Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seafood Gyoza Dinner For One

Seafood Gyoza Dinner

I don't want to think about how much money I had spent in Japanese restaurants for ordering Gyozas (Dumplings in Japanese).  My problem has always been that I can't just have one order.  I can eat at least one dozen for just one meal.  Then I discovered that I could get the same tasting Gyozas from the Japanese grocery store.  I'm not sure if this particular brand is also sold at American grocery stores.  This brand is so far my favorite because its gyozas taste the same like the ones I had in Japanese restaurants. I usually stocked them up whenever they were on sale for $3.99 per bag. For the same price,  I couldn't even get one order of 5 gyozas at the Japanese restaurants that I patron.  But then I have to spend time on pan frying them myself and make sure that I don't burn them, which I often do because I have ADHD in the kitchen....But it's worth me paying all my attention on pan frying them because they always taste good as long as I cook them according to the direction on the bag, and yes, there is English cooking direction.  I can cook as few or as many as I want for one serving. I like this flexibility without having to worry about leftovers.  I love squeezing a little Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce into the Tempura Sauce to make a dipping sauce for these dumplings.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Gone Girl Reminds Me Of My Gone Husband


This trailer is the reason that I bought the book Gone Girl.  I just finished reading the book. It was pretty mundane for half of the book but I kept going anyway because in a weird way, I could relate to the story and I just wanted to escape my reality of living like a divorced woman.   I haven't seen my husband since Thanksgiving.  He is now living in his grandma's retirement community in one of America's most boring towns.  He is living with 2 women (caregivers) whom I haven't met.  I had lived in that tiny cottage of my 83 year old grandma-in-law during Thanksgiving and I don't want even to picture my husband living there with 2 women, without grandma-in-law who has been living in the hospital where she had undergone a few surgical procedures now, and numerous resuscitations.
I'm really bewildered by the advance of the American medical science.  Since my 83 year old grandma-in-law had been diagnosed with some stage IV cancer in Jan 2104, the doctors in this country have been able to pull her away from death for countless times.  Meanwhile, others who were healthy and cancer free had passed on, one of them is Joan Rivers.  I never expected my grandma-in-law to actually out live Joan Rivers who was still performing and being interviewed on TV when my grandma-in-law was gravely ill.  In January 2014, my husband told me that his then 82 year old grandma would not live to celebrate July 4, 2014.  Well, not only did she have another July 4, she had another Thanksgiving getting pissed off at me, and another Christmas when she kept my husband in her cottage without me, and another Easter, and pretty soon another Memorial day and I'm sure July 4th again....Yes, I have this much faith in her doctors and the wondrous American healthcare system.  I don't understand why so many Americans are so unhappy with healthcare, just what are they complaining about?    My grandma-in-law's medical bills are all free and the doctors are using the latest, the best and the most expensive cancer drug on her.

Meanwhile, my husband is living in grandma-in-law's cottage with her caregivers who supposedly have no home of their own and have to live with my husband there even though their boss is in the hospital?  My husband told me that every morning,  he had to drive one of them to the hospital while taking the other one who had been in the hospital back to the cottage, and then in the same evening, he had to take  the one caregiver from the cottage and swap the one he dropped off in that same morning.  Everyday,  my husband goes to dinner with one of them. During weekends, he will even take them to shop because they don't have their own cars. Where the hell are these caregivers coming from?  I was told that their homes are in Indonesia and Russia. They were sent from some agency which is registered with Medicare... I want to know what immigration status these homeless and carless caregivers have because why on earth are they living with my husband, dining-out with my husband and shopping with him???   I don't like this kind of caregivers. They sound more like my husband's wives than me at this point, since I haven't seen my husband since Thanksgiving, and I definitely have't eaten out with him since Thanksgiving.

