12th Week of 2018

19th – 25th March 2018

Oh dear, I have been neglecting my blog. Let me try to recall everything as best as I can. Luckily there’s lots of photos that will help jog my memory.

One of the main reasons I’ve not blogged is because we started to exercise more frequently. We have slacked off so much in the last year that I have gained 10 pounds. Yes, that much! That is why it is time for us to get back in shape, and it has not been easy. I am so weak now that it takes me a day to recover after each exercise class that we attend at the YMCA.

Due to Larry’s work schedule, we can only exercise in the wee hours of the morning on Monday to Wednesday. I wish the YMCA outlets are also open early on weekends, but they are not. So far, we have only decided on a weekly swim and a weekly spin class. Maybe we can also have a day where we do something random each week. We also need to visit the other YMCA outlets because we have only sticked to one. I also need to try out the yoga classes.

Ok, so for that week, we ate out three times which is a lot for us. Eating out is seriously the easiest way to spend too much money! I had to keep telling myself that being tired from exercising is not an excuse to eat out. We had Japanese food at our favorite Japanese restaurant Hapa Japanese Cuisine. I will always be grateful that I can get fresh sashimi from them even though we kind of live in the middle of no where in Oklahoma.

It was also hard to resist eating wings when it’s half priced wings on Tuesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings. Again, I need to remind myself that there is no point exercising if I am just going to eat lots of fried food. Gosh, I hope I’m not boring you by being so contradicting.

We also went to an Indian buffet that weekend because Bon Appétit posted a flaky bread recipe on their Facebook page. It made me really crave for some paratha.

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I wasn’t really creative with my home-cooked meals that week. The only two that kind of stand out were the Chinese stir-fried flat rice noodles and egg benedict. It was the first time I made hollandaise sauce, and I absolutely hated it. It was way too buttery and I didn’t like the brand of butter that we have. If anyone has a recommendation for butter, let me know! I’m still looking for one that I like. We recently bought Kerrygold pure Irish butter, and I think it’s the one I like the most so far.

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My favorite moment for the week was our visit to the Gilcrease Museum. It had a great collection of American West art. It was a genre I am not familiar with, so I had lots of fun learning from the docent. I highly recommend that you go for the free guided tour that they have at 2pm on Tuesdays to Sundays. I will have to go back again to spend more time in the museum and also see the gardens in the summer.

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Two of my favorite oil paintings were Charles Marion Russell’s Meat’s Not Meat ‘Till it’s in the Pan and Thomas Moran’s Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. I was going to put the photos of the art pieces below, but the images don’t look nice at all. They just look so much better in person. I will try to take more photos when I’m there next time!

I’ll try to catch up on all my posts this week, so stay tuned! Have a great week everyone.

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10th Week of 2018

5 – 11 March 2018

Oops, a late recap! Been busy starting seeds and planning activities for the next few months.

Lazy Monday. Week 10th of 2018

I tried watching Michael Pollan’s Cooked series after watching In Defense of Food, but I ended up falling asleep. Spent the rest of the week watching Ugly Delicious instead. I guess I was in the mood for lighter content although Ugly Delicious wasn’t all about food too. Anyway, I highly recommend you watching it if you enjoy learning about food culture like I do. David Chang explores a different food type every episode and how the different food cultures prepare their dishes.

Meals during Week 10th of 2018

I tried making curry (top left in picture) from scratch on Tuesday, and it just tasted weird. I thought I had curry powder but I didn’t. A chef on Ugly Delicious mentioned that there’s no such as curry powder in India too, so I’m going to do more research on the spices that are commonly found in curry!

I had stir fried tomato egg, baby bok choy and luncheon meat with rice on Wednesday. Baby bok choy is my all time favorite vegetables. I have not gotten tired of it even though I have it every week for at least a year. I can’t say the same for Yu Choy (pictured in the second row).

On Friday, my gardening friends and I had Cajun for lunch. The fourth episode of Ugly Delicious was about Shrimp and Crawfish, so I was so excited to order crawfish that day. I ordered two pounds of it because I didn’t know how much it would actually be! My friends were laughing when the waitress served me the huge tray of crawfish. It was great to be able to share the crawfish with everyone though. I also concluded that in general I prefer Cajun food at Flavors of Louisiana over Cajun Ed’s.

