Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: "Bad Bad Bad!"

Apparently, we had picked a bad date on the Chinese calendar when we decided on the date more than 2 years ago. So, to my surprise (not really), my mother's reaction to our printed invitations was BAD.

It's bad because the actual date ("十三" 13), the date according to the Chinese calendar ("廿一" 21), the year 2009 and even the hour of day are all odd numbers, which aren't good because a wedding represents the joining of two people, an even number. This also relates to double happiness "囍", which is essentially 喜 (happiness) put together with another 喜.

In our defense, the Chinese calendar for 2009 had not been published at the time (precisely 2 years and 2 months ago). June ("六") is an even number, and so is Saturday ("六"), the sixth day of the week. On top of that, half past the hour is 30 minutes, an even number. So it ain't all THAT bad right? Like all things in wedding planning, it's hard to please everyone, especially when it comes to tradition.

Not only did this make me feel bad, I feel pretty bad physically...we had our engagement shoot (tiring!) and I had fried chicken & fries for dinner over the weekend, which made my stomach feel bad (sickening) because I have been really good with my diet. Bad bad bad...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Aha. Look What I've Created! I Have Made..."

...scones without a mixer!

Yes, it's possible! And I didn't even have a pastry cutter (I used a dinner knife).

I needed to use up all my fiance's butter, sugar and cranberries before he moves out of Boston, so I figured that it would be perfect to make scones. He didn't have all the equipment needed to make these guilty pleasures, but I managed anyways. Besides, this wasn't the first time I made scones without a mixer. It just took a lot more time and patience. That meant keeping the dough (and butter) cool while working slowly by popping it in the fridge ever once in a while.

I followed Ina Garten's recipe for Cranberry Orange Scones. It's not the traditional dry scones, this recipe is more like a cream scone. The only thing(s) I didn't do was use heavy cream and do the drizzle at the end. I figured with all that butter, it didn't need any more fat and calories. Plus, my fiance had only low fat milk. That worked just as well for our taste (and diet).

The scones weren't too moist or too sweet, so they were perfect with a bit of jam. Even without the proper equipment, I managed to make them crumbly as traditional scones are. This is another trusty recipe in my collection of cookbooks, and is one of the few recipes that I don't dare to enhance or change dramatically.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: Reuse, Recycle

Happy Earth Day! As you may know, I'm not a tree hugger, but I am conscious in helping the earth be a better place for future generations. I'm the type of person who gives people the evil eye if I see them throwing trash out of their window on a highway or anywhere. I recycle all the trash I have. And I hate being wasteful.

So, when it comes to a massive trash making event such as our wedding, I have planned to reuse and recycle. Some people overdo being green - a lot of times there's an extra cost (money or environmentally) to be green - I don't believe that extra mile is worth it if it hurts the earth or your wallet some more. Let me just preface this by saying that I won't obsess over being green on everything. I will do what is practical for our wedding:

Reusing Flowers

I had originally wanted fruit centerpieces because they can be consumed, but gave up when florists weren't hot on the idea and my fiance's showed no interest or support in the subject matter. So, we're having flowers instead, but we are using a few of the reception centerpieces for the ceremony (and also for the tea ceremony). Additionally, we only chose centerpieces that guests can bring home or can be easily donated. For example, we nixed the idea of submerged centerpieces because of the hassel involved in guests bringing heavy wet glass containers home. They may look nice, but they're not that practical.

Above from

Rewearing Attire

Other than the wedding gown, everything can be reworn. My bridesmaids' dresses should have more than one life after the event (ideally). My ladies were given a choice to buy any dress they see themselves wearing again in the future in the eggplant color family. I chose dark chiffon for them since that's a more wearable color and fabric than pastel colors with a shiny finish. Hopefully, they'll look as happy as these gals are in their non-matching, very rewearable attire.

Above from

The groomsmen will be dressed in grey suits they may already have in their closets - it's better than paying for a tux that you don't get to keep. My future husband will be donning a suit that could be reworn after the wedding. As for myself, I made it a point to buy comfortable shoes that could be reworn for any special occasion.

Recycling Paper Projects

I have used as much material that can be reused as possible. To date, I have made projects using cosmetics cardboard boxes and am planning another project with oatmeal containers. However, my mother suggested (strongly) that I include individual favors for our guests, which requires lots of paper usage. I am not happy about killing trees. We'll see if I'll give in.

I really hope mother earth and our wedding party are happy with our choices! Above all, I hope they are the right choices.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Ever since I was converted back to a pork diet, I've been taking it nice and slow. No big chunks of meat yet...just thinly sliced Serrano Ham. This here is the yummy goodness from Despana, a specialty food store of all things from Spain in Nolita, NYC:

In addition to Serrano Ham, they also have Iberian Ham (at more than $100/lb), wonderful cheeses, chorizo, freshly made sandwiches, which they call Bocadillos, and much more. My favorite Bocadillo is their Pescador, which is a spread of tuna, piquillo peppers and aioli sandwiched between ciabatta bread.

