Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Fast and Refreshing Side Dish

I made some chicken with my Lapsong Souchong Spice Rub (and a braised pork belly for my fiance) and was looking to make a refreshing side dish using what I had in the fridge. I had an apple and a cucumber, so I thought of making a fast and simple slaw. It turned out to be exactly what I wanted...a perfect sweet and sour side dish served beside a smoky chicken and a fatty pork.

Above, Chicken Breast with Lapsong Souchong Rub, and Apple & Cucumber Slaw

Apple and Cucumber Slaw
Serves 2
1 apple, julienned

1/2 hothouse (English) cucumber, julienned
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon vinegar
small dash of salt

Toss the apple in lemon juice; coat well to ensure that the apple won't oxidize. Add the cucumber, then one tablespoon of the vinegar. You may need to use more vinegar, depending on your taste, so add half a tablespoon at a time afterwards until it is to the acidity you like.

Note: if you have a regular cucumber, you can use that instead. Make sure to remove the skin prior to cutting it. With a hothouse (English) cucumber, there is no need to remove the skin, as it is softer than a regular cucumber.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Brother-in-Law

I hope you liked your homemade grown up birthday cupcakes!

Above, 4 different cupcakes sitting on silicon baking cups with four paws

Above, note the amazing detailed sprinkles work on tigger :-P. Do you see the legs too?

Above, the detailed work that went into making arms for pooh out of lemon icing

Above, a dog if you can't tell...made out of 2 cupcakes and chocolate frosting. All photography by my sister

It was all my sister's idea. She commissioned me to make cupcakes and decorate them in such a grown up way. It's far from being my best work, but it's not bad for a first timer working with icing & frosting huh.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What To Do with Tea You Don't Like?

I am a tea drinker, and love to try out new teas. Lapsong Souchong was one that I haven't had, so I decided to get a box of it in tea bags. I regretted it.

Lapsong Souchong is extremely strong and smoky, similar to a type of tea called Smoky Russian. I'd say that it smells like gun powder, but I've never smelled gun powder bef0re. It really isn't my cup of tea. I hate seeing things go to waste, so I figured out ways to use it. So if you have any tea leaves or tea bags that you don't like, don't throw them out. Rather, try the following:

  • Make a spiced tea - Inspired by Chai Tea Latte (I still have beef with the repetitive use of Chai and Tea together), I added some cardamon, cloves, ginger and cinnamon to my brewed Lapsong Souchong, along with some milk too of course. The spices tamed the strong smoky taste of the tea very nicely.
  • Make a tea rub - I thought back to one of Ming Tsai's cooking show episodes, where he made a tea rub that could be used on fish, pork and chicken. I attempted a version of my own and used it on salmon...it turned out great! Recipe below:

Lapsong Souchong Tea Rub

1 tablespoon Lapsong Souchong tea leaves
1 tablespoon five spice powder (this is a Chinese spice made of anise, fennel, cinnamon, ginger and cloves)

1 teaspoon chili powder

zest from half a lemon

Use on salmon, chicken or pork. Don't forget to season your meat with salt & pepper!

Above, Salmon with Lapsong Souchong Rub

I have to say that the rub was perfect on the salmon. I used it on chicken the next night, and it was good, but not as good as it was with the salmon. Fish is so much tastier than chicken, and the combination of the smokiness of the tea and lemon zest just enhanced the fish so much more. I grilled the fish and served it with a salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My 100th Post!

Yes, I know what my sister must be saying..."get a job!"

It's been pretty therapeutic writing what's been on my mind, but if I'm if I'm boring you or you want to see more of something, leave me a comment and let me know!

More to come...tea & five spice rub, cucumber & apple slaw, turkey spring rolls, cucumber avocado soup and braised pork belly.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Sonsie has always been my favorite place for brunch in Boston. My fiance and I haven't been there in years, but we felt the same after our latest visit a few weeks back. The strangest part of our experience this time around was that they don't serve brunch until 11:30am, which we thought was a bit late. Coming from NY, where there is a huge brunch scene, most places serve brunch at 11 the latest.

We usually sit by the windows in the front at the cafe tables to soak up the sun (and some vitamin D of course). We would sip our tea while watching pedestrians walk by on the street. It looked a bit more cramped than we had remembered, so we sat in the dining room instead during our last visit. I didn't remember ever having this, but this time around, we were greeted with some warm breads and baked goods. Yum!

