Friday, August 27, 2010


Late summer in the vegetable garden is a very. lovely. thing.  The tomatoes are still growing strong.  And the melon blossoms were hand-pollenated with swabs, per the recommendation of a prolific gardener -- resulting in a lot more fruit!  There's also the cutest string of grapes growing -- a very thoughtful housewarming gift, no? -- which I've yet to taste.  And still to come: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, lemons.  Deliciousness.

[melon, on the vine]

[melon, harvested]

[tomatoes, on the vine]

[tomatoes, harvested]

[first grapes!]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken katsu

Katsu, I guess, refers to breading and deep frying -- something that Japanese cooking has adopted from European cuisine.  Before living in Japan I didn't eat pork so prolonged my enjoyment of tonkatsu.  But once I had it there, it was over.  Japanese pork is so delicious!

These days, I am back to eating more chicken than pork.  It's still delicious when breaded and fried Japanese style, with tonkatsu sauce to boot!  Here's how my Japanese mom taught me to do it.

Pork or Chicken Katsu
Pork (chops, boneless) or Chicken (breasts or thighs)
Egg, beaten
Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

chicken katsu prep[chicken katsu prep]

First, dust meat in flour until completely covered.
Second, dip meat in egg until completely covered.
Third, dip meat in panko until completely covered.

pre-frying[ready to fry]

Althought typically this is a deep fried dish, I don't like to use so much oil. I use a smaller pan and about 1/2 inch of oil. Fry the katsu on high until both sides are browned. Turn the heat to medium/low and continue to fry, turning the katsu over evenly. It'll be nice and cooked -- and still tender inside -- in about 12-15 minutes.

bon appetites![itadakimasu!]

Enjoy! Instead of the traditional cabbage that comes with tonkatsu, I occasionally will slice up some cucumbers. It is equally delicious! Though beer or sake is the norm, a sweetish white wine is also appropriate.  I suggest a sauvignon blanc or gewurztraminer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My friend

Jenn B. has appeared on this blog before: here, here, and here.

She was truly a beautiful person, but, more so, she was a beautiful soul.  Where can I begin?  The first time I met her, I suppose.

But I saw her before I actually met her.  In Perspectives.  In 2003. At the end of the semester-long class, there was a praise night that incorporated the talents of the students.  That's when I saw and heard Jenn sing.  She had an absolutely beautiful voice.  But beyond that, I was drawn to her joy -- eyes closed, peaceful smile, hands lifted high -- as she sang out in praise to God.   The image of her posture continues to be a model for me. 

As I transitioned to attending that church I found out that Jenn also went there.  I joined a prayer group and study group that she happened to be in, too, and a friendship was born.  In addition to seeing her at church and once or twice during the week, there were girls' nights and other hangings out.  I still remember the Easter luncheon at her house, where she and her mom fed about 20 of us a traditional meal, complete with ham and pineapple sauce!

Jenn was diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago -- which surprised all of us as she was in her early 30s.  She underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and got better.  I knit her a hat that she said was her favorite (but I'm sure each hat that someone gave her was her favorite).  She was a leader in the church and had gone on several overseas missions trips, so many missed her while she was undergoing treatment.  Though we went to visit her from time to time, a lot of people were longing for the days when we got to see her regularly again.

A while after she'd gotten better and was around a bit more, probably two and a half years ago, we were told that other cancer had been detected in other parts of her body. So she had to undergo a different type of chemo and radiation.  From there, there were snippets of news about surgeries, medications, infections, etc.  And requests to pray for Jenn. 

Despite the hospital visits and pain, Jenn still moved into a community house where she could serve.  We helped her move in, some helping to paint her room pink, and she lived there for about a year.  I remember helping her move out last summer, when the house was closed.  Her condition was worsening, too, so it made more sense for her to move back home with her mom.

The past year was, obviously, the toughest -- physically, mentally, and spiritually.  This past summer I was able to go alone and with friends to the hospital and to her home, bringing food, good cheer, and prayers.  Whenever anyone came to visit Jenn, she asked all kinds of questions about their life.  She made sure they knew how much she thought about them and missed them.  Each conversation felt like we were just picking up from our last talk, no matter how long the time in between.  She had a remarkable knack for remembering details about your story, and asking you about how those things were coming along.  She would lament, too, about not being able to get out of bed to visit other patients to talk to and pray with them.  That's typical Jenn for ya!

