Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Precious Life

A friend, Karen B., from my church was diagnosed with brain cancer. A biopsy was performed yesterday and it came out malignant. The pastor sent a mass email describing that four tumors were found in her brain and the family is still deciding if they are going to push for treatment or not. Upon the Pastor's visit yesterday, Karen was sat up in her hospital bed, her head all wrapped up, while having a big smile across her face. What a wonderful, positive, person she is. I on the other hand, am terrified to even visit her. I don't know what to say in such situations and I'm afraid that I'll just burst into tears like I did this morning while I read Pastor's email in the privacy of my own office. It just dawned on me that I can't handle it - that Karen is handling it better than I am. I just cried, and cried, and cried and prayed like crazy for a miracle while thinking about her three daughters who are my age.

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

#12 - Lentil Sloppy Joes

Challenge 12: Cook 100 New Recipe Dishes
Recipe: Lentil Sloppy Joes
(Recipe: 5/100)

{ 08.29.2010 - Eleanor's Kitchen - Lentil Sloppy Joes }
{ Recipe from Vegan Dad
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups water (more if needed)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- Tabasco sauce to taste

1. Heat oil in a frying pan over med-hi heat. Saute onion, celery, green pepper, and oregano for 5-7 mins, until onion is translucent and pepper has softened.
2. Add lentils and mix well. Add ketchup, 1 1/2 cups water, vinegar, Worcestershire (if using), sugar, salt and pepper, and Tabasco.
3. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, and cover. Cook for about 30 mins, stirring regularly, adding more water if needed until lentils are cooked but still hold their shape.
4. Serve on toasted rolls, open-faced if you want. 
I love Vegan Dad's website. So many good food to try, and they're all VEGAN!!! I used to be vegan before I met my husband. He didn't particularly like my nutrition choice, but he dealt with it. Somehow we came to the middle and became vegetarians... and then five years later, we started to eat meat. lol. Pretty funny.Still though, I prefer vegetarian dishes over meat dishes.

Nonetheless, the recipe above is pretty decent - kid friendly. I couldn't find the Red Lentil Beans at the grocery store so I used regular ones.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

#68 - China

Challenge 68: Send/Receive 101 postcards via PostCrossing.com
Received: 7/101
Sent: 8/101

Got a postcard from China this time. Pretty regular ikea postcard, but it's an international ikea postcard, which I appreciated along with the gorgeous stamps. So, I took HeYunyan's advice and checked out theChinese Singer named, QiYu. Below is a song she sings in Chinese. It sounds more like a Chinese folk song (1970's) - but it's very catchy and soothing. After listening to it 5 times, it grew on me. It's opening me up to the world's cultures and I absolutely love it.

QiYu's live performance is better than the video below. It's a song used in a Taiwanese Movie, Your Smiling Face. The song is titled, The Olive Tree. The song's translation is below:

The Olive Tree

The birds flying in the sky.
The stream running through the valley.
And the vast grassland.
I've wandered far and wide,
Mostly in search of the olive tree in my dream.
Don't ask where I am from,
My home is in a faraway place.
In search of what have I been wandering afar?
The olive tree in my dreams.
Don't ask me where I am from,
My home is in a faraway place.
In search of what have I been wandering afar?

According to the writeup in youtube:
This song is one of the most famous "Taiwanese College Songs" in China. It is so classical that one will not feel tired of it even after listening to it a couple of times. This song was written in 1979. The lyricist, the composer and the singer quickly became well-known after this song was released in the Taiwanese film "Your Smiling Face" (欢颜, HUAN YAN). See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2B9aZ...

2008 is the 30th anniversary of China's "Reform and Opening-up". The life of the Chinese people changed dramatically during this historic period. I still remembered that when I was 5 years old, a white man visited my hometown. The local people never saw a white man before. So he was followed by hundreds of curious children and even adults. Now, I have lived in and traveled to many countries such as the U.S., Canada, Japan, France, Monaco etc. It is just like a dream. At least I dared not have such dream when I was 5. The 2009 CCTV New Year Gala presented many old songs, a reminiscence of the past 30 years.

