Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!!!

I know, I know, I have been slacking on blogging again. I can't even believe I only wrote one entry in September. So let me do a quick recap about what had happened in September...
2. I finally, sort of, found a job and I did it two days before my birthday. I viewed it as an answered prayer:) It's just a part-time, which allows me to teach in after-school programs (as a para professional) for about 11 hours per week. The best part is that the elementary school is two blocks away. Yes, I can just walk over there 5 minutes before the class starts. (Unfortunately, I do need to walk over about one hour earlier to prepare for classes, ha!!) I am teaching 5th & 6th grade choir, 3rd grade reading,  2nd grade mind & motor skills, and 1st grade arts & crafts. I need to say it's a bit intimidating....I am almost covering the entire years!! I've never thought I would work at an elementary school...LOL. I am also accepted by an agent as a translator yet no job comes in yet. My wish is to save up some more money so I can have a baby before I turn 30! 
So tomorrow (or today, if you're in Chinese time) is the mid-autumn festival. I hate paying 30 bucks for not-so-fresh, high-in-preservatives moon cakes so I decided to make on my own. I learned how to make it from Sue and worked on it with my friend, Cathy, together!
                                             Hard-working Girls!
                                             Just out of the oven!
                                              A close-up shot!

Since the recipe was in grams, we needed to transfer every measurements to cups (I don't have a gram scale yet). We were worried that we would have messed up the cakes but I think we did ok. Traditionally, this kind of moon cakes would have salty duck yolks inside; we omitted it for the sake of scare resource and health concerns. These babies have refined red bean paste inside. They're very very fattening though. 


Yu-ting's Cha Shiu Pork

                                             This was the main course of our dinner tonight, 
                                             Chinese Cha Shiu pork! I used my own recipe,
                                             which stemmed from a variety of others'. The
                                             recipe (marinate) is as follows:
                                             Chinese seafood sauce (or cha shiu sauce)
                                             Soy sauce
                                             Freshly-squeezed orange juice
                                             Chinese five-spices powder 
                                             lightly-smashed garlic
                                             some salt & pepper
                                             red pepper flakes
                                             *Sorry! I don't use measurement that much...
                                              Chinese seafood sauce and honey's ratio is about
                                               1 to 1. Soy sauce and orange juice's ratio is about
                                              1 to 1 too, but each of them respectively is about 
                                              1/3 of honey.
                                              A bit of Chinese five-spices powder goes a long
                                              way; in this case, 1 teaspoon should be plenty.
                                              *Marinate your pork in the fridge for at least 6 
                                              hours up to one or two nights.
                                              *Preheat the oven to 400 F and roast for 30 min.
                                              first and then brush the marinate (fresh one, not
                                              from the marinate bag) on the meat in every 10
                                              min. for about 4 times. Make sure you rotate sides.
                                              *Keep some water in the roasting pan while in the 
                                              oven for easy clean-up afterwards.

                                             Beautiful glaze! It was very tender and juicy!

                                             I also wrapped the pork, some radish, romaine 
                                             lettuce, and carrot with rice paper. Serve with
                                             simple Vietnamese dipping sauce (fish sauce,
                                             minced garlic, red pepper flakes, lime juice, 
                                             sugar, and water). Enjoy!


Can't wait to be BUSIER!

So that means I'm not busy enough, not even close!
It's been almost three weeks since we got back from Taiwan. Everything in Taiwan was great and we spent a terrific time with my family & friends. Eating like crazy in Taiwan somehow satisfied my craving for Chinese food and it would hold up for a while. If you still haven't got a chance to check out our Taiwanese album on facebook, please do so! I would have put up an album here if I could have known how to... (Does anyone who uses blogger know how to put up an album here?)

I am tutoring a couple of Americans Mandarin; it just a gig type-of-thing since the number is so tiny. I would like to be a certified Mandarin teacher though. I looked it up online for some certificate programs offered in the States but only found one result at Columbus University, New York. Yeah, it's no way for me to go there and participate in that program. My dimming hope...

I am picking up Japanese again and hopefully this time I can motivate myself for longer. Maybe I should set up a goal like, passing a Japanese proficiency test, or something like that, to make sure I would have a productive study outcome. Do you guys pick up any new hobby during the summer?


Diploma Arrived!

I'm officially a receiver of Master in Music in Ethnomusicology. 


Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto

I haven't tried this recipe yet! You may try and tell me how you like it! Check out www.cooksillustrated.com for more cooking tips on videos! 

from Cook's Illustrated, July & August 2009's issue  

Serves 4 to 6  

NOTE: A half teaspoon of red wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes can be substituted for the pepperoncini. If you don't have a food processor, a blender may be substituted. In step 2, pulse ingredients until roughly chopped, then proceed with the recipe, reducing processing times by half.  

1/4 cup slivered almonds 
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 1/2 cups) 
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves 
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon) 
1 small pepperoncini (hot pepper in vinegar), stemmed, seeded, and minced (about 1/2 teaspoon) 
table salt 
pinch red pepper flakes (optional) 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 pound pasta, pregerably linguine or spaghetti 
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving  
1. Toast almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature. 
2. Process cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes (if using) in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds. 
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot. 
4. Add pesto and 1/2 cup parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.


I'm Back!

I was dreaming about updating my trip while staying in Taiwan and it didn't work out! I was as tired as I could possibly be and got dozed off before hitting the sack everyday. Well, now I am back! I was a little sad on the plane home and upset about the fact that I was coming back to U.S.A. (This means I need to say goodbye to awesome Taiwanese food and deal with the reality-paying bills, finding jobs and stuff). But it feels good and right to be home in Provo. After being washed by the heat and humidity in Taiwan, Provo's weather is like heavenly. I've heard that it would reach 100 degree soon around Friday but well...At least now I feel good without AC on.

So I will try to update and upload pictures from this trip ASAP. I probably will put up pictures on facebook first since it's the easiest way for me. That's for now, ciao!  


A Story.

Today, my cell's alarm went off at 8:00 in the morning. I struggled to get off the bed and I needed to be responsible to wake Trav too. After some fumbling around the house, both of us jumped into the car and left for Salt Lake City. The trip to the SLC USCIS office would lift the burden off my shoulder since I had not received my temp. green card at this moment. Well, I was supposed to receive the card about 3 weeks ago according to the welcome notice sent from USCIS

(Anyway, we really couldn't do much about other individual's timetable. In the past several weeks, I checked my mail box twice a day, anticipating THE card. NOPE. NOTHING.) 

