Sunday, May 22, 2005


Yesterday I took a cooking class on cupcakes and mini bundt cakes. We made chocolate "peanut butter cup" cupcakes, sunflower decorated cupcakes, vanilla bean cakes with vanilla rum glaze, and banana caramel mini cakes. The teacher said I was a natural with a pastry bag!

Unfortunately, I've lost my sense of L.A. magnitude and when signing up for the class, I didn't realize that the drive from my home to the cooking school in Westlake Village would be such a trek!

Friday, May 20, 2005

back in the U.S.

I've been in the U.S. for nearly a week now. So far my trip has been pretty mellow. I'm trying to avoid my usual pattern of weight gain on this trip. Although I have indulged a bit (an In-N-Out burger for lunch today, for example), I've also been going to the gym. Last Sunday, my brother and I went to Souplantation for lunch, whose salads and muffins I actually like a lot. Other customers had plates with small mountains of salad. No wonder Americans are fat.

Later that day, I went on a tour of L.A. Harbor with my family. Practically everyone at the San Pedro Ports O' Call was overweight. Lots of women with big hair, heavy eyeliner, and stuffed into tube tops and low-rise capris like plump sausages. They were all noshing on huge platters of shrimp, fish, and buttered bread the size of a halved 2 liter bottle of soda.

"The level of material comfort in this country is numbing," said Paul Bellew, executive director for market and industry analysis at General Motors, in a fascinating series of New York Times articles on class in America. That was incredibly obvious in the trip to L.A. Harbor.

As I make my way around L.A. this week, I am continually reminded of the wealth that people enjoy here. Sections of town I remember as shabby and empty growing up are now filled with strip malls and new housing developments. Streets are paved and tree-lined. Yards are, for the most part, well manicured. Circulars in the Sunday paper advertise outdoor patio furniture sets and decked out gas grills with a 24-burger capacity. There are Starbucks gamut, and fresh gourmet produce and foods readily available.

I guess when you no longer have to worry about food, survival—making sure your kids are fed, clothed, educated, perhaps even just surviving war—you can worry about germs at the gym, and good carbs versus bad carbs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Birds may be behind exploding toads

Bizarre. Last week I saw a bird turn over and over on itself—it looked to be having a seizure, before finally dying upside-down on its head. Gruesomely fascinating. As city dwellers, we're so often removed from nature. Is this how birds usually die? I don't have a clue.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Super orange juice

It's been awhile as I've been busy. Came back from a short vacation to Hong Kong and Shanghai to start at my new job on Monday. Unfortunately, the air conditioning was a bit too high, and I caught a bit of a cold. So this morning I am drinking my super "orange" juice smoothie, the recipe which I got from Mate's cookbook while in Shanghai:

Blend together:
1 orange, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 mango, peeled and cut from pit
1/2 small papaya, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 pineapple, chopped

It's supposedly good for days after a time of over-indulgence. Plus, it's full of vitamin C and good enzymes. The enzymes in pineapple are also supposedly aid the body to heal bruises. The best thing is, this smoothie is super-yummy!