Friday, August 27, 2010

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 12

Qingdao Wonton Soup

The first day of August started off so great. I was inordinately happy that morning, for reasons I won't get into on the blog. Won a bet against Gourmet Pigs so she treated me to a very nice brunch at Taste. Crab cakes eggs Benedict! Stopped off at Scoops - Los Angeles for a couple of pints of gelato to-go (jasmine pistachio, brown bread, Guinness coffee, corn) for sister-in-law's birthday and to visit with Tiberia, who giggled uproariously when I played "Peek-a-Boo" with her.

After working late one night, I didn't want to deal with dinner. Luckily, I had a free coupon for Buitoni's fancy new pasta, courtesy of Foodbuzz. As I gathered up some other things I needed from the grocery store, stupidly without a basket, I dropped my coupon! It was good for $6 pasta! :( I quickly backtracked, but somebody already picked up my coupon. Because it was for free pasta! I was sooo bummed.

Allll day, I was anticipating getting the ravioli and a light pasta sauce. I generally do not buy $6 pasta. I guess I could have still gotten it, even without the coupon, but it was the idea of trying a new expensive pasta for free. Gah! I know I sound ridiculous. It was just one of those things, you know? Stupid stuff piled on top of other stupid stuff.

The next day my doggy died. :(

Then I also found out adopted uncle in Vietnam died. :(

The day after, one of my students, who came from Qingdao, China a year ago, gave me a bag of frozen wontons his mother had made. There were 30 frozen dumplings along with a small bag with sliced egg omelet. Oh man! I was sooo happy. Wontons are totally Chinese ravioli for me. Perhaps better than ravioli even. His mother told me to boil the dumplings separately so the starch won't get into the soup. Then add the wontons to some broth with the sliced eggs.

So that's what I did.

I boiled some bones from leftover rotisserie chicken for a quick broth. In a separate pot, I boiled the wontons. Sliced some napa cabbage for some greenery. And had the comforting dinner you see above. While Googling "Qingdao wonton soup" to see if I did it right, I turned up Kirk of Mmm-yoso's post about that very soup from his recent visit in Qingdao, China.

Then, for the same reasons I won't get into on the blog, the rest of the month became ever more anxious and stressful. Throbbing, twitching left eye. It is impossible for my eyeball to fall out, says optometrist cousin, who told me that my twitchy eye meant I was stressed, anxious, lacked sleep, or had too much coffee. Eliminate those factors and I'll be fine again.

Yesterday, oldest uncle went in for surgery. Thankfully, he is now at home and resting.

But, can this month just end already?

So of course, when looking for distractions, I started organizing my massive inbox. I whittled down 3,703 messages to 94. Whoohee! That means if I haven't replied to you,

a) I will get to you soon or

b) you were just too creepy and went into my "WTF" box or

c) I never got your email at all, so please send again.

Once my inbox is under control, maybe I'll be able to organize my photos, or catch up on blogging, or continue in my usual haphazard manner. Ha!

So please, tell me happy things! I could sure use some lightening up around here. What's up with you?

Anyway, got a recipe question? Restaurant question? Just want to say, "Hi?" Did you miss Ask Wandering Chopsticks 1? Or click on the "Ask Wandering Chopsticks" tag below for previous editions. Otherwise, what's on your mind? You have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 29.

1 year ago today, Tom Nuong Hanh Ngo (Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp with Scallion Cilantro Sauce).
2 years ago today, part six of my "How to Start a Food Blog" series - Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted."
3 years ago today, Squash Blossom Quesadilla.


  1. I'm sorry to hear August has not treated you well, and I hope September proves much better. I thought of you while in Scotland!

    What was your fave part of Scotland?

    While riding the train from then end point of our walk back to civilisation, some Statesidians said something about Harry Potter and I looked out and saw the landscape that Harry travelled through to get to Hogwarts and realised - I walked that lanscape! I tried to tell my partner (who is not a HP fan) but while doing so, forgot what Hogwarts was called. No one on the train came to my rescue as I struggled to explain! I would totally have barged in on someone else's conversation...

