Soy Sauce Sriracha Glazed Cod

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Few things are more important than family dinner.  I missed our time around the dinner table the most when I was away on location and during the time when Angela was at Andover.  Well, I actually missed hugging and kissing them the most, but dinner time was a close second.  I savor every dinner that the four of us can eat together.  I want each and every one of our dinners to be beautiful and delicious.  I don’t want any of it to go to waste.  Cooking to me, especially for my loved ones, is an art and pleasure on par with performing in films.

Today, I revisited the salmon recipe that so many of you loved.  The same marinade worked perfectly for the rock cod.  Compared to the salmon, the cod took less time to cook.  This recipe makes 4 servings and Peter, the fish lover of the family, had three servings all by himself!

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Ingredients for Soy Sriracha Glazed Cod:

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari* for gluten-free)  60mL 低盐鲜酱油

2 tablespoons honey  30 mL蜂蜜

1 tablespoon rice vinegar 15mL米醋

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste) 15mL甜辣椒酱

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 15mL 姜末

1 tablespoon minced garlic 15mL 碎蒜

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, for garnish 30mL青葱

(Above ingredients are for the marinade.)

1 pound rock cod fillet, cut into 4 (4-ounce) pieces 一磅左右石斑鱼

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil 25mL 麻油

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced 红甜椒

2 scallions, cut to one inch slices 青葱

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Preparation:

In a 1-gallon zip-top plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, Sriracha, ginger, and garlic. Add the cod, toss to coat evenly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours, turning the fish once.

Remove the cod from the bag, reserving the marinade.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the sesame oil. Rotate the pan to coat the bottom evenly and add the cod with the bell pepper and the cut scallion. Cook until one side of the fish is browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the cod and cook until the other side browns, about another 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the reserved marinade and cook until the fish is cooked through, 2 -3 minutes. 

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Baked Coconut Yam Fries

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I caught Audrey listening to Taylor Swift while practicing piano a couple of times.  I also caught her practicing with one hand while snacking with the other a couple of times.  Finally I decided that her playing piano was a futile effort for everyone involved.  Peter and I sat her down a couple of weeks ago and told her that we were letting her off the hook, that it was okay with us if she didn’t play the piano any more.  Unexpectedly, she said she didn’t want to stop.  She insisted on continuing to take lessons.  We told her that it would be her choice to either practice much more conscientiously or to stop entirely.  We told her to think it overnight and let us know her decision the next day.  The next day Audrey solemnly declared that she would practice everyday and with focus, that she wanted to continue piano. 

It’s been about two weeks since her own decision to continue playing the piano and I am hearing a marked improvement in her playing.  Life is full of surprises.

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Baked Coconut Yam Fries

Ingredients:

1 yam (spiralized or sliced)

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut

1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sugar (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Coat the spiralized or sliced yam with coconut oil and shaved coconut in a baking pan.  Spread a thin layer of yam in the baking dish. You may need two baking pans for this.  The fries will not be crispy if the layer is too thick.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes and then flip over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until browned. 

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Roast Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

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A friend came over for lunch today and we commiserated with each other on motherhood.  She has just gone through the grueling college application process with her twin boys and I’m about to take Angela on a college tour next month. I don’t know when it all began, but it seems that the college admissions process has turned into a war that requires endless amounts of strategy. 

I was told that in some cultures in the ancient times, children would be chased out of the house into the wilderness at a certain age, and they were not supposed to come home again until after they’d hunted a tiger.  The rite of passage for today’s kids is not any less difficult, except the “tigers” they are sent out to hunt are those ever elusive brand-name colleges.

Much like the ancient times, there is not much mothers can do to help their children hunt the “tigers.”  All we can do is love them.  As we ate this delicious salad, our conversation quickly turned from the stress of college application to the joy of food  — the balm that cures almost anything.

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Roast Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

Ingredients for the sweet hot mustard:

1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. coarse ground Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar or honey

1/4 tsp. Sriracha sauce

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Ingredients for the salad:

4 shallots, thinly sliced

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lb. (500 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

1 cup (125 g) black walnuts, toasted

1 1/2 red apples, such as Fuji or Gala, cored and thinly sliced

1 Tbs. honey lemon peel (optional & see note)

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Preparation for the Sweet Mustard:

In a bowl, whisk both mustards, vinegar, brown sugar and Sriracha sauce. Reserve 3 Tbs. mustard for the salad; refrigerate the rest for up to 4 weeks.

Preparation for the Salad:

Preheat oven to 450F.  Wash, trim and cut the brussels sprouts.  Coat sprouts with 2 Tbs. olive oil in a roasting pan.  Roast for 15 to 17 minutes or until tender.  Take out and set aside.

In a large nonstick fry pan, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the shallots until slightly browned. 

