Category Archives: Everyday

Growing up too quickly

Tomorrow, M will be 14 month old. And in two more months, his little sister will join our family. Time seems to fly by and there are so many moments I want to hold on to before they are forgotten.

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So this post will be simply that, moments and antics that I must remember.

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1. Just today, M discovered the use of pockets, and started storing blocks in his and mine pockets.

2. Just last night, M farted while lifting one side of his butt cheek during dinner. K and I busted out laughing as soon as we saw/heard it. A learned behavior or instinct?

3. M has the capacity to share his favorite thing now. i.e. Fruits, and stuffed animal. Although he needs to feel like he had enough to eat/ time spent with the item before sharing with others.

4. M is able to show care to younger babies. At Gymboree, during busy box time, he brought toys to a baby girl who had yet learned to crawl. He also brought suitable toys to Mirai during a play date at home. imageimage

5. Yesterday while I was scratching my eczematic skin above my eye brow in front of M, he looked at me and pulled my hand away to stop me from scratching.

6. He deals better with transitioning from one event to another if I let him know ahead of time. Same with discipline. Once I tell him what is acceptable/or not, he usually accepts the disciplinary action that follows his rule breaking willingly.

7. He likes being able to choose during meal time. If the main course is not exciting, he’d rather finish his dessert/fruit, and then the main course. If I insist on him eating the main course first, it usually ends up ugly for both of us. I am learning to let him show me how he likes to eat.

8.  I added some board books regarding having a new baby into his book collection. Although he doesn’t seem to pay too much attention when I read these books to him, he kept bringing these books for me to read. And he started to rub my belly more often.

9. And yes, he loves reading books. And he loves music. He took the ukulele from the shelves and started strumming/picking after I show him how.

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…..this is it so far, all these little milestones happened in the last month or so. It blows my mind how a little person can comprehend so much, and become his own person within such short period of time. I am more and more in love with him as I walk along side him.

What a precious season of my life. So thankful to be able to witness all these little things daily.

A steep learning curve & a recipe

Learning curve

Continue reading

Slowly adjusting & an iron-rich stirfry for pregnant moms

The blog has taken a longer vacation than I myself. We came back from Asia close to a month ago, and it has taken us this long to adjust. Besides fighting jet lag, getting back to daily routine, we are also facing new chapter ahead – parenthood.

Needless to say, it is a time of excitement coupled with trepidation. Will we be good parents? How will we ever be able to afford kid’s education? More importantly, will we be able to raise up God-fearing/loving child? Instantly, my brain frazzled.

In addition to the mental preparation, we are also making our home more baby ready. I am SO THANKFUL that child bearing takes 10 months, there are just too much to adjust to!

For instance, pregnancy diet. I, being a preggo novice, had a bit trouble gauging how much to eat in my first trimester, and gave in to many burger/fried chicken cravings. Now, I am finally getting a hang of eating healthy and eating right. Whew~

I want to share a recipe that I recently created while making meals. As most women know, iron  is extremely important in preggo diet. We need a lot more of iron in order to make more red blood cells for the little one in our belly. The Ob/Gyn often prescribe us iron supplements. I, for some odd reasons, have pill aversion since growing up. So I have been looking for ways to enhance iron absorption through my diet. At first, I ate a lot of spinach, but after some research, I find that in order for us to absorb the rich iron in spinach and other veggies, it has to be prepared with vitamin c (i.e. lemon juice) and protein. See the article here.

So the following recipe is how I modified my usual stirfry to enhance iron absorption. I reduced the sodium and the cooking time in this recipe, so more nutrients are preserved, and less water retention for the pregnant moms.

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Chinese stir-fry with shabu beef, power greens for pregnant moms

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • Pre-wash/pre-cut power greens from Trader Joe (1 pk = 5 oz)
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  • baby carrots, halved (1 cup)
  • half a fist of ginger, julienned
  • sliced sukiyaki beef (I chose this for ease of cooking, they come thinly sliced, but other cuts like beef sirloin will do as well) (1/2lb)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped (2 tbsp)
  • Sea salt, 1 tsp
  • cornstarch 1/2 tbsp (for marinate)

Condiments:

  • low sodium soy sauce, 1 tbsp for marinate
  • cooking wine, 1 tbsp for marinate
  • black sesame oil 1/2 tbsp for marinate, 1/2 tbsp for stirfry
  • lemon juice, 1/2 tbsp for marinate, 1/2 tbsp for stirfry
  1. Make marinate: Mix together cornstarch, soy sauce, black sesame oil, cooking wine, and lemon juice until cornstarch is dissolved.
  2. Add the beef into the marinate and mix well. Let it sit for 15 min or more.
  3. Oil the pan (enough to coat the entire pan) on med-high heat, add 1/2 of the ginger and cook until fragrant. Add the meat and carrots, stir fry until all cooked. Set aside including the cooking juice.
  4. Oil (add 1/2 tbsp black sesame oil) the pan again on med-high heat, cook the rest of the ginger and garlic until fragrant, add the veggies. Quickly coat the veggies with oil, add lemon juice, salt. Once veggies are cooked, turn off the heat. While pan is hot, add the meat, carrot and the cooking juice into the pan and mix well.
  5. Remove pan from hot stove. Voila~

DH and I both enjoyed this stirfry very much even though I cut a considerable amount of sodium in this recipe. The fragrant ginger and black sesame oil make this dish very flavorful, and the lemon juice added to the stir-fried veggies made it very refreshing and light. I hope you will all enjoy this easy recipe.

