Category Archives: Memories

Visiting Hillary

Yesterday, I got a sample ballot for next Tuesday’s primary… Which is puzzling because I thought I registered as Independent.  I also received a rally call for Hillary being in Newark on Wednesday June 1st.

I’ve never gone to a political rally before–It’s on my bucket list. With the ballot in hand and the rally call, I thought I’d check that off. I also thought it’d be interesting to see her through my own eyes, in person–The potential history maker. If she does become the first woman president, I will be glad that I went to her rally in the state that potentially put her over the line to become the Democratic nominee.

The day of the rally was very sunny and pleasant in the morning–Not too hot. IMG_5052

I arrived at the location and waited in the very long line of women, blacks and Hispanics around the block. Soon I was handed a small form to fill out. The volunteer announced: “You must fill out this form, or you will be blocked from entering the building.”  I looked at the form, it’s asking for my personal information–Name, email, contact phone number, and select a choice time to volunteer…

OK, I really don’t want to fill this out–I don’t like giving out my personal information, plus I’m registered Independent… At least I thought I am. But if I say I’m an Independent, would they still let me in? I could lie on the form and say that I’m Betty, a housewife from Clifton, raising 2 kids… But I just can’t lie–I’m a terrible liar… It’s uncomfortable for me either way!

Suddenly, I remembered that I brought my ID from my part-time job. So I got the attention of another volunteer, who happened to be very nice and pleasant. I said to her:

“I don’t think I can fill this out… Because I work for a news organization.”  

“Oh I get it–You can’t support a political party because your work has to be unbiased… Do you have an ID?”  I flashed my work ID immediately.

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The blue card that identified me with the rest of the journalists at the event

“OK, you don’t have to fill out this form. You just need to get in line with the press.”

She showed me to the front of the building, where the rest of the journalists await. Shortly I was handed a blue card that reads “Credentialed Press.” I am so glad that I’m prepared!

Journalists got to enter the building before most people, so they could get through security with all their equipment, start setting up and get to work. With the blue card, and my phone in my hand, I blended right in with all the journalists.

Gradually, the barricades were setup, people started coming in, and music started playing. There was a live jazz ensemble and performance from Malcolm X Shabazz High School marching band. Right around 1:30pm, Senator Teresa Ruiz kicked off a series of motivation speeches by Congressman Donald Payne Jr., and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, to encourage people to vote next Tuesday. Then, to my pleasant surprise, Mr. Jon Bon Jovi (!) showed up to introduce Senator Cory Booker and Secretary Hillary Clinton. (I always liked his music.)

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Malcolm X Shabazz High School marching band

As soon as Secretary Clinton was on the stage, I was pulled by a security member to stand behind the barricades setup for Press. That’s why I couldn’t get a better picture of her–I only had my iPhone.

My favorite speech today was really by Senator Booker. (Sorry Hillary–I’ve already formed my opinions of Donald Trump. So your speech today, to me, was preaching to the choir.)

I met Senator Booker years ago, when he was the mayor of Newark. He not just talked the talk, he pragmatically walked the walk. As Mayor, he cleaned up Newark and setup a new course for future mayors to follow, before he went on to represent us in the Senate. When I met him in person years ago, he was very charismatic and persuasive. He actually got me to consider investing my business in Newark… He even charmed my late father-in-law, who was a long time Republican.

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Senator Cory Booker speaking

Today, Senator Booker’s enthusiasm at the podium kept me engaged through the entire time. He used historical references to make his points heard. Being someone who likes statements backed up by facts, I really like this style of communication.

 

Hillary, a fellow October Scorpion, is poised, as always, graceful, steady and strong–Never a disappointment to me… Even during her toughest time as First Lady, before the world knew about her husband having an affair with a White House intern, she was reasonably and notably upset. But she still managed to keep the matter private by making Bill sleeping on the couch. According to Business Insider, she dealt with the affair by spending time alone and eating lots of her favorite mocha cake–In other words, she handled the matter well, never made a scene in public. This episode was a strong indicator that showed Hillary having the wisdom, and being strong enough to suppress her emotions in public, at a time of doubt over her very public marriage to the President of the United States.

