Dead in the Yard?

In the middle of the night, my husband came by my desk as I was wrapping up some work, looking alarmed:

MK: There is a dead possum in our yard. I believe our dog killed it.
Me, not fully comprehending the implication (rabies! blood gushing out! ewww!), but excited at the prospect of going outside to get some fresh night air: WHAT? Let’s go see!
MK and I walked out to the backyard and lo and behold, there was a small animal lying stock-still on the ground.
Me: How does one dispose of a dead possum? Do you think the police will laugh at us if we call them?
MK chuckled: Yeah, for sure.  Maybe it’s playing dead. I’m not going to touch it.

After silently staring at this ugly animal for 3 minutes in disbelief, both of us crouching on yard chairs, we decided to come inside in case it was playing dead.

Me to the dog: I can’t believe you killed a possum!
MK to the dog: It’s ok, I understand.  It’s in your nature.
Me to MK: but if she killed the possum, shouldn’t we have heard them?  It was so quiet!

I examined the dog, and didn’t see any blood nor scratches on her.  I fed her a Dental Chew™ as a test: if she happily chowed down the treat, she probably didn’t bite off any animal meat; but if she didn’t care for her favorite treat, then chances were high that she might have had a midnight snack (eeewwww!).

MK to the dog and me: Oh, good idea, she needs to clean her teeth!

She happily (might I add, lovingly) chowed down her treat.

Went back to the desk, googled “dead possum in yard”.  Apparently, you leave them there for four hours in case it’s not dead.  HA! So Monkey King was right.

I walked to the room with a view of the yard and turned on the outside light. A pair of beady eyes the color of squid ink stared straight back at me.  Its head moved an infinitesimal millimeter, but I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating, willing it to move so that we didn’t have to deal with a dead possum tomorrow morning. I called out to Monkey King to come take a look.

MK: oh yeah, the head is in a different position!
Me exhaling, turned to the dog: Wait, you just let a possum come wandering into our yard without notifying us?

Back to the desk, googled: “live possum in yard.”

Do you have possums in your yard? How do you get rid of them?

Also, 30 minutes later, the possum was gone.

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EATS: Blistered Shishito Peppers

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With our drastic reduction of meat consumption this year, I try not to overdo it with beans and fish all the time.  I started making tofu dishes (more on that later!), and looking into vegetables that we normally don’t cook at home.  When I was in the Asian market, I spotted a bag of silky Shishito peppers.  Remembering the mouth-watering Shishito pepper we had at a Ramen shop up at Mammoth called Ramenya, I decided to bring these lush velvety green treats home and try my hands on them.

Shishito pepper is mildly sweet, slender, and thin-skinned.  Shishito is short for shishitogarashi, meaning lion’s head, probably due to the resemblance of the wrinkly pepper skin to the animal’s.  Paired with a pint of Asahi beer, we were popping these green finger foods to our mouth like popcorn and had to order a second large plate for everyone to share!  Here is a recipe I came up with, if you’d like to see:

EATS: Blistered Shishito Peppers

Ingredients (serves 1-4, depending on how good you are about sharing)

  • 0.5lb whole Shishito peppers, washed, and dried
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Splash of fish sauce
  • 3-6 Chile peppers

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Steps:

  • Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet in medium-high heat.
  • Lay the peppers gently into the skillet and be careful not to let the oil splashed onto your arms!  This video shows you how hot the oil has to be:
  • Turn the Shishito peppers to make sure all sides are properly blistered.  Again, be careful with the hot oil!
  • Sprinkle with salt and a splash of fish sauce to taste
  • Once all the peppers are blistered, add the red Chile peppers for the vibrant red color and heat (you can skip this if you don’t like spicy food).
  • Add the minced garlic last so as to not burn them.  Mix well and turn off heat.
  • Enjoy!

