The tale of two Christmas Eve dinners 2

The tale of two Christmas Eve dinners

Christmas Eve in the city. Bah humbug! Darn the Grinch who stole Christmas from us this year! Still it’s the holidays so we’ll just make-believe this one and get to the mall early to catch a movie. Which one? Naturally the one that turned out to be such a great choice.


What a sweet hunk of a bull and a tale that has all the heart-warming trappings of a movie for this time of year – kindness, compassion, friendship, respect, teamwork and a happy ending. And lots of funky dancing. Loved it. I really did. Go watch it, bring your kids!

After the movie at around 2pm, we thought we’d catch a late lunch. No such luck! Apparently the mall had filled up with all of humanity while we were in there, making it impossible to walk without hitting anyone. We couldn’t have picked a worse time to be at the mall.

We were starving and the restaurant lines were insane. We were hoping to have better luck at the food court. Omg, one look and we instantly turned around. The place was one freakin’ mess and we kinda lost our appetites. We simply had to get the heck out of there.

It was 3pm by the time we got home and proceeded to turn the fridge upside down hoping a fulfilling lunch would somehow drop out. But all we had were cold ham sandwiches. Still better than the food court, I guess. Bah humbug!

Still determined to have a good Christmas dinner in spite of our homemade roast turkey having been written off the menu *sobs*, we set out for the swanky part of town with Google Maps for our guide, headed for a Korean fried chicken shop which friends have sworn “serves the best fried chicken ever, you gotta try it”.

We ordered 2 kinds of fried chicken – sweet spicy and spicy hot, or something like that. Sometimes we really wanna trust people’s food recommendations so much but sadly, one woman’s meat is another woman’s poison. We really wanted these to be the best fried chicken we’ve ever tasted but they turned out to be…

The tale of the Christmas Eve dinners

… far from crispy, drowned in overly-sweet totally-unspicy sauces that sadly underwhelmed; not to mention that there were no signs of the ubiquitous side dishes either. Ugh! Reluctantly we polished off both servings to keep to our family’s “no food wastage” policy.

Then we got up and walked a few steps down the street to a Korean barbecue restaurant that we know and love, and ordered pork neck and pork belly. Ahahaha! Now we’re talking!

The tale of the Christmas Eve dinners

This meal came with lots of lettuce, side dishes and possibly the best kimchi in town. We even managed to flag down a smiley waiter to barbecue the meat for us while we ate. Aah, this is the life!

Long days and the deception of work

When my morning alarm goes off, I jump up with a start thinking that I’ve overslept because the sun’s shining so bright it’s like high noon outside. I stumble across to my cell phone at the other side of the room and whew, it’s only 6-ish. To those of us who’re constantly complaining that we don’t have enough hours in a day to get everything done, these unseasonably, incredibly long summer spring days are a dream come true.

Getting an early start knowing you have a full 15 hours of daylight ahead of you is a great feeling. While it’s technically not quite summer yet, Summer seems intent on elbowing Spring swiftly out of the way. And if our air-conditioning weren’t acting up so often, that great feeling might easily be a superlative. Except the darned thing keeps blowing hot air instead of cold.

So between toasty temperatures and cranky AC, we figured we really must do something about it. We did the next best thing: jump in the car and drive to San Francisco to escape the heat. Well, okay, the heat was one thing but our real excuse was the Memorial Day sales. Now if you’re a serious shopaholic, you don’t just stand there doing nothing when it’s raining discounts and promos out there.

Two productive days of retail therapy later, I’m happy to report we have a few, not many bagfuls of spoils to show for our hard work. Shopping is work? You’d better believe it! Do you know how many pairs of jeans I had to try on before I found my one true love? And don’t even get me started on the shoes. Sifting through rack after rack, shelf after shelf, hunting down your size, waiting in line for the fitting room clutching armfuls of clothes, yeah!

But it’s only when you get into the fitting room that’s when the real work (or workout, depending on how you look at it) begins. You’re doing countless squats trying on a pile of jeans and your ankle socks keep coming off with your jeans and you’re doing countless bends to get them back on. At some point, I hear someone saying, to heck with these socks, I’m leaving them off. But not me, I hate stepping on the cold, sandy floor and getting my bare feet dirty… so I keep on keeping on with the battle of the socks!

So yeah, it would seem, and I’m not even going to fault you for thinking, that it’s been all play and no work around here lol. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know that around here, the term ‘work’ often takes on meanings that are worlds away from how others may view it.

Peace out… uttered with tongue in cheek.

