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Archive for the ‘Random thoughts’ Category

I’m not sure if it’s just me or it’s also just human nature to be nervous about and resist changes in life.  I’m not changing job, not changing where I live, and not having any life-changing events anytime soon either.  I’m just trying to bring some changes into my heart and mind, my perspectives and attitude.  To create changes when the environment isn’t changing turns out to be an uphill battle.  It’s a battle against myself – the lazy me in the comfort zone vs. the nervous and new “me”.  The outcome of the battle is not yet clear but I can tell you that it’s quite a bloodbath sometimes and there are many rounds in this battle.

In order to encourage myself, I got a new haircut ;).  Hopefully the change in appearance would help incentivize some changes within.  Oh and, pain and heart breaks are good teachers too.

People always say that life is not a sprint, but a marathon.  Training for the marathon myself, I now understand what it means more than ever.  Yes you need to train really hard, and yes adrenaline helps, but in those last several exruciating miles, you are not sure if you can finish it and you are even less sure how you can keep going until the end.  So you take one step, put one foot ahead of the other, breathe, put the other foot forward.  And you repeat.  You don’t need to know how to get to the finish line.  You only need to have enough courage and strength to take the next step, and then the next.  It takes a lot of effort and the faith that something good will happen if you just keep trying…

Today I’d like to share the recipe of one of my favorite and simple comfort food – Lox-style salmon pasta.  It takes 20 minutes to cook and it makes everything just a bit more bearable and even delicious…

Lox-Style Salmon Pasta

Time: 20-25m; Cost: $20-30; Level: Easy

Link: http://www.notakeout.com/lox-style-salmon-pasta/

Ingredient:

  • 2 long (English) cucumbers
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 6 oz. crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 lb. fusilli
  • 6-8 oz. smoked salmon

Directions:

  • When you walk in the door
    • Refrigerate the salmon
    • Get out Pantry Items
    • Get out Tools
    • Fill the pasta pot 2/3 with water, add 2 tbsps. salt and put over high heat
    • Assemble the ingredients
    • Open the wine and refrigerate
  • Prep
    • Peel the cucumbers and slice them as thinly as you can.
    • Sprinkle them with a bit of salt, toss, and put them in a colander in the sink.
    • Peel and slice the onion as thinly as you can.  Put it in a large bowl.
    • Slice the salmon into bite size pieces and add it to the onion in the bowl.
  • Start Cooking
    • When the water boils, stir in the fusilli and cook until it is al dente, 7-9 minutes.
    • While the pasta is cooking, add the crème fraîche and 1 tsp. mustard to the salmon and onions and stir, separating the onion and salmon slices as you stir. Grind some pepper over all, and stir.
    • Put the cucumber in a serving bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. vinegar and toss.
    • Mince the chives, and add them to the cucumbers.  Toss, toss, toss.
    • When the pasta is cooked, drain it, saving 1/4 cup cooking water.  Add the pasta to the salmon and the onions and toss.  Add half the reserved cooking water, and toss.  Taste for seasoning.  If the pasta is dry, add the remaining pasta cooking water and toss.
    • When all is perfectly seasoned, take everything to the table.
    • Dinner is served.  Don’t forget the wine.

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It’s been a self-awakening week for me.

I went to an Sales and Relationship Management training where a 360-degree personality evaluation and a personality profile were provided, had a good time with my dear friend who came to visit me in New York, got into my own emotional bubble (not a good one) and felt really blue for a couple of days, and had a really heartfelt conversation with a close friend that knows me really well and is willing to share with me her personal journey and her honest feedback. It’s everything together, but it’s also none of them. I’ve been piecing together the picture for a long time, and this week, with some help from friends, I finally finished the puzzle.

It’s always incredible difficult to be honest with oneself. It’s hard enough to secretly admit it, and to admit it openly is to peel off all the masks that are carefully designed and put on and to show vulnerability. But here I am.

I’m gonna skip the hard and painful process of realization and jump straight to what I’ve learned, about myself…

So despite all the assertiveness and positive energy that I was told that I radiate, deep down in my heart, I have a lot of fear and somehow have lost the ability to love and believe in myself unconditionally.

I attribute most of my achievements and success to luck when things go well, and when they don’t, I blame myself for everything. I got into this self-loathing spiral when I forgot a friend’s birthday, was not available for a dinner, said something insensitive while not realizing it, made a mistake at work… Sometime ago, I felt terribly guilty and mad at myself for a whole week for being a terrible friend when I missed a friend’s text message for 30 minutes, but when the same thing happened to me, I could always find excuses for other people. And I even told myself that if I felt that I would be upset for not getting a response, I should not even send that message. I convinced myself that it’s all about managing my expectations for others but I held myself responsible for meeting the highest expectations.

A friend asked me why I couldn’t let it go and trust that my real friends would forgive me and understand me the way that I forgive and understand them. I realized what the reason is. It’s because I could not even bear the thought of losing them, and I think my world would collapse without them. It’s not only because I love them for who they are and how much they support and love me, but also because only through their friendship and love could I be convinced that I am worthy and lovable. I want my friends to love me for who I am, but somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to do the same for myself.

And it does not make me a better friend, but quite the opposite. Most of my friends didn’t sign up to avoid someone else’s world from falling apart. They signed up for having a good time together, for caring for each other, for mutual support and understanding. In the end of the day, my emotional neediness is a form of high-maintenance that is probably more stressful to deal with than someone who needs branded purses and complains about mediocre food.