Think about it: Too much would be at stake if she had acted up on this affair–Not only her marriage would end, she would have setup a bad example for Chelsea, her teenage First Daughter at the time, who was already in the public spotlight, and it would also negatively impact her life. Expressing jealous rage at such a stressful time would only add oil to the fire and would not be conducive to solving problems…

I would much rather choose a wise person to be the leader of our country, who evidently is strong, organized and wise enough to draw the line between private and public lives, has the experience dealing with domestic issues and foreign policies, and knows her people and the government, inside and out.

Today in Newark, Hillary touched on all the issues that faced our country, and promised to address them, if she were elected President.  The headline-maker today was calling Donald Trump a “fraud” – Not surprising from the news that came out around Trump recently.

I started tweeting as her words stuck in my head… Hey, I was granted a press pass, why not use it to do what I’m “supposed” to do! LOL

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Hillary taking a selfie with a fan

At the end of the event, they removed the press barricades. So I rushed toward the stage trying to get a good picture of Hillary… With Secret Service agents around her, she was walking along with another set of railings, taking selfies with fans as she walked by, shaking their hands. I couldn’t get any closer than a few heads away–it was so crowded! But I managed to get an overhead shot of her taking a selfie.  🙂

 

 

If you want to follow me, my Twitter handle is @mohgirl1030.  And @artifactuality, where Bob is also an admin.

 

 

Go VOTE next Tuesday, my friends!! 

This election is too important for anyone to pass up!

Don’t take my word for it… See it for yourself in the recording of the live event on June 1st:

 

Foot note:

“Add oil to the fire” is a literal translation of the Chinese phrase 火上加油 (huo-shang-jia-yiou,) meaning making the matter worse.

The old man at the wedding

1985, I came to America.

The following week was my birthday, and it was also the very first time I put on makeup, making myself look pretty–Because I can now, I’m in America. There was no birthday celebration–It coincided Cousin Robert’s wedding.

At the dinner reception, I quietly sat and watched people dancing with music, laughing through the night… Wishing a handsome boy would come to ask me for a dance. But, instead, there was a strange old man with a very long white beard sitting next to me, smiling. I smiled back. His wrinkled face bore a pair of white eyes… I mean his irises were white, he had white hair, and was all in white. But somehow he knew me, so he came to me. I didn’t know him, but I did not feel threatened, nor did I feel I was in danger. There we sat, and though he was blind (or was he?) He knew where I was, and he was facing me. Then he asked:

“剛到嗎?” (Just got here?)

“是,上禮拜剛到。” (Yes, just got here last week.)

“歡迎來美國,有沒有對相了?” (Welcome to America, do you have a boyfriend?)

Suddenly I felt my entire body’s blood rushed into my head. How did he know I was wishing for a guy to pick me up for a dance? I couldn’t say a word, wanted so bad to have a place to hide. By then I was convinced he was not blind, because he knew I was embarrassed… He laughed, so heartily, like Santa Claus, “Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho… 不要緊,我逗妳的!” (No worries, I was teasing you!)  Then, with a long pause, he seemed to be studying me. He penetrated my eyes with his white irises, leaned closer and said slowly with a sincere and steady voice:

“妳遠從台灣來,是為了遇見妳未來的丈夫。但妳必須要爭取他、才能得到真正的辛福。” (You’ve come a long way from Taiwan, to meet your future husband here. But you must compete for him, in order to be truly happy.)

“但是媽媽說女生不應該追求男生呢… ” (But mama said a good girl shouldn’t be chasing a boy…)

Before I finished my sentence, a dancing couple lost control, and came fast towards us. They crashed between me and the old man. Luckily they didn’t knock over the whole table. By the time the couple got back on their feet, the old man was gone. I looked around, he was nowhere to be found.

Years gone by, his words were forgotten, through a brand new American western culture, a new language to learn, a new life to live, to fit in, to get by… But, no matter how much I changed, how well I spoke the English language, how much I became “Americanized,” how many boys I “chased,” deep down, I felt guilty to have chased boys, to have been intimate with too many friends who were not my type, to have been wild, bold and outspoken… Deep down I still love Mother’s cooking, still am humble for my achievements, still believe in fung-shui, still pray to Buddha during Chinese New Year, still believe my grandparents are watching over me, and I still believe there are people among us who are messengers of the gods, who can see the future, like the old man at the wedding.

