January 1st, 2014 by | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

New Year's Eve Cake Food Boston_20131231_0983

New Year's Eve Cake Food Boston_20131231_0965

Check out this beauty we made for New Year’s Eve!  My friends and I used the same recipe we used to make the rainbow cake in London, Simple White Cake.  The only difference is that instead of adding food coloring, we added sprinkles.  We also added streusel on the top.  Here is the recipe for the cake:

Simple White Cake

  • 2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbs sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/190 C degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Pour half of the batter into a 10 inch circle cake pan.
  4. Pour the other half of the batter into the second 10 inch circle cake pan.
  5. Put both cake pans into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.


  • 8 cups confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar)
  • 2 cup (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 – 8 tablespoons milk (start with 4 tablespoons of milk.  If the frosting is still too thick, add more.)
  1. Mash the butter.
  2. Pour the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and milk into the bowl with the butter.
  3. Mix the ingredients until it’s completely smooth.


  • 1/4 cup or half stick butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs flour
  1. Mix all the ingredients.
  2. Put the streusel on top of the cake in clumps

December 6th, 2013 by | | No Comments »



November 30th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I was pondering a lot about your recent post about how difference cultures can mix together.  United States actually presents a great example of how different cultures can blend together, as the country is known as the “melting pot” and most residents are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.  Food from different cultures are not only meshed together, but also families from different cultures really do integrate.

When a family consists of members from different races, it’s known as a biracial family.  New York City’s newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio’s family is one of many examples.  Mayor Bill de Blasio is white and his wife is black.  They have two children who are mixed race.  Barack Obama’s mother was white while his father was black.  Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court Justices, is married to a white woman.

Believe or not, 50 years ago, interracial marriage was illegal in many states in the United States.  If a white person and a black person married each other, they would be arrested and jailed.  United States unfortunately has a very bad history of discrimination towards people of other ethnic groups.  Interracial marriage became legal in all 50 states in 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled that the law forbidding interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Nowadays, interracial marriage is so common and no longer a taboo.  1 in 12 marriages in the United States are interracial marriages.  I believe the percentage is rising.  Polls are showing that more young people are supporting interracial marriage.  The current number of all interracial marriages is more than double of the number of interracial marriages in 1980.  15 percent of all new marriages in 2010 were interracial.

We can find a spouse who is Japanese while the other is American or a spouse who is Hispanic while the other is German.  When we ask people what is their ethnic background, they will often respond with more than one ethnic group.  One can say, “I am Mexican, British and Native American.”  Another can say, “I am Chinese and Jewish.”  While I am one hundred percent Ashkenazi Jewish and Caucasian, and my ancestry originates from the Pale of Settlement (Poland and Russia), one could consider me “mixed” because my father is Canadian and my mother is American.  Because the number of people who are mixed race has been so high, the government allows people to identify themselves by more than one racial category on the census form.

It is also very common to find many children who are raised with more than one religions as their parents come from different religious backgrounds.  When couples from two different religions marry, it is known as interfaith marriage.  Former President Bill Clinton’s daughter who was raised Christian married a Jewish man.  Tom Cruise, an actor who is Jewish, is married to Katie Holmes, an actress who is Catholic.  While many interfaith couples will integrate more than one religion into their lives, some spouses will convert to the religion of their spouse.

Because I grew up in a very diverse community, I find that it’s very hard to try to date people who share the same ethnic background.  While I have dated Jewish men, I have also dated Indians, Christians and Asians.  Many people from my generation and all the younger generations are “color-blind,” which means that we often don’t think about other people’s ethnic backgrounds when dating other people and forming friendships with people.  I hope the trend of being “color-blind” continues because I believe it creates a better society where fewer discriminations exist and people can be free to express their own identity.


November 28th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »


Because Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collided tonight, my family and friends lighted the candles on a very special menorah known as “Menurkey.”  The word “Menurkey” came from “menorah” and “turkey.”  Because turkey is the symbol of Thanksgiving and the main dish we eat at the feast, people created menorahs in a shape of a turkey to celebrate the once in a lifetime event.  The menorah behind the “Menurkey” is a very traditional menorah design even though menorahs can come in all different unique designs.