It’s so ironic that I’m writing about self confidence in 2011, more than 10 years after I published my first essay in 作文通讯 in elementary school, a monthly publication of student essays, about being confident and not following other kids who always seemed to be “cooler” than me. Sometimes life is like a spiral – you think you’ve traveled a long way, but when looking down, you realize that from certain angle, you end up where you were years ago.

It’s not a sudden realization, but things finally came together this week. And now the journey to piecing together the broken “me” has just started. It’s gonna be a long and hard journey but I am ready for it. And being blessed with some greatest friends in the world, an interesting job and living in the best city, I know that I can do it.

To celebrate my awakening week, I’m sharing not one, but two of my favorite recipes! I’ve tried both of them and loved them both very much! 🙂

Mussel Cioppino

http://www.notakeout.com/mussel-cioppino/
Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredient:

  • 2 yellow onions
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 lbs. mussels
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Hot paprika or cayenne
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter

Directions:

  • Put the mussels in a strainer, rinse them well, and refrigerater
  • Peel and dice the onions.
  • Remove the strings from the celery, and dice.
  • Rinse and pat dry the parsley. Pluck 1 cup leaves.
  • Put 2 tbsps. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, the celery, and the 2 diced garlic cloves, stir, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Coarsely chop the parsley and add it to the onions.
  • Pour in 2 cups fish stock and the can of tomatoes. Add 20 sprigs thyme and 2 bay leaves, a big pinch salt, a small pinch cayenne (if you want a little kick!) and several grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the liquid is boiling gently, partially cover and let it cook.
  • De-beard the mussels if necessary ( pull any strings from them that you see). Rinse and shake excess water from them, then add them to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the mussels open, shaking the pan from time to time, 5-6 minutes.
  • When all the mussels are open, turn off the heat. If the soup needs more liquid, add additional fish stock. Taste for seasoning. Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves.

Eel Cha Soba Hand Roll (It’s in Chinese so I’m only providing the link here.  Please let me know if you need help translating it. ;))

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Welcome 2011!

Happy new year to all my non-existent readers!

One of my new year resolution is to keep this blog live…  I may never be a great chef, but I certainly enjoy the long and never-ending journey to become one and would like to share it with all of you.

The world is always full of hope when there is someone that you want to try your best to feed and entertain. 🙂

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Life is a feast

So here we are.
 
I sometimes have trouble understanding those who are really passionate about cooking.  I used to think that if it takes one longer to cook than to eat, or it costs one more to cook than to eat out, it is just uneconomical :-P.
 
I can count with my hands and feet the number of times that I really cooked nice meals, but I can’t forget the joy of seeing loved ones come to the dinner table with the excitement of young children, take their first bites, and then set the room alight with big bright smiles that can melt an igloo…  Right there I got it.  That’s what turns the strongest and toughest fashionistas, workaholics, careerists and feminists into the apron-wearing, pots-and-pans-loving and traditional-role-embracing women.
 
People say those who conquer their man’s stomach will conquer his heart, but it is his heart that makes a woman care for his stomach and want to fill it with delicious food made with love.
 
And even when love leaves, cooking can still be therapeutic…

Remember the typical heart broken symptoms?

Excessive crying…  Excessive eating…  Excessive shopping…  Excessive working…  back to excessive crying.

We’ve all been there, done that. No matter how educated we are, how intelligent we are and how much leadership we have demonstrated at work and in life, emotions are what make us human.  Love is what makes humans happy.  And grief is what makes us feel alive and what makes us treasure happiness when it happens.
 
An artist can often turn anger and grief into beautiful art; a great dancer can express herself through graceful body movement; and a talented writer can get an advance payment to travel around the world for a year, and make millions of dollars when her book is turned into a movie like “Eat, Pray, Love”.  Unfortunately, most of us are none of the above.  So what can we do to break the vicious cycle, to piece our hearts back together, and to prepare ourselves for the next adventure in love?

I found cooking to be the best remedy, especially when you invite your family and friends over and cook for them.  You can still shop, but in grocery stores getting ingredients; you can still work, but with pots, pans, stoves and ovens in your warm kitchen; you can still eat, but home-cooked meals instead of junk food; and you can still cry, but your tears will be one of the secret spices…

Many claim that love is the best ingredient in cooking, although I think, sometimes, tears are pretty powerful too.  It might not taste as rich and sweet as love, but it’s from the same loving heart.  A heart that is incapable of loving is also incapable of feeling the pain that often comes with loving.  When a loving heart sheds some tears, it might taste a little bitter in the beginning, but the “after taste” is delicate, sophisticated and in the end hopeful, like a cup of tea, or a good bottle of whisky (so I’ve heard ;-p).

Julia Child once said, “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”  I started cooking, like, um, two weeks ago.  But as I was “investing” all this money into pots and pans, cinnamon and all spice (those little bottles of spices are expensive!) and buying all the grocery, I found myself so happy and content and my heart was filled with hope and love.  I’d like to share my discovery, and my journey to becoming a better cook, and a better person with all of you who either want to spoil your loved ones with wonderful dishes or want to piece back your broken heart.
 
So I created this site for myself, and all of you, to share recipes and stories with each other.  I am a totally “green” chef and not a good writer either, so I count on you to make this blog interesting!
 
Please submit your story and recipe to HealingRecipes@gmail.com, and I will post them on this blog!
 
Welcome to Healing Recipes and let the life feast begin!

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