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China Summer 2015 (I)

Last summer, I went on a month long trip to China. I never actually got around to posting about my adventures there, so I decided since I still have the pictures on my computer, why not now?

I’ll probably split into several posts as I have so many images and so many experiences that I want to share. The first part of my trip was spent in Shangtou, located in Guangdong, China, where my dad grew up. Its a rather undeveloped city located in the South near the ocean. The people there still hold onto seemingly conservative or old-fashioned views to outsiders, but are fiercely family oriented and so welcoming to visitors.

The most important purpose of our trip was visiting relatives and family members that we had not seen in at least three years.

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This picture is taken at a relative’s house whose sons owned the apartment building. These are my grandparents on my dad’s side.

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We are picking lychee from lychee trees with my father’s side of the family. One of my grandmother’s good friends owns the place.

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My grandfather’s brother, so my great uncle, owns a farm that grows these special type of beans. If you see the little circular items, those are the beans! they have to be taken out of these large fuzzy pods individually before they can be sold.

Another really important aspect of visiting China is of course the food! Because Shangtou is near the ocean, we ate a ton of seafood. Also, as per custom in China, our relatives took turns taking us out to eat. We ate out almost every day!  One of my favorite places to go is a bamboo restaurant in a bamboo forest. They incorporate bamboo in almost every dish, bamboo from their forest, and everything else there is also locally sourced!

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This is the place behind the bamboo restaurant I was talking about! Another one of its perks is going from inside the bamboo forest to the outside beautiful lake and its surroundings.

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Lots of seafood – one of my favorites is squid!

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Crazy dimsum!

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Lychee is everywhere in the South!

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some random exotic frui

And I can never forget the sights and views! Because of the humidity, you see very stereotypical plants common to tropical places, lotus buds and lily pads, palm trees, beautiful lakes, sandy beaches. Everything is just so so so beautiful.

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more behind-the-bamboo restaurant pictures

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backyard palm trees ❤

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black and white

my mama makes chinese leek boxes (韭菜盒子)!

I attempted to look at the history behind Chinese leek boxes also known as Chinese chive pockets (as well as any combination of the two), but there wasn’t really much. I assume this is because that they are typically grouped together under the larger umbrella of “jiaozi” or dumpling.

Essentially, they are little pockets of dough filled with Chinese garlic chives, bits of egg, and occasionally some type of meat. They are pan fried and can be manipulated into any shape that you want. You make the dough, fold the filling into them, and simply fry them on a pan!

Some pictures below of the process 🙂

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a pot of flour, a bowl of dough,and the swift hands of my mother making the dough circles

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gently scooping the filling onto a dough piece

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a close up of the Chinese leek boxes precooked! 

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a close up of the filling, egg, shrimp, and chives

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the half-eaten finished product, crisp and slightly floury, juicy and full of flavor!

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the Philadelphia Museum of Art

A while back, I went to Philadelphia on a wonderful Sunday with my boyfriend and his family. We decided to go because it’s actually pay what you want the first Sunday of every month for the Philadelphia Art Museum.

We first stopped by this cute Italian restaurant called Serafina. The streets nearby were so adorable and so cute! (as you can see from the pictures below :))  The food was also very delicious though a bit expensive, in my opinion. I got the Tagliolini Al Salmone with everyone else getting other types of pasta with a shared appetizer of kalamari and Carpaccio di Tonno (fresh tuna and spinach).

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aside from the sports bar sign, look at all these cute little bushes in front of this tea shop!

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my salmon pasta that was slightly salty but very filling and delicious!

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the streets right outside, lots of people and cars, but such bright buildings!

We then went to the Philadelphia Art museum. We didn’t have that much time there as we ate lunch for too long and got there late, so we quickly started with the modern and contemporary art and barely had time to look but a glimpse at some of the other exhibits. I would definitely recommend going here earlier in the day and taking the time to look through all the exhibits. It’s definitely a worthwhile experience!

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made with plaster, i think 

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metal with holes 

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everything is in pairs! except the sponge

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eggshell chair? 

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fake flowers

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modern art 

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thread pictures

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right outside the Philadelphia Art Museum… really beautiful

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Pizza by Elizabeth’s

Last Tuesday, I went on the cutest date with a friend to Pizza by Elizabeth’s for the first time. I had heard of it so many times before since it is one of the most Instagrammed eateries in Delaware, but I do have to say it definitely exceeded my expectations. The service was fantastic, the area was decorated in such a unique picturesque way, and the small touches of embellishment were seriously the cherry on top. A couple of pictures below 🙂
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Pizza by Elizabeth’s

3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807

 

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my mama makes… zongzi!

My mother has always loved watching cooking videos on the Internet. Each time, they inspire her to try something new and fun, usually enlisting me to help her with the activity. This time, it was Chinese zongzi!

Zongzi are typically made in celebration of the Duanwu Festival in Chinese culture, a popular belief being that it is in commemoration of the death of Qu Yuan, who committed suicide due to grief when his hometown was conquered. Villagers threw packets of rice in the waters where he died so that fish would not eat his body.

The ones that me and my mother made today are tetrahedral shaped and of two types: sweet and salty. The salty ones had a combination of dried shrimp, pork, Chinese black mushrooms, dried scallops, and sticky rice. The sweet ones were made with mung beans and sticky rice. We wrap each of the zongzi up with soaked bamboo leaves and tie it with string. After we finish making them, we boil them for a couple hours, cut the string, and can eat them in the leaves. 🙂 A couple of pictures below of the process.

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Artsy Instagrams

I just wanted to share some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow right now 🙂 These people are just so creative and talented!

  1. Esther LeeScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.32.34 PM.pngEslee is a photographer. Thus, it’s obvious her pictures are consistently perfectly in every way. They all give off a pleasing peaceful aura. Also, love her pictures of fruit 🙂
  2. Jennet LiawScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.33.40 PM.pngDiscovered this Instagram through Wong Fu, but seriously, how talented is Jennet Liaw? She does typography and lettering for Nike, but I just love how she manipulates text. Making it look pretty is one thing, but making it punny? Sleek? Clever?  Such a breath of fresh air.
  3. Samantha LeeScreen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.11.18 PM.png

Love love love Samantha Lee’s motivation for her beautiful Instagram – to make beautiful and appetizing food for her kids! I’m so amazed by her decoration and her creativity. Also, so fun to decipher which foods she used to make her ultimate image. 🙂

  1. RedhongyiScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.33.17 PM.pngRedhongyi was someone I discovered simply through other people when looking for artsy instagrams. For her, her instagram is not so much the art product but the display for her art. She works with anything except for the traditional art tools, pencil, paint, etc. to create beautiful images. You see the bear on the left? Completely out of celery sticks.
  1. Li-Chi PanScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.33.02 PM.pngI think what works for LiChi Pan is her use of the same filter for extraordinary pictures of food. Absolutely insane the different types of food she posts, but I suppose that’s why it makes it interesting and delicious.

 

YouTube Day 3: Miniature Space

My suitemate from college showed me this YouTube channel and let me just say that I am thoroughly obsessed.

Essentially, it’s a cooking channel for miniature food. A mysterious person (face unseen) takes out these miniature knives and spoons, gets out his miniature pot, pulls out the matches, and gets cooking on food items approximately 10 times smaller than actually consumable material.

Although not particularly useful for someone who genuinely wants to learn how to make a certain dessert or side dish, it is fascinating how this person accomplishes these tasks on a miniature level – for example, stir frying or making french fries. There is a sense of imaginative exploration, which really draws viewers in.