Cockroaches and a Stink Egg

This week started with a cockroach.

These sneaky things come in through the drains from time to time. Thankfully our cats, being Taiwanese, are expert cockroach hunters. Poor thing didn’t stand a chance. It really tired them both out as the rest of the day they spent like this:

We were also quite tired Monday morning as Saturday night we decided to take the car for a mini road trip. We drove an hour out of Taipei to Wulai.

The drive to Wulai is very scenic. It amazed me how quickly the city ended and the country hills began. Our car handled the twisting and turning road really well making for a comfortable ride.

We got to Wulai around 6.30pm and headed down to the natural hot pools just as the sun was setting. I took these photos of us swimming in the river just before we made our way to the hot pools (which are incredibly hot). You can spot Luke in there.

After we dried off we made our way over to the lights which turned out to be a little night market. It was slightly more touristy than the ones near us in Taipei city but we were hungry and were able to find a few tasty things to nibble on.

We tried some of the rice cooked inside bamboo from this stand.

And a preserved egg from this stand:

I couldn’t bring myself to try one of these gnarly looking things that Taiwan is well-known for. Luke did though. You’ll see from the photos that he probably won’t be eating any more.

Stink egg.

I hope you all have a good week. We’ve got Typhoon Saola on it’s way and things are getting wet and windy around here…

The Weekend Is Here…Finally

This has probably been one of the busiest weeks we’ve had since we’ve been in Taipei.

We had mid-terms exams, so there was lots of study going on.

I had an MRI on my dodgy knee and found out that I will need to have surgery on it next month.

I took Goose to the vet for the first time to her vaccinations.

We ate Indian food (in Taipei!).

I made whole coffee cake (and we managed to eat it all in one day).

And finally, we exchanged this:

For this:

It’s perfect weather out today so we’re off to explore in our little Yaris. We’re keen to find some hot pools to relax in after our busy week.

A Big Night Out

Saturday night was our friend’s birthday so a group of us went out to a fancy pants restaurant to celebrate. We had an awesome table complete with a view of 101.

The food was awesome and beautifully presented.

After dinner we went upstairs to the newly opened roof top bar for drinks.

It was magical being outside on a warm night in Taipei looking out on the city lights and towering 101.

After a few drinks we all got a little giggly, especially the Bday boy.

So we decided it was time to hit up a dance floor. We initially wanted to go to ‘Myst’ but the line was ridiculous so we tried another club.

We waited about ten minutes to get in them found out there was a hefty $1000 NT cover charge. There was no turning back though so we paid, we drank, and we danced into the wee hours.

It was a really fun night and great glimpse into Taipei’s nightlife but we certainly all paid for it on Sunday…

My Grandma Is Not Like Other Grandmas

Happy 91st Birthday Grandma!!!

Over the years you have provided us with so much entertainment. Your enthusiasm for life never ceases to amaze me. I can’t begin to describe all of the good times we have had together. So instead here are a few photos that I think capture what a kick a** grandma you are!

This last one is my personal favorite as it represents a typical scene (knife and all!) between Grandma and her amazing daughter, my Mom.

I love you Grandma! I hope your day is filled with baby dolls, pinatas, and whiskey!

Love, Mel

Ice Monster

It was a smoking hot week. Tuesday was the hottest pulling in at 100 degrees F (38 C). But it feels even hotter thanks to the intense humidity we get here.

To cool off we decided to make a trip to the famed Ice Monster after our classes. Ice Monster has a reputation for making some pretty awesome shaved ice (a famous Taiwanese dessert).

There is only one Ice Monster in Taipei so there is always a line. We went at around 3pm thinking we would beat the work crowd. But we were wrong and ended up having to wait about 25 minutes. Not fun in the heat.

Thankfully there was some entertainment in the form of these awesome early 90’s advertisements for the store selling suits next door (a la Zack Morris). I think these guys just made a big business deal: 

And these guys in the middle of a cut-throat negotiation:

As we got closer the Ice Monster staff provided us with a menu to remind us why we were subjecting ourselves to this pain.

