Summing up Dim Sum (and then some)

The weekend is soon here and it’s time to think about brunch, Dim Sum brunch that is. Dim Sum translates to touching the heart and is also referred to as “yum cha” which means to drink tea. So, saying “Let’s go dim sum” is the same as saying, “Let’s go yum cha (drink tea).” It’s also known as brunch time where people gather for Chinese like tapas, nibble and talk story. What I really appreciate about dim sum is that babies, elderly and everyone in between… all love dim sum. It pleases the masses which attests to how it’s great for virtually all taste buds!

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Dim Sum love starts at a young age, just ask Ayla! She loves pork buns!!!

Here’s what you can expect…

Enter a large room, and in traditional setting, you can find servers (typically women) pushing carts of delicious tapa-like dumplings, buns, or dishes that have been freshly steamed or deep fried.  Recently, more restaurants have done without the dim sum carts and provide a menu where you can check off what you want. I prefer the latter because it’s more fresh and less of a commotion.

There is so much to choose from and because it can be somewhat overwhelming, I have listed my top 10 dishes (I’d venture to say that these are commonly favored by most).

Photos courtesy of Lunasia Dim Sum House

Last week, we celebrated Tony’s birthday at a Dim Sum brunch with our family at one of my favorite places, Lunasia Dim Sum House. In answering questions, I thought I’d share with you some dim sum etiquette tips and pointers so that you know what to expect when you dim sum.

  • There will be a tea pot and tea cups. You never serve yourself first. You serve those to the left first and then to the right. If there is an elder, you deviate from this rule and serve the eldest first. You don’t need to serve everyone, just those within arms reach.
  • Somebody else will likely also serve you tea. When they serve you tea, as a way of thanking them, you use your index and middle fingers (using one hand only) and gently apply about 3 taps to the table (by your tea cup) as it nears the end of your pour. This dates back to how emperors would thank others when they were served tea.
  • This is a family style meal, so be mindful. There is plenty to go around and you can easily order more. Don’t stock pile and don’t hoard your favorite dumpling or dish. Ensure that everyone has a share.
  • Remember, you don’t have to wait for dessert, so when those egg tarts or jello comes around, go for it. Dessert is not last and it’s whenever you want it to be.
  • Again, this is family style…BE MINDFUL. Don’t double dip or reach across to grab the piece that is speaking to you. Grab the piece that is closest to you and do it with a community pair of chopsticks (if available), or do it in one gesture. Refrain from picking at the dish.
  • If there is a lazy Susan, look before you spin as to ensure that nobody is in the middle of serving themselves.
  • Mustard and chili are supplied at the table, add to taste. I prefer asking for fresh cut chili and soy sauce (this is a common request), just ask.
  • It is customary to leave standard tip amount as dim sum is considered full service.

Enjoy!!

Tulip Bulbs in a Vase kit? I think Yes!!!

Today’s announcement:

You know when something has me feeling good, I’ve got to share it in hopes of it making your day just as wonderful too!

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Trader Joe’s Tulip bulb kit in a vase

If you want to make someone’s day, rush to your nearest Trader Joe’s (and hopefully they’re still in stock) and buy the tulip bulb in a vase kit! For Valentine’s Day, I got some of these for my sweet sisters and my best friend. Miwa (the BFF) texted me this photo of how they’ve blossomed already (in less than 10 days)! Of course, I rushed to Trader Joe’s last night and got one for myself. Dancing tulips in my house…who can say no to that? Aren’t they just so pretty?  It’s the little things that get me all tickled up inside. Have a great one friends!

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And look at them grow!!! So very pretty!!!

 

Dress Stress – What’s my style?

Before I even got engaged, I’d wonder what kind of a bride I would be. Actually, I remember daydreaming about this as young as the age of ten when I was at a relative’s wedding. Elegant, classic, chic, traditional, simple, dramatic, there are so many different styles to choose from, and at any given mood, I can be any of these…it just depends on what day it is! But there is just one big day. Decisions, decisions.

Past brides, what did it for you? With endless styles and options out there, what made you say “yes” to your dress? What did you go with and why? What was your wedding style? How did you finally decide? In the end, my advice to future brides and myself is to be true to my personal style (and curves for that matter). I’d love to hear from you and get our advice. How did you go from Dress Stress to saying, “Yes!” ?

