Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Harvest Festival in 3 different cultures!!

Hello everyone!!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!
Last weekend, we celebrated the coming of fall by partaking in 3 different Harvest Festivals!  The Korean kind and the Chinese kind (although this isn't labeled as a harvest festival,,, it's a Mid-autumn festival!) were planned, as I grew up looking forward to 추석 every year in Korea, and David brought back some Mooncakes from his travels in Taiwan.  The 3rd one, the Dozynki, was a Polish Harvest festival that was completely random, completely unplanned, and a detour that we thoroughly enjoyed  =)

Even though the full moon festival was supposed to have happened on Thursday (I think...) we were both busy, so we pushed back the celebrations to Sunday when we could make a nice dinner together, and eat the moon cakes and some Songpyeon (Korean rice cakes with sweet goodness in the middle).  So early  (aha ha ha,,) Sunday morning, we set out to get some groceries at H Mart, just like any other Sunday.  On our way there, we noticed an advertisement for a Polish Harvest Festival on the highway, and I jokingly pointed it out and said, 'Ooh, look! we should go check it out!!'  to which David replied, 'Ok!'   bless his heart..  he's always so game to go along with my crazy ideas  haha   ;)   but I had a rehearsal later that day, so I figured we didn't have enough time to check it out.. I mean, who knew where it could be! Houston is so darn large that we could probably drive an hour and not be outside of the city..   but I decided to look it up anyway on my Iphone, (which took longer than expected because I'm still not used to IOS7..  -.-) and lo and behold!  The festival was happening a block away from H Mart!!!!

So obviously, we had to go check it out.  It was a perfect weather for it too!
Everything was so colorfully decorated, and the atmosphere was so festive!  =)  The first thing that greeted us as we entered was a row of different Polish gift shops!

I loved seeing all of the Polish traditional clothing too! So colorful!  Have you noticed that no matter what culture you look at, the traditional clothing all tend to be super colorful?  perchance it's time to bring those back into our daily lives  ;)  haha.  anyway, I may have done more staring than is considered polite, but people were just walking around in traditional garments, and having so much fun singing, eating, and mingling, and I just had such a blast taking it all in.

Then, of course, the most important part came:  the food!!  I had never tried Polish food before, though David seemed to know a couple of things from the menu..  so, in the spirit of trying everything, we ordered the Polish Plate which had 3 pierogi, 1 golabek (the cabbage roll with red sauce), kielbasa (sausage), bigos (hunter's stew), and lots of bread.  I'm not much of a sausage fan, but surprisingly, the kielbasa was my favorite!!

 Then, of course we had to try some desserts!  There were so many amazing looking desserts, but we asked for the 'most traditionally Polish' dessert, and were given Angel Wings!  It seemed like a thin strip of fried puff pastry with powdered sugar?  whatever it was, we enjoyed it!  =D

I'm so glad we decided to visit this festival in the most spur-of-the-moment, random kind of a way!  After all, these random detours of life are what makes living so interesting and exciting, no?  ;)

Later that night, after working and rehearsing and practicing, we got back together to make dinner and have some moon cakes!  The box of moon cakes David brought back were so beautifully packaged that I had a difficult time tearing through them, but what was inside was totally worth it!

It's a little pastry with red bean paste inside, and in the center there's an egg yolk!!  I was so surprised when I bit into it  haha   

he's such a goof  =p
and then, we finished the night with some Korean part of the Harvest Festival, the Songpyeon!  송편! I used to loooovveee these as a kid!   =D

Did any of you celebrate the coming of fall with cultural festivities?
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Musical and Nature in Downtown Houston :: The Book of Mormon and Tranquillity Park

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!!

