Today, I share a family recipe with you!

Whew! I worked up a sweat last night. I’m not normally an active person. The most active part of my day involves walking up (climbing up) the LONG and PAINFUL DC metro escalators. Other than that, I lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Last night, however, I decided to pop in a Tracy Anderson Precision Toning DVD. A classmate of Charkie (shout out to Rarkie!) introduced me to Tracy’s method. I’ll try to make a separate post about that journey. After the sweat, I decided to reward myself with a little homestyle treat. It was also a good way to free up some space in my crowded refrigerator.

6) Bon Appetit!

Lotus Root Pork Patties

Growing up, lotus roots were a staple part of my diet. I never really though about what the circular slices with weird holes came from. Most people have probably seen lotus leaves/flower float above water. Who knew we could eat the roots planted underneath the water or soil? I call that cray. There are many medicinal benefits to this plant according to Chinese medicine. It is common to see people mix hot water with lotus root powder to create a sort of concoction that is supposed to be good for the body (high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin just to name a few and quite low in saturated fat). I also love pastries that are made with lotus seed paste (such as in mooncakes or wife cakes, etc). This dish here (the one that I made last night), involves slicing the lotus root into thin patty-style slices and filling it with a sort of dumpling or wonton or meat bun filling and then coating it with cornstarch and flour to prepare for deep frying. It is great as an appetizer or on the go snack! The lotus root comes out crispy while the savory pork filling gives a juicy, tender to complement.

Ingredients List

  • Lotus Root
  • Ground Pork (or minced pork loin)
  • Green Onions
  • Chives (optional, you can just stick to green onions)
  • Minced Garlic
  • Minced Ginger
  • Egg
  • Cornstarch
  • Flour
  • Soy Sauce
  • Black vinegar
  • Sesame Oil
  • Chinese Cooking Wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper Powder (optional)
1) Create your pork (or veggie) filling!

1) Create your pork (or veggie) filling!

For the pork filling, I combined minced pork (you can use ground pork, or ground whatever other meat you’d like – I wouldn’t suggest using ground beef though), chopped chives, minced ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, black vinegar, chinese cooking wine, salt, white pepper powder, red pepper powder, and cornstarch in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.

2) Slice the lotus roots

2) Slice the lotus roots

To create the lotus root “patty buns,” you should begin slicing the lotus root, as if you were creating a thin slice. However, stop just as you feel that you are about to completely cut off a slice. Move to what would be the beginning point of you second slice and complete the slice. This way, you have two thin slices that are attached to each other at one end.

4) Flour, Cornstarch, Egg, Water

4) Flour, Cornstarch, Egg, Water

Create the batter for frying! Mix flour, cornstarch, an egg and water! You want a thick consistency for this. Think pancake batter!

3) Fill lotus roots with tasty pork!

3) Fill lotus roots with tasty pork!

This part is fun! Fill each patty with the pork filling! 🙂

5) Fry, Fry, Fry!

5) Fry, Fry, Fry!

Fry the patties! For a healthier version, you could probably stick these in the oven. Let cool on a rack/use a paper towel to blot away some of that oil. Bon Appetit!

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Today, I am hoping for a healthier heart…

I mentioned in my previous post that “prevention is where it’s at.” In trying to get that beautiful mind, let’s work on having a healthy heart! So this morning, I made sure to make some oatmeal (I opted for quick oats since ain’t nobody got time for dat actually cooking oats) that is healthy.

How are you trying to stay healthy today? 

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Okay, maybe that’s a little more than a dash of cinnamon. Teehee.

Healthy Oatmeal – Healthy Heart
Ingredients

Oatmeal (stovetop or microwave)

  • 3/4 cups quick oats
  • 1-1.5 cup of water/milk

Toppings –

  • 1 saturn peach (also known as donut peaches) –
         **use any other fruit of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (optional)
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of sliced almonds
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Today, I strive towards a more beautiful mind…

Tous Les Jours, Centreville location

Tous Les Jours, Centreville location

Nomnomnom! Look at those yummy pastries! I had planned for a low-key weekend, however, I ended up accomplishing quite a list of activities that were never originally on my to-do list. These include enjoying churros from a Tex-mex establishment, being introduced to psychedelic rock (with eastern influences) by a local band called Iritis, renting my very first Zipcar, relaxing at Spa World, enjoying a Green Tea Smoothie and some pastries from Tous Les Jours bakery, feasting on about half a dozen of crabs, buying and cooking food of my motherland, and studying for a math exam I have later tonight.

