Hibernating

HibernatingI’m not gonna lie to you, Marge. I almost didn’t write a post tonight.

All I want is to curl up in bed, finish the latest book I’m reading (Amazon affiliate link), maybe eat congee (which I am currently doing), and perhaps, watch last week’s The Vampire Diaries and its crossover episode with The Originals.

I’m a simple woman with simple wants.

But I thought, if I get in the habit of blowing these posts off, especially when I’m starting to pursue my goals of writing, then really, I’m self-sabotaging, right?

I have no idea.

But I do know that I tend to fall off the writing world when I just start to gain a little traction and dammit all if that’s not annoying.

Now, I have good reasons to be tired and lazy. But there are always good reasons to be tired and lazy. But if I want something as badly as I say that I do, then I should also be willing to put in the work. (Something that I have not been good about doing since I was a child.)

So, here I am. Banging out a few words so that I feel better about myself.

Okay. What is my point for tonight?

1) Go to my link on congee. It’s so yum, folks. And there are still a few more cold weather days in store for us and it’s sooo cozy and makes me feel instantly better. Remember: GINGER IS KEY.

2) I’m currently reading The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley and I have to say I am really enjoying it. I’m confused as all get out, but the payoff is starting to come and I am super glad the sequel (of what I presume is a trilogy) has already come out so then I only have to wait for the conclusion.

Plus, Hurley has written another trilogy prior to this so I can blast through those, too.

Why do I love her world so far?

Violence. I mean, it’s not super violent, I guess. But it’s not a safe world. And there are multiple worlds and for awhile, you’re not sure what world you’re on. Also, all the characters kind of are assholes. Or idiots. Let’s just say I don’t particularly like any of them. But you still want to root for them to win and succeed seeing as their real enemy is even more despicable.

Ohohohohoh! And did I mention that there are many different societies and one of them is cannibalistic, polyamorous, magic-wielding pacifists? And that other societies are female dominated and men are ruthlessly culled and only used for breeding and prostitution? And still yet others have vigorously segregated the sexes? Or have multiple genders and intersexed and transexual peoples?

ALSO – people of color?

It’s pretty awesome. It would have been awesome WITHOUT these aspects, but WITH? AWESOME^2.

Now granted, I still have about 1/4 of the book left to go, but it’s building up to end well. I’ve already put the rest of this series and her books on hold.

3) Why do I keep buying produce that just goes to seed? Or sprouts? Sigh. I really should just save everyone the trouble and throw my money directly into the garbage.

4) Three years ago, when I was pregnant with Glow Worm, I got it in my mind to plant vegetables from seeds in my backyard. I planted them all, didn’t cull any seedlings, and then I had Glow Worm and didn’t really harvest or do anything with the veggies and they just died and flowered and seeded and whatever it is that plants do when you utterly ignore them.

Then we had several years of drought.

Well, this year has been less droughty and stuff has been sprouting up all over the place that I finally noticed. I now have tons of random carrots sprouting everywhere. And perhaps kale. And perhaps onions. WHO KNOWS? DO I LOOK LIKE A BOTANIST? OR A FARMER?

Whatever it is, the kids have really enjoyed digging up carrots in the back yard. Also? Those nice carrots you see at the grocery stores? I have no idea how they get them. Mine are ugly and scrawny and are weird looking.

Whatever. They’re going into juice.

Alright. I’m going back to my insane fantasy world where multiple worlds are trying to annihilate the other. See you Friday. (That post, at least, is already written.)

Buffalo Sauce is Awesome on Everything

Buffalo Sauce is Awesome on EverythingI have been tired lately – both from working on stuff for my Year of Risking Dangerously as well as just needing to let my brain run and consume things a bit so I have stuff to write about. Plus, Hapa Papa has been traveling a lot and that is a different type of tiring.

So, as a result, you all get another one of my random mental flotsam posts. I’m told they can be amusing so I hope today’s post does not disappoint. Of course, I also realize the limited appeal of these types of posts to people who don’t actually know me in real life (and quite frankly, to those who do know me IRL, too). To them I apologize, but in a half-assed sort of way because I don’t owe you anything and you don’t own me and…

Whoa. Yeah. Let’s just get on with it, yeah?

1) I have leftover buffalo wing sauce and I am putting it on random shit because I want more buffalo sauce in my mouth without resorting to drinking it. (I have standards, okay?)

Leftover hashbrown? Yes.

Cold mini-pancakes? Yes.

Dimsum? My God, YES.

It is all that I thought it would be.

2) Hapa Papa has been up since 4am Ohio time this morning. What is he doing right now at 11:25pm? Playing fucking Minecraft.

Seriously?

Did I mention he has calls starting at 7am tomorrow?

