Photographing


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Since the 37-week pregnancy, I have been occasionally started to worry that the little one will comes not in a full term. Now, two weeks have been happily and peacefully passed. Little one seems sitting comfortably inside: following perfect sleeping and moving alternation schedule. However, the uncertainty is gradually increased since the start of 39-week, because she might arrive in any moment then, or overdue which is another worrying situation.

Emotionally, her arrival will be the moment to really start another unknown life, although I have been prepared for about 9 months already. When little one is still part of inside you, I do not think I will know what it will be like when she is truly here. I am happy with the lifestyle I had before, although somehow I do feel something is missing. I do not know what exactly it is. It might be a habit of overlooking the life what you have already or not have. I do not wish to have everything, but maybe certain things in certain moments. To be honest, I have not imagined that I could be a mom-type, but I do believe I could be a good one, even most my friends are convinced. That is definitely contradiction between what you want and what you can. I might want to have my own kid, no matter how happy I was with my life. That is something I have been sure for long time. Only I prefer to have in a later age, if that is successful. Whether you can be a mom in certain time in fact is quite uncertain, with ticking biological time. As a medical scientist myself, I believe good healthy condition regardless certain female fertility age, but also odds. Meanwhile, left all these scientific evidences or possibility out, to have a baby is not only a biological result. I believe the soul and spirit of a human being, and something it could be a very precious little beautiful gift. Therefore, I have a very mixed mentality about having a baby, or your own kid.

These 9~10 months pregnancy for me, it is a learning process to know my physical body and the deep feeling with myself and new born. I know that I have gradually fallen in love deeply with this little one, since the moment I knew she is there. Occasionally, I felt a bit overwhelmed about the unknown changes for myself and responsibility for someone who is so tender and fragile. In the different stage, I know I wish she could be healthy and happy with whatever I could do. That is probably biological or instinct bonding with the little one. By the time goes time, the love is getting stronger. Life is full of surprise, or just a little sweat candy, depending on how you could like to taste it.

In the past weeks, I have developed the so-called “nesting” behavior, but I realize that is also possible because I feel the uncertainty. With an almost done to do list, full of tasks for preparation or things I could do for myself, I just cannot stop to think or refresh myself daily. Rather than “nesting”, I am actually a bit afraid. I have read several well written articles about how devastating and hurtful parents lost their loved kid; about mature adult could not develop the maternal instinct. I also have been touched by amazing videos of new born, and I feel strong affection which I seldom felt before. I have enjoyed to gently massaging my nice belly, talking and singing to little one, asking father to read story to her when she is awake……I do not know when exactly we will finally meet her, maybe in two days, this weekend, or next week? I know I love to finally meet her, with plenty of joy and care.

When colorful autumn arriving this year, we could not go anywhere freely as we want, just like last year. But thanks for the little one, I have also spent amazing relax and happily months. Instead, this year, we have received the best quality chestnut. With a bit mixed up, it becomes a super delicious banana chestnut cake. I could not be happier about how it is teased like: fruity and nutty, warm and sweat. The best treat for the season.

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(p.s. cake and photos from leee)

Original inspired receipt – Brilliant banana loaf , and seasonal food – chest nut

From spring to later summer

Eating well has always been my joy and way of living. This year I could enjoy cooking more, probably due to the weird good weather, my super relax mood and unexpected long time off. Or, if I eat well, I feel well. It is not necessary to be comprehensive food, but just comfort, healthy home cooking, can be enjoyed by myself, two persons plus little one inside or with friends.

I could not agree more that  cook and eat well are the simple joy and celebration of life, which can be reached daily. My inspiration could come from seasonal food, ingredients from pantry, TV receipts, magazine, or anywhere, whenever. Be casual, spontaneous and creative are the essential fun of cooking, for me.

(All photos and food were made by Leee )

P.S My favorite foodie/culture/documentary programs this year

A cook Abroad – Series of BBC TV chefs

Parts Unknown – Anthony Bourdain

Fearless Chef – Kiran Jethwa

Marokko in zes gerechten – Chez Benali

Wedding day – Lieve Blancquaert

Langs de oevers van de Yangtze – Ruben Terlou

Soul of handmade

Morocco is absolutely one of few countries with very much traditional, yet dedicated handmade culture. It is probably due to its not yet industrialized economy, or warming-up tourism. However, when you get lost in Fez’s medina, you might encounter all sorts of craftsmen busy with repairing shoes, sewing leather bags, or craving wood. Although you could get a full handmade leather bag from local shop as every other tourist, the way of producing such bag by several handmade processes is astonishing traditional. It somehow likes lost process which you can only see back to centuries. Today, they are still using it, not for tourists, but just their way of living as craftsmen. When workers are standing in tanning ponds with bare foot, sharp and very unpleasant smell from dead animal skins, remains or maybe pigeon feces are drifting around. Carrying very ancient way of tanning gives Morocco centuries’ reputation in leather making. Just like most of other tourists, I was deeply touched by what I have seen, a piece of amazing yet living culture and history.

