Saturday, June 30, 2012

saturday afternoon snack

Zach and his Saturday afternoon choice of snack ...

a homemade chocolate chip and toffee cookie larger than the size of my palm!

p.s. recipe for cookie in this post!

last weekend in June

Good morning blogosphere! We're waking up after a night of strong thunderstorms and much needed rain. The earth feels rejuvenated and refreshed. The plants on the patio all look happy and quenched.

Zach and I are driving to Portland today. His parents host a 4th of July family reunion party every year and we love it for the opportunity to meet up with the people we would otherwise not have the chance to see very often. Josh will be there too!

In other news, my friend, Evan, is getting married on this beautiful day. We wish him and his bride a world of happiness and a lifetime of love and friendship.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Here's a song to start off your day ...

Friday, June 29, 2012

sketchbook seoul and bangkok

seoul searching is digging through layers.  layers of clothes.  layers of food.  layers of alleys and buildings and neighborhoods.  layers of people.  my favorite thing about seoul was the art that we got to see.  just the do ho suh show made it worth the trip.  but all the other things we saw.  a new aesthetic that is approachable, even cute.  and the premodern palaces and temples scattered between postmodern sky scrapers.  the streets are crowded with people.  the underground is even its own moleish version of a city.  the same shopping you find up top is also underneath the city.  again with the layers.  i loved seoul.

bangkok on the other hand was a bit more frightening.  our super posh hotel had a burned out and half wrecked housing structure (i use structure loosely) right next to it.  and the whole city was like this.  super posh and next door, a blownup shithole where tuk tuk drivers and cabbies stop to piss in the rubble.  but that was what bangkok was.  that, and covered in a thick constant haze of diesel.  the grand palace looked like it could have been awesome even with tony the tiger, our tour guide.  there were just too many people there.  the black river-boat cruise was one of my favorite moments.  it was cool in the breeze no one was talking to you because the motor was so loud.  mindy and i could just sit and look at what we drove passed.  we got to see how some of these people live.  we passed many temples.  and many shacks.   but nothing beats thai food in thailand.  there must be something in that black water because the food is damn delicious.  tom yam shabu shabu is delicious with an ice-cold-and-almost-immediately-lukewarm beer.

seoul tower sketch
our first day in seoul we took a cable car to the top of this mountain where there was this lookout tower,
a couple of guys in traditional dress performing whatever duty this still serves, and a tower to
take you even higher up.

seoul sketch
street shopping in seoul.  tons and tons of people and tons and tons of merchandise.  very colorful advertising
covers every surface.

seoul sketch
kitchen utensil seller.  this guy came over to see what i was drawing.  it's you, dude with a pony tail and a fan.
 this shop was jam packed with every utensil you could imagine for the kitchen.

seoul sketch
the umbrellas were part of the market that really began to stand out for me.  the repeating pattern was
something soothing in the pushing, shoving, shopping, advertising conglomeration i was suddenly a part of.

seoul sketch
a quiet staircase that climbs a huge hill in insa-dong.

seoul sketch
ancient and contemporary.  this drawing is a metaphor for seoul in general.  you can feel the history of the city
down to the mud huts of millennia ago.  and you can feel it pushing into contemporary, everyone with their
heads in their samsung phones, dressed in something outlandish, stuffed in the ancient alleys between high
rising post-modern buildings.

seoul palace sketch
one of the buildings at the palace.  i drew this one from outside the wall.
it's one of my favorite sketches from the trip.

seoul sketch
my favorite little canal.  it had lanterns strung across it the whole distance.  it was a quiet place in the midst
of the bustling city above.  here i stood above it on the bridge.  i have another drawing where i sat at the
edge of the water.

urban drawing
the city center in seoul.  our hotel was not far from here so i stopped here and drew a couple of different
angles of this space.  then i walked up the street about 2km and stopped along the way and sketched
as many things as i could.

urban drawing
a view from our window at the Vie hotel in Bangkok.  giant skyscrapers and hotels and condominium buildings and sheet metal shacks beneath all of it.

grand palace bangkok
one of my favorite places that we visited in bangkok.  the grand palace and the temple of the emerald buddha.  we had a private tour guide and a driver.  our tour guide was a bit nuts.  the driver seemed calm and only gave wry chuckles to stories and the occasional response to our guide.  they were cartoons right out of a movie driving us around the streets of bangkok.

jade buddha
the temple of the emerald buddha.  this is about a 10 minute sketch.  i couldn't finish it out because we
couldn't take photographs.  and this does not do it justice.  the walls are covered with a mural every bit
as detailed and as moving as i'm certain the sistine chapel is.  the emerald buddha sits in the center,
surrounded by standing buddhas.  there are piles of jasmine and incense and cash boxes where
you can make a donation.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012


It is 102°F (39°C degrees) today. The sun, the heat, and the humidity are merciless. I am nursing a cold. aaaAHHhhhh ... the irony ...

