Quarantine Video Playlist (Calm Foods)

I don’t know about you all, but I’m really struggling to make lemonade from the proverbial global pandemic crisis lemons I have been allotted during this time. I just don’t currently have it in me to do a bunch of home workouts (as someone who has more success with the external accountability of a class), to bake all day? (I don’t even have… the ingredients…?), or even to binge-watch shows. I’ve had an aversion to the commitment of starting a new show for a long time, and that has only been exacerbated by the toll of living during a worldwide catastrophe.

What I do have an appetite for, however, is videos. Specifically, I watch a lot of food preparation videos (which has always been a guilty pleasure of mine), and lately, I’ve been really enjoying calm and relaxing food preparation videos.

I tend to watch videos at 1.5x speed or faster, but with these, I am able to sit back and watch at the intended speed (haha) to really attempt relaxation. It’s almost meditative, to watch someone prepare something delicious.

So here are a few of the videos that have brought me a few minutes of peace and calm. I hope they can do the same for you.

I have really gotten into watching Li Ziqi 李子柒 because she is connecting viewers with the traditional ways to make Chinese foods. I can be completely enraptured watching her harvest soybeans to make soy milk to make tofu in order to make mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐. Or even planting rice to make rice cakes and scorched rice. I spend a lot of time unwinding and craving Chinese food watching, so it’s no wonder that she is perhaps one of the most influential online creators in China, with a rumored reach wider than even CCTV.

Haegreendal 해그린달 is a Korean woman who is part of a wave of content creators that make these supremely cozy videos that really add the homey to home. She cooks simple dishes, does household chores, with little bits of commentary that give you a bit of insight into her thoughts and sometimes ask you to take time to discover insight into your own. I discovered her videos very recently but know they will be something I come back to when I need to quiet my mind and feel motivated to take care of my living space and myself.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention Alvin Zhou, from BuzzFeed’s Tasty team, as this video actually introduced me to Haegreendal. She is one of the people he cited as inspiration for the above video, which is one of the quarantine videos that was released recently. It’s a very simple concept – he makes a series of 3-ingredient recipes all day – that is really pleasantly executed. I felt super at ease watching, and because all the recipes are just 3 ingredients, I felt like I could easily get up and make one or all of them myself if I so chose. I hope he enjoyed making this one as much as I did watching.

This insanely gorgeous cheesecake recipe from HidaMari Cooking appeared in my suggested videos so many times that I finally relented, being a huge fan of peaches and a disliker of cheesecake. This Japanese creator’s channel is full of these absolutely beautiful creations, all with the goal of being pleasing to the eyes and ears. I would consider this part of the wave of mostly Japanese creators who were creating this ASMR cooking content last year.

Another prime example in this genre is Peaceful Cuisine, who makes soothing food videos with and without music. (There are 2 versions for many of the recipes he makes.) This is his most popular one, and he’s been creating little moments of peace and tasty treats for years now.

If you haven’t seen yet, Dalgona coffee has been a beverage trend in South Korea for over a month now as Koreans in quarantine learn to make something delicious and beautiful in the confines of their home. This video, from Cho’s Daily Cook, is part of a trending genre in Korea called #homecafe, where people create sumptuous-looking beverages in aesthetic as all heck videos. (Eater did a great write-up about this trend.) This was one of my favorite videos from early on before Dami Lee blew up the trend’s spot in the United States and it started going viral on TikTok and Instagram here, too.


I hope you enjoy these videos and that they help you find a bit more calm in your day. Relax your jaw, take some deep breaths, release the tension in your shoulders. There are cozy food videos waiting for you.

If you have any relaxing food videos to share, please do! I’m always looking for more to enjoy.

爷爷

Today would have been my grandpa’s 86th birthday.

He passed peacefully 14 days ago. Because of the current circumstances with the coronavirus, there will be no funeral.

I had started to feel a bit numb after a few weeks of self-quarantine, but his passing brought on a surge of emotions, primarily grief and guilt.

May you be resting in peace, with Grandma.
祝爷爷一路走好, 天堂不再有痛苦.

WithGrandpa

National Poetry Month

April is, among other things, National Poetry Month, a time to recognize and celebrate poetry.

NPM_2020_poster.jpg
From poets.org: The official April 2020 National Poetry Month poster features the artwork of Samantha Aikman, winner of this year’s National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students. Aikman’s design was selected by judges Alison Bechdel, renowned cartoonist, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. It features the following line from the poem “Remember” by current U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo: “Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.”

I have always wanted to be a lover of poetry, but I’ve begun to acknowledge that I might not like poetry even if it is “good” (as with any art or medium), or that poetry can be good simply because I (and I alone) like it. That a single line of a poem is my main takeaway. That what I love most about a poem is its rhythm.

As longtime followers of my blog might know, I dabbled in the indulgently “emo” and self-proclaimed “deep” practice of writing poetry as a middle-schooler. It was embarrassing stuff but, even then, revealed my love for meter and and words that paint a specific image in the mind. I recall trying to write a free verse poem that more or less ended as a limerick, so dearly did I cling to rhyme and meter.