 

 

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Asian Noodle with Eggplant, Portabello Mushroom, Bean Sprouts, and Sugar Snap Peas

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With my daughter being a Pescatarian, I’ve been forced to get out of my comfort zone of relying on roast chicken and bolongnese sauce, and really think about how to make vegatable dishes interesting on a daily basis.  I bought two Japanese eggplants at the farmer’s market.  With this gorgeous silky purple, I wanted to play with it and give the eggplant an Asian twist.   Right off the bat, I wanted to subsitute olives with mushrooms; be it portebello or shitaki.  I loved the briny olives with the eggplant in my previous rendition (did you?), and mushroom seemed to me to give my dish a different, meaty, and earthy taste that could be delicious.  While at the market, I spotted sugar snap peas at the end of their summer season.  I quickly grabbed two handfuls (before they disappeared!).  Then into the basket came another two handfuls of bean sprouts, a bunch of scallion, some Thai chili.  As I reached the cashier, I felt hopeful with the vague idea of what I was about to prepare.  Here is what I came up with. We enjoyed it immensely and I hope you do, too!

EATS: Asian Noodle with Eggplant, Portabello Mushroom, Bean Sprouts, and Sugar Snap Peas

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced long (see picture below)
  • 1 Portabello mushroom, sliced long (see picture below)
  • 2 handfuls of sugar snap peas, cut diagnally as shown in the picture above
  • 2 handfuls of beans sprouts, with the ends cleaned off by hand (I know it’s tedious, but trust me, the crisp, crunchy texture of the bean sprouts after you twist off the limp, watery ends is well worth it!)
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons almond butter (or Peanut butter, whichever you prefer)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • Thai chili, as much (or little) as you like; I used 5-6
  • 1.5 handful of Chinese noodle
  • 3-5 scallion, sliced both white and green parts length-wise

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Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Toss sliced eggplant and Portabello with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and really get in there and massage them to make sure that the they are coated.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until eggplant and mushroom are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is in the oven, blanch the cut snap peas and the bean sprout in batches.  You want to just barely place the veggies in the boiling water, and immediately take them out and place them in ice cold water.  This will ensure that your veggies are cleaned, but still crunchy.
  • Whisk together 3 Tsp of sesame oil, 2 Tsp almond butter, and 3 Tsp of light soy sauce in the serving bowl.  Keep mixing until the sauce is smooth.
  • Cook the noodles al dente; drain well and mix it into the almond soy sauce.  You want the noodles to be a bit warm so they will better absorb the flavor of the sauce.  You can drizzle with more sesame oil or soy sauce to taste.
  • When they are out of the oven, mix in the egglplant and the mushroom.
  • Toss in the sugar snap peas, the scallion, the bean sprout, and the Thai chili!
  • Garnish with Thai basil if you have it.
  • Enjoy!!

 

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EATS: Mediterranean Pasta with Eggplant, Olives, Grapes, and Tomatoes

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The farmer’s market is bustling with all the vibrant colors of summer!  What caught my eyes this weekend were the purple eggplants and yellow cherry tomatoes.  I decided to make a pasta salad dish with these ingredients because:  1) this might be a good dish to pack for lunch without having to reheat; 2) this dish might be a great dish to bring to the beach.  Come to think of it, with a cold pasta salad, I can pretty much make it ahead of time and bring it anywhere!

EATS: Mediterranean Pasta with Eggplant, Olives, Grapes, and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsemic vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup penne pasta
  • 1 bunch fresh basil

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Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss cubed eggplant and chopped olives with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet. Really get in there and massage the eggplant to make sure that the cubes are coated with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until eggplant is tender, about 18-20 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is in the oven, cook pasta al dente; drain well and set aside.  You can drizzle it with some olive oil to prevent them from sticking.
  • Whisk together 3 Tsp of olive oil, 2 Tsp balsamic vinegar in the serving bowl.
  • When the eggplant/olives mixture is tender, toss it in the serving bowl along with the pasta and mix well
  • Toss in the halved tomatoes and grapes and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with basil
  • Go ahead, admire the color explosion, and enjoy!
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It’s That Summer Feeling: Lobster!

Mom took me to the holy grail of homelife shopping: Costco. I was dazzled, mesmerized, and perhaps also a bit overwhelmed by the quantity of everything there, including shoppers and cars in the parking lot tranporting the said shoppers. Under her guidance, I picked up a giant bag of almond, trash bags, ziploc bags, then as we turned the corner, I saw the fresh food section. Whoa! Korean BBQ meats? Check. Poke? Check. Birthday cake? Avocado? Strawberries? Check, check, check. Then these beautiful lobster tails caught my eyes.