He needs to GTFTS. Mostly because I want to watch NCIS.

3) As soon as Hapa Papa walked through the door this evening at 9:15, I air-kissed the kids and went straight to my local boba shop to get boba (as well as an extra one for tomorrow since Hapa Papa is traveling again) and a snack.

The kids get really angry with me if I go without bringing them anything (understandably so) so I stayed in my driveway until Cookie Monster and Gamera were asleep. Hapa Papa claimed Glow Worm was asleep, too, so I snuck in through the front door only to hear his little voice piping up.

I felt bad so I swapped with Hapa Papa and let him go downstairs. I know. I’m a saint.

Glow Worm wouldn’t be up so late if he hadn’t have napped for 2.5 hours in the car this afternoon. It’s hard on days when we are constantly in the car so of course he falls asleep. And I’m if anything, shortsighted, so I let him sleep. Mostly so I could nap in the front seat of my van while waiting for my older two to finish their classes.

At any rate, I finally heard snoring and risked leaving. Glow Worm has been known to fake snore – but these sounded legit. Who knows, though. He’s pretty tricky. (Turns out, he really did fall asleep.)

4) Tiger Woo told us that she watched a horribly graphic and disturbing video of a seal raping a penguin today. She said the raping was learned behavior.

What I want to know is: FROM WHOM? (Hapa Papa had a similar reaction. This is why we are MFEO.)

Who is going around teaching seals how to rape penguins?!?

I suppose if I had bothered to watch the video she sent us, I would know. But I didn’t; so I don’t.

5) Went to the park today.

People: just cuz some random kid is Asian doesn’t mean he’s mine. Also? HIS MOM IS RIGHT THERE. Watching him like a hawk.

6) My kids are super into Minecraft these days which, I am relieved to say, has replaced Halo as the game of choice around here for Cookie Monster.

Also, Gamera has also started playing. Like, with the actual controls and everything – not just ordering Hapa Papa around, telling him what to do. If you know her at all, you will know she is quite possibly the laziest human child ever. So the fact that she is playing her own game is amazing.

Who said video games are stupid?

7) Because they are super into Minecraft, they “play Minecraft” in real life, too. Cookie Monster and Gamera spent over an hour playing Minecraft in the sandbox at the park this afternoon while Glow Worm ran around going down slides, jumping up and down, going on swings, climbing boulders, and generally parking the shit out of that park.

Then they spent a good part of the evening “mining” our house by knocking on walls and stuff. They kept saying their hands were all bloody from their mining.

Hapa Papa, our resident Minecraft expert, has no idea what that means. I say we just go with it since then I can read in peace.

8) I’m always impressed by how physical Glow Worm is. He has such a physicality to him that Hapa Papa calls him, “The Gronk,” after that fratboy party animal football player.

I just laugh and pretend I know WTF Hapa Papa is talking about. He isn’t fooled but allows me my harmless fiction. Then he explains it to me. And explains it to me again because I don’t listen to him very much because I am a dick.

9) Dude. When is Hapa Papa gonna be done with Minecraft? I really want to watch NCIS but now it’s getting past midnight.

Treachery!

10) I have a problem. I keep starting FB groups. It’s a little bit ridiculous, but I can’t stop.

Also? The majority of these groups have the same people in it.

Womp womp. 

11) Gamera has been blaming everything on me, lately. At current score, it’s my fault when:

– The weather is cold when she hates wearing pants
– That even though she wants to see snow in person, that snow is cold and would require her to wear said pants
– She has to go to school and we go on a playdate with people she loves so therefore she loves Hapa Papa more
– She is soooooo tired and her hand hurts from doing homework and her nose hurts from breathing
– We laugh at her hiccuping
– Costco did not have the breakfast bars she likes and now we’re out of them
– I did not get her milk when she is perfectly capable of getting milk herself and she is SO THIRSTY
– I have not given her a girl cousin

12) In related news, Glow Worm was furious with me because I couldn’t split apart a toy that cannot be split apart.

I am the worst.

13) Also also? If I kiss Glow Worm and he doesn’t want it or like it he will hold the spot I kissed him and cry, “Owwie!! Owwwwwwwiiiiiiiiieeeee!” And keep crying until I kiss him to make it better.

Then, he’ll remember I kissed him and the whole thing starts all over.

14) At least Cookie Monster is sweet and loves me and wants me to hug him and kiss him and be with him.

15) Even though I am super full right now, I still want buffalo sauce in my mouth. Why can’t there be buffalo sauce chewing gum or some type of cough drop that is buffalo sauce flavored? That would clear my sinuses, right?

16) Which reminds me. Where is that bacon flavored gum I have wanted all my life?

