Category Archives: friends

Basking in the California sunshine

So the past few days I've been visiting California to interview at Stanford and to see some college friends. The weather was amazing, it felt like Boston's spring. The sunshine was warm, there were palm trees, and dusty mountains in the distance everywhere I went. Stanford itself was the most extravagant campus I have ever seen. They really spend a lot of money spoiling their kids lol (maybe me one day?). The sunny happiness of the students being in a country club-like campus and a relaxing curriculum was really infectious. They were literally all smiles, and every student I met couldn't seem to shower the school with enough praise. I have yet to see a school where the students were this much in love with their school (Rochester and Dartmouth are distant seconds).

 

After seeing Stanford, I had time grab dinner with my friend Tony near the school. We walked up and down the main street with restaurants, and finally decided to stop in at a place called University Cafe, which served American food at a moderate price. First came a bread plate with a tomato-based dipping sauce (I couldn't figure out why it was orange, but it was similar to a marinara I guess). The bread itself was too hard on the outside, and a little soggy in the middle, but it still tasted fine because we were both starving lol.

For my entree I got a chicken pot pie with tossed greens on the side. It was the type of pot pie that has a cap of puff pastry on top of the liquid pot pie, and I really like this kind of pot pie because it was the kind that Baker dining used to serve all the time. The pot pie filling itself was delicious, as it was sort of like a cream of mushroom soup, with asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, corn, peas, and chicken chunks. The flavors came together really well, and even though I was starving when I came in, I was definitely satisfied afterwards. The greens on the side were tossed in a vinaigrette that contrasted nicely with the sweet creaminess of the pot pie. It was jazzed up comfort food, and it definitely hit the spot.

Tony wanted to get a 12 oz steak au poivre, but the waiter got confused and gave him a steak salad instead lol. The steak tasted like it was marinated with teriyaki sauce, which I thought was kind of interesting. It came on top of a bed of stir fried vegetables and some salad. Not quite what he wanted, but at least it wasn't a bad replacement heh. (Sorry, pic is a little blurry, I blame Tony because he took it lol).

And for dessert, we went across the street to a Japanese-European fusion bakery called Satura Cakes, where after trying some free samples of a very rich and dense chocolate cake, we decided on sharing a bread pudding together. For the life of me I can't remember right now what type of fruit was in the bread pudding, but I know the dessert itself was a great way to end the meal. It had the spiciness of a pumpkin pie, with the soft-crunchy chunks of fruit like an apple pie, combined with soft bread and a creamy mousse-like filling, all topped with whipped cream. It was light and refreshing, and although it was cold, the flavor of the spices made a warm impression on me. It was a quintessential autumnal dessert, even though autumn has already passed.

The following day for lunch, I went out with Tony and another friend, Linda, for Shanghainese cuisine at an Asian strip mall. The food was amazing, and reminded me of all the Shanghainese dishes that I've eaten growing up. We ordered "jiao bai" (water bamboo) with peppers and pork, "nian gao" (rice ovals) with napa and beef, pork liver in brown sauce, and "xiao long bao" (Shanghai meat buns). Everything was delicious, and the cooking style was light and clean, just like Shanghainese cuisine is great at when it wants to be. When I had this meal, I realized just how sick I was of the greasy, fried food of Cantonese cuisine up in Boston's Chinatown. They're not kidding when they say that Chinese food is better in California (there are so many Asians here!).

And finally, a picture of me and my friend Tony (I'm almost embarrassed to post this because I look so stupid here, but I guess what the heck, it's for the memories right?). I wish I could have stayed a little longer, and done some more "Californian" things heh, but there's always next time!

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June 8th – Graduation!!

