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golden corn pancakes 香香玉米饼

Another lazy/easy snacks for kids.

1) cut the kernels from the fresh corn cobs, mince the asparagus and orange peppers

2) mix in some flour and water. I use whole wheat flour.

3) mix in one or two eggs and spice the mixture!

4) add a couple drops of sesame oil if you have it.

5) heat a pan with medium heat. spoon in the mixture and wait until one side is slightly brown. Turn over and also slightly brown the other side.

Enjoy after they get cool! I use also same procedure to make some Lima bean pancakes, except you don’t even need to chop!

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Energy boosting?

Finally finally I finished my quarter-end review today after six days passing the official deadline. Four times a year I have to face this task, the task I feel hostile every time. It doesn’t seem getting better or easier as I practice it more and more. I enjoy my job very much, the challenge and the people. As a full-time working Mom with two children, the time seems to evaporate at an exponential rate.  Often you feel you do nothing but the time is gone! I have to devote more daytime to kids and family, cooking, bathing, reading books and all kinds of other activities. Then real work has to come at night time, cutting into the valuable sleeping time.

To keep myself awake and alert, I have tried several ways and wanted to find a relative healthy way. Yes, yes and yes, I know, I know the most organic way is to go to your bed and get some sleep. But let me just explore other possibilities related to caffeine because sleeping is a real luxury currently:  caffeinated water , the caffeine pill (200mg a pill), Nerd focus (a ginkgo extract drink), tea and refreshers from green coffee beans.

200-300 mg caffeine is considered safe for a healthy adult. In general, beverages won’t tell you exactly how much caffeine it contains. Caffeine tablets/pills usually comes in 100 or 200 mg per pill. It is accurate and most convenient, but feels too druggy. Caffeinated water also gives you the accurate measure AND offers 0 calories. Refreshers are actually lemonade or fruity coffee that don’t have coffee taste because the caffeine is extracted from unroasted beans. I was so excited when I first discovered “nerd focus” that contains extracts from Chinese ginkgo. After I took a first sip, I spilled it out. It tastes nasty and contains 28g of sugar.

So caffeinated water is normally my first choice, followed by teas and refreshers. On a day like today when I finish a difficult task, I could indulge myself  a cup of nice warm mocha with lots of fat (fat is tasty!). Standing on the corner of 6th street and congress ave., let’s capture the color of Austin before it is too cold.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Thinking, fast and slow

In a weekly research meeting, we had no speaker and instead we watched a video of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman giving a lecture. It is very impressive that this behavioral scientist won a Nobel prize in Economics and he never has taken an economics class. From my point of view, his speech was extraordinary and he was humorous and able to convey his idea in “normal people” words. The basic idea behind his research is that human brain functions as two systems. System 1 is working based on association and is fast, instinctive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. An example of system 1 is driving and doing your tax form certainly requires system 2. This behavior bias explains people’s irrational decisions and judgement.

In his speech, a couple of logic questions are asked and finally got my attention switch from the research lunch.

A bat and ball together cost $1.10. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?  The correct answer is 5 cents, but a lot of people will answer 10 cents.

All roses are flowers. Some flowers fade quickly. Therefore some roses fade quickly. Is the logic right or wrong? This logic is not correct since all roses could be in the subset of not-fading-quickly flowers. However, most of college undergraduates answered it wrong!

 Obviously I answered both questions correctly and wondered how vast majority of college undergraduates answered them wrong. I think they just think too FAST and in a way they are very very confident on what they know! The most important thing I took away from this lecture is that some people are more successful than others in the same field, or the so-called experts are those whose system 1 database is constantly updated. Remember the two systems of our brain are not static – once you exercise system 2 thinking again and again, it will eventually transfer to system 1. There is a Chinese idiom 熟能生巧 (practice makes perfect) that explains  all these well. This idiom is originated from a story in north Song dynasty 我亦无他,唯手熟尔. Well before Daniel Kahneman, our ancestors has already summarized the theory from empirical experience. The key point is “Critical thinking has to include assessing one’s own thinking.”

At the end of the day, I went back home and asked my 4-year-old son about the “rose” logical problem. He answered correctly!! Wow, I was impressed and then … at the same time I know I should not take it too seriously. Children have relatively small system 1 database and  is still building/expanding it.  So when they are asked some relatively difficult questions, they take a pause and think slow! This is exactly what we need to learn from them: pause and think slow. That night, we have fun playing some more logic games: Sudoku!

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Kids

 

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Montessori Mom Or Tiger Mom ?

I went to the parents conferences twice two weeks ago. Both of my boys went to Montessori school. I never heard of this Montessori concept until one of my in-laws sent her kids to the Montessori school and got very good feedbacks. Last year, a book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua was published and stirred quite a debate among people around the world. I have not read the book. But from the reviews and interviews of Amy Chua, I think I know the ideas well.

To me, “tiger Mom” concept is not unfamiliar.  Being this generation of Chinese, we are brought up in the same (more or less) very strict way. In my house, my Mom was always the bad cop and my Dad was the good cop. However, both of them were very strict. The bad cop tended to use more physical punishment and oral insults (most Americans think so if they hear the hash words). The good cop was good at invoking our own guilt of not being good enough and the wills to win, win and win. American parents, in a great extent, let their children do whatever they want.  They are free to explore a lot of their interests and have quite a say in deciding what direction they want to head. I am torn constantly between these two ways. Both ways produce success and failures. Chinese kids usually have better Self-discipline and persistence. American kids have better creativity.

