Friday, June 25, 2010

Back to blogging!

Hello all!

I intend to be back to blogging for real this time. We'll see how long it lasts, but I have decided that writing posts makes me happy, and happiness is important, no?

So! There are many new things to discuss. As of tomorrow, I will have been married for a full year! And what a year it has been... through everything, though, Sze has been amazing. I am so spectacularly fortunate to be able to share my life with my soul mate and my best friend. He's been supportive, he's made me laugh, and he's been the best husband and father anyone could ever ask for.

Among the many things he's supported me in is a new business venture! I've decided to take The Funky Gourmet on the road. I'm going to begin teaching in-home cooking classes for a fee, with menus and curricula tailored to each client I take on. It's really exciting for me, and soon I'll have a snazzy website, thanks to Andrea and Scott at Corgibytes. So, keep your eyes open for more details on that, coming soon!

Kaylee is now five months old, which is astonishing, considering I can't even keep plants alive for that long. She's smiling, babbling, cuting all over creation, and.... learning to crawl. Currently, her mobility consists of a combination of scooting and rolling. It's really cute, but she often ends up under pieces of furniture with no idea of how to get out. That leads to much crying and frustration, but I always come to the rescue and I know she'll get the hang of it soon enough. She has also started eating real food! I'm making her baby food - not really out of any hippie sensibilities. I just like doing it and I have the time. Besides, it really is cheaper. It's good, because she'll eat just about anything. We've given her bananas, pears, peaches, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, avocados and green beans, and she's eaten all of them with no issues or real complaints. The first feeding of zucchini was a bit of a disaster - I had zucchini in my hair by the time it was all over - but since then, she's settled down and will eat happily, making catastrophic messes with glee.

Other than that, things are sailing rather smoothly. It's summertime, so it's hot and we're very busy, but we've finally settled into a routine that doesn't involve major life changes every two months or so. It's nice. I feel like I'm bored for the first time in a year and a half, and I can't get enough of it.

I had every intention of leaving a recipe, but now I've forgotten what I was going to post, so I suppose that will have to come next time.

Buon Appetito!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Hey, all.

This will just be a quick post, but I've been tossing around the idea of writing a short-story compilation revolving around stories in the kitchen. No matter where you go, or what kind of party it is, people gravitate toward the kitchen. Food is currency and a sign of love, and I want to express that. That said, if you have any stories, be they funny, poignant, ridiculous, or tragic, that happened in or around your kitchen, please email them to me at I will fictionalize them, of course, and probably elaborate beyond recognition. If you know Sze or I personally, stories involving one of us would be preferable, simply so I have a focal point, but it's not mandatory.

Thanks! I promise I'll put a recipe up here soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I know it's been a while since I blogged, but this story is entirely too much of a comedy of errors not to share.

So last week, from Thursday to Sunday, Sze, Kaylee, and I converged with my entire immediate and most of my extended family upon Alabama. We three Huis were driving, so we spent most of Thursday in the car, winding through the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia along I-81. Kaylee, I would like to note, is a total trooper and didn't really even fuss until we were maybe an hour from our destination.

We spent the remaining three days in a WHIRLWIND of family and friends I've known since birth. It was wonderful to be with everyone and to share Kaylee's first Easter with this group of amazing people. We were incredibly sad to leave on Sunday when we began our journey home.

As I was saying our goodbyes to my church family and trying to get Kaylee loaded back up into our old '94 Taurus, I overheard Sze asking my grandfather for directions to I-20. I-20? I thought. Doesn't that take us through Atlanta? I hate Atlanta! Sure enough, Sze had decided to bet on the NCAA championship and the fact that it was Easter to give us a clear path through one of the largest cities in the country. Strangely enough, his gamble was a good one, in many more ways than one.

Despite our fairly late start, we were making very good time. My brother, Matt, was riding with us on the way home, so we had three drivers to rotate through instead of two. We cruised along until it was my turn to drive, between somewhere in South Carolina and Charlotte, NC. After a couple of hours, I started getting really tired, and Matt recommended we pull off to trade shifts. I stopped at the red light at the end of the ramp and noticed the car starting to roll backward.

Automatics don't roll backward.

I threw it into park and back into drive, thinking I had somehow slipped the car into neutral inadvertently. No dice. The light turned green and I lurched away from the line, only the have the engine stall out.