So here we go. We had a quite pleasant 45-minute drive to the office and we were even 5 minutes early. When it came to our turn, we explained about our situation and requested to get my passport stamped with a special visa. I told the officer that I'm flying out on this Wednesday morning and I can't afford to wait on the (supposed-to-be-in-my-mail-box-a-million-years-ago) green card. After some contemplation, he stamped my passport and promised me that the card would arrive before the end of my trip. 

(And yes, this was my second time at the office for the same matter. I went there about two weeks ago to request the same thing but the officer of that day told me to wait for it. Why couldn't they just stamp my passport in the first time? Now it's 2.60 something per gallon!) 

Thus we brought back the stamped passport. As we pulled in the drive way, I went up to check our mail box. To my surprise, the mail box was filled with quite a pile; grocery Ads, a package from Gail (thanks to her sweetness to send me the program of BGSU's commencement), and, a mysterious envelope...I pinched and pressed the envelope, hoping to figure out what's inside, then my figure sensed an outline of a credit-card size square. 

Urrrrrrah. NO WAY. Was this it? I tore it open and spotted the trademark of USCIS. Men! Why? Why it came right after my appointment? Only 2 hours apart! AHHHHhhhhhhhHHHH!!!

So, this is the story of the day. I'm going back to pack now.



5 More Days to Go!

Ha! Can't wait! This morning when I woke up, I took a couple of minutes just laying in bed and imagining the moment when we arrive at the Taipei airport. My Mom has promised that my family will show up and pick us up from the airport. So the airport scene would be the first encounter of Travis and my family. How fun! (Sorry, If this is not the BEST attitude I should have...I know that Travis is pretty nervous about it...)

I think I will start packing today and I'm planning on taking only two luggage with us plus two items of carry-ons. I hope the airlines haven't launched the regulation to charge for carry-ons. By the way, by any chance if anyone knows  whether I am allowed to bring a 2-oz. sanitizer (flammable) on board? I need that to fight against the swine flu germs! 

I still have some errands to run before departure, such as getting gifts for my family! What would you get as a gift for your friends outside of the States? I have few ideas in mind but I would like to hear your say! (Besides, my family might be reading this blog and I don't want to spoiled the surprise by revealing my options!)  

So Trav and I went to the Manti Pageant last night. The turnout of the crowd was pretty good concerning it was a weeknight. I was comparing the Manti one with the Nauvoo one and found the Manti one is more narrative-savvy whereas the Nauvoo one focuses more on performantive elements. I actually like Nauvoo Pageant better since it focuses only on the Saints' history in the Nauvoo period instead of attempting to encompass the entire story of LDS's migration (from New York to Utah) and the brief life of J. Smith, which the Manti pageant just did. Or maybe I'm just biased; I've always loved Nauvoo temple and the area, haha! One regret I have is that I didn't get married in Nauvoo temple but well, every temple is the Lord's house...

The Manti pageant lasted approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes. Afterwards, we took US-89 S. (about 15 miles south) to Gunnison and from there merged onto I-15 north to Provo. We were told to do so to avoid north traffic. Well, it still took us about 1 hour and 40 min. to get home. I just list this experience for the future references if somebody lives north wants to travel down to Manti to see the Pageant.     


What's Cooking?

Only 15 more days to go and then I won't need to cook for 3 weeks! How exciting! Although I love making food, cooker's block would appear from time to time. These two dishes show my attempt to be a quasi-vegetarian!

Grilled Veggies 
Dressing: minced garlic, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste.
Assorted vegetables, such as zucchini, summer squash, red & yellow bell peppers, tomato, egg plant, and red onion.
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Brush the dressing onto veggies before grilling. Drizzle some more dressing onto the plate and garnish with mozzarella cheese and torn basil leaves before serving. 

Simple Garlic Lemon Pasta
minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, mixed Italian spices, thin-sliced veggies (zucchini, red & yellow pepper, carrot, and onion), and shrimp

Trav's Birthday!!

Happy birthday, Travis! Trav's birthday was last Friday and I made a cake for him. This cake embodied my love for him straight out of the BOX!! (I know, I will try to make it from scratch next time.) To make the cake a bit more special, I blended cool whip, lemon juice & zest, and canned tropical fruit as stuffing, sandwiched by two layers of cake.   

The cake! He was turning 26! I used edible pink gel to garnish the cake. The color pink caters to my personal taste instead of his, oops! 

Do you notice that? Yes, these candles sparkle!! I got them from a dollar store. It's like miniature fireworks on a cake! 

The birthday boy! I surprised him with the cake right after he got off work!



(Ok, I know the head title is bizarre but I am kind of speechless now so please bare with me...)
So, I got a callback from Nu Skin about a couple of days ago and I went for an interview today. I didn't think I totally bombed the interview (yeah, I made some mistakes in English grammar but that just a typical me) but I am almost 100% sure that I won't get the job. Because I told them that I will be leaving for Taiwan right after the orientation & training program for new employees, they replied that they USUALLY don't allow employees to be on leave for more than two weeks not even mention that it will be right on the first week of my employment. DARN IT! (I wasn't going to be that honest but I was required to fill out some forms before the interview; my conscience was evoked during the filing process...) 

Well, I guess that means that I just need to focus on planning out my trip now! Three more weeks to go and then I will be gone! 

I will battle with prospective employers after I get back from Taiwan. If you know anyone is hiring and you think I'm made for that particular job, please let me know!!! I will be available after July 15th!


Be Strong

So my father-in-law is doing much much better now! We're all very happy about his progress and glad to see that he can smile, eat, and joke around again! He's scheduled to go home either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. One of his friends who visited him yesterday also had a bypass (triple) about 8 years ago and now in his 80's is still up and going. I hope my father-in-law will be like that too! It's just so much fun to have him around. 

The sad news is that I've received a bill from my insurance company today, which requests me to pay off the 500-dollar ultrasound bills. I thought my insurance would cover this cost completely and apparently I was totally wrong. A crappy student insurance coverage can't be stretched THAT far. One of my friends told me that I can negotiate with the hospital with a payment plan and I think I'm gonna give it a shot. And this incident also compels me to look for job again. Thus, I've filled out another two job applications this afternoon. I hope someone out  there would give me a chance for interview regardless of the fact that I am going to be out of town for 3 weeks in June! This entire fiscal situation turns me off so much that I'm not as excited about the trip to Taiwan as before. Sorry to everyone who reads my blog for not spreading more good tidings! 

