1. Tiny little Chinese oranges. They are like clementines, only cheaper and only in China. They can brighten up dreary winter days of which we have plenty here in Chengdu.
2. Entertaining. I love that I have the ability right now to stay home with Will during the day but I’d be lying if I said I don’t really miss grown-up company and conversation sometimes. That’s why hosting a little “Welcome social” for a new spouse here in town was so much fun for me this week. I love coming up with new recipes to try out on everyone, I love toys strewn all over the rug, I love little kids running around screaming and playing, I love people leaning back in their chairs, laughing, talking, reaching for one more scone or one more cookie just because. With Will in our lives now, I think we love brunch even more now than we did before. Dinner can be dicey but mid-morning is mighty nice for hanging out with old friends and making new ones.
3. This baba ganoush recipe. I subbed some Chinese sesame paste for tahini but I think the real money shot adaptation was my decision to roast half of the garlic. Love me some roasted garlic. The flavor is mellow and full and goes well with the super smokey eggplant.
4. As long as we are talking recipes, this orange, chocolate cake recipe is also something to be thankful for. Not only do I like it, but Chris’ Chinese colleagues like it–which is something of a post-Christmas miracle. My only previous success with providing desserts for the office were super spicy gingerbread. Chinese and American tastes in sweets are very, very different. Often they will say a typical American dessert like a chocolate chip cookie or a brownie is “too sweet” even as many of the most popular desserts here are almost icky-sweet to American tastes. I think it comes down to the fact that “sugary” is not the same as “sweet.” Chinese don’t like sugary desserts, they like sweet ones, preferably with some fruit in them. Hence, this cake went over well.
5. TeuxDeux. Deux Yue Teux Deux? 🙂 Seriously, this simple little to-do list is open on our computer every single day. It’s also one of the only two i-whatever apps I’ve ever purchased (the other being Hipstamatic). The normal browser version is free though and it keeps me sane and happy. I love crossing things off a list and I love using the “Someday” category as a place for me to jot down stories I’d like to write, movies I’d like to see, recipes I’d like to try and books I’d like to read…you know…someday. Yes I have Pinterest for that too but simply jotting a note on my Teux Deux list is usually faster and easier.
6. Will’s antics. We’re in that sweet spot–that time after baby transcends cute-lump-ness to become a full-on social butterfly, but before he becomes totally mobile and requires all sorts of baby-proofing, etc. Will loves laughing, loves cooing, loves playing in the bath, loves grabbing anything and everything and putting it in his mouth. He has a weird fixation with my blue Nalgene bottle and loves to mouth on the edge of any cup, glass, or mug I have in my hands. He loves to lunge out of our laps and over our legs to explore everything around him. For now, he can only scoot in one direction–backwards. He’s always sort of torn between being happy that he’s moving and being frustrated that he’s moving further and further away from the toy he was hoping to reach. To us, its kind of funny. His other new fun thing are the big, drooly, open mouth kisses he likes to give me now, on my chin, my cheeks, and my nose. I’m perpetually covered in slobber but I’ll admit I love it.
7. The Bellagio. No, not the Vegas casino. The Taiwanese restaurant chain. Sichuanese food, though delicious, does get a bit oily and monotonous, especially after nearly 2 years of eating it regularly. The sweet and sour flavor profile of Taiwanese food offers a refreshing contrast and the Bellagio does it so well. Chris took me for my inaugural trip last weekend and we are actually considering going back every weekend until we leave so we can try everything on the menu before we leave.
8. Heat. I’m a cold-blooded creature and we have a warm house and for that I am always thankful. I’m also thankful for the nice warm “Fuggs” Chris found for me in Shanghai last winter. I used to swear six ways to Sunday that I’d never wear such boots but I eat my words every day now and my frost-bite damaged feet are eternally grateful for it.
I have no idea why my Nalgene is such a source of fixation, maybe because Will sees me drinking out of it all day everyday? It is now the perfect “toy” to give Will whenever I need 5 or 10 minutes to get something done in the kitchen. He sits and plays with my Nalgene, I cook, we “chat,” it’s win-win. If Nalgene wants to send me a spare bottle so I can have mine back for drinking, that’d be great. (Just kidding!)