Alright. I need to go to sleep since it doesn’t look like NCIS is happening tonight. Also, I think I’m getting a little too loopy.

Thanks for humoring me today! Back to our regularly scheduled programming on Friday.

How to Make an Awesome Sandwich

Welp, it’s been about three months since I last did a post on food so this time, instead of How to Make an Awesome Salad, I bring you: How to Make an Awesome Sandwich.

Now, I know I am not the type of blog people turn to when it comes to recipes or crafts or anything homemakery. However, I’m a decent cook in general (though of the non-recipe following variety). I want to say among my friends, I am known to be really good at making soups, salads, and sandwiches.

I have to say, I often forget about the sandwich as a meal option (mostly because my kids don’t eat them), but when I do, I always tell myself I should make them more often because it is quick, easy, and tasty.

Here then, is my general formula for a really tasty sandwich:

Awesome Sandwich Formula

1) Something to hold the sandwich together
2) Something crunchy
3) Something protein
4) Something savory
5) Something spready
6) Something fatty
7) Something juicy

Now, you don’t have to have something in every category, but I want to say you need at least 4-5 for a truly delicious sandwich. And when you manage to have all categories, you have a memorable sandwich. (And many of these items can be combined. Eg: bacon is both crunchy, savory, fatty, AND protein!)

To make things easy for you, I am now going to list some possible things (as idea kick starters) in each category.

1) Something to hold the sandwich together – Totally obvious, but something to hold the sandwich is needed. Otherwise, it’s a salad. (True fact: I pretty much make my salads the same way I make my sandwiches except that I add a lot more fruit.)

– Bread (any kind, really – there are SO many kinds! They all work!)
– Naan (toasted is even better!)
– Tortilla (for a wrap instead of a “sandwich”)
– Croissants
– Pita
– Biscuits/Bread rolls
– Lettuce (if you’re avoiding carbs, lettuce also holds things together)
– Donuts

2) Something crunchy – Mostly vegetables, can also be a combo category with savory and protein.

– Some types of lettuce
– Celery (personally, not a favorite)
– Carrots
– Jicama
– Bell peppers
– Cucumbers/pickles
– Banana peppers
– Bacon
– Bean sprouts
– Onions
– Apple slices
– Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
– Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, candied ones are awesome, too!)

3) Something protein – Usually a meat or an egg, or nuts and seeds. Pro Tip: if you’re using deli meat, roll them up instead of laying them flat on the sandwich. You might use the same number of slices, but for some reason, when they’re rolled up, it’s SO MUCH BETTER. Pro Tip 2: Nothing improves a sandwich more than putting an over-medium fried egg on top of it.

– Bacon
– Salami
– Chicken (I like to use leftover Costco rotisserie chicken)
– Deli meat/ham
– Egg (scrambled, sliced and hard boiled, over medium, etc.)
– Smoked salmon
– Leftover steak/pork/whatever
– Sausage/brats
– Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
– Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, candied)

4) Something savory – This is usually a combo category since meats, spreads, and cheeses all fit the bill. Pickled vegetables (eg: artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc.) are a nice kick. You could also substitute savory with spicy, too.

5) Something spready – This usually refers to stuff you spread on the bread (ie: condiments), but it can also include things like chicken salad or pesto.

– Chicken/Tuna salad
– Pesto
– Mayo (or Japanese spicy mayo, or sriracha mayo, or any fancy mayo with a kick)
– Grey Poupon/mustard
– Nut/Seed butters (Not just for PBJs)
– Jam/Jellies (Not just for PBJs)

6) Something fatty – My FAVORITE category!

– Bacon
– Cheeses (goat cheese, blue cheese, shoot, in a pinch, string cheese)
– Avocado
– Egg
– Nuts/Seeds
– Certain cuts of meat (like pork belly)

7) Something juicy – In my mind, this refers to tomatoes (nothing better than a beefy, heirloom tomato), or a runny egg yolk. But apples and other types of crisp fruits count, too.

Pro tip 3: You can also include seeds, nuts, and fruits (dried or fresh) – either in a salad type of spread (eg: chicken salad), or just sprinkled onto the sandwich. It does make things a bit crumbly though.

If you’re feeling fancy and/or Subway sandwichesque, you can also add a dressing. Here’s my salad dressing from my previous post. But honestly, I personally think a dressing is a bit of an overkill. (Plus, you run the risk of the bread getting soggy – which is the WORST.)

Easy Salad Dressing Recipe

1) 1 part olive oil
2) 1 part seasoned rice vinegar
3) salt/pepper/garlic powder/white pepper to taste
4) optional: sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, Memmi soup base, dijon mustard

If this post seems almost exactly like my salad post, you’re right. It is. Except now there is something to hold the sandwich together instead of a bowl.

