Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Red Racer IPA

Definitely no expert on beer, but with dad brewing up a storm of his own wine, beers, and cider, we've all somehow grew a mild interest in trying different beers. "We all" meaning my brother, dad, and I. We don't drink very often, but we like to try something new with our dinner maybe every month or so. So this was our latest find.

I first tried a beer from the Red Racer brand about half a year ago when I attended a clam chowder competition that went along with local beer pairing. Red Racer is brewed by Central City Brewing, which is located close by in Surrey, BC., and was one of the beers there that night. Out of 14 beers that my friends and I got to try, we all distinctively remembered the sampling of Red Racer.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, my brother came home from work mentioning a beer that his coworker brought in for happy hour. Just so happened to be the Red Racer IPA. Since dad was amongst our amateur random discussions about beer, we decided to pick up a 6-pack to share with him.

We quite like this one. I enjoy its vibrant citrus-y flavours of what seems to me like grapefruit. It has a lingering bitter taste that might have to be acquired by some. Tannins... is that what they call it? Or does that only refer to wine? Definitely not an expert, but we do enjoy picking out what we each do and don't like, and the slight differences yet complexity of each beer we've been trying. Would definitely get this one again.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Great Lecture

I had the privilege to sit through a lecture accompanied with hands-on training by a specialist in oral  medicine and maxillofacial pathology. Six of us were randomly selected to participate a training session on basic oral anatomy and pathology so that we could gain the skills of screening for oral cancer. I am not a dentist, and this is certainly not even close to my field, but as health care continues to evolve, we are trying to mind the gaps between professions to ultimately provide better care to the community. What this really means is to help screen the public and hopefully point them in the right direction towards the professional from which they should seek proper help. That really isn't the point of this post so I won't go into the details of this pilot program.

Sometimes what makes learning fun is a great speaker. And that's what we got today. I honestly dreaded waking up early just to drive in the opposite direction of where I'd normally drive to work, just to get stuck in traffic and take three times as long to get somewhere. And since I've been officially out of school for more than 10 years now, any boring lectures just really bore me. You can say... I've kind of put continuing education in health care on the back burner for now. Don't get me wrong. We still have to fulfill a number of credits each year in order to renew our liscense to practice, but I haven't done much beyond that. I'm just comfortable, I guess. 

I somehow dragged my usual groggy self to this training ... and surprisingly or not, I really loved it. He was informative, to-the-point, engaging, and funny. I felt his enthusiasm and drive through his speech. Some people are just meant to be doing what they're doing. As we looked at terrifying photos of amputated tongues and jaws, he never disagreed nor warned us that it would be graphic. but it was somehow also very fascinating. The topic was completely new to me. The device we were taught to use was new to me. It all kind of sparked the dormant student inside of me. Reminds me of that kid that I once was ... ever-so-fascinated by all things healthcare-related. Why I even thought of health care in the first place. 

Sometimes, a job can leave you feeling a little jaded. The new grad mentality of helping every single person you come across and saving the world wears off after a while when long hours of shift work, angry unappreciative patients, and business cutbacks brings you to reality. When I sometimes ultimately "complain" about work, it isn't simply because it's been tough and I'm tired and it sucks, but because reality sometimes leaves you uninspired. To do what you've signed up for this job wanting to do. 

By saying that, I don't really mean saving the world. Or even saving a person's life. Nor am I saying that health care reigns above other professions because we "save lives". I sometimes find myself treading water when I start talking about "how much health professionals do". I've come to realize that only people in health care understand. And we each have our own journey, in our careers... and nobody else needs to understand. And in no means am I ever implying that we "do more" than any other profession. 

But before I go off on a tangent, a great speaker and learning again has restored my inspiration. Doesn't mean I'll be skipping to work tomorrow in a happier mood, but just that I feel a little more enriched with knowledge. I'm better skilled at providing a service.

Ah what the hell, pardon my babble - today, I had fun at a geeky lecture. That's all.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year

Dad is one of the best cooks ever. I look forward to Chinese New Year dinner every year because it's special (with dishes cooked only for special occasions) and it's super yummy. The comfort of our family traditional foods always makes a great dinner. 

With any Chinese celebrations, we always have steamed fish. This is my most absolute favorite way of preparing fish. Steam it. Drizzle with a bit of soy sauce and oil. Topped with some seared ginger and fresh parsley and onion. So so so good. The flavours are so clean and fresh. I could eat this everyday. 