  2. Oanh,
    I love so many things about Scotland! Edinburgh. The Western Highlands including Iona, Skye, Mull, Oban, Portree. I love the scenery. I love how very nice the people are. I love redheads and men in kilts. ;) I love plaid and argyle. I love how pretty the hills look covered in purple heather. I love deep-fried Mars bars. I love chocolate whiskey.


    Did you walk through Glencoe? Some of the quidditch matches were filmed there. And Glenfinnan Viaduct is where you see the train to Hogwarts. I also went to where Hagrid's hut was in Prisoner of Azkaban.

    I've been to the stream where the opening village scene of Braveheart was filmed too.

    My tour guide said after constructing sets and filming, everything gets dismantled so the land and wildlife can go back to normal. So basically, I only saw streams and hills that were in the movies.

    And Eileen Donan castle, which was in Highlander and Made of Honor, because everything seems to be filmed there.

    You should take the long way home and stop off in SoCal! I'll take you hiking behind the Hollywood sign and by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory! And feed you lots and lots food.

  3. OMG I love Harry Potter! I just finished the last book and can't wait until the movie comes out. My hubby makes fun of me for it though. :(

    I like the personal touch on your blog; it allows me to get to know you better without having to meet you.

    My question this time is what type of books do you like to read?

  4. I love your 3 email reasons of not having gotten back to people. :) Sorry August was hard. It's almost ending! Only good food related thing I have in August is that I settled for a base cake recipe finally. YAY!

    I would like to know aside from food and photography, what else are you into? Fashion? Beauty items? Electronics? Board games? And the list goes on....

  5. Diana,
    I am going to be so sad when the second half of the last movie comes out. Then there won't be anything left to anticipate! Maybe I should start trying to read it in Vietnamese. I have all the volumes! My cousins bought the last two for me during their trips to Vietnam. It's sooo funny in Vietnamese. That, or I'm easily amused. "The boy who lived" translates into "em be van song." :P

    Funny. I started this series because I got so many random cooking and dining questions that I didn't have time to answer. Didn't know ya'll wanted to know random things about me.

    I pretty much read everything. Really. My house is overflowing with books. Romances, chick lit, classics, mysteries, science fiction, non-fiction separated into bookcases of history, Vietnam, Asian American, etc. I used to read a book a day. These days, it might take me a few days or a week. I've always been a reader.

    Oof! You should see some of the emails in the WTF pile. That includes the guy who asked if I sold sausages and how much I charged for shipping. :P

    Base cake recipe? As in what you like for all your other cakes? Or for the bottom tier of a wedding cake?

    Fashion. Not really if you're talking about name brands and stuff. I'd rather spend my money on books, food, and traveling. So just Target and the mall for me.

    Beauty. I sometimes wear eyeliner, mascara, and very rarely these days, lipstick. I know! The complete opposite of your blog! I like the general grooming stuff, but don't like the feel of stuff on my face.

    The only electronic thing I own is my laptop. :P No ipod, itouch, ipad, or whatever for me.

    I like Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, and Scrabble.

    And umm, I dunno, what else?

  6. Hi WC - Ooooh it has been a tough August for you..... hopefully better months are coming up ahead. I still dutifully read WC, and should comment more often...

  7. Kirk,
    No worries. I'm guilty of the same. Seems like it takes such effort to leave a comment sometimes! But you know I'm faithfully reading Mmm-yoso too! :)

  8. Thought you might like this, and your Cousin Q might like this too :-)

    I really wanted to visit the Scottish Islands while we were in this part of the world but it just never eventuated. I, too, adored the Scottish peope (not that we met very many on our walk!) and the accent. Love the accent.