Tonight, we enjoyed variety of food including potato latkes, turkey, stuffing, vegetables, salad, and of course, pumpkin pie.  I also enjoyed one very interesting and unique dish that I never tasted before – Lobster pumpkin soup.  This dish was created as if you mixed New England and Thanksgiving together!  As you know. lobster is a very traditional dish in New England and pumpkin is an integral food for Thanksgiving feasts.

November 28th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

What is happening today in America is a prime example of how different cultures can indeed be meshed together.  Today it is not only Thanksgiving but also the first day of Hanukkah.  It is known as Thanksgivukkah.  This is a once in a lifetime celebration because the last time the first day of Hanukkah occurred on Thanksgiving Day was in 1888.  According to some sources, this will not happen again for another 70,000 years!  Even for any days of Hanukkah to coincide with Thanksgiving is still extremely rare!  It is so rare because the Thanksgiving Holiday is part of the Gregorian (western) calendar and Hanukkah is part of the lunisolar Hebrew calendar, which is similar to the Chinese calendar.

Therefore, many Jews in the US are cooking their Hanukkah and Thanksgiving feast by combining many of the traditional Hanukkah and Thanksgiving dishes together.  Traditional Thanksgiving dishes include not only turkey and corn stuffing, but also pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pecan pie, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.  Traditional Hanukkah dishes include potato latkes, apple sauce, rugelaches, and kugel.  Many American Jews are creating “meshed” dishes by cooking pumpkin kugel, pecan rugelaches, pumpkin challah, sweet potato latkes, cranberry apple sauce, and challah-apple stuffing.  While I have not yet cooked any of these dishes, I am hoping to cook some in the next few weeks because they all sound absolutely delicious.  I am having a Thanksgivukkah feast with my family’s friends, and so, whatever they will serve will be a surprise!  I’ll let you know after tonight what I end up eating!

November 28th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

When I came back from London, my Chinese friends always asked me, “What do the British eat everyday?” When I came back from America, I faced the same question. My mom asked me if Americans drink cold water and cold milk everyday because that was what she always saw through the mass media. I said “yes,” and I could see in her facial expression that she had a hard time imagining it. As a matter of fact, when I stayed with Rachel’s family, my husband and I tried very hard to adapt to their eating habits. At first, we did need to use the microwave to heat water and milk.

During my trip to America, one of the topics we discussed often was food: whether the American Chinese food is authentic Chinese food and whether the fortune cookies are originally from China. My friendship with Rachel often revolves around food. I learned baking pastry from her. She tried Chinese hotpot with me. We tried Mexican, Italian, French, Indian and British cuisine in London.

I noticed that a lot of our experience about foreign cultures is related to food. That’s why I want to use this opportunity to show my everyday eating life in China. I want to give people from different cultures an understanding of what Chinese people eat everyday and how we can learn about different cultures by examining what we eat.

November 10th, 2013 by | | No Comments »

I come from Inner Mongolia, a region China.  Mongolians, who are the ethnic minority in China, and Hans, who are the majority nationality in China, live together in Inner Mongolia. My nationality is Han but some of my and my families’ lifestyles are affected by Mongolians. For example, my family drink Mongolian milk tea for breakfast. Mongolian milk tea uses specific fermented tea, and it is made in a unique way and tastes salty, very unlike British afternoon tea and Taiwan milk tea. Also, my family eats a lot of dairy products, which is the same for Mongolian families, but very different from most the Han families in other parts of China. That’s why I love western cheese, which most of the Chinese people are not used to eating. I think this is how culture naturally develops. Different groups of people create their own cultures and different cultures affect each other and they fuse.  I believe we cannot find an independent culture without any footmarks of other cultures.

Though America and China are far away from each other, the American culture and lifestyles are affecting Chinese people more and more. As a Chinese, I am influenced by my best friend Rachel’s American life in lots of ways. After being introduced to baking by Rachel, I bought an oven, the most common kitchen facility in American kitchens but almost unseen in most of the kitchens in Chinese families.  Recently, I bought a clothes drier for the first time in my life after visiting Rachel in America and staying in her parents’ house for 10 days in Boston this October.

