Trav now is in the priesthood meeting of our stake conference and I'm waiting at home for the adult session to start. I'm still very tempted to go to the BYU Chinese association thing tonight and hopefully can see Jenny there; yet it's very hard to move around without car!!! And I have the stake conference thing. I was trying to look it up on church website for the details of our stake conference. After finally retrieving both my username and password back, a small window popped up, indicating "YOU NEED TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS WARD TO VIEW THIS EVENT." AHHHHHH~an't I a member of the pioneer 4th ward??? In the past 7 months, I've been perplexed about where my record has been. It's said that my record should be bound to my husband so that my record was supposed to be in Alpine while I being in BG, Ohio. Afterwards, Trav and I moved to Provo from Alpine and my record IS supposed to be in this ward in Provo now. Anyway, who knows how long it takes to process any of this? Ok, I guess I will go back to my trash bin and hopefully I can find the reminds of the church program from last week...
Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! The new year's eve was last Sunday and I DIDN'T celebrate it at all. Well, I actually called my folks in Taiwan, webcamed with them for a while and it was fun! My little bro even played a piece entitled "high mountain, running river"* on his Chinese zither for Trav and I. My little sis showed off her new frog clay artifact. Oh, they're so grown-up now. I can't help but feel time really flies.
So Trav and I were invited by Cathy to a Chinese new year's celebration on BYU campus on Monday. The party actually took place in a student lounge as you can see in the pic. I didn't get a chance to take pics of food since they were fully blocked by the crowed and they disappeared way too fast! The feast was in a form of potluck, contributed by some of the attendees and mostly featured Asian/Taiwanese dishes. I brought sushi since we have a huge bag of sushi rice in our food storage and it's just a pretty economic dish for us to make. Well, my sushi turned out ok yet the execution looked a bit sloppy. I was so happy to taste the Taiwanese winter melon drink again in a long time and Trav loved it too. Finally I know where to get the winter melon brick, haha! Somebody also prepared 山粉圓 (which I don't know how to translate) and I was very grateful to see this unique homeland delicacy.
After finishing eating, here came the entertainment. Chinese calligraphy was the first thing up and people came forth to try their skills. Trav actually tried a bit and wrote a couple of kanji. The character he's holding in the pic means love and I wrote it under his request. Now the drawing is posted on our fridge door:p Since there were so many returned missionaries from Taiwan, almost everyone could write a thing or two in Chinese and that truly amazed me. After all, BYU is a highly international-populated campus and the center of returned missionary students. I was impressed by the fact that almost all of the people in the party know what and where is my hometown, Keelung. What a wonderful feeling! Another thing stunned me is that the high quality of the ESL program at BYU. I was compelled to enroll in the graduate ESL program at BGSU about 4 years ago and it was not the most pleasant experience in my life. I often felt a sense of wasting time and didn't think the courses had a tremendous positive impact on my English learning. In short, I thought ESL program is merely an "appendix" of the body, unnecessary thing. But the ESL program here seems to be on a different level. I've talked to some ESL students here, including Cathy, and their oral is much better compared to how I was 4 years ago. They are not even grad students. They are talkative, expressive boldly with very little Chinese accent. I think BYU is truly a nice environment to take on English learning and meeting friendly people.
Ok, the red apron thing was asked by Trav too. You can tell how HAPPY I was when I had the thing on. Anyway, I guess it was Chinese New Year after all and it wouldn't hurt to wear something festive...
*A translation of the piece given by my little bro
"Forget yourself and reach out"-- Gordon B. Hinckley
President G. B. Hinckley used to be the only living prophet I've known from 2003 to 2008. I wept when he went on and returned back to the presence of the lord. I feel his love personally even though I've never met him in person. I know that he was and is the true prophet of God. Recently, I've found BYU TV website as a online resource full of spiritual, uplifting TV programs, talks, and music productions so I could listen/watch some talks or programs each day. The talk Forget yourself I just listened to was given by Gordon B. Hinckley and I found it so powerful and uplifting. The words of a true prophet never cease, transcending the mortality. I would like to share this talk with you. Please follow the link http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6167 and read the text of the talk. If you would like to check out it's audio version, please go onto the BYU TV website and search underneath the menu "find a talk."
