EATS: Oven-Baked Ube Fries

If 2021 was about survival and trying to sustain ourselves with predictable and easy meals, 2022 proves to be the year of culinary expansion and experimentation with… vegetables! Here is my latest creation playing with ube, or Japanese purple yam. It’s easy, fast, and yummy. Hope you enjoy them!

EATS: Oven-baked Ube


  • 2-3 Japanese purple yam, ube
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs salt


  • Wash and scrub the yam well; pat dry
  • Cut the yam into thin sticks by slicing them first like this (don’t they look like some decadent pork belly?):
Purple vegetarian pork belly
Then cut them into sticks like this
  • Coat them in a bowl with olive oil
  • Toss in the spice powder and mix with your hand
  • Line them in the baking sheet, ensure they are in single layers
  • 400F 15min; flip the sticks, then bake for another 10min
  • Enjoy!

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Night Scene in LA

Snapped this photo at an intersection after a rare rainy day in Los Angeles. It was a refreshingly chilly day with intermittent down pours.

Rain boots, umbrella, gloves.

Dreaming of steaming ramen or pho.

Come to think of it, go home and make this oxtail stew, or this sick day noodle soup. For something sweet after dinner, make this hot chocolate!

Night Scene in LA
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The Twin Void Remained

I overslept on this fateful morning twenty years ago.  What an infinitesimal minor inconvenience to start this catastrophic day.  I was a medical student living in New York at the time. Because of the terrorist attack, there was a brief power outage in our dormitory buildings. My alarm clock did not go off as programmed; instead it went off an hour later to a pre-set blaring noise that came with the manufacturer’s setting.  That was odd.  I got out of bed, and walked over to my window.

From my 23rd floor bedroom window, I routinely looked for the twin towers before I dressed. It was guaranteed a clear and sunny day if I could see all the way to the twin towers.  On Tuesday September 11th 2001, what I saw instead was black smoke.  I rubbed my eyes and thought that perhaps I had left my contact lenses on the night before.  Black smoke kept bellowing up from the towers.  In disbelief, I turned on the television, hoping to get an explanation for what I was seeing.  The smoking twin towers were glaring back at me from the screen,  duplicating the view from my window.  Hijacked planes. Our country was under attack.


The ensuing hours were spent trying to locate my family members especially my mother, who had planned on taking an out-of-town relative to the city that morning.  I had just celebrated a milestone birthday at the famed Windows on the World.  Located on the top floor of the North Tower, “The Window”, as it was nicknamed, offered us the magnificent view of the sprawling New York City.  I had suggested a nice breakfast up there. All the phone lines were busy.  It was impossible to actually talk to anybody.  Back then, my mother did not own a cell phone.  All my Tuesday classes were cancelled until further notice.  Everyone was confused and in shock.  My fingers shook trying to dial the phone for the n-th time.  It wasn’t until many heart wrenching hours that I was finally able to get through and speak with all of my family members in various boroughs of New York that day.  Everyone was accounted for and safe.  Mom was stuck in the subway in Queens, and never made it to the North Tower that morning.  For many, that tremendous sense of relief – where your quick intake of breath was so violent that it came out animalistic, like a noise between a sob and a scream, but you did not care who could hear you – never came that day.  For many New Yorkers, the twin void remained.

Until this day, I can not bring myself to visit Ground Zero.  I had attended to many patients while working as a medical intern at a hospital on the Lower East Side a couple of years later.  We never traded stories.  We never talked about that day.  It was a wound so deep that you just did not want to scrape the scab.  We held a memorial in our school auditorium for our lost faculties and loved ones.  I was engaged to a wonderful boy at the time. A boy whom I did not love enough. I ended the engagement soon after, because he deserved more, and so did I. I realized that life was too short to allow for certain compromises. New Yorkers came together to mourn for the lives lost; to help our neighbors in meaningful ways; to connect by opening our doors and sharing our meals.

