Time for me on The Biggest Loser… I guess.

9 Mar



Children WILL help you to discover your biggest fears, revealing them in all of their fiery and humiliating glory.

The Plinkas just discovered how to use the electronic scale on their own.


They each weighed. They each weighed 47.0lbs.

Then they wanted me to get on the scale. I politely declined. They insisted.

They wanted to know if I weighed more than 47lbs. I assured them that I most certainly did, but it was no use. We went back and forth as you do with two 4 year-olds… until I finally gave in.

I put the scale next to the counter so that I could discreetly give myself some lift, hovering for an appropriate reading… Continue reading

Be – Always Teaching

1 Mar

BreakfastI’m no Tiger-Mom, but I do believe firmly in an enlightened and relevant education, which in turn helps me to be always teaching.

As it turns out, the East Side Plinkas have been learning phonics and basic reading, so I actively look for ways to incorporate learning opportunities into mundane moments of life. XY, in particular, is quite advanced for his class and can sound out and read 3 and 4 letter words while XX has a talent for sight words (she does love her shapes…).

As they are now an elderly 4 (and a half! as they will eagerly remind you), I decided that it was time for a fresh, new lesson. I wrote them a sweet little note using only words they should know. Continue reading

Random Moment of Genius: Rhubarb-Mint Soda

4 Jul

I had nothing to drink… booze (too early), milk (ich), water(blah). It was too hot for tea.

Then, the craziest idea hit me, I tried it, and it was AMAZING. And so I share my new summertime indulgence.

Rhubarb-Mint Soda 

2 teaspoons of Bonne-Maman Rhubarb preserves (it’s tart – 50% rhubarb and no extra sweetness from sugary fillers like strawberry)

5-6 ounces of club soda or sparkling water

fresh mint, muddled into preserves

Stir. Drink. Oh yes.

This would probably be really great with crushed ice and a stalk of fresh rhubarb to garnish. Maybe later tonight I will add a splash of rum or vodka…

I don’t want to think about the sugar content, but at 50% rhubarb, it can’t be terrible, right? Don’t tell me. It is too good…

Fully Automatic

17 Feb

The Plinkas and I were on our way home from Easter choir rehearsal, and XX was starving even though it had only been 2 hours since lunch (unfortunately, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I’d been wanting to try a new pizza place that sold by the slice, so we popped in and munched together on slices of Hawaiian and 4-cheese.  On Hillwood in Tsim Sha Tsui, it is a typical Hong Kong  local joint open to street level, hardly bigger than a roadside kiosk. We sat all the way to the back at one of only three tables. We were halfway through our pie, when we heard a loud POP. Followed by four more… POP, POP, POP, POP growing increasingly loud. The first one unsettled me because my brain knew what it was but my heart said I was mistaken. By the fifth, I had pushed the twins under the table in front of my legs. Continue reading

Don’t ask. Just revel.

16 Nov

I always hate it when I don’t follow my own advice. Today’s flub: Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.  Continue reading

Black Bean Burgers and Raw “Pad Thai” Salad

10 Nov

So… eventually I may blog about my recent 21-day juice fast, but I am still processing the clarity and insights I gained and can’t seem to articulate just how powerful the experience was. The fast gave me time to really analyze not just my personal relationship with food (stress eating, reward eating, boredom eating, any-excuse-to eating, etc), but allowed me to see beyond  the ritualistic nature of the act of eating  and the sensory pleasures of taste, texture, fullness, etc., to appreciate life beyond “the swallow” – foreign concepts like the beauty of hunger and the inner-workings of my body on a hyper-nutrient rich diet. I will be repeating the fast in January, and perhaps by then I will understand things more and blog my way through it…

But until then, one of the most prevalent externalizations of the fast was my desire to incorporate more nutrient dense recipes into the whole family’s foodie experience in a way that Captain, with a devil-may-care-never-gain-a pound-in 12-years attitude about food, and the now 3-year old East Side Plinkas would appreciate and perhaps not even notice… could it be done?

This first amazing dinner (recipe to follow) actually received a “Woah” upon first bite from Captain, and the true test of YUM… a complete silence that fell over the table as everyone was eating. This will be a new Castle of Chaos regular.

