Monday, March 31, 2008

simple stir fried noodles "chow-mien"

I still haven't made more dumplings, or gyoza, with the rest of the meat/cabbage filling. I decided to stir fry the already-chopped-up meat and vegetables with some noodles and made simple chow mien.


Simple Chow Mien


1 Tablespoon oilve oil for frying (optional)
1 cup dumpling/gyoza filling
Asian noodles, cooked (for 2)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper

Cook the Asian noodles according to package instructions. (I use dry Taiwanese yellow noodles... cooked and drained.) Heat the oil and stir-fry the gyoza filling until the meat looks pretty much cooked. Push the meat and vegetables to the side to make a circle in the center of the pan. Add sesame oil and the cooked noodles and stir together the meat/vegetables and noodles until hot. Add soy sauce and white pepper to taste.

This Chow Mien tasted so good, and it reminded me of the Chow Mien from this little noodle stand in Taiwan. I think the sesame oil, soy sauce, combined with the white pepper did the trick.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

cell phone pics

I'm starting to sense that my pink RAZR is about to die. After all I've had it for almost 2 years. It's about time I get a new phone.

I've taken some fun pics with my phone, and from what I understand there's not a device where you can connect your old phone to a new one and transfer all the photos (unless you have an SD memory chip... but I don't have one in my phone), so the best way taht I know to "preserve" the pictures is to send them to my email account... one at a time that is.

So this is what I've been doing. I think it's going to take a while, because I have somewhere around 200 pictures in my phone. I think I'll save most of them because they are usually of one of my dogs or cats being all quiet (usually when I see them being still and try to get my camera, the'd already move to another spot), and/or where there's fun or interesting things/people that I see when I forget my regular camera. Gotta save them all because they are all special!

I also found Yama and Ginger's pictures are what I took the most of our pets with my phone... I guess they are the only two that wouldn't move too much when I say "stay."

Ginger staring at me in the bathroom.

Yama on the fuzzy Lovesac.

Friday, March 28, 2008

spring snow

It had been pretty warm for the past few days, but yesterday morning when we stepped out of the house this is what I saw:

spring snow
Spring snow!

On our drive to the shop it was almost like winter all over, and some people already forgot how to drive in the snow.

The snow shower came and went, and the sun came out... everything melted right away, except for this:

spring snow
The snow on the bench behind the caffe.

And then it's over 50 degrees again today, but the weatherman said there's another little storm coming in tomorrow. Yes this IS spring in Utah.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

foods that make you happy

Apparently certain food and treats do make people happy... no it's not just all in your head, but it has scientific proofs.

Fatty fish such as samon is rich in Omega 3 that stimulates serotonin in the brain. Serotonin has been proven to help cheer people up. Maybe this is why I'm always happy when I have a lot of sashimi at Japanese restaurants.

The news piece that I read this from also pointed out that chocolate, coffee, and red wine rank among the highest of "happy foods" list where they help uplift and stablize people's mood and emotions.

Now I know why I'm (almost) always happy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

don't cheat him

A friend came to see John and I yesterday. I'm not going to disclose his name becase this is a semi-sensitive matter... but I'm going to call him N.

N met a lovely Chinese girl at a club 4 year ago. He was happy, and the girl was happy, and they got married very soon afterward. We used to tease him and said she was totally out of his league. (He was cool and fun, but the girl was a lot prettier than him. He was not bad looking or anything though, but still... Sorry N.)

We didn't usually see them together. She just hung out with her friends more often than with him. But it was OK because he was happy, and she was happy.

Yesterday I asked how she was. N said they had been seperated for over six months and the wife was staying with a friend. Hmm. I then ask what the deal was. He said she hadn't been talking to him much and the problems they had were still there. There was not much he could do.

I then ask why they didn't just get divorced. I didn't like to see couples split but when there's nothing they are doing or can do to help, don't drag on just because. He said he was thinking about that, but he still loved her and didn't want the divorce to prevent her from staying in the U.S..

OK here the deal, N. You guys have been legally married for over four years so there won't be any problem with her getting her residency. And I'm not trying to burst your bubbles, but when the first things she cared about right after you guys got married were her residency status and about brining her parents over, you should have known.

I like N because he is my friend and he is nice and cool (even though sometimes he is just not paying attention). I don't quite get the girl because I don't know her well but when it looks like what she did and is doing, and the whole marriage thing are to get N to get her a legal residency, then she is just not cool.

It's not my place to say much of anything, but I did remind N that they could both meet someone else in the near future and when that happens, their marrital status is going to make things more complicated.

