28 February 2009


i love collections. so for the first part of my photography project, i am documenting collections.

the harry ransom center has the most gorgeous windows ever, frosted with all sorts of historical goodness. one of the librarians there has a lovely collection of plastic toys on her desk, so I got permission to photograph them. however, I used film so those will appear later. (random: the building in the back is the French department! Yay!)

the windows are especially nice in the early morning, when you get beautiful shadows.

i am starting to build my collection of food props. we'll start with ikea, because it's cheap and i'm not really ready to invest in stuff from crate and barrel or williams sonoma. it is amazing how refreshing it is to have a new plate and placemat for food photography as well as for eating. but now i realize what i really want is a matte black plate.

a friend led me to a new friend with lots of books who also has an amazing collection of rubiks cubes.

i shot a lot in film, but i felt i needed to have color photos for some of them because the colors were too pretty!

27 February 2009


just watched this last night, and it instantly shot into my favorites. beautiful love story + beautiful dresses + beautiful cakes and food in the background + lots of color and excess + history + drama + humor = my type of movie.

and i was ready to buy the angélique DVD set off on amazon, until i realized there weren't french subtitles. this drives me nuts, how french moves in the US never have french subtitles.

25 February 2009

mismatched socks & miso soup

something i like about myself: how i don't care when my socks don't match what i wear at all, especially when they are white with patterns and have snowmen and dogs on them. they make me happy. (and warm. (although, it did hit 80ish degrees today so it was a bit too hot for socks.))

today I made miso soup, for the 2nd time in my entire life. the first time was an absolute failure because I had it on high heat, so the soup kept evaporating, then i didn't boil soften the carrots and potatoes first, i also did not put enough miso paste so it was watery... but i've improved.

i cut out the potatos, carrots, and tofu because i'm 1) lazy 2) wanted a very light soup.

instead, i added dry fish flakes (bonito), green onions (my weakness), and asian pork meatballs (yum). and i let it simmer on a medium heat, and added in more miso paste, and it was perfect! (pictures are bad b/c i wasn't originally going to write about it, but I found the before and after of the meatballs too surprising to not mention)

the pork meatballs frozen, before.

it is IMPOSSIBLE to separate these suckers apart when frozen.

and cooked, after.

i did not know they would expand!! when i came back 20 minutes later, i was shocked at how big they had grown. reminds me of those foam capsules i'd buy as a kid that would grow into dinosaurs. fun fun.

conclusion: i'm getting better at this cooking thing!

24 February 2009

idea for a side project


i am the luckiest (ok, so it doesn't really have much to do with luck) girl on earth to go to a school that has the one, the only, the amazing harry ransom center. original manuscripts. ancient maps. first edition books. the gutenberg bible. the world's first photo. the gone with the wind costume collection. so so so many treasures. one catch - you can't physically browse the collection. you need to know what you are after in order to get it, so many students don't take advantage of it. but i know what i want - historical french cooking books! historical french costume plates! historical geological maps!

ancient recipes in my handwriting

i'm so lucky to be able to touch and feel these fragile books from the early 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, and so on that are worth thousands of dollars that I could never possibly afford. and here, i get to look at them for free! of course i can't check them out, but I can sit there for hours and browse them, and most importantly, sketch and write from them. but i am inspired by these books so much. so..., here is what happened as well as my thought process

1. i've been on a watercolor kick lately
2. i really wanted to look at old cookbooks and make recipes from them
3. you can only take in sheets of paper into the hrc
4. i thought, well, i'll bring watercolor paper so i can draw...
5. oh my gosh, i love how these recipes are worded, so i'll copy them down...
6. and after i make them, i want to paint them on these papers, so they will be visual recipe cards! and paintings too!
7. so yes. watercolor paintings with recipes. and i think it'll be fun to make food from a cookbook hundreds of years old by ancient patissiers!

23 February 2009

海邊 / hai3 bian1 / the ocean / l'océan

fish market

Aside from ingredients, taste, freshness, cooking techniques... a huge part of eating is the environment. And nothing makes me happier than being at the source of my food.

