Another Busy Week

Hello and happy Friday! I have been a little bit low mood this past week, maybe from just being so busy and maybe from the transition from hot and humid to gloomy and rainy. (I haven’t seen the sun in almost a week, now…) But I’ve been doing a lot of fun stuff so I thought I’d share a bit of that here today!

2017 DCFemTech Awards

This year, several of my friends and colleagues were recipients at the DCFemTech Awards, celebrating women in technology in the DC area and their work. It’s really inspiring to see so many women getting recognized and encouraged, and I am proud to work alongside them.

Great turnout from my coworkers to support Hareem!

I was also able to see some friends from college that I hadn’t seen in a while, as well as get an ~exclusive~ after-hours look at the Washington Post headquarters and newsroom!

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Congrats again to Angela and thanks (again) for the tour!

Daybreaker: Music on the Brain

My first time attending a Daybreaker event was on my birthday back in December. I really loved the concept when I first read about it: early morning dance parties fueled by coffee, juice, and a love of dance rather than by sex, drugs, and alcohol, which aren’t my motivations for dancing.

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This month, Daybreaker partnered with the Kennedy Center, one of my favorite institutions in DC and of all time, to put on a great dance party on the terrace. It was crazy hot and humid but I had an awesome time dancing with my friend Megan at her first Daybreaker. Both of us saw friends we knew and had an amazing time sweating and dancing before a Friday work day.

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Megan and artist Yoko Shen, who performed a haunting piece to end the pre-work evening

InnoMAYtion Hackathon

On Saturday, I mentored a hackathon for the first time! I worked with Think of UsThink of Us to help think of ways to make their website for parenting teens in the foster system easier and more appealing for people to use. It was strange being one of the more experienced developers on a team, considering I’m still not very confident in my skills yet, but it was fun to work with that team and I learned a lot about the resources that are available to parenting teens and their caregivers.

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Cat Yoga

My friend Jen’s birthday was yesterday and I wanted to do something with her before she went out of town for her birthday weekend. We had talked about DC’s cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, before but I hadn’t gone. I figured that even if Jen had gone a bunch of times, as an avid cat lover, it would still be a treat for me to take her to enjoy cats and pastries.

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Little did I know that Crumbs & Whiskers has recently been offering Sunday yoga sessions. WITH THE CATS. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, even though I was frequently startled by how often I would find a cat where I was going to put my hand or foot. Those precious kitties were worth all the allergic sniffles I experienced, and I got a great yoga session out of it, too!

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I also enjoyed a delicious brunch with Jen afterwards, and just remain so grateful to still be friends with this great girl I met at college orientation.

EdibleDC Eat/Drink Local

I recently won tickets (thanks BrightestYoungThings!) to EdibleDC magazine’s Eat/Drink Local, where I was able to sample so many delicious foods from local vendors all over DC. From local oysters to truffled gnocchi to blue (!!) cashew milk and an entire pizza, my belly was delighted to sample so many delicious foods and drinks from the area. I have been known to give the DC food scene a really hard time, but it’s because I know there’s so much potential and I want it to be better! It’s gotten so much better over the past 2 years and I can’t wait to see how much more it grows.

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You know I’m a sucker for a photobooth, especially if one of my favorite companies – UrbanStems – is helping run it!

Foodelicious Night

Did you know that the DC mayor’s office has a special division dedicated to Asian Pacific-Island affairs? It’s true! MOAPIA (Mayor’s Office for Asian Pacific-Island Affairs) has been putting on events all month for AAPI Heritage Month and I was able to attend Foodelicious Night, where 3 of DC’s most famous Asian and Asian-American chefs performed cooking demonstrations for us and let us taste it after! We had:

  • Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, the phenom chef who runs Maketto, one of the trendiest and most critically-accalimed restaurants in all of DC, period, and cooked for us a delicious Cambodian curry
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  • Chef Nobu Yamazaki, of the best sushi restaurant in DC, Sushi Taro, which recently won a Michelin star in DC’s first Michelin guide, and prepared for us 2 different sushi rolls
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  • Chef Xiaolong Hu, from Panda Gourmet, the best Chinese restaurant in DC that is famous for being the go-to authentic spot for Chinese embassy employees who are craving real Northwestern Chinese food, prepared for us pork belly buns

This was a really fun event because the chefs all had a lot of personality and prepared really amazing foods for all of us. It was such an incredible way to celebrate Asian cuisine in DC and how easily you can recreate it at home!

