5.24.2020

Life in Quarantine 隔离

Inside the Safeway
It's like the Eastern Bloc
People have a way of getting crazy
When they think they'll be dead in a month
- Benjamin Gibbard

Jane Dough rises to the occasion
It’s 6:15 am. It’s early. Too early. I should close my eyes and join birdMAN and Dumpling in their blissful slumber. But then again, perhaps I woke up precisely on time.

Downstairs, atop of Moomoo’s quartzite countertop is a bowl of rising sourdough. Last night, I mixed together sourdough starter, flour, milk, sugar, butter, and an egg to form a dense round of dough. Throughout the night, the yeast from the sourdough starter converted the sugars to ethanol and carbon dioxide, and the bacteria converted the ethanol into lactic acids. As our house settled into stillness, the yeast toiled on in hungry earnestness.

Yes, this is how I do. Waiting for the sourdough starter to become active. Waiting for the precise right moment to make dough. Waiting for the exact precise moment to preheat the oven. The precise right moment to pop that fermenting clump of dough in the oven. Anticipating a glorious bake. Gleefully cutting into a crunchy crust to reveal a hole-laden crumb.

After all, I've got all the time in the world with no end in sight. It’s a quarantine life for us.

As of March 19, the State of California enacted a shelter in place order. Basically, the State requires people to limit contact with others outside their household. Malls, parks, and schools are closed. Restaurants echo empty aside from a few kitchen staff preparing takeout orders. An exciting outing is a trip to the grocery store where shoppers don face masks and maintain a distance six feet from others. After all, asymptomatic carriers could be anyone. Wedding guests and funeral attendees, tied together virtually via Zoom, rejoice and mourn at home. Even though the State has allowed some businesses to open, life is far from normal. Everyone is beginning to forget what pre-pandemic life was like.


Without IG I would never have
 known about these nestlings 
So...what about you?

Maybe you are embarking on long neglected house chores and contacting friends that you haven't talked to in years. You are reading some thick books and knitting anything imaginable from potholders to earmuffs. You have binge watched Seinfeld and watched all four hours of Lawrence of Arabia in one sitting. You can't buy instant yeast and you've got the time, so you have jumped on the sourdough baking bandwagon. You spend way too much time on Instagram watching what other people are doing under quarantine. Online workouts. Baking extravaganzas. Homemade pasta. Zoom meetings. Cupboard organization. Home renovation. Planting a vegetable garden. Installing a video camera to watch eggs hatch out of a nest that an industrious bird built in above your front door.

That reminds me, time to check Instagram. Anyone post anything during the last seven hours while I slept? Did the hatching birds hop out of their nest yet? Oh yes, I remember, it's time to wake up.


Time to roll that risen dough flat, layer on the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, roll it back up, and slice it to reveal a decadent spiral of dough and sweet. Let it rise and let it bake. That’s right, I am talking cinnamon rolls. Get up now, and we can eat by 9 am.

Chinese Word of the Blog: 隔离 Gélí
English Translation: quarantine

Quara-buns make your buns grow

Land of the rising dough

Cheese improves everything

Moomoo's dutch oven is a sourdough baker's dream

Quarantine run keeps us from going quara-bonkers

Just Zooming around





5.04.2020

Go West 向西去

Sun in winter time
(Go west) We will do just fine
(Go west) Where the skies are blue
(Go west) This and more we'll do
- Pet Shop Boys



In another turn of events...we are back at Moomoo’s eating gourmet dinners and enjoying California sunshine. Yes, things are comfortable as comfortable does (under quarantine) in sunny California.

We decided to leave South Korea for these reasons:

  1. Dumpling: Living in a tiny apartment with no one to see and nowhere to go made both Dumpling and me stir crazy. Dumpling watched enough Frozen II for two lifetimes and the days felt long. When it was chilly, we happily spent buckets on Caffè Americanos and bagels in fancy coffee shops. When the weather was nice, we ran around the playground and tried out new restaurants. Even though coffee and playgrounds are very nice, we all longed for a place to set down roots (Beijing or California would have been both OK).
  2.  China Said "Stay Out": China closed its borders to all foreigners entering from outside of China. We couldn't -- and still can’t -- go back there.  
  3. School Went Online: The original plan for birdMAN to teach students face-to-face in a physical classroom never happened. Just as we arrived, South Korea implemented several virus control measures, which included delaying the start of the school semester. birdMAN’s school soon went entirely online. Students returning to the classroom became more and more improbable. Meanwhile, one-by-one birdMAN’s fellow teachers went back to their home countries to quarantine with family and teach online. Quarantining with family, after all, is better than living isolated in a foreign country where you can't speak or read the language. We thought the same thing.
After throwing around the idea of going back to California for a couple weeks and eating as much kimbap (Korean sushi rolls) as possible, we ultimately decided to say annyeonghi gyeseyo (안녕히 계세요) to South Korea. Instead of heading to the East, our home of eight years, we headed to the West, to the land of our birth [1].

So here we are in sunny California waiting out coronavirus. Waiting for California's shelter-in-place order to be lifted. Waiting for Gap to ship California weather appropriate clothes that I ordered three weeks ago. Waiting for China to take us back. 

Seriously though, waiting is a pretty sweet deal when Moomoo is cooking. I've almost--just almost--have forgotten about the kimbap.

Chinese Phrase of the Blog: 向西走 (Xiàng xī zǒu literally, toward west go)
English Translation: Go west

[1] Asia lies in the Eastern Hemisphere, and North America is in the Western Hemisphere.

More kimbap please!
$4 Americano worth every penny
Foodie in training
Coronavirus can't stop the us from playing
This nearly empty flight was the most comfortable flight ever
Quarantining in style
All my shorts are in Beijing. Hurry up Gap and send me some shorts! It's hot here!
Moomoo's cooking makes quarantine life pretty nice