Am I being crazy just like that character in Gone Girl ???  I mean I am now starting to resent my husband and her grandma-in-law.  I feel so ashamed of feeling resentful towards a sick 83 year old lady.  The feeling of shame and also resentment together certainly is one of the worst feelings on earth.  But what am I supposed to do? Throw my life away, quit my job just so I can live in that miserable outdated cottage in that boring community where the average age is 80 and where there is no employment except for "care giving"; so that I can be the chauffeur of my grandma-in-law's foreign caregivers? I am a foreigner myself, but I have my own car and driver's license! Besides, my grandma-in-law, while gravely ill, has become more bossy and unforgiving than ever. She drove me crazy by ordering me around so much.  I had lifted heavy boxes, driven unnecessarily on slippery icy roads to run too many unnecessary errands everyday when I visited. I had  climbed up the ladder to clean the ceiling lamp, scrubbed floors on my knees, and I had done many chores I will absolutely not do  for myself in my own home. Being there for a couple weeks was the most exhausting and tormenting time I had ever experienced.  She just had the controlling power over me and bossed me around.   I of course was a sucker because I somehow couldn't say no when an old lady commanded me from her sick bed with her demanding voice.  Thank god, my own 85 year old grandma in Hong Kong sent me a video from her iphone and told me to get the hell out of my grandma-in-law's labor camp and live my time of my life.

I can't go visit my husband because of the environment there and yet, I am feeling so suspicious of him and the foreign caregivers.  I resent his grandma-in-law because she has been  putting a guilt trip on my husband about raising him on behalf of his selfish mother, in order to hold him hostage in her cottage.  While my mother-in-law may be selfish for dumping my husband with his paternal grandma while running off with another man for a whole new life, I don't see how my grandma-in-law isn't selfish.  She has a clear mind and she can talk clear and loud and yet she is always using her cancer to make my husband feel indebt to her. What kind of mother, or grandmother will want her kid to throw away his life just so she can live forever and ever?  I'm not qualified to answer this question, but according to my mom and grandma in Hong Kong, there should be  none. My mom will kick my ass across the Pacific Ocean if I ever dare to quit my life and my career to go take care of her... She will disown me if put a restraining order against me if only I attempt... She warned my siblings over and over about this since we were in highschool. So will my granny in Hong Kong, who constantly tells me to take this opportunity as a sabbatical of my marriage, and may be an opportunity to find new doors to new jobs and may be new future marriage.  Thanks to my granny and mother's constant nagging, I am back to work.  Now I guess the next step will be to save enough money to find a divorce attorney?

While my husband is again telling me  my grandma-in-law will not have another July 4th or another Thanksgiving, but knowing her, she may very well out-live my marriage, thanks to the free advanced medical care.  This is one of the perks in America that no where else offers.  I hope this perk will still be around when I am 83??  In the meantime, I'm wondering what perks that I paid for with my tax dollars that I can start using now....

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Banana French Toasts

Banana French Toasts from the 1950s

I haven't had time to have breakfast because of my morning commute, so I'm craving for breakfast tonight.  I remembered this really short French Toast recipe that I had seen in the  Better Homes & Garden Cook Book 1953 edition that I inherited. So I decided to give it a try. This French Toast recipe is great for me because I'm too tired at this time of the day to want to do any long recipe.  I did use butter in lieu of the "fat" as suggested in the recipe though. (I wonder what fat the book was referring to...) I also added banana toppings that I made in another recipe a while back.  Now the French Toasts are tasting really really good.  I don't understand why I somehow get the impression that the 1950s were the dark ages of cooking in America. May be because I heard over and over again Julia Child was the one who got America cooking in the 1960s?   But this is the 3rd recipe I tried from the old cookbook and the food from the 1950s so far seem to be good enough for my taste....

The recipe doesn't say how many serving but the egg and milk liquid is enough for 4 slices of white bread in my case.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Q-Tips or Cute Tips?

Product Differentiation by Packaging

I can't believe it's going to be Easter Sunday and yet my blog still looks so Christmas. I definitely need to spare some time to  shop for another blog design. This is why I didn't decorate my home for Christmas because knowing myself, I would still have my Christmas tree with Christmas light by now.  

While trying to find a photo inside my iphone that can complement the "current" color scheme of my blog, I found the above photo.  I bought that container of 350 Q-tips for $1.50 at a Japanese store called Daiso.   This is like a 99 cents store format where everything is sold for $1.50.  When I was growing up in Hong Kong, I was used to going to stores like Daiso that sold really cute stuff for cheap.  I'm so happy that such kind of stores are found here in California.

Throughout my career, I don't know how many times I had heard either my colleagues or myself at a presentation advising our clients on  turning around the sales of a product with a re-packaging or a re-launch.  One time such a suggestion was slammed by the CEO of our client who didn't think a re-package was going to be the solution.  I couldn't agree with him more because "make-over" alone can't always save the popularity of a product, a brand or a person.  But the  magic of "packaging" does work frequent enough that it's indoctrinated into the marketing class in business schools, as one of the strategies to differentiate a product from its competitor.