When we finally got near the front of the line, they took our orders and we paid.

This was great as shortly after we were seated we were presented with these delicious monstrosities. Yum. Well worth the wait.

After a sweaty MRT ride home we came in and found the cats like this.

They were obviously very well-behaved while we were away so I decided to let them have some supervised deck time as a treat. Cats go wild for sun warmed tiles.

At the end of this long, hot day we all did this.

Lovely Lemons

Lemons are one of my favorite fruits. I like lemons in water, with green tea, squeezed over a big salad, and my favorite – baked with a piece of fish.

Recently I have been experimenting with using lemons in baking. Over the weekend I trialled a lemon cookie recipe and they turned out to be scrumptious so I thought I would share it.

Lovely Lemon Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (I threw them in my blender)
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg until well blended. Add lemon juice and peel.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Add almonds.
  4. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
  5. Roll into 1-in. balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned (cookies will not brown on top).
  7. Remove immediately and transfer cookies to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes
  8. Roll in powdered sugar and enjoy!

A Quiet One

We’ve had a fairly quiet weekend over here. We kicked off our weekend with a monster beer and fries.

The brewery actually had larger sizes but we didn’t want to get too silly.

The rest of our weekend has been pretty low-key. We’ve been hanging with the cats, getting to know Goose a bit better.

One thing we’ve certainly noticed is that she is really into the computer. She especially likes watching Hot Chip music videos

and The Matrix

Fern has also been getting to know Goose better.

There’s still a lot of full on brawls but mixed in with these cat fights are nice scenes like these:

Besides playing with cats I also managed to make a trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things and spotted these gnarly looking things:

I know they are considered a sort of delicacy but I just wouldn’t ever be able to bring myself to do it. It’s the thought of their nails they have been scratching with and all the little bones…uuuuhhhh

To contrast those feet here is a photo of the beautiful sunsets we have been seeing lately.

This scene is from the patio off our kitchen so it’s nice cooking dinner with a view like this.

Deputy Secretary Goose

Meet Goose.

Goose is a 2 month old kitten we adopted from the SPCA. She’s teeny tiny.

And super cute pretty much when she does anything.

Fern wasn’t so big on the idea of this little ball of fluff at first but now she’s starting to come round.

Each day  they have been getting a little bit closer to one another.

Fern’s a little more relaxed.

And they’ve even started playing together.

Although most of the time they play like this (Typically with Goose in a headlock).

There are nice moments when we hear nothing but big purrs coming from both of them.

Because Fern has been so awesome we have decided to promote her to ‘Chairwoman Fern’ and Goose will be her Deputy Secretary.

I’m certain they’ll be best friends in no time.

A Tasty Afternoon

Luke and I spent Saturday afternoon with two of our friends at  Jodies Kitchen. Jodie teaches Taiwanese cooking classes in her home not far from Taipei 101. The course we went on was four hours long and covered the basics of Taiwanese cooking. The class was excellent and Jodie provided us with a lot of information on what Taiwanese eat, how they eat it, why they eat it, and most importantly, how to buy and prepare it.

There are traditional markets all over Taipei but coming from the West we find the markets intimidating as we are used to shopping in supermarkets with set prices and clear signage. So Jodie explained why it is better to shop at the markets and most importantly when. Over the course of four hours Jodie demonstrated how to make about 7 different things. Despite not us not cooking, the class was very interactive as she allowed us ask so many questions and of course we got to eat everything she made. Delicious. Here’s a taste of our afternoon:

We learned how to make soybean milk (a staple of my diet).

A number of different sauces and oils which we sampled on various vegetables.

A delicious spicy and sour soup.

More sauces and vegetables

Traditional Taiwanese tea making

A sweet and spicy pineapple dessert

We had a great time with Jodie. She was one hip chick and taught us so much.

We’re armed and ready to start cooking as the Taiwanese do.