Fast forward twenty years later, our whole world is under attack. This time multiple variants of SARS-CoV2. This time more than 3000 people. Way, way more, in fact. I am again reminded that life is too short. This time, I have a boy I love so deeply that I want my vision to be filled with him and our daughter when I take my last breath. The twin void remained to teach us, but have we learned our lesson?

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EATS: Vietnamese Oxtail Stew

Fiona’s Vietnamese Beef Stew

I had chills after my first dose of Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. In anticipation for numero dos, I decided to make myself a big pot of oxtail bone marrow soup. The nutritious goodness that will simmer and permeate the kitchen will no doubt take all the chills away. While researching how I want to make this soup, I returned to my trusted EATS category here in my blog to see what I had experimented with before, and I found this little gem in my draft!

Now, I have to admit, I don’t have all the ingredients from this recipe to make this stew, so I am making a simpler version today. But I decide to publish this so that: 1) I will have this in my archive; and 2) YOU can try this! It was that good! I came up with this recipe when Monkey King and I stopped by Fiona, the now-gone establishment of the queen of pie, Nicole Ruckers, in 2018. We were mesmerized by the restaurant and tried their Vietnamese oxtail stew. I must say, I LOVED it. I immediately bought some oxtail and tried to make it the following day. So here it is, without further ado, I present to you, my version of Vietnamese Oxtail Stew.

EATS: Vietnamese Oxtail Stew

Makes for a happy dinner party for 10!


For Meat marinate:

  • A large container
  • 2 to 3 pounds oxtail
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 ½ tsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoon fish sauce

For Stew:

  • 3 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup good red wine, for deglaze
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 star anise, whole
  • 3 cups of coconut water
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat parsley


  • Marinate the oxtail for at least 30 minutes with the garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, brown sugar and fish sauce
  • While the oxtail is marinating, cut the vegetables
  • Brown the oxtail on all sides in small batches in a 5 quart heavy bottom pot; then set aside
  • Add the finely chopped onions to the pot, and cook until translucent
  • Deglaze the browned bits with 1/2 to one cup of good red wine
  • Add the tomato paste and stir into onions along with 1 tsp five-spice powder and 1 clove minced garlic; mix well; about 5 minutes
  • Add the oxtail into the pot and add the coconut water and water, 2 whole star anise and lemon grass stalks; bring to boil
  • Lower the heat to simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Add equal ratio of water and coconut water if necessary to keep the pot from running dry
  • Add the cut carrots and potatoes and let cook until tender
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • To serve, remove the lemongrass and star anise; spoon into bowls and garnish with parsley

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Dream About The End of a Pandemic

I had this dream last night, though it may sound like a nightmare. I wasn’t scared, just amused, and almost relieved, that I finally figured out what was happening.

Anyway, in my dream, I was standing on a rooftop overlooking downtown Santa Monica, the waves peacefully lapping in the Pacific Ocean.  I realized as I looked around me, that I was standing in the dining area in the outdoor mall in Santa Monica, except there were no tables nor chairs.  I walked away from my ocean view.  I walked towards the center of the mall, and there in the middle of the courtyard was a sports bar, packed with patrons.  Everybody was looking up towards a monitor, their eyes smiling. Everybody was holding a brand new, polished, wooden baseball bat.  They were watching the monitor, receiving instructions on how to do a coordinated dance with their bats.  Imagine a crowd doing the macarena dance, but with a bat.  The expression on everyone’s face was joyful.  I wondered why they were all jam packed together.  I looked more closely down towards their nose and mouth, and thought to myself, why weren’t they wearing masks?

I turned right and walked inside the food court.  Tables were full of families with children, happily gathering and enjoying their meals.  I looked around, and again, nobody was wearing a mask.  “Is the pandemic over already?” I wondered.  There was an escalator inside the food court, and I walked towards it. There was a crowd of people coming up the escalator, I tried to step aside to let them pass… except they walked right pass me.  I felt floaty and they keep coming and walking through me. 

Then it dawned on me, that perhaps yes the pandemic was over, but perhaps I was, too. 

The end.

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What Makes America Great

July 5, 2020

Today marks the 35th anniversary of my family’s arrival to the United States.