So today is the day that I walk with my classmates of the past four years down the aisle in Killian Court and receive our hard-earned bachelors diplomas. We had to get up really early to assemble for our procession into the ceremony area, and I was up late the night before playing Starcraft with my friend Tony haha. Naturally when I got up with only 4 hours of sleep on my graduation day I was cursing myself for making such a dumb decision the night before. The day was a bit of a blur as friends weaved in and out of my day, and I tried to capture as many pictures with as many of them as I could. My family came to the ceremony also, and I think it was as much of a proud day for them as it was for me. I originally thought that I'd get bored during the 4 hour ceremony, 3/4 of which consisted of handing out diplomas to the 2000+ people that graduated that day, but it actually flew by surprisingly quickly. My heart was pounding as my classmates and I lined up row by row to go up to the podium and accept our diplomas, and it was truly exhilarating, despite knowing that I'd be staying next year for a year of grad school. As I write this entry weeks later, I'm already feeling terribly nostalgic, and really missing the presence of all the familiar faces. Sure, it's summer and many students are gone, but the campus suddenly feels empty and lonely. Even though I get to talk to my friends online, I can feel how far away they really are. And the thought didn't hit me until my graduation day, the fact that these amazing people I've met are really and truly leaving here. Some of them may never come back. Many of them I will never hear of or see again in my life. Faced with this truth I feel terribly sad (I am a sentimental soul), and I can only hope that one day I will see many of them again at our class reunions… How far away it all seems!

Well, enough soul-baring. Here are some pictures from my big day (graduation hats look really unflattering on my face for some reason):

Me and MinyoungMe and MikeMe and AliciaEunmee and meAnnie and me


We arrived early to line up our appropriate procession order, so I was mostly with my fellow biology majors and having some great times talking about how excited we were and how we've come so far.

It was a beautiful sunny day for our graduation, and for that I am grateful. Graduation gowns are unfortunately really hot and uncomfortable, so everyone was complaining most of the day from the heat. Here we are walking towards Killian Court, with a few random stops along the way. During the stops my friends and I played a word called called Contact, which is basically a super hard version of 20 Questions. Our procession was quite a sight to behold though, so many people dressed in various colored gowns representing different degree types, and so many bodies all walking in the same direction! Heh I refer to the procession fondly as the "march of the penguins" :)

This is where our ceremony takes place each year. My parents got a picture of it while the seats were all still empty. There are well over 5000 people that come for the ceremony, so many seats!

This is our famous MIT dome from my seat at the graduation ceremony. The white canopy is there the professors sat, and where students went to accept their diplomas from the president. If you look closely between the columns of the buildings near the top, you can see small banners. That was a graduation hack that unfolded during the first speech of the ceremony (a hack being an MIT tradition of elaborate and witty pranks), and the banners read: I'll Have Thesis Finished Pronto. This in itself is cute, but the real meaning lies in the first letters of all the words, which combine to become IHTFP, which is a well-known MIT acronym that stands for "I Hate This F*cking Place" that describes the hate aspect of the love-hate relationship we all have with MIT :)
It kind of sucked that this year our graduation speaker was our previous MIT president! I know a lot of people were upset that we didn't get a speech from someone more famous, who could bring a different perspective. Charles Vest hasn't done anything since he left MIT a few years ago, and even though he's ABOUT to start a new position, he still has nothing new to share with us. Sure, his speech was motivational, as they all are. But I do hope for someone more interesting to learn from next year.

After the ceremony was over and I had taken pictures with my family, it was time for more pictures with classmates! My family was really understanding about my wanting to see as many friends as I could during the reception after the ceremony. They were probably bored out of their minds while I was running around saying my goodbyes and taking pictures, but they told me that today was my day. They were really very sweet about the whole thing.