(All photos by Leee from Trip in Morocco, March 2016)

Other reading:

Morocco session one – Medina and Souks

From Hides to Handbags: Inside a Moroccan Leather Tannery

 

 Medina and Souks

After a stressed flight cancellation and almost failed new booking, we had to transfer from Brussels to Paris, delay for another day and ready to leave on 5 am next morning. Luckily, we were able to avoid the terrible Brussels attack. Next day, we were successfully landed in Essaouira by chance. Before the booking, I have to be sorry for my ignorant, which I had never heard of this beautiful coastal town before I checked the last minute flight.  At the moment, we were in an old, even a bit shabby taxi with driver wearing Arabic robe (djellaba),  the gentle sprig ocean warm, yellow landscape, argon trees and goats,  and the sense of travelling back to time, maybe 70-80’s. All were the typical image of Morocco where I have been familiar with, from media.

What is Essaouria? Though the city gate, the busy market appears. Not only busy, but it has a atmosphere to bring you sentries back. I do not know, probably the old Arabic days whichMorocco_mar2016 002 I have pictured in my mind. All sort of food merchants, men were lazy wondering, maybe discussing their life matters, or bargaining the price: a piece of fresh lamb meat, few chili papers……I thought that I have went back to the 80’s in China, but somehow different. Here is traditional way of living, but absolutely more culture based. Fish men were painting carefully their precious old fishing boats, blue, matching the beautiful sky and sea color from the eastern side of Atlantic Ocean. Fresh cached various fishes from the early morning were already on the market. From the way how they store these delicious and still alive fish, you know that is probably their simple and main resource of living. Off the day, they would not be on the good price any more.

Pass by the modern part of Marrakesh from central station, taxi brought us into the labyrinth like old Medina in Marrakesh. Our riad was hided somewhere deeply in the old Medina. Again surrounded by later afternoon bustling market, we were clearly lost as rare Asian looking tourists once we stepped out the taxi. Young men seemed very warmly to offer help to guide us to our destination, with little payback in the end, which we defiantly would not turn down after an early flight and long sightseeing day in Essaouira. Though the exciting fresh and authentic food market, after several similar turns we were in our very first home style riad, just like peaceful oasis in the Kjaki Medina.

One of my favorite experiences was walking though trod and markets aournd our riad, watching vendors were busy to prepare their daily business – chopping big chunk of lamb meat, making warm crepes for breakfast, sorting rich citrus fruits. Everyday morning starts from there, perfectly. Souks are just like spider net spreading around Jemaa El fnaa – the heart of Marrakesh. Either very much tourism based shops, or traditional handcraft business, you will nerve get bored or be able to explore souks deeply in few days time. They are just so fun and beautiful. At the meanwhile, around dusk, Jemaa El fnaa will transfer into another magic world in any possible way: snake charming, Arabic storytelling, dancing, juggling, food vendors peddling. I have been wondering where I am, and completely charmed and amazed. Scenes in one thousand and one nights, have been appeared in my mind. Time could just stop for this way of life, which has been lost long time ago, centuries ago.

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(All photos by Leee from Trip in Morocco, March 2016)

Other reading:

Morocco session two – soul of handmade

Morocco-magic-blog

For most Chinese, official new year only starts from the lunar new year. Although I am not particularly bonded to that, I do like the idea and feeling of festivity and good food.

Back to years, the memory of Chinese new year has been stopped in my childhood. Over the years after, the abundant and excessive food during this particular period is overwhelmed and not attractive anymore. Meanwhile, I am also a bit cynical for all festival and family formality, which is more often involved with emotional and compulsory burden. When you start to challenge and ask “why”, it becomes less interesting.

