, not from the bottom where we were.  The pictures that we took do not resemble what he remembers Danshui to be like - due to a spike in tourism in the area, it is no longer the quaint fisherman's village that it used to be.  He recounted how he worked at a restaurant here to make extra money in order to take out his girlfriend, who happened to be my mother.  My mom would take a long bus-ride from the city to meet him, and then they would go out on his motorcycle, with Mom sitting side-saddle, as was appropriate for women at the time.  Someday, it would be great to go back with my parents and let them be our tour guides and storytellers.  The sights and sounds of modern attractions were exhilarating, but if only we could see what they saw when they were young lovers out there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Taipei: Grandmother's Place - A Photo Essay

Taiwan was not exactly our number one honeymoon destination, but we made it our first priority when we realized that Po-Po would not be able to come to our wedding, or to America at all, for that matter.  I did not grow up around her and I rarely had the ability to go to Taiwan, but every memory that I have of this woman has been one which I look back on lovingly, respectfully, and happily. I can vividly remember her scrubbing the floors each day on her hands and knees using her ratty old rags.  I can recall the taste of her hot and sour soup which she made daily when I stayed in Taiwan, just because I loved it so much, especially with the extra vinegar.  I know her cute, distinctive accent which I cannot imitate but can instantly recognize.  Also, there was that one time where she sat in front of the TV and chowed down an entire baguette - it must have been a meter in length.  She smiles a lot and she has some darn good eyebrows.  She wasn't a hugger or a gusher, but she showed us through all of her selfless acts of service that she loved all of us grandkids.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Steamed Catfish with Black Bean Sauce and Tofu - Recipe

I didn't grow up eating catfish at home.  My mom would steam whole fish from the Chinese supermarket, but catfish was for some reason not one of the species that she regularly selected for consumption.  When Wes and I started cooking together very early on in our relationship, this was one of the first things that we made.  Wes had given me the key to his place already, so it had become quite the habit to scoot over to his apartment after work with my clunky old Acer laptop, set up camp at his dining table, and await his return.  One night, he showed up with a whole catfish, slimy and fresh.  His explanation: One-fifty a pound.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

MarilynMeetsWes Granola Recipe

Since so many people have been asking for the recipe for the granola that we baked for our wedding, here it is!  It was inspired by the Eleven Madison Park recipe, but we tweaked it to favor our preferences and added a greater variety of our favorite nuts and berries.  We wanted the granola to be fun to eat and full of surprises.

Monday, August 24, 2015

True Love Is...

True love is when I, the health-conscious hiker, told him to pull over for an impromptu slice of Ho-Made pie, and when he, the glutinous acrophobe with one bad knee, agreed to scale Angel’s Landing.  True love is when he planned a sunrise photo expedition to Horseshoe Bend, and when I researched the best (and possibly only) location for cold brew in Southwest Utah.  He avoids waking up early with me at all costs, I roll my eyes at his caffeine dependency.  True love is when he handed over the steering wheel of his beloved car, knowing full well of all the risks of having an Asian girl in the pilot seat on twisting canyon roads with no passing lanes.  True love is when I stayed under 80 mph. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We're Expecting


Typically, right after two people get married, they begin to get all kinds of hints and nudges regarding their next big step.  Like a good forward-thinking couple, we had already discussed it between ourselves.  We weren’t about to embark on this next milestone without assessing our present level of stability, without realistically evaluating the time commitment, without considering the risks.  Would it need tons of attention?  Would it keep us up all night?  Would it take the fun out of doing what we do?  Would it fail to thrive, would it grow and flourish?