After the main graduation reception, I also went to a departmental reception where I saw some more of my biology pals. Later in the afternoon, my family and I went out to dinner with Tony, Jacqueline, and Tony's family members. Initially I had decided to go Dolphin Seafood restaurant with my family, and after I told Tony he asked his parents if they would be interested in going also and thus we all ended up having dinner together. I got the broiled bluefish with crumb topping and a mustard sauce on the side. Ever since I got the bluefish last time I went to Dolphin Seafood, I've been craving it. And boy did it hit the spot after a long day of graduation without eating lunch. Bluefish is very tender when fresh, and it has a delicate but meaty chew that is finer than salmon or swordfish. It's a very satisfying fish to eat, and it was just fantastic with the buttery crunchy crumb topping and the flavor from the honey mustard-like sauce.

After dinner when we were saying our goodbyes, Tony's mom came up to me and started shaking my hand and thanking me very sincerely for "being Tony's good friend". Haha we all cracked up because she sounded like a mother whose precious son had no friends at school. But it was good to have dinner with my friends before they left. I will miss them all very much.

I spent the weekend after graduation at home, so we'll get back to the food entries next :) Well, that's it, I've graduated!


MIT Senior Week (Part 3)

(6/06) Lunch cruise in Boston harbor! Our class rented out half of the well known Spirit of Boston cruise ship for a lunch cruise in Boston Harbor today. It was to be casual dress, and parents were invited to come along with the seniors if they so choose. I was excited to finally be on that cruise ship again during the daytime, so I could actually SEE the harbor (the last time I was on this same cruise ship for a nighttime cruise on Halloween, called Boo's Cruise). This lunch cruise was to last 2 hours, and would be serving a buffet style lunch with various entrees, as well as dessert afterwards.

Being the food lovers that we are, Greg and I made a beeline for one of the tables closest to the buffet area to be seated as we entered the ship (I'm not even kidding, we passed up tables next to the windows with great views just to sit near the food in the center of the room). Hahaha. The big shiny lids of the food trays were tempting us with their secrets beneath, we could barely wait to see what was inside.

The waiters came around to tell us that since we rented the deck as a group event, there was a complimentary soda and juice bar for the lunch. I didn't feel like getting soda for a lunch cruise (seemed less than classy, and I was feeling more brunch-y), so I asked for juice instead. It did come in a nice glass, with a straw no less. Weird, trying to drink orange juice with a straw.

So then it turns out that they send people up to the buffet area table by table, so as to prevent long lines from forming. They started sending up the people sitting on the opposite side of the room near the windows first, and we were pretty much doomed to be in the second half of the room to be called up. We were both super disappointed that we'd have to wait a long time to get food. The whole point of getting a seat nearby the area was to be able to get up there first, right? So here is my dearest boyfriend looking dejected while everyone in the background is getting the food we aren't allowed to touch yet haha. (Do you see how close we were to the table!!)

But guess what? By the the time we got to go up for food, we had realized that most of the dishes weren't all that interesting. They had pasta primavera with marinara sauce, Asian pepper steak beef, pan seared chicken strips with julienned onions and peppers, baked coated chicken pieces, and crabmeat stuffed sole. Sides were green beans and boiled red bliss potatoes. They also had a small salad bar. I of course got a little bit of everything just to try. But as to be expected with a lunch cruise, they tried to cater to as many different types of people as possible, and did a poor job of it. The Asian pepper steak beef was predictably bad and didn't taste Asian at all. The pan seared chicken strips with veggies tasted like chicken fajitas, only with less flavor and more dried up meat. And the baked chicken, which looked beautiful, just like KFC or southern fried chicken, tasted boring and dry. It lacked the punch of spices that makes other fried chickens delicious. The things I did like were the pasta primavera, which had gemelli pasta. It wasn't anything extraordinary, but compared to much of the other items it was pretty palatable. I also enjoyed the green beans a great deal as they were tender and crunchy, with a good cooked flavor. My two favorites of the lunch were the potato salad (white blob of stuff on the right side in the picture) and the crabmeat stuffed sole. The fish itself was overcooked, but I really liked the crabmeat stuffing, which is supposedly Chesapeake Bay style crabmeat stuffing. It had some real crab in it, but also some imitation crab and bread-based filler, which made it nice and savory. It was probably the most worthy item on the menu. They were very small though, smaller than the size of my palm, so most people took multiple servings. The stuffed sole is hump featured in the center front of the picture below. Clearly I got two of these on my plate. The baked chicken is behind the soul, and topped with the green beans.