My fiance and I loved (and still love) Despana when it opened in his neighborhood a few years ago. I loved dropping by the store and grabbing things you need that are ready to eat. Best of all, you can taste before you buy. I've done Tapas with food from Despana, and it was the easiest entertaining ever...virtually no cooking required! I can go on and on about the store, so I'll stop while I can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: Keeping My Fingers Crossed

Rain. What else is new in April right? We had scheduled our engagement photoshoot a while ago for this weekend and I've been tracking the weather for the day lately. It looked like we might have to reschedule at first, but the forecast changed! Yay!

Weather report on:

April 10

April 11

April 12 (and 64!)

April 13 (and 65!!)

April 14 (and 67!!!)

This so reminds me of my working days plotting time series! Anyhow, the weather report is always wrong, so I'm hoping it's right this time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

April Sunshine

The April weather has been depressing. Rain rain and more rain. That's why it makes me happy to see these pictures from my sister! She sent me these about 2 weeks ago. Our hard work last year is beginning to pay off. I don't think I can take credit for this particular patch near my sister's driveway though.

Crocuses of all colors have popped out of the ground. There's yellow...

White with yellow center...

And my favorite, purple with yellow center.

Unfortunately, I have been under voluntary house arrest (and will be until June, and sorry to sneak this in here, but I'll be cutting down more on blogging until then), so I haven't paid my sister a visit yet to see the fruits of our labor. Hopefully, it won't be too late in June to see the results!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays: What Have I Been Doing?

Licking our wedding invitation envelopes.

Seriously? No. Thanks to glue stick, I am a happy gal! Unfortunately for me, it's been a one man (woman) operation since my fiance's in Boston and I'm in NY. Lucky for him right. To be fair though, he did help with our assembly line when I was in Boston.

I've been addressing and glueing on and off for a while now. Been doing these and sending them out in batches to keep myself sane. I just hope my sweat and tears are recognized, and most importantly, appreciated by my fiance!

By the way, in case if you're wondering what that Chinese character stands for on our invitation, it means double happiness. It's pretty standard for us in weddings. Hopefully, it'll bring us lots of happiness and luck.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Shanghai Cuisine

This post could have been named alternatively as "Ming Tsai, You Lied!"

I love Ming Tsai's cook book and his restaurant, Blue Ginger, but was extremely disappointed at his pick for best soup dumplings in NY Chinatown published in New York Magazine. It was wishful thinking, really, on my part - I had told my fiance that the soup dumplings from Joe's Shanghai aren't as good compared to the ones I had at Nanxiang in Hong Kong. So when I saw Shanghai Cuisine was Ming's pick, I was hoping that Joe's wasn't the pinnacle of soup dumplings in NY.

We ordered the same dishes - pork & crab soup dumplings and Shanghai pan fried noodles - just so Shanghai Cuisine and Joe's can be compared on the same playing field. There were a few places where Shanghai Cuisine's got it wrong:

  • Appearance - The dumpling skin was lumpy and has little areas of transparency. This is really obvious when you compare the dumplings side by side - below from left to right: Shanghai Cuisine, Joe's Shanghai, Nanxiang.

    • Texture - The tip of the dumpling was especially thick.

    • Taste - The broth was suspiciously sweet, but the filling I did like a tad better than Joe's (probably because it was less porky and I'm a recent pork convert).

    • Temperature - It didn't come piping hot, just warm.

    As for the noodles, it wasn't as good as Joe's. There's a term we use in Chinese called "鍋氣" - it literally translates into "wok air," and roughly translates to the fragrant aroma or flavor made from cooking in a wok. You can taste it when something has been cooked correctly in a hot wok, and Shanghai Cuisine didn't have it. The noodle tasted flavorful, but it was all in the soy sauce. On the other hand, Joe's definitely had it.

    All in all, although it was more comfortable eating in Shanghai Cuisine than Joe's because we had more elbow room and didn't have to share our table, I won't be returning there any time soon. Based on taste alone, I prefer Joe's over Shanghai Cuisine. Maybe my fiance was right when he said "What does Ming Tsai know? He's from Ohio!"

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    "I Want My Cake!"

    I'm not a big fan of cake, nor is my fiance. Most are either made of buttercream or fondant, which I'm not crazy about. I saw plenty of cakes I liked, but still, the idea of a traditional cake does not appeal to me.

    This one looks really nice, but the baker will probably charge extra for the work.

    Image from The Knot

    I may be Chinese, but my cake doesn't have to say "I'm Chinese."

    Image from The Knot

    one would fit into our French inspired wedding with the use of yummy madelines.

    Image from Martha Stewart

    Chocolate truffle cake...yummmmm. Not loving the idea of a brown colored cake though.

    Image from Martha Stewart

    This one is the cake from the wedding of Darcy Miller, editor of Martha Stewart Weddings. She shares my love for all things
    Laudree, the popular macaron chain in France. She loved the pattern on their packaging so much that she had a similar pattern made on her cake!

    Image from Martha Stewart

    This may look like a cake, but it's actually a bunch of French macarons, which I love love love.

    Image from Martha Stewart

    What cake are we going for? It's gonna be a surprise, and hopefully French.