I’m sad that the weekend has ended, but I suppose there are more weekends yet to come! As I am still in that in-between period of not knowing what my next steps will be, I have decided to create a TO-DO LIST, as this will probably be one of those few brief periods of time until I retire that I have time/space/energy to do what I want to do. My #nofilter list (rough draft) –

  • Job search – when I haven’t got a family to think about, maybe this is the best time for me to pack up my bags and move cross country or cross country borders!
  • Learn a computer programming language (any suggestions?)
  • Create my own website (teehee, this is something in the workings, you shall see soon)
  • Work on my novel / create a small small book of short stories (Coming soon, as in maybe a decade)
  • Find an activity that will help my heart health – Daily, I’m seeing patients come in with an extensive list of medical conditions… prevention is what it’s all about now. Hiking? Dancing?
  • Smile more. Laugh more. Don’t let negative thoughts come in as much.
  • Have a more beautiful mind.

What’s on your to-do list?

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Today, I lean in…. (#leanin)

It has been sooooooooo long! What have I been up to? Catching up on House of Cards, of course! Did ANYONE watch episode 1 of Season 2?!?!??! Let me just say. Wow. What else has been happening? I suppose just work, bonding with my friends that I have made over the previous 1.5+ years of living in the metropolitan area of the capital of USA, continuing to keep in touch with the lovely -arkies (what would I ever do without them?). Oh yeah, and I’ve enrolled myself into a linear algebra course at the community college near me.

IT FEELS SO GOOD TO BE BACK IN A CLASS… with my textbook, my notebooks, writing utensils, backpack, and my brain. Hahaha, the things you thought you’d never miss like homework, quizzes, exams, annoying classmates (just kidding). It has made two of my otherwise Netflix/Breadcrumbs-in-bed-on-pj’s-weeknights a little more eventful. My experience over the past 3 or 4 weeks has reminded me of Sheryl Sandberg‘s Lean In (check out Charkie‘s Booktalk #3).

I remember sitting through a couple of classes with a classmate next to me continuously commenting how how to solve the example problems that the professor was going through. In my mind, I was pretty sure that he was wrong, but was unsure about how much “pretty” that entailed. I found that more than a couple of times, I just shrugged and said maybe or “ummm… I’m not sure.” I also found that if I did solve something with MATLAB or in my line-filled notebook paper, he’d be quick to jump to the conclusion that I was wrong. I also also found than more often than not (let’s say 99.99999% of the times), he was wrong and I was actually right.

I came back and discussed this with my friends and had that deja vu sensation. No wonder! I’d read about similar tales in Sandberg’s book! I’m fully capable of learning the material taught in class, however, why was I lacking the confidence that my classmate of mine had so readily stored in him? Interesting – I have indeed been holding myself back

Last night, my professor made a mistake on the board. I scanned through his calculations again to check again. I found myself starting to address this quietly to the classmate next to me. However, I realized that I’d never #leanin fully, so instead of leaning in towards my classmate, I leaned towards the front of the classroom and spoke with as much confidence I could muster. I was indeed right. My professor thanked me politely.

I know this is a small small event that does not directly address larger gender gap issues…So what if he got the sign wrong? However, for us to fully achieve our full potential, we’ve got to dig deeper into those inner layers of the onion. I realized that I had been holding myself back. Have you ever had such a moment? What are you #leanin thoughts? Let’s, as Sandberg calls for us to do, change the conversation from what women can’t do to what we can do. 🙂

And now I #leanin to my spicy buffalo chicken sandwich....

And now I #leanin to my spicy buffalo chicken sandwich at work….

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Today, I still feel at home in Vienna.