Megan’s Birthday Dinner

Last night, I met up with Don, Megan, and several of their friends for a birthday dinner to celebrate Megan! (Fun fact: She actually has the same birthday as Jen!) It was a lot of fun seeing some of Megan’s friends that I haven’t seen in years, or since her wedding last year, or just since the last time we all hung out. (Please tell me it’s normal to have trouble hanging out with friends at a higher frequency as an adult, it is very frustrating to me…)

It was a lot of fun to see everyone and to see Megan twice in one 7-day period!


It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and I’ll be spending it resting, cleaning, and maybe checking out some online sales!

How will you be spending the (long) weekend?
How was your week??

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3-Ingredient Protein Pancakes

After many, many years on the internet, I have become the kind of person who regards “life hacks” and Pinterest/Instagram foods with suspicion. Sometimes, I just outright dismiss a lot of them. Make ice cream by blending frozen banana? That’s not ice cream, it’s just frozen banana? And yet there I was, very happily enjoying the soft-serve-esque texture of a blitzed-up frozen banana, begrudgingly admitting that the curated photos on social media didn’t lie this one time.

A similar recipe that I had many doubts about were the paleo-friendly 2-or-3 ingredient pancakes. In its simplest iteration, you mash up a banana with a beaten egg and fry up pancakes with the mixture — without it tasting like scrambled eggs with banana. I believe I attempted this once several years ago by beating an egg with a fork in a bowl and then mashing a banana into the egg with that fork. It was… meh.

But I kept seeing this recipe get touted over and over again, and other people’s photos of these pancakes looked a lot more like pancakes than my initial attempt.  Maybe I did something wrong? This recipe came back into my life as I started to remember why I am not the kind of person who is able to skip breakfast. These days, I am trying to be better about making sure I have a protein-filled breakfast so that I have fuel for when I do actually go work out in the mornings, since I have been feeling myself struggle a lot physically when I try to exercise on an empty stomach. I also feel myself thinking about lunch at about 10:30, which is pretty early to have your mind on lunch, if we’re all being honest here! While these pancakes are not allowed on Whole30, they are paleo, and I’ve found 2 added components have improved the entire process enough to make this a new breakfast staple for me:

  1. A blender (I use this super cheap personal blender)
  2. Protein powder 

The blender makes mixing it a much easier and smoother process, so I’m not left with a scrambly-egg + mushy-banana consistency. The protein powder makes it more like a pancake and less like banana-y eggs. I’ve also been adding spinach to the whole thing for a bit more nutrition. Occasionally I also add a bit of cinnamon to see if I can get any of its purported health benefits. I fry them up in some coconut oil (who am I…) and I have some healthy green protein-packed pancakes for breakfast so that I have some fuel in the morning!

Here’s the recipe, adapted from PaleOMG:

  • 1 ripe banana – the browner and riper, the sweeter!
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 scoops of vanilla/chocolate protein powder
  • Coconut oil (or oil/fat of your choosing)
  • Optional: handful of spinach
  • Optional: pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: pinch of baking soda

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  1. In a blender, pulse your eggs and banana until you have a smooth, consistent mixture.
  2. Add in your protein powder, starting with 1 scoop and adding 2 if the consistency is too liquid, depending on the size of your banana and eggs. (You want the batter to be a bit viscous.)
  3. If the mixture is still fairly runny with the added protein powder, add a bit of baking soda to help add fluffiness and rise to your pancakes.
  4. Add spinach and/or cinnamon if you’d like green pancakes or a teeny bit of warmth.
  5. In a non-stick pan, heat a small amount of coconut oil.
  6. When the oil is hot, pour small dollops of the pancake into the pan to form 3- or 4-inch wide pancakes. Since they will be runnier than your traditional pancake batter, keeping them small helps them cook through a bit faster and makes them easier to flip.
  7. After about a minute, flip the pancake to the other side; you’ll know it’s ready to flip when the edges are browning and the batter on top is becoming a bit less funny.
  8. Cook on the other side for 30-45 seconds, remove from the pan, and place on some paper towel to get rid of any excess oil.
  9. Serve plain or with syrup, jam, whatever pancake accoutrements your heart desires.

