Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - Asian Foods

Here are some of the interesting things I've encountered among the various Asian dishes available in the Midwest of America:

1. Unagi Don is broiled eel over rice - a rich and flavorful Japanese dish I've been enjoying for years.  It's even better broiled than grilled, probably because of all that fat.

2. Hwe Dup Bap combines lettuce, rice, and raw fish with a delicious spicy bean paste.  It sounds like an odd mix but I've enjoyed it on several occasions.

3. Seafood salad from my favorite sushi establishment is a mysterious mix of plant and animal matter that tastes fabulous with a lightly sweet and sour dressing.  Sesame seeds add a perfect little extra flavor.

4. Flying fish roe is a crunchy treat for sushi lovers.  Putting a raw quail egg over the mouthful adds a creamy texture that is to die for.

5. Kani Su from my local Chinese/Japanese fushion restaurant is a delicious blend of artificial crab (kani), cucumber, and seaweed in a light sauce.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

6. 1,000 year old egg is a bit gamey for me, made with duck egg the way it is.  The gelatinous white was especially unappealing.  I'd still be curious to try a milder chicken egg given the same clay pack treatment.

7. Seaweed salad is something I first enjoyed while visiting North Carolina's Outer Banks.  I'm so glad our local place serves this crunchy treat.

8. Grilled squid warms my tummy with its spicy mayonnaise sauce.  Chewy and delicious!

9. Cold, steamed spinach is a refreshing appetizer with its light vinegar dressing.

10. Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap is a tasty Korean blend of rice, beef, vegetables, and bean sprouts topped with a cooked egg.  Sizzle it to crispy in the hot stone pot, top with hot bean paste, and enjoy real comfort food.

11. Katsudon makes for a great winter Japanese meal.  I really enjoy breaded pork and egg as a savory mix over rice.

12. Sea urchin has recently reentered my menu at our local sushi restaurant.  Raw, it's pretty pungent, but unique and worth a try.

13. Natto is fermented bean curd, quite tasty over rice if you can get over the slimy threads.  I usually enjoy it for lunch as opposed to the typical breakfast time dining.  This food is allegedly becoming less popular in Japan but I appreciate the taste and texture on the tongue.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crystal Sky

Swirling crystal sky
Snow falling; squirrels tuck tail
The earth lies dormant

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - Marilyn Manson members

1. Founding singer Brian Warner paired Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson for both his stage name and that of his band (formerly Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids)

2. Twiggy Ramirez combines the iconic model with Richard Ramirez, who remains on death row

3. Ginger Fish represents Ginger Rogers and Albert Fish, the "Brooklyn Vampire"

4. Zsa Zsa Speck links Ms. Gabor and mass murderer Richard Speck

5. Olivia Newton-John and the unforgettable rapist and killer Ted Bundy go together to create Olivia Newton Bundy

6. Gidget Gein pairs the novel by the name "Gidget" with the notorious Ed Gein

7. Sara Lee Lucas twists the baked goods company with a link to Henry Lee Lucas, whose guilt in hundreds of murders is now questioned

8. Daisy Berkowitz combines the fictional Daisy Duke with David Berkowitz, or "Son of Sam"

9. Madonna Wayne Gacy links the talented singer with John Wayne Gacy, the Killer Clown

10. Zim Zum is said to be from the concept of Tzimtzum, which kabbalistic teachings define as the place where creation can begin

11. John 5 is another name not following the original formula but he's a great guitarist

12. A fine keyboardist, Chris Vrenna dared to keep his own name

13. Likewise, Tim Sk├Âld rocks out with his birth name - sorry the original intention here lost steam

However you name the members, the band is definitely worth checking out. Happy listening.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Flash Fiction - A Short Story Packed into One Chapter

Marmalade Jam

Sometimes, bitter can change to sweet. You just have to open yourself to life’s possibilities.

Carol put down her book and looked at her hands. The fingers were straight and strong, but the skin looked thin and fragile.

“Marmalade, how did I get so old? I was an old bitty before you were a kitten.”

The cat blinked sleepy golden eyes and nodded her regal, orange head to honor her mistress. The fat tail bounced languidly against the carpet. Any lover of felines would recognize a happy, healthy cat. Carol smiled.

Trying to get back into her reading, Carol realized what was nagging her. She put the book down again and stretched.