Automatics don't stall out. This is BAD.

We limp into the parking lot of the BP station right off the interchange. Matt shifts uncomfortably in his seat.

"Uh, sis? You're smoking big time." Sure enough, smoke was billowing from beneath the hood of the car. OhnoIbrokeitOhnoIbrokeitOhnoIbrokeit I mutter in a panic. We pop the hood and Sze busies himself with trying to determine the problem. It seems we're low on transmission fluid, so I go inside to buy a quart from the convenience store. That's odd.I think. We just had the car inspected Sunday. Don't they usually top off the fluids? I come back outside and notice a huge puddle of something dark and kind of nasty looking under our car.

"Szeeeeeeeeeee? I think we have a leak."

At this point, all three of us are uttering unprintable obscenities. Good thing Kaylee was asleep!

Enter the strangers, stage right. He is of medium height, with cracked glasses held together with scotch tape and shoulder length dreads, wearing the universal uniform of a waiter. She is short and round, with a frizzy shock of dyed orange hair pulled haphazardly away from her face.

"Y'all need some help?" he drawls. "I know a thing or two 'bout these old Fords." Sze runs through the problem, and the guy, coincidentally named Lucky, of all things, offers a flashlight so we can get a better look. Matt gets partially under the car as Sze starts pouring in the transmission fluid I bought.

"You better just stop, Sze. It's pouring straight through."

I think it was at about this point when Sze realized that, due to our taking a different route home, we were a little over an hour from his parents' house. Talk about some luck, huh? He calls the, and they start of the road to rescue. We were not about to give up, though! We shall prevail!

Optimism's so cute, isn't it?

Enter stranger number two. He more stumbles than swaggers, his features dominated by a green baseball cap and enormous, crooked teeth.

"Whatchy'all got goin' awn hee-urr? Imma fawurd mechanic when I ain't wurkin' at the applebees rite down ovah thur." He poured his words out without stopping for breath.

"The car's leaking transmission fluid something awful," Sze volunteers.

"Now whatchy'all need ta do is ta git yew some lukus. Ell-yoo-kay-yoo-ess LUKUS. It'll cost yew 'bought 7.99 or 8.23 with tax and it'll stop that thur leak right up real fast. Now yew jist go down to the Wal-Mart and git you some Lukus! Ell-yoo-kay-yoo-ess. And you wanna put it in while the car's runnin', now, and it'll fix that thur leak up real quick. Now, y'all's gonna want to git the car fixed within 'bout a week, but it'll git you home, that's for sure. Now make sure you git you some LUKUS." He stopped for a ponderous breath. "And a funnel, while you're at it."

Lucky and Jenn, who are still around helping us, pipe up. "We can take you to the Wal Mart. It's just down the street." Matt, Sze, and I look at each other with no small amount of trepidation. I mean, these people had been nothing but friendly and helpful, but man, that's how you end up on the 6:00 news, you know? Besides, someone had to stay with Kaylee, who was still sleeping peacefully through the mayhem. Matt straightens his spine and says, "I'll go."

While we waited for Matt's return and the elder Hui's rescue mission, a third set of strangers arrived in a positively monstrous pick up. He swings down with a classic cowboy swagger, his sidekick and waifish arm candy in tow.

"You havin' car trouble?" Why no, sir. We're just sitting here with the roof of our car open and hemorrhaging transmission fluid for fun. We'll be up and running in no time. My inner harpy thought. I nod and smile. "Y'all got a flashlight? I'm a Ford mechanic."

What IS this? The twilight zone of car guys? Not to all readers: If you ever decide to break down in an American car, do it in Concord, NC.

Back to the action. I realize that Matt has left with the flashlight, and so I go about antagonizing every single person at the gas station for one. No dice. How is this possible! Everyone carries a flashlight in their car! Seriously? Mr. Cowboy struts off to get his Marlboros and Natty Light as we wait for the return of Matt with the LUKUS. After a while, I get nervous and call him.

"Matt, the well meaning but kind of odd strangers didn't cut you up and eat you, did they?" I ask.

"No, we're actually within sight of the BP. The Lukus cost more than 7.99. I thought I had the wrong thing at first. We'll be there in a minute."

As promised. he emerged victorious with his bounty, and we go about trying to fix the car. Ready.... steady.... and it totally didn't work. Blast. The good news is, we had a flashlight now that another kind stranger had given us! Hurray! Mr. Cowboy and company emerge and he offers to take another look.

