Monday. 11.26.12 1:21 am
The classic turkey and mashed potatoes stand hidden among the jumble of
Chinese dishes and the youngest uncle’s Mexican dish of the day on the dinner
table. The dessert spread is never the classic pumpkin pie, but instead the
amalgamation of classic Chinese desserts and a cookie here and a cake there. This
is the charm of our family’s potluck.
A potluck not only brings together my mother’s side of the family for Thanksgiving
lunch every year, but also allows each family to contribute to the meal. Each dish
is carefully planned and executed. Extra touchups or reheating are done on
location, at my cousins’ house, from making a simple salsa to simply heating up
the turkey. Each person makes their specialty. Ann’s tiramisu, grandma’s noodles
and barbeque meats from Chinatown, mother’s forever failed mashed potatoes,
among others. What makes it truly a meal is the time and effort put in to create
the dish, with the family’s tastes in mind, but the best part is seeing peoples’
happy faces when they taste your dish.
There is just something completely satisfying about receiving compliments on
your cooking. There are always proud statements of “Did you like that? Yea, I
made that!” The smug satisfaction, the slight smile, the pure happiness on their
faces when you compliment their dish makes just complimenting them worth it.
Such a meal, created collectively by everyone, makes it satisfying. The true
meaning of Thanksgiving is the simple act of bringing together people once a year,
for just a meal.
Instant Ramen: Deconstructed
Thursday. 11.22.12 1:00 am
A quick meal by simply filling a pot with water, adding the soup and vegetable
packets, bringing it to a boil, and breaking the brick of noodles in half, throw in
some frozen vegetables and perhaps an egg for protein, boil for five minutes and
you’ve got a hot, delicious meal.
But what exactly makes it so delicious? A blend of wheat flour, modified starch,
and potato starch give the noodles its distinct chewy texture. An alkaine agent
completes the relationship between texture and flavor, inhibiting the formation
of too much gluten and giving the noodles a distinct flavor. Some salt, garlic
extract, and dried yeast are added to the noodles for flavor. Garlic extract and
dried yeast have abundant amounts of naturally occurring glutamates, giving the
noodles umami, the flavor of deliciousness. But most importantly, the final layer of
flavor comes from frying the noodles in palm oil and emulsified oil containing
D-sorbitol, soybean oil, lecithin, tocopherol, and glycerin esters of fatty acids. Fat
is a great vessel for transferring flavor by being able to coat the tongue and
lingering. Calcium and riboflavin provide some essential nutrients. See, it is
Not only do the noodles have their own flavor, combined with the soup and
vegetable packets, yet another layer of flavor. There is the basic salt, which
enhances the flavor dramatically of most foods. Then a whole slew of umami
packed components consisting of beef extract powder, soy sauce powder, yeast
extract powder, kelp extract powder, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, garlic, and
onion. To add some heat, red and black peppers, and oleoresin paprika are mixed
in. Finally, as a flavor balance, sugar and glucose, giving the soup base a sweet
note. All these are combined together with corn starch, which when dissolved in
water, gives the soup it's smooth and slightly thick texture.
Last but not least, the vegetable packet cannot be forgotten. In this particular
ramen, contains an interesting mix of dried vegetables, algae, fungi, and
surprisingly, fish. Green onion, mushroom, seaweed, and cuttlefish all add aspects
of umami along with their own distinct flavors. Carrot and Chinese cabbage add
texture and color.
When these individual parts are put together, the noodles, the soup, and the
vegetables, multiple layers of flavor and texture are created. Cooking the noodles
in the soup releases the oil into the soup, giving the soup another aspect of
flavor. As the vegetables rehydrate in the soup, yet another layer of flavor is
added. The noodles are the main component, thick, and chewy. The soup serves
to infuse the noodles with delicious flavor and the vegetables contribute a change
in texture. All together, the chewy noodles, the slight crunch of the vegetables,
and the spicy, salty soup come together to form a favorite food of mine, instant
Saturday. 11.17.12 11:45pm
There is something about this job that makes it different from all the others in
the past. Maybe because so much time is spent there, maybe it is the people that
have been met, or maybe it is simply college. There is a funky dynamic, a balance
of some sort.
People come and go. People quit to do greater and better things, people graduate
and move on with their lives, new people are hired. It’s never constant, yet
there’s a sense of family, of continuity. There are always the fraternity boys,
finding ways to drink on the job. There are the tiny Asian girls with big
personalities, the stupid guys who never know what to do, no matter how long
they have worked, and the normal ones, just there to work and do a good job.
But it is not just the students that run the business; nothing is complete without
our chef and manager. The chef that always like to say, “What a beautiful family,”
when we are all working hard. The manager that always seems to be in a bad mood
unless our football team is doing well. But even then, nothing is ever too serious
and somehow, they always manage to hire the right balance of personalities to
make it fun. Even when we are busy and on a tight time schedule, there always
seems to be some time to crack a joke here, throw a tease there.
But at the end of the day, it is just my part time job, no matter how fun it can be
at times. All that effort that goes into talking to coworkers to make time pass
quicker, communicating with clients with their needs, reporting to managers,
wipes me out. All I want to do after getting off is getting back home and not
talking for the rest of the night. At the end of the day, people simply drain my
Good, Clean Fun
Friday. 11.16.12 11:30 pm
Crepes cooking in the pan, fruit being chopped up, lively conversation, and a
splash of fruity champagne: the beginnings of a good night. People I’ve known for
years, people I’ve just met, all in one apartment, gathered together on a Friday
night for a crepe party. A night of just hanging out, catching up, and of course,
eating good food.
