…And a Happy New Year!

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In the beginning of 2014, which feels like just moments ago, it never occurred to me that I would be cooking and blogging about my experience in the kitchen.  This seemingly whimsical idea has unexpectedly taken root in me somehow. I’m not sure what exactly is driving me to do this. Angela and I started this experiment in an attempt to make our family eat more mindfully.  But what sustains me in the daily practice is perhaps my impulse to make things, and my desire to learn things.  I have learned and am still learning how to prepare more healthful and more delicious food.  In the process I have also discovered a deep pleasure in cooking, and in looking at all the familiar edible things with the newness of a baby.

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I have always loved food, but the past two months have taught me to eat more deliberately, and to taste the flavors instead of simply pigging out.  The past two months are also wonderful because the kitchen has become not only a sanctuary for me, but also a warm place where we find joy as a family.  The children are now more involved in cooking their own food — Audrey has turned out to be quite talented in everything breakfast — smoothies, French toast and pancakes, you name it.  As a matter of fact, she is making healthy-fied blueberry pancakes for dinner as I’m writing.  And writing.  I have also been learning to better express myself in the language of my adopted country.  Words and sentences come too slowly and are never adequate enough to capture the grinding of my brain, but the practice does calm and focus my mind.

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Today I want to share with you twelve of our family’s favorite recipes from the blog.  Most of the dishes I have cooked are relatively simple and quick to make — something accomplishable on a daily basis.  I have completely done away with butter, and in most cases with simple carbohydrates.  Almost all of the breads, muffins and cookies were made of almond flour or coconut flour or both — something I hadn’t known one could do before this blog.   

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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Sugar-free Grain-free Chocolate Cookies

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Thyme, Sage & Garlic

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Healthy, Quick and Easy Mushroom Risotto

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Mongolian Beef

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Healthy Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

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Minced Turkey with Basil Lettuce Cup

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Kung Pao Chicken

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Ginger Scallion Sriracha Glazed Salmon

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Yam Casserole with Crispy Top

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Almond Flour Coconut Chocolate Cookies

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Pear Lemon Zest Burrata Crostini

Thank you for reading. Have a happy 2015!

Oven Roasted Cauliflower from the Squirrel Mother

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My cousin Scott and his family came to visit from the Silicon Valley last night.  His wife Jennifer tutors SAT math to high schoolers six days a week.  From my conversation with her, I learned how extremely driven and competitive these South Bay parents are and it made me feel like an irresponsible and clueless mother.  I actually let my kids follow their favorite TV series.  Angela and I read the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and she jokingly called me a squirrel mother because all I do is tell her to eat and hibernate. But she has accomplished so much in her sixteen years of life that whether I’m a tiger or squirrel doesn’t matter.  Or perhaps my cluelessness even made her more self sufficient.

I use Einstein’s letter to his 11-year-old son as an example (or as an excuse).  He wrote: “I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .”

All I want is for them to find something in life that they truly love to do, because otherwise, life would be too much of a grind. I do see that when they are pursuing something they truly care about, they are “doing something with such enjoyment that they don’t notice that the time passes.”  And according to the ultimate expert in learning, this is the best way to learn.

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Cousin Scott is 2nd on the right, between our grandparents. I am 1st on the left.

Scott and Jennifer brought me a few bags of fresh produce from the farmers’ market.  I roasted the purple and yellow cauliflower and they turned out very aromatic and delicious.  Roasting is a relatively simple and quick way to prepare vegetables.  The total prep time for the roast cauliflower was no more than 15 minutes.

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Oven Roasted Cauliflower Ingredients:

6 cups uncooked cauliflower florets cut small

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

kosher salt and fresh pepper

a dash of ground cumin, paprika, oregano and Coriander

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Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, sage, spices, salt and pepper well so all the florets are coated and seasoned. Place in a large shallow roasting pan and place in the center of the oven.

Roast for about 25 minutes, turning florets occasionally so they are evenly cooked. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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Saturday Brunch with Artisanal Silverware

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There is something wonderful and exciting about receiving and opening packages in the mail, especially when you are not sure what exactly the boxes contain.  I was away on film locations in remote regions of China when I was only fourteen.  My mother used to send me bi-weekly care packages from Shanghai — often times my favorite snacks such as dried plums or a can of spam, which was a luxury item back then.  I can still recall those moments of excitement and anticipation when I opened up the care packages.