This is my miniature slow cooker, a wedding gift from Trav's friends, Rob & Leah. As time went by, I've been making meals in this house for about one month and I've been cooking ALMOST everyday! The time finally comes. I'm getting tired of keeping every meal different and novel (to Trav). I decided to repeat things from now on without any guilt, haha!
I miss Ashley's crock-pot; a ideal size holds about 4 servings and makes real meals. My tiny one barely makes 2 servings and no soup allowed. What's cooking in the pot? I put chopped onions on the bottom, topped with two chicken thighs, potato chunks, and finished with half a jar of Patak's tikka masala curry sauce. This kind of indian curry features scents of citrus, tomato, and cilantro, not spicy at all. I got it from a nearby grocery store and you might be able to find it easily as well. I've also tried another onion-chicken crock-pot recipe which Trav loves much (Kath loves it too). It begins with chopped onions on the bottom and chicken on the top. Chicken with bones and skins is the best for slow cooking. I don't even bother to put additional oil in. The sauce going with it calls for Hoisin sauce, Chiashu sauce, honey, soy sauce, sugar, a pinch of Chinese five spices powder, orange juice, garlic, and ginger. If you would like to substitute rice cooking wine for orange juice, go for it. I don't really use measurements that much so I only can share the proportion roughly: Hoisin to Chiashu is about 1:1 (Chiashu is usually sweeter than Hoisin), honey could weigh half of Chiashu, soy sauce is just a splash, and believe me, a tiny pinch of five spices powder is all you need. Serve the chicken with streamed rice.
I'm actually looking for more easy and simple slow cooking recipes, especially non-soup kind, so I can use the most out of my tiny cooker. Does anyone have his/her fav slow cooker recipes?
p.s. Yeah, I don't know how to edit my pic on blogger yet, any thought?
I have been reading a book named Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action by J. Sleeth and find it very inspiring. No, no, Mr. Sleeth is not a mormon and a mormon like me can read what ever I want, as long as it's inspiring, pure-intended, and advocating good tidings. And this book is one of this kind. J. Sleeth worked as a chief of ER for probably at least few decades and used to live in a big house with his family. He was (and probably still is) rich and enjoyed satisfying him and his family with fulfilling all of their material needs. Then he realized they were exhausting the earthly resource by only feeding their desires unthoughtfully. He wondered if this is the way of God. The answer was obvious and he decided to make a change. He quitted his job, downsized his home, figured out tons of ways to do good for the environment, and devoted to serving others. The most inspiring part of his story is that he really turned his thoughts into actions and that's the part matters the most. Merely thinking about good thoughts is not enough. If Jesus Christ only thought about how he loved us instead of actually dying on the cross for us, we would not have had the chance to repent of our sins and hopefully one day return back to our heavenly father. He acted upon his love for us.
Sleeth cited God's commandment-"love thy neighbors"- as the GOLDEN RULE and developed several arguments after it. He points out how we being the stewards of the earth doesn't mean we are allowed to exploit the environment as we wish. This earth is God's creation and we are living herein. We really need to show more respect and responsibility to this world, in turn, we will be able to love our neighbors, including lovely animals, planets, and all other creatures living around us, in actions. I know I'm guilty of it. Although I've been aware of what I'm supposed to do to improve the environment, I am not recycling anything. When I was living in BG, different kinds of recycling bins were just half a mile away and I wasn't doing my part diligently. Now I'm living in a city without recycling bins and policy and I don't even now how to do it now. I'm still using antibacterial soaps which is accused of polluting our water resource just because they're cheap.
