Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

23 Apr '18  — what we're here for

“Octopuses only breed once throughout their lives, and the mothers-to-be die once their task is complete.” - Discover

The mom’s end up dying. Their purpose is to reproduce and die.


It’s spring. I can’t help but notice how many flowers blossom, wilt and dye.

On top of these observations, I’m constantly aware of the bodily changes I go through each month. Violent changes that affect my appetite, my ability to digest and even whether I get up from bed. My body is designed for reproduction, not for anything else.

If I were designed to be a thinking person, the hormonal changes that affect me wouldn’t be there. I’d be able to think clear, in a balanced way all the time.

I wouldn’t say men are more capable, although they’re often depicted as more ‘balanced, less erratic’. We’re all susceptible to the chemicals that get released when we’re attracted to another person, or when we compete against our peers. Hormones of all kinds affect thinking.

How can we say we serve a different purpose?

I can see how it becomes a problem when we think we’re different than the other creatures on this planet.

“What purpose am I here to serve? What should I do with my life?”

These questions are stressful. But they’re even more stressful because the questions are not anchored on anything nature/reality can substantiate.

“I’m here to make the world a better place.”

Thankfully, it’s a free country. Anyone can come to any conclusion on what their purpose is.


23 Apr '18  — truly luxurious

I finally gained enough self respect to eat desserts. With that, I’ve started to live the life of someone I’d always wanted to be.

It all started with banana bread. Homemade, it didn’t feel bad like most sweets I have at an outside bakery. I altered the recipe and got the exact result I wanted. More banana flavor with no sugary jitters.

Then I went on to make brioche filled with jalapeño pineapple jam. After eating several of the buttery treats, my cheeks started to feel a bit more firm as if they were pushing out.

For the brioche, I followed the recipe closely and found how easy it was to make the buttery treats found at fancy bakeries. Except–the flavor was exceptional. Homemade brioche tastes as if the volume on butter was turned on to the max. While croissants and brioches taste good when you go out for them, the flavors are diminished in comparison. There’s clearly a substitution of ingredients going on. Does butter cut into margins so much?

Last night I made a ricotta orange and chocolate breakfast cake. The recipe came from an Italian cookbook. Italians have sweets for dessert but the cake wasn’t as sweet as I thought it’d be. It was substantial and filling. Something that could power a morning.

I made the cake last night and had it warm. After refrigerating it, I had it this morning. I was so startled how delicious the flavor was. It’s one of the most delicious flavors I’ve come across in a long while.

A decade ago, I was baking often, mostly cookies, brownies and cakes. The difference between now and then is that the baked goods I’m making have a ton more flavor. It’s no longer just sugary.

I’ve accomplished something I find worthwhile: advancing my repertoire for flavors.

I have to say, getting to a place where I’m tasting such fulfilling flavors at home–it’s a dream come true.


20 Apr '18  — on a difficult road

It feels bad to not be able to provide my dad with something he can be proud of.

I’ve already wasted too much of my life trying to please him, getting good grades, keeping my back straight, going to a competitive school and working at an office of a large company. It’s lead to a complete dead end.

Not only is it not satisfying for me, but it’s also never going to be enough for him.

My father lives in Taipei.

“The guy on who lives on the 8th floor. He saw that I’m raising my kids in the US so he decided to send one kid to the UK and another to the US. When his children come back here they’re always asking what my kids do. In Asia, the culture is that if your children aren’t successful, it’s because of the parents.”

“My brothers and sisters are always telling me how their children are doing so well. I don’t have much to say about mine.”

These stories are repeated each time I call.

It’s much easier to work senselessly hard for ‘success’ to happen than to let these sad, disappointing feelings be.

Slowly, I’m getting more and more used to being a disappointment. But it still feels bad.

BTW, Happy 420! I’m not sure how big of a holiday it’ll be because everyday is 420 in the state of Washington.


19 Apr '18  — kitchen experiments

A cauliflower head sat in the fridge, ready to expire. I decided to use it to make cauliflower alfredo pasta for lunch.

Cauliflower alfredo is a sauce made by boiling cauliflower til soft and blending in fresh garlic, salt and pepper. I learned about it when I was vegan.

My husband and I made artichoke hearts last night and we had four left over. There was also a new brick of feta waiting to be opened. Artichoke and feta go well together…

‘I wonder if feta goes well with cauliflower?’

Feta was added to the sauce. The dish was topped off with artichoke hearts.

It was delicious. Hearty but light.

1 head of cauliflower, cut up, boiled til soft
2 tbsp of butter
1 tsp of salt
a few dashes of pepper
3 oz of Feta cheese
1 clove of garlic
artichoke hearts

There’s still more work. How much feta is the optimum amount? What brand? What is the best cauliflower to feta ratio?

I’ve always wanted to come up with my own recipe but I have never cooked enough to come across original flavors.

Today, I also made brioche in the shape of mini croissants. I filled them with pineapple jalapeño jam. The heat of the jalapeño went so well with the salted butter.

It’s been a successful day.


18 Apr '18  — attempts to assimilate

flower tree

I don’t fit anywhere.

That’s exactly how I felt yesterday. It seemed like everyone in the world had a place–except me.

I was watching my videos and realized how terrible they were. There’s no story, I can barely stay awake watching. What am I doing? Working on things I’m so terrible at?

I’ve entered so many worlds where I don’t fit in. I spent a couple years on business school only to realize I’m incapable of working in an office.