So, I can only hold onto the hope that more good things will come, eventually. 



I admit that I've been slacking on blogging these days. Well, I just realize that life itself could be boring sometimes or get stuck in a rut. My life is like that now. I've also been occupied with my father-in-law's situation; he just had an open-heart surgery and I don't know when I would get a chance to visit with him. I just hope that everything will go well and he'll recover from it without any complications. Prayers are indeed appreciated. 


One-tooth-less Woman

I'm eating yogurt with a butter knife because the teaspoon I have is too big to fit into my barely-opened mouth. 

The end result of my gum infection is loosing my wisdom tooth on the bottom right jaw. I am so grateful that my dentist didn't pull all of three off. He said my upper right one would never grow out and my bottom left one doesn't seem to be a trouble maker now. Anyhow, It was quite a shock when my dentist asked me right in the middle of the appointment for considering the surgery. By the way, we were only charged 157.50 dollars for the surgery. The place is Utah Valley Urgent Dental Care

I barely felt the laughing gas in the operation but the anesthetic definitely numbed quarter of my face till now. 

Well, it's time for me to take medication now. I will keep you guys posted about my journey of recovery.

Anything Wrong with Foreign People?

This sunny yet windy afternoon, on my way home from Provo library, I was passing through three teenaged boys practicing their skateboarding skills. One of them was on the phone, conversing with tons of swearing words. One of them caught a perfect timing-when I was walking by his shoulder, just about two inches away- and muttered, " I hate foreign people."

That was actually the first time of my presence in the States to hear such an obvious, unreserved hatred and I was stunned without either showing my emotions or changing my walking pace. Now as I think about it, I'm amazed that this experience donesn't happen in BG, Ohio, a small college town, but in here, Provo, with a far more variety of races and ethnicities populated. I can't help but wonder what kind of experience or education the boy has received to help shape this kind of revulsion and disrespect for so-called "foreign people."

I was mad right after hearing the comment and snapped back in my mind by thinking *beep* (It's just rated-PG, but I feel bad to show it...) Then I feel bad for them. Life without Gospel is probably like that without light. It's really hard to keep things in right perspectives without the guidance of God. Would they ever know they're supposed to love everyone just like what Jesus does? The scriptures say pray for your enemies so I've decided to pray for their welfare tonight.


So the verdict is...

Well, I think I've passed it!

This morning Trav and I went to the USCIS office upon Salt Lake for an immigration interview. We were called in about half an hour behind the schedule. During the interview, there was a moment of doubt since we couldn't prove we have joint insurance, properties, investment, and so on. Yet at the end it turned out ok. The officer was not LDS (I guess, from lots of traits) and he originally came from Romania. So, if anyone else browsing my blog is about to go through the interview process, please collect as much evidence showing you and your spouse's joint status as possible. He didn't even bother to look at our wedding pictures...(I've spent at least 30 minutes to organize all of the pictures we have.)

So now I just need to wait for the card, I guess. I feel kind of surreal; I guess I will feel better when I hold the card on hand. 

Bad news is that I have a gum infection around my bottom right wisdom tooth and I can't figure out what it is going on there. I am terrified to even think about that I might need to get a dental check-up. I don't want to spend 100 bucks just for a check-up though. If I were in Taiwan, it could just cost me 7 bucks for check-up...well. Anyway, does anyone have experiences like this? Now I'm living on pain killer and oral anesthetic><

something irrelevant: The Great Value pizza at Walmart is actually quite tasty; I especially like the one with chicken, bacon, and ranch toppings. Now only 3.80 each (That leads to 1.90 per person! Quite a deal!) 


Spring Noodles

(I have been trying to add pictures via library's internet since two days ago but it never works out...)
I'm working on new moon now. Because I'm eager to see Edward appear on the main stage of the plot again, I've been going through pages in a fairly fast speed. The beginning of the novel evokes my emotions a lot; I can somehow empathy the emptiness and despair of being "dumped." (Even though I've never had a vampire boyfriend.) Anyway, it's nice to let my imagination soar once a while. The pic represents the snapshot of the day: book + food + laptop. 

I used leftover ham from Easter to boost the flavor of this dish. The key seasoning for this dish is Chinese black vinegar; it adds an unique aroma by just adding a splash. I also used vegetable peeler to peel carrot into thin ribbons. This shape goes along with noodles very well. Please give it a try!  


Wonton soup

I'm so excited for the weather! High 70s would be coming soon and finally I will be able to wear short-sleeves, wandering around.  I'm gradually getting over the cold; less nose-blowing but more coughing now. Maybe I'll expose myself underneath the sun more and see if the heat would kill the germs. As the weather gets better, I get more and more excited about this summer. The excitement keeps bubbling up from my mind from time to time, reminding me of the possible upcoming trip home. I've been praying everyday for the feasibility of the trip; I really miss almost everything in Taiwan...

Finally, I finished twilight just barely (because it's due today...I need to turn it in to Provo library). I plan to start New Moon today. It's fun to read young adult novels since for me it's easier to read. I also learn so many adjectives describing different kinds of emotions and body expressions; novels have taught me a different set of vocab. compared to what I've learned through digging in the academic journals in the past. I'm slowly overcoming the fear of reading English novels:) Please recommend some other fun, readable novels to me, plz!   

Wonton soup is very easy to make. By using store-bought wonton wraps, you can save plenty of time. The stuffing here consists of fine minced ginger, minced shitaki mushroom, minced water chestnut, ground chicken thigh, and cubed shrimp. The seasonings include oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper, corn starch, and some water used to soak the shitaki mushroom. How to fold and seal the wonton? Just put some stuffing in the center of the wrap, brush water on the edge margin of the warp and fold it in halve as a triangle. Pinch the edge to seal it well. Pick two corners on the bottom of the triangle and pinch them together. You can freeze the fresh wontons individually and it should be good for at least one week.     