Well, maybe I shouldn't turn this article into a full-fledged confession. I came to realize that there still a lot needs to be done and I need to do more. Reading Sleeth's book also made me realize how blessed we all are! He once asked a class of 5th (or 6th?) graders if they think they are rich. Most of the students didn't think they were. Then Sleeth asked how many of them had telephones, televisions, computers, and cars at home and if they have ridden in a plane. All of the students nodded to the possession of those items and only two of them haven't flown before. Sleeth said, by this standard, you're on the top 20 % richest people of the earth. I never thought about it. I always think I might be on the bottom of the society since I'm unemployed and my husband is still just working part-time. We're not making much money. Yet when I really open my eyes and look around, I have had a lot. I am living in a cozy, new-furnished beautiful house and I have a husband who loves me dearly. Both of us are able to receive college education and I even have two master's. We have people who love us around and most importantly, we have the gospel. We're fed with good food and I have free wireless internet access so that I can sit in my comfy queen-sized bed and write an entry on my blog. I think I would be condemned if I consider these blessings are not enough. I think I have had much. I think I need to do more, serve more, and I want to pray for more courage and strength to turn my thought into actions. I don't want to be a hypocrite.
Just like what Sleeth says in his book, let's think about whether this brings us closer to God before doing it. I believe the holy spirit will testify the truth to us so that we'll have wisdom to take care of this earth better. I would like to challenge myself to be a more attentive person when it comes to our environment, and hopefully I will remember it always.
I can't remember when was the last time I ate store-bought dumplings/potstickers. Making dumplings is very easy and there is a wide range of ingredients you can choose from for the stuffing. Well, I consider this Chinese thing is very similar to its Italian counterpart,ravioli; the determinant is that Chinese would not stick any sort of cheese into their dumplings.
I come to realize that the fad of making potstickers is to pour flour-water mixture into the saute pan so that the mixture would form a thin, crispy, and golden-brown crust. The ratio of flour to water is about 1:2 and it doesn't need to be exact. After pouring the mixture, put on a lid which roughly covers the saute pan and wait till the dumpling's skin turns translucent.
Trav and I have moved into our new home in Provo for about one month now. He's still juggling among school, work, and his dear wife while I've been a full-time housewife. The fact that being at home all the time is totally out of my hand and I'm still trying to manage my new post-student life:) (I just hope that USCIS can approve my green card application ASAP).
I thought I was totally not a blogger material, just as what I stated on facebook one time. Yet It's undeniable that writing blog entries is one of the easiest ways to kill time (and keep on practicing English writing). I hope I can keep in touch with my dear families and friends through this blog, an intimate site and hopefully, a cozy, fun spot for all the blog visitors in the future. The entries in the blog would appear in either English or Chinese, reflecting the different natures of my life events (or merely my moods).
Ok. So for people who know me pretty well understand that I'm a food nut and I can't bear monotonous, repetitive diet. This personal trait is getting even more obvious after being a full-time housewife (since I don't have any other obligation now). On the contrary, Trav is that kind of guy who can live on pizzas and McDonald's dollar menu. I guess I am converting him to my foodology somehow.
Thanks to God's mercy that Trav was sent to Japan for his mission. During the nearly 2-year span, he's learned to deal with and appreciated different food cultures and palettes. We went to the First Oriental store and brought a huge jar of kimchi home. The pic of kimchi hot pot is one of our experimental dishes. Making Asian food in the states, especially in Utah, definitely requires some improvising skills and a creative mind. (It's not saying I have either). Well, I sauteed kimchi along with a piece of fresh ginger and some green onions and then mixed all of them with chicken broth. I also poured in some kimchi juice to make rich and flavorful hot pot broth. The following list shows what was in that pot: tofu, napa, broccoli, enoki mushroom, fresh shitaki mushroom, bacon pork, squid fish ball, oden fish ball, and etc. I was dreaming to get blood rice cakes...well, maybe next time. when it comes to dipping sauce, I sticked to my Taiwanese root and made a Chinese-barbecue-based sauce. A profound flavor blending Chinese BBQ sauce, soy sauce, chopped green onions, sesame oil, and a splash of Chinese black vinegar gave this korean dish a Taiwanese twist.