Here are some of my favorite styles that speak to me:

elegant
Elegant – Source: Raffine Bridal
classic
Classic – Source: Wedding Inspirasi
Modern Chinese
Modern, Elegant & Chinese Traditional – Source: Rusly TjohnardiAtelier
glamorous
Glamorous & Dramatic – Source: Mod Wedding
sophisticated
Sophisticated – Source: Belle The Magazine
Modern Simple
Modern – Source: Wedding Bee

How do you Christmas?

Every Christmas I get on this high thinking about and crafting up keepsake gifts for my family and friends. Clothes, toys, electronics…it can be a bit much. It brings me joy to be able to make and gift something unique, handmade, and personable. I especially enjoy giving things that capture a moment in time. I think this stems from my childhood.–Of course, there still is that special purse that I have been  wanting and wouldn’t mind receiving…just saying.

My family didn’t celebrate Christmas. Not so much because we aren’t religious but because being first generation immigrants, we just didn’t celebrate for cultural reasons. Mainly, not knowing. My grandparents didn’t celebrate and neither did my mom. I remember being in the second grade and having to tell them about Santa and traditions like leaving cookies out and making a list, asking them, “Were you naughty or nice this year?” By the time I was in the third grade, I saved up enough money and bought gifts for them. I wrapped them up and placed them under the tree (it must have been donated to us as it was missing branch pieces). Still, it was perfect. I would tell them that Santa told me to get the gifts for them because they were good (to me) all year. Talk about being parentified at such a young age! I still don’t remember if they played along (or not), but I didn’t care. This was Christmas for me and I loved it. What’s not to love?

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We celebrated Christmas festivities at the Grove in Los Angeles. Never in my wildest childhood dreams did I ever imagine being so close to such a huge dramatic Christmas tree!

Unlike me, my neighbor Cynthia celebrated Christmas. She had a huge family. Eight kids!!! Since they’re Caucasian and I’m so very Chinese, everything they did was so normal. Everything! They would make pies and have it with vanilla ice-cream a-la-mode. Meanwhile, I had porridge with fish, mustard greens, black beans, and some fermented tofu (and this was way before tofu was even cool). Like my family, they were also very close. But they did not have a Christmas tree. What?! Yeah, they didn’t. Could I possibly be more normal than them?

No tree and no big fancy presents. How in the world did they not have a tree and I did? Well…her parents, who are some of the kindest people you can ever meet, did not give into the commodification of Christmas and were very put off by it. Cynthia and I would talk about all the things we wanted. I remembered her complaining that the only thing that she would get from her mom was an envelope of photos. Her mom would give each of the kids a deck of photos she accumulated throughout the year. At the wise age of about eight, I remember envying and wanting all of Cynthia’s complaints. I thought, “I want an envelope of photos.” We didn’t even have a camera so of course there weren’t any photos for my mom to give me.

A few years ago, Cynthia and I were talking about Christmas and she shared how now as grown adults, all of her siblings are so very grateful that their mom gave them such a simple yet treasured gift. –A deck of photos (every year). Sometimes, it’s the simplest of things that find its way to our heart.

However way you celebrate Christmas, may it find a way to your heart and bring you much comfort and joy. Sometimes it’s not as complicated or stressful as we may think. Happy Always, Merry Everything.

How do you Christmas? What do you do to make your heart warm and spirt bright? I would love to hear from you!

 

31 Turkey Leftover Ideas

Black Friday means LEFTOVERS galore! I love everything about Thanksgiving. From coming up with the recipes, stressing, the traffic, gathering around the table and creating new memories.

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Last night’s turkey made my brother in law, Carlos. Yum!

Turkey, a true American icon. It’s not one of my favorite meats, but it’s a must for Thanksgiving. So what do you do with the leftovers? Save your energy juices for Black Friday shopping…I came up with this handy dandy list of 31 different turkey leftover dish ideas so that don’t need to do any thinking and know that there are more options beyond casserole. Enjoy.