Who am I to tell people what to do? I'm not. I'm just rambling about the whole love-marriage-residency-citizenship thing. I just don't like it when my friend's emotions and love (ok it starts to sound cheesy) are cheated. Cheer up N, and do what you have to do, and booooo the girl.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

gyoza with a lot of cabbages

I have been wanting to make Chinese dumplings (gyoza) for a while. This past weekend I finally made some! I used a whole cabbage for the filling, and because I didn't want to pull out the food processor, I cut the cabbage into pieces by hand, and therefore the pieces are not as "chopped" as it probably should have been, nor uniform. The dumplings turned out yummy, though, and I esprecially enjoyed the texture of the bigger veggie pieces.

Homemade Chinese Dumplings / Gyoza

Ingredients (filling):

1 lb. ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Hondashi seasoning (optional)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oil (I use olive oil)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 head chopped cabbage + 1 teaspoon salt
6 "sticks" chopped green onions
1 Tablespoon grated ginger root (optional)

2-3 packages of storebought gyoza skins or homemade ones. I use the two packages that were in my freezer. Thaw before use, of course.

First place the chopped cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the cabbage and "squeeze" the salt and the cabbage together. Set aside. This will allow some extra water from the cabbage to come out. Drain (if there's water) before combining with the pork.

Mix the ground pork, salt, Hondashi seasoning (optional), soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, and white pepper in a large mixing bowl and stir until everything are "bonded". Add the chopped cabbage, chopped green onions, and grated ginger (optional). Mix well. Now you have your filling. Yay.

homemade gyoza filling

Place a gyoza skin in your left palm. Use a pair of chopsticks to pick up about 2 Tablespoons filling and place in the center of the skin. Wet the edges (not necessary if using homemade fresh gyoza skins) before closing the dumpling. I like to make little folds on them... seem to help closing up the dumplings better. Repeat until either the filling or the skins run out. I never know how many dumplings I'm making. I made about 45 the other day and I still have way more than half of the filling left. I'm guessing this recipe probably makes 100-120 dumplings.

Lightly dust a place with flour. Place each of the dumplings on the place after it's made. After completing a plate, stick it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. The dumplings will harden and you can bag them and store them in the freezer.

homemade gyoza
Nuki wants some dumplings too.

To cook the dumplings, first boil a large pot of water. Add the dumplings, stir with long chopsticks to prevent sticking. Wait until the water boils again and turn the heat to medium-low (just enough to keep the water boilig) for about 7 minutes. Drain and serve with dipipng sauce, or in soups.

To make the dipping sauce: Cominbe soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil to taste.

So this is the deal... the dumplings look pretty good before cooking this time, but after I boiled them a lot of the skings fell apart. I think it was because I used the package of gyoza skins that was in the freezer too long. They were still very delicious... just broken-looking. :(

I still have a lot of filling left. I think I'm going to make my own gyoza skins for it. I'll post the recipe for the homemade gyoza skins soon-ish (when I figured out the right ratio for flour and water.)

Oh, and if you're just tired of making dumplings but still have too much filling left... make little patties and fry them in a pan. I've done it a few times, and the patties were super yummy by themselves or with rolls!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I've heard a lot of people talk about Peeps and how much they liked them. I've been living in the U.S. for the past 10 years and had never had one. Sounds crazy, huh.

I finally decided to get a little box of the Peeps. I had to pick yellow ones because they were more "Peeps-y" to me.

They do look super cute. John told me they were like fun sugar-coated marshmallows. I took a bite off a Peep's head and did not like it as much as I thought I would. It didn't quite taste like marshmallows to me.

I gave a Peep to Nuki.

One for Yama.

And one for Naicha... I think she was more interested in the box than the peeps themselves.

I gave John the rest of the Peeps.

Anyhow, happy Easter everyone.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

get yourself a kitty... or two

Owning a cat or two lowers your chances of having high blood pressure. A professor at Univeristy of Minnesota conducted a study and found that owing a cat helps people reduce their pressure and anxiety levels, and therefore helps lower their possibility of having heartattacks.

ginger and jasper
Ginger and Jasper.

I say if you're thinking about adopting a kitty... do it! Apparently you will get a little friend with added bonus on your health. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

hairy nuki

I was watching Nuki run around the yard and noticed that his hair was getting long again. He needs a haircut soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

the purple 5

I had heard about the new colorful bills that are coming out, but I never saw one until a couple days ago.

new 5-dollar bill
The the new 5-dollar bill has light purple feds eagle seal on it.

new 5-dollar bill
And there's a big purple 5 on the right bottom corner. Very cool!

