Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

When I was younger, I didn’t get the deal with pumpkins. I didn’t like their texture and taste. They reminded me of the mushy congee cooked in pumpkin broth, which was pretty much akin to baby food. And not surprisingly, it was a regular item on the menu of many kindergartens or primary schools. Teacher: “Look at the vibrant orange color! So much nutrition in one spoon!” Me (in silence): “No thanks.” Continue reading


No-Recipe Beef Stew Recipe

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Dear reader,

For a long time, I thought bò kho (beef stew) – the type my family makes in Vietnam, was impossible without the pre-mixed little pouches of spices found in every mom-and-pop groceries store. You want bò kho? Grab a bò kho kit. Phở? Here are your phở cubes. We took shortcuts because shortcuts were always available, and it would be a crime to spend more time than necessary on something so basic, so ordinary like cooking. Continue reading

Dear Future Children


Lately I find myself drawn to observing babies/toddlers/children everywhere I go. Some are adorable with their chubby little toes and fingers, their high-pitched voice, their enthusiasm and excitement at all things in their sight. Some are just a bunch of nuisances (for lack of a better word). They cry; they kick; they make scenes. So dear reader, what are the perks then, of being a parent, besides speaking in silly voices to your baby without being judged? I wonder how my parents felt when I was growing up. Was I a bundle of joy or was I a nuisance?

Continue reading

Security Blanket. Comfort Food for the Lost Soul


8am. It’s raining outside. My hair is a frizzball. My body too lazy to move for its own good. Still obligations await and (other people’s) business to settle. With all the willpower that I have, I get out of the house swimming in a shirt so loose you can barely see my body. On top of it is a shawl/scarf/blanket/rug (fashion police can sue me). Hide me hide me. If I have to get up and present myself to the world, the least I can do is be comfortable wearing whatever I want and not giving a damn about how hideous it looks. Continue reading

Cha Soba Bowl with Orange-Miso Dressing


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Some people loathe early Christmas decorations. I don’t. To me the anticipation before any holiday is the most exciting part of it. You plan activities, organize meet-ups, shop for gifts, watch people shop for gifts while sipping coffee resting from all the shopping you’ve done. Then all of a sudden, Christmas passes, and soon enough you find yourself humming to festive songs with dragon dance drums playing at the background. Early decoration for Tết – the equivalent of Chinese New Year in Vietnam – is never a sin either. Continue reading

The No-Recipe Roll-it-yourself Platter

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Recently two of my very close friends (one of them an expert in pumpkin prep) decided that their current jobs have become too much to bear. There comes a point when all the long working hours, the taxing straining professional relationships and the constant supervision will no longer justify the monthly paycheck. There comes a point when the learning curve stagnates and you start churning out results like a robot. They have reached that point, and they quit. Continue reading