Daily Logs: June 13, 2012

June 13, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012   No Comments

Mornings with Asian family

Are the very best way to start the day.

My phone fell out of my pocket while biking to work on Friday. Before I could retrieve it, a construction truck rolled by and crunched it. The guts still work so I hear buzzing every time I get a message, but the screen’s kaputt. So I know messages are there, but can’t see them. It’s a funny metaphor for how communication goes between people sometimes.

Last night, I got an email from my Jieh telling me that baby eagles are called eaglets (something we’d been trying to remember on our Sunday ride out onĀ Harsen’s Island). In the morning, there was another note telling me to come over for breakfast early because Jieh had made the most delicious rhubarb blackberry buttermilk cake and I should have some.

A little after seven, post a.m. ablutions and some puttering about, I biked over with boiled eggs and strawberries and a tube of sunscreen to stash in Jieh’s car for our adventure.

I arranged cake on Jieh’s pretty ceramic plates and halved the eggs and sprinkled them with special soy; we made coffee and poured ourselves mango lassi and went outside to the deck. It was sunny and fresh and dewy and we ate our breakfast and talked about our day and upcoming travel. Jieh’s Asian hubby (the other essential member of our little clan) came down from his apartment with adorable bed head and drip coffee and we enjoyed each others company til it was time for me to go and start my day in earnest.

I miss my Daniels and the Chan Clan, and I feel so blessed to have found my way into our little family here in Detroit. It means a lot to belong.

Photo of Harsen’s Island by mdprovost

May 14, 2012   No Comments

Florida Market Cambodian Cookfest

A few weekends ago, I took a posse down to Florida market including coworkers from NSAC, visiting intern Kara from the Michael Fields Ag Institute (holla!), and friend Sara. We explored and laughed and made friends with taxidermed ruminants and then some folks followed me back home to cook up some traditional Cambodian fare.

We made Ban Chao (savory turmeric crepes) and papaya salad (recipe below) and vegetarian fresh rolls (aka goi cuon) with the quick kind of peanut sauce.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

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Green Papaya Salad

1 green papaya shredded
10-15 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber in thin strips or matchsticks.
1 carrot in thin strips
1 cup peanuts toasted and crushed (optional)
1 cup unsweetened shredded, toasted coconut (optional)

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar, palm sugar or regular white sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small green chili, minced (optional)

Peel the papaya and grate with a large grater or shred by the “hack and shave” method: holding the papaya in one hand and a sharp knife in the other, strike the fruit with force with the sharp edge of the knife to make multiple vertical parallel incisions. Next, take the knife and shave a thin layer off that side of the papaya so that it comes off in thin ribbons. Do the same with the cucumbers. Julienne the carrots into similar strips or matchsticks.

Prepare the dressing by mixing the ingredients in a bowl. Add the dressing to the salad and toss again.

Place on a serving platter, top with coconut and peanuts if you feel like it and your friends have no crazy allergies.

May 3, 2010   1 Comment

All You Can Eat at Florida Market

This is the first of a few posts I’m planning on Florida market (aka Union, aka Capitol City). The whole area is slated for redevelopment — a plan that’s been evolving for the past 3+ years and is surrounded by controversy. It’s a totally fascinating story and something I wish a real journalist would take up. Sara R?!

I am obsessed with Florida market. Anyone I meet these days ends up with an earful about my favorite place in the whole district. I love markets. I really really do. Especially the ones that are a little gritty, that remind one that food isn’t meant to be intimidating or inaccessible, or elitist, but something elemental, raw, real, that we all share.

The Union Market buildings were built in the first phase of market construction from 1929 to 1931 and designed by architect E.L. Bullock Jr. in a reduced “Classical Revival” style.

Florida market is gritty. So much so in fact, that people who have visited sometimes crinkle their noses when I mention it. “You buy things there?” they ask. “But those dumpsters with rotting produce! The trucks! The exhaust! The derelicts! The peeling paint and vacant buildings and signs in foreign languages. The noise, the heat and the smell, and the butchers in that warehouse with all that MEAT.”