Toss together brussels sprouts, sliced apples, walnuts, shallots with 3 Tbs. sweet mustard.  Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter and serve.

I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on the sliced apples to prevent them from turning yellow.

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Note:

Sometime ago, Audrey made lemonade with about 10 lemons.  The lemon peels looked so fresh and smelled so fragrant that I saved them.  I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and let marinate in the fridge over night.  The next day I boiled about 4 cups of water.  When the water was boiling, I squeezed dry the peels, discard the pulp still left in them, cut them into slices and then added the peels to the pot and brought it to boil again.  Then I drained the peels and transfer them into a glass jar, soaked in honey.  They turned out delicious.

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Recipe inspired by:

Williams-Sonoma

No Bake Almond Coconut Chocolate Mousse Tart

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Amongst the bills and junk mail I found two packages that made me happy:  One is the Bay Area Consumers’ CHECKBOOK and the other is a certificate of commendation plus a check for Angela. 

This month’s CHECKBOOK is featuring top doctors rated by their peers.  Practicing physicians in the Bay Area were asked which doctors they considered most desirable to care for their loved ones, and Peter received the highest number of votes in the field of cardiology in San Francisco.  I am so glad that my perpetually overworked husband has the respect and trust of his peers.

Peter in Scrubs

Hubby (the one on the right) doing teaching in an animal lab with his friend

Angela won a community service grant to promote healthful eating and exercise in low-income children. When she was in Andover, she volunteered at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club to teach kids karate.  When she came back to San Francisco she started our blog with the intention of promoting healthy home cooking, starting from this household.  This grant will encourage her to continue her efforts.

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It is time to celebrate!  In my younger days, I never allowed myself to enjoy the little victories in life.  I felt that if I became pleased with myself, I would stop improving.  But now I can feel proud and rejoice in every achievement of my loved ones.  Life is worth celebrating.  Period.  Hence this delicious tart.  It is an easy to make grain-free, sugar-free tart that you won’t feel guilty after eating a slice or two. You don’t even need to own an oven to make it.  (For another excellent no bake cake, please check out Healthy Raspberry Cheesecake.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CRUST

1 1/4 cups raw almond meal or almond flour (or you can grind 1 1/2 cup of almonds)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

(You can add a little more coconut oil if the almond mixture feels too crumbly.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder

2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

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TOPPING:

Unsweetened coconut chips

Sliced almonds

Raspberries

PREPARATION:

In a mixing bowl, mix almond meal and shredded coconut with melted coconut oil and xylitol. Line a tart pan with food safe plastic wrap.  Using a rubber spatula, spread nut mixture into the bottom of the lined tart pan.  (The plastic wrap makes it easier to lift the tart out of the pan.)

In a small saucepan, mix the cocoa powder, xylitol, coconut flour and xanthan gum.  Pour coconut milk and vanilla into the saucepan.  Mix well.  Stir over low heat.  After the mixture thickens, turn off the stove and let rest for 1 minute. Pour chocolate filling into tart (or pie) shell. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 6 hours or overnight. (If you are in a hurry, you can leave the tart in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.)

When ready to serve, toast coconut chips in a small frying pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Allow the coconut to cool. Sprinkle coconut chips, sliced almonds on the tart. Decorate with raspberries. Slice and serve immediately.

NOTE:

Coconut oil becomes firm in the refrigerator due to its high melting point, which helps the crust on this tart solidify. It will remain solid below temperatures of 76°F.

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Recipe Inspired by:

siftandwhisk.com

Vegan Creamy Ginger Coconut Kale Zucchini Spaghetti

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I got up early today to try this “zoodle” recipe that Angela emailed me last night.  I packed it for Peter and Angela for lunch and I had a bowl of it before I went to the airport.  It was so delicious and so satisfying that I couldn’t believe it was also extremely healthy!  

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Ingredients:

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 15 ounce can lite coconut milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

red pepper flakes, to taste

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 cups chopped kale

1/4 cup packed fresh basil

¼ cup raw cashews

6 medium zucchinis, Blade C, noodles trimmed

3/4 cup defrosted green peas (I used fresh peas from Trader Joe’s which take slightly longer to cook.)

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Preparation:

In a large pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once heated, add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.

Add in the coconut milk, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then add in the kale. Cover and cook until the greens have wilted, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the kale mixture to a high-speed blender and add in the basil and cashews. Blend until smooth and creamy and set aside.

Wipe down the pot and place back over medium heat. Add in the zucchini noodles and peas and toss for 3-4 minutes or until cooked to al dente or your preference. Once cooked, divide into bowls and top with green sauce. Serve immediately.