30 Years of Reform and Opening-up
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Friday, August 27, 2010

#12 - Pesto Cavatappi With Tofu

Challenge 12: Cook 100 New Recipe Dishes
Recipe: Pesto Cavatappi With Tofu
(Recipe: 4/100)

{ 08.27.2010 - Eleanor's Kitchen - Pesto Cavatappi With Tofu}
{ Replica of Noodles & Company's Pesto
Cavatappi }

Ingredients: (I didn't measure, just estimated)
    Cavatappi Pasta
    Creamy Pesto Sauce Mix
    Olive Oil
    White Wine
    1/4 of Red Pepper, chopped
    1/4 of Green Pepper, chopped
    1/4 of Yellow Pepper, chopped
    1/4 of Orange Pepper, chopped
    Milk or Heavy Cream
    Firm Tofu
    Oil to saute tofu
  1. Drain the tofu and cut in square pieces. Sautee over medium heat, each side about 3 minutes or until golden. Set aside.
  2. Chop the tomatoes. Set aside. Over medium heat, saute the red, green, yellow, and orange pepper until half way cooked. Add a little bit of white wine to bring out the flavor. Set aside. (Roasted peppers would taste so much better)
  3. Boil the Cavatappi.
  4. Put together the Creamy Pesto Sauce Mix. Follow directions on the packet. Once simmered, add the sauteed peppers, chopped tomatoes, and the cooked cavatappi. Mix well. 
  5. Place dish on a plate and then add the tofu on top.
It's a fairly simple dish to do and it doesn't take too long. The taste is different compared to Noodles &  Company's, but I'm surprised how good it still tastes. Noodles & Company's secret recipe tastes roasted and grilled, mine doesn't. Dre really liked it, so I'm happy. I feel safe to share and bring it to tomorrow's church outing.

But anyway, below is a video of Noodles & Co's Executive Chef, Ross Kamens, cooking the Pesto Cavatappi. It looks easy to put it together, but he doesn't exactly show how he makes his tofu or what exactly is in his pesto mix.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

#5 - The Niña & The Pinta

Challenge 5: Complete a 365 day photo challenge
Picture 46 - The Niña & The Pinta
(Pic 46/365)

The Nina & The Pinta replicas were docked by the Mississippi River today. They're in town for a couple of weeks. When I studied the history of Christopher Columbus's journey when I was in 5th grade, I imaged these ships to be bigger, but in reality they're really tiny. The tour guide said that each ship contained at least 20 people each while traveling the vast Atlantic Ocean. It's crazy, considering how cramped it feels on board the ship. We weren't allowed to go in the lower deck, but we could peek down and it seemed like there was limited space to maneuver. I have no idea how they did it back then, but then again, people seemed to be smaller in size before. We had a great time nonetheless.

 Above is a postcard I bought
 for someone in postcrossing.com

The photo above is from the Columbus Foundation.
The Niña & The Pinta
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

#12 - Corn Fritters

Challenge 12: Cook 100 New Recipe Dishes
Recipe: Corn Fritters
(Recipe: 3/100)

{ 08.25.2010 - Eleanor's Kitchen - Corn Fritters }
{ From: The Best Ever 30-Minute Cookbook p. 331}

Makes 12

    3 corn cobs, total weight about 250g/9oz (I used 9oz frozen corn)
    1 garlic clove, crushed
    a small bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
    1 small fresh red or green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
    1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
    15ml/1 tbsp soy sauce
    75g/30z/0.75 cup rice flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    60 ml/4 tbsp water
    oil for shallow-frying
    salt and ground black pepper
    sweet chilli sauce, to serve

  1. Using a sharp knife, slice the kernels from the cobs using downward strokes. Rinse to remove any clinging debris from the cob and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the garlic, chopped coriander, red or green chilli, spring onion, soy sauce, flour, beaten eggs and water to the corn and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix again. The mixture should be firm enough to hold its shape, but not stiff. 
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add spoonfuls of the corn mixture, gently spreading each one out with the back of the spoon to make a roundish fritter. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.
  4. Drain the first batch of fritters on kitchen paper and keep hot on a foil covered dish while frying more in the same way. Serve the fritters hot with sweet chilli sauce - arrange on a large plate around the sauce, if you like.

It's amazing that I had time to cook. I'm getting used to my busy schedule that I've finally mastered how to go on with my week and still have time for a little cooking and grocery shopping. Nonetheless, the recipe above was absolutely delish. Dre couldn't get enough of it. I'm pretty pleased. Satisfying his taste buds make me happy. For the sweet chili sauce, I used Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce that can be bought pretty much anywhere or in oriental stores. But yes, I will cook this recipe again. I loved it.