"Y'all've got a cracked seal. There ain't no way you can fix that here, and it ain't gonna get you to High Point neither. You're gonna have to get that towed."

You have GOT to be kidding me. We are completely defeated. Then Sze's eyes get really wide.

"Oh crap, guys."

"What?" We say.

"We could have broken down on 81." And with that, our troubles are put into major perspective.

After a rather frantic search for a phone book (What kind of gas station doesn't have a phone book, funnel, or flashlight? Tell me this!) we call a transmission shop with free towing and arrange to have the car pulled away. Sze's parents arrive and we load all of our stuff, including the still blissfully snoring Kaylee, into their van to head to High Point.

There's only one problem. It's Sunday. Sze has to work Monday. We're still 5 hours from Richmond, and it's almost 11:00. Oh boy. We take Sze's parents home, thank them profusely for their help, and pile into the borrowed minivan to head back to our house.

The thing is, the electronics on the van don't quite work. This is all well and good, except that the dashboard lights don't work. So, every few minutes or so, Matt, who was driving, would say, in his best World Series of Poker voice, "Light me" and Sze would use our newly acquired flashlight to illuminate the speedometer so Matt could make sure he wasn't speeding. Trust me, at 2:00 in the morning, this is the funniest thing in the WORLD.

We finally stumble into our apartment at about 3:45, all completely ready to fall down from exhaustion. And thus ended the longest, most ridiculous night ever.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Treading Water

Sorry I got off the blogging schedule. First I was busy, then I was sick, then I was busy AND sick. So, unfortunately, my brain wasn't really working along the witty rejoinder lines.

I had intended to blog about the joys of traveling with an infant - we visited some friends and my brother in Northern Virginia this weekend, which went quite well but was an adventure - but there has been another reason I wasn't writing, and I wanted to air it.

The last couple of days - well, weeks, really - have been pretty hard on me. I know it's normal, I know it's post-partum and hormones and sleep deprivation, I know it will pass. But knowing these things doesn't stop the nagging feelings that I'm a bad mom, that I can't keep the pieces together, that I'm leeching, that I'm not pulling my weight at home, that I don't deserve to be unhappy because so many people are in such worse positions than I am. I can KNOW I'm being irrational and still be irrational. I can KNOW that what I'm feeling is unfounded and still feel it.

Yesterday, Kaylee screamed. For five hours. I wanted to put my head in a wall, but more than that I felt guilty for just wanting her to SHUT UP. For not knowing how to fix whatever was hurting her. I felt that, by not being able to comfort her, I wasn't doing my job, and therefore wasn't doing ANYTHING right. It was not a good day.

Through all this, I have three solaces: reading, cooking, and Sze. Today, I was doing laundry, and had put the clean clothes on the bed to attend to later. After Kaylee went to sleep, I got in the bathtub to read and decompress. When I got out, the clean clothes had been folded and put away. No overture, no fanfare, no "here, let me get that for you" solicitousness. Just a simple gesture of help with the little things, so we can both get on with the big things. When I opened my drawer and saw my clothes there, all my frustration melted away. The smallest things make the biggest difference.

Because it's been a week and a half, you get an awesome recipe tonight. This is what I made for dinner on Monday, which was a VERY good day and was capped with a VERY good meal.

As a preface, I am going to preen for a moment. If you didn't read the blog while I was in Taiwan, you probably don't know that I have had MAJOR problems with food resembling its living form. There was a notable incident with a still breathing fish at the open air market in Jhunan that my family still laughs about, and they weren't even there. So, when Sze suggested we start buying whole chickens because they're much cheaper than buying the pre-prepared parts, my response was, "you carve it, I'll cook it."

Well, whether it was a fit of pique, a general irritation with myself for being wimpy over something SO mundane, or the echo of my in-laws good natured laughter as they remind me that it's FRESHER that way, I decided to put on my big girl skivvies and get my OWN giblets out of the chicken and roast the blasted thing whole. And I did. And I didn't even throw up. So, without further ado, here's my roasted chicken with watercress and radicchio!