Growing up on the East Coast, nothing says summer quite like crabs and clams and lobsters. Lazy Sunday afternoon, broiled seafood, corn on the cobb, simple salad, and keylime pie. Now we are talking. Here is how I made my lobster tail. Enjoy!

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EATS: Summer Lobster Tail
Ingredients:
5 lobster tail,thawed
1/2 cup unsalted butter (8Tbs)
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup honey
6 cloves of garlic
5 wedges of onion
Juice of 1 lemon
As many slices/wedges of lemon as you want to decorate
Fresh herbs: parsley, dill, cilantro

Steps:
Melt the butter with honey, garlic.
Once melted, pour in the white wine; set aside to let it cool.
Preheat the broiler
Cut the middle of the lobster tail open (as shown in picture 1) with a pair of kitchen scissors
Use your finger to dislodge the lobster meat from the shell all around
Place the tails on the oven tray
Place wedges of onion between the lobster meat and the shell
Season the lobster with salt and pepper, then ladle the melted butter mixture with a spoon
Broil the lobster until meat turns opaque. about 10-15 minutes
Squeeze lemon juice on the lobster tail when tails come out of the oven
Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh herbs
Enjoy!

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How to Quit Facebook… or Not

Let’s face it, we are a planet addicted to Facebook.  You see people sitting there on the bus, on the train, in the library, on the sideline of their children’s sports event, across from the dining table in a restaurant, swiping up and down, living vicariously through other people’s lives.  You recognize that Facebook-blue on people’s mobiles and laptops, and you know they are checking their status updates.  You get excited when you see the red number on the top right corner, indicating how many alerts or messages you have.  When life is happening, you are at the ready with your mobile, photo-journaling the process, while pondering in your head how best to caption these photos.  What started out as a fun, online resource for sharing with friends and acquaintances had become the main way we socialize.  Instead of talking to our friends,  we comment on their posts.  When I felt the earthquake the other day, my first instinct was to check the Facebook feeds to see if my friends felt it, too.  When Plumster crushed a particularly worthy challenge, I am not immune to post my pride… then check incessantly to see how many of my friends and family reacted to my post.  When I talked (as in, ahem, face-to-face) to one of my friend the other day and asked her how she was, she retorted, “you didn’t see my post on Facebook?”  I mean, do we now have to study up on people’s Facebook updates before talking to them like we do before a job interview?

After the 2016 Presidential Election, with the foreign-sponsored Facebook bots terrorizing and undermining our democracy, I began to take a harder look at HOW I was using this supposedly fun social network.  I realized that I had become increasingly reliant on Facebook trending news.  I click on friends’ posts to read up on everything they care to share.  All the sensational news of the day.  I donate money to links that friends shared.  I share stories and posts I read.  I engage in political debates, sometimes even with complete strangers.   In other words, I have become an ideal Facebook customer.  When I see friends, I know what vacations they take; if they have insomnia the night before; what television show they watch.  But then what is left for us to talk about when we actually see each other?

Quick, I thought, I needed to do something about this.  At the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, I decided to quit Facebook, cold turkey style… or so I thought!  You see, Facebook doesn’t really let you off the hook so easily.  Like a drug dealer, they ask you, what’s wrong?  Why don’t you like it anymore?  Maybe you could just take some time off, and come back, say 7 days?  Could you tell us why you are quitting?  Like a friend, they helpfully offer ways that can help you cut down the consumption of this drug called Facebook.

Here is my five step program that is ongoing and I hope you find this useful, if you have the same addiction.

First and foremost, you’ve got to have the courage and clear mind to admit that you have a problem.  Does your mind wonder to your phone and your finger itch to click that app open to check people’s comments?  Even when the moment is not right.  Say, your child is sitting there right in front of you?  Even when say, your spouse is TALKING to you?  Yes?  Yes,  then you do have a problem.

Ok, now that you admit it, decide on how you want to quit.  Do you want to quit cold turkey?  Or wean yourself off slowly?  If you want to quit cold turkey, more power to you!  Facebook gives you an option to quit for a set period of time and you can log back on after the set days, and nothing would be lost, no hard feelings.  Judging from the number of posts and the memory I shared, I decided that perhaps I should do a trial of separation first.

