Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

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The Art We Adore

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It has been a couple weeks since we painted the main floor. We took a much-needed break and celebrated our 5-year anniversary and Slav’s birthday. Let me tell you, I feel like a million bucks. Without unfinished tasks on sight, I can finally relax without constantly thinking about what to do next. Lessons learned – better not to live in the space we renovate!

Of course we still have a few things to do for our living space, including refinishing the floor and replacing a few windows. But freshly painted walls have improved the living space so much that I already feel like decorating. So the past weekend, I finally unpacked the frames and art that have been sitting in moving boxes since our move 17 months ago.

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I made this little “less house, more home” art year ago. I had just moved across the country and into my own 1000 sqft apartment. It was my first time furnishing a space, which really got me thinking about my own style of home. It was also around the time that I started reading about minimalism. This quote really stuck with me since.

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This anatomy art is my favorite and I got it for $4 from a thrift store in North Carolina! Best. thrift. find. ever.

Above the sofa hung our cow art. These are 99 cents IKEA cows decorated by our friends and family. We adore them.

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At the living room corner is a painting from a Polish artist and a family friend, Adam Faglio. We love his paintings of landscape, which are often based on sceneries of Slav’s hometown.

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Next to the living room thermostat are two more arts from Slav’s hometown. On the left is the castle, which is a landmark of Slav’s hometown and a local’s favorite. And to the right is the same castle in sunset from distance. This castle is quite significant to Slav and his family. Not only Slav grew up playing there, his parents also fell in love while working on a restoration project of the castle in their early 20s.

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In Slav’s office there is another framed art picturing Slav’s hometown. See the castle in the background? Slav definitely has a thing for it.

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Slav also has a thing for cute animals. Several posters and greeting cards in IKEA frames make a gallery wall in his office.

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On either side of the new office doorway I hung a pair of art which we bought when visiting Portland, OR in 2014. They were hung on either side of our bed in our North Carolina apartment.

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In the little hall way to the bedroom, we hung a simple, snowy village art we got also from our Portland trip. I love the calm and peaceful vibe it gives.

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Another painting from our favorite Polish painter dominated the bedroom. Yes you are looking at the castle again!

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Winter castle.

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On the night stands are two Chinese paper cutting arts of our zodiac animal signs. I am a ram and Slav is a dog.

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Also hung in our bedroom are a set of framed art we bought during our first visit to Denver in 2016. They were shipped to North Carolina and now are back to Denver again.

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Our wedding photo is hung between the his-and-her closets. This is the only photo of us (or in fact, people) that we have in the house.

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I had a bit fun with the kitchen gallery wall. The pencil art of lady with teddy bear is another thrift find and all the old kitchen art were purchased from a North Carolina artist.

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This is not an impressive collection by any means – in fact, most of the art are thrifted. But I love the memories and feelings they bring out, which make a house ours and home. I am happy to see them on the walls again!

 

Braised Bamboo Shoots

Hi friends! I am here to share with you an easy, authentic Chinese recipe – braised bamboo shoots. It only contains three ingredients and four spices, and takes ~15 minutes to cook. A quick weekday night dinner indeed.

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There are two types of bamboo shoots – Spring bamboo shoots, and winter bamboo shoots. Both work with this recipe. While fresh bamboo shoots are hard to come by, Asian stores almost always have frozen ones. We came across fresh bamboo shoots randomly and I just have to get it. And braised bamboo shoots is my favorite way to cook them.

So here are the three ingredients I used: a bag of pre-skinned bamboo shoots (a little over a pound), a few cloves of garlic, and a thick slice of Chinese bacon. Some people use ginger instead of garlic, and I would have used a couple slices of ginger if I had any. Not everyone cook this dish with garlic either. I personally love the taste of cooked garlic so I always try to include some whenever possible.

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Chinese bacon usually taste sweet and salty, which is how you want braised dish to taste like. The fat also cooks out, which is absorbed by the bamboo shoots and makes them extra tasty. You can totally skip the meat to make this dish vegan though. The bamboo shoot will still taste great!

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The three main spices to make braised anything are sugar, Shaoxing wine, and soy sauce. Traditional Chinese dishes always use rock sugar, and it is usually melted in hot oil in order to coat whatever ingredient you wish to braise. I do not have rock sugar, so I used raw sugar. You can use any sweetener, including maple syrup or honey.