And since you can likely tell I cribbed most of this post from my previous one, we might as well end the same way: Alright, that’s it. If this takes you more than 10 minutes to make, it’s too hard! Enjoy!

How To Make An Awesome Salad

In general, I do not do food related posts. Mostly because I would rather eat the food than talk about it. Also, I lack the foodie vocabulary and resort to derivatives such as “OMGYUM!” to describe food. How a post can only consist of NOMS and DELISH, I don’t know. Hence, other than the occasional Taiwan food posts, I don’t do recipes, restaurant reviews, etc. Also, I am usually too busy eating and don’t remember to take a picture until the majority of the meal is in my belly. Sorrynotsorry.

Regular readers may also be under the impression that I don’t cook or hate to cook. I’m actually a pretty good cook – but not the kind you write home about. And certainly not the kind to follow recipes. I am the open-the-fridge-crap-what-do-we-have-that-can-turn-into-food type of cook. Which is good in the impulsive, not restricted to recipe way, but really bad for menu planning and any sort of long term food planning. As a result, I also waste a lot of food.

In general, I take after my mother in the sense that if something takes longer than 30 minutes to prepare, we are probably only going to be eating it at a restaurant or someone else’s house. That’s why I usually make soups, salads, and sandwiches. (Ok, I forget about salads and sandwiches because I never grew up with them as real meal options, but I’m trying to eat better so they’re back on the radar.)

As you may know, I host a lot of playdates, and often, the playdates overlap with lunch. So occasionally, I will make a soup, salad, or sandwiches for everyone to share. I usually get a round of compliments, so whether they are just being polite or they actually love it, that is debatable.

However, even Hapa Papa corroborates my friends (again, I suppose he is an extremely biased reporter – especially if he ever wants to eat again), so I consider these three items my fortés.

In fact, this is how I know I make a fantastic salad. My mother, who used to hate salads and find them bland and disgusting, now loves salads. (Well, the kind I make, anyway.) When I moved back in with my mother in 2004, I was very excited because I thought I would finally have delicious home cooked meals for dinner. And I did, for a time. Then, one day, I made the mistake of introducing my mother to the salad.

She was not at all interested. And to be fair, I didn’t like most salads except for those fancy $10 salads at nice restaurants – and even then, it was hit or miss. But I knew what I liked in the salads I did enjoy, so I put them in my salads. So, I made my mom a salad and she liked it so much, she had it again for dinner the next day. And the next. And the next.

In true fact, my mother liked the ease and taste of the salads so much that for the next two years (and possibly more since I’ve moved out), she eats salads almost every night.

I was so sad because no matter how awesome my salads are, I cannot eat them every night. And I sadly waved my hot cooked meal goodbye.

salad

Kale/spinach mix, cherry tomato mix, fuji apple, sprouted pumpkin seeds, turkey deli meat

Despite the sad story ending, I do still make a great salad, so without further ado and prefacing and whatnot, I bring you my Surefire Formula to make an awesome salad. (I would say salad recipe, but again, I don’t do recipes. Just general guidelines.)

Awesome Salad Formula

1) Salad mix
2) Something sweet
3) Something savory
4) Something tart
5) Something crunchy
6) Something fatty
7) Something protein
8) Make it colorful

I want to say you need at least 4 out of 8 of these items to make a good salad, and if you hit more than that, you are nearing awesome. (And many of these items can be combined. Eg: bacon is both crunchy, savory, fatty, AND protein!) 

Also, I would make the ratio of leaves to stuff about 1:1. So the leaves should only make up half the salad. If you have more leaves than that, it’s just too leafy for my taste. Any more than that and what you have is a fruit salad with some leaves. 

To make things easy for you, I am now going to list some possible things (as idea kick starters) in each category.

1) Salad Mix – Whatever kind of leaves you like. Spring mix, baby spinach, kale, whatever!

2) Something Sweet – Almost any type of fruit (except perhaps, banana), either fresh or dried. Some sweeter vegetables.
– apples, oranges, pears, tangerines, mandarins, peaches, nectarines, grapes, strawberries, any berries, apricots, raisins, mangoes, pineapples, persimmons, pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, etc.
– corn, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots

3) Something Savory – This is usually a combo category since nuts, meats, and cheeses all fit the bill. Pickled vegetables (eg: artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc.) are a nice kick. You could also substitute savory with spicy, too.

4) Something Tart – This is also usually a combo category with the tarter type fruits (eg: oranges, pineapples, not fully ripe berries) or the salad dressing (which usually has seasoned vinegar or lemon/lime juice)

5) Something Crunchy – Again, a combo category with savory and protein. Also, vegetables.
– Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans,  candied ones are awesome, too!)
– celery (personally, not a favorite), carrots, jicama, bell peppers, corn, cucumbers, etc.

