Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Family Resemblance?

Here we are with my Great Aunt Linda (Grandma Eleanor's sister). I think she looks a lot like my grandma, and they sound identical on the phone. A little over a week ago was my first time to meet Aunt Linda, that I recall. We had a good time chatting. Her husband Richard is also fun because he makes good food and is a polyglot, Chinese included.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Flamingo Food

Vegas is famous for quality buffets at reasonable prices, and we decided the Flamingo's buffet lived up to that reputation. I found a coupon online for a free Nathan Burton magic show with two buffet purchases, so we used that and went first to the show (predictable and risqué --boo), then spent three hours eating delicious seafood, roast lamb, pad thai, and baby back ribs, just to name a few of our favorites. 当我們吃着自助餐时,我們在餐館觀看了火烈鳥。
This restaurant is cute because it has a flamingo habitat attached. Flamingos sleep standing up on one leg. It looks pretty crazy. Sorry we didn't get a photo of that particular pose.
Here is Jerry with one of our little crustacean friends. What are these mini lobsters called, anyway? Is this a crawdad? We felt a bit Mr. Beanish trying to eat it.

And our dessert lineup was impressive as well. My favorite was the key lime pie with a white chocolate garnishment. (the white chocolate had smoochy lips imprinted in pink, if you can't tell from the picture). 像戇豆先生,在他的電影,他吃小龍蝦

Too bad I don't collect M&M Merchandise

Driven to seek out any free attraction, we sat through an M&M's 3-D movie. It was worth the few minutes of our time, perhaps because I do not recall ever seeing a 3-D movie before...? There is a slight chance I saw the M&M movie during my high school band trip to Vegas, but no memory of it yet reveals itself, so we will just say this was my first time.

We admired the rainbow wall of candy coated chocolates but refrained from purchasing any ($12/lb?! What are these colors made of, crushed pearl dust??). Tourist trap to a T, and I am embarrassed to say we did fall prey to some extent. We obtained our sole souvenir of the Vegas trip while browsing at M&M world. While satchels fashioned from actual M&M wrappers were tempting, we ended up going with a charming Christmas tree ornament featuring Red and Yellow riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I still laugh as it sits even now on our kitchen table, a treasured centerpiece. Fits the random theme of our trip. m&m's 世界有不同顏色的m&m's 糖果 / 3D 立體電影院

More Bellagio

The sweet shop Jean Philippe holds a bit of Willy Wonka's magic. Edible dolls (the one pictured was something like 2 feet tall); Chocolate waterfalls cascading from a mirrored ceiling; and prices to match the grandeur of it all. We came away with some hazelnut confections to bestow as a thank-you gift to Aunt Linda & Uncle Richard, and they were kind enough to share some with us. I just about died of bliss.
巧克力噴泉 用巧克力做的007 洋娃娃

More Chinese Garden Shots. Jerry is touching a coin for good luck (actually, he is entirely devoid of superstition, and was touching it because I asked him to).
更多 新年裝飾

Chinese God of Money. Of course he would make a special trip to Vegas. It might be hard to tell in the picture because we neglected to put one of ourselves in there for size comparison, but this statue is probably a hundred feet tall.

Walking the Strip

We walked the entire length of the strip twice. Saturday had perfect weather for being outside, though it got a little chilly when night fell. We stayed outside despite the cold, because after sunset is when the strip comes alive. When these Bellagio fountains danced up to their highest peaks, the water started sounding loud as gunshots. Spending ten minutes in front of a fountain doesn't sound very exciting; apparently it's one of those things you'd have to experience to understand. But we enjoyed it so much we watched the fountain show twice.

您能否找到佳妮?? 那个有白色襯衣是她 Inside the Bellagio, they had prepared a Chinese themed garden just for us. Year of the Ox, red lanterns, gold coins, and of course the lucky bamboo and panda topiary. (Yes, that Panda is a plant! Crazy)


有中國新年裝飾Encore Wynn resort also seemed to have an Asian themed garden. So Jerry joined the design as a live addition.

Las Vegas Temple

我們也去拉斯維加斯聖殿 We recently made a goal to attend every LDS temple we come across. We have probably driven by three or four in our various travels previously without making time to stop on the way. But this trip we made it happen--we made the temple our first priority on Saturday morning. We did one endowment session, and felt pleased to see how crowded it was, as apparently we weren't the only couple who thought it romantic to spend Valentine's Day morn' doing service in the House of the Lord.
This temple has an interesting chapel inside decorated with reddish/orange browns to match the desert soil of the surrounding area. And palm trees at the entrance are always a fun novelty for this Idaho girl.
Sorry Jerry is not in the photo with me. He is our family's self-appointed photographer. Such is life.

