Hot Pot

Hot pot (or steamboat) meals are one of my favorites.

Hot pot is basically a simmearing pot of stock placed at the center of dining table. Plates of raw ingredients such as beef slices, shrimps, bacon, tofu, eggs, mushrooms, noodles, etc are prepared in advance.

A hot pot dinner party is really easy to organize. Guests can bring their favorite food to cook. You just have to prepare the stock. It’s hard to mess up. :)

Friends and family come together and sit around the table. Everyone can place their choice of ingredients into the pot, and have fun. The dinner setting is casual and the dinner usually lasts for hours. It’s an awesome way to bond with family and friends.

I especially love to have hot pots in winter. :) Imagine enjoying a big pot of soup, with fresh ingredients, on a cold snowy day; ohhhh… that sounds perfect to me.

An electric hot pot (less than $40) works well for me. I might even get an extra one so that I can have two pots going at the same time (one pot for my vegetarian friends).

In Asia, there are many restaurants offer hot pots in buffet style. You pay a flat fee, and you get your choice of stock in a hot pot, then you can pick whatever raw ingredients you like from the fridge. Isn’t it fun?

Server adding stock of your choice to the pot (Nagomi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Server adding stock of your choice to the pot (Nagomi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)


Cook your own meal!

Cook your own meal!


My sister and my niece (hot pot cooking lesson for kids? :))

My sister and my niece (hot pot cooking lesson for kids? :) )


Happy days

Happy days

Outdoor hot pot with my family (Kuching, Malaysia)

Outdoor hot pot with my family (Kuching, Malaysia)


Hot pot dinner with Sharan

Hot pot dinner with Sharan


Cook it away

Cook it away


A pot of yumminess

A pot of yumminess

Taco Night

I love tacos, especially shrimp tacos! Hmm-hmm-hmm!!!

Do-it-yourself taco dinner is simple, fast and most of all, fun!

Everybody can help out and prepare their tacos the way they like it.

Ingredients: meat (beef / chicken / shrimps), lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, avocado, cheeses, lime juice, sour cream, refried beans, tortillas, cilantro

These are just some typical ingredients. You’re welcome to get creative and have your signature taco. :-)

Getting hands dirty can be such a happy experience

Getting hands dirty can be such a happy experience


Sarah & Danielle

Sarah & Danielle


Steve helped out with the onions

Steve helped out with the onions


Danielle making tortilla

Danielle making tortilla


Devin & Ashton - making tacos

Devin & Ashton - making tacos


finger-lickin' good

finger-lickin' good


Hmmm! I love taco night

Hmmm! I love taco night

Halloween 2010

Another great year of Halloween with my dear friends. :)

My 1st – went trick’O'treating with my friends and their boy on Second Street. It was surprisingly fun to accompany the kids to go from door to door asking for candies. :) It makes me feel young (not that I am so old) and happy.

Jerry Seinfeld is right. Kids will do anything for candies and it was fun to watch. What I’ll add to that is, “parents will do anything for their kids”, because kids don’t go trick’o'treating alone …

Since I have Kai, I don’t give out candies at my house any more. Due to failed parenting, Kai would bark at anyone who comes knocking at my door. So, now I just turn the lights off during the Halloween trick’O'treat night, which signals that “I don’t have candies, go away”.

The boy ended up with a full basket of candies – enough to last for a lifetime. My friends plan to buy all the candies from their son. Money or candies? He must choose wisely. :)

Halloween celebration at MUM is always fun. Students are extremely creative with their homemade costumes. This year, there were even more outstanding performances than last year: fire dance, short movie, hip-pop, belly dance, and more! What an entertaining night! It was too dark for me to take any good photos. We’ve been counting on Radim all these years for good Halloween photos. A big thank you to him!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Floating Sauna for the Sauna Tribe

If you’ve built a sauna in your backyard from scratch just so you can enjoy the sauna anytime you want, and the way you want it; chances are you’re a sauna diehard!

While such individuals may be common in Finland, I didn’t expect to find any in Iowa, well, maybe with the exception of a unique community – Fairfield. We have two great sauna lovers residing here who have hand-built their own private saunas in their backyards.

These sauna masters are: Bill (see Blissed Out on a Blizzard Night) and John.

They always send out sauna invitations graciously, religiously every week to their sauna tribe.

Sauna tribe weeds out the cry babies because they can’t take the heat.

@ John’s floating sauna retreat

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May 12, 2008

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A short walk to the sauna from John's house (January 11th, 2010)

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When there's hot sauna, there's happy Bill

The pond that the sauna is sitting on is frozen. John made a hole in the ice for the polar bears.

Max going in the ice hole

From the sauna room to the ice hole next to the sauna (Max is going in...)

Okay... we haven't lost you yet

Okay... we haven't lost you yet

Oh well...

After the plunge ...

Going in

Dora's turn

Dora is a sauna regular

Dora is a sauna regular

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Me - taking a break from the sauna

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Jasper: Can you throw me the frisbee?

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Karan walking back to the house after the sauna.

Whenever possible, John would invite his sauna tribe to stay for some warm soup. Sometimes it turns out to be a feast if each sauna member contributes a dish.

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Nourishing salad with secret ingredient: goji berries

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Avocado in fruit salad? It worked!

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John: If sauna hasn't cleared your sinuses yet, try one of these Wasabi Peanuts.

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Eggplant lasagna

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Sauna Tribe + V!

It’s always a great experience to share stories around the table.

I would like to say a big “THANK YOU” to both sauna masters for their generosity in spreading the sauna love.