On July 5th 1985, our father, who had come to the States 10 months prior to our arrival, picked us up from the JFK airport. “There was a big party in our neighborhood the day before.  There were even fireworks!” Dad said cheerfully, and then added jokingly, “America was throwing a welcoming party for you! But they must have gotten confused with the date because of the time difference.” I was thirteen years old, not easily fooled, but characteristically optimistic. That welcoming sentiment pronounced by my father, however absurd, stayed with me, and fueled my enthusiasm for anything American, be it real or self-projected.

The next day, our friendly neighbor told us that we could get free school breakfast during the summer. Growing up in Taiwan in the early 80’s, we didn’t have a McDonald’s until 1983. The only American shows we had were “Three’s Company” and “Dynasty” (remember those?).  I was always curious about the American ways. Empowered by my knowledge of the alphabets and a few working sentences in English, my eight year-old little brother and I set out and walked the few blocks to our local public school. We found the school cafeteria, got in line, and had our first taste of American breakfast. Our first American meal consisted of milk, yogurt, hash browns, and pancakes with syrup, nothing like the savory rice congee with dried pork, century egg, pickled cucumber salad, and salted fish we had back home.  We had hit the jackpot!  We decimated every morsel on our tray. Walking back with our bellies full of sweets, my little brother and I sang our made-up songs using whatever little English we knew and skipped happily home.

And boy, did we develop an insatiable appetite for anything American after our first taste! We gobbled up television shows such as “Thunder Cats”, “Transformer”, “Who’s the Boss”, “Growing Pains”, “Twenty-One Jump Street”. We would often laugh with the laugh tracks when jokes came up. When asked by our parents what was so funny, we didn’t have a clue! “We were supposed to laugh!” We pointed out the laugh tracks that were masked by our own laughter. If my parents thought we were crazy, they didn’t let on. “Maybe one day you’ll actually know what you are laughing about!” Mom said with an encouraging smile.

When autumn leaves turned to brilliant yellow and orange, we enrolled in our local New York public school.  Because we were not proficient in English, we were assigned to English as Second Language (ESL) homerooms. My classmates came from all over the world: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Iran, Nigeria, Korea, and Egypt. Whatever our life circumstances, one minute we were half a world away, and the next minute our fate brought us all under one roof, gathered in one room. Kids in ESL classes took all of our classes together. I remembered my very first American class was a history class. “HISTORY” my teacher wrote on the blackboard. I had no idea what “history” meant, even though it seemed so simple. Perhaps it was actually his story and the teacher forgot a space and another s?  I thought to myself. I dutifully copied down every single word he wrote. I knew that everything would become clear once I got home and looked up every unfamiliar word with my now well-thumbed English-Mandarin dictionary.

Once a month, our homeroom teacher would take the ESL kids on field trips. These field trips were designed to assimilate us to our new country.  We visited the Empire State Building, World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, Bronx Botanical Garden, and New York Main Public Library. We were even treated to the Radio City Rockettes show in December. Our pack was a mini United Nation of sorts, eager to understand the new world around us with our fragmented language skills; in awe of our good fortune for being in the greatest, most powerful nation in the entire world. We felt welcomed, protected, and nurtured.

To communicate with my new friends, we deployed all kinds of tactics, be it body language, sign language, tone differentiation, or simply writing words down because of our various accents.  Everyone had their own native language to English dictionary and phrase books, and nobody was made fun of for trying.  It felt like us new immigrants were put aside in a special greenhouse, treated with extraordinary kindness and generosity in our adopted country. We read aloud in class, with our teachers patiently correcting our pronunciation, and ensuring our comprehension. Slowly but surely, I started to understand that Tony from “Who’s the Boss” was actually a hired housekeeper; and Johnny Depp was working as an undercover cop in a high school. My parents even took notice the first time I laughed at a joke before the laugh track came on, about nine months after our arrival. “Hey, you must understand more English now!” they indulged me.