There will be more updates from MKliving but for today, this preggo lady has to take care of other business. =)

…. until next time~

A Sneak Peek Into Spring

Q: How do you know that spring is here for good?

A: by seeing new life sprouting everywhere in the backyard……

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young chive sprouts, blueberry buds
kiwi buds, cherry buds

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nectarine blossoms, loquat gained height
young rose suckling, blackberry trellis by hubby

Also, by a sneak peek into the spring 2013 collection for MKliving =)

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sneak peek of what is to come ~

Happy Valentine’s Day~

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…for my valentine…

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May His love fill our hearts abundantly,  and overflow into those around us…

Making chazuke (cha-tsu-ke)

Chazuke is one of my favorite go-to dish, especially in winter time. It is light, comforting, flavorful and simple to make.

But what is chazuke? Let’s go to Wiki =)

Chazuke (, ちゃづけ) or ochazuke (, from o + cha tea + tsuke submerge) is a simple Japanese dish made by pouring green teadashi, or hot water over cooked rice roughly in the same proportion as milk over cereal, usually with savoury toppings. Common toppings include tsukemonoumeboshi (both types of pickles), nori (seaweed), furikakesesame seedstarako and mentaiko (salted and marinated Alaska pollock roe), salted salmonshiokara (pickled seafood) and wasabi. The dish is easy to make and provides a way to use leftover rice as a quick snack. It is also known as cha-cha gohan.

Growing up, whenever I was sick and had no appetite, my mom would pour a packet of chazuke (dried seaweed, salmon flakes, seasonings) over white rice, and add hot water. I would always finish the bowl regardless of how bad I felt. It was nothing fancy, just flavorful, comforting soupy rice.

the pre-made seasoning pack that I grew up with

It was not until few years ago, K and I encounter chazuke in a totally different light. We were in a Japanese yakitori house (Sumika), and we saw this fancy set up at another table (borrowed pic). Immediately we ordered one for ourselves, and fell in love with it all over again.

The ingredients were simple, and the delicious dish was brought together by the tea-infused broth. From that day, I vowed to myself that I must figure out the recipe so we may enjoy at home. Today, I will share our household version of chazuke. Enjoy~

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ingredients I used
dried seaweed, dried matsutake mushrooms, bonito shavings, green tea
 salmon roe, pickled plum, and wakame chazuke

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cooking of the broth, assembling the rice bowl
closer look of the ingredients in the bowl, and finished chazuke

Salmon Roe Chazuke, 4 servings

Ingredients (most of these ingredients can be found in Chinese/Japanese Supermarket like Ranch 99, Marina and Nijiya):

Broth

Dried seaweed 1/3 cup; dried(or fresh) matsutake mushroom (or shiitake) 1/3 cup; dried bonito shavings 1/3 cup; green tea packet 1-2 (depending your preference); chicken broth 32oz

Rice Bowl

Cooked rice 4 servings, 1/2 cup each; salmon roe 2-3 oz (if you don’t like salmon roe, can leave out) divided into 4 servings; pickled plum 4 seeded and chopped into small pieces, one per each bowl; sunny-side-up eggs (or over-n-easy), 4, one per each bowl; Wakame Chazuke seasoning, 1/2 tbsp per bowl

Put dried seaweed, mushrooms, bonito shavings and chicken broth in a stockpot over med-high heat. Bring to boil.

While waiting for the broth to broil, assemble the rice bowls. With rice on the bottom, add all other ingredients listed.

Once the broth boils, put in the tea packet. Turn the heat to low, and let simmer with the tea packet for 5 min. Turn off heat, take out the tea packet (very important step, if the tea is overcooked, the broth becomes bitter). The broth is now ready to pour over each rice bowl. =)

Sushi dinner & a change in eating habit

Our Sushi Dinner

 

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sashimi roll, futomaki roll, home cut fruit medley, uni (sea urchin)

Y.U.M.

Thanks to Nijiya, San Mateo, we get to enjoy yummy sushi dinner without putting in any work =)

Why the large fruit plate? I have been trying to include fresh fruit for every meal we consume.