Can't forget about the scenery! It was really tough to get nice shots of the outside when we weren't sitting next to any windows. Here is a neat ship parked in the harbor. It looks antique, and is so beautiful in black.

Next it was time for dessert. I got the creme brulee cheesecake, which is a slice of vanilla cheesecake that has a layer of vanilla bean custard on the bottom right above the graham cracker crust, and the top ot the cheesecake was caramelized with sugar. Honestly this cheesecake wasn't as great as I thought it would be. There was no creme brulee flavor. They basically just took vanilla cheesecake (this is the same kind, even down to the custard layer, that is sold in the Simmons dorm night cafe) and topped it with sugar to caramelize. That doesn't make creme brulee cheesecake, I'm sorry to say. It was just vanilla cheesecake with a crusty top. And the caramel that they drizzled looked nice, but didn't go well with the flavor of the cheesecake. It also made the caramelized top taste fake, because the fake flavoring of the caramel sauce was too strong. All in all, the dessert satisfied a sweet tooth, but it really wasn't very innovative in taste. I had some coffee on the side to go with it also, but the sweetness of the cheesecake made the coffee taste terribly bitter.

After dessert Greg and I went onto the observation deck to enjoy the view and the beautiful weather for the rest of the cruise ride. I've never really seen this side of Boston, since I'm always looking at the ocean from the city. But this port city is really quite lovely from the ocean, and considering that it is one of the oldest cities in the US, it sure stands up to its fame! Enjoy the following photos:

(6/07) It's the day before graduation, but I wasn't interested in going on the senior week events for today, which were Boston's famous duck tours (really just a tourist gimmick) and a Boston Pops concert. Well, I would have loved to see the Pops concert, but the tickets were extravagant despite being a class event. So I spent the day relaxing, mentally preparing for the long graduation day ahead and just enjoying my last day as a carefree undergraduate.

For dinner I went out with Greg to one of our favorite cheap eats place, Pho Pasteur in Harvard Square. It's a semi-trendy Vietnamese restaurant that caters to the American crowd while maintaining the authentic flavor of good Vietnamese food. Recently Pho Pasteur changed its name to Le's, which I find to be an annoying and unattractive name for a place that I am so fond of. So don't be alarmed that I continue to refer to it by its former name. Pho Pasteur is a quick bus ride down the street from MIT, and is located in the heart of Harvard Square in a cluster of stores called the Garage. The food is amazingly cheap for the quality and quantity, as long as you enjoy Vietnamese cuisine. A bowl of pho that is enough for me to eat costs only $5.25. Last time I went with Zheng I showed you the pho and summer rolls that I got. This time I decided to get something different for the sake of variety. Greg and I started off with an appetizer of Vietnamese spring rolls, which have a ground pork mixture inside, served with a side of fish sauce. These are delectable to start with, because they are fresh and crispy, and their small size (similar to a cigar) makes them easy to eat. Unfortunately the waitress misheard our order and brought us both the spring rolls as well as an order of summer rolls. Oops. At least they were both appetizers we liked haha.

For entrees, Greg got a big face bowl of pho (the bowl being bigger than his whole head), and I got a traditional Vietnamese rice dish whose name is "Com Suon, Bi, Cha" (I'm sure that is just a description of the dish rather than a real name). It is a plate with steamed white rice, a honey-grilled pork chop, julienned pork skin, and tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce. The plate comes with a side of fish sauce as well, which goes really well with everything on the plate. I know julienned pork skin sounds pretty weird, but it's a Vietnamese thing and it's really good. It's not strips of fat, it's the actual skin, which has a lot of collagen, so it's a little bit like eating small strips of tendon dusted with some sort of powdery seasoning. The pork chops are delicious too. They are thin and juicy, with lots of sweetness from the honey. I generally dislike American steak-house style pork chops, but these are so fantastic I pick up the bone and try to get off all the meat at the end haha. This dish usually also comes with a steamed ground pork, egg, and vermicelli meatloaf square, but sometimes it doesn't get served, and no explanation is given. Why???