Since then, I have being lived abroad for a while, and seldom have opportunity to seriously celebrate this event. First few years, in order to keep up, Chinese friends got together to cook some food. By the years going by, such reunion is less and less, due to the come-go immigration, not-practical daily schedule, less culture bond abroad or occasionally getting bored of the idea of celebration for celebration. In the past ten years, I have only two times being at home with parents. Even though I have always at least 1~2 times per year for family visit, Chinese new year visit, just the idea, has always made me panic. The whole attention about “going home –回家” is advertised everywhere, or even as a propaganda of traditional culture of Chinese way of nostalgia. If you are unable to go back home at that particular moment, you probably should be pitiful or even deeply and morally punished. Then, I start to wonder how and where this whole concept comes from. Sometimes, I just want to criticize why other moment does not account, even it might actually have more bonding quality. I am not against the festivity and fixed family reunion, but just not pleased by the altered drive, which most time has no content what so ever, and yet makes me psychologically panic.

I do not miss the only idea of being together at that moment, but rather a real communication or reunion. I do not miss the splendid food, but with huge amount of tossing away in the end. However, I start to enjoy my own and secret Chinese new year. In fact, I like very much to read and enjoy how our ancients celebrate each solar term “节气” and define what to eat with it time to time. I guess it is original idea of living with nature. In such manner, I can fully experience the real way of celebrating new year though the entire year. Unfortunately, that is what is missing in current “spring festival 春节”, the very fundamental reason of celebration. I am indeed a bit obsessed about how the beautiful poems try to capture the joy of coming spring, the very detailed customs about what you should follow. Rather than just doing, it shows a unique aesthetic way of sense and living. Then, I start to miss it. It was the rule: the less, the more.

As the moment to welcome the new year, I would like to go though the just ended year about what I have gained and lost; be prospective or promise to do better; maybe just eat dumpling “饺子”, or yuanxiao “元宵”, or any other very one very symbolic dish; with few people could have real quality time for good companionship; or with people could really appreciate the value of festival food or life stories of yours or theirs. My very secret Chinese new year probably is driven away from the known Chinese atmosphere “热闹”. As long as you can real enjoy and understand, why should punish yourself being different? It is all about festival feeling afterwards.

My secret fun list of Chinese new year

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The Guide toChinese Dumplings: a look at thirty-six dumplings from all over China

 

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中国人的时间美学|中国国家地理

第一场春雨的来临、被雷声唤醒的冬眠的动物、夏天里即将成熟的植物种子、秋天晶莹的露珠以及冬天迷蒙的雪天……这都是二十四节气里对季候的精致笺注。也是中国人对时间的审美,他们将天意之美融化到世俗生活的方方面面。 (The aesthetics of time for Chinese )

1a8000b8cb45e7f2fbb拜灶神、馈春盘、遛百病….古人如何过年?

大家的春节都怎么过?有什么特别的习俗?,吃一顿美美的除夕宴,然后一起看春晚?还是急匆匆吃上几个饺子就和大家一起抢红包?当然,这都是我们现代人的春节了~古人的春节是什么样子的呢? (How the ancient Chinese celebrate Chinese new year ?)

 

China Seasonimage 

BBC Two celebrates China; a country 4,000 years in the making.

 

 1ac0006506b36e89869过年的诗词,浓浓的年味儿|中国国家地理

                                     生查子-元夕
去年元夜时,花市灯如昼。 月上柳梢头,人约黄昏后。 今年元夜时,月与灯依旧。不见去年人,泪湿春衫袖。  (Those poem for Chinese new year)

China’s food

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– Amazing snap shoot of the beauty of Chinese food, a photographic journey by Wolf Reinhart (all photos from online)

Last but not least, Happy 2016 猴年大吉!

The best quality of street food which you could get on the way should be in Asian, so simple and joyful. Eating outside or on the way is a sense of joy and celebration. You can eat whenever and whatever, in any occasion and location, because they are just so easy to get. There is not necessary to be restricted or formal, instead you can spend few minutes waiting for the tasty and golden banana roti baked with greasy butter, somewhere in the busy street corner; you can drink a warm rice noodle soup prepared by a little food cart. Does not matter whatever the vendor put into the soup, could be fish sauce, pork offal soup or pork blood, finished with fresh coriander. It is just so right, while it is probably 30 degree in the afternoon. Or, just as simple as a fresh opened coconut full of sweet juice water. It is Thai flavor on the way.