Enjoy

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Clean eating green pancakes, a similar recipe from Emily at LouisianaBrideBlog

Have you ever tried a recipe you saw online and didn’t think would work only to be pleasantly surprised?
Are there any super popular internet recipes you think I should try? I haven’t tried very many of them but after some recent successes, I’m trying to have an open mind! Trying to get back into cooking more for myself, and prepping breakfasts and lunches in advance, so any recipe suggestions would be so appreciated!

A lot of things have been happening in the news that are difficult to ignore. I try to keep the tone on this blog positive and upbeat, not only for you, my handful of readers, but so that I have something positive to reflect on myself. Please know that I am staying informed, staying vigilant, and staying active in supporting a world that is good for more people than it was before. 

My Youtube Habit

When I started browsing Youtube, it was for the sole purpose of watching subtitled anime episodes. (Naruto S3E6 part 2/11 ENG SUB!) It wasn’t until a friend of mine sent me this classic KevJumba video that I even realized there was a world outside of anime on Youtube.

You know how you can find yourself tumbling down a strange rabbit-hole on Youtube where you somehow end up watching pimple popping or ASMR or old anime music videos (shout out to all of you OG folks who made AMVs) or animals falling down, etc. etc. etc.? Well that’s how my first foray into Youtube felt. I was chatting with a young Kevjumba when I discovered in the “Suggested” sidebar, back in the oooolden days, charlieissocoollike and his classic video about the new defunct “featured” Youtube video.

That was how I found myself deep in the 2007 UK Youtube scene. Next thing I knew, I was on Stickam, a video chatroom site, with UK Youtubers and fans. The time difference was weird but their accents were great and I loved learning their different perspectives. (I’m still friends with a handful of the people I met during this time on Facebook now and they’re doing really great.)

Late 2007 was a magical time on Youtube and very dangerous for me to get knee-deep in the Youtube scene. The vlogbrothers were finishing up Brotherhood 2.0. With the election coming, we had Obama Girl, Hott4Hill, LisaNova’s Sarah Palin and Alphacat’s Barack, the Phillip DeFranco Show was starting to find its stride. Smosh was at a then unthinkable million subscribers and Youtube still showed ranking by number of subscribers. I’m not going to keep namedropping Youtubers here but it was such an exciting time because it was so new. Youtube personalities were brand new and online personalities were new to me.

The Youtube landscape has changed. A lot. I don’t watch a lot of the Youtubers I used to watch, and some of them don’t make content on Youtube anymore. Many of their channels have changed significantly over the past 10 years, for better or worse.

As with My TV Habit, I’ll leave off with the Youtubers that I regularly watch. I used to watch hours and hours and hours a week when I didn’t have TV, but with my full-time job still not firing me, I don’t that much time and have to go for quality more than quantity, now more than ever. The channels that

  • Vlogbrothers – I was actually unsubscribed from them for a short while because I started feeling like I was outgrowing them, but I’ve come back for John and Hank and I’m glad for it.
  • Nerdwriter – Evan was honored as a 30 Under 30 this year and his video essays are beautiful, insightful, and so well-done. With every video of his that I watch, I am just a little bit of a better person. With enough of his videos under my belt, I may even become a great person.
  • Casey Neistat – I’ve known about Casey’s videos for a really long time, but I only recently started watching more regularly. (Basically when the old daily vlog ended and it was less of a commitment to watch.) He is so hardworking and his hard work shows (or intentionally doesn’t) in so many of the shots that we take for granted as viewers.
  • MKBHD – Marques Brownlee is my favorite tech reviewer right now, with his clear and fairly objective insights and subtle sense of humor. He’s done so much for himself in the tech space and I can’t wait to see what more is to come from him.
  • NerdyAndQuirky – Sabrina got the spotlight on her when she was 15 years old and now she’s in university cranking out such high-quality video content that I’m almost scared to know what progress will look like for her. She’s funny and witty and keenly empathetic and I’m so glad the vlogbrothers helped introduce me to her.

What Youtube channels do you like watching?
What channels did you watch when you first started watching Youtube?
When did you start getting into it?
2007 was it for me and I never looked back. It is strange watching the annual Rewind video and recognizing a smaller percentage of the creators featured, but it’s such an exciting time to be alive, when people can make a living on Youtube.