“You’re probably hungry, aren’t you? Let’s get you some canned food, Marm.”

She rose without so much as a wince, grateful for the martial arts class that kept her limber. Carol had realized a long time ago that it was never too late to start anything. While she might never be a black belt, she felt better nearing eighty than at forty.

“What’ll it be? Do you want ocean whitefish or chicken medley? I swear, your food sounds better than some of the stuff I ate before my writing took off.”

Carol listened to the sound of the surf through the open window as she held two cans of cat food down for Marmalade’s interested inspection. Whichever one ended up being marked with a cheek would be the cat’s dinner.

“Chicken it is.”

A knock at her door straightened Carol from her task with a start. She couldn’t imagine who would be calling. Setting the empty can on the counter, she whirled toward the sound. From the end of the hall she made out a compact figure.

“I’ll be right there.”

A young man’s voice called, “Mom?”

Now Carol had been a lot of things in her life but a mother wasn’t one of them. Intrigued, she picked up her pace. Now she could make out a duffel bag being swung upon the narrow shoulder. She unlocked and opened the door.

“This is Mrs. Youngblood,” she announced. “Carol Youngblood. Can I help you?”

“Oh. This isn’t the Negalis residence?”

He was obviously of Asian descent, with effeminate Japanese features and friendly brown eyes. Carol didn’t recognize the name.

“I’m sorry. I’ve lived here about a year but don’t know who owned the house before. I got it anonymously through a broker.”

Just then, an orange streak flew out the door. Alarmed, the young man looked at her.

“Is that your cat?”

“Yes! And he shouldn’t be outside! He doesn’t have any of his shots for that, let alone flea prevention treatment.”

“I’m Hiro,” the young man said. “Let me get him for you.”

He dropped his bag and darted off her porch. The cat made a beeline for the neighbor’s sandbox with Hiro hot on his trail.

Hiro never did catch the cat. Instead, he tripped over a child’s toy and landed in a heap. Carol resisted the urge to laugh, not certain if he was really hurt. She raced to the groaning man’s side.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m… how did you get here so fast?”

“I ran. You could have been seriously injured.”

“You’re not even out of breath,” he panted.

“This was nothing compared to my classes. Sensei Yamamoto works his students, even us old folks, very hard.”

“You’re in martial arts?”

Nodding, she helped Hiro stand and together they made it back to her home. A quick phone call to her attorney would solve the mystery of what happened to Hiro’s family. In the meantime, he’d dusted himself off and found himself facing her blunt questions.

“What happened with your family? Did you have a falling out? Forgive me if I’m being forward. I’ve learned that life is too short to do anything short of getting to the point.”

“That’s okay. It’s refreshing, Mrs. Younglbood.”

“Please, call me Carol, Hiro.” A scratch at the back door interrupted her. “Excuse me but it seems my wayward cat has made her way home.” She introduced Marmalade, who entered and resumed eating at her food bowl as if nothing had happened.

“Does that happen a lot?” Hiro asked, laughing.

“Honestly, no. I think someone wanted us to meet in more than passing.”


“God, for lack of a better name. Would you still be here if you hadn’t just about been knocked senseless?”

“No. I’d be looking for someplace to stay. But… Why?”

“You look like you need a friend.”

“I guess you could say that.”

“Then tell me about your family. Say what you were considering before we were so rudely interrupted,” she continued, giving Marmalade a mock angry look.

“They kicked me out when they learned that I’m gay. Well, Dad did.”

“Oh? I’m so sorry. And they moved without telling you?”

“They didn’t know where to find me, but then I read in the newspaper that my father died.”

“That’s horrible! We need to get you home. How about some tea?”

“Yes, please. Thank you.”

Within an hour, Carol learned where Hiro’s family had moved. Before he left, impressed by her agility, the amused Asian American arranged to accompany her to her next karate class and fill out an application.

“I think I’ll be staying, Carol, thanks to you and Marmalade.”

“And I think you’re the inspiration for my next story. I hope you don’t mind.”

“You’re a writer?”

“CW Youngblood, at your service.”

“I’ve read all your books!”

“Then let me pour another cup of tea and we’ll drink to Marmalade.”

A Review of the movie "The Sensei"

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Darla's Sand Castles