Once you decide to down shift or quit on Facebook, the first thing you need to do  is to delete that Facebook app from your mobile phone.  Pronto!  Stat!  Get that drug off your phone.  Limit your access.  This way you are not carrying that drug in your purse, in your jeans pocket, taking it everywhere with you.  It’s like carrying a pack of cigarette in your pocket while trying to quit smoking.  Or a bottle of wine while trying to quit drinking.  This way, even if you have a weak moment, or a particularly good or horrific news you want to share, you can only check it on your laptop, or using the web browser version on your mobile, which is kind of cumbersome and clunky and does not entice you to stay any longer than necessary.

During my week of trial of separation, I felt… unencumbered and free!  Surprisingly, I did not have withdrawal symptoms.  I thought I’d be longing to check up on people’s lives, but with the app off my mobile, it was easy to not want to.

At the end of my separation period, I realized that I needed to check in on Facebook status from Plum’s school groups.  Parents share important school updates on the various private groups that we belong to.  Without the real-time updates, I would have missed the school trip reminder, on the day of the trip, where they reminded us that we had to be in school 25 minutes earlier than usual.

With the decision to stay, I have to make some provisions here.  My phone is still off limits for the Facebook app.  I refuse to get back in too deep this time around.  Next, to limit the feeds I read, the arguments I would inadvertently get myself into, and the internal struggles I create when I post certain things, I cleaned up my friends list.  Take an honest inventory of your friends list and choose quality over quantity.  After the 2016 election, I became warry of people on my friend’s list that I knew who voted for a certain candidate.  I worry about what they think of my posts and my political views.  How could they possibly voted for a candidate who essentially does not give a damn about people like me: a woman who immigrated from a foreign country who is non-white, who relied on a functional public school system and government funded merit scholarships to get to where she is today.  These people are basically telling me, I don’t care about people like you; whether or not people like you exist does not matter to me; or worse, maybe they wish people like me did not come to this country in the first place.

While you are cleaning your Facebook house, go through the app list that is linked to your Facebook account.  Delete any app you do  not want linked to your Facebook account.  You’ll be surprised how many apps are linked to your Facebook account.  Those fun questions you answered?  Those merchants you clicked to make online purchasing easier with just one click?  The character from Game of Thrones that best describe you?  I did not even know how most of these accounts got linked to my Facebook account.  But here they were.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  The more apps you delete, the less profiling Facebook has a handle on you.  This entire cleansing process felt cathartic.

Last but not least, allow yourself a set amount of time to linger in your Facebook account.  Once you are done reading, log out.  The active process of having to use a password to log in and out helps in cutting down the temptation of just taking a peek during any downtime you might have.

In short, here are my five step process in living my life in real-time in a Facebook-free life.  I am not saying you need to quit completely, but be free of it spiritually and emotionally.

  1. Admit you have a problem.
  2. Decide on how you want to down shift: quit cold turkey or a trial of separation?
  3. Delete the phone app on your mobile.
  4. Cleanse your lists: friends, apps, groups.
  5. Allow yourself a set amount of time and log out when you are done.
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The Truth About Turning Gray… From Someone Who’s Turning Gray

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You know how people say not to pluck your gray hair?  Sure, being natural is beautiful.  Sure, having gray does give you that certain aura of wisdom.  Yada yada and all that jazz.  But let’s face it, the gray hair is usually that one lone eye-sore.  Sometimes it even has a different texture that is just annoyingly daring you to pluck it out.

But whatever you do, DO. NOT. PLUCK. IT. OUT.

Yes, the initial satisfaction of getting rid off that eye-sore is quite fulfilling.  Yes, your head will look like it’s returned to normal.  But only TEMPORARILY!  Because guess what?  Once that gray hair grows back, you don’t just have that gray eye-sore, you now have a SHORT. SPIKY gray eye-sore.  And if you pluck out a bunch of it?  Well, the cactus I saw today at Trader Joe’s kinda, sorta reminded me of the head of someone I knew my whole life.

Just sayin’

You are welcome.

P.S. Yes, instead of growing out my bangs, I am now growing out my grays.

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