My father, bless his heart, somehow got in to his head that Americans eat hamburgers all the time. So during the first year of our arrival, we ate hamburgers for breakfast made from frozen beef patties that he got up early in the morning to steam in a bamboo steamer that Grandma lovingly packed for us in case of homesick; sandwiched by toasted buns. To this day, I cannot eat a hamburger without a visceral gag reflex.  We continued to enjoy the school cafeteria lunch, and learned to appreciate hot dogs, and pizza, and French fries.  Ironically, when I made it to varsity soccer team in high school, Burger King became our regular hang out after our games where I would order fries and a grilled chicken salad.

My first snow happened on a quiet Saturday evening. We had been pestering Dad, who had 10 months more American experience than us, about how snow actually felt like. “Is it like cotton?” we asked. “Does your clothes get wet? Do you have to carry an umbrella like you do on a rainy day?” Endless questions. On that quiet Saturday, soft, fat snowflakes floated down from the sky. My brother and I rushed out to our yard without a jacket or an umbrella, and understood at that moment, that snow felt like pure magic. Soon our yard turned white as if someone picked up a paintbrush, dipped it in white paint, and swiped down a few large strokes.

The following Monday, my friends and I excitedly chatted about the snow. You see, for us ESL kids who had never seen snow, seeing our first snow was just like living in America, pure magic!

One by one, the ESL kids were deemed proficient, and integrated into regular English classes.  In my case, I was placed in Honors English.  I didn’t know why, but was humbled by the opportunity.  I remembered my first test in my Honors English class.  We had to interpret a poem entitled “Fog”, by Carl Sandburg.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Now that I had two American years under my belt, AND I was in Honors English, I really should have known what the word “fog” meant, except that I didn’t. It was one of those words that little kids learned from a colorful board book when they were babies! I sat there, staring at the test paper, willing myself to understand the poem without having the foggiest (yes, puns intended) idea what the word “fog” meant. The clock ticked on. “10 more minutes!” My teacher, Ms. Bruno announced. “Alright, it’s now or never,” I awkwardly went up to her, and whispered in a strained voice, “can you please tell me what this word mean?” and pointed to the title. “Fog? You don’t know what fog mean?!” Ms. Bruno, the most strict, stern teacher in the school, who taught Honors English for more than 15 years, gasped. She quickly recovered and explained that it was a kind of weather. It was white and when there was fog, it was hard to see things. She wiggled her ten fingers and swished them around. Ha! If nothing else, I understood body language! I quickly scribbled down my interpretation so that I did not receive a big fat zero on my first real English test. I was scared and relieved. Scared that they now knew that I was but a foreigner, but also relieved that the truth of my foreignness was out in the open. Now kids in my Honors English wouldn’t look at me and wondered “where did this girl come from all of a sudden?” I thought for sure they’d transfer me back to ESL. And what did Ms. Bruno do? She had us read The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck next.

My English-speaking classmates learned about the daily lives of pre-WWI Chinese village, about the love Ms. Buck had for a different culture. Ms. Bruno utilized this opportunity to introduce her 15 year-old Honors English students to a whole new world. For extra credit, she had me do a show-and-tell about Chinese culture. Ms. Bruno impressed upon me that just because I had not fully master the language did not make me an inferior pupil. At the end of my show-and-tell, I showed my classmates how to use chopsticks. Chopsticks I collected from the Chinese restaurant we visited once a week, because there was no Amazon or Party City back then. My native English-speaking classmates thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. Watching these blond-haired, blue-eyed teenagers laugh and cheer each other on to pick up fortune cookies with their chopsticks was both hilarious and reaffirming.  America welcomed me.