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On Christmas Eve, we received in the mail a beautiful set of artisanal silverware from For Such a Time Designs!  We first saw Aly Nickerson’s lovely hand-stamped spoons on SkinnyTaste.com and coveted them for months before they finally arrived, a generous gift from Aly. Each piece of the silver plated flatware is vintage and stamped with antique metal stamps. It is absolutely gorgeous and makes eating even more fun than it already is. “Serve With Love,” “Eat Clean,” my thoughts exactly!

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Smoked Salmon Scallion Omelet Ingredients:

1 Egg + 3 Egg White (beaten)

3 stalks Scallion (chopped)

3 oz. Wild Smoked Salmon (pulled or cut to small chunks)

2 tablespoon 2% Shredded Cheddar & Jack cheese

1/2 teaspoon Dill Weed

1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil

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Preparation:

Heat a flat non-stick pan on medium, add oil, then add most of the chopped scallion. 

After the scallion softens, about 40 seconds, pour in the beaten eggs.

Add salmon, the rest of the scallion and the cheese. 

Sprinkle the Dill Weed.  Roll the Omelet.  Sprinkle with fresh pepper.

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Everyone in the house loved Yam Casserole so much that I made it for the second time this week. It is a delicious and healthy dish that is relatively easy to make.

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Recipe in December 25th post “Empty Chimney Once Upon A Time”

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The Most Delicious & Guiltless Ice Cream

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When I was growing up in China, we didn’t celebrate Christmas; I never even heard of Christmas.  But we did celebrate Dec. 26th — Chairman Mao’s birthday.  We would cook longevity noodles in the kitchen that we shared with our neighbors.  We would bow in front of a Mao portrait and wish him ten thousand years of life.  I realize now that my parents probably only did the celebration for the sake of the kids and the neighbors.  They would not want the neighbors to report them for not loving Chairman Mao enough to wish him a long life.  And they certainly didn’t want to destroy the illusion for their children, who were brought up to worship Mao.  They believed that worshipping Mao as the saint and savior would make their children safer and happier.  Not worshipping Mao would be dangerous to their wellbeing.

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The Mao badge collection was my most valued possession during childhood. This photo was taken in the 80s in LA by my friend, Anchee Min.

Strange how I still wake up on December 26th every year and involuntarily think, “It’s Mao’s birthday.” 

Today, the thought of Mao brought me back to those years of food scarcity and what I was willing to do for a bowl of ice cream. 

I heard from other girls that you would be rewarded with a bowl of ice cream if you were lucky enough to have your tonsils removed. It was a minor surgical procedure performed without anesthesia. I convinced my mother to let me have the operation, but when I was given a bowl of ice cream to soothe my throat, swallowing hurt so badly that I gave my reward to my brother.

Nowadays ice cream is everywhere, and I have had decades to recover from my tonsillectomy so ice cream is once again a great love of mine. However, we all know how overindulgence in ice cream isn’t exactly healthy…

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Guilt Free Ice Cream

I improved on my old guilt free ice cream recipe by using the evaporated milk and adding more dark chocolate.  The result is a much richer and more delicious ice cream. 

Ingredients for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

1 12oz can 2% Evaporated Milk

2 cup non fat Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)

7 tablespoon Xylitol or other sweetener

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

3 tablespoon 100% Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

3 tablespoon 100% Unsweetened Chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a blender.  Add to ice cream maker.  Let it churn until ice cream congeals and hardens, about 25 to 30 minutes. 

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Audrey made the gingerbread cookies to go with the ice cream.  And she typed the following recipe form me.

Healthier Gingerbread Cookies Ingredients:

1/2 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar or xylitol

3 tbs. coconut oil

1 egg

1/3 cup maple flavored syrup

3 cups 100% whole wheat flour

2 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

Preparation:

Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and wrap in plastic wrap.  Leave the mixture in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

Roll out and cut.  Preheat oven at 350F and bake about 12 minutes or until light brown.

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Orange Milk Shake & Broccoli Kale and White Bean Soup

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Peter’s brother brought us two large bags of oranges grown from my in-laws’ garden.  They were the largest, juiciest and sweetest oranges that I have ever tasted.  Peter’s mother loves gardening.  In her small yard there is an orange tree, a persimmon tree and a guava tree.  There are also tomatoes and chili peppers.  Already in her 80s, my mother-in-law still tends the garden herself. 

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Two-year-old Angela in Grandma’s garden

Audrey made the most refreshing orange milk shake with Grandma’s oranges, while I made the  healthiest sweet vegetable muffins for breakfast.  