Hope you're managing to keep your cool! :)

singapore sketchbook

singapore urban sketchers
view of the city from equinox restaurant at the stamford swissotel.

while we were in singapore, seoul, and bangkok i kept a sketchbook of the places we went and some of the things we saw.  most are random places i thought looked cool.  i just do a quick gesture sketch  standing or sitting in front of whatever it is that i'm drawing (usually 5-10 minutes), then i go back and clean up lines and add details to the gesture using a photograph.  when we returned to the US. i scanned them all into my computer and colored them on photoshop.  i colored 40 of the 60 or so sketches i did while we were in SE asia for 5 weeks.

this is a selection of sketches from singapore (seoul and bangkok to follow).  i tried to include some of the places we visited most often, some of my favorite places to eat.  and some of my favorite views of this post-modern city.

singapore urban sketchers
one of the first things we did in singapore was eat at a hawker center at pasir panjang.  this is lunch the
next day at people's park in chinatown.  we were seated at the community seating, cafeteria-style tables
and these guys were eating something delicious looking across from us.  it was quite crowded and
people constantly streamed passed our table.  the giant oscillating fan cooled the place.

zach medler
another hawker center.  this is where we ate chili crab, prawns, grilled stingray.  a couple of beers. a couple of
fish.  a couple of vegetables.  and everything was delicious.  really delicious.  this was a hawker center near
where mindy grew up. one of my favorite dinners.

singapore urban sketchers
famous chinese temple on bugis street. there were tons of people in the street. the little umbrella stands reminded
me of the street market in seoul.

zach medler
besides eating, shopping is the thing to do in singapore.  orchard road is a street lined with every high end and
middle end brand you can ever imagine and about 6 versions of each.  this is ion mall, a melting structure of
glass held up by pillars that mimic tree branches.   

singapore urban sketchers
looking out the window from opera art gallery on one of the upper floors at ion. the art was neon colored
acrylic twisted into big candy wrppers. the green one had a soccer ball in it. the little green guy is kwon ki soo's
 character. i had to add him in. they had one of his paintings on the wall and i find his aesthetic fun and new.

zach medler
standing in the middle of the bridge with a sketchbook.  this is clarke quay (pronounced 'key' [british spelling
i imagine, for the same reason clark ends in an 'e']).  went for foot massage with my father-in-law after sketching
here for few minutes.  

singapore urban sketchers
singapore national botanic gardens.  it's really hot in singapore, so it took some courage to come out of the
AC long enough to go to the gardens, but it was one of our favorite places to visit.  this is an old british
colonial building in the middle of the orchid garden.  

orchid botanic gardens
orchids. (pictures and post on our trip to the botanic gardens can be read here)

henderson wave sketch, zach medler
my legs got eaten by ants, because i had to stand in the jungle grass underneath the bridge to draw this.
this is the henderson waves bridge, and this is the best version of the several that i did.  this bridge is a cool
space because it really is one of the only quiet places in the city.  

singapore urban sketchers
a view of the city from the deck in front of the artscience museum looking across the bay. there is so much
new construction going on in singapore. there are giant cranes hanging off every other building.

singapore urban sketchers
a view of the city from our hotel room at marina bay sands (MBS).  the artscience museum is that flower
on the right.  esplanade, the performing arts center are the bug eyes in the middle ground.
the tall building behind it is the stamford swissotel and equinox. see post here.

singapore urban sketchers
the infinity pool overlooking the city on the skydeck at marina bay sands. featured in this post.

singapore urban sketchers
esplanade, the performing arts center that looks like 2 bug eyes.  stamford swissotel in the background.  i drew
this from across the bay standing on the deck at the artscience musuem.  the sunset was so full that night.
and after the sun set, we watched a laser light and water show on the bay.  

zach medler
behind MBS is gardens by the bay all lit up at light.  the colored forms at the right are giant versions of
the bougainvillea terraces they have at the getty museum in LA.  the glass building is another botanical
garden. the space is still under construction so it looks a lot different during the day as trucks haul in huge
trees and plants and crews build the giant landscape designed space.  it's better at night though, because
this is really the end of the city lights as you look out pass MBS and the rest of the city.  

check back tomorrow for drawings from seoul and bangkok!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Chicken Adobo (my way)

We're back from our Singapore/Seoul/Bangkok trip and we're back to doing a weekly recipe post! Rejoice, foodies!