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The first step is to cut the bamboo shoots into bite size and the meat into small bits. Someone once asked me how Chinese people eat meat without knife and fork. The truth is, almost everything in transitional Chinese dishes has been cut to bite size before cooking, so one can use chopsticks to pick a piece up, put it into one’s mouth, and chew it with one’s mouth closed. Except noodles, which you are supposed to slurp in order to effectively cool the noodle down to prevent mouth burn.

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I cut a few slit into each garlic cloves but kept them whole. You can cut the garlic however way you want. I generally keep my herbs – such as ginger, pepper, green onion, and garlic whole, so I can pick them out before serving. In terms of green onion, I usually tie a bundle of them into a knot, so they release their flavor but do not disintegrate. This is particularly important when cooking soups, so the soup remains clear and debris-free.

Second, heat up some oil and brown the garlic. I used only one table spoon of oil because I knew the Chinese bacon will release some.

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As soon as you can smell the garlic (30 seconds to a minute), add meat. In my case, the Chinese bacon has been cured so it only takes minutes to cook though. Whatever meat you are using, just make sure that it is seared before adding the bamboo shoots.

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Once the bamboo shoots is added, stir everything so all the bamboo shoot pieces are coated with oil. Cook the whole mixture for another 3 minutes or so, until the bamboo shoots become brown on their edges.

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Now it is time to add Shaoxing wine (1 tablespoon), soy sauce (2 tablespoon), and a bit sugar/sweetener (1 teaspoon). I also added 1 tablespoons of water.

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I did not use much sugar because the Chinese bacon was already sweet. If you are cooking this dish with non-flavored meat, make sure you double the amount of the sugar/sweetener. Now give everything a quick mix and cover for another 5 minutes.

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When the bamboo shoots turns brown, it is time to open the lid and give the whole thing another stir. There should not be much liquid left at this point. If there is, do not panic. Just turn up the heat to reduce the liquid. Salt to taste (I did not add any salt because the Chinese bacon was already salty).

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And here it is! It is great with steamed rice.

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Enjoy!

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Finally, Painted

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13 months after moving into our house, our living space is finally painted!!!

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Our walls and ceiling were all “white” to begin with, but the old paint reads very yellow in all the rooms and just feels outdated. The Extra White we chose is the true white color in SW. It reads a bit cool but not sterile, and brings a bit of modern feel into this old house.

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All the walls got Sherwin-Williams Extra White in Eggshell, and all the ceilings went for the same color in flat.

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We used Behr Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss on all the trims and doors throughout the main floor. Although both being white, the different sheens made the trims really pop next to the walls.

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The bedroom feels bigger with the crisp white paint:

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We painted inside the closet a lovely pink (Behr Pale Bud). I think it looks great with the bright white trims and soft grey curtains.

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Our walls were textured and it took Slav several weeks to smooth all the walls with joint compound as well as patch nail holes. Needless to say that this process produced lots of dust. It feels so good to have the house dust-free again and all the furniture uncovered.

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The puppies are more than pleased to have their favorite spots back.

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We decided at the last minute to upgrade all the wallplates, light switches, and receptacles. Not only the old ones have yellowed overtime, they were also covered with layers of paint. The screwless ones bring this house to 21 century.

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We replaced the old and dingy air duct covers shortly after we moved in. Now with freshly painted walls and new wall plate, our place feels so so upgraded.

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We used the last bit of wall paint in our kitchen. After removing some upper cabinets, we lived with a cabinet-shape yellow portion of unfinished drywall. A quick layer of white paint got rid of a major eyesore:

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And all the receptacles in the kitchen were upgraded as well:

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It feels so nice to be able to look around and see crisp white everywhere.

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Getting the place painted made a huge difference on how the main floor feels. It is a lot brighter and feels clean. Now it is finally time for flowers and art!

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Next week is our wedding anniversary and it is a big relief to finish painting before the big day. We have several fun activities lined up and I will be sure to come back to report! But first, we kick back in our bright and fresh living space, and enjoy some cut flowers and herb drinks from our own garden. Happy summer!

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