In the case of the Q-tips above, the cute package wasn't the main reason why I bought them. It was just that I was shopping for something else at the store on that particular day and I realized I was also running out of Q-tips.  The container was just there on the rack, reminding me of what I needed (product placement).  They were so cheap that buying them didn't trigger my second thought about the price.  Of course, the pretty package doesn't hurt.  I would have bought the Q-tips even if the container was just plain.  But the Japanese culture is known to be meticulous in packaging everything pretty.  So their idea of Q-tips has to be also cute.  

What about you, does packaging matter to you when you shop for staples like the Q-tips? 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chocolate Chips Banana Muffins

Chocolate Chips Banana Muffins

My project was finally finished and I'm home again.  After living in the hotel all this time, I am so happy to be home and I appreciate my home more than ever.  The room I had in Hyatt Regency in Chicago can't compare to my bedroom here at home.  I think my hotel room was musty, old, dark and depressive.  I'm disappointed by that hotel room.  I had been to several Hyatts and Grand Hyatts in Asia, and I always liked them.  But this hotel in Chicago just doesn't live up to the Hyatt brand and the standards I expected.  Anyway, there is no place like home because only at home can I bake a few muffins when I am craving for them.   I always like Tyler Florence's banana nut muffins.  But I also love chocolate chips.  So I substituted the nuts with the chocolate chips in the recipe.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Have been Living in Hotel....


For the last two weeks I have been living in this hotel room in Hyatt Regency Chicago. The reason that I have 2 beds is because with  the cheaper corporate rate that my company contracted with the hotel, the hotel could only give me this room when I checked in, when others were filled.

Many people fancy business travel as vacation travel. But business travel is all about work and no fun.  It just means that I get to work 12 hours and 7 days a week and be at the client's office really really early tomorrow.  It's cold here but the commute to my client's office is only a few minutes' walk.  I need to find a knit face mask worn by those bank robbers because it's so cold here. The perks are free laundry and free meals.  Between this and driving the crazy freeway in sunny Los Angeles to work in my employer's office, I'd rather be working here on this project.  It's a lot of work, but then there is no stress driving, and no stress cooking. Just work, eat, shower and sleep.  I constantly tell myself, "Hang in here and before long,  you can finally get the real  paid vacation with no work."

Okay, I need to go back to work because I have to get my report done before tomorrow morning's progress meeting. I'm feeling sleep deprived though.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Smoked Salmon Fried Rice

Smoked Salmon Fried Rice

I have been working during this weekend and I'm not supposed to be cooking.  The reason I'm even cooking tonight is because my company's IT infrastructure has been "Fxxxxx" up.  Instead of staring at the blank screen while my company's laptop is loading, I went ahead and fried some rice. It's still loading now that I'm done eating and am now typing my  blog post. This is unbelievable!!!  The CIO of my company should be fired...  The slow speed and the frequent IT breakdowns are his responsibilities, sorry, and I don't care if he is "senior management" and not the "techies" who built this piece of crap.  I can't believe it, my employer isn't the little mom & pop shop. But it has a system that is slower than many mom and pop outfits.  

So here is the recipe of the "Fried Rice For the Company's Downtime"...

Makes 2 Servings  

Ingredients:
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups of cooked Jasmine rice (I don't like brown rice but you can do brown rice)
  • 4 - 5 slices of Atlantic smoked salmon (I often used Scottish smoked Salmon)
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive oil
Direction:
  1. Heat wok with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat, stir fry the smoked salmon pieces until you can crumble them with the spatula, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Push the crumbled salmon to one side of the wok and pour in the eggs, stir until the eggs are cooked and crumbled, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Put aside the salmon and egg mixture on a plate, pour in the wok 1 tablespoon of Olive oil, and continue to heat on medium high heat for 1 min. Add chopped green onions and stir fry for 30 seconds.  Add cooked rice and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.  
  4. Put back the salmon and egg crumbles to 3 above, drizzle soy sauce all over and stir for 30 seconds. Transfer to rice bowls and serve. 
Now that I'm done typing my post (done taking picture) and the computer is still loading...I will grow old while waiting for this computer to finish.