This recipe of the week is called Chicken-Adobo-my-way because it's how I make my chicken adobo. Filipino adobo uses pork and most certainly does not include onions, mushrooms, and/or parsnips/carrots. My version is a revamped, jazzed up take on traditional adobo. But it is pretty decent too and you only need to make one dish and rice to have a complete meal!

3lb skinless chicken thighs (you can also use a whole chicken)
1 garlic bulb, minced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 onion, chopped (optional)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 cup chopped parsnips or carrots (optional)

In a large pot, brown garlic with a drizzle of olive oil until golden.
Add chicken, cook till a nice golden brown on the outside.
If you're using them, add onions, mushrooms, and parsnips (or carrots) and cook for 3 minutes.
Mix in vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Bring to boil.
Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

home improvement tuesday

home improvement tuesday was installing a book case the size of an entire wall in our living room to hold our television and its components and as many of our books as we could fit. we were hoping to include some dvds and cds also, but as we kept piling in books, it became quite apparent that digital media would have to wait for another day. mindy then had to painfully go through her stash and try to weed out some of the older books that she could actually fathom parting ways with. and yes, it was every bit as dramatic as it sounds. we got rid of a total of 13 books.

the reason for the new book case was to clear out our pantry (which was used to house books for the last 6 years), so we can clear out our kitchen cabinets, so we can clear off our counter top.

i started with $300 in wood and another $50 in paint, brackets, and extra bullshit and came up with a simple stacking box design on a base.

i spent the weekend cutting and assembling the boxes, then mindy joined me yesterday and we painted with a thin layer of brown paint.  after setting up i went to put in the tv, and it didn't fit.  so i tore apart the box of the tv and altered it enough to make it fit.  lucky.  it did fit.  mindy hooked up the tv and the cable box and all the electric stuff.  then we began clearing the books from the pantry.  we emptied the pantry then took the majority of the books from the rest of the house.  the shelf is looking good for now.

next it's putting the doors back on the pantry and filling it with something other than books ...

Monday, June 25, 2012

the adventures of little potato chip girl

We bought ourselves an awesome ceramic mandolin slicer and decided to make some potato chips seasoned with fresh thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper to go with dinner tonight. Our first batch stuck onto the aluminum foil, our second batch was good, our last batch, we burnt.

So here's what we learnt ... to make an edible and delicious batch of potato chips, you need to make sure all your chips AND the cookie sheet are well greased. You also have to keep an eye on the oven as the chips are baking so you can remove them once they start turning golden brown. Our chips were cut paper thin, so 10-12 minutes in a 400F oven was just about right. Once your chips are done, remove and cool them on a sheet of parchment paper for 5 minutes before chowing down.

We found little potato chip girl in the second batch of chips. I think she is perfect with her pretty hair, thyme eyes, pepper nose and lipsticked mouth! :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Singapore Must-Eats

When Zach and I first started going out, one of my favorite dates was him taking me on a mini tour through Noblesville (Indiana) to see the places where he grew up. There is something especially intimate about that knowledge, that special partaking of somebody else's memory. Since that time I've always looked forward to taking Zach back to Singapore to see the place where I grew up.

We took five weeks off this late spring, and other than the 10 days we spent in Seoul and Bangkok, the rest of our time we stayed in Singapore. For those who don't know, Singapore is a tiny island situated on the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. Being that close to the equator means almost exactly 12 hours of daylight and night, and weather close to 90F all year round. Whatever this little city state lacks, it makes up for in quality. For example, Singapore is known for being an absolute haven for those who love to eat because there is top notch food everywhere you look.

My family and I made sure Zach did some of the obligatory touristy-stuff like visiting the bird park, Orchard Road, and Sentosa. But the best outings were always about the food. We showed Zach the residential estate where I grew up by taking him to a hawker center in the area. We showed him where I went to school by attempting to take him to Bukit Timah market (it was closed for renovation when we went). We filled him up with Tiger Beer (a local brew) when we spent an evening at my dad's golf club ... you get the idea. We had the most fun introducing him to the local cuisine and explaining the different cultures behind each dish.

Zach's comprehensively long list of the foods he sampled in this previous post might sound foreign and scary, but if you are interested in finding out more about Singapore food, this is an excellent website. And for those of you who are curious to know what a born and bred Singaporean eats in Singapore, here's my list of must-eats (in random order)...

