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Friday, July 31, 2009

Special Day...hehe

Somebody had a birthday... and this is her preferred method of cake eating... sharing is so overrated!

Ok, ok, I'll be faux nice for once!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When lamb met cumin...

... yumminess ensued. Whenever I am in Beijing, I always get lamb kabobs... the spiciness of the cumin plus the gaminess and tenderness of the lamb... Mmmm... Anyhoo, here is an American version of lamb kabob (or yangrouchuan). Warning: do not follow this recipe as first, I did not have skewers, and second, I did not have a grill... so it is very much a bastardized version.

Step 1: season with plenty of ground and ungrounded cumin

Step 2: sautee the lamb

Step 3: turn off heat and shower lamb with fistfull of chopped cilantro...

Step 4: bon appetite!

Monday, July 27, 2009


I saw these pictures on a website today. They are day laborers working in the Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen. They haul bricks for a living... some of them have been hauling bricks for decades. They probably make no more than US$100 a month, if that. The glittery buildings in China are literally built on their backs.

The temperature is over 100 degrees ... or 41 Celcius.

Drenched in sweat...

Most laborers live far away from their families in shabby dorms and they go home only once a year for the Spring Festival.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tour de France Update

Week 2 of my Tour de France training went something like this:

Pedal pedal pedal... Yay, I know how to ride a bicycle now... the wind feels so good in my hair, yipeeeee, go Cat! Eh, curb in front, need to turn, not enough time, brake, brake, ahhhhhh!!! Crash. Bang. Splat. Waaahhhhhh! Sigh. No pain, no gain.

Anyhoo, tks C and D for letting me borrow your spare bike... here is the little rubber squeaky whale on the handlebar.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tomato, Seaweed and Eggdrop Soup

Here is a simple Chinese home-style soup... In Chinese tomatoes are called either 番茄 (Fan Eggplant) or 西紅柿 (West Red Persimmon). As you can tell, the Chinese couldn't decide on whether tomatoes were more eggplant-like or persimmon-like so both names stuck. Regardless, based on the names, most likely tomatoes were introduced to the Chinese by foreign traders via the Silk Road as the word 番人(Fan People) is often used during ancient times to describe Caucasian people who traveled to China along the Silk Road. The second name, West Red Persimmon, is pretty self explanatory...

The ingredients are simple: White People Eggplant, Purple Veggies (the Chinese actually divide seaweed into two categories: seabelt (海带in Chinese, is a tougher and thicker type of seaweed) and purple veggie (紫菜 in Chinese, is a softer type of seaweed with a purple hue), a few eggs, a little bit of dried shrimp (didn't have it today) and a little bit of chopped spring onions (didn't have it either)...

Chop the tomatoes into large chunks, beat the eggs and shred the seaweed.. When water is boiled, put in tomatoes, seaweed and dried shrimp, when it comes to boil, let it cook for a minute or two, then toss in the egg batter and stir well... add chopped spring onions and turn off heat. Season it with salt and a little bit of sesame oil. Here it is: tomato, seaweed and eggdrop soup.

Summer Day...

Another beautiful summer day in LA... Hmmm, not much is going on, but here are some flowers for you! I saw them at the Farmer's Market in Century City.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cat vs. the Kiddies

So I began my Tour de France training in earnest this weekend. Thank you D for kindly agreeing to be my coach! First, we had to pick a suitable locale for a bicycle novice. There happen to be an elementary school close to C and D's place so we went there... but to my consternation three kiddies were also there learning to ride bicycle.

The good news is I am able to get on the bicycle and pedal in straight lines, the bad news is, the kiddies were obviously more advanced than me and they were doing all these fancy turns and stuff, showoffs! Wait until next week, Auntie Cat is gonna channel her inner Chinese acrobat and do a handstand on her beach cruiser, we'll see who is cooler then :-P

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Romeo and Juliet

A pair of star-cross'd lovers....ahhh, poor Romeo and poor Juliet, only if they had Blackberry back then, this tragedy would not have happened... sniff sniff. Just came back from watching American Ballet Theater's Romeo and Juliet with Roberto Bolle as Romeo and Irina Dvorovenko as Juliet. They were sooo good! I thought I'd be cheesed out by the final double suicide scene, but I was actually very moved. Ahh, the power of love.

She is a lovely ballerina and he is, well, let's just say female members of the audience screamed a lot!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bargain 101

I recently moved to a new apt and I was going to purchase a new dining set and other miscellaneous stuff from places like Macy's and Crate & Barrel... but alas, given the state of the economy, I've decided to start with the Salvation Army. Here are a few more bargaining tips:

1. Never accept initial offers, especially on big ticket items, even at places that you normally would never bargain. For example, I was browsing for a new coffee table at Macy's. When the sales associate told me the price, I let out a frown, and nodded ... he then immediately said he could give me additional ten percent off.

2. Always google for coupons when you do online shopping. Alright, I confess, I spent $$$ at today, bad bad Cat. But at least I got free shipping. I googled jcrew coupons, and voila, the coupon popped up. Also, I was purchasing tickets to see Romeo and Juliet at the Dorothy Chandler, and I googled for coupon, and got premier tickets for less than the price of second tier tix.

3. Shop for groceries (veggies, meats and seafood) at Asian markets (Chinese and Korean, not Japanese which tend to be more expensive). Never ever shop at Costco's unless you are the Octo-mom! They make you buy so much, I usually end up throwing away stuff or get tired of it before I finish. What a waste.