My TV Habit

For Lent in 2014, I gave up television.  (With a few exceptions.) Television has been a habit of mine since I was very young. Even without cable, I would spend hours watching PBS in the mornings, napping after lunch, and then watching hours of UPN and the WB. (Looking back on it, it is a little strange that I watched so much Barney & Friends and Martin! I guess.) My entire day was structured by my shows, and maybe that is where my intense need to stick to a schedule comes from.

At the back of my mind, I knew I watched too much television. (My parents would tell me so. Often.) In college, my TV consumption was reduced because I didn’t have a TV to mindlessly watch in my dorm room. My TV habit changed. I found myself furiously “catching up” on my shows on the weekends. Given that I spent a lot of time with campus organizations, this meant late nights and stolen nights to myself spent with my headphones on and streaming shows.

So. Many. Shows.

It was overwhelming and got to the point where I was begging for shows to end. (I’m so grateful that How I Met Your Mother finally ended, even though I was infuriated by the ending.) (But can Big Bang Theory stop already??) Catching up on shows started feeling like a chore, but I am so bad at quitting things that I kept watching. “I hate this stupid show!” I would shout while angrily tuning in to ABC every Sunday at 7PM EST.

Today… I don’t watch too many shows. I watch three HBO shows, which is definitely very different from how I used to watch television, given that I used to watch exclusively network television shows and thought paying for a premium channel was bonkers. I occasionally watch a Netflix show. (Have you watched season 2 of Master of None yet I really want to talk to people about the achievements in film that Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang have accomplished with it!) (But I haven’t finished yet…)

I feel so free. And a bit unfamiliar to myself. Who is this person who isn’t watching shows every day, or a week’s worth of shows in a day or two? I’m not sure, but I think I like her better than who I was before, watching hours and hours of television every day. I know that I don’t watch as much TV now because I just have other things to do with that time, and I’m really glad for it. I have never been one for idle time, but that is how my parents often saw my TV time – valuable minutes and hours that I was wasting away with my eyes glued to a screen.

In any case, if you want to talk to me about any shows, the ones I am keeping up with at the moment are:

  • Master of None season 2 (still working through this one, as its nice to savor and easy to not-binge)
  • Silicon Valley
  • Westworld
  • Game of Thrones

There are shows I want to revisit and catch up on, but honestly, since Ash Wednesday 2014, I am really behind on most of my shows. I never finished The Legend of Korra! But I get so overwhelmed even thinking about going back and trying to pick up where I left off, and even more overwhelmed thinking about starting from the beginning. And that’s just one of the unfinished shows I have.

Maybe part of why I see everything through rather than cut my losses is partially because how I watched TV. But I’m different now, and if I can watch less TV and be happier for it… I am hopeful about the other positive changes I can make in my life. Like exercising more. And eating fewer potato chips.


What shows are you keeping up with right now? Anything I should start getting into?

Are there any shows you actively quit watching? There is a show that I complained about all the time but kept watching, week after week. Ben had to tell me to just stop watching, but I still feel myself getting pulled in… It’s been hard to resist!

My Experience with Blue Apron

Note: I am posting photos of the recipes in the order that we cooked them. The comments before or after the photos do not apply to the dish pictured.

I really love cooking, although I don’t stay home to cook my meals as often as I’d like. I tend to cook the same recipes but I am finding more and more success with new ones that I find online.

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West African Peanut Chicken

I also really really love grocery shopping. Walking through a supermarket’s aisles or a farmer’s market really gets me going. It’s like shelves upon shelves of possible ways I could reach my maximum domestic bliss potential. (My favorite things to buy, of all time, are school/office supplies, food, and cleaning supplies. I will shop for those things over clothes every day.) It’s not difficult for me to spend a long time in a grocery store, filling up my basket or cart with loads of goodies that I could potentially cook.

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Orange & Mirin-Glazed Cod

This love of cooking and grocery shopping is not universal. Take my partner, for example. He never fell in love with the supermarket the way I did. (I think our trips to the store are amusing because I am a weirdo but, ultimately, a bit draining for him.) I have a coworker who similarly hates going to get groceries, and she is a Blue Apron customer.

