All Consumed by ‘Scandal’


Since I’ve become a parent, I don’t watch movies or television. I read lots of books, and watch kids’ movies and programs and videos of kids and dogs and things that my kids like, but not anything I would fancy because I have a problem (beside no time): addiction to stories. I get swept away by whatever I’ve watched and can’t stop thinking about it, research it, google all the characters, read all the reviews. My husband was out of town for one week, leaving me with my kids solo. Of course, nothing got done as all I could so was take care of the kids and household. As reward for being a single mom during that time, I decided I would watch one show on Netflix — I chose ‘Scandal.’

I had heard about it, but didn’t know what the premise of the show was until I pressed play on the iPad. I had planned to just watch one episode and pretty soon that one episode turned into two and lo and behold pretty soon I had watched the whole first season (it was 4 a.m. when I finished the last episode of season 1). Staying up until 4 a.m. and getting 2 hours of sleep does not bode well for me, especially when my 2-year-old son starts yelling at me to wake up and that he wants breakfast.

What I realized about the show is that I could never be a character like Olivia Pope. While I admire her for passion and drive and smartness, she’s responsible for the livelihood of crazy important people and has no real meaning to her life. I guess it depends on how you define meaning, but i realized it’s not my cards to work a 60-hour a week job, commuting and racing around all the time and seeing my kids for one hour a day.

But I love being swept away in a story, and appreciate the story, the Olivia Pope’s who do the world a better place. And after all those scandals, it’s gotten a little boring. I’ll probably read a book.

-Eunice Park

Almond Panna Cotta

Almond panna cotta was light and creamy.

Almond panna cotta was light and creamy.

About two weeks ago, it was restaurant week in Oakland. That means all those fancy and semi-fancy restaurants that you are on your list to try are finally accessible to everyone. The “tasting” menus start at $20 which includes a starter, entree and dessert. But of course, that $20 quickly turns into three digits when you add another starter, a salad and drinks.

We went to A16 in Rockridge. It was bustling — I couldn’t tell if patrons were doing the tasting menu or trying other things. I had heard mixed reviews about the restaurant — it’s sceney and the menu looks good, but then other friends say that it’s overrated.

The verdict: the tasting menu did not feel handcrafted,  but more like everything had been made in mass that morning and dumped into a giant plastic container — and then carefully dished onto plates for dinner. There was some faro salad and then a pasta dish that I could have made at home. The thing that stood out was the dessert: the almond panna cotta.

Panna cotta seems like a tricky think to make. But I found a recipe that makes the whole process worthwhile via the Cooking Channel TV.



• 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
• 1 cup almond milk
• 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
• 1 cup blanched whole almonds
• 1/2 cup sugar

For the panna cotta: In a mixing bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of the almond milk. Allow the gelatin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining almond milk, heavy cream, blanched almonds and sugar. Whisk the mixture to dissolve the sugar while bringing it to asimmer. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the almonds and return the mixture to the saucepan.

Return the saucepan to the stove and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the gelatin mixture, remove from the heat and divide among six 6-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate until set, at least 5 hours.

For the cherry compote: While the panna cotta sets, combine the cherries, cherry preserves, sugar, balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to medium-high heat and continue to boil until the mixture becomes syrupy, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool (it will continue to thicken as it cools). Cover and chill until ready to serve.

If desired, unmold the panna cotta. Serve with the cherry compote either on top or alongside.

What’s the Point of a Kid Party If the Field Is Full



Every year, Genentech holds an employee summer event that’s part of their “giving back” to the community that includes fundraising and volunteer work. The end of the week ends with a giant party which in the past has been at AT&T stadium in San Francisco.

These parties are pretty amazing and spectacular. The company rents out the entire AT&T stadium and it’s all inclusive of ballpark food and drink, which means you can eat all the hotdogs, pizza and garlic fries you want and down them with beer, wine or soda. The big draw is the music: In the past there’s been Elton John, Demi Lovato, Train, Pitbull.