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

If you were excited at the title of this post and you’re considering jumping on the nourishing salmon oil hair treatment bandwagon, read on to find out how you too can recreate this wonderful hair treatment in your own home. Ooh, this is exciting! I promise, your hair will thank you for it lol.

There I am looking in the freezer going eeny-meeny-miny-mo and there’s the salmon fillet jumping up and down going, “Pick me, pick me!” Okay, okay! So fried salmon in sweet and spicy sauce it is! Frying salmon, now that’d be interesting. I mean, how often do people fry salmon, right?

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

No, not deep-fry! Even shallow frying isn’t my first choice but I guess that’s part of the adventure of cooking. To go down the greasy path of oil splatters every now and then. Even if it means donning armor apron and arming myself with tongs, spatula and shield ala pot cover.

With a swoosh and a sizzle, the fillet hits the oil and starts singing the shallow fry song. That’s the very moment I went: Aa-aargh, there goes my freshly washed hair! Dang it, I knew I should’ve put my shower cap on!!

But for the love of food and cooking, I was willing to pretend that I was at the salon having my hair smoked or cooked or whatever it is people fork out a fortune for these days. Yup, it’s the salmon oil hair treatment, y’all – ever heard of it? No? What??! It’s the latest trend! I got mine for free and now my hair’s all shiny and smoky, see!!

Feeling like quite the glamorous chef now with my newly-done hair, I’m on to concocting the sweet and spicy sauce, which came out really nice and thick, by the way, and in abundance too.

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

To say that my fried salmon in sweet and spicy sauce was yummy would be an understatement. It was insanely good! I realized with glee that I had enough sauce to make this dish one more time. You mean you got that nourishing salmon oil hair treatment twice?!? You better believe it. If I keep doing this, I might even get myself a spot on a Clairol ad, shiny cascading curls and all *rotfl*.

That frozen yogurt surprise

That frozen yogurt surprise

When I heard we were going to Yogurtland for dessert, I was like, what? First off, I didn’t think my kids liked yogurt (all that much!). Secondly, how did they figure out that frozen yogurt is even a dessert? The poor things grew up believing that dessert meant fruits and nothing else. I made sure of that.

I made pretty darned sure they didn’t find out about the other kinds of dessert. So no cakes (except on birthdays), no chocolate, no candy, no soupy, gooey Asian desserts. None of that! I think ice cream was probably their only vice growing up, and even then, it was more of a treat than a given.

So yeah, I’m surprised they found out about Yogurtland. Omg, how did that happen? And there’s a wall of yummy choices too and enough combinations to make anyone dizzy.

That frozen yogurt surprise

So while they grabbed a cup each, I was happy to tag along sans one. I’m not big on this kind of dessert so I’m content to savor a mouthful here, a mouthful there. That’s good enough for me.

That frozen yogurt surprise

As we moved up the line to the endless selection of toppings (this picture doesn’t even show the half of it), I was like, wow, this is crazy! I’ll have no part in this lol!

That frozen yogurt surprise

You can help yourself to whatever flavors and toppings you like and it’s charged by weight. Ours was a modest cup that tasted clean and refreshing without being overly flavored or sweet. Delicious!! Next time, I might have to get my own cup.

That frozen yogurt surprise

So yeah, it looks like going to Yogurtland has suddenly become a thing with the folks for whom going out for dessert is almost unheard of. What’s up with that? The last time we ventured out for dessert, we came away unimpressed. But that was then. Apparently now, randomly swinging by Yogurtland isn’t so surprising any more.

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

So I get a text asking, What’s for dinner? and my answer was steamed fish fillet. In my head, there’s this pretty picture of my tilapia fillets steaming merrily away in a metal plate that’s sitting on a steamer rack that’s sitting in my big pot.

See, I don’t own a steamer. Not even one of those bamboo dinosaurs, and certainly not a 3-storey electric glass tower that one of my aunts proudly displays in her kitchen of appliances. Yeah, I can so see the poor fish taking the elevator to the top floor of her steamer? Hahaha!

Since I don’t have a steamer, steaming is a rare word in my kitchen vocab. I love steamed fish with all that colorful garnishing and tasty sauce. But the thought of doing those stunts with the metal plate and the steamer rack and that clunk of a pot puts me off.

The pretty picture in my head quickly dissipates and my enthusiasm falls to the floor. Surely there must be a better way to steam fish without actually steaming it. Lol, I’m full of fun ideas but not much of an Asian cook. Fun as in creative? crazy? weird? I think I’ll go with creative. A little boost in the old self-esteem department never hurt.

Cooking Asian food is something I’ve only started doing on and off in the last few years. Not sure if it’s cooking, more like creative fudging. On a good day, everyone will applaud and call for an encore. On a not-so-good day, I’ll be blaming my pots and pans.

