22 January 2014

à la taïwanaise

Hellllo! Today I am sharing a few little photos of my forays into Taiwanese/Asian cooking. To be completely honest, it is always a bit of a risk when I try to cook Asian food. I often have no reference point for what things are supposed to taste like, which I am finding, is less than ideal. In addition, my knowledge of Asian ingredients is comprised of...soy sauce. I should let you know, however, that I can hold my chopsticks like nobody's business. I didn't say pick up food, mind you, just hold. Gotta start somewhere my friends.

Anyways, somewhere in the midst of my little cooking escapades,  I began to notice a suspicious little trio that seem to crop up in many a Taiwanese recipe. The select players in this group were sesame oil, oyster sauce and my beloved little soy sauce. I began to see that they were often at the base of many sauces and marinades. I do believe that this has been the discovery of my year. Mix these three bandits together and you can lift any lonesome chicken cutlet, any longing noodle, any moping morsel of beef to new heights. With some fresh herbs and a pair of pretty plates, you have got yourself one classy feast.

Not the best photo, but so yummy and simple!

Also, one of the loveliest things about lusciously marinaded chicken or beef is that the leftovers can be used in a variety of ways! An eclectic salad perhaps? Actually, that's one of my favorite ways to make salad; just add a small amount of last night's ingredients to create an exciting and healthy meal.

Oh and also, I should confess one thing before closing. I have developed a slight addiction. The cause of this obsession? D-U-M-P-L-I-N-G-S. Yes, OH yes. Dumplings may be, in fact, some of the best savory little mouthfuls on the planet. They can contain a multitude of things, but my favorite are pork and vegetable dumplings. Uhm, YAH, really good. The thing you need to know, my friend, is that you can buy them. Yes, it's true! My dumplings of choice are a type of pre-made, frozen dumplings. I can hear the cries of protest, but I promise that you can find delicious frozen dumplings. You just have to commence the search. Mon ami, you will not regret the decision. This particular afternoon, I made a silky carrot soup and paired it with the pork and veggie dumplings. Et voila, Bon appétit!

Try something creative in your kitchen this week so that you stay interested in your cooking!
Bonne semaine à tous!

13 January 2014

Some Wintertime Moments

Hello my friends! Here are some belated winter snaps. A few things that I have come to learn this fall and winter season:

          -Winter is beautiful if you choose to try to enjoy it. I've been loving the tangled tree branches that surround me. Some brown, some solidified in crystal looking ice, some topped with just a little snow. I think we might miss some truly splendid natural beauty if we only look forward to the spring.

           -Taking the time to grab a little dinner with your special someone is really so nice! We've been hitting up little sushi joints and pizza places just to get out and about! Whilst en route to your restaurant, take the time to prance around in the snow if you have some! I feel that this should be a requirement for all winter walk-abouts. 

           -Scrabble. I am pretty good. Just sayin.

           -I had tons of fun making Challah! I used this recipe. Whilst making my little (but BIG) bread, I kept singing, "I ain't no CHALLAH back guuuuuurrrrrrl!" I was quite tickled. 

          -Lester and I had a truly magical little Christmas. I loved being able to celebrate with both sides of the family. Our time in New Jersey and New York was sososo lovely and it felt like a prefect New York Christmas.

          -Lastly, I sung in front of people recently! And I have awful stage fright! I had been praying about this, which I realize sounds like NBD, but it was for me, in fact, ABD. Lord, thank you for giving me courage in the little things and the big things! God is good. 


08 January 2014

The Best Kind of Sweetness

Ladies and gentlemen, today is a beautiful day. Sunny, snowy, bone-chillingly cold, but actually quite a beautiful day. I started it off with some Cream of Earl Grey tea and things have only been improving. Oddly, enough, not too much about my current situation (joblessness) (serial chocolate chip eater) has changed, but I guess my perspective continues to take on new dimensions. What are these so-called dimensions, you ask?