About fifteen years later, I fell madly in love with a man whom I shouldn’t have been in love with, and he shouldn’t have been in love with me. But eventually, seven years after the fall, we got married. And through all of this rollercoaster ride, the old man never surfaced in my memory… Until almost thirty years later, I vividly recall–the old man at the wedding.

New Year with Sticky Rice Cake (年糕) and Fish

A colleague asked me yesterday what would be served as traditional dish during Chinese New Year. Right away I thought there would be many different celebratory dish, but what stood out were sticky rice cake and fish…

The New Years marks a time of changing cycle, changing shifts, where beginning meets the end, and where chaos would happen. So all traditions and rituals for New Years have long been established for good omen and well wishing. Sticky rice cake and fish are a good example of this tradition. It is not required to combine the two items in one dish, but both are required to be served…

Why? Because the Chinese word for “sticky,” or “粘” (nian,) has the same pronunciation as the word for “year”, or “年” (nian.) Whereas the word “fish”, or “魚” (Yu,) shares the same pronunciation with the word “surplus”, or “餘” (Yu.) Therefore, having sticky rice cake and fish on the New Years table is a good omen for the upcoming year, echoing the lucky phrase “年年有餘” (nian-nian-yo-yu), meaning “having surplus year after year.”

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Crispy Sticky Rice Cake

Sticky rice cake comes in different kinds and flavors. I am introducing today the sweet sticky rice cake made with red beans, wrapped in spring roll wrapper. This recipe was a spontaneous creation at a hot pot party years ago.

Ingredient list:

  • Store-bought or home-made red bean rice cake, 6 to 8- inch diameter
  •  Store-bought or home-made spring roll wrapper, around 6″ squares.
  •  Deep fryer
  •  Deep frying oil, a gallon, or the amount enough for your deep fryer.
  •  1/4 cup cooked white rice to be used as edible glue
  •  1 cup Water
  1. To make edible glue, in a sauce pan, mix cooked white rice with 1 cup water, stir, mash, and use high heat to bring it to boil. Reduce heat, continue stirring and mashing, until the rice-water mix is reduced to thick congee texture. Remove from heat. Then set aside to cool.
  2. Remove packaging of the sticky rice cake, if bought from store.
  3. Cut the rice cake disc into bite sized chips.
  4. Wrap each individual rice cake chips with a single sheet of spring roll wrapper. Use the edible glue to secure the end of the wrapper. Without securing, they may unravel in the deep frying process.
  5. Setup and heat deep fryer to 350 degrees
  6. Deep fry the wrapped rice cake in batches until golden brown. Drain oil and set aside to cool before serving.
red bean sticky rice cake
This is a photo of a red bean sticky rice cake, similar to a store-bought version with the packaging removed.
My version of sticky rice cake
Here’s my fried sticky rice cake being cooled right before serving. It was crispy on the outside, warm and sweet on the inside. (Yum!)

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Sautéed Tilapia for Eight

During Chinese New Year, a plate of fish is often required on the table, for the symbolism explained earlier. It doesn’t matter which kind of fish. The Asian culture cook and serve food in its entirety for wholesomeness. We cook and use all parts of animal and fish for sustainability–not to create animal waste of God’s gift. But for my western readers, I hereby publish the recipe of my famous tilapia fillet, which I cook for my in-laws every Christmas Eve.

Ingredient list:

  • 4 large fillets. 2 servings per fillet.
  • 2-inch section of Ginger root of 1″ diameter.
  • 6 stalks of scallions
  • 1 TBSP Sautéing oil
  • Salt

Preparation:

  • Sprinkle one pinch of salt on each side of fillet.
  • Cut all ginger root into thin slices. Julienne about half of the slices to be used for topping.
  • Julienne all scallions
  • Setup a frying pan with a cover

Cooking:

  1. Grease the pan with sautéing oil. Use medium high heat. Spread in the sliced ginger in the bottom of pan. Once the ginger pieces starts to bubble, lay down tilapia on top of ginger slices. Spread the julienned ginger and scallion over the fillets. Reduce to medium heat and cover.
  2. When the fish turns completely white, remove from heat and serve. If a firmer texture is desired, it may be cooked longer with cover, for about 3 to 5 more minutes.
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In this photo, the plate on the left had chili powder added to the plate, for those who like a kick in their tilapia. Also there are cilantro to top it off as added garnish.

