"If you don't update, your fans will go away," said her oldest brother, who told me he stopped checking every day too.
OK. OK. Yes, in fits and starts, I've started blogging regularly again. Did you miss me? Did you notice?
And no, I really can't eat chao (Vietnamese rice porridge) with chopsticks. I updated the photos in my old post and forgot to use a spoon for the picture. No wonder I needed a break since I was that scatterbrained. :P What can I say? I see rice bowl, I automatically think chopsticks.
This post has been long, long overdue. After more than three years of blogging, I just needed a breather. I was sickly off and on all winter. I was frustrated and angry with my content being stolen again and again and again. I was out of town for most of June. My internet kept going out last month. But really, it started last November after my house was broken into and my laptop got stolen. They took my laptop case, which had my important papers including my citizenship certificate, which costs $380 to replace by the way! Grr!
There's a vast difference between choosing not to blog and having that choice taken away from me. Every once in a while, I see that someone searched for "what to do when my house gets broken into" to land on my blog and I always feel a little sad all over again. It took months and months before I stopped being so paranoid in my own house.
And it's taken that much longer to pick up the blogging momentum again. The funny thing is that it is actually easier for me to blog every day than to do so sporadically. The comments pile up. The emails remain unanswered. The queue gets longer and longer. For that, I must apologize. I either have to stay on top of the blog, or I get buried under. And well, for the past year, I've allowed myself the latter.
The sky last fall after yet another one of Southern California's fires reminded me of the previous year and another set of fires. A reader asked if I would just let them know whether I and my sister were OK.
There's a very real connection that's possible even when one chooses to blog semi-anonymously. I could crank out one recipe after another with no context and while that might garner me more hits, they wouldn't necessarily be the type of readers I want. I'm touched that someone, not knowing where I was in SoCal, but knowing that it was being ravaged by fires, cared enough to ask that I was OK. I hate thinking about the break-in, but I get choked up reading the concerned comments in that post.
I started the blog at a very stressful time in my life. Always the perpetual procrastinator, the blog kept me from doing what I should have been doing, but it reminded me of what I've loved doing all along -- sharing stories and sharing food. Some of my early posts have the worst pictures, which I've slowly been updating by the way. Some of my early posts didn't even have the greatest directions either. But some of you made those recipes anyway. Those of you who've commented or emailed to tell me you made my recipes, letting me know if you stuck to my directions or made adjustments, have helped me improve the writing of later recipes.
Sometimes, repeated requests get me to thinking about certain dishes. I mainly cook what I feel like. I was never a big beef stew person. But the night of the break-in, my oldest uncle's sister-in-law brought over bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew). I love how very Asian it was to serve it in a re-used plastic container and with ordinary sliced bread.
It was good and so very comforting at the time, but honestly, I like my bo kho with more spices, and with potatoes and tomato paste.
Which is why I finally got around to making it my way and posting my recipe.
While I certainly cook from cans and boxes like the next person, when I give you a recipe, for the most part, I believe in doing it properly. (Well, except for my 5-minute tiramisu, but I told you it was a non-recipe. I'll have to wow you with my 2-ingredient faux beignets next. Ha!) Yes, you can use a spiced bouillon cube to make your bo kho, but that's not the recipe I'm going to give you. And when a reader asked how to fix it because her bo kho didn't taste right when made from a spice mix, well, that's why. I believe in knowing the basics of each recipe so you can freely make your own adaptations.
Similarly, I try to visit restaurants more than once, or at least have sampled enough of the menu, to reach a conclusion. Dining out for me is not about following famous chefs and trendy hot spots. Nor is it about being the first to post about a particular place. It's really not even about pointing out what I think is best, or telling you where to go. Dining out for me is about spending time with family and friends, and encouraging me, and you, to explore what's available around us.
Cooking and blogging, done properly for me, is not a rush process. Yes, sometimes I do quick meals and quick posts, but for the most part, I try to serve up a bit of a story, or information, or instruction. And in order to do that, I had to give myself the freedom not to have to crank out posts day after day. But if I wait for the right inspiration, the recipe, the photography, and even the writing, all turn out much better. I think of my bo kho as a testament to that.
Thank you to my lovely reader in Houston who thanked me for my "impeccable grammar." Ha! It's not always perfect, and I always appreciate when typos are pointed out, but I do try, and I do appreciate when it's noticed. What it comes down to for me are the details. There are literally millions of blogs, and thousands of food blogs, so thank you dear readers for stopping here and staying a while. Thank you to those of you who've made my recipes and commented or emailed me to tell me so. Thank you to those of you who've ventured out of your comfort zone to explore new dining options. Thank you to those of you who've kept checking in to read, to check up on me. And most of all, thank you to the online friends who've become real-life friends.
I think I've neglected my blog long enough?
The queue gets longer and longer. Heck, restaurants have opened and closed in the meantime. So as is my wont, it'll be a bit of back and forth. New posts will show on top. Updated backdated posts (I've got a few lingering November and December ones will be published on their original dates and then republished to show on the opening page. That means once they disappear from the opening page, they'll be reshuffled back to where they belong. It makes sense for me organizationally, but all you need to know is that they'll show up on the opening page. Unless you're reading through a reader, then the URL stays the same when you click over. Apologies to those who subscribe through a reader, I had to discontinue full-feeds because entire posts were being scrapped and republished on other sites. It's supposed to show partial feeds, so I have no idea why only titles are being published.)
And thank you once again for reading and continuing to read.
1 year ago today, "Fruit-shi" ie. Dessert Sushi.
2 years ago today, semen tea, horoscope drinks, and ice snowflakes at 85 Degrees C Tea House - San Gabriel. (Closed)