I ordered my usual - Smoked Salmon Egg Benedict. I have to say that this doesn't beat Public's (in NY) Tea Smoked Salmon Egg Benedict, but
it was still very good. What the egg and salmon rested on though, wasn't an English Muffin. Rather, it was similar to a bagel without holes. The benedict came with a roasted tomato, which I have never had before, and some nice crunchy home fries. The tomato was nicely done - nice grilled flavor, and not over done to the point where it becomes a squishy tomato. The home fries were crunchy outside and perfectly soft inside.

The portions were huge (my fiance couldn't finish his plate), and I left the place feeling very satisfied (and on the verge of even feeling gross).
Any where that has average to good service, good tea selection, serves good food, good bloody mary and leaves you feeling full gets my seal of approval!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can You Believe This Isn't Wood?

These are the tiles on the wall for "my bathroom" in my sister and brother-in-law's new house. They are going for a spa look for this guest bathroom. Can you believe this isn't wood?

This is so very cool. I can't wait to enjoy my spa retreat!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bathroom Tiles - Progress Update

Remember my post many months ago about which type of floor tile to choose for the bathroom in my sister's new house? Well, they didn't go with the black granite. Turned out that it was extremely breakable.

Bathroom floor tiles aside, here're the walls so far. Yup, a long six months later:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guest Book Ideas

I'm looking for a non-traditional guest book idea. There are tons out there these days. Of the weddings I've been to, I had the most fun with my friend's video guest book...with alcohol, you're almost guaranteed lots of surprises.

Traditionally, guests sign on a huge red cloth at Chinese banquets. Ideally, I would like something I can look back to easily and something a lot more fun. On top of that, we're not having a banquet, another reason we're not taking that route. Here are some ideas I've been eyeing and what I think are their positives and negatives:

Photobooth Guest Book
Pros: Entertaining fun for guests. Chance to be silly. Instant gratification. No camera man needed.
Cons: Expensive! Chance of guests hogging up the booth while others wait.

Above, from Weddingbee

Polaroid Guest Book
Pros: Same advantages as a photobooth, but more economical.
Cons: Polaroid guest book kits can be a rip off. Camera man needed. Photos can fade through time.
Polaroid will stop manufacturing their instant cameras and film :-(

Above, from Adesso

Wine/Champagne Bottle
Pros: Perfect for vineyard and French-themed weddings. Add extra meaning by getting a vintage from the year you and your fiance met.
Cons: Breakage. Surface area of a standard size bottle may be okay for a small wedding; a larger wedding dictates a magnum or several standard size bottles.

Above, from Style Me Pretty

Pros: Cute.
Cons: This idea from Martha Stewart suggests getting a long roll of paper and a typewriter from a flea market. Seriously?

Above, from Martha Stewart

Wishing Tree
Pros: Adds a striking element to the wedding decor.
Cons: Extra work when you take those wishes down at the end of the night.

Above, from Martha Stewart

There're lots more...like a picture frame with a signature mat built in (I'm not a big fan of a bunch of John Hancocks around my face)...a photo book you make online (similar to signing a year book; the horror, the horror!), etc.

What to do, what to do?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recent Wedding of an Asian Celebrity Bride

This is old news, but a couple of months ago, the big news in Asia was the long-awaited marriage of actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau. For those of you who are not familiar with Tony, he is a Cannes Film Festival winning actor from Hong Kong. He starred in many films such as "In the Mood for Love," and "Infernal Affairs" (this was the original film that Scorsese's "The Departed" adopted).

They got married in The Kingdom of Bhutan to escape the media. I don't know about you, but I think this picture makes them look like they were photoshopped in:

Above, image from Reuters

I was curious as to what this superstar couple wore and what their event looked like. I was not expecting American-style at all. If you exclude the event location, you would've thought they got married here in the U.S. or even get the impression that they were from here.

First off, she wore a Vera Wang gown...very U.S. Second, her hair was slicked back, as many brides here do...I don't see much of that going on in HK as most prefer flowy curly locks. Third, her colors were not pastel and included white & green, which are very popular here as well...in my sample of 3 cousins from HK, all had used strictly pastel colors. Fourth and finally, the cake was made of fondant with green ribbons on the tiers...most cakes in HK are decorated with cream pipped onto the cake.

Above, image from Reuters

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Engagement Photo Session Idea

Here's a photo from a couple's engagement photo session that will jump start your day:

Above, image from Tanja Lippert

Yup, the lady is totally naked, and her fiance is in a chicken costume. No joke.

No, I didn't get any crazy ideas from this for our engagement shoot. Don't worry.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Wedding Cake Idea

I saw this a while ago and could not get the image out of my head:

Above, image from here

I needed some humor to start my day, so I googled "outrageous wedding cake," "funny wedding cake," and "bridezilla wedding cake." Guess what showed up? You guessed it.