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Beef Tacos & Radish Salsa

I’ve always rolled my eyes at the idea of Blue Apron. I love grocery shopping, why would you charge money to take that joy away from me? But I started to empathize more with the fact that Ben really doesn’t get as excited at the store as I do, and he also prefers following recipes in front of him because he isn’t that comfortable in the kitchen with more complicated recipes yet.

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Crispy Barramundi

So we decided to try it.

TL;DR I think the concept is fine (although not for me, personally), Blue Apron’s execution fell a bit short for me and we will not be ordering any more kits from them, even if we decide to try more meal delivery kits in the future.

Our biggest issues with the recipes were:

BAD RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS – Several times, I had to veer away from the recipes because I knew that following them exactly would wreck the food. For example, they’d list cooking times that needed to be halved at the least, or the order of adding things to a pot/pan was off… And speaking of the instructions…

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Cumin-Crusted Pork

S & P – Blue Apron has a big problem with telling you to salt and pepper your food in the recipes. In one of the recipes, I counted they asked you to do this almost 10 times. 3 of those were for a single step in the recipe. “Salt and pepper before putting it in the pan. Then add salt and pepper while it is cooking. After taking it out of the pan, salt and pepper it to taste.” That is a whole lotta salt & pepper, folks! Given that several of these recipes were already very heavy in sodium and/or were very salty without adding more salt (+ pepper), definitely do not S + P every time Blue Apron tells you to, your mouth will punish you.

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Seared Chicken & Pan Sauce

VALUE – These just did not seem like a great deal for what we were paying for them. The prep work was needlessly cumbersome for a few of them (for example, why have us crush our own almonds and peanuts?), especially for folks who do not want to do a lot of prep work. And the quality of the ingredients was good, but, again, I wasn’t sure about the value of the kits.

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Seared Chicken & Pearl Couscous

INGREDIENTS – We had one specific instance where a dish featured a specific fish and leeks, and we only chose that box because we wanted to try cooking leek. Lo and behold, the box arrived with a note that said after working with farmers, they decided to give us yellow onion instead of leek. What?! Yellow onion is not a leek at all, and we should have been notified before the box arrived with the option of getting a different box if the primary ingredient we wanted to get from this recipe was unavailable at the price Blue Apron wanted it from the suppliers. Or they should have just shelled out more for the leeks because I know they were in season. Leek and onion are not comparable vegetables and this was supremely disappointing for us because we specifically wanted to cook leek.

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Lamb, Beef, & Mushroom Stew

TASTE – Honestly, most of these recipes tasted very mediocre. (Even when I held back on the salt & pepper, which would not have improved the taste.) This was a combination of the recipes forcing me to overcook things, but also had to do with them skimping on the seasonings and condiments in the boxes in favor of you salting the bejeezus out of the food.

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Udon Noodle Soup

HEALTH – For all of this, we had this idea that Blue Apron boxes would be a bit health conscious but in fact, some of these meals were super unhealthy. We had one that was veggies, rice, and chicken breast in a peanut sauce and we checked the nutrition facts to see astounding numbers for saturated fats and sodium which must have all come from this crazy tablespoon of full-fat peanut butter that came with the recipe. Most of the meals had super high sodium levels, many of them had very high amounts of sugar and fat, and one even had trans fats in it. With the bulk of the meals being lean meats and veggies, this usually boiled down to something like the one tablespoon of butter that became the base of the sauce for the recipe.

My favorite recipes from the few weeks we tried this out were:

Would I try another meal kit delivery service? Maybe, but we may only do so if it is a more health and nutrition-focused service. Eating this mediocre meals with crazy amounts of sugar and sodium and fats was probably the biggest issue we had here.

Will I try Blue Apron again? No. I may look to the (free and available to anyone online) recipes for inspiration on how to use ingredients, but it is not a good value for me and my family at this time.


Have you ever tried a meal kit delivery service? Which one and how did you like it? My friend recommended I try one called Home Chef, so maybe we’ll try that one out someday.

What are your favorite things to cook at home? While doing Blue Apron, I also loved doing ragù bolognese, but as the weather warms up, I’m foreseeing a lot more salads and stir-frying.

Also, let me know if you’d be interested in me posting more recipes and homecooking posts. I enjoyed taking the photos for these (worked REAL HARD to plate them for you all!) and I love cooking a lot, but I know my rambling recipe style is probably not that easy to follow…