Yes, We Have A Wild Side

我們去到拉斯維加斯 Er, maybe our Vegas adventure is tame by most people's standards. But we Tams tend to overplan and stay conservative with vacation ideas, so this past weekend felt pretty exhilarating: With less than a week’s worth of planning, we randomly road-tripped to Las Vegas from the 13th through the 16th. Even though we gave in to our "wild side" in deciding to break away at the last minute, we tried to stay frugal and responsible. Some sweet friends and family in the Vegas area let us crash at their homes, we ate out of our igloo cooler half the time, plus refrained from gambling (of course) which left us feeling balanced in our fun. Just enough spontaneity to add some sparkle to our eyes. The next five or so posts will tell the story. Enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hi Cousins...!!! 哥表, 表姐, 表姪甥們

Since there will be some of my cousins from Hong Kong viewing our blog, I will put some Chinese words here and there from now on. They shouldn't affect the blog context at all. (See the new entry below.)

姨丈,姨母,哥表, 表姐, 表姪甥們:

因為我不太懂打中文字, 我必須從英語字典"複製和插入"中文字, 因此我不會寫太多中文,但是,如果您有問題您可以給我們發電子郵件來問。

我們愛您們。我們希望這個 blog (博克)能將我們更加接近。

More Food Fun

Since a few people seemed interested, here is a link to the red bean ice cream recipe mentioned in our last post:

The only thing we would do differently next time is to include less whole beans and more mashed. It seemed like every bite had a little too much "chewy" texture and not enough "creamy." So a higher percentage of bean paste should do the trick.

We really love cooking. Most days we do at least one meal together, and most of our cooking is the creative type...meaning, we might begin with a recipe in mind, but never follow it exactly. ;)
We had pierogies 俄國的煎角 this weekend (pictured at left). First learned about them during my time in Canada with the Ukranian immigrant population. I made both meat-filled and cottage cheese/potato varieties. Total comfort food. Served with a dollop of sour cream and some green onion, and they freeze really well.

Also, last week some generous neighbor friends gave us a pound or two of pronghorn antelope meat爐羚羊肉, so Jerry got right to work cooking it, doctoring up the game flavor with wedges of onion and lemon. As we ate the meal, I distracted him with a story--and all of a sudden he stopped chewing. "I just ate a whole slice of lemon on accident." It was great.

Last photo: a representation of the veggie bliss we enjoy ever since discovering Sunflower Market. Good deals there, especially on Wednesdays. We blanched a bunch of asparagus, grape tomatoes, and mushrooms into our alfredo sauce and felt proud of our healthy selves. 白汁意粉

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Proof Has Arrived 吃鳳爪

So I tried chicken feet in Hong Kong, but turns out naught but a microscopic crumb ended up getting here is tonight's photo of my second attempt to eat this delicacy. If you double-click, you should be able to view up-close the delicate, charming toenails of this little chicky. I ate about 1/3 of the available foot length, but the part that still had large callused "pads," I graciously left for Jerry to consume. No matter I left the job half is still progress from the first attempt. One thing that made me laugh is how I had trouble picking up the stiffened limb with my chopsticks, and had the thought cross my mind, "Why won't this chicken just grab onto the chopstick for me?" You know, in clutching bird-like fashion. I banished the thought and pretended I was eating a regular ol' piece of pork rib. 白人通常不吃鳳爪 (雞腳)

Our sweet Chinese neighbors invited us over for dinner tonight, and they had prepared a feast of festival proportion (apparently several days from now marks the "end" of New Year festivities).

The dishes we ate, from approximately left to right in a clockwise pattern: grapes; sushi; super spicy chicken (flaming even by Jerry's standards); eggplant; pickled beef?; pig ears; chicken feet; raw potato (better than it sounds); some kind of noodles (not available in the US--shipped direct from Chinese relatives); sausage mixture; green bean with some other mystery meat...? and rice of course (not pictured). 朋友們邀請了我們吃晚餐

Jerry and I also brought homemade red bean ice cream to the feast. Here's a photo from the blog where I found the recipe (our finished product looked just the same, only not served on a fancy dish:

I would like to try making Taro ice cream next. Also found a good recipe for Phở, Jerry's favorite soup. Sounds like the secret ingredient is star anise. 家庭自制红豆冰雪糕

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Writers Part 2

The award ceremony last night turned into a fun catch-up/chatting time with one of my favorite writing teachers who was there. She really pushed publication in the class I took from her, so I attribute at least half the joy of this night to her guidance. Thanks, Susan! It felt really good to share my writing with the group who attended, and I will post a link for others to read it as soon as the piece gets posted online. Besides the intangible, internal rewards I feel, there is a cash award on its way as well. Good times.

The other writers really wowed me! We heard a student from Singapore read his paper. He argued that it is not democracy or communism that drives a market, but property rights and a free market, if I understood him correctly. He cited examples where authoritarian governments have surpassed democracies in this regard. I was especially struck by the point he made that democracies have a tendency to do what is best for the country in the short run, but its leaders--governed by a clamoring populace--often fail to implement solid economic policy for the long haul. Timely observation, America! (interesting that he submitted this paper a year ago; a bit prophetic, no?)

Also, a different young man read his research paper on light pollution. Ha! I always, knew sleeping with the lights on messed up my body; so it was gratifying to have some research back up my instincts. Apparently the hormonal processes are greatly affected by cycles of light and dark.

Anyway, sorry my posts tend to get a bit long. Suffice to say, my Husby and I had a nice time last night at the writer's fest. (Though I ended up with no Brent Ashwood permit in the end, despite my serious efforts).