Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry belated Christmas and happy new year!

it's been almost a month since I updated my blog last time. I kind of feel bad about not having time to make and share something festive, but I was so so busy dealing with the finals, drawing and making portfolio for art school application. The earliest deadline is Jan. 5th, and I just ordered my portfolio from a print company 2 days ago, and with their 5 day-printing and 2 day-shipping policy, as well as this hectic holiday season, I would be lucky to receive the book by Jan. 3rd.

My parents-in-law came to visit for Christmas. We bought a bigger Christmas tree and my mother-in-law and I decorated it together. This year is actually the first time I have ever felt holiday atmosphere. Before, I always traveled with friends to places like Chicago or New York City, because I didn't have family in U.S. and the school I attended is in a college town which gets emptied out when the semester is over. So this year I finally felt Christmas is a family oriented holiday. We put boxes of gifts under the tree and after Christmas Eve dinner, I couldn't wait opening them. Look what I got!

The book in the front is soft covered, with 249 pages, while the one in the back is a hard covered, 498 page book. Both have pretty good comments on Internet. The bigger book is more comprehensive, covering the history of food styling and the market and how to land jobs, and something like that. And of course, it's 35 dollors more than the other one. I will read them through before giving more detailed comments.

Last but not least, here is a bag of cookies I baked as Christmas treats. For recipes, see this link. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My favorite arts and sichuan style spicy chicken and chive flower stirfry

Food bloggers are more or less creative people. They are either working professionals who cook after a long day's work to relax and explore their creativity in the kitchen or stay-at-home housewives who wanna make their daily chores fun and artistic. So I would like to share some of my favorite art work here at my food blog. Generally speaking, I love bizaar looking arts. Unrealistic, exaggerated, sensationally stimulative and visually vibrant. Thanks to Art History classes I took, I got to know many world famous art pieces and how to appreciate them. After picking up drawing pencils, I have respected and admired artists more. I know how hard to draw real life subjects precisely and it's even harder to convert something imaginative, maybe an elapse of thought or fragments of a dream, onto a 2 dimentional paper.  

Open window-Henri Matisse
When I saw this painting at National Museum of Art in DC, it got me at first sight. I especially love the vibrant colors and the warm tone. (Pink is my favorite color)I thought it's impressionism, but found out this style is called Fauve, a style specifically refers to paintings from 1904-1908 exhibited in French salon, characterized by the unblended and bold brush strokes and vibrant colors.

The scream-Edvard Munch
Just as I said, I was fascinated by the weird and kind of shocking look of this painting. It's pretty intriging too to the audiences to wanna find out what happend, who are the two men behind. The waving strokes and strong color contrast also enhance the tense emotion. 

Stary night-Vicent Van Gogh
Who doesn't love Van Gogh? His distinctive short and strong brush strokes definitely influence later artists like Henri Matisse who was actually once on a committee of Van Gogh's exhibition. He leaves people an impression of a poor,desperate and crazy artist, whose whole life was lonely and pathetic, but after reading a little of the letters between him and his brother Theo, I changed my mind. He loved life. He appreciated morning chirping of birds,lovely rains, sunny afternoons and almost everything. His attitude was almost always positive in the letters.  It's really interesting to discover the personal side of this great artist.

Casa Batllo-Antoni Gaudi
My favorite architect, Gaudi! I fell for the teeth like balconies and bone looking outer wall columns, although it might be scary to see bones hanging out of the window at midnight. The architect was either a weirdo or a genius to think of this design. I think he was latter and had good sense of humor. I do think this building has some wisdom and humor to look like this, so harmonious with the nature. Avant-garde of Art Nouveau style in Spain, Gaudi's organic farytale design matched well with Art Nouveau's "nothing in nature is straight" school of thought. Buidings don't just provide secure and warmth to meet the most basic and primitive requirement. In civilized world, they should be reflection of culture, art and humanity, but this is also a mass production era unfortunately. Creative design seems to be losing market to cheap, mass produced buildings. 

I have more arts I wanna put here all together, but don't wanna overwhelm my readers. So i am gonna take my time and show the rest later. 

I was a scientist and now am trying to be an artist. I realized that all science does is to make human physically live better, while art makes human emotionally live better. 

Ok, back to food and photography.I don't always wanna try new recipes. When I don't have inspiration, I get lazy too. I had chicken thighs and Chinese chive flowers I got from an Asian market in the fridge. Noting knowing how to use them respectively, I made this Sichuan style spicy chicken and chive flower stir fry. 
It's a good light dish to go with Chinese porridge.

Sichuan style spicy chicken and chive flower stirfry recipe

1 pound chicken thighs, diced into small cubes
1 pound chinese chive flowers, chopped into 2-3 inches long
1tbsp Sichuan spicy bean paste (郫县豆瓣)
soy sauce 1sbsp
cooking wine/sake 2 tbsp
2tbsp cooking oil

1. marinate chicken with soy sauce and cooking wine for 20 mins.
2. Heat a deep pan or wok, add cooking oil. 
3. Add marinated chicken when the oil gets smoky.
4. stir fry 1 min and add bean paste. Keep stir frying, until all pink meat turns white.About 4 mins.
5. Add chopped chive flowers.Stir fry 1 min. Add salt to taste and turn off heat. Serve hot.