I then made fried rice for dinner on Friday. Can’t quite remember what we did for the rest of the weekend since I didn’t take many photos. Larry was on call for his work though, so we were mostly cooped up at home. We also dropped by his office for a while, so I finally saw how it looks like. They work in the basement, and it felt like I was in the set of Criminal Minds since the huge room was dark and filled with so many monitor screens. They had like 2 or 3 monitors each.

Week 10th of 2018. Start of Gardening Season

I am going to end this post to tell you I’m beyond excited about the start of gardening season!! I have started so many seeds indoor that I need to get more containers and trays. My goal for gardening this year is to try as many varieties of everything because I want to learn as much as I can.

P.S. all my images are done on my phone using Adobe’s Spark Post app. It is so fun and easy to use! Go try it.

Family trip: Part Two – Grand Canyon

5 – 6 November 2017

On the third day of our trip, we took a stroll around the Mandalay Bay hotel to visit the wave pool before we checked out. It was non peak season, so not all the pools were open. Took us a while to find it since the place was huge. Love the sand that was around the pool!

We took Uber out to the car rental place. Rented a Cadillac for the rest of our trip since I found a good deal online, and I wanted it to be comfortable for my mum since we will be driving a lot. Before we headed toward Tusayan Arizona, we drove to Island Malaysian Cuisine to have some food that Larry and I really miss from Southeast Asia.

These are dishes that we would not be able to find in Oklahoma unless we drive four hours to Plano, Texas. I would be able to cook these noodle dishes, but I can’t seem to find decent packaged noodles at the Asian supermarkets in Tulsa. We also popped by a few Asian bakeries because we can’t get them in Tulsa. Do you see a trend? Haha, we were trying to eat everything we miss from Singapore.

Thus, with our multiple pit stops, we were driving most of the four hour drive in the dark. We missed out on the amazing view there, and only arrived in Tusayan Arizona around 10pm. By then, most food places were closed other than McDonalds. We rushed over to eat before we head back to the hotel.

I decided to book the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn because it was a short 13 minutes drive to the Grand Canyon, and there are some food options around. I contemplated staying at Flagstaff instead because it is a bigger town that is one and a half hours drive away. The drive on US-180 from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon looks scenic too, especially with the view of Humphreys Peak. However, I just went with the shorter distance because we still have a long road trip ahead.

The next morning, we headed to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center before having coffee and a quick bite at Bright Angel Bicycles & Mather Point Cafe. I did some online research on which trail we should go for, but it was so difficult to decide! We eventually randomly decided on the Bright Angel Trail that day.

Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon

As you can see from the photo, the view was breathtaking! I wish I trained up my stamina before this trip. The hike was tiring for me, as the path gets steeper the further you get. I was also letting fear get the better out of me because the path is not very wide and there are no barriers. Carrying a backpack and a heavy DSLR camera definitely didn’t make it any easier for me. Thankfully we went during the off season in November because there weren’t as many people.

I took it slow with my mum and we only made a round trip of 0.9 miles. My brother and Larry made it till the two mile mark before they made their way back. They said it got warmer as they went down. I was glad they felt like they got a workout with their 4 miles hike because I didn’t want them to feel like we are holding them back. I was also glad we packed lots of water because we finished every bit of it.

Time-Lapse at Grand Canyon Nov 2017
Took a time-lapse while waiting

Time flew by while we were hiking. It was close to sunset, so we drove over to the Dessert View Watchtower after our hike. The view was different there, and it was nice to see the river at the bottom. I really want to kayak in the Grand Canyon one day!

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After chasing the sunset along the Grand Canyon, we went to We Cook Pizza and Pasta for some food. As expected, it was quite a pricey meal since we were kind of in the middle of nowhere. We got 10 wings, a large pizza and Alfredo fettuccine to share between the four of us. Wish we just bought wings and the salad bar for all of us instead!