David was in LA for a wedding for 23 hours (well, he spent 23 hours in LA, but of course, it was more like 2 days with traveling) so I logged some quality girl-bonding time with a few of my girlfriends both near and far!  I'm not the greatest at doing long distance of any sort, whether it's friendship or a romantic relationship, but one friend who has always been there--through growing up together to now going on 8 years of long distance friend-ing--is Linda!  (You can see a couple of posts of when she came out to visit me in Seattle here.)  so we did about 3 hours of Skyping one night, catching up and bonding over our shared terror of roaches...  aha ha.. ha...  eep.  unfortunately, we both live in areas at the moment where roaches roam freely, like they own the whole city!   Anyway, that aside, it was so nice to get to catch up, and I can't wait for our next Skype date!  =D 

Then, the next day, I spent the afternoon shopping with Lijia!  I know, such a girl thing to do.  But you know, sometimes retail therapy is necessary, especially when it includes thrifting!!  I have always found thrifting to be much more interesting than,, say, going to a mall. I mean, if I specifically need something on short notice, I will head to the mall, but when I'm just in the mood for retail therapy (when it's ok to just window shop and not get anything), then I much prefer thrifting..  perhaps because there's the sense of surprise? like a feeling of having found a treasure when you do get that amazing silk blouse or that amazing pair of leather boots because you weren't really going into the experience expecting to find something?  and of course, the usually lower price tag is an added plus  ;)

Anyway, having thoroughly enjoyed the girl time, I was happy to have David back on Sunday!  =p  It was pretty intense actually, because he had gotten the tickets to go see The Book of Mormon on Sunday at 2 pm back in March. Since the wedding was on Saturday, he had to fly back on a red-eye flight after the wedding on Saturday, and land in Houston around 6:30 am on Sunday, take a quick nap, and then go to the show!  poor guy..  lol but he handled it like a champ.  See? can't even tell he's sleep deprived in the photo!  haha  =p

and the show?  TOTALLY worth it!!
It was so good!!  the actors/singers/dancers were amazing, the music was incredibly catchy, and the story line was really funny. we highly recommend it.  However, if you are easily offended, this may not be the show for you..  I mean, it wasn't terribly raunchy or anything, and even I understood all of the jokes (I'm usually the one who has to ask 'wait, what's so funny..?' whenever a dirty jokes come up...  I pull out the Asian card for those instances, I didn't grow up here!  hmph  haha)

When we got to the theater, they had these binoculars in the front, and we got them just in case we would have difficulty seeing the stage from our seats (we had never been to the Hobby Center, so we weren't sure how everything would be set up)  and proceeded to play with them until the show started..  haha

However, the binoculars were completely unnecessary!  Because David got the tickets so early, our seats were amazing!!  We were on the second row of the balcony, right in the center!

Having thoroughly enjoyed our selves at the show, we headed back out into the Houston heat.  I hear all of my friends in other places starting to break out their fall outfits, beginning to enjoy the crisper weather, etc etc.  but in Houston, it's still 98 degrees.  People here seem to keep all indoor places at about 60 degrees though, so we have to dress like it's fall anyway when we go to these shows (or class.. Shepherd is always freezing too), and then suffer the consequences when you walk back to your car/home, etc  haha

On our way back to our parking garage, we stumbled upon this little park, right in front of the Hobby Center, called the Tranquillity Park.  Yes, it's actually spelled with two 'L's, and it's in honor of the first Moon landing!  you know, the first words transmitted from the Moon by Neil Armstrong was "Houston, Tranquillity Base here.  The Eagle has landed."  Since 'Houston' is in there and everything, the city of Houston had to have a park to commemorate the event  ;)

When we went, the fountain was dry (maybe they were cleaning) but we still had fun walking around the park and enjoying the greenery in the middle of the downtown.

While we were strolling around the park, we found this cluster of trees, so I went to see if I could be like Momo.  Momo is a border collie who is amazing at playing 'where's Waldo'. In my opinion, it's a much better version of 'where's Waldo' because Momo is soo darn cute!!  you can subscribe to Momo on Instagram here if you want a daily feed of puppy cuteness mixed with 'where's Waldo' ness.