What turned this simple gathering of friends into something more than just
eating, chatting, and drinking was a simple deck of cards. Everyone gathered
around in a circle, some sitting cross legged, some lying on their stomachs, other
sitting on the couch or in a chair. A game was decided. Mao, it was called. A game
of secret rules. A simple, yet complex game played with a lone deck of cards.
Cards were distributed and the game started. As all things, it started off slow.
Rules took a little time to catch on to, some people learning faster than others. As
the game went on, the competitiveness and the banter increased. It was a game
of attentiveness, but it was hard to attention sometimes when laughing at
someone making a mistake. The game continued with the winner adding a new
rule that only they knew. After each round, a new rule. Such a simple game, but
with such complexities.
An unexpected bunch, but a surprisingly fun night. The wonders of a simple deck
of cards and a group of good company. The joys of simple, clean fun.
Thursday. 11.15.12 11:00 pm
From today on, I shall write for fifteen minutes a day, with a randomly chosen
prompt from the internet. Why this sudden interest in writing? Well, I think it's
time that I do something about my inability to be articulate about my thoughts
and feelings. Thus, just a little quick write everyday will help my brain work better
in articulating thoughts in a short period of time. With practice comes perfection.
Today's prompt is "Why?"
Why writing? Why the need to be articulate? I just want to be a scientist. Why do
I need to write? I used to think that. But now, as I venture deeper and deeper
into the field of science, the more I see the need for writing and articulation.
How are scientific ideas conveyed to the public and to other scientists? Through
journal papers, through lectures, through talks. The ability to be articulate in both
writing and speech is a necessary skill in the field of science, especially in the
advent of global collaboration.
I want to become a scientist that not only can make significant discoveries, but
also be able to convey these discoveries and their significance to the public, for
whom it really matters. I want to be able to teach young, interested minds about
science, to engage them and pass on my knowledge. I feel that this is my duty as
a scientist, to not only do research, but to pass it on and convey it to all.
This is not just for my future, but for my own personal gain. I want to be someone
who can do everything. Someone who people look up to. Someone who people
think, "Wow, she's amazing, I want to be just like her." And for that sake, even
though it is only fifteen minutes a day, it is a small step towards my goal.
Quarter Goals: Checkpoint-Week 7 out of 10.
Thursday. 11.15.12 5:38 am
Goals for Fall 2012:
1. Do as well as possible in classes. At least a B in science classes and A in 日本語.
-A's are possible in some science classes!
2. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
-pretty fun! ^^
3. Run when time allows.
-Can run the perimeter! [:
4. GET PROMOTED TO LEAD SUPERVISOR AT WORK!
-GIVE UP! >[
5. Apply to internships/jobs starting with JET and TALK.
-sent in JET, applied to two plant related internships. work on others!
6. Research/internship? or... Study 中文。
-completed this goal! ^^ research is so fun!
Long term goal: Become so good at cooking that I can make a multi-course dinner
for a group of people.
Winter break vegetation menu:
Summer 2012: Yuli, Hualien, Taiwan.
Monday. 9.10.12 11:27 pm
A haiku to summarize my time there:
Time stopped in Hualien.
Stopped looking for the future.
Lived in the present.
2011-2012 School Year
Tuesday. 8.28.12 1:56 am
Fall 2011:Best quarter academically of the school year.
Worked the hardest in the fall. Juggled sports medicine internship, catering, and
four classes. I think this was one of the best academic quarters because I liked the
majority of the courses I was taking, general/organic chemistry lab, molecular
biology, and Chinese. The one class that I did poorly in was organic chemistry. As
for the internship, I quickly learned that I didn't like it at all, but stuck it out for
most of the quarter. It was a good experience though, but definitely not
something for me. I was not willing to be someone that worked that hard for such
little payoff for people who didn't appreciate it at all. I just did not like the idea
of the athletics program at UCLA. The environment of the whole thing was simply
too cutthroat and unsupportive for my liking. Catering went as usual. Social life
remained the same. I got closer to my roommates and maintained my relationships
that I formed last year.
Winter 2012: Nothing exciting.
Grades were sad. Started the CalTeach internship. Found it really interesting to
learn about the way people learn. Had a lot of fun going to the elementary school
every week to help out in the classroom and learn more about teaching. Started
taking Korean. Found it very interesting at first. Got closer to Jackie. Took one of
the hardest lab classes offered at UCLA. I really enjoyed doing the labs, but I simply
did not do well enough on the final for my professor's liking. Thus, did not do very
well in the class overall despite my performance in the labs. Work went as usual.
Social life continued to remain stagnant.
Spring 2012: Worst quarter academically of the school year.
Grades were saddest. Continued on with the CalTeach internship. On to middle
school. I hated it. Definitely did not learn as much as I hoped to learn about
learning as I wanted to. I suppose it was a good experience learning about how a
normal middle school functions and connecting teaching strategies that are still
used now to what was used when I was in middle school. But overall, not a
pleasant experience. Continued to take Korean. Found it boring. Decided to not
continue my pursuit of Korean. Started taking Japanese again. Remembered why
I liked it so much. My favorite class of the quarter. The other courses... let's not
talk about. Work remained the same. Social life... I became a lot closer to Eve and
Corrina, but not drifted from Jackie. Still maintained old friendships.
Was too busy to be lonely. Much better than freshman year. Finally let go of senior
year swim team. Bad relations with mother on what to do in the future. Did
horrible in school. A very calm and okay second year.
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