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Healthy Christmas Cookie Recipe

Healthy-Christmas-Cookies I like blaming my 30’s for a lot of things: the fine lines appearing under my eyes, the two-day hangovers, and the inability to lose weight the way I did in my 20’s.  And while I don’t have too much control over the first problem (let’s be honest, eye cream is just overpriced moisturizer), I can drink less (well, sometimes) and I can definitely make healthier eating choices during the holidays.

The idea of cookie exchanges has made its way to Shanghai, and so has Thanksgiving. For my day job, I’ve had to write listicles about turkey delivery services and where to go for the best cup of hot chocolate in the city. I’m also a food critic on the side, and it’s literally my job to eat fattening food. So I cut corners when I can.

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Video: 2 Weeks in Croatia

croatia-sail-islandsWinter has arrived in Shanghai, and even while I’m typing this (indoors), I’m wearing a scarf and fuzzy slippers. So naturally, I’m thinking of warmer places and warmer times, like this summer. For six weeks, Luke and I traveled around Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, eating pizza, lots of gelato, and kicking back in the beautiful nature that surrounded us.

We started our adventure in Croatia, deciding to cruise around the islands with Sail Croatia. I was actually hesitant to do something like this, as I hate organized group tours. Also, I had read reviews online about 30 and 40-somethings having to deal with all night parties and waking up to piles of puke outside their cabin doors. Continue reading

Camping on the Great Wall of China

2016-10-15_0020When I was little, my favorite movie was “Big Bird Goes to China.” I must have watched it several dozen times, because I can still recite a song the giant yellow bird sings about learning Chinese. Serious props to my parents for dealing with that.

I loved the movie not only because of my obsession with Sesame Street, but because of the curiosity it evoked. Everything seemed so foreign, so different. I couldn’t believe that those landscapes, the buildings and the people belonged to the same planet where I lived. And, like most children, I dreamt about digging a tunnel and winding up on the Great Wall of China.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Phyllo Tart

2016-10-17_0009I made this. From scratch. I am so freaking proud of myself, I want to post this everywhere.

It’s what I’m calling a “pumpkin ricotta phyllo tart,” but it should be called “the miraculous outcome of mixing and baking a hodgepodge of ingredients.”

A few weeks ago, I was selected to participate in Shanghai online grocer Epermarket‘s “Halloween Battle.” Along with a few other food bloggers, I was sent a box of mystery ingredients, and asked to create one cohesive dish. A huge fan of the TV show, “Chopped,” I happily agreed.

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Bali: A Week in Pictures

2016-05-10_0030When I was a little girl, I used to sit in front of my parents’ TV for hours, singing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. “Bali Ha’i may call you, Any night, any day, In your heart, you’ll hear it call you: Come away…Come away.”

This siren song, while technically not about the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali, played in my mind long after the glow of the television screen had dimmed. And in my dreams, visions of rice terraces, palm trees and temples appeared–the waves washing over me.

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Harbin Ice Festival: A Photo Essay

2016-03-09_0023First, I apologize for posting an article about an ice festival just one week before April, but I’ve been busy. Actually, I’m still busy. So this is why you’re getting a photo essay.

But before I dump my SD card on you, here’s some background: The Harbin Ice Festival has been going on annually for about 17 years, and is now one of the biggest in the world. It’s made up of three snow and ice sculpture parks, and goes from the end of December through February.

Where is Harbin, you ask? It’s in China. More specifically, Northeast China. It was once a sleepy fishing village, until 1897 when Russians settled and built what is now known as the Trans-Siberian Railway. So besides being a place to see cool ice sculptures, it’s also a way to soak up some Russian culture in China.  Continue reading

Disappearing Shanghai: Untour’s New Night Market Route

2016-02-17_0004Last year, I had the opportunity to explore Shanghai by night, with food tour company, UnTour (post here).

We spent more than three hours gorging ourselves with noodles, soups, a variety of meats, root vegetables, crayfish, scallops, fruit puddings, and anything we could find, served on a stick. The guides took us through the history of Chinese street food, and led us through a labyrinth of vendors.

The night concluded at a restaurant overlooking the closely-packed stalls on Sipailou Lu, which at the time, was the city’s best-known food street. It had been raining that night, but even so, the lane was abuzz with people. Smoke and sweetly scented steam billowed from the movable kiosks, as patrons eyed the skillful swirling of woks. Vendors smiled, despite moving at a frenetic pace. They seemed happy that we wanted to taste what they were cooking. Continue reading

Get Lucky in Shanghai: What to Eat for Chinese New Year

CityWeekendCNY
Image sourced from my article at cityweekend.com.cn.

When I moved to Shanghai, I lived across the hall from a very superstitious man. Red cardboard cutouts of horses decorated his doorway, red underwear hung from his balcony, and it seemed he had enough fireworks to launch a full-scale pyrotechnics show for even the tiniest occasion. But I had no idea what any of it meant. That is, until Chinese New Year rolled around.

The weeks leading to the holiday, I was gifted with oranges and tangerines, offered a giant, glittering cardboard sheep for my door, and advised to deep-clean my apartment (as he peered over my shoulder, through the newly decorated doorframe). I was also advised to settle any debts, not to wash my hair, and not to cry. This was all important, he said, in order to receive good fortune in the year to come.

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One Day in Mandalay

2015-12-02_0002There’s something about the word Mandalay that made me want to go to the city before I knew anything about it.  Man-da-lay.  The sound of it, the way it rolls off the tongue. I pictured a lazy river town, blanketed in rolling fog, with men steering Burmese-style gondolas against the background of mossy-green mountains. A painting come to life. But like most places I romanticize, Mandalay was far from what I imagined. Continue reading

Inle Lake, Myanmar

2015-10-21_0006When I first started planning my trip to Myanmar, I spent hours pouring over the Google Image search results. Pictures of mist-covered mountains dotted with ancient temples were first to pop up, followed by the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda in the country’s capital. I had seen these images before. Heck, they were the reason I was making the trip to Burma in the first place.

But as I continued to scroll down the pages, I began to see another part of the country–a lesser-known part. Pictures of aged fisherman standing on the ledge of wooden boats, women and children poking their heads through windows of stilt houses, and rolling green hills that seemed to touch the sky.

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