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Garden Update 11/09

11 Nov

The garden looks great! All the plants are green and the soil was still a little moist from the previous watering (probably due to the cool temperatures this week). The bok choy is growing quite large and its leaves are ready for harvesting. There is also an area of new sprouts, which seem to be growing well.

Memorable Brownies

11 Nov

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I sit alone in the computer room wasting my weekend away by watching videos on Youtube and checking my Facebook every five minutes. As I sit there typing up a response to my friend’s comment, my attention is suddenly captured by a distinct aroma.

“Happy Birthday, Ben!” I hear familiar, loving voices around me. I see friendly faces around me covered with gleaming smiles from ear to ear. It is my sixteenth birthday and all my childhood friends are with me at the park. Here comes my sister with her famous homemade brownie cake! She even took the time to add a layer of chocolate chip ice cream on to!  I am such a spoiled little brother.

I gather the energy to get off my chair and follow the captivating scent to its source. My sister, with her hands covered in oven mitts, is working diligently in the kitchen while occasionally glancing at the television screen. I walk over to the kitchen counter and stare at her masterpiece. My stomach grumbles.

“Hey, don’t touch that! It’s for Kevin’s birthday. I still need to put frosting and decorations on it. I’ll make a separate batch for you tomorrow.” She takes off the oven mitts and immediately begins mixing sugar and some other ingredients in a bowl. I offer to help, and she hands the bowl over to me. As I stand there mixing away, she reaches for some flour and says, “Might as well make a batch for you right now too.”

I grab a fresh brownie and pop it quickly in my mouth so it doesn’t burn my fingers.  My sister gives me a weird look.

“What are you smiling about?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.”


Garden Update 11/02

2 Nov

The garden is looking green and healthy as usual! A lot of our plants are ready for harvesting, especially the radishes, which are popping above the soil. Unfortunately, our plants are still being munched on by insects. Many leaves have holes in them and one of the radishes has a huge crack in it somehow.

Garden Update 10/31

31 Oct

The garden looks very good. All the plants are relatively green and the soil wasn’t very dry due to the cool weather lately. One thing that caught my attention was some kind of mushroom/fungus that grew alongside some of the mustard greens. The presence of the fungus is probably due to high moisture levels as a result of the rainfall a few days ago. Some leaves have holes in them, so some insects are probably snacking on them. The radishes are looking great and seem ready for harvesting.

The Immortal Peaches

18 Oct

The story of Momotaro depicts the journey of a brave young man born from a peach. With the millet dumplings his parents packed for him, Momotaro befriends a dog, monkey, and pheasant who fight alongside him against the oni of Oni Island. Upon victory, the heroes split the retrieved treasure amongst themselves and Momotaro returns home safely. In this story, the millet dumplings are portrayed as a mythical food because they initially bring the heroes together and ultimately provide them with the strength to overcome the oni.

Mythical foods are a common characteristic of various cultures. One example is the Chinese myth of the Monkey King. With the sky as his father and earth as his mother, the Monkey King was born out of a rock. Being bold and curious, the Monkey King grew to be very strong and was eventually apprenticed under an elder god who taught him to use various forms of magic, most notably the ability to fly on a Nimbus Cloud. In his pursuit to become stronger, the Monkey King heard of the Jade Emperor’s Immortal Peaches, which take three thousand years to grow and grant its consumers immortality. Flying on his Nimbus Cloud, he snuck into the Jade Palace and ate one of the Emperor’s Peaches, gaining immortality. He soon became one of the strongest warriors of the heavens, using his powers for good and protecting others. To this day, the peach remains a symbol of good health and longevity in Chinese culture, often being used for religious events and given as gifts between family and friends for good luck.

The Extraordinary Egg Tart

27 Sep

Magic is often portrayed as supernatural or unbelievable occurrences that defy the laws of science and the real world. However, in “The Gourmet Club”, Tanizaki illustrates magic through the characters’ perceptions upon tasting exquisite foods. According to Tanizaki, food is magical when one is able to perceive it through all five senses in a manner so vibrant that one “no longer merely [“tastes”] or [“eats”] fine cuisine, but [is] “consumed” by it” (139).