So anyway, below are some pictures from the going away ice cream party (for some friends) at Auntie Mila's house. The containers used are a special kind of bento box set - a Japanese food container. They're so cute. One day I hope to own my own set.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Loveless Marriage

Right now I cant think of anything worse, to live in a loveless marriage. Yesterday I found out that a couple I know, who just got married a little over a year ago, are out of love with each other. Maybe they weren't in love with each other to begin with? Maybe they were trying to fill the void of loneliness which got mistaken for love? Everyday seems mundane and awkward to them and my heart reaches out.

Anyway, I'm glad that Dre and I are still in love with each other. Yesterday, we woke up early to clean the house. We decided to thoroughly clean the refrigerator and it was pretty insane. It's amazing that after throwing out everything that's expired the fridge gets emptied - then you realize that there's absolutely no food. Nonetheless, we took out all the shelves on the door and inside the refrigerator and then washed them in the sink. Then we wiped everything down with an organic cleaning spray. It's pretty spotless right now and we've organized it to keep it more clean. We now have a separate container just for vegetables apart from the pull out drawers at the bottom. Those pull out drawers are now filled with water bottles (we're on the go a lot). Everything is in containers and it's such a wonderful sight to look at. But Dre is just amazing with helping me clean the house. It's one of the things that tells how much he loves me. I'm very lucky.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

#68 - Lithuania, Ukraine, Nova Scotia

Challenge 68: Send/Receive 101 postcards via PostCrossing.com
Received: 6/101
Sent: 8/101

The mail came early today. It turns out that Dre looks forward to getting my postcards as well. Usually, he's the one who reads it silently in front of me, then, "Hey, you got two post cards!" It's kind of cute that he's doing that. lol.

Anyway, the first post card from Lithuania arrived last week, but I couldn't scan it because the computer hooked up to the scanner got busted. It was just the video card - it's all fixed now.


I adore the Ukraine and Nova Scotia postcards. Just beautiful. I love Olga's handwriting on the Ukrainian postcard. It's so European. I remember having a few pen pals from Slovenia back in middle school - and they all have the same charming handwriting.

UPDATE: on yesterday's blog (Calm Nervousness)
Just as I suspected, there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Didn't get butchered with questions. I'm not exactly sure why, because the others who presented did. :-/ Just glad that it went well.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Calm Nervousness...

I absolutely hate feeling nervous. The horrible thing about it is that once it's all said and done, the anticipation from it all would be pointless - because whatever it is is always not as bad as it seems.

I'm giving a presentation in an hour. The presentation itself is not bad, but the end with the Q & A is something I dread with passion. There's always that one a-hole who'll try to sabotage everything because he is a know it all. Back in college, it was a girl a-hole. Didn't know what in the world I did for her to put me on the spot but I confronted her - she said nothing - then left me alone. I just don't want to go through that again.

Nonetheless, photography has taken a step back and I'm not happy about it - hopefully I'll be able to go out, forget about the tragic "formatted SD card" incident and get on with it.

Good news: in less than a month, we're going on VACATION!!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!!
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unfortunate Circumstance

My weekend + Monday was a chain of what seemed to be unfortunate circumstances.

Was showing someone how to change configurations in their Nikon (using mine) and I accidentally left my D90 at JPEG format and then took pictures. Photos should have been taken in RAW format when using professional cameras. To make matters worse, a 4 day supply of "Photo of the Day" for my, 365 Photo Day Challenge, had been accidentally deleted by yours truly. Yup... accidentally deleted formatted the SD card. SUX SUX SUX!!!! 100+ photos at unfortunately sad JPEG format GONE GONE GONE!!! Sux.