For many people, critical reading of poetry in a high school English class really turned them off of poetry, if not most leisure reading. I was fortunate enough to have connected enough with my English teachers and their teaching that reading poetry through this lens really enhanced my enjoyment of poetry. I’ll never forget reading Sylvia Plath, the poet that “emo” girls love to morbidly think on, and learning about the precise kind of emotion and imagery she was evoking in “Sheep in Fog”:

The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the color of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells–
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.

To close, as quarantine stretches out before us, I’d like to share a poem by Adam Zagajewski, translated from Polish by Claire Cavanagh, that a friend on Instagram shared yesterday.

“Try to Praise the Mutilated World”

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

I hope that in this unprecedented time, you are able to find a poem that brings you comfort. Songs absolutely count as poetry (who among us has not posted a beautiful song lyric somewhere), but I challenge you to take the time to read the lyrics without listening to the song and even speak them aloud without music. Let the words themselves bring you comfort. We all deserve a song like that.

 

BEDA 2020…?

It’s been difficult for me to figure out how to jump back into blogging at all, let alone “regularly” or “on schedule”. Even milestones that I usually will write something to publish came and went: Lunar New Year… Lent

Suddenly, it’s April.
And, of course, we’re all aware of the circumstances regarding COVID-19.

woman standing in front of window
Photo: JR Korpa

So… we’ll attempt a Blog Every Day April.

I haven’t attempted one of these since… 2015, and the last BEDA posts I published were when Karen and Christine visited me in DC wow what a throwback. (I recall Christine having posts ready for all 30 days of April, including posts scheduled to go up while she was visiting! Goals…)

I’ve considered doing another BEDA for a long while now, but this isn’t really how I planned to do it. There is no plan for how I’ll do it, in fact. I don’t have any idea what I will post tomorrow, or the day after, or the 27 days after. I have a ton of drafts on this blog but with coronavirus happening, it doesn’t feel as appropriate to post many of them. (For example, all the travel blogs I started and never finished…)

But we’ll see. I have been very withdrawn from my blog and the online public space since I experienced burnout and a subsequent depressive episode 2 years ago, because I feel like I no longer know what I want to blog about. It used to be really clear to me, that if I experienced something fun or interesting or even bad, I wanted to share that. I don’t want to share things as much as I used to, but I miss writing and I miss blogging. A lot of my blog friends have also stopped blogging, and, who knows, maybe attempting BEDA is just a nostalgic exercise to bring back the feeling of 2015 again.

If you have any suggestions on things you would like me to share, please please do share. In the meantime, I update 2 pages on this blog somewhat regularly: the Media Log, where I record the various forms of media I am consuming this year, and New Foods, where I try to make good on my resolution to either cook a new recipe or try a new restaurant every week.

Today is Day 1 of 30.

2020 Resolutions

We made it to a new decade! Send me your discount codes and deals for laser eye surgery, I am prepared for 2020 jokes for the next 366 days.

This also means it’s that time again! As December winds down, I actually start feeling a bit of pressure to be intentional with my annual goals, but I also really look forward to it. I think it’s because I am taking the time to think about what kind of person I want to be and what specific ways I can become that person, even if some of the changes are harder to quantify. While I don’t have a great track record of accomplishing many of my resolutions, I like setting them at the beginning of the year as a way to guide my intentions for the rest of the year, to gently nudge myself towards who I want to be.

Image result for 2020 resolutions"

I really liked my resolutions from last year, even though I wasn’t great about keeping them, so a lot of them will carry over this year. I was also really inspired by Rachel Miller‘s Q4 resolutions and will be incorporating many of those as goals for the year as well.

2019 was such a big year for me, but with so much in transition, I am ready for take on 2020 with a lot more intention. There are a few big themes for my resolutions this year:

Improve my relationships. 2019 was a big year for my relationship with my significant other, and I want to continue working on that relationship as we come up on one year of marriage. Being very focused on that relationship did come at the expense of many of my other relationships, especially because I moved away from my friends and family that I was spending time with. I’d like to shift some of my relational energy back to my network. I also want to be able to let go of grudges and people who have drifted out of my life for one reason or another.

Let myself feel at home in New York. Partly because I was so busy with the wedding and maybe partly because I unconsciously was afraid to put down roots in case something happened and I would have to leave, I haven’t really felt like I have become a New York resident. I still have boxes! My dressers are still in the state they were when I hurriedly threw clothing into them so that I could try to reduce the number of  boxes. We have yet to replace the furniture that was damaged during our move. And I haven’t done most of the things I was so excited to do upon moving here. Even little things like not scheduling doctor’s appointments here yet (which is something I often advise people to do, so I’m a hypocrite for not doing so as well). That changes this year, and it will require a lot of energy and effort but it changes this year.

Of course, improving myself is the big theme of all resolutions and goals, isn’t it? I am going to work on things that will make me healthier physically but also mentally. Not get in my way so much. Not be so afraid of failing… or of succeeding? Not letting my need for control be a facet of my personality.

So enough prattling, here we go!

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