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Orange Milk Shake Ingredients:

3 oranges

1 1/2 cup milk of choice (dairy is best)

1/12 cup ice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon xylitol or sugar

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When I first heard about the recipe, I was skeptical. Oranges and dairy? Might there be some kind of crazy acid-base explosion? Chemistry isn’t my strong suit but the idea seemed a little gross. So I was shocked when it actually turned out great. Even if you usually can’t tolerate the acidity of citrus, you’ll be able to enjoy this drink. Not only is it delicious, it’s also healthy. Gotta love those antioxidants and polyphenols! Those pesky free radicals won’t even have a chance.

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San Francisco had another glorious day after weeks of rain and we set out for a long stroll in the afternoon.  Living in this amazing city has made us a family of walkers. We believe not only in the pleasure of it but also the spiritual and restorative power it generates.  It is the best antidote for the daily stresses from work or the distractions from the internet.

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Showing off in front of the girls

One of Peter’s patients gave him a gift of four slabs of Rendezvous Ribs.  They arrived yesterday from Memphis via FedEx, vacuum sealed and packed in dry ice.  We had one slab for dinner and they were quite delicious, very smoky and tender.  All I had to do was to warm it up in the oven with the barbecue sauce that came with it. 

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For the vegetarians in the house, I made a hearty soup that was so delicious and satisfying you wouldn’t believe that it was so healthy.

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I adapted the recipe from the STACY LONDON’S BROCCOLI, WHITE BEAN, AND SAUSAGE SOUP, and made a vegetarian version.

Ingredients:

1 large Onion (chopped)

4 cloves garlic (chopped)

4 heads of Broccoli (florets chopped; stems peeled and chopped)

7 cups Vegetable Stock

1 bunch Kale (stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch ribbons)

2 15 .5-ounce Canneloni Beans (drained and rinsed)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then toss in the garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just translucent. Add the broccoli and again season with salt and pepper.

Pour the vegetable stock over the broccoli and bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender.

Let cool slightly and then transfer, working in batches, to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splatter, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Place another heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the broccoli soup in kale and stir to combine. Let cook for one to two more minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve while hot.

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Sandwiches and the Art of Sauntering

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“Give me a wildness whose glance no civilization can endure — as if we lived on the marrow of koodoos devoured raw.” by Henry David Thoreau

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When I pointed to the sky and told Angela that the bright stars meant we would have a sunny day tomorrow, Angela sighed, “More of your old wives’ tales…”  So I was extra happy to see the glorious blue sky this morning.  I was proven right in the eyes of my 16-year-old daughter who often thinks that I am stupid.

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We took our extended family on one of our favorite hikes in San Francisco — Land’s End, the closest wilderness that we could experience without taking a long drive. The best things in life are free and this hike is one of them.

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When Audrey was little, she couldn’t understand why anyone would take a walk.  She thought one walked to get somewhere, and she’d always be asking “are we there yet?” when we strolled.  That, of course, was a long time ago.  Now she is quite a master at taking walks, or as Thoreau put it – sauntering.

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Thoreau wrote in his book Walking: “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land.”

So, we didn’t just walk.  We practiced the art of sauntering.

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Roast pork shoulder sandwich with fresh basil pesto and mushroom onion gravy

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Roast turkey breast avocado tomato sandwich with mustard and mayo

We walked up a ravenous appetite and had the most satisfying sandwiches and soup made from leftovers.  For lunches, I like to forage in my own fridge for leftovers and reinvent them into something new and delicious.  I never throw any food away.

Ingredients for Turkey Vegetable Soup:

1 Roast turkey carcass

3 cups sliced celery

1 onion

2 cups of chopped carrots

2 cups of mushrooms

2 zucchinis

3 cups of chopped kale

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste.

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Boil the turkey carcass with bay leaves, onion, celery and carrots for about hour and half.  Use a spoon to skim the fat off the top.  Take out carcass, remove meat, chopped it up and set aside.  Discard the bone.  Add the remaining vegetables with the turkey meat and cook for 20 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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The roasted pork shoulder from the night before was made with a similar recipe as the pork tenderloin, except that I brined it for three hours and roasted it at 325F for 3 hours.  I added two 2 onions at the 4 corners of the baking dish to give it a little steam.  Then I added the roasted onion to the porcini gravy. The leftovers made the most delicious sandwiches.

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Peter’s brother roasted the Turkey a couple of days ago, and today we made sandwiches and soup of the leftovers.

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Classic mustard and mayonnaise turkey sandwich

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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A mí me gusta la comida china, pero a mis hijas no les gusta. Estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están. This is how we normally spend our Sundays, helping Audrey while she scrambles to finish her Spanish homework and panics while Angela does her integral calculus alone in her room and panics quietly.