But while there’s headlining pop stars, the event is actually for kids. There are bouncy houses, slides, games, House of Mirrors, Ferris wheel. But there’s also big headline musicians who perform. This year, headlining the show was Colbie Caillat, Foo Fighters and Usher.

I didn’t really want to attend the event — it’s an ordeal to take the BART, Muni with a toddler and then watch her every whereabout and just let her eat junk food all day. But I thought she would enjoy the experience as last year she went and was only 2 — this year, one year older, it seemed like she would really enjoy all the kid stuff. It was like being at a festival.  As we rode the BART train, she was just happy riding the train, marveling at her surroundings.

But at the stadium, we got some food and listened to Colbie Caillat. As we peered down onto the field, she pointed excitedly to the bouncy houses and the excitement happening on the field. “I want to go on the bouncy house!”

As the Foo Fighters started to perform, we decided it was a good time to meander to the field.  But we never made it to the field, as security held up a giant sign that said “NO FIELD ACCESS.”  The field was full. This has never happened before, and I wondered if other people with kids were upset or this was just the expectation.

So we decided to wait until after the Foo Fighters finished performing – maybe people would leave the field to get some food or drink. But nope, that wasn’t the case. So we were stuck in the stands, a sad toddler who pointed to the slide and other fun things that she couldn’t leverage.  It was 3 p.m. and I was ready to leave. What was the point? I attended the event for my kid. To entertain and occupy her, we gave her cotton candy, churros and ice cream.

Was it worth it to attend the concert to see live music? I don’t know.  This event wasn’t about my enjoyment — it was for my child. My daughter was excited enough taking the train and spending solo time with her mother and her aunt. Next year, maybe we’ll just rent a bouncy house.

-Eunice Park




Comfort of Quiche


When I’m in a quandary about making dinner for my kids, my go-to meal is quiche. It’s simple and versatile — often you can dig through your fridge and find vegetables, cheese and eggs that will make a fine quiche. There’s also something warm and comforting about it. Rather than using a pastry crust, which is the traditional mode of quiche making, I’ve been using frozen hash browns as a crust as it saves time and is yummy.  I generally throw in vegetables in my quiche – sautéed spinach, mushroom and tomato with feta – is a favorite, but we also like leeks (sautéed in butter) and mushrooms with swiss cheese.  I also use a porcelain quiche dish or stone tart dish.

Experiment with different veggies and cheese – you can’t go wrong. It’s an egg dish that can fulfill the vegetable and protein food group – and satisfies.

Martha Stewart has several good recipes for quiche. Here’s one that will make you happy:


  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 12 large eggs
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 package (4 to 5 ounces) soft goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as pan); brush paper with butter.

2. Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 11 remaining eggs. Pour into crust, and sprinkle with scallions. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.

Chinese New Year Paper Lanterns

Chinese paper lanterns

Gong Hay Fat Choy! 

I admit, I’m usually clueless about when Chinese New Year begins, because it doesn’t fall on the exact same day every year according to the Western calendar. I didn’t grow up in a very traditional Chinese family and my parents didn’t make a big deal about Chinese New Year. It was kind of an afterthought, like, oh yeah, Chinese New Year – did that already happen? Occasionally we’d get a red envelope with some lucky money, but we didn’t bet on it.

My kids attend a Mandarin language preschool and their knowledge of Chinese language and culture has far surpassed mine and my husband’s. Chinese New Year is the biggest event at my kids’ school. They learn songs and dance routines and rehearse for weeks to do a big performance every year. It’s the Year of the Horse, which is especially exciting for my daughter since she loves horses. Seeing how important the holiday is for my children at their school, I’m trying to bring the celebration home.

Being a Chinese New Year novice, I turned to my trusty cultural resource, Pinterest, to get ideas on how to celebrate the holiday with my kids. We made paper lanterns which was easy enough for the kids to do. I followed the instructions I found at Sophie’s World and the lanterns came out great. The kids drew designs on the paper before cutting and we used it to cover the nightlight in their room.

