“Easy Minute” Almond Muffins


I always get up early on Sunday mornings to read a little or to find an interesting breakfast recipe to make for Peter and the girls.  This morning, I brewed myself a tea and continued with my reading of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Yesterday I read only 18% of the book, and I was inspired to discard 8 trash bags of stuff.  I had a major shift of paradigm today when I read that it is not about deciding what to discard; it is about choosing what to keep. Keep only what “spark joy,” the author advised.  She also asks the reader to envision her ideal home and ideal lifestyle before beginning the process of this life-changing tidying up. 

I remember fantasizing about a clutter-free life whenever I check into an elegant hotel suite with my carefully packed suitcase.  Sometimes, I would stay for a few months with only what I had in that suitcase — each item meticulously considered — without missing anything.  Now I will contemplate all my possessions as if I were packing for a trip, except the hotel suite will be my home.

Peter got up when I was at 38% of the book, and I shared with him my vision for our house.  He looked a little dubious, but said, “Sounds great.”  He is the easiest person to live with.

In the mood to streamline, I made microwaved almond muffins for breakfast.  It is so simple and quick to make — literally just press the “easy minute” button.  They were fluffy, moist and yummy.

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Ingredients for microwaved Muffins:

1 1/3 cup almond flour

3 tbsp black molasses 

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

1/8 tsp salt

3 large eggs

1/4 cup almond milk or milk of choice

1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

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Add all wet ingredients into the blender, and then add all the dry ingredients on top.  Blend until smooth.  Pour batter into rinsed ramekin 3/4 full and microwave for 1 minute.  Instead of greasing the ramekins, I just rinsed them and left them wet.  The muffins came out from the ramekins very easily after microwaving.  You may need to test your microwave and decide on the time needed to make a perfect “mug pancake.” I simply pressed “easy minute” on mine.  If you use a real mug to make these, you will probably need 90 seconds.

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Spring Cleaning & Ramen in Beef Broth


I read about the phenomenal Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo on the Wall Street Journal and immediately bought her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I have been in dire need to declutter and am very fed up with my inability to organize. I’m not the kind to read self-help books, but my desperate situation calls for desperate measures. 

A few days ago, I talked to my brother about the troubles of an overabundant life.  We used to have two sets of clothes at any given time, and we changed clothes only because they needed washing. I remember that the first time I set foot in an American supermarket, I was both delighted and paralyzed by the dazzling variety of choices of shampoo.  It took me a long time to read about every product and finally decide on buying the cheapest brand.  My brother and I reminisced nostalgically about our frugal lifestyle with few possessions. 

For a Japanese book about tidying up and decluttering to become a international best seller, and for the author’s name to become a verb, the world must be full of clutter indeed. This is an age of clutter, both tangible and intangible.  Her theory is that once the tangible clutter is gone, the intangible ones will be taken care of as well.

After I read only 18% of the book, I felt somehow enlightened and emboldened to take a crack at organizing.  Kondo method begins with discarding — what a liberating thing to do.  After putting away eight trash bags of once loved or never used things, I felt lighter, happier and hopeful that finally I maybe able to learn to organize.

It was time to make some good old comfort food: ramen in beef stew and broth.  We cooked a pot of beef stew a couple of days ago. The leftovers were perfect for ramen in broth.

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Beef Shank & Beef tendon Stew with Carrots:

1 pound of beef shank, 2 tendons, or you can use just the beef and no tendon

1 brown onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 cup of spinach(optional)

1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes (optional)

1 cup of cooking wine

1/2 cup of soy sauce

1/2 cup of dark soy sauce

3 cups of water or beef broth

5 star anise

5 slices of ginger

1/4 teaspoon Chinese peppercorn (花椒)

1 tablespoons of oil


Cut the beef shank and tendon to 1and1/2 cubes.

Heat the oil in a wok on high, put in peppercorn and ginger.

Stir and let sizzle for about 30 seconds, add onion and stir until soft.

Mix in the beef shank and the tendon, stir for 3 minutes.

Add wine, soy sauce and water/broth.

Close lid and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours before adding the carrots.

Cook another 30 minutes.  Before serving, add spinach and cherry tomatoes.

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For the Ramen:

200g fresh ramen from Asian market

8 to 10 pieces of beef shank and beef tendon

Broth from the beef stew + beef broth if the stew does not have enough broth

2 teaspoon chopped green onion


Cook the ramen in a large pot of water according to package instruction.  In a separate pot heat up the beef and broth.  When the noodle is cooked to al dente, rinse it in cold water and separate into two serving in two bowls.  Pour the beef and broth over noodle.  Sprinkle chopped green onion and serve hot.