Also with any Chinese celebrations, there is always chicken. Frankly, all Chinese traditions are going to be lost with my generation. I'm not entirely sure why there is always chicken. Googling it, websites explain that it means family reunion and completeness. I have this inkling that back in the day, chicken was not readily available for everyone everyday, and was meant only for the more wealthy or for special occasions. Who knows... must make note to self to ask the parents.

This sludgey looking dish, is also a staple for only Chinese celebrations at home. It has dried oysters, mushrooms, vegetables, and black, hair-like substance called "fat choy". I've been eating it all my life, but had no clue what it was (until trusty Google tells me it's actually a terrestrial bacteria that is dried then cooked). We don't eat a whole lot of it anymore, but family still whips out a little bit of it for celebrations because "choy" means "prosperity".

This dish, which is super popular in restaurants, but not something we always cook at home. Dad decided to make it because we enjoy it. That is, lettuce wrap. The filling was so finely diced. I must work on my knife skills to match my dad's. 

For dessert, dad made individual-sized baked taro tapioca. If you haven't had this, you're missing out. A combination of custardy taopioca, sweet taro, and warmth. Perfect ending to a delicious dinner. Must make another note to self : Chinese New Year's feast is usually on the eve of New Year's Day, not on the actual day. (I booked the wrong day off work!).

A dinner like this reminds me how very lucky I am. To have my family. To have a warm house. To have an abundance of amazing food. Feeling blessed. 

Wishing you all a Happy Year of the Ram - a year of health, happiness, and whatever your heart desires. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Starting The Year With A Trip

Technically it wasn't the beginning of the year, but I guess you could say my year was late-blooming. The year didn't really start until I decided to go away, make a trip somewhere, take a breather, and come back with a boost in spirit. Perhaps it was the post-holiday blues, but January was a bit of a lackluster month. Regardless, after a week away with my friends, I'm back full force to take on ... well, my messy bedroom to start off with. The day after I got off the plane when I came home, I mercilessly ripped my room apart and threw a big chunk of things away. For someone like me who finds sentimental value in everything, (including that receipt of that one just-because dinner that I had such an awesome time with a friend that I don't see often, or that worn out wallet that a close friend gave me years ago... pack rat, I know), it makes my goal of living minimally a bit tough. But I'm learning. Slow progress is better than none. After the big sweep, I was feeling great.

I realize that none of the trips I've taken in the past 4 years have ever ended up on this blog. Which is a shame to not have that day-to-day documentation of all the fun and cool things that I came across with my travels. Hopefully, I'll get around to mention a thing or two about this last get-away. Meanwhile, I'll stick with my dailies to give me just enough to chew for now. Slow progress is better than none I suppose. Just like my room. Just like my blog. Guess I work like one of those wind-up toys. I get my spurts, but will eventually make it across the surface if ya keep windin' me up.

So stick around will ya? And check back a little later. Thanks. To whoever's reading this out there. All fifteen of you each day. Or perhaps it's really just one. Who's somehow accidentally set this blog as their homepage and doesn't know how to fix it.  Well... thanks anyway.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rain Night In

It's raining out. It's Vancouver. It's a Saturday night and I have the weekend off. But instead of getting out there and enjoying the city, as I yearn to do when I'm working, I find myself spending the night in. It's all good though because I got a few things I never seem to find time to do. Like backing up my photos. Like updating this blog. Like taking a cat nap. Like lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling. (A favorite past time of mine). So currently, enjoying a great lineup of muuuusic as I cozy on up with my blanket and sipping on my tea while I enjoy all the above. 

"Kintsukuroi" by Hey Rosetta!

"Shut Up And Dance" by Walk The Moon

"My Body" by Young The Giant

"Monkey Tree" by Mother Mother

Off topic, totally sad that I missed a Disney concert performed by local indie band members around the time of the holidays. Would have been fun!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Matters Of The Eye

This is way cool so I have to post it. I've been wanting new glasses for some time now, but without a valid prescription, I couldn't get them. Even having a good friend as an eye doctor doesn't help bypass the eye exam part. ("Can't you just write a prescription for the same degrees as my current prescription??" was answered with the "You know better" look. Like I said, she's a good friend. Good friends do the right thing and make sure I get my eyes checked regularly). 

What was suppose to be a routine eye exam actually ended up showing that I had some irritation in my right eye. "Your left eye is really dry! And your right eye is irritated." We couldn't really think of why that would be... but this meant letting it heal with prescription eye drops and getting another check up. 

"Oh!!! Normally, I wouldn't want to take my iphone up to the [equipment] if it's a patient patient, but since you're not really a patient patient, let me take a picture with my iphone of what I see!".