Oh, I just want to make it clear that this is NOT what I'm going for in our wedding!

A message to my groom - consider yourself very lucky that I'm not a bridezilla.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Girl Can only Dream...

...of getting married in such a wonderful place as this:

Above, image from here

Above, image from here

This beautiful romantic courtyard and garden is from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The sculptures, variety of seasonal plants (fish palms, hydrangeas and more), and the architecture made me feel like I was transported to Europe. Indeed, the museum was inspired by Isabella's love for Venice. I've always been a lover of museums, but I am by no means an art expert. It was very obvious, however, that the arrangement of the artworks in this museum was like no other. This place is truly a gem, much like the Frick Collection and the Cloisters in NYC.

Sadly, I have no photos of my own from the museum to share with you. They don't allow photography, and I was desperately begging my fiance to let me pull out my camera when the security guards weren't looking, but then he threatened to pretend not to know me if I got caught! The museum was full of inspirations for me...nearly all the rooms were covered in damask fabrics, and there was even a corner of a room filled with different patterns of lace!

Above, image from here

Anyways, if I had a million dollars, I would definitely have the wedding here, the Met, the Frick, the Cloisters, or any other museum that would have me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to Fold an Origami Paper Crane

This is the craziest post I've done...folding and holding a crane in one hand, and a camera in another. This is the kind of anal-retentiveness that got into being an anal-yst!

Anyways, below are the step-by-step instructions.

  • Top row - Start out with a square piece of paper. Fold by half from the upper right hand corner to the lower left into a triangle. Make a smaller triangle by pulling the upper left hand corner to the lower right.
  • Bottom row - Open up the inside by one end and flatten into a square (just line up the crease to the corner). Then flip it around so you can repeat that step. Details to come...

  • This is what it should look like up close when you've flipped it around:

  • To repeat what you've done on the other side, open up the inside:

  • It is easiest if you line up the outside edges...:

  • ...and make a crease along the inside edge:

  • Flatten it out by pulling the top down, and line up the corners:

  • Make creases on the right and left sides:

Here it becomes more complicated. Ready?

  • Top row - The first one on the left is what you should have after making those creases. Open up the top flap. Start with the right hand side - line up the inside edges. Line that up all along the bottom and the top of the flap. If you can't follow, I have some close ups to come that may help...

  • Bottom row - Repeat that step for the left side. Then flip it over.

  • Here're the details to lining up the inside edge - line up the bottom, then the top flap (line up the edge to the middle crease for the top flap):

  • Don't be afraid to flatten it out; this is probably easier to see the inside edges and line up to the middle crease:

  • After you've repeated that on the left hand side and the opposite side as well, this is what you should have:

  • Make sure you have the right side up - pull down the upper flap; if you see an an upside down triangle, you're good. That upside down triangle is the back or hump of the crane.

  • Top row - The first below is the starting position. Begin on the right hand side, line up the outer edge on the bottom half to the inner edge. Make a crease for the new outside edge.
  • Bottom row - Repeat what you've done on the right hand side to the left hand side. Flip it over and repeat.

  • Below on the left is what you should have after making all 4 folds.
  • Then pull the flap on the right side to the left. Flip and repeat.

  • After pulling those flaps around, you should now see the back or the hump of the crane facing you.
  • Next, pull the bottom flap up and make a fold on the bottom edge. Flip the crane-to-be over to the opposite side.

  • Below on the left is what you should see after you've flipped it over.
  • Repeat pulling the bottom flap up and make a crease to make a new bottom edge.

  • Working with that same bottom flap that has been pulled up, get a good grip with one hand...

  • ...so you can use your other hand to get the flap on the right hand side over to your left:

  • This is what it should look like after you've done it for the flip side as well, so now you have two wings, with one of them facing you:

  • Between the wings, you'll find either its head or tail. Pull one of them out; make a crease on the bottom so that what you're pulling out will stay in place:

  • Repeat for the other side; now you'll see a head-to-be and a tail:

  • Pick a side for its head. I like to make a crease with my finger nail:

  • Fold it in where you see a crease in the middle:

  • Flatten it out at the top with 2 fingers; make sure you make the crane's head tilting up near a 90 degree angle so you have a proud bird:

Voila! You have now one happy crane!

I plan to use the cranes I've made at my wedding, but you can certainly make one for your loved one just because. I'm sure they'll be impressed. Or you can make 1,000 of these and make a wish!