Anyway, back to my attempt at being 'Waldo'. or is it 'Walda'? doesn't Waldo have a girlfriend of that name or something?  
hmmmm,,, as you can see, it didn't work very well.  something about those neon pink pants...   haha   
^^^ me admitting defeat and abandoning my attempt to be like Walda, or Momo...  

Oh, and look at that interesting temple looking building poking out in between all of the sky scrapers! =D  anyone know what it is?  We wanted to walk over there and check it out when we noticed it, but we didn't have enough time..  =/
We resumed walking around the park afterwards, and noticed these cylindrical pillars are everywhere!  Later, we learned that they are supposed to represent Apollo's rocket boosters!

It's a charming little park with a lot of trees (which seems to be a rarity in Houston), so we enjoyed as much of it as we could before heading back home for one of my rehearsals...  a musician's work is never done!! 

a better(?) attempt at 'where's Waldo' ing.

ahh.. so green.. and peaceful..

some more interesting architecture spotted on our way back to our car...

We have never really explored downtown Houston because the city of Houston is quite spread out, and the part Rice is located is not very close to downtown, but we're looking forward doing some more exploring as we go see more shows in the theater district  =)

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful rest of the week!

Friday, September 13, 2013

파전:: Korean Seafood Pancake!! 3 ingredients(+water) version.

Hello everyone!

Happy Friday!!!!  I am oh SO glad the weekend is here!!  Yesterday I had a marathon of coachings and lessons, so this was very much needed.  This 'break' is going to be a pretty short lived one though because I have another lesson on Monday *whimper whimper* but I'm just not going to think about that right now  haha

Anyway, today I thought I would bring you a very much so requested recipe!
We don't go out to eat very much, but one of our favorite places to go in Houston for Korean food is Tofu Village!  We've gone there for our triple date, to celebrate the completion of my recital, etc etc.  It's actually also the first place David and I went out to eat together!  haha

Anyway, they have this dish there called 'Korean Seafood Pancake' and we just cannot get enough of it.  It is just so good!!  I think every person (including non-Asian picky eaters like Amulet  =p) who has tried it as loved it.  
So when I was home this summer I asked Mom to teach me, and much to my delight, it was incredibly easy to make!!!  Of course you can get really fancy with it, and my friend Miran has recently informed me that it's really good with zucchini in it too!  I have never tried that before, but you know it's going to happen soon  haha.  So there can be a lot of variations, and I suppose if you were really starting from scratch (rice flour and all that jazz) it would be a bit more difficult, but I'm here to share with you the BASIC, college-student-friendly recipe that anyone can make!

So, here is the 3 ingredients + water version of 파전!

Ingredients  (makes 2-3 big pancakes)
1 cup Korean pancake mix
1.5 cup chopped squid (if you get the already chopped and frozen kind, it's really easy)
1.5 bunches of green onions
a little less than 1 cup water
1 jalapeno pepper optional

Korean pancake mix looks something like this, and you can find it at your local Asian store like H Mart.

The squid can either be in its full form, in which case you have to cut it up into little rings and bite sized bits, or you can just buy the frozen kind that's already prepared for you, like this one below!

Now let's get to cooking!!
First cut up your green onions and squid rings into 2 inch long sections.  We just cut the squid rings in half and called it good.

Now, if you have a little jalapeno or chili pepper growing in your garden, then feel free to cut that up and add that as well for a little 'zing' if you'd like   ;)

Now, measure out a cup of the mix and mix it well with a little less than a cup of water.  You can definitely just do this by hand,,, I just got lazy and brought out the electric mixer  haha
Once your mixture is lump free, dump your prepared green onions, squid, and peppers (optional) and mix until the fresh ingredients are well coated.

Now, oil your frying pan, set the fire on low, and start cooking your pancakes!

you don't want the pancake to be too thick, so make sure you spread out the mixture well in the pan.  Once they start cooking, 

now. patience, grasshopper.  the pancakes should take about 5-6 minutes to cook on each side, and don't jump the gun!  otherwise you may have a pancake that's falling apart, or even worse, not crispy!   I absolutely love it when these are crispy on the outside  ;)   You should be able to tell when to flip because the top sections should start to look like they are becoming cooked as well. 

