Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inspiring Bedroom Design From Chinese TV Drama

I'm currently addicted to watching a Chinese TV drama series.  It's been over 10 years since I watched any Chinese language TV dramas from Hong Kong, and this is the first ever TV drama produced by China that I watched in my entire life.  Compared to the ones I spotted on the boring hotel TV (quite similar to the programming in North Korea)  when I was vacationing in China as a kid, China's TV drama nowadays seems to have changed a lot in terms of  the style of the scripts, the screenplay, set design, wardrobe design and even cultural references.   But then an entire new generation had emerged during these years and the country itself  had gone through drastic makeover.  

I found this TV drama quite interesting regardless of whether the story line is good or bad or whether the acting is good or bad. Just from the point of how TV drama had evolved and how unfamiliar I'm to the Chinese culture portrayed on the TV drama.  It again makes me realize how little I know about China today.  And I'm sure most of the people in Hong Kong are unfamiliar with the country as I am  since most of what we heard and learnt from the days when our grandparents escaped the country, are now pretty much outdated. Even my American husband who doesn't understand any Chinese found the few clips I showed him quite amusing. He asked me, "Why are there white people standing in the room on the left? How come they all can speak Chinese?"  I told him those were the French medical team who were employees of this wealthy Chinese guy who owned this huge castle in France, and he happened to also be the owner of  an internationally famous graduate school for music and the performing arts, like Juilliard in New York. My husband just cracked up and said, "So hundreds of million of people in China are now watching this sort of drama? That really gives them something to dream on. Very interesting indeed!!"

I just love all the beautiful and fancy sets, like this bedroom.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chocolate-Chip Cookies In 1953

Chocolate-Chip Cookies Recipe from 1953

Several days ago, after waiting patiently for all the ingredients to warm up to room temperature, I finally baked my first batch of chocolate-chip cookies of my life.  I like Mrs Fields chocolate-chip cookies so when I saw a very short and seemingly easy recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook 1953 Edition that I inherited from one of my husband's dead relatives, I went ahead and tried it out.

I didn't get the soft and chewy Mrs. Fields chocolate-chip cookies that I was craving for. I did however get a batch of delicious cookies that reminded me of the texture of  the Famous Amo's Cookies.  I first tried the Famous Amo's Cookies years ago at the cafeteria of my work.  They were always in the pantry and were one of the "employee benefits" provided by my employer.  But I hated it after one bite.  Since then,  I never tried another Famous Amo's cookie again.  I just didn't like the smell and the taste of it. I'm  very sensitive to hydrogenated oil and artificial flavors because they always made me feel nauseous.  I also didn't like the texture because I prefer soft and chewy cookies.

Now that I had tried out this chocolate-chip cookie recipe from 1953.  I suppose in the 50s, hard and crispy cookies like the Famous Amo's were the mainstream cookie texture?  Unlike my experience with the Famous Amo's brand, I actually love these cookies from this decades old  American recipe!  I'm glad I got to have a taste of the good old times!  They tasted really good.  I dipped them in milk and coffee. I have to say, hard and crisp cookies are the best for coffee dipping.   My husband also hates the Famous Amo's even though he grew up with it. But he loves this home baked version.  Below is the recipe:  (I baked with butter, not margarine because I hate the taste of  margarine also.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

So I Can't Bake With Ingredients Right Out Of The Fridge?

After reading an old American cookbook, I am craving for chocolate-chip cookies tonight.  I want to make  my first batch of chocolate-chip cookies ever, but then I am confused by whether or not I should melt the butter since the recipe doesn't specify.  I try to look up online whether I should melt the butter but I find this video instead that tells me something I never knew since I started learning how to cook last year.