Today, however, there will be no panicking or scrambling. It’s winter break, Angela is sleeping well past noon, and we’re spending the day stuffing our faces. Happy holidays from the Hui/Chens!

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Audrey having breakfast with cousin Katie. My brother-in-law’s family is making their annual visit from Los Angeles. This is Audrey’s favorite time of the year.

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

adapted from http://food52.com/recipes/21008-lemon-olive-oil-marinated-fennel-with-burrata-mint

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Ingredients:

2 medium heads fennel, cored and very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

6 strips lemon zest, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 ounces burrata

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grilled or broiled bread slices, for serving

Place fennel, oil, zest and lemon juice in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, grill or broil bread slices, if serving.) Just before serving, arrange fennel salad on a large platter. Scatter burrata and mint over fennel. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired.

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This is the crunchiest, creamiest and the most refreshing salad I’ve had for a long time.

Burrata is my new favorite cheese. It’s essentially scraps of fresh mozzarella tied into a neat package full of cream and little bits of leftover fresh mozzarella. And it’s delicious. I mean, it’s fresh mozzarella upgraded to first class. It is heaven in dairy form. We’ve been including it in all sorts of food lately, from crostini to caprese salad. Try it. You’ll like it. A little cream never killed anybody, no?

Remembering My Grandfather

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My grandparents in front of our house. Grandmother was holding me and Grandfather was holding my cousin.

My maternal grandfather, who has been posthumously recognized as one of the most important scientists in the 20th Century in China, took his own life 47 years ago today during the Cultural Revolution.  He was wrongly persecuted as a foreign spy and a “reactionary `bourgeois scholar”  because he studied in the US and in England. 

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Grandfather in the Suzhou Hospital where he had apprenticed since the age of 14. When I filmed the Chinese version of Who Do You Think You Are last year, I went on the same balcony where this photo was taken. The building was to be torn down soon.

In the months before he died, my grandfather was summoned daily into a windowless office in Shanghai Medical University to confess his crime.  The only person sent by the Party to interrogate him in that office was Yang, the deputy head of the Pharmacology Department, a “red” scientist.  My grandfather was the head of the department and was well loved and respected.  According to my mother, who also worked in the same department, Yang was an insecure and despicable person.  He was not only jealous of my grandfather’s accomplishments, he was also intimidated by his incorruptible character and integrity.  No one knew exactly what was said in that windowless room. I can only imagine the darkness that enveloped my grandfather’s mind in those final moments of his life.  After he died, Yang declared that my grandfather killed himself because he knew he was guilty.  The Cultural Revolution was an extreme time in China when people’s worst nature surfaced and flourished.  In the early years of the Cultural Revolution, countless innocent people committed suicide.

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I was too young to remember much about him.  My parents and grandmother didn’t talk to me about my grandfather during my childhood for fear that the memory of his “guilty” suicide could hinder my revolutionary future — the only kind of future that mattered then. But subconsciously, I must have been haunted by his sudden and premature death all those years.

When I left China for the US, my mother told me to only pack what was necessary and essential.  Along with soap, toothpaste and a couple of other “essentials” were all the photographs of my grandfather that were in the house and my Chairman Mao badge collection. It was curious why I felt the pictures of my grandfather and the badges of Mao were essential to my new life in the US.  Yet looking back, I see that those irreconcilable objects, in a strange way, represented the make up of my contradictory character. 

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My friend Anchee Min took this photo of me with my Mao badge collection in the late 1980s.

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Grandfather in Suzhou before he left for London in 1937

In 2006, there was a commemorative event in Shanghai to celebrate my grandfather’s 100th birthday.  Many of his former students and colleagues gathered to remember him — a talented, passionate and incorruptible person who loved and lived for science.  Many of them wanted to help my mother get closure and demanded that Yang tell where he had kept my grandfather’s diary, and what was said during those months of interrogation.  Unfortunately it never happened as Yang was already well into his 80s and suffered from senile dementia.

I will never know what finally pushed my grandfather off the cliff on that cold night of 1967.  It no longer matters.  At the event in 2006, I suddenly remembered the song Vincent — how I was gripped by it when I first heard it. I felt the song was sung for him, too.

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Grandfather in England

Now I understand

What you tried to say to me

And how you suffered for your sanity

And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how

Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you

But still your love was true

And when no hope was left in sight

On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do

But I could’ve told you Vincent

This world was never meant for

One as beautiful as you

Sugar-Free, Grain-Free Chocolate Almond Cookies!