 They should be wonderfully golden when they are ready on the side, kind of like this

and once you've got them to be like that, pat them down with your spatula so the that the pancake gets thinner, and the inside portions also get cooked along with the other side!

and that's it!!

try putting the root parts of your green onions in a jar of water, or plant them in soil so that you can make the pancakes again from your own 'garden'  ;)

 Happy cooking, and thanks for stopping by!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Comment Situation Update!!

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to drop by and tell you that I have changed my comments system from Blogger's to Disqus.  If you have commented previously, and did not get a reply, it was because the Blogger wouldn't let me!! I had to go ahead and leave another comment in a form of a brand new comment that was a reply to your comment (in case you want to go see my replys..  haha)  I promise I read all of your comments and I really appreciate them, so hopefully this new system will work better than the Blogger's version!

Please let me know how you like the new setup/if it works for you!!

Thanks and have a wonderful rest of the week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mr. Lin's Studio::Annual Peking Duck Studio Dinner!

Hello everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  
For those of us in Mr. Lin's Studio, last weekend was the highly anticipated Peking Duck Studio Dinner outing!  It's an annual thing in our studio where we go to Peking Cuisine, take over an entire room, and order an exorbitant amount of food. (check out our last year's one here)  I believe we had something like 3 ducks, 2 gigantic bowls of stew, and probably 20 other amazingly delicious dishes that I can't name because I'm not Chinese...
It's a night when we all get to meet the new additions to our studio, hang out with Mr. Lin and his family, and generally work our way into a food coma.  The best way to spend an evening, if you ask me!

It's a pretty small studio this year (9 students!) with only 2 new incoming students, so I'm excited to do more things as a studio this year!  Planning things with 9 people has got to be easier than with 14 or so people, right?  =D

Anyway, here's Mr. Lin's studio 2013-2014!
Oh, plus Lara, Mr. Lin's daughter, and Tina, one of his former students  =)

Thanks Mr. Lin for the amazing dinner!

and thank you for stopping by! have a wonderful rest of the week!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Grad life... and a dance video!

Hi everyone!

IT'S FRIDAY!!!!!!!
Sorry it's been so quiet over on my end, but the past week has been pretty hectic, yet also pretty darn uneventful.  My grad life goes something like this:  wake up, get to school by 8 or 8:30 A.M, practice until 11 A.M., classes, lunch, rehearsals until about 4:40 P.M, go back home, eat dinner, get back to school to teach, rehearse, and do extra practice until 8 P.M or so, exercise (usually running or dancing with my man), shower, and bed by 11 P.M!  
Yup.  Gone are the days of staying up until 2 A.M,,, my aging body (?) can't handle the 7+ hours of violining on less than 7 hours of sleep.  It really makes me wonder how on earth I survived my undergrad years... going to bed at 2 A.M and waking up at 5:30 A.M to go practice ballroom... dear ballroom family that did 6-8 A.M. rehearsals with me,, what on earth were we thinking? how on earth did we do that?!   ahh, but such good times and memories though.. =)

Anyway, I'm happy to report that baby bro has also become quite a dancer himself, albeit a hip hop-ing one, and not a ballrooming one...  but here's a little video of his team's performance!  Apparently they put it together in 3-4 weeks, and I was really very impressed!  ;)  aww, baby bro, all grown up *sniffle sniffle*   sorry, having a proud big sis moment over here ;)


Happy Weekend!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Date Day!!

Hello everyone!!

Happy Labor Day weekend to all of you, and I hope you are all enjoying some time off from work/school and spending some time with your loved ones!
It's been kind of funny because this three day weekend happened after only the first week of school  haha  but honestly, this was so needed, and probably much appreciated by all of the Rice University student body, I'm sure  ;) 

Another reason I've been looking forward to this weekend was because...!!!   David is finally back in Houston!  =D  
No more long distance, oh yeah~  *doing a little happy dance*
I mean, it was only for the summer, but I'm always glad for it to be over  =)

To celebrate, we scheduled a 'date day'!   so instead of going on a date night, we just did a marathon of dates all day!