    We got near Glencoe but did not go into it. We walked from the village of Dalwhinnie to Fort William, through / over some of the Marmores munroes. We camped one night above Kinlochleven (the village at the end of the loch on which Glencoe also sits).

    Oh, I know you would and I would dearly love to visit you and the good ol' US of A, but I think that will be a separate special trip sometime in the future. I'm going to blog real soon about what we actually will be doing!

  9. Oanh,
    I've seen other similar posts comparing fast food ads with reality. It's not just food. Think of all the airbrushing that goes on in magazines these days.

    I passed through Fort William as well. Did people tell you of the Glencoe massacre?

  10. Sorry you've had such a rough August. I don't know how you still manage to post as frequently as you do. Especially with one eyeball ready to jump out of its socket.

    Now for my question. What made you decide to end Weekend Wokking? Any chance you may resurrect it again in the future?

    Hoping you have a great September (and the rest of the year for that matter).

  11. Base cake like for all cakes. I can deviate from the main recipe somewhat by swapping stuff out so that's my excitement in the food world as of late.

    In relation to your post about the WTF pile...have you ever made sausages? Haha, I thought that was funny but I thought to know what? She might actually have made them in the past.

    Also, are you a dessert type of person? An appetizer or main dish type of person? See, I'm a dish type of person. I'd choose to get another helping of a dish or more appetizers and skip dessert.

  12. Sijeleng,
    You know, I really don't want to end Weekend Wokking. Hence, my delay in doing the last round-up. That, and I've just been busy and don't want to just glance through people's submissions when posting the round-up.

    But, I think I have to admit that it's actually been nice not having to scramble every month to make the deadline, which I keep missing more often than not. I'm torn because I really do enjoy seeing everyone's creations, but doing it half-heartedly isn't fair to everyone either.

    Got it. My base for cookies is the Nestle Tollhouse dough, minus 1/2 cup of sugar. That's pretty much how most recipes work. My marinades all have a base with adjustments.

    Regarding sausages, it wasn't me making them. I posted about my favorite Chinese sausage place, which doesn't distribute anywhere so you have to get it from their shop directly. I think that this is a blog is fairly obvious? That recipes are recipes? That dining posts are dining posts? My email isn't hidden, but on my contact page, I do ask people to read through the FAQs and use the searchbar before asking me questions.

    He obviously didn't bother to read, which annoys me to no end. Why waste my time, and his, by emailing me to ask, when if he had just read through the post, he would have found that answer on his own? I think too many people are lazy and would rather have their questions answered directly than simply search for it. They'd rather inconvenience someone else, than to take a little time themselves.

    I'm a pie person. :P Sweet and savory. Not so much cakes or cookies.

    Like you, I'd rather have a second helping of a good entree or appetizer than dessert. Ha! Of course, I say that but right now I'm baking M&M cookies with my cousin's cousin's daughter. But, I'm taking them out for dumplings later, which is way more exciting. :)

  13. I can't imagine reading harry potter in vietnamese because one, it will take me forever (I can't read viet well) and two, I'll be thinking about the translation from english to vietnamese.

    I'll definitely be bummed too once the movies come out. I guess I have to go find other books to read now too. :P

  14. AUGUST! Ok noticed a pie comment up there now I have a pie question. I have a friend from Germany who insist she has never had pie..... yeah right, what do you think of that? and what kind of pie do you think someone who allegedly has never had pie before should start out with?

  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your bad month. I missed your earlier post about the loss of your dog and your adopted uncle. My condolences. Let's hope this month is better!

  16. Diana,
    Umm, that's why I've only gotten to the title of chapter 1 of book 1. :P I just barely managed the first sentence. Although, it does make reading in Vietnamese a little easier because I know what I'm supposed to be reading in English.

    Cringe Schrapnel,
    But I thought the Germans invented apple pie? That's what I would say to start with. After all, we say, "As American as apple pie" for a reason?

    Yes, here's to September!