K, happy bargain hunting! As for myself, need to go patch some worn out clothes now!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Beach Cruiser!

I got a little beach cruiser today! Yay! It's super cute, with white fenders and pink flower stencils, oh I also got a little white basket to go with it. The only problem is, I do not know how to ride a bicycle. But I am going to start learning today. At this rate, I am confident I'll be ready for next year's Tour de France. Ding dong ding dong, move aside Lance, Princess Cat coming through!

Here is the little tea cup ding dong bell. Isn't it cute?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Family Cat's Chinese Musical Chair

Mama Cat is going to China tonight, Papa Cat was in China two weeks ago and Baby Cat (i.e. me) was in China last week, so Family Cat is playing the Chinese musical chair. Ok, I am not a baby anymore, promise I'll grow up, like, eh, soon.

Anyhoo, jetlag sucks, it really sucks. Fell asleep at 8pm, woke up at 10:30pm, moped around a little, ate some cream puffs, blackberried a little, read a Chinese cook book, and it was 2am so tried to fall asleep to no avail, then I started counting: one little sheep, two little sheep, three little sheep, but still eyes wide open, blink blink, and then it was 6am, I started to feel sleepy and fell asleep and got up at 2 in the afternoon... just in time for breakfast!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Updated Potpourri

Decadence under the Red Flag: the rich and powerful sipping on tea and cocktails under red flags at a posh hotel in Beijing. Kind of contradictory, huh?

Kir Royale before flight: I guess I am not a member of the proletariat anymore.

Here is for you P: egg custard and sourmilk in mall underneath the posh hotel. In China, guess Asia in general, hotels are usually part of a humongous complex composed of shopping area, office area and dozens of restaurants. This one is no exception. I practically never left the hotel complex during my stay.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Country Life

I went back to my maternal grandfather's ancestral village ... here are some photos to share with you.

All the houses here have one layout: a huge metal door leading to a little foyer area (usually with tile work on the wall, this one has the Chinese character for fortune and propserity), then leading to a small courtyard, surrounded by the living quarters. One thing that's great is, almost all houses use solar panels for hot water.

Vegetable garden outside the house. In an attempt to out-do each other, most villagers no longer have spare land (as the village McMansions take up almost all the land) to plant vegetables so they make do with little plots next to the house.

Water sink... sometimes water pressure gets low (again because villagers try to outdo each other and elevate the houses so much (so that they'd be higher than their neighbors) that they can't get enough pressure sometimes.)

Country meal: Northern Chinese do not (or rarely) eat rice, instead they prefer congee made with "little rice" which resemble cous cous more than regular rice. Also, they love mantous (or mou mous as they call them here). Mantous are kind of like the northern Chinese equivalent of bread.

A game of chess

Shopping for lunch at the outdoor market (yep it's fresh here!)

See the bundle of veggies on the scale? It's a type of herby vegetable. It looks like dill but doesn't taste like it... they love to make vegetarian dumplings with this type of veggie.

Yay, my favorite! This type of pancake is unique to my ancestral area. See here the pancake maker folds up the dough into little squares, then his wife sprinkles sesame on top and then the squares are slapped onto the sides of the barrel...

Here they are! Golden and crispy on the outside...

...and layery and airy on the inside, so good!

Village life passing by...

Peering over my aunt's shoulder on the way to the market with skyscrapers and construction cranes looming in the horizon... most likely our village will be confiscated by the government (probably in collusion with developers) to make way for more skyscrapers... our farmland was taken away a while ago, and is now part of a master planned community complete with an artificial lake (eye roll)... But if they take away our ancestral village and force us to move into concrete blocks, I will fight until the very very end with the developers! Ahhhhh, charrrrge!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back in Beijing

I went to my ancestral village to visit my grandma this weekend and am now back in a rainy Beijing...

Passing the Great Hall of the People... the Commies are very tricky, they name everything People this People that, and at the same time they screw the people left and right. My friend was right, the Chinese Commies are not real Commies, they are a special interest group out to fool the people and reap all the benefit to themselves.

Tiananmen Square on a rainy night.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beijing Cityscape

Streets of Beijing, does this look like a communist country to you? Yeah, Beijing is a lot nicer than Los Angeles, though aesthetically it is a bit off... See the odd looking building in the middle, that's the new state television network's office. Last year, a fire (caused by unauthorized fireworks set off by the tv network's employees) completely destroyed a $1 billion brand new soon to be open Mandarin Oriental hotel next to it... I've noticed this tendency in China: people are either too cautious and risk averse or completely reckless and careless, there is little balance in the middle.

Here is the charred remains of the billion dollar Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Chinese central television's new headquarters... it's, eh, so showy! Not feeling the odd shape at all, it feels like it may snap apart and collapse at any time.

Chang'an Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Beijing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I am in Beijing! So happy, finally back to civilization (no offense Wuhan...) and good food! Munch, chomp, munch... mouth too full to talk, later!

Five minutes later...

The crab shaped container in the middle has all the yummy crabmeat from Shanghainese Dazhe crab, and you scoop it up with your spoon and pour some vinegar over it, so yummy!

That's a special fish in the middle, it's a river fish from the Yangtze (they actually leave some scales on the side which can be eaten, lots of calcium) the dishes surrounding the fish are: steamed stinky tofu, boy it was stinky!, kaofu, friend wontons... ah, so content.