I myself have recently experienced such a phenomenon during my stay in San Francisco. It was an early morning when my father and I took a stroll around Chinatown. We stopped by a small bakery on the corner of a street, which was popular locally for its apparently superb egg tarts, and ordered a couple to try for ourselves. At first glance, the egg tart did not seem particularly special in anyway, but upon closer examination, I noticed the perfectly golden color of its crust and bright-yellow glow of the egg filling. Soon after making these observations, my nostrils caught the fresh, welcoming aroma emanating from it. Taking my first bite, I felt the crispy flakes of a warm, delicate crust fill my mouth followed by a rush of creamy, wholesome nectar. As I chewed the delectable contents of the egg tart, I heard subtle crunching sounds that gradually dissolved into sounds of a light paste churning within my mouth. When I swallowed everything, I felt a warm stream flowing through my throat and chest like a river on a hot summer day.

That was truly one of my most magical experiences with food in San Francisco. Not only did the egg tart taste good, but it felt good as well. Eating it elevated my mood that day and reminded me of the many surprises one can find in food.

The Sushi of Yesterday and Today

15 Sep

In the ever-changing world of today, people go in and out of trends constantly. One such trend that a growing number of individuals are following these days is becoming a “foodie”, or a self-declared food critic and expert. In the words of Masanobu Fukuoka, modern society encourages people to “eat with their minds, not with their bodies” (The One-Straw Revolution, 137). As a farmer and philosopher, Fukuoka believed in a spiritual connection between man and nature, emphasizing the importance of eating food in its natural state by listening to ones bodily needs rather than manipulating food to conform to societal standards.

One food trend that exemplifies the “foodies” of today is the Americanization of sushi. Traditionally, sushi is prepared with simple ingredients consisting of rice, seaweed, and a piece of seafood, such as raw fish. Due to its simplistic ingredients, traditional sushi usually bears a pure, delicate taste. Recently, “foodies” in America began turning their attention to sushi, but not in its traditional form. Many restaurants now serve Americanized sushi bestowed with extravagant names to attract new customers, such as Dragon Roll, Tiger Roll, and Volcano Roll. The emergence of these modern types of sushi prevents many people from understanding and appreciating sushi in its natural form. Unlike its predecessors, these new forms of sushi are topped with various sauces and decorated with heaps of colorful ingredients to convey a sense of fanciness, therefore resulting in bold flavors. Consequently, “foodies” today claim to be absolute fans of sushi despite the fact that they never even tasted raw fish before.

To Fukuoka, this is a tragedy. Being blinded by modern society’s insatiable hunger for innovative, artful dining, many people today fail to appreciate the simple, nutritious nature of traditional sushi served with seafood in its most natural state.

Improvised Fried Rice

7 Sep

Ever since I can remember, fried rice has been one of my absolute favorite dishes, especially when it is made by my mother. I would hungrily watch her cook rice, eggs, BBQ pork, and green onions together in the wok while adding hints of fish sauce and pepper, knowing that I was about to have a grand meal bursting with various flavors. Despite my unrelenting love for this dish, my mother does not cook it very often since she enjoys cooking different types of food. One day, I realized that I have not eaten it in a long time, so I decided to take action in order to satisfy my hunger for fried rice.

It was a beautiful, warm summer day in San Diego. Instead of going out and soaking up some sun, I was indoors at my cousin’s house playing video games with him. By noon, the strenuous labor of mashing buttons with our thumbs had tired us out and our stomachs were growling with hunger. As growing teenage boys, we possessed appetites comparable to that of Paul Bunyan’s and agreed we needed a wholesome meal to satiate our hunger.

With my mother’s traditional fried rice recipe in mind, I opened my cousin’s refrigerator hoping I would find all the necessary ingredients. To my dismay, none of them were there but rice and eggs. And so, my cousin and I decided to improvise. We gathered a myriad of possible ingredients to use in our improvised fried rice. Once the wok was heated up, we began tossing in all sorts of ingredients. Our final dish consisted of rice, eggs, sautéed beef cubes, black forest ham, bacon, broccoli, carrots, red onions, and lettuce with a generous helping of BBQ sauce on top of it all. We popped open a couple cans of soda and feasted on our unexpected masterpiece.

Although the fried rice we made was completely untraditional and did not measure up to my mother’s recipe, it was still delicious.

Before and After Pictures of the Garden

6 Sep

Step 1: We uprooted some plants to make room for our garden and then loosened the soil.

Step 2: We spread fertilizer over the loosened soil.

Step 3: We began planting, making sure each plant had sufficient space for growth.

Step 4: We watered each plant using the "Moat Technique".