I wonder what other colors are going to be on the new bills. For now, though, the new five-dollar bill is my favorite simply because it's purple.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

taiwanese meat sauce (tainan version)

I usually make the Taiwanese meat sauce with regular ground pork, but this time I decided to take some friends' suggestions and try to make it with hand-cut fatty pork. "What's fatty pork?" you say. OK I don't know its real name, but it's almost like big chunk of bacon... with more meat.

This recipe of meat sauce is for the Tainan sticky rice. Tainan is a city in southern Taiwan, where many of the best Taiwanese dishes originated. The meat sauce is not only yummy on sticky rice, it's also great on regular rice or noodles.

long grain sticky rice
I threw in a few boiled eggs and they came out very delicious, too!

Taiwanese Meat Sauce (Tainan Version)


2 lbs. Fatty pork (available at Asian markets) or regular pork shoulder cuts.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup fried shallots (available at Asian markets)
2 Tablespoons "rock sugar" (sugar crystals) or regular sugar
1 quart water

Cut the pork into small cubes or pieces. Stir-fry in a pan until slightly brown. Place the pork in a slow cooker (crock-pot), add the soy sauce, fried shallots, sugar, and water. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Add boiled eggs or tofu along with the pork if desired.

taiwanese meat sauce
It looks pretty much like this when it's done.

Traditionally this meat sauce is prepared in clay pots over a gas range for a few hours. I'm lazy and I don't want to keep watching it for hours, so I make it in the slow cooker. Turns out pretty good! :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

saint patrick's day

Every year our friend/landlord Bob hosts a Saint Patrick's Day party at his house. I personally think it's a glorified drinking party! haha.

Most people I see today have something green on them, if not they have reasons to tell. One guy that came to get a latte stuck a green post-it on his shirt... does that count?

One lady didn't have any green on her, and her reason was that she was Irish, and wearing green would have been overdone. Good point.

Anyhow, happy Saint Patty's Day everyone! :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008


After saying goodbye to Kaori, we said goodbye to another Japanese friend Hisa this week. He came as an exchange student 7 months ago, and it was time for him to return to Japan and finish his college degree.

I have to admit that when I first saw Hisa I thought he looked sort of like a gangster boy. As time went by and I got to know him and talk to him more I never thought he was gang-y again. haha.

John, Hisa, and me at the caffe.

His favorite drink at the caffe was a small iced caramel latte with half of the pearls and half of the coconut jelly. Intereting combination... but he swore by it, and got many of his friends to try it, too.

Hisa is fun(ny) and I'm glad I got to know him. He said he would wait for John and I to send him email and updates about the caffe and us. I'm more interested in knowing how him and his girlfriend, a lovely Taiwanese girl who's still in school here, are going to make their long-distance relationship work. I hope it does, because they were a really cute couple.

Good luck with everything, Hisa, and I will write you. See you next time.

Friday, March 14, 2008


The almost-spring weather these days has been lovely, but yesterday afternoon and this morning there were a couple hail storms passing through the city. They came and went in a matter of minutes.


And I kept wanting to collect some hail to make a snowcone with.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

rice and korean nori

I love eating white rice with nori (seasoned seaweed), and I've been doing it since I was little. I had always used the packaged nori that was cut into small rectangular pieces, which is usually from Taiwan or Japan.

Recently I found out that the Korean nori is even better with rice! These slightly larger pieces (but not as large as the ones used in making sushi rolls) are thinner and lighter, and when you wrap it around the cooked rice you can still bite it into pieces easy. (The Japanese and Taiwanese ones are usually harder to be seperated into small pieces once you wrap around rice... at least for me. :o)

rice and nori
Most of the Korean nori I found are in packages similar to this one.

rice and nori
So this is a quick lunch/snack for me!

The Taiwanese and Japanese nori, however, will be a better choice when wrapping up mochi and other ingredients other than just plain rice. The Korean nori is probably too "britle" for these uses.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

silicone brush

I've seen these silicone brushes in the stores and wondered who would buy them... they just don't look like they'd be better than traditional pasty or oil brushes. Then I read from a couple bakers talk about how wonderful these silicone brushes are. Some bakers like to use them when brushing egg yorks, oils, or butter on pastries, and no bristles will stick onto the surfaces of the pastires. I guess since there's no bristles there won't be any sticking on anything. They are also great for glazing, odor-free, and very easy to clean.

silicone brush
I really like the wood handles on these.