This afternoon, I’m attempting to make dumplings with the kids. We’ll see what a mess that turns out to be. Tonight, we’re having hot pot dinner with family at home, which is my favorite way to host a dinner. No cooking is involved. Just laying out raw meats, veggies, noodles, and the dumplings we (hopefully) make, and we boil it right at the table. It’s fun, easy and healthy.

I aim to report back on the dumpling project and post more details on the hot pot dinner later. If I were a better planner, I would have posted this before the New Year, so others could get ideas and prepare their your own celebration. But I didn’t know what day it was.

Wish me luck! And stay tuned.

-Catherine Lo


Mini Harajuku Girl

my mini harajuku kids

my mini harajuku kids

When I see pictures of myself as a kid, I laugh at some of the outfits my mom dressed me in. Both of my kids are very opinionated about what they wear and won’t let me dress them. I shop for their clothes at the usual places: Target, Old Navy, GapKids, H&M, and occasionally the sale rack at Nordstroms, where I can find my favorite kid clothing brand, Tea Collection, at a discount. I also love going to the Splendid/Ella Moss outlet store to get cute and comfy cotton basics for the kids, and myself too. I buy clothes for them that I think are cute, but when I bring them home, my kids tell me to send most of it back. Thank goodness for good return policies. Sometimes I take them shopping with me and let them choose. They’re very particular about what they like, which is good because they like less stuff and, in turn, I buy less. I’ll point out a shirt that I like, and they will reject it and choose the last thing I would ever buy in the store. I usually indulge them, otherwise they wouldn’t have any clothes to wear. Now that they’re old enough to dress themselves, they get to choose their outfits everyday. This usually results in very creative ensembles. When my kids grow up and are embarassed by some of the outfits they wore, they can’t blame me.

Last year, my daughter was in her Hello Kitty phase. Like most Asian girls, she loves Hello Kitty  (OK, I might have encouraged this a little). But she took her love to another level of obsession. She’d only wear clothes that had Hello Kitty on it, so she wore Hello Kitty from head-to-toe. This resulted in some ridiculous looking outfits.

My daughter is turning out to be quite the girly girl (I was a tomboy growing up). She likes princess dresses, tutus and tiaras just like the next girl, but she has a special affinity for animal prints and bright colors. At first I thought it was a funny joke to get leopard print jeggings for my toddler. Then, my daughter fell in love with her “cheetah” pants and can’t get enough wild animal prints: tiger, zebra, giraffe and leopard are all her favorites.

Recently, I found these shoes at H&M which combined all of her loves into one: bright colors, zebra and leopard print. She loves them and wears them everyday now. They’re so outrageous, I kind of wish they made them in my size. ;)

Check out some of my daughter’s (and a couple of my son’s) creative outfits:

My daughter is a true mini harajuku girl. Eat your heart out Gwen Stefani.

-Catherine Lo

Fast, Simple and Delicious: Blondies


When I get invited to dinner parties or other events that entail bringing food, I’m always scurrying around at the last minute to think of a fast yet delicious dessert. The other week, a friend invited us to dinner and I was at a loss despite the fact I had just made a trip to Costco and had two giant containers of Humboldt Organic Ice Cream. That didn’t help because she had just turned vegan.

What would be fast and yummy? I started pulling out ingredients in my cupboard, thinking that I must have something that I could whip up. The thing that came to me were chocolate chip cookies, but those take a while because you have to wait for them to bake. I scoured my recipes and found one from the Smitten Cookbook. Blondies – they are simple, fast and delicious. They aren’t vegan (egg and butter), but the yummy factor overrides that.  Pouring the ingredients in an 8×8 square pan make it quick – and bars always look good when they are cut, stacked or on a plate.

Plus, Blondies are easy to adapt: add chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries, white chocolate. It doesn’t matter because they will disappear — which is what happened.

Adapted from Smitten Cookbook

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup  brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt
1 cup  all-purpose flour

  1. Butter an 8×8 pan
  2. Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
  3. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions e.g. pecans, walnuts, etc.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle and brown on edges.
  5. Cool on rack before cutting.

 – Eunice Park