The cancer continued to spread.  It debilitated her liver, and her white blood cell count was too low to withstand another surgery.  So after her last hospitalization, Jen was released home to hospice care.  A couple of Sundays ago a bunch of us went to her house after church.  We sang songs, held her hand, and prayed for healing, peace, and, most of all, mercy.  Jenn was sort of in and out of consciousness then, but every so often she would reach her arms out and say, "Jesus!" Jenn passed away that night, while a few of us lingered out on her driveway, praying for her and her family. 

Our pastor hit the nail on its head when he said that Jenn's was a life interrupted.  Equally true is that God's ways are higher than our ways.  To me, Jenn B. personified the suffering saint.  Yet even unto her last breath, no matter how much pain she was in, I believe she also lived with the joy of the Lord.  And she truly lived every moment for the glory of God. 

I miss my friend dearly.  I feel guilty about not visiting her as often as I could have, not praying for her as consistently as I should have.  I felt especially guilty when her mom said to me one night, "I'm so glad you could make it tonight, Jean.  Jenny talks about you all the time.  She loves you so much."  But I'm glad, too, that I got to know Jenn B.  And not only that I got to know her, but that I got to be known -- and loved -- by her.

I'm so glad that Jenn is no longer suffering, no longer in pain, and is finally Home.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eating out: Malo

It seems that Monday nights are good ones for the gals to get together. We knew we were meeting up for dinner, but emailed back and forth about it up until it was almost time to meet!  Is this what happens when four of five gals have iPhones?!  What will happen if/when I get mine?! In any case, we ended up at Malo, in Silverlake, for taco night.

MyKo picked me up from the office so we got there way ahead of the other gals.  So of course we headed to the bar for happy hour margaritas!  They don't take reservations and don't seat until the entire party has arrived, so we continued to hang out in the bar until everyone came.  We sat upstairs where the decor is sparse but warmed by the exposed brick walls.  Lots of gal-talk and catching up.  Good times for all.

I had grilled chicken, carne asada, and ground beef with pickles (!) tacos.  They were all delicious!

[entry table]

[downstairs dining area]

[taco, taco, taco]

Looks like there's another location coming to DTLA, which means another venue on the happy hour roster!  Orale!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Same same but different

Howdy. It feels good to be back to blogging after nearly two weeks' hiatus. Rest assured, though -- not blogging doesn't mean not living! There's been a lot going on, as you may have heard.  Some things are settling in to place, while others are just beginning to spin.  In a good way.  I like the anticipation of new adventures, new projects, new horizons.  And through it all, continuing to change, grow, discover myself -- and being okay with who I am.

Here were are at Monday again; hope it's a good one for you. Let's keep on keepin' on!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Going to the movies is pretty much always a treat for me. Tonight's was especially so, since it's a workday. I was looking forward to watching Inception, especially after the fiasco when I tried to watch it on opening night.  My friend and I had a quick meal before heading off to the theater.  It seems I'd misread the online information, thinking there was a 6:30 show.  Turns out the next screening would be at 7:25.  So we had about an hour to kill.

I should have taken it as an indication that things weren't going to end up well for me tonight.  After grabbing coffee, we got to the theater early and chatted it up.  Then the lights dimmed and the trailers -- one of my favorite parts! -- came on.

The first one featured Dwayne Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton.  The film's called Faster (I had to look that up just now).  I didn't get it.

The next one was with Hilary Swank; she plays the sister of a man convicted to life in prison with no parole, who gets her GED and goes to law school to fight for his vindication and release.  It's based on a true story.  I almost started to cry.  (Maybe it's because I have brothers.)

Then came the one with Robert Downey, Jr. and that guy who plays Alan in The Hangover.  He kinda reminds me of Jack Black (they probably get that a lot).  The opening of the trailer was a scene at a public transport depot, in the rain.  Robert Downey, Jr. is telling the other guy about the last time he saw his father, how he was at that same depot, had two suitcases, boarded a bus (or train), and just left.  The other guy-- Zak Galifianakis, I just looked it up -- sitting on a bench with his dog, starts laughing heartily at Robert Downey, Jr.'s story, and says something like, "That's funny.  My dad would never do that to me!  He loved me!"