We took a walk around Tusayan General Store to look at souvenirs before driving back to our hotel. The best part about staying at Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn is the indoor pool and jacuzzi! It was so relaxing to chill at the pool and jacuzzi after a full day at the Grand Canyon.

Our visit to the Grand Canyon was actually my dad’s bucket list. I wish cancer didn’t take him away from us in 2014. He would have totally enjoyed himself. Larry and I both thought it was more beautiful than Niagara Falls.

Appreciate every day you have with your loved ones! You never know when it would be the last day.

 

 

 

9th week of 2018

26 Feb – 4 Mar 2018

Isn’t it crazy it’s March already? Time seems to fly by as you get older. I feel like I’m not doing much in my life because I’m just a homemaker. Should I only be defined by my occupation? Anyway, I thought I will share my meal prep last week.

Asian Greens

These are the glorious vegetables I bought from the Asian supermarket on Tuesday.

  • Red bell peppers (They were on sale. 3 for $1)
  • Ginger
  • Bean sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Yam leaves
  • Leek
  • Yu Choy
  • Small Bok Choy

I’m on a mission to eat more vegetables especially after watching In Defense of Food on Netflix. We usually have stir-fry for most of our meals anyway, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. Stir-fries are easy to prepare and are pretty healthy.

The steps to cook stir-fries are pretty much the same. You heat up your cooking oil and fry some garlic/onion/shallots/ginger. Then you add whatever you are cooking according to how long they take to be cooked. The final step would be to add the herbs and seasoning to your dish.

Some of the dishes I made are:

  • Pan fried catfish with fried ginger slices, stir-fried bean sprouts and carrot with steamed white rice
  • Basil beef, and Stir-fried leeks with steamed white rice
  • Slow-cooked pork shoulder, stir-fried yam leaves and fried eggs with scallions on top of steamed white rice
  • Stir-fried flat white noodles with chicken and bok choy

Have you tried adding fried ginger slices to your fish? Ginger is such a great garnish.

Ingredients for Basil Beef
Minced garlic, ground beef, basil, cayenne pepper, black pepper and soy sauce (or salt). I added the red bell peppers this time since I had more.

Try adding scallions to your fried eggs! They add another dimension of taste.

You should check out this video from Chef Norman Musa if you want to cook your own flat noodles. For his recipe, I used chicken instead of seafood. I also took the easy route of using jarred peppers instead frying up my own like his recipe.

The start of Gardening season 2018

Other than cooking, I’m also starting up my seeds for gardening. I cannot wait to eat my own garden harvests later this year! I’m trying to grow a lot more vegetables and flowers this year, so wish me luck! Had to spend quite a fortune on soil and grow pots.

I’m going to end my post with these irises that are popping up in my front yard! Haha, a non-gardener would probably think it’s such an ugly photo, but it’s AMAZING for a gardener! New growth signifies the start of the gardening which is fun times for gardening.

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7th week of 2018

12 – 19 Feb 2018

Frost on 12 Feb 2018

What did I do last week? I can barely remember.

The frost was so pretty on Monday morning that I ran out in the cold to take photos. I wish the quality of panorama photos on the iphone are not so bad though. May have to try other apps like Cardboard Camera. Hopefully I will find something good because stitching photos manually is too time consuming, and I don’t want to pay the monthly fees for Adobe Photoshop. This reminds me that I have yet to finish blogging about my vacation last November!! That will be in my to do list this week.

We didn’t do much for Valentine’s Day because I just don’t fancy paying for overpriced food and gifts. Take me to the Target clearance sale after Valentine’s Day instead! I think Larry’s colleagues are all very surprised and jealous that he doesn’t have to do anything. Haha, I would prefer to have lots of seeds to grow my own seasonal and perennial flowers. Actually, if I could have things my way, he would be paying for a landscaper to do up our whole yard. See, he’s actually in bigger trouble than all of them.

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As for our home-cooked meal on Valentine’s Day? Good old pork chops with caramelized onions. Side of zucchini, squash and steamed white rice. Super easy and yummy. I usually just coat my pork chop with salt, pepper, cayenne and onion powder. I cannot wait to start eating my own vegetables once gardening season starts! Food just taste so much better when you grow it yourself.