After dinner, Greg and I wandered around Harvard Square for a while, and went into CVS where I bought myself a bottle of Olay Regenerist daily serum (I heard it works wonders… and it cost me $17 for 1.7 oz or so… so let's see if it really does make my skin look beautiful). Then it was time for dessert! :) We had a coupon for a buy any sized ice cream cone or cup and get one of the same size for free. So we got 2 medium cones, one in strawberry cheesecake flavor, and one in vanilla heath bar flavor. The strawberry cheesecake (in the picture below) was pretty good, and not too rich. It tasted more like vanilla and strawberry ice cream mixed together, with some chunks of graham cracker crust. The heath bar flavor was much sweeter, with indulgent pieces of crunchy heath bar in vanilla ice cream. Yum! Greg and I shared the two cones, but I'm pretty sure he ate more of the heath bar one before giving it to me to finish off. Grrr!!


MIT Senior Week (Part 1)

As with many other colleges in the US, MIT has "Senior Week" the week before graduation, and it's a week of events for the seniors to enjoy each other's company one last time at. We had to sign up for most of these events in advance, and it was a mad rush to nab the spots for some of them. Leave it to our class council to plan events where it's supposed to be for our whole class of about 1000 people, yet each event only had about 200 available spots. I've missed out on many an event in the past 4 years due to tickets selling out ridiculously early. Somehow the people that are all friends with the student council members were always able to go… Anyway without further ado, here are some memories from my senior week.

Friday 6/1 The first day of senior week was a wine tasting event, which I didn't attend because I was at home eating lobster with guests lol. I'm also not big on alcoholic drinks because I still haven't learned to enjoy the strong and bitter taste of alcohol. I guess eventually I should learn to be more refined and enjoy wine for what it is, but that can wait heh.

Saturday 6/2 I came back to MIT on this day for the Cape Cod dinner train event (I paid $25 for a ticket). It's a train that serves a 5 course dinner while taking you down around Cape Cod to see some scenery. It sounded like a beautiful train ride, and while the food was great, the view was less than spectacular and certainly not what I imagined it to be. In my mind the train ride would be a glorious 3 hour excursion around the tip of Cape Cod, following the ocean. Instead, the train started out in the woods and spent 4/5 of its time surrounded by trees that not only prevented us from seeing anything but also prevented good picture taking opportunities. I felt like I was traveling through a random rural part of Massachusetts, with all the trees and houses that lined the railroad. The only sights worthy of seeing were some of the cute farms, expansive salt marshes, and a short-lived view of the bay area at the midpoint of the ride. Here are some pictures from the day:

It happened to be a dreadfully hot day out (with temps rising up into the 80s), and very humid as it usually is up here in MA over the summers. Greg and I were waiting outside for our buses to arrive to take us down to Cape Cod to board the train. Everyone was hot and sweaty, and imagine our horror when we realized that the buses we had to ride for the 2.5 hr ride down to Cape Cod were big yellow school buses. Yes, and that was just miserable. But at least I got to be with my friends and had a fun train ride to look forward to. I had a Kashi cereal bar for lunch and that had to tide me over until dinner on the train haha.

Here we are on the actual train itself, which looks kind of like a very long restaurant, with dinner tables lined up against the wall on either side. The train was pretty inside and on the outside, but I forgot to take a picture from the outside, oops. We were eagerly awaiting the food to be served, because I think everyone at the table was starving from not having eaten a proper lunch beforehand (except for my friend Tony who ate a sub for lunch, sheesh haha).