M was so excited that there was something to diagnose and show. First, she stained the "rash" on my eye with some sort of dye so that it would show up better with the blue light. Then, she snapped a photo through the viewfinder to what she saw with her phone. I asked her to send it to me, and the above is what you get. 

If you can see, there's a white cloud of specks on the middle part of my eye ball, and that's the indication of an irritation on the eye. It could have been me rubbing my eye vigorously... or.. who knows. I found that so fascinating! 

After a few days of Tobradex "qid", I went back for a check up today. It has cleared up quite a bit, with a few patches left, so I was told. So, all is okay. Give it a couple of more days and it should be fine. Since this though, I have been a bit more aware of my eye rubbing. Isn't that cool? What an eye doctor goes to school to learn and can see and understand that we otherwise have no clue! And a super close-up photo of my eye with the phone... pretty awesome.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chickpea & Cabbage Soup

Gosh, I cannot seem to kick this nasty cough that I have, which has been taking a toll on my quality of sleep. The fatigue I feel from working shift work, and the lack of sleep, is causing every muscle and bone in my body to ache. Not a good feeling. Trying to shake it off, and wait it out, but it doesn't seem to be happening quickly.

So, in the meanwhile, more homemade soup to sooth the soul. A small moment of bliss when I finally get to sit down after a long day of working on my feet, and getting something warm (and nutritious) in my tummy. This one is another good one. Comfort food at its best.

2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 of a cabbage, shredded
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of rice
4 cups of broth ( I used vegetable, preferably homemade but boxed is fine)
3 cups water
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

1) Saute onions with a bit of olive oil until translucent. Then add garlic, dash of salt and pepper and saute for another minute.
2) Add the rice, carrots, and cabbage along with the broth and water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring it down to a simmer, and add chick peas. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3) Once all is tender, stir in fresh dill. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen's recipe.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Momofuku's Cereal Milk Panna Cotta

I got several cookbooks for Christmas, one of them being Momofuku by David Chang. There are a few reasons why I'd get excited about this book. One, I got the chance to eat at one of his Momofuku restaurants when I made a trip out to Toronto & New York last year, and enjoyed some really delicious steamed pork buns that still leave a lasting delightful memory for me. Their cereal milk soft serve ice cream that we had for dessert brought me right back to childhood with its distinct sugary milk flavour. I have to admit that the first taste was a little weird, as it's not a usual flavour you'd get with the cereal making it a tad salty along with the sweet. But after a few more bites, it totally grows on you.

Second, I watched a whole lot of "Masterchef Australia" in the past year. This show seems to have some brainwashing powers with me in that it's totally got me sucked in and suddenly loving and appreciate food so much more. So much so that it's ridiculous. So much so that I find myself googling every celebrity chef that appears on the show and all those known to everyone in the culinary world, and getting myself completely engulfed in reading about their lives, their culinary journey, and their successes. Every different cooking technique or classic dish names are for some reason so fascinating. I mean, I'm not crazy. Food is a happy thing. It's a science. It's an art. And when you eat something super tasty, to the point where you find yourself closing your eyes to savour that moment, feeling like you've died and gone to heaven... now that is magical. (And if you've never had that kind of experience with food... well, I'm sorry but you're totally missing out on something amazing!). Anyway, David Chang was a guest judge on the show, and so therefore, one of the (many) chefs I've learned about.

Then, there was "The Mind of A Chef" - David Chang's own food show. Which basically shows him cooking almost every recipe in the book and how he came to such developing such recipes. So, now that I know a little about the chef, watched him in action, and tasted some of his food... why not cook it too?

All these recipes from "michelin star" chefs may seem intimidating at first, but that too makes a cookbook even more fascinating. What makes a good cookbook? Its gorgeous, eye-catching photos? Its stories behind each recipe? How it is sectioned and how many varieties? In the end, I think it's all about how reproducible its content is. Ultimately, you'd want a cookbook that teaches you how to make good food. Plain and simple.

So, I started on a mission to test these cookbooks on my bookshelf to see how "good" of a cookbook they really are. And since there's been a bit of Momofuku in my life, that's where I started. Just from flipping through the book, I can almost hear the sound the hustling and bustling from his kitchen. The photos of his staff in action. The colourful pictures of the food. There are many, if not all, recipes that I definitely want to try out. One of course, his steamed pork buns. But, let's start somewhere simpler. Something that won't take me a day and a half to complete. So, I tested... the cereal milk panna cotta.

The recipe makes 8 (or more depending on what container you set the panna cotta in). And I've eaten four. Four days in a row.