For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.
– Simon van Booy

Last weekend, Megan and I met for a semi-spontaneous trip to Vienna! It’s about a 3 hour train ride from BP, and a slightly longer plane ride from Madrid. She doesn’t have class on Fridays or Mondays, and school’s about to start for me again, so it worked out really well!
My memories of the city are tinged by nostalgia and the summer heat: ice cream every day, walks in the park, strangers who took to me, the girl traveling without her parents. I was prepared for the possibility that the city wouldn’t have the charm and luster that lives in my memory, especially in the winter and with the changes that more than a decade inevitably bring to a person and a place.

Stefansdom then ...

Stefansdom then …

... and now.

… and now.

Anna and I arrived on Friday around noon, and took a subway straight to the hotel. One great thing about Vienna is that public transportation there is extremely accessible: every subway stop has an elevator, for example, which makes life there A LOT EASIER when trying to get around in a wheelchair.

Megan arrived shortly after, well-fed by the airline snacks on Air Italia 🙂 We walked around the city center, including a visit to Stefansdom and Peter’s Church. Afterwards, Megan and I saw more of the city by ourselves. We tried to go to one of the cafés that her father recommended, but all of those had a least a step precluding my entrance. Accessibility issues still abound! However, it worked out for the best because we stumbled across a delicious Italian restaurant called Ristorante Sole. The staff there was so considerate, even taking pity on our indecisiveness and portioning our two entrees so that we could each have half. For dessert, we split strawberries with creamy mascarpone.

Well-fed and ready to see the city by night!

Well-fed and ready to see the city by night!

That’s when the excitement really started, though, because as we walked around, we found ourselves on the outskirts of a riot protesting a ball in the Hofburg. Megan and I tend to gravitate towards home before the night owls even take flight. It so happened that the entrance to our hotel was RIGHT in the middle of a crowd of protestors. Fortunately, the policemen deemed us harmless and allowed us to pass through the barriers.

On Saturday, we took a subway to Schönbrunn, the Hapsburg’s summer residence, painted Maria Theresa’s favorite color, ochre yellow.

We toured 40 rooms on the first floor!

We toured 40 rooms on the first floor!

The palace itself is only half the fun of Schönbrunn; its vast grounds include a zoo (with pandas!), rose garden, and paths for meandering.  We walked to the top of a small hill to see this view:

I didn't realize we were so far up until we got there! It was worth the cold ascent.

I didn’t realize we were so far up until we got there! It was worth the cold ascent.

After warming up in our room, Megan and I ventured out again for dinner at Café Landtmann and explorations around the city hall. The city hall is a gorgeous building, reminiscent of the gothic style of Duke Chapel.IMG_0793

There were at least 3 ice skating rinks set up in front of the city hall, and people were out en masse to skate and enjoy mulled wine and hot food.

There were at least 3 ice skating rinks set up in front of the city hall, and people were out en masse to skate and enjoy mulled wine and hot food.

Temperatures were frigid at this point, so we called it an early night again and relaxed in our room.

On Sunday, we went to the Albertina to see the newly acquired collection of Impressionist, Expressionist, and Surrealist art, entitled “Monet to Picasso”.

This Chagall painting was one of my favorites

This Chagall painting was one of my favorites.

Per Anna’s request, we had to to have Wiener Schnitzel (when in Wien …), so that was our mission in the afternoon. That was when the snow started to fall! It was enough to be pretty without becoming an inconvenience like the Snowpocalypse and Polar Vortex of the East Coast.
In the evening, Megan and I went to visit Stephi, an old friend of mine, at her home. It was really nice to see her again and meet her family. I had not spoken to her in quite a while, though she sends me Advent calendars every December! Moreover, Megan and I had just become friends in middle school before I met Stephi, so it was sweetly bizarre to introduce these two people who have been in my life so long.

Stephi suggested we go to Sunday Swing at the Leopold Museum Café, so that was our next destination, since the night was still young, even for us. At this point, there was an inch layer of snow coating the streets, making for a charming winter wonderland as we trudged out. The Sunday Swing was in full … swing… when we got there. I felt transported to the ’20s! The only downside was the thick smoke hanging in the air from all the cigarettes, but perhaps that contributed to the authenticity of the experience.