Broccoli, tomato, and mozzarella stromboli

Since I've been slacking on putting up food recipes and pics, I will contribute a stromboli recipe today. I don't really know what "stromboli" means but it looks like a chubby, stuffed bread stick to me. I didn't make my own dough and used a can of frozen pizza crust dough instead. If you are as cheap as me and use the Walmart-brand (such as Great Value) frozen dough, you would expect to make 4 of these in one can. It's not necessary to use frozen broccoli; if you can't find Genoa salami, just use any kind you can get on. 

Here is the recipe from EVERYDAY FOOD (Martha Stewart's magazine).

Broccoli, tomato, and mozzarella stromboli

serves 4

1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen

all-purpose flour, for work surface

1 package (1 pound) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

2 garlic cloves, minced

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 cup marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

2 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degree. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Divide dough into 4 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, stretch out each piece, first to a 3-by-4 inch oval, then to a 6-by-8-inch oval (let dough rest briefly if too elastic to work with).

2. drain and pet dry broccoli if necessary.

3. Dividing evenly, scatter broccoli over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle with garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Dividing evenly, top with mozzarella, salami, and 1/2 cup marinara.

4. Starting at a shorter end, roll up each stromboli, and place, seam side down, on baking sheet. Using the tip of a paking knife, cut two slits in the top of each. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve stromboli with 1/2 cup marinara for dipping.


Yes, It snowed yesterday and the ground is still covered with at least  2-inch snow. I really feel bad for my neighbor's pink tree; it looked so lively two days ago (see the pics). I've been cooped up home due to sore throat and cold (I know, I'm sick again?! I can't even believe it by myself.) Snowy day really makes me feel down! It looks like Christmas it's not even funny!

So Trav and I went to my parents-in-law's for Easter dinner. We had approximately 28 people there and had a potluck dinner. I brought some homemade shaomai to share. The pink eggs you see here are made by Laurel, my dear sis-in-law! Aren't they cute? And the bunny cupcakes are made by Jill, my dear neighbor & friend! Jill, they are so cute, so photogenic, and tastes good too! Thanks so much for sharing it!


Good News!

So, I went to the Doc appointment this morning. The OBGYN is located just about 3 blocks away so that I was able to walk over there. I was thinking about I can do my ultrasound there in the future if I get pregnant. Anyway. My doc said my tumor is too tiny to worth an operation and he wanted me to put this thing behind and move on. He said it might grow in the future yet we can talk about it as it happens. OK. 

So I guess I will follow his advice and not worry about it for now. After the Doc visit, I was way excited and booked my ticket to Taiwan right away regardless of my interview has yet been done. Well, I need to pray fervently for the success of the interview then. The tentative itinerary is to fly out to Taiwan on June 24th and fly back to the States on July 15th. Oh, I can't wait to plan out the details of the trip! I really hope this time I can finally make it to Taiwan! 



So it's positive that there is a tumor in my uterus.
It may not be cancerous yet it needs to be surgically removed. My nurse partitioner urged me to make an appointment with a surgical Doc so that I'm going in tomorrow morning. I'm kind of nervous and a bit depressed now. I need tons of prayers, please!! ><
It seems that the journey to home (TAIWAN) is a bit bumpy:(  


the 179th LDS general conference

I've actually forgotten most of the details by now (but I know I will revive my memory of it by reading the next Ensign magazine...).

I think the entire theme is about how to press on with hope and faith (in this tumultuous time). I'm in general bad with names so I can't remember who has spoken which talk. But I almost love every single one of them. I love the talk on service-we earn our lives by losing it in serving others. The practical advise on setting specific goals on attending temple ordinances and (participate in all of kinds you're able to). If I can go back to Taiwan this summer, I would explain the meanings and the significance of temple ordinances to my family and hopefully gain the permission to do the ordinances for my ancestors. Furthermore, I would love to do some of the ordinances in Taiwan Taipei temple since it's located in my homeland after all.  

It's so valuable to learn about how our pioneers persevered and pressed forward in their perilous journeys. It's so true that we are dealing with a bad economic climate yet we've endowed with the freedom to choose our religion. We probably won't be persecuted and forced to abandon our homeland and all we've established due to our religious belief. I'm truly grateful for this blessing. After the first session on Sunday, we were eating a fine Sunday supper including salad, baked potatoes, and beef roast with veggies. That was a happy family get-together tinted with a slight shadow of sorrow. The words of our beloved prophet still echoed in our mind, recounting the story of a single mom loosing her children along the way of a long journey. She needed to make graves for her children by digging the ground with a spoon, which was the only tool she had on hand. After all of these trials and unbearable sorrow, she got up the pulpit and bore a strong testimony that she knew how much God loved her and she knew she would meet her family again if she endured till the end. How Lucky was I that I was eating a great Sunday dinner made by my mother-in-law. I'm so blessed and taken care of by the Lord's mercy. 

I don't know how long my journey on earth would last yet I believe the reward is yet to come. I'm not perfect and far away from it. But, I still have hope through the savior's infinite power of his atonement. I hope I would never turn my back on Him and follow Him till the end. It's hard and definitely not easy yet I hope I will remember every testimony I've born when the hard time hits and have peace with me. I know that is the thing I've always hoped for since youth. I know that I wouldn't be forsaken if I follow Him. I will press on because of Him love.


Rice Rice and Chorizo with Black Beans

I have another good news! I just received a letter from USCIS, which calls for an interview scheduled on May 6th. After the interview, I would expect to receive the temp. green card soon and I could FLY BACK TO TAIWAN to visit!!!!! I really hope the interview will go well so that I can plan for the visit to Taiwan. Ah, how exciting! My brain couldn't calm down for a while after receiving the notice.

I wish I could be as professional as Miriam when it comes to taking pictures:( Although it looks a bit sloppy, it tastes good! Actually, I'm not much a bean person but I'm learning to love it now. Every time when I order a burrito, I would ask for more rice and less beans and that's typical of me. This dish has plenty rice for me and some beans for decoration (ha) so I still love it!
The original recipe is Rachel Ray's Smoky Red Rice and Chorizo with Black Beans from her Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine. After I modified it, it's not SMOKY anymore. The reason is that I took off some special ingredients which make it taste smoky, such us smoked paprika, fire-roasted smoked tomatoes, and so on. It still tastes good though. Let's see my version of it:
The ingredients (serves 4)
1 (3/4) cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon EVOO (hint: olive oil)
1 cup rice (uncooked)
2 roasted red peppers (Roast fresh bell peppers in the oven, roaster oven, or on the grill. After the pepper is charred, soak it in cold water right away and peel the skin off.) 
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon paprika
1  3/4- to 1-pound package Spanish Chorizo (sliced) (I used Mexican Chorizo since I couldn't find the Spanish one in Walmart.)
2 serrano chiles (seeded and chopped) (It's pretty spicy if you use two of them; adjust accordingly) 
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz. can black beans
salt & pepper

The rice part: (I just cook the rice in my rice cooker; the original requires you to cook it on the stove.)
1. Make the rice in the rice cooker along with the chicken broth, EVOO, puree red bell peppers, flat-leaf parsley, and paprika.