At which point the screen flickered, and went black.  Deja vu.

"This is what happened when I went to see Inception the first time!" I said, "Only this happened halfway through the movie! Now you know what it's like!"

The darkness continued, and it was a few moments later that a staff member announced that there were technical difficulties they were working on, and that we would all be given free popcorn.

I collected our treat, and we decided to wait another 10 minutes.  By 8:10, nothing was happening.  So we decided to call it a night and get a refund.

[in-ter-ception, 2]

It seems I am starting a collection of these.  *sigh*  Maybe I should wait until this movie comes out on DVD.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aunty Em's

Far from being a new-to-me restaurant, Auntie Em's is an old favorite.  A friend of mine knows the owner, and after sampling some of the red velvet cupcakes we decided to check out the menu as well.  This was a few years ago, before AE's became really famous and the wait was less than 15 minutes.  After a couple times of having to wait upwards of 30 minutes, the frequency of our visits decreased.

It was really by chance that DC and I stopped by for lunch last weekend; we were intending to go elsewhere but passed by and saw that there was no line outside.  Seating was immediate -- did you know they have a back patio area now?  Perhaps it's a new addition for the summer, or to meet the demands of their growth.  It was nice to be outside, sheltered from the sun, and not facing the noise and traffic of street-side dining.

[from patio, looking in]

[caprese scramble]

[veggie quiche]

The food was just what we needed: savory yet simple; with coffee and iced tea, respectively, it was an enjoyable summer lunch.  Have you had your Auntie Em's lately?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Picnic Club 3

Entertainment under the stars! I read a blurb in Sunset magazine and decided to coincide the third installation of Summer Picnic Club with the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest's screening of The Hangover at Exposition Park.

As you can see, a lot of people came out!  And they came totally prepared with blankets, picnic baskets, coolers, lawn chairs -- even books, board games, and booze, for the ide hours of daylight before the movie started.

[movie-watching picnickers]

For those who were less prepared more spontaneous, there was a long line of catering trucks, serving everything from your typical hot dog + chili fries, to more exotic things like Indian wraps and curries and sushi.  The lines were long!

[catering trucks]

DC and I had forgotten to bring a picnic blanket, so we sat on our eco bags, which worked out fine.  The Hangover is a terrific film to watch on a huge screen with a bunch of strangers.  It's just as hilarious the second time!

The Outdoor Cinema Food Fest has a couple more events this summer, if you're interested.  Check out their website here for movie names, dates, and venues.

California Science Center

D riving to LA from OC doesn't happen so often for me, so when the day came for the trek, I wanted to make the most of it.  My good friend works at the California Science Center and gave us the best hook-up -- lucky!

There were a lot of tourists and families at the CSC, but we arrived about 15 minutes before closing.  We walked around just a couple of sights, more observing and enjoying the space more than anything else.  When the center closed, we got a private tour of the exhibitions, which are very interactive and well-done.  It was such a treat to explore everything on our own!

[california science center, front]

I enjoyed having my picture taken on a fake camel in the Egyptian technologies exhibit, and in the Living Trees one I got to dress up as a squirred (the costume was a bit tight on me since it is intended for children).  Here's one under the infrared device.  There's a switch that activates heat lamps, which change how you look on the screen.  Very cool!

[me in infrared]

The grand finale was some time hanging out in the aquarium -- which is really for kelp harvesting.  You can look up and see to the outside of the building!  I liked watching and snapping pictures of the school of sardines.  This is one of the 20 or so pictures I took.

[csc aquarium]

The last time I came to Exposition Park was probably in elementary school.  It was fun to 'rediscover' it again.  Now I'd like to come back and visit the Natural History and Aerospace Museums.  Anyone up for a field trip?!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Good Girl Dinette, Part 2

Chicken pot pie was ordered (just like I said I would), and every last bite consumed.  It was worth the 30-minute wait (order first, then go around the corner to get drinks!) -- the crust "floated" over the dish, and the "pot pie" part tasted hearty and curry-ish. Definitely "American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food."  