Have I digressed? Yes, I have. Okay, back to the fish. Long story short, I told myself, forget the stunts and just poach the fish. Which was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. So the 4 fish fillets went into my pan and when it was done (or was it?), the poor fish had turned a pasty white. Which was quite off-putting!

So I put a drop of olive oil into the pan and fried them to give it some color? Haha, now there’s no question about the fish being fully cooked. Brilliant again! By the time, my fish fillets had been poached and fried and garnished, this is what we have.

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

Now that looks much better and they smell heavenly too, like fish and chips. Not kiddin’! I made a light sauce and finished off with a ton of garnishing and ta-daa!

Fantastic Four Fish Fillet

I love how it looks. Almost professional, huh? Almost! Now for the million dollar question: How did it taste? Fantastic! Of course, and it sure beats dealing with those bothersome fish bones. We-eell, maybe it could use a little more sauce. Maybe. Definitely. Important thing is it passed the Picky Eater test and that usually means a repeat performance is next.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Our barbecue buffet lunch reminded me of how much I miss our almost weekly bibim-guksu which, by the way, isn’t guksu (noodle soup) but naengmyeon (cold spicy noodle). Anyhoo, I’ve been talking about it endlessly a-and well, it’s no use talking about it, let’s do it! *rolls up sleeves* (Oops, I’m wearing a tank top!)

Yup, I finally got down to cooking bibim-naengmyeon. This was after several blatant promotional campaigns to generate interest in this meal idea. You see, I was practically the only one who was crazy about that bibim-guksu while everyone else was just kinda meh. Yup, it took a while but I did eventually win them over.

I set to work creating my giant bowl of buckwheat noodles on a bed of white and purple cabbage piled high with cucumber and seaweed with the obligatory half-egg perched atop that fiery homemade sauce. I love how appetizing this looks.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Yeah, I know, you diehard Korean food fans are probably shaking your heads and going, “You know, she was doing so well up until the cabbage. So what’s with the cabbage? It has no business being there”. And you’re right, that cabbage has no business being there at all. I really do try but I’m just not very good at following recipes!

I wanted to have a bit of fun with my bibim-naengmyeon – add a bit of color here, a bit more bite there and a bit more veggie never hurt anyone. And you gotta trust me, the cabbage didn’t taste weird at all. In fact, all the flavors blended into one huge fiery mouthful, neutralized nicely by the sweetness of the cabbage. Downright delicious.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

In the end, this brainchild of mine worked out really well. It not only looked tasty, it was totally tasty. The same people who needed convincing are the ones now calling for an encore. Now that must mean something, right? Muax! I love you, guys!

A very fruitful week

A very fruitful week

You’re no doubt wondering how far along we are with all those fruits we mindlessly bought last weekend. How much have we eaten? Are we almost done? Or is there still a big heap sitting there waiting to turn nasty? Well, it’s Saturday afternoon, exactly a week to the day we carted home more fruits than I thought we could possibly consume in this space of time. Let’s see…

The world’s best of the best grapes are all gone. You knew that. There’s no way we could’ve resisted chomping on them non-stop. In fact, someone was suggesting another trip back to that farm market this weekend!!!

We’re done with the other half of the first watermelon which means it effectively took the three of us 3 days to nibble through a whole watermelon. Hmm, not bad at all. The second one seems comfortable sitting in the fridge so I think I’ll let it sit there for a bit longer, partly to test how long it can actually last.

As for the blueberries, well, what can I say? The Oregon blueberries are enjoying an extended winter stay in the freezer. As for those from Canada, we’re halfway through. Yeah, slow-going, I know! *sigh* Why are they so freakin’ sour? *shudders*. Every morning, I dump a whole truckload into my overnight oats. See, there’s more blueberries than oats but there’s still so much left. Tsk!

A very fruitful week

How else can I finish them up quick? Brainwave! Blueberry pancakes!!! We made the batter and threw in a few blueberries hoping they’ll stain the batter blue. Wouldn’t that be an Instagram moment cool? Taking a quick peek at my babies at 5:00 in the morning here. Houston, do we have blue batter? Not a chance. Oh well! Sour and stubborn, that’s what!

A very fruitful week

The mushy black plums are long gone, slurped up in a flash in all its gooey sweetness. So good! And those bananas that were sitting tight on my counter top this whole week and which I thought were never gonna ripen are all gone now. .

We did good *burp*. Loved it. We devoured all the fruits we bought last weekend except for one whole watermelon and one box of blueberries.

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