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I eat it up. This is the place that feeds DC. The wholesalers in the market distribute to restaurants and retail grocers throughout the district. No one who eats out or shops outside of farmers’ markets can pretend like they don’t eat from here. And when you come here in person, you can find all sorts of treasures you can’t find at Safeway, at Eastern, or even at the wonderful Freshfarm markets.

Also known as Capitol City market or Union Market, this is the place where the “other half” of DC shops. Mostly African and Latino families, with some Southeast Asian representation and occasional neighborhood hipster looking for a deal on tahini.

On Saturdays, most of the shops are open for retail sales, including Sam Wang produce, where besides the staples, you can find banana flowers, shiso leaf, nopales, chayote, lotus root, thai parsley, mini thai eggplant, masa, frozen banana leaves, tamarind pods, plantain, and every starchy root your heart desireth.

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Most families fill up two or three cardboard boxes with produce. Receipts I’ve average $60-100. Many folks ask the cashier to let them know when they hit a limit — “All I’ve got is $67 today, so let me know when we get there.” — some get to the end of the weighing and decide to put back the pumelo or melon because it puts them just over.

Sam Wang’s just one of the many shops. Down the way is a tofu production facility where you can get a tub of three super-fresh tofu blocks for $3. My roommate who once ran the kitchen at a vegetarian restaurant in town used to bike here every morning to buy in bulk.

You can also get a huge bag of fresh sprouts for $3 that’s bigger than a baby, but I don’t recommend it unless you plan to make pho for an army.

So far, I’ve brought about a dozen friends to the market with me on mini trips and all of them have found something to love:

Besides the produce, there’s a wonderful Halal market with basil seed juice (?!), samosas, frozen ready-made paratha, ginger tea, and lots of spices. Apparently you can also get goats, but I haven’t had time to set up a spit, so I haven’t indulged yet.

Then there’s the flea market where you can find everything from rusty industrial muffin tins to dancing panda radios, and also some useful things like an adapter for your beat-up no-frills cell-phone or sea foam stilettos to add a splash to your otherwise staid pantsuit.

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There’s a great market directory here of the businesses that sell direct to consumers. See you there Saturdays.

May 2, 2010   1 Comment

Making Community in DC: Brunch at Bates

Every weekend I spend in DC, I fall in love a little bit more. It’s a small town full of brilliant, motivated, passionate people who all seem to be connected to one another in a complicated, but pretty tiny social network. It’s a transitional town where people come and go and folks seem open to experience. Plus, it’s below the Mason-Dixon line, which (I’ve been told) means that folks are just naturally more friendly.

Sure, there are those who might be a little too into the ‘game’ — collecting connections like baseball cards (or Magic cards for the fantasy inclined), racking up favors, perfecting tactics, but I’ve been fortunate to mostly a crowd of interesting and genuine people.

To those who bemoan the black and grey suits, the wonkiness, the who-do-you-work-for-who-do-you-knowiness of the district, I say: come to Bates House to hang out and your soul will be revived. Next party’s Saturday April 17th — hope you can make it.

One weekend in February, we threw a little brunch party. Around 25 friends and neighbors came to snack on cinnamon rolls and frittata and drink delicious coffee. The first guest arrived a little before 11, and the last one headed out the door around 6. Seven hours of community and conversation: not bad for a lazy Sunday.

The drink station set-up. Strong coffee, Bailey’s, tea and mango puree. Yum.

Marcie making French toast and Chris on BACON, BACON, BACON.

Happy Chris and the first guests, partaking of food (plus the back wheel of my bicycle making a cameo appearance in the left corner)

Greg, the ex-architect and documentary film maker chatting with neighbor Lara, public health advocate and server at a legendary local bar.

Friends in the happy food corner, where most of Bates eating action happens.

Bates love.

The die-hards, sticking it out till the end. Can you spot the two ethnomusicologists in this picture? The activist who works directly with victims of human trafficking? DC, you are ridiculous.