Also, I don’t think I have ever had zucchini and squash until I moved to US! Can you imagine how long I have been missing out? They are such staples here.

I got the house decked out in some Chinese New Year decorations since it starts on 16 February. Did not organize a cookout this year because I didn’t want to stress myself out. It’s crazy difficult to cater to everyone’s taste buds since not everyone is familiar with Chinese cuisine. it was probably everyone’s first time having duck last year. I wish I know a group of people who enjoy cooking and food in general in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so we can all take turns cooking for each other every week. That would be so much fun.

Alternatively, and more realistically, I can just cook for Larry’s nephews. They wolf down almost anything I make, and they enjoy spicy food. They are an easy crowd to please but it will add up a lot of expenses to cook for three boys all the time. If only we have more spare cash!

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So, my first meal for Chinese New Year is a plate of waffles with fruits at the nearby casino. It was late at night, and we ran out of groceries. That’s probably a few superstitious taboos right there, but hey, I can think of a good one! Eating something sweet to signify a new year of sweetness! 甜甜蜜蜜. Actually, here’s another one! Since the waffles and bananas are round. It also symbolizes 团团圆圆 (圆满) which means togetherness and harmony.

We also finally watched The Greatest Showman which we really enjoyed. I’m so glad that the theaters are still showing it. Definitely a lot better than the last musical film we watched Les Misérables in 2012. I was actually surprised Larry didn’t mind watching it. Apparently it reminds him of a TV series he’s watching: American Horror Story. Worked out well for both of us.

Here’s the rest of what I ate. Avocado toast because we bought way too many avocados. I think I have decided I like my avocado mashed up on my toast. Somehow it just taste better. I also prefer a scrambled egg over a hard boiled egg on my avocado toast. Scrambled eggs just bring out the taste of Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning when I put them together.

Also had Chile Rellenos from Chuy’s last weekend. I think it may be my top three favorite Tex-Mex dishes now. I just love peppers, and my super sweet gardening friends are going to give me a few poblano pepper seeds to grow this year. I love how we try to grow everything we love to eat. Larry said he wouldn’t mind making them at home too! Let’s hope I get some decent harvest later this year.

Last but not the least, we found pork shoulder on sale at Sprouts. We got a huge bone-in slab for 99 cents per pound. Cut up half of it to slow cook with onions as well as tomatoes and peppers from my garden that I have froze late last year.

 

 

 

My jumbled up thoughts on food

I’m a big foodie. Food is always on my mind. I got into gardening because I wanted to know how hierloom vegetables taste like. The gardeners are so good at describing the taste of fruits and vegetables that you just want to grow everything just to try them. I feel like I can relate to them so well because they are so enthusiastic about what they eat. Being able to grow your own food allows you to have fruits and vegetables that are beyond what the supermarkets offer.

Since the gardening season has not started yet, the gardeners have been talking about what they cook or what they miss eating. I have been so intrigued because I always wondered about what people in America eat. It seems so diverse from person to person since everyone grew up in different states.

I always wonder what do people in America eat if they don’t cook. Do they always go for fast food, or do they just eat sandwiches and salads? How much do people spend on groceries every month? I love cooking, but not many people around us do. Adulting is so hard, and I’ve so many things that I want to find out.

And then I just read Jamie Beck’s blog post about the difference in food culture between France and United States. You see, I have never been to Europe so I have no idea how different it is. I was surprised to hear that she said the food at farmers’ markets in US are expensive. They really are, and that’s coming from her. We plebeians can’t even afford to shop at Whole Foods like she does. We had to return the brussels sprouts we bought at Sprouts recently because it was over $10 for a bag of them!

Why is produce cheaper in France? Why is it so difficult to find healthy food options in America? Is there no demand, or people just prefer the cheapest option which unfortunately leads to processed fast food chains? Why is eating out much more expensive than it is in Singapore even though the cost of living is similar?

There is just a never-ending list of questions that I have!