Now, I'm waiting for the egg and butter to warm up to room temperature.  I'm getting impatient because I have been thinking of Mrs. Fields' cookies and  am  really craving for chocolate-chip cookies now! Besides, I ate supper at 5pm today and I am really hungry.  Time hasn't been passing so slowly since I was in the 4th grade.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Korean Town in China

I love going to Korean town here in Los Angeles because I love Korean food.  Little did I know that China actually has a much bigger Korean town. It's literally a Korean City. Recently I had met a sushi chef in one of the sushi restaurants here in Los Angeles.  I initially thought he was Japanese so I started asking him about Japan. But then he told me he was actually Chinese like me,  so we switched our conversation from English to Mandarin.  In the meantime, I saw him speaking very fluent Korean to some Korean customers at the sushi bar. I was so impressed that a Chinese sushi chef actually could speak multiple languages so I asked if he majored in Korean when he was in college in China.  He told me he never went to college when he was in China, he started working in various hotels in China right after high school.  He told me that Korean was his native dialect because he was Chinese Korean.  At that moment, I realized how little did I know about China even though I am Chinese.  Growing up in Hong Kong, I was never taught a lot about China even  though we did have a mandatory course called "Chinese Geography". But we had so many mandatory courses that we weren't learning everything in detail when we were also mandated to learn the geography of even the USA... My classmates and I simply didn't have the time to learn China deeply after we were forced to  memorize the 50 states and the cattle drive in the USA in our mandatory  "World Geography" class.  Among 4 of our mandatory classes,  "Chinese History" , "Chinese Geography", "World History" and "World Geography", we seriously couldn't possibly learn everything about China in great details.  During a period in my life, I literally didn't know how to answer the question, "What's your nationality"?  I often stupidly answered, "Hong Kong".  Then my mom would say, "Wrong, British.".. Then my grandparents would say, "No, Chinese!!! You are Chinese!!!".  For a long time, I thought Chinese meant people like my grandparents and me. It was only until high school that I learnt that "Chinese" is a word like "American".  Chinese don't all look the same and they don't all share the same dialect, culture or traditions.  It was by then I began to understand how come  I couldn't understand some of the Chinese people who were riding the subway, or in a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong...  I couldn't even understand my grandmother's cousin.  I was always surprised by how my grandmother could change  language when she turned her head to speak with her cousin.  It was only until I was in high school, I realized my grandma had a different native dialect  from my father's and mine, and yet we are all Chinese under China's definition of "nationality".  In America, "Chinese" means one kind of ethnic group. But it is as correct as to say Americans only include people from the British ancestry.   

I do always know that there are 56 ethnic groups in China but to be honest, I can only name 7 of them until today.  So, through my encounter with this Chinese Korean sushi chef here in Los Angeles,  I now know that Korean is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China. After learning about this Chinese Korean sushi chef's hometown, I  became curious about the place and I found this video online.  It's amazing that there is this big city in China that is so "Korean".  I had been to South Korea a few times but I had never been to this Korean city in China.  After watching the video, I'm going to put this interesting Korean city on my list of travel destinations.   

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ice and Fire

The Chinese acrobatics, as a category of the Chinese variety art, is one of China's national cultural treasures.  This is quite an entertaining performance.  I bet these acrobats will make a lot more money if only they go work for Cir Du Solei. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Double Berries Banana Smoothie

Double Berries Banana Smoothie

In order to distract myself from the scary news on  Ebola, I went to my cluttered family room to unpack some of my moving boxes.  And I found a mini blender that I had bought long time ago when I was still gainfully employed. I haven't used it at all, the blender was in the original sealed manufacturer's packaging.  Back then I bought the blender meaning to make antioxidant smoothie for breakfast but I never got to even open the packaging because I simply didn't have time to have breakfast or to get to anything that I bought from the store. Remembering it now makes me feel  less regretful about quitting that stressful job that I enslaved myself for 10 years.  I was never a breakfast person when I was working.  Anyway, I used this gadget the first time today to try out the immunity boosting  recipe my nutritionist sister gave me. 