The sausage mix
2. Meanwhile, cook the chorizo until crisp. Add the chiles, onion and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in the tomatoes and beans; season with salt and pepper.
Serve the rice in shallow bowls topped with the beans & chorizo.

Yu ting's trick: I squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto my dish and it brightens the flavor! You can also use cilantro to substitute for parsley. 

The bell pepper really adds flavor to the rice. It's pretty easy to make. If you're too lazy to roast the pepper and puree it, just get a jar of roasted bell pepper and that would save you time! 


Forrest Gump

Ok, I think I might be the last person hasn't seen this movie until last night. Since I discovered the benefit of Provo library's movie section, I've abandoned all of other movie rental channels altogether. Just like some other libraries, you can put the movie you desire to watch on hold and then wait a couple of days to get it. I'm requesting New Moon now so that I might be able to read it in a week.  (I know I'm supposed to look for a job diligently, but, well...)

What's Forrest Gump's destiny? When his mama prompts him to think about this question, his life journey thus far has answered it. With IQ of 75, Gump has been true to himself. He tries to enjoy his life while he can and tries to help people within his ability. Through his journey, I can see God's hand in every place so that he can do what he has done. It's hilarious to see how he gets involved with several landmark historical events yet I'm even more impressed with how he either accidentally or intentionally inspires or saves others' lives. Thus, he's been an instrument of God's hand. I'm not that kind of person would relate every movie I see to the Gospel (whereas Trav is inclined to do so), but I do it on this movie naturally. Gump sticks to the talents the Lord's given to him and makes 100% out of it; I wish I could be like him (maybe not the IQ 75 part; but this character really shows everyone has different gifts and blessings designated by God).  

p.s. The only downside of using library's DVDs is; they sometimes get too scratchy so that my DVD player can't play through the whole thing:(


So, here are some updates

So finally I got my temp. work permit (good for a year) and advance parole for traveling abroad. I was so excited that when I received the advance parole a couple of days ago but realized that I might miss the interview with the USCIS officer if I go back to Taiwan in May. Ur...I think I'd better stay until I get the temp. green card. I really miss home though. (and May is probably the cheapest month to fly back to Taiwan) So I'm looking for a job now and then realize that my self-esteem is bombarded by the harsh reality and the downward economy. Well, I need to keep my chin up and keep looking...


Vietnamese Rice-Noodle Salad with Grilled Beef

I am still very awake:( It's not supposed to be like this but unfortunately I took about a three-hour after-dinner nap with Trav, my sick husband. He was coughing whole night last night so that none of us got enough sleep. Well, chancy weather is a daunting thing yet it's expected in the Utah Valley. 

So, I made this salad-like meal for dinner. I saw the original recipe on this blog (Chinese) and I modified it a bit as usual: 
tw.myblog.yahoo.com/jw!7.m6LNuRGBIUNIf. FWf.pMZ8/article?mid=1581&prev=1608&next=398&l=f&fid=15
It served well to my cleaning-fridge purpose and saved us from a hamburger helper dinner. Way to go!

The salad dressing:
fish sauce: sugar: hot water
2               :1         :4
garlic, red chili pepper flakes, and a tablespoon (or more) lemon juice

The noodles:
Vietnamese rice noodles
shredded lettuce, shredded carrots (marinated with sugar and rice vinegar mixture; about 1:1),
fresh cilantro, and (shredded cucumber), ground peanuts for garnish 

The meat marinate:
fish sauce: sugar:oil
1               :1         :1
oyster sauce (at least two times as much as fish sauce)
garlic, about one teaspoon five spices power, and some pepper
*marinate the meat for at least one to two hours before grilling it
*make the dressing in advance and chill it in the fridge
*I only had Korean long noodles made of potato starch so I used it and it turned out pretty well. You can certainly experiment on your own. 
Mix the meat, the noodles, and the dressing right before eating. Enjoy! 


Project Gutenberg

I found an online ebook database. You may find some books you'd like to read for free! The books on this database are not confined to the copyright.


How "Chinese" am I?

Trav's very likely having a bad cold now so he's sleeping in the guest room. I'm sort of feeling that I'm back to my old single life again (so staying up pretty late is one of the things I did quite often). Anyway, I've been fooling around and browsing people's blogs for about a few hours; the following forwarded email is one of my findings...
p.s. I read this email from this blog (Chinese blog). If you're interested in the original wording and the blogger's commentaries, please follow this link (since I still don't know how to use the "quote" function on pixnet. Maybe some internet-savvy friends can help me?) 
Here is my own translation and commentary on this email:
The 60 attributes of Chinese in Foreigner's sight: (Ok, I might finish it tomorrow morning since my Mac is about to die and I am too lazy to find its power cord...Feeling too cozy in bed).
1. When greeting with friends, Chinese says "Have you eaten yet?" instead of "How are you?"
Well, isn't it just a cultural thing? It's in general easier to ask the first question and get a genuine answer; people usually fake it when they're actually not fine...

2. Likes to eat chicken feet.
Ok, I admit it. Compared to most of the Americans, I tend to eat more chicken feet and actually enjoy them.

3. When eating a fish, Chinese cleans up it by sucking on the head and the fins.
It used to be my Mom or Dad's job in Taiwan. As for now, please tell me how to get a fish with its head and fins on in Utah...

4. Likes to decorate his/her car's mirror with Chinese-style goodies. 
I don't have my own car yet and Trav doesn't do it...Well, he just simply doesn't decorate his car.

5. Likes to sing Kareoke.
Nothing wrong with it! Taiwan's Kareoke bars are some fun and I suggest all of my friends should try it if they have a chance to visit Taiwan.

6. Put tiles on their floor.
Well, I have some files on my floor too and I'm pretty sure my contractor is not Chinese. 

7. Their kitchen is always covered with a thick layer of grease.
No way! I mop my kitchen countertop and stoves after every meal. 