Thirty-five years later, I can still feel this welcoming spirit.  I feel the warmth and generosity from my friends and neighbors.  With the current COVID 19 pandemic that President Trump likes to call “Kung Flu”; the SARS-CoV 2 virus the “Wuhan virus”, or “Chinese virus”, I believe that there are still generous and compassionate people in this country.  With the current social injustice where a disproportionate number of African Americans are dying in the custody of the law enforcement; where Black EMT worker was shot dead in her own apartment; Black boy shot dead with a toy gun in his hand; Black boy shot dead walking with his hoodie pulled up; Black man gunned down by father and son while jogging; Black man kneed to death for a $20 counterfeit bill; Black men found dead hanging from trees; Black birdwatcher threatened and called upon for police; I believe that there are still truth and justice-seekers in this country.  The kind of people who educated themselves about the Black history we were never taught in school; the kind of people who showed up to protest for Black Lives Matter all over this country, and all over the world!  The America from 35 years ago that welcomed and nurtured classes after classes of newly arrived ESL kids be them brown, or black, or yellow, or beige has not gone by the wayside yet.

So listen up America!  We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Let’s live up to our expectations.  Let’s be free of prejudice. Let’s be free to practice good judgment. Let’s be free to utilize common public health sense!  Let’s be brave to call out social injustice.  Let’s be brave to cross party lines and vote for someone who could possibly rehabilitate America back both physically and psychologically.  Let’s be brave to admit that perhaps having a xenophobic, sexist, and racist narcissist in the highest office of America is not what makes America great. What makes America great is the greenhouse that incubates and nurtures immigrant kids like my friends and me. Our collective trauma needs healing.  Let’s put ourselves into that greenhouse, America.

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EATS: Kimchi


One of the things I miss, during the COVID-19 quarantine , is eating at Korean restaurants where they give you unlimited amount of house-made kimchi.  The store-bought jars just NEVER taste the same.  After searching high and low on the internet and cookbooks, I adapted a kimchi recipe that is loosely based on David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook.  The main difference is that I substituted sugar with a ripe banana.  Oh, by the way, if you don’t have this book and love food, get it already!  You’ll find yourself reaching for it over and over!


EATS: Kimchi


  • 1 large Napa cabbage
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 10 pieces of ginger, chopped roughly
  • 15 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup fish sauce (skip if you are vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup Korean red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
  • Some optional garnishes to add color and texture may include: 1 medium julienned sweet onion or shallots; 1/2 cup matchsticks of carrots; 4-6 thinly sliced scallions


  • Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half, then cut the halves into 1-2 inch wide pieces.  Alternatively, you can cut the halves lengthwise into quarters.  That way when it’s time to serve later, you can cut them into smaller pieces with scissors at the table like in Korean restaurants!
  • Rub the sea salt onto the cabbage and let sit in room temperature until the cabbage looks wilted.  About 2 hours.  Alternatively, you can leave them in the refrigerator overnight.
  • In a blender, combine the banana, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar; pulse until smooth.  Set aside.

  • When the cabbage looks wilted, rinse the cabbage in cold water to get rid of the salt on the outer layer.  Gently squeeze out the excess water, pat dry, and place in a large food-grade container
  • Mix the kimchi paste onto the cabbage.  Add the Korean red pepper flakes, the optional garnishes such as onion, carrots, shallots, scallion, and mix well.  Like this:

  • Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 weeks
  • When you open them the next day (of course you will, because you just have to take a peek!), and taste it (of course you are curious!  It’s ok, I won’t judge), it will not taste like anything.  So put it back in the refrigerator, cover tightly, and let sit for at least one week.
  • O.M.G. this is the bomb!  Sooo delicious!  AND, it’s good for your digestive system.  I can see myself making this on a weekly basis now. 
  • Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
  • kimchi
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EATS: Crème brûlée


We got into watching Master Chef Junior recently.  In one of the episodes, Christina Tosi was astonished that a child made a crème brûlée under 45 minutes.  I was astonished that a child could make a crème brûlée.  I mean, I only get to eat crème brûlée when I go to a fancy Franch restaurant or bistro, so of course I have to investigate how to actually make a crème brûlée during Memorial weekend.

After leafing through a bunch of cookbooks and watching homemade youtube videos, here is my version.  Hope you find this useful!