6) Something Fatty – My FAVORITE category! Includes most nuts (see above), bacon, cheeses (goat cheese, blue cheese, shoot, in a pinch, string cheese), and how could I forget about the avocado! 

7) Something Protein – Usually a meat, nuts, or seeds
– bacon, salami, chicken (I like to use leftover Costco rotisserie chicken), deli meat, ham, and of course, the incredible, edible egg (scrambled, hard boiled, mostly hard boiled, over medium)

8) Make it Colorful – This is more for presentation purposes. (Well, I suppose nutritionists also say we should eat colorful foods for the antioxidants – but in my case, it is purely for the pretty.) I try to get a good range of reds, whites, greens, blues, oranges. It just pops and when things look pretty, they taste yummy! (And in the case of salads, I sometimes think they need all the help they can get.)

Then, all you have to do is add my super easy salad dressing (which of course, is also more formula than recipe):

Easy Salad Dressing Recipe

1) 1 part olive oil
2) 1 part seasoned rice vinegar
3) salt/pepper/garlic powder/white pepper to taste
4) optional: sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, Memmi soup base, dijon mustard

Alright, that’s it. If this takes you more than 10 minutes to make, it’s too hard! Enjoy!

Taiwanese Eats

Ok. It has been about five weeks since we’ve been back from Taiwan and I am still dreaming of the food. Mmmm…. Many of you have asked for a list of the places we ate and I am FINALLY getting around to it. I have tried to arrange by neighborhood/area so you can hit up a bunch of them but it’s been five weeks and my memory may be blurry. I guess I’ll just have to force myself to go back in January in order to refresh my mind. The things I do for my readers. Nothing but sacrifice.

So, in no particular order (other than neighborhood), I give you the majority of places we ate. I am not really a great food blogger or describer of food so please don’t expect anything of that sort. I will just list the restaurants and perhaps tell you which dishes we thought stood out.

All photo credits belong to Fleur.

 

1) Miscellaneous Restaurants

a) 鼎泰豐(Din Tai Fung)
(multiple locations such as Xin Yi, Yong Kang Jie, Alley 216)

I was a big fan of the pickled cabbage, wood ears, pork xiao long baos, squash and shrimp xiao long bao, mini sesame buns, and their white wood ear/long yan soup for dessert. I forget what it’s called in English. But it is awesome and delicious and YUM. Pretty much everything here is delicious. You really can’t go wrong.

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(top) pickled cabbage|wood ear|pork xiao long bao (middle) veggies|fish dumpling|veggie dumpling (bottom) white wood ear dessert|steamed taro dumpling|sesame buns

b) 永和豆漿大王 (Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang / Soy Milk King)
(Multiple Locations)

A yummy Taiwanese breakfast place. Super cheap and tasty. I am a big fan of then 燒餅油條 (Shao bing and Chinese Donut) along with the meat and veggie bao. The sweetened soy milk is a MUST of course.

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(top left) Shao bing, salty soy milk, chinese donut, veggie/meat bao, cold sweet soy milk

c) 欣葉 (Shin Yeh)
(multiple locations)
Address: 8F, No. 9, Songshou Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City (A9 of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Xinyi Place Branch, 8F

My favorites were: pork liver, marinated chicken with scallions, fried oysters, filet cubes, and of course, the almond jelly. Too bad Glow Worm is allergic to almonds so I couldn’t have any – but it is SO DELICIOUS. They are also famous for their sweet potato congee.

IMG_7333

sweet potato congee|fried oysters|peanut mochi|pan fried pork liver|marinated chicken|almond jelly|bamboo shoots

d) 林東芳 (Lin Dong Fang)
274 Bade Road, Section 2, Jhongshan District, Taipei City
台北市中山区八德路二段272號

Famous for their beef noodle soup and their spicy beef butter. It sounds disgusting but it was tasty. I preferred Old Chang’s soup and meat, but the noodles were more QQ (Taiwanese for springy and chewy and yummy). It is tiny and has two additional small rooms where you can eat.

veggies, beef butter

veggies, beef butter

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Before the beef butter melts

Before the beef butter melts

 

e) 金峰滷肉飯 (Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan)
10 Roosevelt Road Section 1, Taipei
台北市羅斯福路1段10號

This is a famous braised pork rice place and braised/stewed egg. The kids loved it. It was very delicious. Unfortunately, when we went, we found an unexpected guest in Fleur’s rice plate. So, I think it will be some time before I go back. shudder

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IMG_5825

f) 阜杭豆漿 (Fu Hang Dou Jiang)
2/F Hua Shan Market, 108 Zhongxiao East Road, Section 1, Taipei City
忠孝東路一段108號2F