I am still wondering after the four major inventions, the compass, gunpowder, paper-making and movable-type printing, why China didn’t invent a house appliance like clothes dryer to make daily life much easier. Traditionally, the clothes are naturally dried in China. However, if you live in Shanghai, where the weather can be raining for the whole week during winter, it’ll be so inconvenient without a dryer. Most people in Shanghai need to watch the weather forecast before deciding when to do their laundry. I think this is more related to lifestyle than economic reasons in modern China since the clothes dryer is affordable for most Chinese families now. Chinese lifestyle focuses more on adapting to nature instead of arguing against the laws of nature. But this lifestyle is changing nowadays as more and more Chinese people have access to the western world through mass media, studying abroad or traveling abroad. The changes in my life is an example of how Western culture and lifestyle affect Chinese people in their daily lives.

October 31st, 2013 by | Tags: , , | No Comments »

When I saw a sign by a cafe saying they have pumpkin shakes, it made my day! I immediately went inside the cafe and ordered it. The pumpkin shake was so good. It tasted like pumpkin cheesecake.


October 31st, 2013 by | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I work for an American company, which provides daily program for both international and Chinese kids with special needs in Shanghai. My job is to help the company understand the needs of Chinese parents with special needs children and cater its service to the Chinese market. After communicating with a lot of Chinese parents, I realize that part of the reason they choose our company is because they want their kids to stay in an international environment where they could get to know and learn western culture. Therefore, Halloween was a good opportunity for the Chinese kids to learn the western culture. They decorated the classroom, dressed up, did “trick or treat” and had a lot of fun. I believe this kind of experience will leave a deep impression in their childhood memory.

The teachers are reading stories and having fun with both international and Chinese kids

The teachers are reading stories and having fun with both international and Chinese kids


The kitchen was the place where we held the Halloween party and the teachers and the kids were doing cookie decoration together. They played “trick or treat” music.


Halloween decorations in both inside and outside of the Chinese classrooms

Halloween decorations in both inside and outside of the Chinese classrooms



October 31st, 2013 by | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Talking about fortune cookies was quite amusing.  Our conversation does teach us that every country in the world has stereotypes, and we have to be cautious about how we judge other cultures.  This experience confirms why traveling and talking to locals from other countries are so important.

While I saw KFC on every block and also many Pizza Hut in Haikou and Shanghai, I visited one little restaurant at a food court in Haikou that advertised their food as “American cuisine.”  I chuckled because what I encountered was American Chinese food.  They served egg rolls, noodles, a selection of meat and some sandwiches (sandwiches is definitely an exception).  I had to ask myself, “Were egg rolls invented by Americans or Chinese?”  I learned that it was invented by Chinese restaurants in America like fortune cookies.


“American” food in China.

What’s interesting is that when each country make cuisines from other countries, they often times do still implement the flavors of their very own culture.  Another good example is when we went to a Brazilian restaurant one night in Haikou, I felt like I was eating Chinese-Brazilian because I could really taste the Chinese flavors.  Back at home in the US, many Mexican people will often say that the Mexican food we eat are not true Mexican food, and they are more of southwestern American cuisine.

As you will remember from our conversations, I found that the Chinese food I tasted in China was definitely different from the “Chinese” food I eat in the US.  While rice dishes with meat and vegetables were very common, there were food that I never found on a Chinese menu in America.  As I greatly enjoyed rice balls and baos, which were found everywhere in China, I was completely shocked that they would be rare in America because they were the most delicious authentic Chinese dishes. In fact, I know many Americans who visited China and have tasted baos, say it’s the best on the earth.  If baos were on Chinese menus in America, I believe that it could be the most popular dish.  To my American friends who are reading the blog post and wondering what is a bao.  It is a steamed bun made of flour and filled with various ingredients.  Some have meat while some have sweet custard filing or beans.  I will need to find a recipe and try cooking some myself.




Rice balls

I also tremendously enjoyed the hot pots, which I frequently had in London and once in China.  It is not only such a creative way to cook meat, fish and vegetables but also for people to get together and socialize.  It is such a quick and easy way to prepare a dinner party for friends as we only need to place a pot of boiling water at the center of the table and then cook the food by dipping them into the pot for a few minutes.

Now, I need to note that I still have not yet tried pig brains, chicken legs, cow tongues or any kind of spare animal parts.  Want to challenge me to try them when I am in China next time?  You probably shouldn’t! :)