I decided to buy a couple today... just to test it out. I haven't been making breads or pastries for a while, but I guess I'll have to make something that requires some butter brushing or glazing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

bye bye kaori

Every year some exchange students from Kansai Univeristy in Japan come to Salt Lake City to go to the University of Utah, and many of them come to have coffee and tea at the caffe.

We've met many lovely people, and before they left they would come and say goodbye. Kaori was one of them. She came last weekend and told us she was returning to Japan, and that she loved our drinks and would miss us. awww. She said she would return and come see us again.

I'll miss you, too, Kaori.

John, Kaori, and me at the caffe.

Monday, March 10, 2008

new look

John and I have been trying to make the caffe's web site more "professional" looking and after working on the template for a while we set our eyes on this current one (with some customization and adjustment). We're still trying to make better, more informative, and "useful," but I'm glad we've made some progress with it thus far.

Update: I decided to give my blog a slight makerover as well. I love the colors, but apparently the photos I use are usually too big, because most of the photos are cut off on the right-hand side! I guess I'm going to start using smaller pictures from now on.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

naicha is recovering

John took Naicha to the vet's first thing in the morning yesterday. Since Naicha is still having a hard time breathing, the doctor did an X-ray scan on her in fear that her lung is filled with water.

The good news was that her lung was not as bad as the doc thought, and the bad news was that it would take a lot of effort and time for Naicha to fully recover.

Naicha is taking two kinds of meds (1 1/2 pills each for her size). She's pretty good at taker her meds over all... because we make her! We're also using a syringe to feed her baby food because she was not eating her food. (We do dilute the baby food with water so it's easier to "shoot" the food and it also helps her get more liquid.)

She does manage to drink plenty of water, and still pays attention to the other dogs and cats even though she's still having a fever.

The doctor said we should be able to see her progress in a couple of days.

Friday, March 07, 2008

at the doctor's

Naicha is sick. She had been a bit "under the weather" since the beginning of the year, and things just seemed to be lingering... We took her in to see the doctor a couple weeks ago and the she was given anti-biotics, but she didn't seem to have been fully recovered.

I took her to see the doctor again yester day because she didn't seem to have giant amount of energy like she usually does. She had a fever, and her white cell count was high. :( The doctor was going to have her stay overnight, so he could X-ray her this morning, but I took her home because I didn't want her to have to be at the doctor's all by herself.

John then took her in early this morning. She was still not feeling well. The vet thought it might have been a canine flu, which rarely occur, but it does exist. She's staying at the doctor's office right now for more tests and exams.

I really hope she's OK.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

big tomato

I sent John to get a few tomatoes for the toatsed bagel sandwiches we offer at the caffe. He came back with a HUGE tomato!

huge tomato
It's almost as big as my hand!

I had seen big tomatoes, but this one was probably the biggest one yet. I asked him why he picked the giant tomato. He said the giant tomato would be more convenient for me to use than many smaller ones put together. Hmm...

Thank goodness this big tomato is flavorful and has good texture, and I must say John was right after all. I've been using this tomato for a couple of days now and there's still quite a bit left because I only need one slice for each sandwich!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

green papaya

Joanne, Sharon, and I went to lunch at Pho Green Papaya out in West Valley yesterday. It was beautifully decorated and I really liked the plates and glasses they use.

green papaya
I love the red doors!

All 3 of us got their lunch special (7.95). It came with a Vietnamese shrimp rolls and a mini bowl of Pho for appetizer, and we got to choose 2 entrees each.

spring rolls
I really liked the peanut dipping sauce that came with the spring rolls.

mini pho
The soup in the mini pho (I can pick up all the noodles all at once with my chopsticks.) was delicious!

lunch set
I chose Red curry with chicken and grilled pork slices. They were both yummy, and I loved the bento box!

I also got a Thai Iced Tea (2.50)... it was good, but the photo didn't' come out on my camera. I think there's a glitch on the disk.

The interior and deco were very Asian yet modern and cool. I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. The only thing I was a bit confused about was whether it's more of a Vietnamese restaurant or a Thai one... but with its full name being "Pho Green Papaya", I guess it was a Vietnamese restaurant.

green papaya
I love their interior. Hey the table was not wiped clean.

Anyhow, it's a lovely place and I'm going to take John there and try some of their regular entrees some time.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Coffee in E Flat!

Some of you already knew that Peter Rosen from KUTV came and interviewed us about the Competition. Here's the story:

No, John and I did not win, but we did learn about the La Marzocco GB5 and the effect of the altitude on the beans. We'll be at the next year's competition for sure!

Congratulations to our champion Jon Lewis! He totally deserved it!

And now if only I could look a bit thinner on the video...