Well, a broadened and renewed confidence in my God, for one. Lester and I have been reading through the Psalms lately, and my oh my, how poignant those words are! It is believed that King David penned many of the Psalms himself, which is interesting to me. This is mostly because David did not have an easy life. His time here on God's green(ish) earth included episodes of people slandering him, people extremely intent on killing him, enemies trying to harm his family, betrayal by close friends, betrayal by his own son, the devastation caused by his own failures, the loss of a very close friend and confidant during a time of hardship, and the deaths of some of his children. Yet, what David writes during these trials is different from what you might expect. He most definitely writes of his anguish, desperation, and confusion-but he also follows these lines with verses praising his Lord and Creator, verses of love and thanksgiving. David knew the reality of living down here and all its included problems, but he also knew the reality of his God. 

In reading through more of the Old Testament, I eventually realized somewhere between Goliath's tumbling to the ground and David's joyful dancing as the ark was carried back into Jerusalem, that I cannot do better than God. No one can do better than God. He knows all, created all, sustains all, and ultimately controls all. (I realize those are loaded statements but...will I choose not to trust Him because I do not fully understand Him?) I can be hopeful and even happy(!) in my current circumstances because I am loved by a God who has a plan for me and who has all things under control. Like David I can find security and confidence in Him, if I will choose to believe that He will be faithful and good to me. 

Read this verse, chèr ami, and store it in away in your little heart and zany brain:

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" 
Psalm 34:8

Well, I have just discovered a smushed piece of chocolate chip in my bible on the first page of the Psalms. But I have also decided that this is quite fitting because, really, God's words are the best kind of sweetness to my soul. I hope you too will seek Him in whatever kind of pickle, debacle, state of chocolate addiction and/or other serious problem you may be dealing with right now.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!
xoxo Coco

06 January 2014

A Candlelit Christmas

Bonjour, mes amis, I am writing to you now from little coffee shop in Windsor! The snow is laying in a wonderful fluffy layer on the ground and the wind is blowing around in a bit of a dramatic manner. Whilst I sip my hot drink (which is, interestingly, called The Great Canadian and has left me wondering whether am I catching a faint whiff of Canadian patriotism)(?!?!), I am smiling. My favorite person is with me, there is caramel syrup on my latte, and I can feel the soft fur of my parka around my neck. That, my friends, is how I am surviving in the current -3F weather.

Anyways, I just came back from a beautiful, lovely, and white Christmas holiday!! I got to spend time in both Canada and the U.S. this year and it made me quite merry and bright, as the song goes. It was my first Christmas as a married madame and I will never forget it :) Toronto was lovely for the first few days, especially because a steadily growing baby nephew was around and making his presence known and heard. Judging from his pitch, I do believe he was often annoyed, but he was so cute and just a wee bit chubby that we couldn't help but fawn over him. Deliciousness embodied!

As I slipped out of bed on Sunday morning though, I noticed a definite bite in the bedroom air, the rug felt a few strokes colder when it met my feet.  I reached for the lights and hit the switch but to no avail. Mais non! I thought, no power! And more importantly, no heat! This little situation continued for another 8 DAYS and included Jesus' birthday, the very 25th of December! We began setting up candles around the house that day, turning on the fireplaces, and bundling in knitted layers. An old-fashioned Christmastime it would be.

The days that followed were spent out with family members and at one apartment that did have electricity. This was my husband's grandparent's apartment.  Twenty-one family members crammed into their little home space on Christmas Eve and a full Christmas dinner was prepared in their little kitchen. Presents were given and received right in their tiny living room and pictures taken in front, beside and around them as they sat and watched their growing family. They were surrounded by their own children, grandchildren, new spouses and fiancés, and even the newly arrived great-grandchild!I think there might have been no better way to celebrate Christ's birth. I also believe it might have been one of the elderly couple's sweetest Christmases.

I had a completely different, but amazing Christmas in New Jersey as well! That will be another post, though. Have a lovely week, be grateful for the blessings, no matter how simple, God has given you :)