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The original recipe came from:

inspiralized.com

Pickled Green Turnip, A Taste From My Childhood

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Shanghai has changed so much in the recent years that most of the places from my childhood memory no longer exist, but the familiar foods are still everywhere from my parents’ house to street vendors.  And they fill me with nostalgia.
Yesterday I made a jar of pickled green turnip and it’s ready to eat today! They make the crunchiest and most refreshing appetizer or a side dish or a savory snack. I used to have pickled or dried turnip with porridge at breakfast every morning. I never thought they were particularly delicious in anyway.  They were just a part of a very meager diet.  Back then, no one had refrigerators and we often pickled or dried our food to preserve them.  But this once mundane everyday staple became completely new and special after decades of living in America.
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Basic Pickled Turnip Ingredients:
2 turnips
30 to 40 grams salt or to taste
4 to 6 chili peppers
1/4 teaspoon peppercorn or Chinese 花椒
1 pack Equal or other sweetener that is not sticky
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Preparation:
Wash and scrub and peel the turnips.  Slice them into two inch long wedges.  Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl or any large container before transferring them to a jar.  Let it stay for at least an hour and up to two days, either in the fridge or in room temperature.  Pour out all the juice that came out of the turnip.  Press a serving spoon on the turnip and squeeze out as much water as you can.
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Gluten-Free Cauliflower Tots

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Peter is patiently working with Audrey on the Merriam-Webster Spell-It — the list of words that might appear on the school spelling bee.  Audrey is one of the top two spellers in her grade and will represent her class at the podium next Tuesday. Angela is trying to help too, albeit less patiently, and humble-bragging about all the times she won the school bee. As I listen to their practice I realize that my place is firmly in the kitchen — I have never even heard of at least 50% of the words they are going through.

These aromatic cauliflower tots make perfect after school snack, especially for kids who are vegetarians like mine.  They are delicious and packed with nutrition.  One reader commented on my spaghetti squash tots that they made perfect snacks for Sunday’s Golden Globe show gathering.  I think these cauliflower tots are also perfect appetizer for such gatherings. 

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Yellow Cauliflower Tots Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups cooked yellow cauliflower florets, finely chopped *see note

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup onion, minced

3 tbsp minced fresh chives

1/4 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup coconut flour

(You can use 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs instead of oat bran and coconut four)

A dash of garlic & herb seasoning

A dash of ground cumin and turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

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Preparation:

*to cook the cauliflower florets, steam a little over 2 cups raw cauliflower florets in a little water covered for for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender but not mushy, then drain well and dry on paper towel, then using a knife finely chop and set 2 cups aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a baking dish with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture in your hands and roll into small ovals. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking until golden.

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 I adapted my recipe from http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/11/cauliflower-tots.html

For another cauliflower recipe, check out Roasted Cauliflower.

Marco Pol(l)o

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Marco Polo just got renewed for a 2nd season!  Yay!  Reunion with my Mongolian Beef and hordes of international eye candy.  And of course playing the wonderful Empress Chabi. This is exciting news for everyone involved, myself included.

But what about my family?  Though my girls act as if I annoy them all the time, they are at an age when they most need a mother’s guidance and influence.  In my younger days, I used to love this caravan life of a circus person — traveling the world while doing something I loved to do.  Having children has changed everything. While I believe many can do my job as an actress or filmmaker, only I can be the mother for my children.  There are times I become paralyzed by the prospect of a great opportunity, knowing fulfilling my desire and realizing my dreams professionally also mean abandoning the people I love.   P1020077

Work is a double edged sward for me.  Perhaps it is so with most working mothers.  I realize that I am lucky to be in this dilemma.  Many people don’t have the choices that I’m facing.  The ingredients of fulfillment is difficult to balance, but I have a secret ingredient in life — my husband Peter, the best husband and father anyone could ask for.  He is my lobster.  He is my salt.

And he does dishes.

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To celebrate Marco Polo’s 2nd season, I made a delicious Chinese dish called Three-Cup Chicken (三杯鸡).   Historically, it was made of 1 chicken with 1 cup each of soy sauce, cooking wine and sugar.  The dish has evolved through time to its contemporary version.  Mine was adapted from the recipe from rasamalaysia.com.

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Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken drumsticks (I used 1 lb. of skinless thighs)

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil or toasted sesame oil

2-inch piece old ginger, peeled and cut into thin pieces

2 to 3 dried red chili pepper, without the seeds (optional)

7 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 shallot, sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 tablespoon xylitol or sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine + 2 tablespoon to marinate the chicken

A big bunch Thai basil leaves

(I added 2 small boiled red skin potatoes, halved and peeled.  This dish ordinarily does not use potatoes, but I improvised this time because I had two boiled potatoes lying around. I added the boiled potato after I poured in the sauce and before I cover the lid.  They tasted yummy with the chicken.)

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Preparation:

Cut the chicken into pieces and marinate in 2 tablespoon of cooking wine for 10 to 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.  Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch to the chicken and mix well.