8. Each stove is covered with tin foil. 
Simply no.

9. Electronic remotes are covered with rubber or plastic stuff.
Urhhh...Maybe Japanese does that? Ok, I won't play the stereotype here. Who does that?

10. Never kiss their parents.
I can't remember if I've ever done it. I definitely kissed my Mom's cheek before...right?

11. Never hug their parents.
Well, I for sure have done this.

12. Start wearing glasses since the 5th grade.
Well, right on! But for me, I think the reason is that I watched too much TV. For the generation which is at least 5 years younger than me, they would get near-sighted early due to playing too much video games.

13. Hairs would be spiked up after awaking up.
What kind of conclusion is it? Haha.

14. Debate for some self-evident stuff.
No comments. I think it's nothing to do with race and nationality.  

15. Likes to use coupons.
I think everyone likes it...

16. Drive around in order to find the cheapest gas station in town.
Ok, I do it sometimes. Now I just go to costco directly.

17. Always wait till evenings to take a shower.
Well, I still do this. But by doing it I can keep my sheets clean thus there's no need to wash them too often. I can't sleep well if I don't take a shower right before bed.

18. Don't eat the food, snacks, or drinks in a hotel if they are not free.
I won't either. The food in the hotel is usually more expensive than their retail price. I don't want to pay more than what it should worth. 

19. Chinese guys have lesser body hairs than Chinese women.
False in most cases. 

20. If someone pours tea for him/her, he/she would knock on the table to show the gratitude. 
Never heard of it. Definitely not for Taiwanese.


(Poll) Your favorite Bath & Body Works Lotion?

Since I'm (supposed to be) practicing a frugal life style, I swap my bath & body works lotions with store-brand ones. However, I still feel more girly and being "loved" while putting b & bw lotions on. I still keep a 4 oz. bottle of sheer freesia lotion in my purse no matter where I go. What's your favorite b & bw lotion and why? Or you have other picks? I would like to know!! 

So it's great that my dear friends told me what kind of lotions they love. Since I have been trying to save money, I've used lots of suave products. They were kind of cheap in Ohio but appear to be pricier here in Utah. Well, another thing I love about them is that they come with tons of scents (well, shower gel/shampoo/conditioner-wise, not lotion-wise). And they work pretty well on my body. They also have sweet pea, cool cucumber melon, coconut, and some other nice scents (and try to be competitive with Bath & Body Work products; please see notes on any Suave products for the proof, haha). Anyway, I still would be patient and wait for B & Bw's (semi-annual/annual/summer/or whatever reason) sale and hope to snap some favs home. 


First-Year Baby Costs Calculator

Urhh...I'm NOT pregnant if you wonder. I just ran across to a link on the New York Times Magazine about child-rearing. So, here is a calculator helps you estimate how much you would spend on child-rearing. 


Chinese Sour and Spicy Soup & Green Onion Pancakes

I made these dishes for dinner about a couple of nights ago. This version of sour & spicy soup is not as strong as those of some Chinese restaurants; therefore I like it!! I am not good at making dough so that I made an easy version of green onion pancakes. For these two recipes, I referenced to this blog: http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/jw!ErFND3KRGB5spcr2zj8sS1c.uA--/


Fun day with my sis-in-law!

I visited my sis-in-law, Miriam, yesterday and had a fun shopping & cooking time with her. We made shao mai, a kind of dim-sum dumpling, together! If you're interested in how to make it and the pictures we took along the process, please visit Miriam's food blog: 
p.s. Thanks again for Jill & Dave's bamboo steamer; it works! Jill, we should make this dish together sometime, I think you will like it!


Japanese-style Deviled Eggs

It was fun that Jill & Dave came over to our house for dinner last night! They were so nice that they brought a loaf of fresh bread over as well. In order to honor the St. Patrick's Day, we watched the movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People (and I finally had a glimpse on the mysterious leprechauns). I guess Trav still keeps his leprechaun message on his cell answering machine. Jill & Dave are indeed a very nice couple and full of fun and we're very grateful to have them as our neighbors. 
These deviled eggs are part of our dinner last night. I modified Sandra Lee's recipe and gave it a Japanese twist! Well, I didn't do this on purpose; I just didn't have "right" ingredients on hand. Here is my version of Sandra Lee's deviled eggs:
-6 boiled eggs
-about 2 tablespoons mayonnaise -> I used Japanese mayonnaise instead; according to my own experience, you might need to use a bit more than 2 tablespoons.
-about 1 teaspoon yellow mustard -> I replaced yellow mustard with Japanese wasabi. Again, you might want to use a little bit more than 1 teaspoon. You can also use Dejon mustard. 
-about 1 teaspoon sweet relish -> I used Japanese pickled ginger instead. Have you seen the pink ginger slices to go along with your sushi? Bingo! That's what I am talking about. 
-salt, pepper, and paprika for dusting. 
(I also added a few drops of rice vinegar to increase the acid flavor of the egg yolk mixture.)
So just boil your eggs, remove the yolks from the writes, and mix all of the ingredients with the yolks. Chill the mixture in the fridge for a while and then fill the whites with the yolk mixture. Just use the old ziplock bag's trick-cut a corner of a ziplock bag to pipe the whites. Chill the eggs in the fridge till completely cool. Garnish with paprika and choice of herbs.   


Shrimp and Edamame Fried Rice & Garlic butter Spread

Fried rice is super easy to make especially when you always have leftover rice on hand. You can pretty much throw anything into your own customized version; just remember to pay heeds to the following tips:
1. Aromatics: Always have some aromatic ingredients in your fried rice, such as garlic, onions, green onions, carrots, and so on. 
2. Cold steamed rice: Do not use hot, soft, and steamy rice. A overnight-refrigerated batch of rice might be the best. Using hot or warm steamed rice could result in a gummy texture. 
3. Special treatment of the main protein: Marinate your main protein thus give it an extra punch of flavor. I use shrimp here as my main protein. Shrimps here are de-veined, peeled, and marinated with a few drops of soy sauce, some corn starch, and a pinch of black pepper (or white pepper). Keep the marinate simple so that it does not overwhelm the natural flavor of the protein. 
4. In most cases, make the scrambled eggs separately: Eggs are one of the traditional ingredients of fried rice. Making the scrambled eggs beforehand and then assembling it with the main body of the fried rice at the last stage of cooking would keep the neatness of the entire dish. 
So here is how to do it: heat up oil and saute your aromatics (mine are chopped garlics, red pepper flakes, green onions, onions, and carrots) and add edamame and shrimps. Add a tablespoon of Chinese BBQ sauce (沙茶醬)and about a tablespoon of soy sauce (you can omit the Chinese BBQ sauce if you like). Finally add the cold steamed rice and the eggs. Mix them well. Enjoy!