This is a Taiwanese breakfast place and closed on Mondays. Also, expect at least a 15-30 minute wait as the line winds down the stairs and out around the corner of the street. It is quite yummy. There are thick shao bings, thin ones, soy milk, Chinese donuts, Chinese donuts wrapped in shao bings, sugar bings, all sorts. The menu is only in Chinese. I would help more but my brain is useless this far out. Just randomly point. It’s all good.

salty soy milk, sweet soy milk, thick shao bing Chinese donut wrap, rice tuan

salty soy milk, sweet soy milk, thick shao bing Chinese donut wrap, rice tuan

g) Ippudo (一風堂)
台北市大安區敦化南路一段165號1樓
1F, No.165, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei, Taiwan

Beware: there is a line! So, go right at the open (which is 11:30am). Yummy ramen and lots of refreshing iced tea. I would skip the ox tongue. Bleh. I was very disappointed. But the bao and the ramen were delicious.

Bao, Spicy ramen, ramen, ox tongue

Bao, Spicy ramen, ramen, ox tongue

 

2) Alley 216 Area

Already mentioned the Din Tai Fung. Here are some other food places near there.

a) 東區粉圓(Dong Qu Fen Yuan / Eastern Ice House)

No. 38, Alley 216, Section 4 Zhongxiao East Road, Daan District, Taipei
台北市大安區忠孝東路4段216巷38號

They are famous for their 粉圓 (Fen yuan/tapioca ball) and basically, it’s a bunch of toppings in ice. Yummy and refreshing, but I prefer shaved ice/snow.

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fen yuan, fen guo, tang yuan

fen yuan, fen guo, tang yuan

b) Ice Monster
106, Taiwan, 台北市大安區忠孝東路四段297號
Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei 297, Sec No.297, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd. Taipei, Taiwan

Ice Monster is famous for their shaved ice. It is super delicious. Our favorites were the mango and the lime shaved snows. There is only one snow that has Fen Guo on it, but you can ask for it on the side and promise to pay extra. (They are not big on customization here in Taiwan.)

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Mung bean snow with fen guo and grass jelly

 

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(top to bottom clockwise) Latte snow, melon sorbet, mango avalanche, lime snow

 

c) 度小月 (Tu Hsiao Yueh/Slack Season Noodles)
No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 4
台北市忠孝東路四段216巷8弄12號

This place is famous for their noodles but I just found them alright. They weren’t bad, just not amazing. What was amazing was the tofu. It was SO GOOD that we promptly ordered another plate. It is crispy on the outside, but tastes like 蒸蛋 (zheng dan/steamed egg custard) and chicken brothy on the inside. So tender and juicy and BLERGH. This was my favorite dish of the entire trip.

(from the top left) drunken goose, fried oysters, pumpkin ice cream, fernlike veggie, noodles, fried shrimp roll, long yan jello, fried taro, tofu

(from the top left) drunken goose, fried oysters, pumpkin ice cream, fernlike veggie, noodles, fried shrimp roll, long yan jello, fried taro, tofu

 

3) 大安區 (Da An District) by 台大 (Tai Da/National Taiwan University)

a) 臺一牛奶大王 (Taiyi Milk King Ice)
No.82, Sec. 3, Xinsheng S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106, Taiwan
106, Taiwan, 台北市大安區新生南路三段82號

Fleur and I ate here at least once a day. There is almost always a line through the door but don’t worry – it moves quickly.

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Shaved ice with mango, 愛玉 (nature jelly), mung bean, large tapioca

b) 妙媽媽 (Miao Ma Ma)
H/T to Marian Wu for finding the address!

台灣台北市大安區新生南路三段68-2號
No. 2, Alley 68, Sec. 3, Xinsheng S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei

We ate here several times. These are Taiwan Small Dishes and I enjoyed them very much. Just ask the lady to give you recommendations. That’s what I did each time.

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(top) garlic fish, ginger chicken, hong tao, veggies, spicy tofu and pork, chicken hearts

c) 藍家割包 (Lan Jia Gua Bao)
No. 3, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3, Luosifu Rd
100, Taiwan, 台北市中正區羅斯福路三段316巷8弄3號

This mostly just a stand/cart on the corner next to a Family Mart (or something like that). Be aware that they have peanut shavings/powder in an open container next to the meat that they usually put on the gua bao. I did not let Cookie Monster eat this even though I didn’t add peanut shavings. It was pretty likely for cross contamination. They have fatty meat, lean meat, and 50/50. Go with the fatty. It is 100x better than the lean.

fatty Gua Bao (Taiwanese hamburger)

fatty Gua Bao (Taiwanese hamburger)

 

4) 永康街 (Yong Kang St)

There is also a Din Tai Fung here. Worth eating wherever you happen to be.

a) 大隱酒食 (James Kitchen)
65 Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei
台北市大安區永康街65號
Hours: 11:00am~2:00pm, 5:30pm~12:00am

This place is very old school and I wasn’t a huge fan of their food. It was pretty good, but it could be a factor of me ordering the wrong things. I just asked the waitress and she recommended a lot of pricey stuff. The best was the fried oysters and Chinese donut dish. Such a weird but tasty combination. The chicken was good, too.