Monday was our last morning, so we went to see Karl’s church and a peak of Belvedere, but it was too cold and snowy, so we ended up getting hot chocolate and coffee in a bakery underground. 🙂 Warmth and a friend – not a bad way to end the trip, after all.

from a temporary exhibit by the Austrian artist Sonja Gangl. Adieu, Vienna! Auf Wiedersehen!

from a temporary exhibit by the Austrian artist Sonja Gangl at the Albertina. Adieu, Vienna! Auf Wiedersehen!

Vienna wasn’t quite as I remembered it, but that ended up being okay. After all, I’ve changed a lot, too. Time has worn down parts of us, circumstances have enriched us, but we are still recognizable.

Today, I make my own version of Salad Niçoise …

I watched Amélie for the first time the other night. While food did not take a directly role in the plot of the film, food did find itself into many of the scenes in the film. I thoroughly enjoyed the film – but it left me hungry… hungry for French food!

Image via blogspot.com

I decided to ask the -arkies for suggestions of French food and tonight I finally began the process. Tonight’s menu involved just one dish.

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Salad Niçoise – There apparently is debate as to what the true salad is. Some say that the true salad does not include green beans and potatoes (both of which appear in my version… woops). I also seared my tuna to more than just a medium rare as I was afraid my tuna steak wasn’t fresh enough. But anyways, here it is. Have you made this dish? What is your  advice/tip/secret for this salad?

Vinegrette – Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire Sauce/Balsamic Vinegar (uh… I didn’t have red wine vinegar in my pantry so I just made something up), Minced Parsley, Dijon Mustard, Garlic, Salt, Pepper

Salad – Fingerling potatoes, Green Beans, Boiled Eggs, Tomatoes

Tuna  – Olive oil, chives, tarragon, Salt, Pepper
Grill each side for ~2 minutes or so.

Combine everything!
Enjoy!

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Today, I bring you Green Juice and Meatballs!

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day to enter our giveaway (beauty box valued at $140)! One winner will be chosen tomorrow… good luck! 🙂 It was great to go home and spend some quality time with mera baba (Chindi? hehe). The state of Kentucky just gets lovelier and lovelier each additional time I go back. Distance makes the heart grow fonder? Blue skies, soft cotton clouds, bluegrass in the wind… sigh. And again, fall is the prettiest season. The juicer that I got for my parents as a present (for their anniversary? Maybe? It’s a year late lols) came and so we put it to use right away. I still remember my BluePrint juice cleanse (scroll to the bottom of the link provided to see a list of their juices). We decided to make a slightly different version of the green juice.

Thank goodness for the groupon deal… because we were able to snatch the Cuisinart Juice Extractor. It’s got five different speeds and was easy enough to use and clean. It is surprisingly quiet!

Ingredients

1   lime (peeled)
1   cucumber
4   (leaves of) kale
2   medium apples
1   carrot

The order that I put the veggies/fruit into the juicer is as above. Since there are 5 speeds, I started at the lowest speed (softest fruit/veggie) and worked my way up. You can eyeball the amount of each ingredient that you want to add, but I will say that the cucumber/lime/apples are key for this juice. They are what helps to balance out the bitterness in the kale. So so so delicious. And much cheaper than the BluePrint juice that I bought! However, we were a bit sad to waste the pulp… If at some point you’ve had to experience hunger or not having enough to eat (this is, fortunately, not something I’ve been through), you’d be more aware of what happens to the food… and so mera baba was uncomfortable with just throwing all that out… so we thought and thought…

What to do with all this PULP?

We made spicy ground pork with basil noodle soup earlier that morning so we decided to use the leftover ground pork to make MEATBALLS! Teehee. It worked perfectly. Extra fibery. We added some cornstarch, an egg, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and some additional spices. The result was wonderful! The sweetness from the lime and apples and even from the cucumbers give the meatballs such a distinct flavor. 🙂

This was most certainly a success for us in the food department 🙂

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