I also enjoy making my own garlic spread. It's very simple (serve about 6 slices bread of a regular loaf): prepare a cube of unsalted/salted butter (well, I forgot the measurement; A stick of butter usually comes with some measurement on the wrapper. Take one unit of that!);  a pinch of salt (you may omit it if you use salted butter); a clove of fresh garlic; a teaspoon of sugar; herb (either some fresh parsley or some dried Italian herb mix). Put all of the above ingredients into a food processor till the spread appears smooth and well-blended. Spread this mixture on bread and toast it till perfection. It's great for soup-dunking! If you're like me, who likes the taxes roadhouse's cinnamon butter spread, try this very simple cinnamon-butter-spread recipe at home. Just mix cinnamon powder, a pinch of sugar, and unsalted butter together in a food processor. Adjust the seasonings according to your preference. You might try to put some nutmeg into the mixture (I haven't tried so yet since nutmeg is a bit too expensive for my budget now). Spread it on dinner rolls or on a hot, oven-baked sweet potato, yum!



Coconut & Shrimp Soup

After being sick & in-bed for a bit over one week, I'm finally feeling that the renewal of my body is taking place (Thus my blog entries are renewed as well). Although I haven't been feeling up to cooking, dinner still needs to be served daily. This soup is one of Trav's Thai-restaurant favorites! I modified the recipe of Emeril's Shrimp Coconut Soup with Ginger and Lemongrass on Foodnetwork and made this dish. My modified version is as follows:
Coconut soup (about 2 to 3 servings; Trav & I had two bowls each last night. If you're a big eater like us, this recipe only serves two, haha!)
The soup base:
*One can of chicken broth (or seafood/fish broth) and one can of water (use the very same chicken broth's can as measurement)
*Half a can of coconut milk
*One stalk of fresh lemongrass (at least 3-inch long), chopped
*A chunk of fresh ginger (about the size of a thumb), smashed (don't bother to chop it)
*Any sort of dried or fresh chiles (I just put in one dried red chili pepper)
*one regular size of lime, juiced (half to the cooking process and half for garnish)
*Two tablespoons of fish sauce (IMPORTANT! Please don't omit it and find a good quality bottle.)
(I omitted the Kaffir lime leaves in the original recipe; well, it did no harm to the outcome though.)
Add all of the above ingredients together and simmer it for about 20 minutes. 
The variations:
What's inside of the soup? I put tofu, shrimps, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and some thin-sliced tomatoes for garnish. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. Serve with steamed rice if you wish.  

Yu-ting's thesis is just out of the oven!

Finally, OhioLink has published my thesis online. If you're ever interested in what I've written, please follow the link below and you'll be able to read the entire work! I'll attach my abstract below also.
The link:
The abstract:
The fictional Japanese TV drama series, Nodame Cantabile, based on the lives of Western art music performance majors in a Japanese music conservatory, has successfully reached out and appealed to the Japanese common audience since it was first aired in Japan in October, 2006. It has also attracted an international following, been aired in various Asian countries (including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia), and found mass audiences beyond national boundaries. Why is a TV drama depicting such a specific group (i.e. music majors) able to cater to a mass audience in Japan and even to millions of viewers beyond Japan? In this thesis, I will argue that Nodame Cantabile not only has the typical prerequisites to be a successful Japanese TV drama, it also enchants its spectators by employing a unique, almost unprecedented approach--using Western art music as the thematic music and main soundtrack--which results in a whimsical, sensational, cross-cultural success. By contrast, most music in similar drama series uses Japanese pop music and electronic music. I will decode how this drama attracts mass audiences by interpreting/elucidating it from different perspectives, including: 1) how it portrays/reflects the Japanese music conservatory culture; 2) how it reflects the long-term popularity of certain Western art music composition in/among Japanese music composers; and, most interestingly; 3) how this drama further changes the perception of mass audiences, especially fans in Taiwan, about Western art music, and serves to increase the popularity of this music in Asian countries.


When you're seriously in bed, you do...

(Yeah, lucky me, having a double whammy of flu attack and once-a-month women thing...)
Once you've been tagged, you write a post with 10 weird, random facts, habits or goals about yourself. At the end, choose 6 new victims to be tagged, list their names, and why you tagged them. Don't forget to leave them a comment saying ('you're it!') and to go read your blog. You cannot tag the person that tagged you, so let me know when you are done so that I can go read your blog answers. Here are my ten:

1. I really want to resume my Japanese study!! I've taken two-semester Japanese language classes in BGSU and loved loved it. Around the same time, I met Trav, started dating him, and adored his fluent Japanese (and his super cute American-accented Japanese). I've been thinking about auditing Japanese classes in either UVU or BYU but I don't think I'm allowed. My only option now is self-learning yet I need a really strong motivation to do it daily... 

2. Food freak. Yeah, I'm talking about myself. I got annoyed  sometimes by randomly pop-up food thought while reading scriptures. It's usually something like "what should I make for dinner/lunch tomorrow?" And once I get it going, it's hard for me to get myself back on reading. Yeah, I should repent of it. If I have money in the future, I would like to take some culinary classes.

3. I just trimmed my hair one week ago. One morning, I was brushing my teeth and got annoyed by my tangled, frizzy hairs in the mirror. The next thing I noticed was that I trimmed off at least one inch of my hair and...the left side is a bit longer than the right side. Yeah, I saved a trip to a salon and few bucks on it.

4. Have been going to Provo library almost everyday for a month now. I think I started this routine on the day of the snow almost melted. I usually bring my laptop to the library and recharge it there. I love browsing latest magazines there and check out some DVDs. Trav likes to watch really clean movies and Provo library has tons of old movies, which usually fits his demands. Personally, I think Provo library is way cooler than Bowling Green library (and Americans are so lucky to have such abundant public-shared resource...).