Herb Roasted Chicken with Watercress and Radicchio

1 4 lb chicken
1 package basil (I get my herb packages from Trader Joes. I think it ends up being about a half cup, chopped)
1 package chives
5-6 thyme sprigs
3 shallots
5 cloves garlic
A whopping boatload of olive oil
1 head radicchio, quartered
1 bunch watercress
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
2-3 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper galore

2 gallon sized ziplock bags

In a food processor, combine all herbs, 1 shallot, 3 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Blend until smooth. Place 1 shallot, remaining garlic, and salt and pepper in cavity of chicken. Put the chicken in one of the zipper bags, and pour herb oil over it, working the oil into the skin. Let sit for at least four hours, and preferably overnight.

Combine balsamic vinegar, another 1/4 cup olive oil, brown sugar, lemon juice, and remaining shallot, and whisk until incorporated. Pour into second zipper bag, and add radicchio and watercress. Seal and shake, and marinate for three hours.

Heat oven to 450. Place chicken in rimmed baking dish, pouring remaining oil over it. Roast for 1 hour 15 minutes, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes or so.

Saute radicchio and watercress for 3 minutes, reserving marinade. Serve on platter around the chicken with marinade as a sauce. Bask in the compliments.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Messy Things in Life

Disclaimer: If you are not the type of person who appreciates bathroom humor, today's blog post is not for you. For tonight, my friends, we are all about the Poo.

Still reading? Okay. Good.

Kaylee, it seems, loves Sze more than me. This is the only explanation I can come up with for why she saves all the really great poo stories for him. Take, for example, the very first diaper change she had after birth. Seeing how I was in bed, busted and traumatized, I wasn't exactly up for the challenge of getting up and changing a diaper. So Sze wheels over the little bassinet they had and starts taking care of the task.

Thing is, among the many factoids that escape the attention of the hospital staff as falling into the NEED to know category is this: the first time a baby poos, it's not a dainty little stripe on the diaper. They're emptying their body of amniotic fluid and all sorts of other joyous nasties. This takes a while. Like, QUITE a while. So, as I am gazing up adoringly at my husband for taking on this task since I can't, I hear this:

"OH more poo. Oh God, more poo! MORE POO!"

At least our child will know laughter.

The first time she "armed the poo canon" during a diaper change, Sze had the privilege of being on the receiving end. The first time she overflowed her diaper and ended up STRAIGHT in the bathtub, Sze survived the aftermath. All this time, while I have had a share of the... more spectacular pyrotechnic displays of the gastrointestinal kind, I was snickering into my sleeve because he got all the really funny ones.

Well, not anymore. On Friday, after a fairly spectacular poo, Kaylee and I went to the pediatrician (not for poo reasons... nevermind). While there, our fantastic doctor asked about the "frequency of her stools." I replied,

"Well, she hasn't been going that often, but she just had a complete Poo Apocalypse."

He stared at me, obviously trying a.) not to completely crack up and b.) to figure out how to guide this conversation.

"Well," he starts after a fairly long pause, "has she had a ... stool... apocalypse... before today?"

It took every fiber of my being not to laugh out loud.

And then, there was today.

If you don't know me in person, or don't know me well, I should tell you, I have a Temper. One close friend who has known me for most of my life calls it "Celtic Warrior Banshee Woman" mode. Another says I throw "word grenades" that explode all around me. Whatever your metaphor, when I get angry (legitimately angry, not just irritated or ticked off), it's usually forceful and loud.

For reasons that don't need to be detailed here, I had just finished losing my Temper. In a BIG way. Having reached a total impasse between myself and the wall I had been screaming at, I took a deep breath and went into the nursery to calm the crying Kaylee. I pick her up and she immediately silences. I am soothed. There is nothing like holding your baby to bring you back in touch with the Light Side of the Force. I stroke her little head and say, "Oh, baby, what is all this fuss?" in perfect mommy baby talk.

And she blows out her diaper.

There's nothing like the messy things in life to bring it all into perspective, is there?

You get no recipe tonight because, well, eww. That's just not appropriate. Enjoy your night, though!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Score One for the Good Guys


Last night, Kaylee spent her first night in the nursery! This is a momentous occasion.

You see, we had Andrea over for dinner last night. We'd already given Kaylee her bath (which is beginning to be less traumatic for all involved, by the way) and a bottle, and we had her in the swing next to the dinner table so she could hear our voices and not feel exiled and therefore scream. Well, she has a bit of a bad habit of getting very tired (read: fussy) while we're eating, so Sze put her in her crib to sleep for a bit, because it was closest to the dining room.