While I was in taiwan, my mother's cousins took me to the north coast of Taiwan for seafood. Something I learned: if there is swimming allowed, then there aren't any good seafood restaurants around. If there are good seafood restaurans around, then there is no swimming allowed. Makes sense once you think about it... do you really want to eat fish that's been hanging out with kids who poop in the ocean and people who have sunscreen slathered on them?

the coast

It is rocky shores and large waves here. It was rainy so I didn't ask them to pull over to take pictures, but, as I always tell myself - there's always next time!

fish market

Being able to talk to the person who actually catches your fish is something you will never be able to do at Red Lobster. Everything here is alive. Nothing is killed until you cook it.

象牙蚌 / xiang4 ya2 bang4 / no idea what this is called in English.

My favorite part is being able to touch everything. I know you aren't supposed to play with food... but it's so much fun! This thing started squirting out water which caught me off guard.

麵包蟹 / mian4 bao1 xie4 / bread crab

so named because his shell makes him look like a loaf of bread.

which crab do you want?

I like how clean his white boots are.

龍蝦 / long2 xia1 / lobster

you're welcome to touch anything and everything, at your own risk of course! you're the customer, and you have the right to touch and be absolutely sure of what you are about to buy and consume. (all the germs get killed while cooking, i suppose) this is something that the US would throw a fit over, can you imagine grabbing the raw fish or meat you want to buy at the grocery store??

寄居蟹 / ji4 ji1 xie4 / hermit crab

He was shy at first but he eventually came out! Haggling here is a must, and it's definitely an art I don't think I can ever master. I'm too american and timid to slash prices, but it is always fun to watch my relatives do it.

showing the cook what we've purchased

And then, you walk over to a street of restaurants 30 seconds away and let them cook the things you've just purchased. Of course you can order food the normal way but part of the fun is buying the ingredients first, and then having them cook it. It costs about NT50 (US1.50) per plate for the cooking fee.

peanut lady

Something you should get used to in this rural restaurants: people who don't work in the restaurant but try to sell you things directly in the restaurant. This lady was selling peanuts. At another restaurant, a lady came in selling ginger. They are locals who just visit all the restaurants to sell the things they grow. There is no obligation to buy from them, so don't feel bad if you don't buy anything.

花生 / hua1 sheng 1 /peanuts

I wonder, what's the difference between food styling and playing with food? In my opinion, none, because they are both so fun!

蝦 / xia1 / shrimp

the obligatory shrimp dish.

生魚片 / sheng1 yu2 pian4 / sashimi
you eat this raw, therefore it is heavily iced. you also usually save it for near the end, so it is as cold as possible when you eat it. it is milky white, slightly clear, and very chewy.

but all that beautiful white disappears because you dip it in soy sauce and wasabi (i passed on the wasabi). then you chew chew chew!

魚鰾 / yu2 biao4 / literally, swim bladder?

it is tough finding the english name for these dishes.

魚翅頭 / yu2 chi4 tou3 / shark fin... head? i am not sure.

i've got to admit, i really only like fish, shrimp, lobster, and crab when it comes to seafood. Basically, anything that has a meaty texture. i have a tough time enjoying things that are slimy and chewy - so that knocks out squid, sea cucumber, and many other things that I have no idea what they are called. but all it really means is more food for everybody else!

螃蟹 / pang2 xie4 / crab

the sweetest crab i've ever eaten. although it's convenient, I feel like the "ready to eat" culture of american food is sometimes detrimental because it takes away from the experience. so many of the things we have are boneless or have the shells removed for us. for example, shrimp. I don't know if I've ever ate american shrimp by tearing off the head and peeling off the skin. it's done for me before I get to do it. or, fish. I eat american fish quite fast because all the bones are already gone. but, when I eat chinese fish, I slow down because if I don't carefully avoid the small bones I know it will hurt once I choke on them. So my long conclusion is, having to work at eating your food = eating slower = savoring the taste more = understanding the food = enjoying the food more.

22 February 2009

a nice day to bake bread

going to bed at 4 am, waking up at noon, and making bread. a very lazy sunday, but a nice one nonetheless. i decided to make my favorite type of bread: chewy taiwanese savory bread with green onions and sausage. and "bolo" bread, except I didn't make it correctly.

i'm the messiest eggwash applicator ever.

(note, they are not supposed to look like this. i forgot the egg wash, as well as did some other things wrong. but still tasty).

recipe to come another day. today is a lazy day!

another magazine, tildon swinton

I immediately fell in love when I saw these photographs from fashiontography.
the lines. the patterns. the excess of pink ribbon. the drapes. the silhouettes. the layering. the shapes. just beautiful