5. Last time gone clothes-shopping was on last year's after-thanksgiving sale! Um...I do miss shopping clothes for myself and I like to dress up Trav too (although he's not very into it). I kind of feel like an old, married lady sometimes...

6. I pay a lot of attention to how to be frugal! I know that it's good to turn off the lights if you won't use it in the following 5 minutes. Using slow cooker only costs you about 5 cents per hour. Something trivial like that. We keep our heater on 63 degree the whole day (and I hope that's not the reason why I caught a flu).

7. (I can't believe that I still have 4 more to go!!) Well, I really miss home now and can't wait to go back to Taiwan for a while. Another reason why I am so eager to go back is that-Trav has never met my family in person!! They only met and talked through skype...The story why he's never met them is very long so that I won't elaborate here. My biggest fear is that when next time I go back to Taiwan, my parents would meet my husband and my kid(s) altogether. Too shocking, I think.

8. Never really like working out. Well, I did have a period of time visiting BGSU's gym quite regularly-about once a week. I had a work-out buddy back then though. Now my regular working-out method is walking. (For women, it's recommended to walk for at least 2 miles a day, if you choose walking as the main work-out.) 

9. Compulsive check-ups. I like to double/triple check my oven and stoves are turned off before leaving the house. My former roommate once accused me of letting our oven on for a couple of hours without anything in it. I remembered I turned it off before leaving the apartment though. It remains as a mystery about how did that happen. 

10. Spending more than 5 hours online everyday. I hope it won't be like this forever, haha. I don't work, babysit, and no school now. I usually read articles online, watch TV series online, and browse others' blogs. Internet is a good thing and keeps me sane in the current life style.

Yeah, the most exciting moment has come! I'll single you out and it's your call to do it or not: Jill B., Jenny R., Yineria J., Rachel B., Miriam L., and Ashley O. Have fun while doing it! 


A Taiwanese in Provo...


I accidentally discovered this personal blog, which is managed by a Taiwanese who's married & living in New Zealand. This article I quoted is one of her blog entrees describing her social life in town. Oh, somehow it really hits the spot! Even though I'm not living in New Zealand, the circumstances we encounter are pretty similar. (The article is written in Chinese; I really don't know how to quote the link properly on this website so that I just typed it out, sigh...SOS!)

The blogger said she's pretty much the only Asian wife in her town and she can always detects town folks (or I should say, other wives) are hesitated to have a deeper conversation with her. Her strategy to cross over the hurdle is to speak in a one-on-one base, so that she doesn't feel too timid to open her month and the other could understand her in a deeper sense. Well, I know that I'm not the only Asian wife in town (and thank goodness for that). Provo, as far as I understand, is a pretty internationally-populated town. I can ran into Asian faces on the street often and maybe exchange a friendly smile with them. It's just sad that my friend circle has shrunken so much that I now almost feel that I have no friends around. When I was studying in BGSU, I sometimes went to a game with my friends, gossiping between breaks, and went to grab some snacks afterwards. Parties, especially dinner parties, were regular affairs. I chatted with my roommates sometimes as we both had free time. It seemed really normal to have friends from different ethnic regions. It seemed easier to make friends in a college setting. I couldn't remember even once I catched the clue-"Oh, you look Asian, (so maybe your English sucks; so you might not be a fun person to be with; so you may ((you know, different kinds of stereotypes...))"-on their face. I think I used to be more confident in making friends while I was in Ohio. I was being in a familiar-and-thus-comfortable environment for 5 years and had some pretty good friends there. You know, that kind of friends you know they really know you. They might have never pronounced my name right (that's fine; my husband can't do that right all the time either). They might not have known the exact place I came from. Yet they know my personality and attributes, strength and weakness. They know what irritates and cheers me up. I miss them. I'm so grateful for their open-mindedness in the first place and continual efforts to bolster our relationships. 
I somehow have some doubts about whether I can obtain this kind of friendship here. I feel as if I can read people's mind when we're in contact (yet it could be my own false assumptions): Well, she looks Asian so .........................
Sometimes I feel like people are just talking to my husband even though I'm right next to him. (Hello? I'm alive too and if you're interested in OUR family life, you might spare a word or two to me...)
Anyway, the journey to making good friends and living comfortably in Provo is to be continued
p.s. I'm having a cold now so I'm bit grumpy today:(


Curry Rice Gratin

It's THAT time again-to clean up my fridge. Trav has a thing with casserole; he hates it without a verbalizable reason. So every time when I am about to make this dish, I need to say: Honey, I'm making the oven rice again! Yet Gratin is truly a subcategory of casserole. As far as I understand, every casserole dish thrown into the oven has bubbly, golden-brown topping (made of cheese and/or bread crumbs) as the outcome could be called Gratin. 
So I started with a container of steamed rice, which is a staple of our leftovers. I also gathered the last cube of Japanese curry form the fridge's compartment and a frozen link of chorizo sausage. Let the assembling line begin!
The rice part:
Chop onions, garlics, carrots, cabbages (you can certainly use something else, such as peas, corn kernels, celery, or bell peppers) into fine cubes, set aside.
Heat up the pan and add a bit oil on it; discard the case of the sausage and torn the meat into the similar size of the vegetables; adding all of the vegetable mixture onto the pan after the sausage turns slightly brown. Add a bit flour into the mixture and stir well at this time.
Add one can of chicken broth and a cube of Japanese curry, and then the rice.
After all of the ingredients are combined well, the texture would turn risotto-like, starchy- looking. Adjust the seasonings and set aside.
Finish it in the oven:
Prepare a casserole dish (with a shallower depth and wider-opening face). Grease the bottom of the dish very slightly and dump the rice mixture into it. Preheat the oven to 380 degree. Sprinkle your fav cheese generously on the top of the dish (I used pepper jack, smoked cheddar, and parmesan, which were the only three cheeses I had at that time). Add some herbs if desire. Bake it for 15-20 minutes. For golden-brown result, crank the heat up to 390 (or 400) degree after the first 15 minutes for another 5 minutes/or you can simply use broil. Please keep an eye on it at this stage of cooking; you want a golden-brown topping instead of a burnt one. 
If you like comfort food, you would love this dish! 
p.s. If prefer more chewy. starchier texture of rice, you can use risotto rice instead. Yet it would be more expensive alternative, I think. Even for just using the regular sushi rice, the result is quite starchy and satisfying.