Here's the new thing then, since this happened, the challenge would have to be at least 365 days (doesn't have to be consecutive) for photos. I'm so disappointed and heartbroken with myself because I loved those pictures. *sigh* But having it in JPEG lightens the disappointment -- but still.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

#68 - Thailand

Challenge 68: Send/Receive 101 postcards via PostCrossing.com
Received: 3/101
Sent: 8/101

Was going through the pile of mail from our mail container in the foyer and found this postcard at the bottom. This postcard probably got mixed in with the junk mail and the like. I'm just glad I found it. The place is awesome so I decided to google it: http://www.1stopkrabi.com/ -- absolutely stunning. Jinnarat was right, I definitely want to visit Thailand (Phi Phi Islands, Krabi) someday.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

#5 - Cinema Matte Box

Challenge 5: Complete a 365 day photo challenge
Picture 45 - Cinema Matte Box
(Pic 45/365)

We rented a Cinema Matte Box for the business to check out if it's something we want to invest in. Basically, it helps stabilize the camera for video shoots as well as allows for the use of filters, base for microphones, monitors, and prevents glare from lights. I haven't tried it because the thing intimidates me. I'm learning photography right now, eventually cinematography will follow. Dre loves this thing though.

On another note, here are some irrelevant pictures:

{ Jean-the-Cat & Colette playing }

{ New flower that bloomed this week : front yard entry way }
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Ahh... End of Summer

My favorite, EVER, fashion season is the FALL season. Coincidently, it's also my favorite season. It reminds me of the good old days when fashion was my life. Recently, I've been focused so much on my career that fashion has taken a seat in the back. Who has time for shopping?

Nonetheless, on my lunch break last week I decided to hit Talbots at the mall and there was an unexpected splurge. Hey, I was due for it and the experience was absolutely DIVINE!!!!

I browsed the Talbots website today and lusted over some classic pieces that hopefully, one day, will make it to my wardrobe:

It's funny that my preference evolved from glam to classic sophisticated simple.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#12 - Crumbled Chicken & Baked Courgettes with Cheddar

Challenge 12: Cook 100 New Recipe Dishes
Recipe: Crumbled Chicken & Baked Courgettes with Cheddar
(Recipe 2/100)

Challenge 5: Complete a 365 day photo challenge
Picture 44 - Crumbled Chicken & Baked Courgettes with Cheddar
(Pic 44/365)

{ Lunner: Crumbled Chicken, Baked Courgettes with Cheddar, and Rice }

All right, most of the dishes were being washed in the dishwasher so I used the "college" plates for the first and second dishes. I must really invest on versatile white plates to take pictures of food. White is just a classic coloure for dish ware and it looks fabulous in photos. 

A month ago this book was on sale at Borders Bookstore for $7.99 so I had to get it. A girl can never have enough cook books. Nonetheless, I don't have time to hover over the stove cooking the day away (I cooked everything in 1 hour flat, including preparation) - so this one was perfect for me. Also, the ingredients are completely simple and can be easily found in the grocery store. Anyway, the recipe of what I cooked are below. I altered mine since I rarely follow preparation directions. 

  CRUMBLED CHICKEN - serves 4 (p. 211)

    4 skinless chicken breast fillets
         each weighing about 200g/7oz
    juice of 1 lemon
    5ml/1 tsp paprika
    plain (all-purpose flour, for dusting)
    1-2 eggs
    dried breadcrumbs, for coating
    about 60ml/4 tbsp olive oil
    salt and ground black pepper
    lemon wedges (optional), to serve
  1. Skin the chicken fillets. Lay them outside down and, with a sharp knife, cut horizontally, almost through, from the rounded side. Open them up like a book. Press gently, to make a roundish shape the size of a side plate. Sprinkle with lemon juice and paprika.
  2. Set out three shallow bowls. Sprinkle four over one, seasoning it well. Beat the egg with a little salt and pour into the second. Sprinkle the third with dried breadcrumbs. Dip the fillets first into the flour on both sides, then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs to coat them evenly.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a high heat. Fry the breast portions two at a time, turning after 3 minutes, until golden on both sides. Add more oil from the second batch if needed. Serve immediately.


    4 courgettes (zucchini)
    30 ml/2 tbsp grated farmhouse Cheddar
         cheese (i used colby jack cheese)
    about 25/1 oz/2 tbsp butter
    salt and ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Slice the courgettes in half, lengthwise. Butter a shallow baking dish and arrange the courgettes, cut side up, inside the dish.
  2. Sprinkle the cheese over the courgettes, and sprinkle over a few knobs (pats) of butter.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the courgettes are tender and the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Serve immediately.  
low are pictures of other things I cooked today:
{ Cabbage Soup with Potatoes & black pepper }

{ French Onion Potatoes with Zucchini }
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