To recreate the dinner train experience, I'll post some highlights in the order that I took them, and the food courses that came in the process :) Some of the pictures are blurry because of course the train is in motion the whole time I'm trying to snap pictures, and I'm doing it through a glass window.

This was an amazingly good seafood chowder with potatoes, clams, cod, lobster, and shrimp all in a creamy chowder. It definitely compares to the famous Legal Seafood clam chowder. Either that or we were all just starving to death and therefore thought any food was heaven. I think this was my favorite course of the evening though. I savored it slowly with some oyster crackers. Yummm.

The rolls were hot and fresh, and they tasted pretty good. The only downside? I'm pretty sure the roll counted as a course in our 5-course dinner… :( The menu says we were supposed to get hors d'oeuvres, but that definitely didn't happen for us. The served entree was also different from the menu. Weird huh?

The salmon entree was very delicious. It had a nice crust of bread crumbs and pistachios which gave it a nutty, rich flavor and crunch. The salmon itself wasn't overcooked, and it came with a lemon lime beurre blanc whose mild acidity cut well though the meatiness of the fish and richness of the topping. Sides of blanched asparagus spears and creamy mashed potatoes accompanied the dish for a pleasing presentation.

Our dessert course was a strawberry shortcake with phyllo dough and custard topped with a few large strawberries. It was a tasty dessert, and a refreshing and satisfying way to finish the dinner. We also got coffee to go with the dessert. By the time we got back to our starting point, it was already pitch black outside, so we all filed onto our yellow school buses and napped all the way home after a long day. I enjoyed the train ride and the food, but I was disappointed with a lack of great scenery and the fact that it got dark shortly after the halfway point of the ride. Otherwise though, it was a fun experience overall. Tiring, but interesting to try.

After we got back to campus, Greg, Tony, Jacqueline and I went back to my dorm and we played a board game called Blokus. It's a little bit like Tetris, except you place the blocks on a flat board and try to compete with other people for space. The rules are a little weird and the game is tough to beat when there are 4 people playing, but it's a fun little spatial brainteaser. My friends and I like the weird name… "Blokus"… we named ourselves that for a team name for one of our school events this past year. Yeah… we're dorky like that haha.


Lots of food to catch up on…

I apologize for having disappeared for a while, I was a busy bee studying for my MCAT retake, then with MIT's senior week, and finally with graduation this past Friday. The good news though is that I accrued many pictures of food, friends, and sights during the past few weeks. So enjoy while I slowly update highlights from where I left off. I would like to get everything up to speed before I become more backed up. I will try and group things together into certain periods of time.

Week I was at Home Studying for MCATs

(5/26) Continuing from where we last left off… at our dinner party that my mom cooked up tons of food for, one of the guests brought us a box of mini desserts from the local wholesale club. There were four different dessert types in the box: chocolate swiss rolls, white chocolate mini eclairs, chocolate hazelnut cream puffs, and strawberry vanilla napoleons. I of course had to try some of them that very night… :) I think my favorite was the white chocolate eclair, which doesn't look too impressive but tastes dreamy (it's the upper right dessert). White chocolate is actually one of my favorite flavors, and the eclair was topped with white chocolate, filled with bavarian cream, so the combination was very elegant and pleasing. I prefer it very much over regular chocolate topped eclairs that are filled with Boston cream. The chocolate hazelnut cream puffs were also quite interesting. The outer surface is covered with a layer of chocolate studded with toffee bits (oh yum!), and inside the puff itself was a light chocolate mousse.

(5/28) Several days later while I was taking one full length practice MCAT after another, I decided that I really needed a break. My comfort activity whenever I come home is to bake or to cook. But I didn't have the time or the energy to go in search of an interesting recipe to try, nor did I want to spend a whole afternoon in the kitchen. I was digging around in our pantry when I found an oven mitt with a package of brownie mix stuffed inside of it and a ribbon tied around the whole thing. It was one of those gift items that you can give to your friends. I asked my mom if she was keeping it for a gift later, and she said she bought it because it looked cute and told me I was free to use the brownie mix.