March 27, 2010   No Comments

Are you making fun of me?

My boyfriend Jaime sent this to me. He is on his way to becoming a fancy scientist who studies the impacts of salmon farms on wild salmon populations. He is incredibly supportive and, if you can’t tell, he has a sense of humor.http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/100709/overeducated-dirt-hoeing-expert.gif

from Toothpaste for Dinner

February 24, 2010   1 Comment

A little love from my friend Vaughn

February 11, 2010   No Comments

Wontons on a snowy night

Oh Hot, soupy, slippery wontons on a clear night after a deep snow.

The perfect portion of pork and scallion and soy wrapped in a soft, just-a-bit-chewy skin, topped with Sambal Oelek and a couple ladels of steamy broth with sliced cabbage.

What could be better?


Saturday night, I had the wonderful fortune to be invited to a wonton-making party down near Dupont Circle. I met up with friend Andy beforehand and we had a hot drink at Big Bear cafe and chatted about agriculture and business and solar power. Then we trudged through the slushy streets with our hands in our pockets and grins on our faces dodging the few silly motorists who dared to break the happy humanity of the evening.

It was a crowd of jolly 20-somethings, convening to drink and devour dumplings and delight in one another’s company. It was a crowd of many former classmates, whose faces I recognized, but who I couldn’t quite place. It made the party seem vaguely comforting and also a little unsettling.

A little after 10, I bundled up and headed outside, my hand on my belly, warm with beer and soup. I met up with Marcie five blocks away on the corner of 18th and Columbia and we trudged to a tall apartment building, where we went up to a party where no one knew anyone, but everyone was talking about love.

The party had cheese and wine and bread and those bright red roasted peppers in oil that have such a strange texture, like raw flesh. So we found a little corner and nibbled on things and talked about things until it was after one and we were sleepy, so we headed back to Marcie’s house.

The next morning, we got up and brought the computer to bed to seek out a breakfast spot. We shared some okay-but-not-great eggs and pancakes, had a mini-adventure at a furniture store nearby and then we each went our separate ways.


February 9, 2010   No Comments

Leapin’ Leonids

There’s nothing like a celestial event to put things into perspective.The annual leonid (shooting star) shower happened Tuesday night and I organized a little camping adventure.

Tuesday at 7pm, friends Christina and Mark, my mum and I piled into a car laden with sleeping bags, lanterns, blankets, binoculars, firewood and cocoa and headed up the 5 freeway towards the Santa Lucia Mountains. A few minutes prior, friends Steve, Brandon and Katherine left from Palo Alto driving south to meet us.

Mark said the last hour of driving was like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland sans giant cobra. It was a bumpy, narrow dirt road in the stygian night. We passed one campground (the wrong one) but otherwise couldn’t see any signs of the campsite where we were supposed to meet. No cell reception (obviously) and no markers. Google Maps + the GPS = failure.

Eventually, we turned back, planning to camp at the one campsite we had noticed. I turned off the road down the marked path to head towards Navajo campground, but then decided to retrace a little farther on the main road before giving up on the other half of our party. As we came up on an unmarked path, HEADLIGHTS! Hooray!

By that time, it was nearly midnight and cold. We started a fire and unloaded the car and sat around snacking and drinking warm things. Eventually, around 2:30am we headed up a small hill where we unrolled our sleeping bags and gear side by side like individually wrapped sardines and stared up at the sky. Our whoops and hollers at the bright projectiles soon turned into murmurs of appreciation, then some of us dropped off to sleep and it was quiet.

Around 4, we woke up, a few feet down the hill from where we started. The slick sleeping bags had no chance against gravity. We started the fire back up, warmed our numbed toes and soon after, started to pack up to head home.


Me and Christina straining towards the heavens.


Mum, fire-tender extraordinaire.


Christina like an adorable cartoon warming herself in front of the fire.


The crew (I’m taking the picture)


Yes. Looks like the same picture, but wait… who’s that in the middle?


Dawn on the drive home.


November 19, 2009   5 Comments