So many dead ends…

The earliest I’ve had this feeling was back in kindergarten. Heavy rains left a large pool of water under the school swing set. No one could play on the playground during recess.

The girl who always had a new horse t-shirt just came back with a souvenir from Sea World. She started doing tricks with a toy Shamu in a muddy puddle, everyone from class gathered to watch. They oooooo’ed and ahhhh’ed as if they were watching a real whale.

“A plastic whale??? Give me a break.”

The next day I brought a toy from a Cookie Crisp Cereal box. A plastic squirt toy came in the shape of the Cookie Crisp Burglar.

Could this gather a crowd?

A burglar jumping into and out of muddy water did not capture attention as much as the graceful Shamu. I remember thinking, this is terrible, no one cares.

‘Hey guys, look over here… He’s doing a flip!’

Well, I was already there. I kept performing like I was having fun doing it with or without them. This was a moment I’ll always remember. Not knowing what I’m doing while everyone watches.

Finally, a few kids came over.

They came because they wanted to try out the burglar. They saw how water squirt out of its mouth.

Why did I make the burglar move like Shamu? It had its own thing going on. The following day, I had a longer line of kids wanting to try out my cereal toy.

Those first moments, putting on a Sea World spectacular with a burglar and no one responding, haunted me for years. I recall, less vividly, making sure each kid didn’t have too long of a turn with my toy. Recess is short.

I was too busy to enjoy the fact that I’d filled a role.

Perhaps this idea of ‘fitting in’, ‘having a spot in the universe’ is an illusory state. Only exists when I feel the least like I fit anywhere and doesn’t necessarily exist outside of it.

I don’t remember feeling great having my toy become the star at recess. In fact, I remember being annoyed that I could no longer enjoy the toy myself without the interest of so many bystanders.

Guess I just have to settle into not ever knowing what I want.


16 Apr '18  — triple-gängers

wooden chairs identical but with slight differences

When I saw the title to Three Identical Strangers the movie, I assumed the story was about three people who looked alike and were complete strangers.

Haven’t you been mistaken for someone else? The last time that happened, I was walking by the canal and a guy in a boat followed me. He was sure I was someone I wasn’t and I had to stop and explain that I was not the person he thought I was.

While in Berlin, I saw an exact copy of my friend. But this friend never stepped foot in Germany.

Wouldn’t a movie about three look-alike strangers be so amazing?

The movie, Three Identical Strangers, is about triplets who were separated at birth. It wasn’t what I expected. Although they’re identical triplets, they all look slightly different in the same way three strangers, who look strikingly similar, look slightly different.

Could you imagine a story about three unrelated strangers?

Let’s look at the parents of the three strangers who are unrelated. How did they get their looks? Maybe they have overlapping lifestyle preferences that affect appearances? Do they have the same level of self esteem? Let’s look up their family trees…

I don’t particularly like it when people think I look like someone else. There was one girl in college that everyone said ‘looked’ like me.

Unfortunately, getting a person on board to such a movie would mean they’d acknowledge that potentially, they’re un-unique. It hurts the ego.

But that’s what makes the story so interesting. Maybe there’s a chance we are all un-unique.


15 Apr '18  — medieval city

krakow poland take a look at the big doors

Missing the old world, I revisited a trip to Krakow. There are a plethora of swirls on buildings and lamp posts. I don’t think I have enough swirls in my life–or sunny weather. It’s been pouring for days.

krakow poland krakow poland


14 Apr '18  — locked in

I was listening to a food podcast where the host was interviewing a cookbook author. The author found her way to cooking after years of working in management consulting. She mentioned how someone asked her father, while she was a student, why he was spending so much on her education especially since she’s going to end up in the kitchen.

During the interview, the author mentioned her situation was different because she was in the kitchen out of her own choice. But it got me thinking–was there really a choice?

The author was compelled to collect recipes and create a cookbook from where she grew up. She’s raising children in a foreign country and wanted her children to be culturally familiar.

Feeling strongly compelled to create a cookbook–there’s an urgency that binds her to accomplish something. Culture isn’t readily available where she lives. She feels it’s necessary.

Why is that type of ‘binding’ better or different than a woman who’s in a traditional role ‘forced’ to prepare food for the family?

I can see how they’re different in flavor, only one is accepted as a professional accomplishment. But both involve getting stuff done. Whether in a role where there’s no pay, or a role where the results involves pay, there always an urgency to do something about something, in preparing food or writing a cookbook. There are moments both activities get people feeling locked in.


14 Apr '18  — I've never tasted anything like it

squash squash in spring

I chose a new recipe for the combination of ingredients. Pine nuts, raisins, bay leaves, pepper corns, and apple cider vinegar are readily found, however, I’ve never tried them together. Nor have I seen anyone cook that way.

It’s exciting to find a recipe that I’ve never tasted. In most cookbooks, I’m lost as to where to start. Small, uncommon ingredients make cooking a huge undertaking.

I’ve been going through Skye McAlpine’s A Table in Venice. Within a few days, I’ve made three recipes and I plan on making more.

Delicious and unexpected flavors. Muy sabroso!


13 Apr '18  — making this as random as possible

san francisco street

I just realized this is my blog. Which means I can do anything I want. For some reason, I got into a mode of thinking nothing was good enough, or my writing had to fit a sort of ‘editorial tone’.

I don’t know what kind of rut this is but it’s hard to get out.