[chicken pot pie]

My friend ordered the eggplant noodle salad -- which was also devoured.

[eggplant noodle salad]

We even had a chance to meet the chef, Diem, whom I recognized from having read the GGD blog.  She was working hard at serving and bussing; she has an extremely firm handshake.

Yes, I'd say my second visit here was quite successful.  Yum!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


[CSA box]

Bring on the bounty! The colors and flavors of the farmers markets have changed from the leafy greens of winter to the stonepits, squash, and melon of high summer.

With an increased number of pick up points, it's easier than ever these days to order a box online and collect it at one's local farmers market. That's exactly what I did. But instead of it being for me, this summer CSA is a gift for a very good friend on the occasion of her birthday. She's super into veggies and has never done a CSA thing, so I thought I'd get her started.

As you can see, it is a pretty hefty box. Inside: Watermelon, honeydew, two ears of corn, four tomatoes, chard and two kinds of kale, purple/black basil, cucumbers, squash, and a couple of gourds whose names I don't know (the two in the center).  Oh, and a mutant heart-shaped eggplant.

[CSA contents]

I can't wait to hear what she does with all this!

Have you thought about supporting a local CSA?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Although it seems that I am doing nothing but socializing and introspecting these days, I have also been spending some time alone and apart from my thoughts.  When life beckons, one must rouse oneself to answer the call.  What's been yearning for some attention are my poor orchids. The other weekend I made some time to tend to their poor, dried up and dull leaves and roots.

Have you noticed how easy it's become to get orchids over the past couple of years?  I was casually talking to my boss, who lamented about how orchids have now been so hybridized and inundated into the market that they are no longer "special," so he no longer buys them as gifts.

But I stil do! (My boss and I work on different budgets.) And I love to receive them as gifts! I now have a total of five plants: one from a co-worker, received two Christmases ago; one from Mrs. C, a birthday gift that she received but passed along; one thank-you gift from by bro and SIL, and two received as birthday presents a few months ago. Despite some bad previous experiences with orchids, they were doing really well -- up until about three weeks ago...

[orchids, shriveled]

...through no fault of my own, I assure you! They have been moved around a bit much, without my knowledge, mind, in an effort to find optimal conditions. Under the notion that orchids need a great deal of moisture, three of the orchids were put in the shower. That turned out to be too much moisture for them! I brought them outside and finally made some time to save whatever I could.  In cutting off dead leaves and dried roots, I discovered some mold (yuck!) but also that there was still some green at the very core.  I hope that means these plants are still salvageable.  I decided to re-pot them, take extra good care of them from here on out, and see what happens.

[orchids, shed]

[orchids, repotted]

The last orchid got put (by me) into a different bathroom (the one I use); (therefore)  it sits underneath the window and receives a nice amount of indirect light as well as some residual bathroom moisture, and is doing well, as you can see.

[orchid, thriving]

I am ever hopeful for new leaves and new sprays of phalaenopsis orchids in a year or two. But only time can tell what will become of all of these. Let's hope for the best!

Sifting for truth

You know what happens over meals.  And, from all of my recent goings out with different friends, you can deduce that a lot of it's been happening.  I'm talking about conversation.  Talking.  Catching up.  Sharing.  Dreaming.  Worrying.  Giving and receiving advice.  Joking.  Complaining.  Praying.  And, listening. 

I'm the type of person who needs to talk things out.  With friends or with myself or with God.  And then I journal about them.  And then I read books about them.  So there are a lot of voices swimming inside my head.  Some my own, some not.  Some positive, some not.  I find myself continually sifting, sifting, sifting through all of these voices with the sieve of Truth.  And questioning: what is Truth, exactly?  How do I know it when I see or hear it?   How do I actively pursue it?     

For me, Truth is the Word of God.  And lately, a song -- an old favorite -- has popped into my mind that reminds me to listen for a still, small voice that often gets lost in the noise of my everyday day-to-day, yet -- if I allow it -- has the power to transform my sometimes stormy sea of thoughts into sweet, still waters.

Voice of Truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
To the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me time and time again,
"Boy, you'll never win! You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a Sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me time and time again,
"Boy, you'll never win! You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth


Who or What is your Voice of Truth?