I hope you enjoy these recipes…
新年快樂,恭喜發財!
(Xin-nian-kuai-le, gung-xi-fa-cai!)
Happy Chinese New Year, Congratulations for your new wealth!

Memo on Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year celebrates the New Year’s Day in the lunar calendar. This year, the Year of Goat, would start on Thursday, February 19th. The festivities are like a combined celebration of different western holidays.

It’s like Christmas, instead of gifts, children and unmarried young generation would receive red envelopes from their elders for wishes of good fortunes in the year to come. For those who don’t know, red envelopes contain cash. More on this tradition later, in a future entry.

It’s like Thanksgiving, immediate families gather for traditional meals, connecting across generations, across worlds, from the Eve through the midnight moment, into New Years Day; then extended families, relatives, and friends gather in the subsequent two days and enjoy good food and good times.

It’s like the fireworks on Fourth of July, every household lights up fire crackers at zero hour of New Years Day to scare off evil spirits. And children would play with fire crackers around this time of year.

And it’s like the solar New Year, the lunar New Year is a celebration of new beginning, with many things happening in not just one day–People would get busy even before the Eve to prepare for the new year. They would clean their houses, wash their cars, shop for new clothes to wear… And of course shopping for cooking ingredients for dishes to be served during the 3-day long celebration…

For a traditional Chinese New Year dish recipe, check back next week. 😉

Our Favorite Winter Breakfast – Chicken Rice Soup

In my childhood memory, winter in Taipei was always gray and cold. Taiwan, sitting at Tropic of Cancer, never snowed. But, because it is a basin city, with humidity trapped within the surrounding hills, the chilly winter rain was always cold enough to pierce the bones. Everyone would get sick everyday, sniffles and sneezes everywhere…

This was the season when Mother always had a pot of chicken soup ready to serve at any time, especially for breakfast at 6:30 in the morning — Yes: The children in my family grew up having chicken soup for breakfast. 🙂 It warmed our soul, and it prepared us for the work/school day ahead. Especially for the tough city commute that sometimes had my head sandwiched between the standing people’s buttocks on a bus… Only in Taipei.

IMG_0412Ingredients to serve a party of 4 to 8: 

  • 8 chicken wings (approximately 2 lb.) Thawed. Can be substituted with 2 lb. of legs and/or thighs
  •  9 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  •  12 oz. Daikon cut to bite size chunks
  • 10-12 oz. Whole onion, chopped
  • 5 oz. Carrots, sliced
  • 4 oz. Celery Heart (approx. 3 stalks)
  • 2 oz. Ginger, 1/8” to 1/4” slices for flavoring
  • 1 cup scallion or cilantro, chopped
  • 8 cups of cooked rice

Preparing the chicken:
Boil 12 cups of water. Place the thawed chicken pieces into the boiling water. Bring back to boil and immediately remove from heat. Let stand in pot for 12 hours or overnight. Drain and gently rinse the chicken under running water. Pluck excess feather where necessary. Chicken is ready to use.

Note: The purpose of this prepping process is to remove excess chicken fat and blood, which results to a healthier, leaner and a more aesthetically pleasing ingredient. We recommend using the prepared chicken immediately or to refrigerate and use it within one day.

Making the Soup:
In a large pot, combine chicken with water, ginger, vinegar, onion, celery, carrots and daikon. With high heat, cover and bring to boil. Leaving the pot covered, simmer in low heat for another 15 minutes while skim excess oil from surface. Remove from heat and serve.

Serving Suggestions:
1 cup of cooked rice is the recommended serving size per person. To serve the soup, place one chicken piece in each rice filled bowl before scooping in other ingredients. Pour soup over rice. Garnish with scallions or cilantro and serve.

Note: The picture above shows 2 servings of the soup made with chicken wings and garnished with scallions.