EATS: Crème brûlée

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (100g) for the custard part
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar (50g) for the brulee part
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 whole vanilla bean (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 325F and boil water for the loaf pan for baking later
  • Place your ramekins on the loaf pan, taking care that there is enough room to fit all the ramekins
  • Whisk the yolk and granulated sugar in a bowl until smooth; set aside
  • Heat the heavy whipping cream with salt in medium heat.  If you want to elevate your dessert with the luscious speckles of vanilla bean, halve a whole vanilla bean with a paring knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds, and place the entire content into the cream pot
  • Watch the cream and turn off heat immediately when it starts to simmer.  This is when the recipe is testing your patience, I know.  Maybe this is a good time to practice your tree pose, or call your mom or dad.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and take out the vanilla bean if you had it in there before
  • Start whisking the yolk mixture with your dominant hand, then add a ladle of the heated cream with the other hand into the bowl in a steady, measured motion.  The point is, you need to be using both hands: whisking the yolk mixture while pouring the hot cream in.  You want to temper the yolk so that it’s not cooked like scrambled eggs.  Don’t get nervous!  Just keep whisking and don’t pour the cream in too quickly, and it will all work out.  Promise!
  • Keep stirring in more ladlefuls until the egg mixture is warm.  Mine took about 3 ladles.  Then pour in the entire content of the bowl back into the pot with the cream, all the while whisking the pot steadily.  Some recipes call for heating them again.  I did not.
  • Pour the cream mixture into the ramekins.  Go ahead, fill to the top!
  • Pop and break any bubbles; or scoop them out with a tiny spoon.  This step is optional, since you’ll be covering the top with brûlée sugar anyway.  But I want my custard to come out looking smooth (must be my upbringing as an chawanmushi enthusiast growing up in Taiwan).
  • Fill the loaf pan with the water you boiled to about 1/2″ in height; taking care not to get the water into the ramekin.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 min and check.  The middle should still jiggle a bit.  If the middle looks firm, you’ve over cooked it.
  • Place the ramekins on a cooling rack; then place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 3 hours (see, I am as shocked as Christina Tosi now!).
  • Right before you serve, pour enough granulated sugar to cover the top of the ramiken.  Shake the ramiken horizonally to distrute the sugar evenly.
  • Torch the sugar until the surface is golden brown.  Like this:


  • Let cool for 5 minutes
  • Now go enjoy all the ooohs and the aahhhhs from your admiring guests
  • Crack that golden delicious sugar shell, dig in, and enjoy!
  • If you are married to a drummer, he might show his appreciation for his good luck by doing this:

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Every Day I Don My Armor- A Physician’s Account

covidWe leave to go to war every morning knowing our risks. I did not sign up to be a soldier, yet here I am.  My job is to heal and I took an oath.  In Fabruary, I purchased three new pairs of scrubs and a new pair of clogs, because there was no more mixing of street and hospital clothes.

MK and I went over our contingency plans over wine in mid March; then more contingency plans over tears (mine). We went over with the then 12 year-old Plumster (she is 13 now!) on how to take care of herself: how to do laundry; how to disinfect the kitchen; how to leave food at the quarantined door and quickly leave. I don’t know how not to be scared, but I need to push on.

With the #stayhome order we are avoiding a surge, thus allowing scientists and doctors to figure out how to combat this pandemic. There are new solutions, new problems, new insights, new possibilities, new symptoms (CDC just added a few more!), hitting at us every day. I have FB on all day now because it seems to be the fastest, most centralized place to get the most up-to-date information from all the national physician news groups.

On a much less horrific scale compared to the frontline healthcare workers in Brooklyn, every day really does feel like Groundhog Day.  I walk into my office, decontaminate my entire workstation with bleach wipes( keyboards, phone, chair, faucets), then I wipe down all the doorknobs around my office, up and down the hallway, including the staff bathrooms.

I try to use telemedicine inside my office as much as I can. If I really need to see an inpatient face-to-face, I need to be mindful of the different levels of possible viral load: the elevator, the floors, the emergency room, the ICU.  Keeping track of my fingers and where they land: all the buttons I have to press, all the keyboards I need to click, all the doors I have to open.  Hand sanitizers, hand washing, hundreds of times a day.  My fingers cracked; my ears raw; my nose dented.