(top) fried oyster and Chinese donut, pig knuckles, squid with special sauce, chicken and scallioons, veggies

(top) fried oyster and Chinese donut, pig knuckles, squid with special sauce, chicken and scallioons, veggies

b) 老張牛肉麵店 (Lao Zhang Niu Roh Mien/Old Chang’s Beef Noodle Soup)
105 Aiguo East Road, Da’an District, Taipei
106, Taiwan, 台北市大安區愛國東路105號

SO TASTY!! The beef tendon noodle soup is so yummy. I am sure the other foods are good (they have pretty good side dishes) but I pretty much came here to eat the beef noodle soup. The beef is shot through with tendon and yumminess. YUM!! Did I mention, YUM??!

pork short ribs and sweet potato, spicy and regular beef tendon noodle soup

pork short ribs and sweet potato, spicy and regular beef tendon noodle soup

c) Smoothie House (思慕昔)
(multiple locations at Yong Kang St – just keep walking)
台北市大安區永康街9號
No. 9 Yong Kang St, Da’an District, Taipei

Even though Ice Monster has Fen Guo, I still preferred Smoothie House. Mostly because the music is 90s hip hop and R&B and reminds me of college. Plus, it’s atmosphere is nightclub-esque. Makes me feel cool (pun intended). I pretty much always get the mango avalanche, but we have also gotten smoothies as well.

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珍珠觀音拿鐵雪花冰(Tapioca latté snow)|mango avalanche

 

Alright. All done. Dear Lord, that was a lot of effort. To thank me, please eat as much as possible and enjoy. I won’t even mind if you comment and rub it in while I’m stuck back in the US.

For further reference, these were the articles Fleur and I used to find stuff we wanted to eat.

45 Taiwanese Foods We Can’t Live Without

A Hungry Girls’ Guide to Taipei

28 Reasons to Love Taipei

10 Things Taiwan Does Better Than Anyone Else

I’m sure there were more but quite frankly, I’m exhausted. It was definitely more fun to eat at these places than compile them! Happy Eating!

Eating Like A Hobbit

It’s my favorite day of the week! School has started up again and although Cookie Monster is super sad, I am relieved. It is hard to keep them entertained for a full day (Clearly we had too much fun this weekend because he thinks we are having loads of fun without him. We are, but we are having fun because he is at school. Mean? Yes. Truth? Also, yes.)

Anyhow, off to the updates. That’s what you’re really here for, right? The pics of food and children. (I understand. Both are incredibly mouth watering.)

1) I am surprised by how many churches there are in Taipei (at least in the Da An district where we live and frequent). There are like twenty just in the block by our apartment and on the short bus ride to school.

2) I love how there are so many living walls in the city. It helps with air pollution and is lovely to look at. I will try to get a pic before I leave.

3) I decided to take the kids to eat beef noodle soup and shaved ice and wonders of wonders – my kids actually loved it! Cookie Monster kept saying it was delicious and super yummy. We went to 老張牛肉麵 (Lao Zhang Beef Noodles) and Smoothie House. Here are pics for proof!

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4) People in Taiwan constantly stare at and approach Fleur and I and ask if the kids are ours. I think I would’ve gotten stares anyway if I were with my three, but together? Fleur and I are like a walking cult.

Also, I am slightly jealous that Fleur gets approached so much because of Omi and Gnome (I mean, have you seen them? They are gorgeous.) On the other hand, Fleur is always questioned whether or not the children are hers. Really? That would piss me off.

Taiwanese people love mixed race babies and since all our kids are multi-ethnic, we are constantly approached. On Saturday, two ladies chased us down to ask if all six kids were ours and if they were mixed. This morning, a lady gave me her business card and asked if Glow Worm was mixed. She wanted him to be a model for their maternity and kids’ clothing line. Unfortunately, they need him at the end of August and we will be back in the US by then.

I am constantly tempted to say wildly inappropriate things. But I realize there are far fewer multi-ethnic kids here so people are really curious. Plus, the Taiwanese birth rate is even lower than Japan’s and I think it is uncommon to see families with so many children (let alone a swarm of SIX).