So off I went, and it was a rather interesting brownie mix compared to the others I've made before from Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker types. All I needed to add was an egg, a stick of butter, and a few tablespoons of water. But due to the utter lack of liquid called for, the batter became a big doughy mass, very stick and very heavy. The directions then said to spread the batter out into a square pan, which I did with much trouble. It didn't pour out like other brownie batters. I literally was pressing it into the pan as if it were semi-hardened playdough. Finally though, I stuck it in the oven, and they came out as thin, fudgey, chewy brownies that my whole family adored. There was a lovely vanilla flavor that really stood out, which I preferred over the heavy and forced chocolate flavor that some other brand name boxed mixes offer. Now I only wish I knew the ingredients in the mix that made such a unique brownie!

I was initially worried that the brownies would be too sweet on their own, since my family is not big on sweet desserts. So I wanted to make some whipped cream that could go on the side to lighten things up. Unfortunately, we never have heavy cream waiting for me in the fridge when I come home, because my family doesn't use it for anything. I did however, discover that our big container of non-dairy coffee creamer claimed to be "so rich that it whips!", and it even included a recipe for how to make whipped cream from the coffee creamer. All it needed was 2 parts coffee creamer powder to 1 part cold milk, with sugar and vanilla to taste, then beaten for 5-7 minutes. It was easy to blend the cold milk and creamer powder, but once I had it going, it was quite difficult to get a firmer consistency in the cream, which was never quite like the whipped cream I could make with heavy cream. I also had to keep setting it in the fridge to cool down before continuing to beat, since 5-7 minutes on the counter really heated things up more than I would have liked. The end result tasted rich and creamy (but not refreshing like the real thing), and lacked the ability to hold any shape of its own because it was too soft. It went well with the brownies though, even though I'm sure everyone thought it was weird that I was serving brownies with whipped cream haha.


(5/29) I was getting bored of making breakfasts out of oatmeal and milk, so I decided to have some jazzed up toast. I lightly toasted the whole grain bread in the house, and for a few days I tried spreading peanut butter on it and topping with various fruits, all of which I enjoyed. I started off with banana slices, then moved onto strawberries, and finally kiwis. I must say they were all amazing, and the different flavors made breakfast so much more interesting. It was also a healthy and hearty breakfast that kept me full until lunchtime, and I'm sure it was great food for keeping me energetic while studying for my MCATs.

That night for dinner my mom was in a rush and what do Chinese people cook when they have no time? Fried rice of course! Haha my mom can whip up fried rice in like 15 minutes flat I swear, and it would take me like an hour. Today she made a simple fried rice with Chinese sausage, egg, broccoli bits, and onions. She served it with a soup on the side made with broccoli stems, mushrooms, and corn. They went very well together and it was a quick and easy dinner.

(5/30) The night before my MCAT, my mom tried to make some dishes that she knew I would like for dinner. There was a lovely dish of two whole tilapia, cooked red braise style. I absolutely adore red braised whole fish, especially when my mom makes it. The fish meat is tender, and the red braise sauce gives it a lot of flavor, since fish tends to be one of the less flavorful meats. Most of the time I still enjoy fish as it is, for its light and clean flavor. But when you give me red braised fish, it is just so much more exciting to eat fish :)

My mom also cooked one of my favorite Chinese comfort food dishes, which is eggs and tomatoes. I grew up eating this dish, and it was also the first one that I learned to cook myself. My grandparents used to cook it for me all the time because they knew how much I loved it. Everyone in my family makes it slightly different, which is exciting too. Today's eggs and tomatoes also had mushrooms added in for variety. The dish is tart overall from the tomatoes, which partially renders into a thin tomato sauce while it is cooking. But the eggs are seasoned and balance out the tartness of the tomatoes if you adjust the flavor of the sauce with a little sugar (the secret ingredient of Shanghainese cooking). I'll post a recipe of this dish sometime when I make it this summer. I will be cooking my own food now that school is out and the dining halls are closed. And you can bet on me making this dish!