Salads:

  • Turkey Cobb Salad
  • Chinese Sesame Turkey Salad
  • Turkey Caesar Salads

Soups:

  • Turkey Kale and White Bean Soup
  • Turkey Vegetable Soup
  • Turkey Broth
  • Turkey Corn Chowder

Mains:

  • Turkey Quesadilla
  • Turkey Tinga
  • Chinese House Special Fried Rice w/ Turkey
  • Congee/ Porridge with Turkey Broth and ginger (my fave)
  • Chow Mein with Turkey
  • Turkey Pot Pie
  • Turkey Pho
  • Turkey Ramen with egg
  • Kung Pao Turkey
  • Turkey Chili
  • Giant Stuffed Potato with Turkey and Cheese

Sides:

  • Nachos Bell Grande with Shredded Turkey
  • Turkey Taquitos
  • Turkey Tamales
  • Turkey Samosas
  • Turkey Empanadas

Sandwiches/ Wraps:

  • Turkey Burrito
  • Turkey Wrap with Hummus
  • Grilled Cheese with Turkey
  • Sloppy Joe’s with Turkey
  • Turkey Club Croissant
  • Roasted Turkey Sandwich
  • Turkey Cobb Sandwich with bleu cheese
  • Turkey Panini

When in Mazatlan…have shrimp!!!

We have arrived…to Mazatlan. Oh, em. Gee. The shrimp. So damn Good.

We landed. It’s humid (hopefully it’s going to be great for my skin). I was hangry and we pulled over to have some of the best shrimp in my life. I met someone who told me that Mazatlan is the shrimp capital of the world, I later looked it up and read that was in 2011…still not sure if that’s the case, but who cares? Come here and have shrimp.

I love San Francisco’s Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building — My Recommendations

Ahhhh, the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building…hands down, one of my most favorite things to do while in San Francisco. I celebrated my 35th birthday this past week in SF which explains why I have been MIA. But now I am back and ready to ATTACK!!!

I have a love affair with San Francisco and started to romanticize over this beautiful city as long as I can remember. I’d day dream about being a San Franciscan and how I would wake up early on a Saturday morning, grab my hand crafted bags and head over to the Ferry

Be sure to bring your best friend and enjoy!
Be sure to bring your best friend and enjoy!

Building for the farmer’s market. This market is no joke. I’d have my well thought out weekly shopping list with plenty of blank spaces, allowing for intuition to play. On the way, I’d stop by Philz Coffee and satisfy my caffeine fix. My choice is their signature mint coffee mojito sans the sugar.

Finally, I’d make my way to the Ferry Building. The first stop is the Roli Roti truck! If I am lucky there’s no line and they still have some pork knuckles available. I’d start up a conversation with their efficient staff and if luck continues to be on my side, he’d give me some crispy pork fat. Salivating.

YUM!
YUM!

I’d walk around and explore. Get to know the vendors who got up extra early to share their gift with me. Smell the fresh lavender. Admire the beautiful flowers of the season. Touch the beets. Sample the fruit. Mingle with customers. Buy some of my favorite jams and dried fruits…they’re gonna make some great stocking stuffers. I’d make my way to the back food court area and stop by 4505 Meats. Stock up on their chicharrones…

Heaven in your mouth...
Heaven in your mouth…

paleo friendly and so damn good. My friends are gonna fight over them! Oh and speaking of 4505 Meats…Tony loves their burgers.

I’d make my way around and find a place to sit, eat, enjoy the seagulls, embrace the street performers and the lovely view of the bay bridge. After soaking up the Farmer’s Market. It’s Ferry Building time!!!

Time for a refreshing pressed juice from Pressed Juicery. Stop by the Far West Fungi and pick up the jar of magic…truffle salt! It cures all!!!  Add it to anything and everyone will think you’re the best cook ever! When really…it’s just the salt at work, not you. Pick up some more for stocking stuffers!!! Admire the fancy terrariums of mushrooms and salivate over the white truffle$ I will have yet to afford. $312.50 per ounce…sweet Jesus!!!

If you need some more caffeine, take care of business at the Blue Bottle…be sure to grab their made to order waffles…yes, it’s worth the wait!!! There are so many great finds while at the Ferry Building. Hog Island Oyster Bar, Cowgirl Creamery…so much more! I should share that after all this galavanting and eating, I did the Nike’s half marathon the next day…Thank God for that. If you’re ever in SF, I hope you get to experience the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building and get joy out of it.