Night market

When we arrived at Krabi, it was20150210_134429 about 21:00. We were certainly not afraid of finding a local place to eat, just like we did else well in Thailand. What you should expect is that Thai food are everywhere. Unfortunately, Krabi is not like other over popular and touristic places, where is not much local restaurants. Streets are much less populated. However, when you keep the faith about the Thai street couture, we accidently entered a busy night market full of food carts which was just hided in those empty streets. At that moment, when you saw so much ready cooked little piece of rice with meat and vegetables wrapped in 20150211_192244banana leaves, I knew it must be cooked with coconut milk, one of my favorite south east flavor. Fried sour and sweet rice noodle (Pad Thai) was wrapped with egg omelet (probably south west Thai style, I guess), and served with raw soybean sprouts and peanut crumbles, finally fresh lime juice to awake all the flavors. Northern style Pork green curry with coconut milk cooked in small hot pot, together with yellow noodle. Its sweetness was much stronger than the normally spicy Thai curry. With little money, my tongue felt treated like queen.

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Khao Kha Moo (braised pork leg)

The next morning in Krabi, we again started to search somewhere for brunch. 1423361796736Just in the corner of a downtown street, a typical local restaurant was opened. I can immediately recognize this type of restaurant, and I knew they probably provided good local food, when you saw much local people were happily eating. It only opened from morning until afternoon, with limited amount of its signature dishes served through. One of them was pork leg braised in sweat dark sauce. The cooking way was perfect demonstration of mixed influence from north, Myanmar and China.

The most unforgettable Khao Kha Moo was from our trip in Chiang Mai. Outside the white elephant gate (Chang Pauk), we were busy with our temple tour and sightseeing in the burning afternoon. Street food vendors were gradually to set their equipment for the coming night. After first night ended up in a touristic restaurant, even the food was ok. We decided back to Chang Pauk street food block, where the food heart was located. Cowboy lady was just standing there holding two giant knifes, cutting the pork leg meat. The meat was just so tender, as falling so easily from the bone. I had heart this lady somewhere, and her stall was named in Chinese “Feng Fei Fei”, probably after the ever famous Chinese singer. Big plate pork leg meat was braised so juice and tender. The fattiness was completely faded away, only the sweetness and aroma from cooked mixed herbs and pork meat.

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Khao man kai (Hainanese chicken rice) 

As a Chinese style white chicken originally from Hainan, 1423361863398Hainanese chicken rice is a partial dish with migration culture in south-east Asian. Chicken meat is off-white, and skin must be slightly golden after boiling in stock. Sauce and rice are prepared different from other south-east countries, which are also having Hainanese chicken rice.

We were wondering in the phuket old town. Still busy old town was surrounded by hundred years old sino-portuguese buildings, where I even felt a bit sentimental because of its ever history and familiar everywhere characters. I had been thinking go back to the local restaurant, where the half Hainanese taxi driver suggested. Around the corner, with few tables set on the street, simple and popular food was served. Two ladies were helping out and cleaning. In the stall, only chicken, cha shao and few other things hanging, I just cannot resist the clear and light chicken rice with refreshing dipping. Here they were. Plastics plate like elsewhere, placed a good portion rice and fine sliced chicken, a bit dark sauce and few sliced cucumber. In the following, we probably just encountered one of perfect kaho man kai. I tried the prepared chili fermented bean (I guess) sauce set in a big jar. It was just tasted so incredible, yet spicy. I can barely stop, and eventually we had extra more chicken.

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Sweat and fruity

Feb 2015 196In the contrast spicy everywhere in Thailand, it is just so easy to find sweat or fruity sweat. The very first sweat will be the fresh coconut water. I love the lightness and freshness of the coconut water, and it is so easy to get. I can drink in anytime and every day, and I have no idea how many of them have been consumed during my stay. Pity, I could not get the coconut meat inside.Only if you love coconut related all, then you will be in the heaven. Because, the following sweat which you can super easily get everywhere through north to south in any occasion (fortunately, I have tried all), nothing is without coconut product:

  • khao neaw ma muang (coconut milk sticky rich with mango)
  • Sago coconut milk with black bean
  • Sago coconut milk with fresh mango
  • Kluay buat chee (Bananas in coconut milk with)
  • Khanom Krom (coconut rice pancakes)
  • Khao tom mud (coconut milk cooked sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves)
  • Coconut milk and meat sorbet
  • Toasted banana with coconut sugar dipping
  • Any combination of coconut milk and beans, rice, sweat potatoes, taro and etc

As the big lover of coconut, I call coconut the king of south Asian sweat. Does not matter with what, how could it go wrong? For those without coconut, you can have Khao Lam (sticky rice in bamboo), any type of fresh made fruit juice, banana roti, Durian cake, pandan leave cake….

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(p.s. All photos were made by Leee, during the trip in Thailand Feb 2015.)

Continue to read  Thai flavor on the way – 2 

                             Thai fast through my camera

you can also check this nice Migrationology website for more Thai tips


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