Black Bean Burgers

1C dry black beans (or 2- 15oz cans)

1/2 small onion, diced

1/2 bulb garlic, minced (4-5 cloves)

1 beet root, diced

1/4 C quinoa

3/4 C  water

1/2 can of tomato paste or 1/4C ketchup

1Tbsp chili powder

1/8-1/4 C fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

coconut oil (for cooking)

Preparation: Soak beans overnight or for a minimum of 10 hours, boil until soft, drain and let cool to warm. If using canned beans, just drain and rinse. In a separate pan, boil quinoa and diced beet root together in 3/4C water (or mushroom broth is nice!) for 15 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool to warm. There should not be any extra liquid, but if there is, drain it off. Mash the beans, making sure that there are no whole bean pieces left (whole beans will cause your patties to crumble). Add the beetroot and quinoa mixture. Stir in all other ingredients – onion, garlic, cilantro,  tomato paste, spices. Salt and pepper to taste. Form patties and cook over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Use a sparing amount of coconut oil to prevent sticking and form a nice crust on the surface. Makes 8-10 burgers.

Dress and assemble your burger:  we like Ezekiel sprouted grain English Muffins, avocado or guacamole, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles… whatever you would put on a regular burger. I do like to make my own pickles: slice organic cucumber and soak for 2 hours in Cou-Sushi vinegar. So crisp, fresh, and yummy.

a work in progress

Raw “Pad Thai” Salad

Note: this salad does not actually contain Pad Thai noodles – it is a completely raw veggie preparation.

2 large zucchini (courgette)

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 yellow bell pepper, julienned

handful of bean sprouts

1/4 C green onion, chopped (chives)

1 lime, juiced

1/4 C sweet thai chili sauce

1/2 C cashews, crushed or chopped

Preparation: using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchinis into long, ultra-thin, noodle-like strips. Add bean sprouts, breaking them into manageable pieces as you go (I break them 3 or 4 times). Add red and yellow bell peppers, and green onion. Pour the juice of 1 lime over the salad and add the sweet Thai chili sauce as you stir, holding back on the sauce so it isn’t too soupy. Toss and serve, topping with cashews as you plate. (If the cashews are added early, they will get soggy and lose flavor). This salad is delicious served immediately, but also keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge, so we just keep pulling it out for sides and snacks until it is gone. Note: after the salad starts to “settle”, it does develop a “juice”, so serve with tongs… don’t just pour it out on a plate!

Salad additions:

Have some extra veggies in the fridge? Try mixing these in for variety:

shredded carrot

shredded cabbage (white or purple)

dried chili pepper flakes

fresh jalapeno slices (if you like it spicy)

fresh minced garilc

trade peanut or macadamia for cashew

top with dried coconut (unsweetened) or pork floss (non-veg ingredient, but oh so good with it)

use your imagination!


5 Nov

I am enslaved… by wonder, by love, by convenience… by technology. I know I said I am on blogging hiatus, but I simply had to reach out in an electronic-half-effort to release myself from these chains, or lock them down a little tighter, I am actually not sure. As I sit here, bathed in the light of my monitors (sadly, the plural is not a typo), surrounded by the soothing hum of electricity and computer fans, comforted by the bounce of the keys beneath my fingers, I am acutely aware of how inseparable my life has become from these machines. It happened Friday. As television comedians made lighthearted jokes about  covert Sandy victims appearing in their audiences in a ruse to find power for their smartphones, I was without mine. Continue reading

Monday Musing

9 Apr

As many of you know, I made a New Year’s resolution to start blogging more regularly. As I failed miserably in January, I coerced myself into believing that I really meant Chinese New Year in February, and even then, I am falling short. So, in an effort to inspire my writing, and to open your week with thought, I am starting a new series: Monday Musings. Enjoy. 

Today’s musing is brought to you by Emirates because I am quoting their ad and not that they are a sponsor (though I would be happy to work something out 😉 ) – I just really like this one – proving that ads can speak to more than the consumer in you… (though I would have really appreciated the use of the Oxford Comma. Grrr.)


“The world belongs to the endlessly curious – to everyone who experiences the world with eyes wide open, who never stops exploring, discovering and evolving. Here’s to uncovering every possibility the world holds for us all.”


Pip, Pip, Away!

11 Mar

I know. I have been absent. Casa Chaos has seen a revolving door of (incredibly welcome) house guests (though I am subconsciously chastising each of them for not bringing me a Chick-Fil-A on dry ice). In addition, I have been tandem RE-potty-training the Plinkas, and on many days it is a resounding success. And then there are “other” days. Days when you can’t tell who had the accident because they are both sitting in the puddle. Splashing. Continue reading


17 Nov

I FINALLY figured out what those side pockets are for! The brochure said “bottles”…


%d bloggers like this: