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:(