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School was out and it was pouring outside.  What would be a better time than this to bake cookies?  Angela and I decided to adapt our recipe from skinnytaste’s  Easy 5-Ingredient Nutella Almond Butter Cookies. 

We took the liberty of making ours a little healthier than the original.  And they were quite delicious, especially when they were still a little warm and soft. Since they were grain free, sugar free cookies, we packed a few to send to Peter’s mother, who is diabetic.  

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As the girls and I relaxed by the fireplace eating our warm cookies with milk, I thought to myself if this isn’t nice, what is? 

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There is a book called If This Isn’t Nice, What is, which collected nine graduation speeches that Kurt Vonnegut delivered in nine different colleges between 1978 and 2004.  One paragraph from which the book borrowed its title reads like this, “One of the things [Uncle Alex] found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when they were happy. He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’  So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’”

Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Cookies Ingredients:

1 cup organic crunchy almond butter

1/2 cup xylitol (see note below)

1/4 cup 100% unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup almond flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre heat oven at 350F and bake the cookes for 8-10 minutes on a baking dish lined with parchment paper.  This recipe makes 16 to 18 cookies.

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In case you’re wondering, xylitol is a sweetener that is naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t raise blood sugar since it’s a sugar alcohol. Also, it’s good for your teeth and recommended by many dentists! Unlike aspartame, saccharine, or sucralose, xylitol has not been shown to increase risk for obesity, diabetes, or other metabolic disorders. We usually use Xyla brand xylitol since it’s made from hardwood instead of GMO corn. If you don’t have xylitol or don’t want to use it, you can use an equivalent amount of some other sweetener. We definitely recommend xylitol, though, since it tastes and feels just like sugar but is not unhealthy.

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Very Nutty Apple Crisp & A Smile

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On our recent after dinner strolls, Audrey has been asking to walk to the same spot to see a homeless old man.  She gives him some of her spending money and whatever coins she could find around the house.  Peter has the habit of leaving coins on his nightstand because he doesn’t want them in his pockets.  Nowadays, Audrey cleans up Peter’s nightstand everyday.

Last night Audrey was wearing a jacket that had a broken pocket, so she hid the coins in one of her boots as we went out in the light drizzle for our usual walk.  When she found the old homeless man, she leaned against the wall next to him and took off her boot to get the money for him.  What made the old man truly happy was not only the money that Audrey gave him, but that she smiled and chatted with with him as she took off her boot.  As short as the moment was, it was a shared humanity that enriched them both.

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Big dimpled smiles through out the years

In his book Letter to a Hostage, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry recounted how a smile saved his life when he was a journalist covering the Civil War in Spain.  He concluded the book with a reflection on the universality and life-giving force of that one simple gesture, the human smile: “Care granted to the sick, welcome offered to the banished, forgiveness itself are worth nothing without a smile enlightening the deed. We communicate in a smile beyond languages, classes, and parties. We are faithful members of the same church, you with your customs, I with mine.”

I am very proud that she has turned out to be a kind and compassionate person.  And she always has a warm and sincere smile for everyone.

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I adapted the Very Nutty Apple Crisp recipe from:

http://www.chow.com/recipes/11416-apple-crisp-with-oatmeal-streusel

I replaced all sugars with xylitol and flour with almond flour.  I replaced the butter with coconut oil and cut the added fat by half.  I also added walnuts and pecan and shaved coconut to make the streusel extra crispy and aromatic.  Though I didn’t take the best pictures today, the apple crisp was truly delicious.  I consider this a keeper.

Very Healthy and Very Nutty Apple Crisp Ingredients:

6 Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored)

2 to 3 tablespoons Xylitol or sugar (for the apples)

1/2 cup xylitol or brown sugar (for the crisp)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup almond flour (original recipe uses flour)

1/3 cup walnuts (chopped)

1/3 cup pecans (chopped)

1/3 cup shaved coconut (unsweetened)

2 tablespoon coconut oil (original recipe uses 4 tablespoon butter)

Preparation:

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter. 

Combine the apples, xylitol or sugar, cinnamon, and half of the salt in a large bowl and toss to coat. Place the apple mixture in the prepared baking dish and set aside.

Using the same bowl as for mixing the apples, mix together the xylitol or brown sugar, oats, almond flour, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt until evenly combined. With your fingertips, blend in the coconut oil until small clumps form and the oil is well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples and bake until the streusel is crispy and the apples are tender, about 50 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 30 minutes before serving.

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