One thing that I learned from the conference meeting is that right now they learn writing down words as the way they hear them. The spellings might not be correct but that is OKay for now (trust me, it is hard for me to take it). One example is “Basket” versus “Baskit“. Theoretically, nothing is wrong with baskit as it sounds exactly the same as basket. We shouldn’t  distract a 4-year-old with overwhelming details, but instead help them grasp the main concepts. I was convinced. On that night, my little 4 year old wrote a little lovely note to his grandparents. I held myself hard to stand back. 🙂 One comment made by my husband eased my nerves, “Oh wow, this is perfect for text massaging.” Yes, it is perfect for text messages. Maybe when they grew up, a simplified version of English will be in use.

So I think the answer for Montessori Mom + Tiger Mom is “Miger Mom”. I just have to remind myself from time to time to stand back.  My kids are the best teachers in this aspect and we will grow together.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Kids

 

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Emerald Golden Roll (翡翠黄金卷)

My kids won’t eat other vegetables voluntarily, except broccoli and spinach. Well, in fact I should say they wouldn’t refuse to eat these two kinds. As a Mom and veggie lovers, I need to do more tricks to hide the veggies. Here is one dish that they both love. And it is so simple that every one can make it. There is a big difference between Chinese cooking and Western cooking. Western recipes always specify the accurate measure of everything thing, including weight, volume, temperature and time. Although recent years Chinese recipes also tend to follow the  trend, but Chinese home cooking and old recipes won’t specify the accurate measure. Instead they usually use the words, such as “a little; some; proper amount “. You have to  decide how much to put in depending on your own preference. So Chinese cooking is more an art. There is no an exact same dish from different homes.

1. Mince any kind of vegetables that you wish to hide, such as kales, tulip green and spinach etc. Here I use spinach. Then mix with lean ground pork (chicken is fine too) . Add an egg white for tender texture. Keep the yolk for later use. Then spice with the mixture with salt, chick stock powder, ground black pepper. 切碎蔬菜,和瘦碎猪肉拌匀。加点油,盐,白胡椒和鸡精。想要肉更嫩的话。放一个蛋的蛋清。蛋黄留着备用。

2. Beat three or four eggs well, put the egg yolk from  step 1. and mix well. 打三到四个蛋,加上步骤1的蛋黄。

3. Heat a non-stick pan with medium heat. Add some grape seed oil and tilt your pan to ensure the oil cover the whole bottom or use oil spray. Add certain amount of beaten eggs, make sure the mixture spread nicely to form a thing layer. Once this thin egg layer is not running and forms a wrap, turn off the heat. 中火烧热不粘锅,加油。我用的葡萄籽油。加适量蛋液,左右摇摇锅让蛋液形成一层薄薄的蛋皮即可关火。

4. Wait the egg wrap cool down a little, spoon some meat/veggie mixture from step 1. and spread well on the egg wrap. Roll the egg wrap and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. 蛋皮冷却后,把步骤1中的蔬菜肉末摊在蛋皮上卷起。切成小段码在碗中。

5. Put those pieces into a steamer and steam for 15 minutes until the meat is cooked. 放在蒸锅中蒸15分钟直到肉熟。

You are done! I spent 20 minutes before steaming. I have some extra meat/veggie mixture left, so I made two patties and fried them in the pan. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Tiffany Blue Audi R8

I saw this picture on weibo.com (Chinese version of twitter). Although it is non-practical and too expensive, there is nothing preventing us to just appreciate the appearance. The color, Tiffany Blue (you know what I mean) feels so cool in hot hot hot Texas summer! One friend questioned the color as blue or green and triggered an interesting debate. One side argued that if you have a wife or girlfriend long enough, you will auto-detect that is Tiffany blue, also called Robin egg blue. The other side finally used scientific argument: Robin egg blue is  #81D8D0 (HTML color codes, hexadecimal triplets)  , therefore more green than blue.

Anyways, despite the debate let’s just enjoy the beauty:)

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Shopping

 

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“Whole” or not “Whole”?

As a non-native English speaker, I’m familiar with the first definition of “whole”, that is entire , all of. Not until 2001 I came to US for my graduate school in Ann Arbor where in this little Michigan town there exists a Whole Food Market (WFM) store, I started to get the second definition of “whole”: unprocessed and unrefined, in short, healthy (yes, at least we hope). Nonetheless, people start to use “whole” everywhere: whole body, whole spirit and even whole kids!

In 2007, I got my first job in Austin, Texas. Our company, by coincident, at that time, rented the office space inside the Whole Foods Market (WFM) headquarter building. For us, trying to stay “whole” is as simple as running down a couple of stairs. Along these years, many changes happen. We moved out the WFM building into the Chase building; I have kids, two lovely boys (four and one ); we start to have a group of lovely local friends …

As a mother, I would like to provide my kids with healthy food and love;  as a wife, I would like to keep our marriage live and whole; as a daughter, I would like to ensure my parents happy and healthy and as a woman, I would like to enjoy and share the passions with all my girlfriends. What do I want to leave out? …. Nothing! I want to enjoy the “whole” life (no matter what definition is), or at least that is the goal I’m working on.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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