I recently read a book about how simply changing eating habits can regulate our gastrointestinal system (i.e. Eat 1 serving of fruit before the actual meal, for each meal; eliminating carb for dinner …etc). I know it is not new information, but I am still amazed how simple changes can totally change a person’s health, physique … etc. A dedicated blog post will come later on this topic/book.  =)

Bringing back Provence ….with cooking

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Boulangerie Paul circa Oct'11, we did not know of its fame, but knew it must be tasty to have such long queue

Boulangerie Paul
circa Oct’11, we did not know of its fame, but knew it must be tasty to have such long queue

K and I had the pleasure of visiting Aix-en-Provence back in 2011. This small town in southern France is all about leisure, open market, and good food. Here we sampled one of the best macaroons (Boulangerie Paul), and tasted traditional French classic poultry dish – fricassee de poulet (chicken in white wine sauce). This poultry dish completely changed K’s bias against French cuisine. He always thought French cuisine too heavy on flavor, cream …etc. However, the chicken fricassee we had at Le Grillon (one of Paul Cézanne‘s fave hangout) was light yet flavorful, with tender meat falling off the bone.

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K & his new found love for french cuisine – fricassee de poulet

The other day, I came across the recipe on Simple Bites, and immediately I remembered the taste of the comforting dish, and the leisurely pace of Aix-en-Provence.

Surprisingly, it is not hard to make at all! This dish is perfect to make ahead, as the meat becomes more flavorful sitting in the sauce.

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our version
in olfactory heaven

See the recipe below (re-blogged from Simple Bites)

My only modification to the recipe was substituting the heavy cream with whole fat milk. It turned out just fine. Also, K worked really hard to peel all 40 cloves of garlic. Next time we will use the pre-peeled ones from the market.

Enjoy this fragrant, easy, and yummy dish ~

Mary

Chicken Fricassee
(chicken in white wine sauce, or in this case, chicken with 40 cloves of garlic)
Ingredients
  • 40 cloves of garlic, about 3 whole heads
  • 3 – 3 ½ lbs. chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Optional: fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Separate the cloves of garlic. This can be done up to 5 days in advance and stored in a lidded container in the fridge.
  2. Thoroughly dry the chicken pieces with paper towels. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Sauté the chicken skin-side down until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side. Do this in batches if necessary. Turn the chicken over with tongs and when a batch is done transfer the chicken pieces to a plate. Continue to cook the remainder of the chicken the same way.
  4. Transfer the last of the chicken pieces to the plate, lower the heat and add the garlic to the pot, cooking it for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until it’s evenly browned.
  5. Add the wine to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices that have collected on the plate, sprinkle the tarragon over the top, and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear.
  6. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Whisk together ½ cup of the sauce from the pot and the flour to make a thick paste. Return the mixture to the pot and stir it back into the sauce. Add the cream and boil for 1-3 minutes or until thick. Check the seasonings and adjust if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve hot.
Notes
To make in advance, put the chicken back in the pot after the sauce has been made, cover it and allow it cool before storing in the fridge. Slowly reheat the chicken before serving.Inevitably the chicken skin softens when it cooks in the wine. If you prefer your finished pieces to be crispy, remove the reheated chicken pieces from the pot and place them on a baking sheet. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a platter and pour the warm sauce over the top, or serve it on the side.

Blanket with fun, part ii

The second time around, I was blanketing my love with fun <3. After seeing the beautiful Ocean Beach, I really wanted my hubby to experience it too. Besides, he has been wanting to watch the sunset with me. It was the perfect set-up to go on a date.

We feasted our eyes with beautiful scenery.

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Thereafter, we feasted our tummies with a delicious meal.

We went to the Mission District in SF (also a first time for both of us) to do Dine About Town (DAT) at Nombe. Kevin ordered the 7 course dinner from the DAT menu, and I ordered from the izakaya menu.

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grilled bacon wrapped mochii, seabass suzuki, pork belly, flourless chocolate cake & beer ice cream

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uni flan; savory egg custard; sashimi of the day; beets salad                                                       tender smoked beef tongue; oxtail donburi

 

When we drove through the Mission, we (maybe mostly me) felt a bit uneasy by the grimy street scene. And we were still a bit unsure when we walked into the restaurant; it was dim, and had a strong grilled fish smell (duh… it is an isakaya). However, once we had a taste of the food, all doubts were gone.

Everything was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.

My personal favorite was the bacon wrapped mochii. Savory bacon plus crispy mochii with chewey center… YUM. The DAT menu was noteworthy as well, all the flavors paired well, and every dish was executed nicely. Subtly sweet uni flavor, fresh sashimi, melt-in-the-mouth beef tongue, and comforting oxtail donburi. The dessert was the perfect ending of a fun night. The flourless chocolate cake was both decadent and airy,  and the stout beer ice cream was indescribable. We would never have thought beer ice cream tasted so good.

My heart is so full of love and joy by just recounting the day. n_n

If you are in the Bay Area, be sure to take advantage of DAT!

Simple pleasures….

  • laugh and have fun with loved ones – check
  • enjoy good food with loved ones – check
  • make homemade waffles and latte for loved ones – check
  • heart-to-heart talk with loved ones – check

feeling extra blessed today.

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