My sister's recipe makes one serving by blending the following ingredients. It tasted refreshing and cold with the right level of sweetness but without getting  the ice cubes or adding extra sugar.  This is my kind of recipe because I'm not an ice-making person and I don't have extra space in my freezer for storing ice cubes.
  1. 1/2 frozen banana
  2. 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  3. 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  4. 1/2 cup low fat strawberry probiotic Kefir
  5. 1/2 cup 1 % low fat milk
space saving mini blender

This mini blender is going to be another favorite kitchen gadget of mine in addition to my 10 year-old  mini rice cooker.  It's really cute and it saves me a lot of counter space and cabinet space.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Will Ebola Come To America?

My mother recently texts me some video footage about how the Chinese government is rehearsing on dealing with an Ebola outbreak.  This reminds me of the SARS epidemics back in 2003 that killed hundreds of people in Hong Kong and many of them doctors, nurses and health workers in the hospitals.  I remember how frightening it was and I had to wear a mask all the time. The economy of Hong Kong was brought down to its knees.   Without that incident, I wouldn't have ended up being here in America. The economy was so bad during and after SARs that when I was asked if I was interested in working in the USA on a professional worker's visa,  I accepted it without much consideration.  I have to admit that I was kind of overreacting and feeling way too pessimistic about Hong Kong's future at the time.  Nobody in my family ran away like I did.  I guess I must  have a tendency to become nervous easily...

Now, why is the Chinese government rehearsing?  Is it because  the Chinese government is worrying that Ebola will possibly spread out of Africa?  Is Ebola really this bad?  Out of curiosity, I went online to learn more on the latest development on the Ebola outbreak in Africa.  This is my mistake, because the more I learn about it, the more I feel unsettled by it.  Will Ebola come to America?  Thousands of Americans will be sent to Africa to help with the crisis but when they return, will the government be ready to make sure that they don't bring the virus back?  Will there be protocols to put these thousands of people on temporary quarantine upon their return to make sure no virus is being incubating in their bodies before they are free to return to their communities?  The American government is always very optimistic about everything and claims that the hospitals here are prepared in treating Americans returning from Africa with Ebola. But some medical experts say most US hospitals are actually unprepared for dealing with Ebola.  I just pray that government's claim is true but that's the scary part because how often was the government ever  right about anything?

I feel sorry for those thousands of Americans who will be sent to fight Ebola... Why is it that America is the only country which has to send thousands of citizens and to give hundreds of millions of USD to fight Ebola in Africa? If it's a global threat, then why aren't other countries pitching in money and sending their troops and citizens over to fight it too?

The irony of putting all these efforts and risking thousands' of American lives is that these African countries that are having Ebola are feeling resentful to America because they are saying that Ebola is actually a biochemical weapon created by America which has an evil agenda on Africa.

If I were the government, I would keep the troops close to home, I would close the border and implement a ban to ban anybody from going to the epicenter and stop anyone who violates the ban from returning with the disease.  I would make sure the troops are here to seal up the borders and I would spend the hundreds of millions of USD to beef up healthcare, vaccine development,  hospital measures, medical supplies and resources that Americans will desperate need  in case they unfortunately get hit by Ebola despite all the military effort to seal the border and keep Ebola from sneaking in.  I would leave the fight with Ebola to Bill Gates since his foundation has already spent billions in  fighting Polio in Africa.  I'm sure he will gladly help pay for the hundreds of million of USD to fight Ebola there.  I think the troop should stay put here to defend the borders and not to be sent to risk their lives for some deadly disease that has no cure, that they never had experience in dealing with. But then I'm not even an American, who am I to even comment on this.  But heck, that's my tax dollars too since I'm still paying my taxes as of now.  Why does America have to always be the only country to take care of global health and global anything?  It's like a family who is always minding other neighbors' business and charging their credit cards to feed the neighbors' kids  while their own kids come home from schools with no home cooked meals.... all because the parents are worried that if the neighbors aren't well fed and well cared for, they will pose a threat to their kids...... I simply can't understand this mentality and logic.