Heat up a wok or clay pot on high heat and add the dark sesame oil. Add the ginger, garlic, shallot, chili pepper and stir-fry until aromatic.

Add in the chicken and do a few quick stirs. Add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, xylitol or sugar and continue to stir-fry the chicken. Cover the chicken and lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and stir well with the chicken, dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.

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The Best Flour-less Chocolate Brownies!

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Spring cleaning!  After months of procrastination, I finally cleaned out my study.  It was tedious work, but I reveled in the feeling of being neat and organized.  Why didn’t I do this sooner?  I had looked at the mess now and then and thought about cleaning it, but every time  I just closed the door and walked away.  All I could say was that I was not born with the neat gene.  Whenever I visit my parents, I would lose all hope of ever get organized.  My parents’ rooms were always strewn with gift bags, newspapers and other knickknacks.  My mother, whom I most resemble, has a desk with layers of books, newspaper clippings, bottles of pills and what-have-you. 

So, it was no small feat that everything was filed into its rightful place.  And the recycling bin was full.  High time to bake some brownies for afternoon tea.  These flour-less brownies are unbelievably moist and delicious without any added fat.  They felt decadent and sinful to eat, but they are actually healthy and nutritious.  In all of my efforts in grain-free baking, this is the best recipe.  A definite keeper!

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This recipe is from Skinnytaste.com.  I added 1/2 cup of walnuts to the original.

PB2 Flourless Chocolate Brownies Ingredients:

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 cup PB2 (see photo and note)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp water

1/2 cup raw honey

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup semi sweet dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts

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Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a nonstick 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Beat the egg and egg white in a small bowl with a whisk.

In a large bowl combine the PB2, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and mix well with a spatula. Add the egg and egg whites and stir. Add water, honey, vanilla and stir with a spatula until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool, then cut into 12 bars cutting 3 rows x 4 rows.

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Note on PB2:

PB2 is a reduced fat peanut powder that you can order from Amazon.com.  It is an ideal product to have if you like peanut or peanut butter but don’t want to ingest too much fat.

http://www.amazon.com/Plantation-PB2-Powdered-Peanut-Butter/dp/B00H8YGOMO/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1420601470&sr=1-1&keywords=pb2

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Nietzsche and a Vegetable Sauté

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Now that the holiday vacation is over and the house is quiet, I could take time to reflect upon the important events of last year and give thanks to all the good that has come from the bad.  There was a period of time last year when both Peter and I were stressed out and in crisis mode because our children were going through difficulties in their young lives.  We worried about and feared for them. Peter’s hair turned grey seemingly overnight.

I feel fortunate that we have endured and life is thriving again.  I’m sure our children will face many more challenges in life, but I hope having overcome severe obstacles has made them more tenacious. 

When I was going through a very difficult time in my late 20s, a friend gave me Nietzsche’s The Will To Power as a source of strength and comfort.  I took it off the shelf today and opened it to a passage that my friend had underlined and bookmarked for me a long time ago, “To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures.”

I’m a mother and I could never wish any suffering upon my children, but I understand the value of all the “bad stuff” that happen to us in life.

I don’t have a New Year resolution, but I do have a New Year Prayer.  I pray for the wellbeing of my loved ones and I pray for courage and strength to endure and triumph in the face of adversity.

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Vegetable Sauté Ingredients:

8 to 10 oz. green bean

1/2 red bell pepper (sliced)

1/2 yellow bell pepper (sliced)

1 pack of Wildwood Savory Tofu (2 pieces)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 to 2 tablespoon canola oil

4 thin slices of ginger

Preparation:

Poach the green beans in boiling water for about 3 to 4 minutes or until tender but not too soft and discard the boiling water. Rinse cold water over the green beans to stop them cooking.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok on high, add the ginger slices and let sizzle.  When the ginger slices are a little browned, add the bell pepper and stir for about 4 minutes.  Add the poached green beans and the tofu and stir for a minute.  Mix in the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar.

Serve immediately with rice.

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As I write, I could almost hear Nietzsche stir in his grave as he is being quoted next to a vegetable stir-fry.  As a matter of fact, the very act of blogging one’s life would be conceived as “the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity.”  But then again, maybe not.  His New Year resolution for 1882 was to be a yea-sayer and a beautifier of life: “For the New Year—I still live, I still think; I must still live, for I must still think. Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. To-day everyone takes the liberty of expressing his wish and his favorite thought: well, I also mean to tell what I have wished for myself today, and what thought first crossed my mind this year,—a thought which ought to be the basis, the pledge and the sweetening of all my future life! I want more and more to perceive the necessary characters in things as the beautiful:—I shall thus be one of those who beautify things. Amor fati: let that henceforth be my love! I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers.Looking aside, let that be my sole negation! And all in all, to sum up: I wish to be at any time hereafter only a yea-sayer!”