The Art of Gift Giving

It is not always easy to know what to gift to show our appreciation. I try to choose something that’s meaningful and suits the recipient. And within my budget.
Arts and Crafts:
Luxurious home fragrances. All the fragrances work with each other beautifully.
These soy candles are soothing. The simply white color doesn’t compete with any decor. 
Beautiful leather flower accessories.
Robot illustrations
Charming leather creations.
Handmade Creations under one roof!
Monthly pop-up shows throughout Southern California
Cultural Experiences:
Museum memberships
tours to local places/events
concert/performance tickets
books
magazine subscriptions
Food & Beverage:
Le Vert thé (available through White Peony Style in the U.S.)
High quality tea from Taiwan.
Baked goods and desserts from local bakery.

Cake, macarons, and cookie from Belwood Bakery Cafe in Northridge, California.

Time Together:
This is the ultimate gift. The best part is you give and receive at the same time!
No matter what I decide to gift, a handwritten card or note is always a nice touch.
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Summer Fruit Bowl

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cooking time: 10 minutes – 60 minutes (depending on the amount of fruit)
Perfect for a BBQ/pool party.
Ingredients:
2 small seedless watermelons – cut to small bite size pieces
3 ripe mangoes – peel and cut to small pieces
1 pound of strawberries – sliced
10 oz of blueberries
2 lemons – zest and juice
Thai basil leaves – tear into small pieces
Agave syrup – to taste (optional)
Directions:
  1. mix all fruits.
  2. add basil leaves and syrup to taste
  3. serve cold.
Notes:
  1. freeze some of the prepared fruits and assemble at the destination.

Braised Beef with Daikon Radish & Carrots

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cooking time: 2 hours
Ingredients:
beef for braising (bone-in short rib used this time)
daikon radish
carrots
oil
ginger – a few slices, smash slightly
chili pepper (optional)
soy sauce
cooking rice wine
water (or broth)
thinly sliced scallion
chopped cilantro
Directions:
  1. blench the beef, set aside
  2. cut daikon radish and carrots to chucks
  3. heat up pot, add oil, medium heat
  4. add sugar and sliced ginger to pot
  5. add soy sauce
  6. add cooking wine
  7. add beef to the pan, add water to up to half way of the beef, add chili pepper (if desired), cover and turn heat to low.
  8. after 1 hour, add daikon and carrots, braise for another hour until beef is tender and vegetables cooked through
  9. garnish with scallion and cilantro
Notes:
  1. choose meat that is not lean
  2. depending on the meat, cooking time may be longer.

Shrimp with Clear Noodles

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cooking time: 20 minutes
Clear noodles are made from mung beans. It can be cooked directly in broth. Cooking for one can be simple and delicious.
Ingredients:
raw peeled shrimps
shrimp shells (optional)
clear noodles
chopped celery
spicy pickled radish (optional)
oil
water
salt
fried shallot
cilantro
sesame oil
Directions:
  1. sautéed shrimp shells with some oil, add water and bring it to boil.
  2. let the shrimp broth simmer for a few minutes, strain and discard the shells. Set aside the broth.
  3. sautéed shrimps. Set aside.
  4. in a soup pot, add shrimp broth, add water if needed.
  5. add pickled radish and celery to the pot.
  6. when the soup come to a boil, add clear noodles.
  7. when noodles are soft and turn clear, turn off heat, place noodle soup in serving dish.
  8. add shrimps
  9. garnish with fried shallot, cilantro, and sesame oil.
Notes:
  1. additional vegetable can be added to the soup prior to adding noodles
  2. fried shallot can be bought at Asian markets or make it at home
  3. instead of clear noodles, shirataki (Japanese yam noodles) can be used as another gluten-free option.

Beef Porridge

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cooking time: 2 – 3 hours
Another of my lazy creations. Beef, tomatoes, and soy sauce are delicious together.
Ingredients:
roasted beef bones (leftover bones from prime rib roast used this time)
chopped garlic
chopped onions
chopped tomatoes
oil
water
thinly sliced celery
kale
cooked rice
salt
soy sauce
Directions:
  1. in a soup pot, add oil, sauté onions, garlic, and tomatoes
  2. add beef bones to pot, add as much water as possible
  3. shimmer for 2 – 2.5 hours
  4. remove bones from pot, remove meat from bones and cut meat into small bites
  5. add cooked rice to pot, cook for 15 minutes
  6. add add kale, celery, and meat to pot, cook for 5 minutes
  7. season with salt and soy sauce
Notes:
  1. if using uncooked rice, extend cooking time. Or add rice while making broth