Random thoughts and some photos of the Oregon Coast last year

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My mother-in-law is as cute and pretty as a doll. She was picking wild flowers for the house.
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I love wild flowers!
When I first learned about El Nino in middle school, little did I know that years later it would affect my very own cooking blog! Read more

Beautiful Hội An | Early morning coffee

This morning I got up really early and took a walk in the old town of Hoi An. My new friend, Trang, a Hoi An local, took me to a street coffee place that was crowded at 6:30 am. 6:30! Yes, you heard it right! Below are some snapshots I took during my leisure walk!
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Avocado and strings of steam rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves. The latter became my breakfast soon after that.
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Trang showed me how to get to some nice local tailor shops and a beautiful hidden beach this morning. Can't wait to check them out. It's never too late to have the real local hook-up.
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Lychee Panna Cotta

Lychee Panna Cotta_Dessert_Vietnamese Cuisine_Indiechine Lychee_ Panna Cotta_Dessert_Vietnamese Cuisine_Indiechine It's lychee season now, and next month it'll be longans. LONGANS! My hometown is a small Northern province that has a few specialties, a kind of soy sauce that some really love and my favorites, amazing longan and lychee fruits. There are several other Northern provinces that also grow lychees, and longan trees grow in many places from the North to the South, but the fruits from my hometown are claimed to be the best. They're fragrant, sweet but not too watery; the meat is thick and the seeds tiny. When I was 10, my mother and I took a Southbound train to visit my grandparents, whom we hadn't seen for years. Transportation was difficult then. It took us two days and one night, and we both shared one seat, me sitting in my mom's lap. The space was tiny but my mom still managed to bring some bags of lychee fruits as presents. Fruits were precious to us, and it was no brainer that our hometown's lychees had to be onboard traveling with us. Read more

Pineapple Fried Rice

*There's a video tutorial at the end of this blog post. Pineapple Fried Rice_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-8 In the winter time our favorite part of going to the hotel gym where we work out is to use a very nice sauna there after swimming. About two weeks ago, as we walked out of the swimming pool, I asked my husband if he was going to the sauna. "I did. All day", he said. "I was soaking wet just being in our living room." The heat and humidity in May here is in fact quite brutal, at least it is for us. Locals don't seem to mind though. Yesterday I met up with a Hoi-An native friend and when my arm was about to fall off from fanning myself so hard with a paper fan, she told me that she was longing for summer to come. I almost cried. I hope you're not yet tired of me talking about the weather here. I'm not complaining - just trying to give some context. It's the weather and seasonal food that determines what I cook and eat. Pineapple fried rice_Vietnamese food_Indiechine Pineapple Fried Rice_Vietnamese food_Indiechine-2 Read more

Beautiful Hội An | My Favorite Arts & Crafts Houses

I adore the houses in the old town of Hoi An! They're uniform in their antiquity but individually unique. They look ill-tended with their old paint and rustic wood shutters but charming because of that look. They're zen but lively, simple but sophisticated. And because of that, I decided to have a series on this blog named Beautiful Hội An to share this town's beautiful places that have inspired me. Read more

Braised Baby Ribs & a Summer Meal

Braised baby ribs_Sườn kho_Indiechine_Vietnamese food recipe-2 Before starting this blog, I had never used cooking measurements. I measured with my eyes and intuition, or as my friend put it, "all ingredients are to taste". The "everything to taste" rule worked well for me, except for when I had parties or guests over. Cooking for extra people without a recipe rarely came out as well. My guests might not have noticed (thankfully), but I just knew that the food didn't taste the same as when I cooked just for my family. Read more

Europe trip – Paris

We're having a two-week vacation in Europe. Our first stop is Paris and this is our fourth day here. I didn't bring my computer so I'll just quickly jot down some updates. - The weather is really cold, or maybe it just feels cold because we walk outside for ten hours straight (25 km) everyday. The plus side is that we get to enjoy a quiet Paris and that there's no line to our favorite bakery. - On the second day here Craig said he craved a bowl of pho. It flattered me that my American husband dreamt of Vietnamese food when visiting Paris. - Most shops and restaurants are closed today (it's Sunday). I expected that but was still upset to find out that even bathrooms in malls are closed. We were taking a miserable walk home after a failed attempt for breakfast when we ran into a farmer's market with an authentic Vietnamese food stand. We had some of the best crispy fried spring rolls we'd ever had, and Craig got to show off his Vietnamese to the Vietnamese-French sellers. - Last night I met up with my high school roommate (I went to boarding school) whom I hadn't met for twelve years. Twelve years ago, we were eating half-hedged eggs in a small room in a small Northern town of Vietnam. Last night we were eating Josselin crepes in Paris. Life is good! I didn't bring my camera since I wanted to have a real vacation, meaning not having to focus on or making a fuzz about taking good, high resolution pictures. Below are some random iPhone snaps if you're interested.
I think I have a thing for statues. I can stare at them all day.
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Vietnamese banana blossom salad

Banana blossom salad_Vietnamese cuisine_Indiechine-2 Everybody knows each other in the small local market near my house, and the sellers there know not only me but also my husband. It must be difficult for them not to remember us - I speak Vietnamese with a Northern accent and my husband is an American who's too tall to walk under the low bamboo roof in the market. Read more

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Vietnamese food_Fresh rolls_Goi cuon_Indiechine_Vietnamese food blog-3 Two weeks ago, I had the honor to do the photography and web design for my favorite restaurant and cooking class in town. It was two weeks of shooting, tasting good food and wine (which was the best part), editing, and panicking at times. Now it's all done and I'm quite happy and proud with what I was able to finish within two weeks' time. I presented the two websites to my client today and he loved them and I got paid! Now I'm beyond ecstatic because it was my first professional commissioned photography work. By the way, here's the link to the restaurant and the cooking class if you'd like to take a look at my work. Note: If you spot a handsome model in some photos and you think he looks familiar, you're right. That's Craig! (wink wink) Read more

Tết – Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Vietnamese Tet takes place at the same time as Chinese New Year and Korean New Year because we use the same lunar calendar. However, we celebrate with food and customs which are unique to Vietnamese culture. 
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I also carried bunches of flowers on a scooter like her, but nobody took pictures for me.
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Buddha's fist fruits. I'm not sure if they're edible but many people place them on the altar because, well, I guess they do look like Buddha's fists.
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Lanterns, vases and ornaments for Tet in Hoi An. In the North we don't use lanterns.
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Cages of best cage-free chicken for Tet
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6 am in the market
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Dried fruits in the market
Tet has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was small, Tet meant a week off from school, which was the biggest fun followed by new clothes and lucky money. Read more