I. love. it.

Definitely reminiscent of the cereal milk soft serve I had at the restaurant. The recipe was easy. There may be quite a few steps, and quite a few waiting games to play, but in the end, it's worth it. It isn't too sweet, and has a strong, almost caramel flavour, of cereal milk. I was hesitant in certain steps (like how 2 sheets of gelatin could set that much liquid so I made two batches with one having 2 sheets of gelatin and the other having more than double), but what I learned is... always follow the recipe. This recipe taught me how to use a new thing I have used before - sheet gelatin. It's so easy (to apply and to dissolve) that I now understand why fancy chefs use only sheet gelatin and not the powder.

I didn't make the "chocolate-hazelnut thing" the recipe called for.. I just wasn't interested in making chocolate anything, so I cheated and crushed up a hazelnut chocolate bar. (Yep, that is what it is in the picture). But everything else is to the recipe. I was skeptical about the pairing of cereal milk with avocado, but surprisingly, I think the avocado lightens the flavour of the cereal milk, and creates a complimentary complexity that only your tastebuds can understand. I think the chocolate bit was meant to be eaten intermittingly with the panna cotta because together, the chocolate overpowers it all. But when eaten separate, it seems to give a different explosion of flavours in your mouth each time.

This sounds like crazy food talk, and it is. But when you find great excitement in the smallest things, you'll likely realize why.

So far, this book/recipe : 5/5

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Everything Vegetable Soup

It's now two years in a row where I am sick on New Year's Eve and for the few days following. Ahh, the holidays are great but it just may be too much for my aging body to handle. Who knows. So, rather than basking in all the warm and fuzzies of the holidays, I am finding myself counting down the days back to nomalcy and looking forward to snuggle time with my blanket and bed. And for self-inflicted busybody me, it takes getting the flu to give me the excuse to slow down and just chill.

Even on a good day, I crave a yummy homemade vegetable soup packed with vegetables. A lot of good soups I find has to have carrot, celery and onion as its base. I also found some frozen peas and frozen homegrown tomatoes in the freezer, and some green beans in the fridge. Top it all off with some starchy potatoes and the soup is just perfect for when you're feeling a bit under the weather.

For my own reference:

1 medium sized onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 russet potato, diced
1/2 cup green beans chopped
3 frozen large homegrown tomatoes, chopped
3 cups stock (homemade or boxed)
3 cups water

Brown onion, celery, and carrots until soften.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
Bring it down to a simmer and simmer until harder vegetables are soft, about 20-25 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Eve

Okay, let's back it up a little. This is how New Year's Eve went down for us. The night started off around dinner time with the kiddies wanting to play rather than to eat. S had every excuse under the sun that she was too busy to sit down and eat, like wanting to eat dinner only if she has her arms linked with Auntie Karen's, or how she needed to rip off the plastic wrapping around the legs of the dining chairs..., and pulled me a few times into the office so that I could spin her around and around on the office chair.

A came over for the fun too. Put those two ball of energies together and you get loud screaming and crazy behaviour. Kids will be kids.

They took turns climbing onto the stacked pillows and sliding down the couch like a slide. With Auntie Wendy egging them on, of course.

Once the kiddies left to go home for their bedtime, the rest of us started a game of "Heads Up". If you haven't heard of this game, it's very much like a form of charades. Ellen Degeneres created this conveniently as an app. We did guys vs. girls and took turn kicking each other's butt.

Shum was evidently the best at humming tunes ...

... while Ben was best in the movie category.

Then there was Wendy, who always claims to be awesome at any kind of game... well, she did alright.

Pretty fun game overall! Got some good laughs out of it!

Right before midnight, we got our coats on and got our noisemakers ready.

Patiently waiting for countdown...

These two seemed a bit overdressed for the mild winter we've been having...

And here is the only straightfaced picture you'll ever get out of Yvonne. (see last photo to see what I mean).

These two started making out early. 

When the clock struck midnight, we went out single-file banging our noisemakers and ran once around the block. The best part about this neighbourhood is that everyone else on the block is just as festive. Two other houses came out with their noisemakers, and others lit fireworks. 


We were all huffing and puffing and gasping for air by the time we got back to the house. We were all in consensus that our age is slowly creeping up on us... or maybe we ate one too many turkey for dinner... but the run seems to be getting harder each year. 

Like every New Year's Eve, I had a BLAST! As I look back... and look forward... I know that our New Year's Eve parties will continue to evolve, and it won't always stay the same. (esp. with more friends planning to start a family, etc). But nothing is ever forever. Just as long as you're always having fun, that's all that matters.