The other dish my mom made was zucchini with shrimp, which I think was basically tossing together two leftover dishes of zucchini and shrimp. I wasn't too excited about the shrimp because I hate having to peel shrimp shells, but it lent an interesting flavor to the zucchini I suppose.

(5/31) The morning of my MCAT (which was to start at noon), my I woke up to find that my mom had left some steamed roast pork buns on the stove for me. To be honest I really wasn't in the mood to eat much that morning, I was having last minute jitters and just didn't feel too great. But these cha shao bao are usually pretty tasty, with soft fluffy bun dough on the outside (made with white flour and yeast) and filled with the red filling of roast pork.

In case you were wondering, I thought the MCAT went okay this time around. I felt much more confident going into it and coming out. Of course, after I started reading a forum where people were discussing their thoughts on the test, I realized that everyone else thought it was really hard. I'm not sure if that's a good sign for me that I didn't think it was that bad. Either I'm forgetting all the questions I really had trouble with, or I picked the tempting answer traps for a lot of them, or I don't even know what. Let's hope for a good scale… too bad I won't know my score until July 3rd.

(6/01) The day after my MCAT I finally had time to meet up with an old friend from high school, Reid. He and I are really close, and I love him so much. We met in my junior year of high school, when I switched to a magnet high school, and we became very close. After we parted ways for college, we rarely talked during semesters, but every time we were both back in town for the holidays and on break, we would always find time to see each other, and we always had a lot to talk about. It is so comfortable being with him, no matter how long we've been apart. There is never any awkwardness between us, and we share everything with one another. On this particular day, he had a lot to get off his chest about his recent breakup with his boyfriend of two years, and I really felt bad that he was so hurt by the breakup. I hope that our time together helped make him feel a little better. We went to Piccadilly Pub for lunch, where I got their Arizona egg rolls appetizer, which is like the firecracker chicken rolls I got before from Longhorn steakhouse, except these were filled with black beans, corn, some chicken, and other Tex-Mex-y items that I can't recall anymore. It came with a salsa ranch dip.

After lunch Reid and I went to his house where I retrieved a shirt that I left with him 2 years ago (literally…haha) before we headed off to see a movie. We ended up seeing 28 Weeks Later, which was pretty good and made me jump a number of times. I always watch scary movies with Reid, even though we both freak out in the movie theaters and have to hold onto one another for dear life. I rarely ever watch scary movies with my boyfriend because he gets more scared than I do (shhh don't tell him I told you guys hehe). Here's Reid and I being bored as we were literally the only people in the theater on a random Friday early afternoon.

That night my family was having a couple of guests over for dinner, and we were having lobster, which Reid kindly drove me to get before dropping me off at my house. He stuck around and had a glass of wine while he chatted it up with my mom (who LOVES him). Later when the guests came over we had a yummy meal of steamed lobster and spring rolls. Lobster is so tasty but such a mess to eat, it's something I definitely prefer to do in the privacy of my own home lol. We eat steamed lobster with drawn butter and a blend of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, white pepper and scallions on the side. I think it's so weird that some people who are lobster-eating amateurs will literally take a whole lobster and only eat the meat in the claws and the tail, leaving behind all the wonderful meat in the body of the lobster. And then there are those people who seem terribly averse to the delicacy that is the green "stuff" in the lobster head that I'm pretty sure is the liver. It is my absolute favorite part of a lobster, as it holds the most unique flavor. I love living in Massachusetts, the lobster is fresh and meaty in this area, mostly shipped straight from the coasts of Maine. It's much cheaper to buy and eat lobster in New England, and I guarantee it's the best lobster in the whole country.


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