Fish Head Curry
Fish head curry, Chinese or Indian style, with plenty of tomatoes, ladies' fingers (okra) and brinjal (eggplant). You wouldn't think there'd be much meat to eat, but these fish heads are huge, and one order is typically enough to feed a family of four.

Beef Noodles
You can find beef noodles in Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and even American-style, but my favorite is the Singapore version with chor bee hoon (rice vermicelli), thin slices of beef, and lots and lots of thick beef stock gravy on top. Comes with a side of clear soup loaded with bean sprouts and beef balls. Super delicious, easy to find, and very affordable.

Claypot Rice
A simple mix of rice with chicken, chinese sausage, and salted fish cooked to perfection in a claypot. My family goes to New Lucky Claypot Chicken Rice in Clementi, where you have to call in your order in advance or suffer the 45 minute wait.

I realize 'seafood' is really more of a category than a dish, but I don't really know where to begin with this one. Seafood in Singapore is plentiful, readily available, and always fresh. It's too hard for me to pick, so I'm gonna entice readers with pictures instead ...

Top row: (L) blanched cockles topped with garlic and red chillies (R) bamboo clams, also with garlic and green onions
Middle row: (L to R) deep fried 'batang' fish, to be enjoyed with chili sauce; chili crab; cereal prawns (recipe here)
Bottom row: (L) sashimi salad with soy ginger vinaigrette dressing (R) steamed pomfret, Teochew-style

Fried Bee Hoon 
A simple dish of rice vermicelli, cooked with cabbage, chinese mushrooms, and strips of egg omelette. Many locals eat this for breakfast. There are many varieties, but my (and Zach's!) favorite is this version from PuTien. It's a little pricier than the ones you can find in hawker centers, but the super fine vermicelli, dry, non-greasy, and light texture makes it worth every penny.

Char Kway Teow
Char Kway Teow is a dish of big, flat rice noodles that are stir fried in dark soy sauce, shrimp paste, and tamarind juice. Toppings also include fish cake, chinese sausage, cockles, and vegetables. Taste slightly sweet and spicy. This dish, like beef noodles, is easy to find and cheap to boot!

Hainanese Chicken Rice 
This dish of steamed chicken and gingery rice is a staple at all hawker centers and food courts. You get a bowl of chicken broth and some chili sauce (with ginger and dark soy sauce if you like) on the side. Deliciously simple.

Teochew-style Braised Duck Rice 
I posted that we ate some awesome duck rice the second day we were in Singapore. Thinly-sliced boneless and skinless lean pieces of duck covered in a salty/sweet sauce served over a bed of cucumbers with a side of rice. Lim Seng Lee duck rice on South Buona Vista Road is my favorite stall!

Mee Siam, Mee Rubus, Lontong, Roti Prata for breakfast!!!
Breakfast in Singapore can be quite an elaborate feast. We don't have breakfast foods per se. Instead, the foods we eat for breakfast are usually also available for lunch and dinner. We ate with my parents one morning and ordered mee siam, mee rubus, lontong, and roti prata for the four of us. What ensued, could only be called a breakfast "musical chairs" where you fed on one dish for a while, then pass it on to the person on your left, and this keeps going until you've sampled all four dishes and everyone of them is finished.

Laksa is thick rice vermicelli noodles in a spicy coconut broth, served with shrimp, fish cake and bean sprouts. We ate Katong Laksa in Holland Village. Assam laksa served with sardines and onions in a sour tamarind broth (no coconut milk) is equally delicious!

BBQ Stingray 
Yes. Stingray is delicious. Barbecued stingray topped with sambal and raw onions is served on banana leaf. The meat is tender, has a delicious smokey flavor and you never have to worry about bones. This is another of Zach's favorite.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the first day of summer ...

We returned home to a garden that wasn't doing too good. After being away for five weeks, our little herb garden is dead save for the sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Our tomato plants are scrawny but there are a few baby tomatoes growing. The peppers don't look hot, but we think we can nurse them back to life. The same goes for the lavender, the strawberries, and the blueberry bushes.

The good thing is, it's the first day of summer and still early enough for us to start over. So we went back to Bennett's today and bought ourselves seeds for a variety of lettuces, okra, and a whole bunch of different herbs. And as usual, Zach let me pick out a fun plant. This time, I chose an aloe vera plant. The summer heat irritates my skin and I am hoping the aloe will help sooth my itchies. Aloe is also easy to grow and sustain throughout the year, so that's a bonus for me when I have to deal with winter rash. Sigh ...

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