"Do we want to let her sleep in her crib tonight?" I asked.

We paused, considering the options. On the plus side, if she sleeps in the nursery, that means we can remove the dratted co-sleeper that is strapped to the side of our bed, mandating feats of acrobatics every time either one of us wants to get up, which, with an infant, is often. We can use the beautiful furniture that her grandparents bought her. We can reclaim our room!

"We can. Let's do that."

On the downside...

"Wait. What if she chokes? She's choked today." I say

"She won't choke." Sze replies.

"What if I don't wake up?"

"You always wake up. You're a light sleeper." He says

"I didn't wake up last night. What if it's important? What if we can't hear her?"

"We have a monitor for a 1200 square foot apartment. We'll hear her. She's only 40 feet away, honey."

"She's more than 40 feet away! I don't know if I can do this. What if she scoots under the blanket again?" I'm pretty worked up at this point.

"If she scoots under the blanket again, she'll cry again, like she always does. Relax. She'll be fine."

"But what if she's not???"

And so on. Despite my neurosis, we hooked up the monitor, moved the bottle warmer into her room, and let her sleep. By the time we went to bed, my spine was made out of a 2 x 4. Every peep on the monitor had me flying down the hall. I don't think I could have relaxed if you'd pumped me full of valium. What if? What if? What if? Somehow, I finally drifted off to sleep.

Because she's still in a growth spurt, we've gone back to the scheduled bottles, so when the alarm went off at midnight, Sze crawled out of bed and fed her. Everything was fine. At three, I wobbled down the hall for my turn. Everything was fine. At six, Sze got up to start his day.

"Where's the baby?" I murmured, 3/4 of the way asleep.

"She's in her crib, remember?"

"Still? Oh."

And so went the first night of Kaylee in her crib. Hopefully we'll be able to actually move her in there permanently, but we'll see how tonight goes. This is good, though! Hurray progress.

Speaking of progress, it looks like spring is FINALLY starting to show its face, so I think a trip the the park is in order for today. Kaylee is blowing bubbles and making toothless baby grins in my lap, so I guess she's in favor of that plan.

Today's recipe is full of fresh produce in honor of the turning seasons. It's also what we ate last night. Behold, oven roasted ratatouille! (No rats, please).

Oven Roasted Ratatouille

1 eggplant, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
2 bell peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup red wine
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
Herbes du Provence

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish, seasoning to taste. I like a little more red pepper flakes to give it a bit of a kick, but that's just a personal preference. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Serve over pasta or quinoa. Enjoy!

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Growth Spurts are for the Birds

Kaylee is five weeks old today. Hurray! We can celebrate five whole weeks of Sze and I not going crazy, not pulling our hair out, not pulling each others' hair out, and not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As she hits this completely inauspicious and unassuming milestone, she has begun the first of many growth spurts. If today was any indication, I hate growth spurts.

She wakes up, screams like I'm eating her, downs a bottle in about 25 seconds, spits half of it up (usually all over my clothes), and passes out again. However, when she passes out, she still has to be held upright, or her reflux kicks and she wakes up all over again, shrieking like a little banshee. And she does this every two hours. That's two hours in baby time, also, which means from the start of one cycle to the start of the next, not two hours in real time.

It's been a very long day.

A friend of mine said to me today, "I don't know how you do it all! It seems like you'd have to be the Energizer Bunny." The truth is, I don't know how I am doing it either. I guess there is a cosmic and divine Mommy fuel that I absorb through my ears, because regular sources of energy like food and sleep are seriously lacking. Some days, it feels great. I am on top of the world and juggling the many hats of motherhood with style and ease. Other days, I feel more like I traded my MG self for a minivan and really, who wants to take THAT out for a spin?

Tonight's recipe is an easy one, for days where you just don't have the time or energy to get it all together. You can toss in chicken or shrimp to make it a meal, but it works best as a simple side for a busy weeknight dinner.

Arugula and Parmesan Salad

A few handfuls Arugula, with any tough stems removed
About 1/2 cup Parmesan
About 1/2 cup Almonds
1 Lemon, halved
Freshly cracked black pepper
Olive Oil to taste

Toss first three ingredients in a medium bowl. Juice the lemon over your salad, then add pepper and olive oil. Combine and serve.

Buon Appetito!