The 'date day' actually began the night before when we took a leisurely walk over to the Hermann Park and the Miller Outdoor theater to catch the Golden Dragon Acrobats! 

It was pretty crowded on the lawn with hundreds of people out and about enjoying the slightly cooler Houston evening, but we found ourselves a little spot of grass and sat there holding our breaths and wowing with the rest of the crowd as the acrobats performed amazing tricks after tricks.

It was such an awesome performance, and it was really great to just enjoy being back together after 3 months of being apart  =)
We had to call it an early night because I had an audition the next morning, but we resumed our date marathon after my audition!  
For lunch, we headed to Jason's Deli because I was craving their salad (the salad bar there is the best!).  I know, I know, it's a chain, and David protested a little at first because that's where his department tends to get all of their 'conference foods' from, but what can I say, when a girl is craving a salad, this is the place to be!  haha

and besides, they have soft serve ice cream!  It was a big childhood thing for me, so whenever I see soft serve ice cream, I get uber excited  haha   
making little sculptures with their brownie bites and ice cream  =p

Then, for our next date, we went grocery shopping.
It's one of our favorite things to do together  haha
I mean, how can you not like grocery shopping?  It inevitably leads to amazing (hopefully.. but at the very least, experimental!) food experiences!  We usually just meander through different aisles, discussing which dishes to try next/which ones we want to repeat, etc. and always end up with an overflowing cart by the end  haha.   
And this time was of no exception.  We had originally gone to the store without much of a plan, but when we got there, we decided to get ingredients for the Korean seafood pancake (파전) and make that!  and while we were walking around, we decided to have Korean cold noodles (냉면) for dinner as well!    We went to the frozen section and saw the noodles with the pre-made sauce, and then thought... why not try to make the sauce/broth ourselves?  I was a bit hesitant at first because I thought it would be too difficult, but David convinced me otherwise, and off we went to go buy more stuff for the broth!  haha  this is how it always goes with us.  Whenever one of us is hesitant about trying something, the other is usually excited about it, and then we go ahead and do it anyway...

So we came home, and embarked on the next leg of our dating marathon.  Cooking dinner together!  We had to start the broth early because it needed to boil for an hour, and then chilled, so we started that first.

Then, we went to go buy a little pot for my little 'garden'.  I've wanted a garden of my own for awhile now, but David was a bit hesitant about this one because we are both gone so much (who's going to water them?), and he wasn't sure how plants would do in the scorching Houston weather.  But we had such a perfect opportunity to do a little experiment because we had just gotten a whole lot of green onions for the seafood pancake, so off we went to Home Depot to buy my green onions a home!

and tada!!!

My very own little green onion 'garden' on our kitchen windowsill  =)
Amulet came back home while David and I were digging up some dirt, and when she heard what we were doing, she gave us the 'oh, David and Janny are doing something crazy together again' look and went inside  haha
Now here's hoping that they do a little better than our last 'gardening' experience...

Then, we really got to cooking so that we (Amulet, David, and I) could all eat dinner together before David and I left on our last segment of the dating marathon.

double skillet action!

our 냉면!!!

haha  =)  dinner crew!

The 냉면 was a bit... interesting.  I think it was lacking in the salt and vinegar department, but hey, now we know.  live and learn.  haha.  the seafood pancake, however, was SO good!!!  and so easy to make too!  I'll have to post a recipe soon so all of you can enjoy it as well!

With our bellies full, we headed off to dance off the calories with the Rice Ballroom Dance folks  =)   We met last year around this time at the first Rice Ballroom Dance meeting, so it seems that we've done a full circle  =p

Thanks for stopping by, and have a wonderful rest of the Labor Day weekend!!