5) Our good friend Tiger Woo suggested we go to the Lucky Art Crayon Factory to see crayons being made, but it is really far. It’s one hour by car and 5+ hours by public transportation. Fleur and I were going a little crazy last night while texting Tiger Woo and Fleur discovered it is 18 hours and 41 minutes if we want to walk there. Double if Omi has to walk. The thought of poor little Omi and her short little legs walking had Fleur and I giggling furiously in the kitchen as we texted side by side into our phones. Hmmm. Perhaps this is only funny if you were actually there. Sorry about the botched telling.

6) Fleur and I might actually be losing weight and/or inches despite our eating like Hobbits and spending almost every waking moment shoving food and shaved ice into our mouths. I think it’s because we have to walk so much and carry everything. Plus, it is so hot we barely need to pee because we excrete all our liquids via sweat. All you have to do is see how we have to haul our children to see why. Here’s Fleur after a long day. (She’s basically Super Mom.)

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7) Glow Worm has had a fever these past few days. I think he is teething. Poor little man. He hasn’t been sleeping well and also refuses to nurse. I suppose he isn’t going to starve – particularly since I swear he has gotten so much heavier since the trip started. So either I am getting weaker or he is gaining weight. I constantly think my backpack is too heavy (even when empty) and only when I shift it in an attempt to lessen the weight that I remember it is fatty Glow Worm that is causing my shoulders to ache. But seeing as he is the only child of mine to so joyously eat food, I don’t mind.

This morning, I wasn’t feeding him 蔥油餅(green onion pancake) fast enough and he started uttering guttural noises and pounding both hands flat against my chest as if to say, “Hey Lady! I am displeased with the caliber of your service. Let’s get a move on!”

7) We went to Kidsburgh, Da An Park, and Wen Zhou park again this weekend. Everyone except Cookie Monster was wiped out. What does it take to tire this kid out? Apparently only extreme heat saps his energy. And even then, his recovery time is super quick. shakes fist at sky Here are some pics of Kidsburgh, the bus ride home, and the park. In case you can’t tell, the kids are melting.

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Alright, I think I broke WordPress’s App. See you soon!

What I Learned On My Girls’ Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, a few fellow mommies and I went to SF for a Girls’ Weekend out. We lolled about, walked without considering small children, ate a ton and drank in the day time! Heck, we even drank at night! Awesome! It was so enjoyable and relaxing and truly fun. Thanks, ladies and husbands!

Here are a few things I learned this weekend on my first weekend trip without the kids in two years.

1) I didn’t really miss my children. Not even the baby. But I did talk about them at least 65% of the time and checked in with Hapa Papa every few hours.

2) Hapa Papa did fantastic with all three kids – even without having lactating breasts! Clearly, this is a sign that I need to leave more often.

3) Getting to know new friends is really fun. I’ve slowly been getting to know some of the moms at Cookie Monster’s preschool better and it has been wonderful. I don’t know why I worried so much about getting along with the other mommies. It gives me great hope for the future when the kids start elementary school.

4) Finding out what the other moms did before becoming SAHMs was a revelation. In our group, we had two lawyers, one child psychologist/school counselor, a financial advisor, and a preschool teacher. I had the least amount of education out of them all. They were all slumming it!

5) There is such a thing as too much chocolate. We attended a chocolate festival at Fort Mason and by the end, I was a bit sick of chocolate. Also, turns out I prefer truffles over bars. The best thing that I put in my mouth this weekend.

6) Valet parking in SF is totally worth it.

7) After attending an Asian American Film Festival, I realized I might have to start putting my money where my mouth is. If I want to see more Asians in film, I need to support their work.

8) Even though I’ve had my pixie cut for at least a month, I’m still not used to my new look. I am constantly surprised when I see myself in pictures and reflective surfaces.

9) I still get carsick.

10) Things that I might’ve found titillating or risqué a few years ago are now boring and contrived. Not because I am jaded or inured to sex. I’m just older and wiser and find some of the more desperate actions really sad.

11) I can’t control myself in bookstores. Especially when it comes to books that feature Chinese or Japanese stories for the kids. I’m also a sucker for coffee table books with tons of art/pictures.

12) Staying up until 3am chatting is better than sleep.

13) After coming home, say, “Thank you” to Hapa Papa and try to curb the urge to point out everything you see that is wrong with the house. It makes Hapa Papa feel shitty and me seem like an ungrateful jerk. Which I was for a few moments. Sorry, Hapa Papa. You are an awesome dad and husband and I am so fortunate to have you.

Since all the husbands performed admirably (one hit it out of the park by taking his boys on a spur of the moment camping trip to Santa Cruz), we clearly can leave our children more often. Any suggestions of where to go and what to do next?