I try to remember every conversation I have with my patients so that I get all my work done at my own desk, the one I bleach-wipe at least twice a day. I try not to breathe too deeply all day.  I try not to let the fogged eye shield, nor my pinched nose, nor my squished ears bother me.

When I go home, I change out of my shoes inside my car. My family is used to not coming near me when I get home, though I do have to yell at my dogs for licking me.  I strip and rush to the shower as soon as I get home to decontaminate myself and hot wash everything my body touches.  I feel like a robot sometimes. Actually, scratch that, I feel like a robot most of the time. Do not feel, just proceed. Do not introspect. Do not fear.

And I do all of this from a relatively clean environment. I can’t fathom what will happen if our hospitals are packed with COVID-19 patients, filled to the brim with horrors and sorrows. I check up on my mom daily who lives alone in NYC. There is no cure and no vaccine for COVID-19, so all we can do is to flatten the curve to give healthcare providers and scientists more time to come up with ways to fight and to protect.

With states lifting their social distance orders, I am stricken with worries about what awaits us in the near future.  I fervently pray that the COVID-19 epicenter scenario will not repeat elsewhere.  Please do your part in reminding your community how important it is to keep our neighborhood safe. Please wear masks, wash your hands, and be safe.  Spread love, not germs.

Thank you.

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EATS: Smokey Spicy Garbanzo Snack

Ever since we watched The Game Changer, Plum and Monkey King have dived whole-heartedly into the blissful world of plant-based eating.  So if you love your whole roasted chicken, brisket, pork shoulders, duck confit, beef tenderloin, quail, seared salmon, dover sole, clam bake, lobster (can you tell how much I miss these?), DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, let your family anywhere near that movie.  But if you want something to convince you and your loved ones that being a vegetarian is a heatlhy choice, by all means, head on over!  This movie will transform and energize your resolve to become a vegetarian.   With our drastic shift in food consumption, I started looking to beans and other proteins sources. 

Garbanzo, also known as chickpeas, is packed densely with nutrients, providing rich protein, dietary fiber, folate, iron, and phosphorus.  Soaking and cooking garbanzo beans increase their protein digestability, essential amino acid index, and enhance protein efficiency ratio.   I am a big fan of those savory roasted green pea snack that you typically find in Asian food markets, so I want to make my garbanzo bean a little spicy and savory that we can snack on, or put in a rice bowl with green veggies.  After several tweaking and multiple requests from Plumster who is addicted to this snack, here is recipe.  Hope you find this helpful!

EATS: Smokey Spicy Garbanzo Snack

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

  • 1 can of 15.5oz Garbanzo beans (or dry beans soaked overnight)
  • Paprika powder, 2 Tbs
  • Salt, 2 Tbs
  • Garlic powder, 2 Tbs
  • Cayenne pepper, 1 Tbs or nore if you want it more spicy
  • Tumeric, 1 tsp
  • Ground ginger, 1tsp
  • Extravirgin olive oil, generously drizzled, approximately 2 Tsp


  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans
  • Lay out the beans in a single layer on the rimmed sheet pan and pat dry well
  • Mix the dry powders in a bowl; this recipe can give you enough leftovers for a second round
  • Sprinkle 2 Tsp of the powder mix evenly
  • Drizzle about 1 to 2 Tsp olive oil, enough to cover the beans
  • Wash your hands carefully again ((please soap for 20 seconds during the COVID 19 outbreak!) and dry.  Then carefully MASSAGE the spice oil together, watch the video below.  Your hand will get quite messy.  
  • Sprinkle another Tsp of the spice powder mix all over

  • Roast in the oven in 350F for 40-45 minutes
  • Resist the temptation to open the oven door while the aroma infuses the kitchen
  • Before cool down, you may add a sprinkle of sea salt to taste.
  • Enjoy!  We eat it both as an afternoon snack and as a side dish to our dinner.  Either way, you’ll be glad that you have that extra powder mix to make another batch soon (tomorrow?)! 


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