roasted carrots crumbled tofu stir fry huckleberry pie meatless meatballs


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birthday girl

NaBloWriMo day 25.

Short on time because I’d rather spend it with my grandma and aunt. It’s so warm here! And I don’t mean that to sound delighted or anything – I really really like my cold and snow back home. We went to a place that serves Shanghai-style dim sum this morning. It’s called, oddly enough: Shanghai Dim Sum in Cupertino. The big deal is the Chinese doughnut (called yo tiao) which is neither salty nor sweet – it’s just deliciously fried dough, and the do jian or soybean milk which we got in the savory version. Mmmmm. We also ordered some xiao lon tan bao or the soup dumplings. I love those too.


chinese doughnut and soybean milk soup

soup dumplings



I don’t get to indulge in Shanghai-style dim sum very often, certainly not in Colorado – like EVER – but this was Grandma’s birthday wish. It was her day! She saw the picture I posted of her yesterday and said she didn’t like it much at all. She complained that she looks old. I don’t think she looks anywhere close to 88, do you? I took some more pictures for her today.

grandma and my aunt elena



For dinner, we always take her to Chef Chu’s on her birthday. It’s not because it’s necessarily the best Chinese restaurant out there, but because my second cousin helps to run the business and she adores my grandma. In truth, everyone adores my grandma because she’s really thoughtful and nice to people, she’s got a good and wise head on her shoulders, and she’s so positive and full of spunk. And we always order the same dishes, because they are her favorites (again – birthday girl calls the shots for the day!): seafood sizzling rice soup (hai shian guo ba tan), lobster noodles (lon shia e mien), and hunan tofu. I know my pin ying sucks – Lisa even asked me about where I learned it (I didn’t, I just sound it out phonetically).

seafood sizzling rice soup

lobster noodles

hunan tofu



Fabulous dinner. Stellar company. I hope I get to celebrate many many more birthdays with Grandma. Thanks for all of the well-wishes! Grandma is aware of the blog, but she has no idea who you people are (except for my mom). Still, she’s a great sport about it all and she said to thank you :)

35 nibbles at “birthday girl”

  1. Li says:

    yo tiao with soybean milk…. aaahhhh. I haven’t had that for such a long time, I really miss it. And the seafood sizzling rice soup. i live in australia so it’s kind of hard to get this kind of food here. your photos make me miss home so much!

  2. Unplanned Cooking says:

    These pictures are making me drool!

  3. Kristin says:

    Your grandma did not look 88 in the first picture & she looks even younger in today’s picture! Glad you still have her around to love & enjoy.

  4. Blue says:

    Happy birthday to your grandma! She looks 20 years younger and is beautiful!
    Wish her all the good health and the best!

  5. Amy says:

    WOW! If you got a piece of that gene pool from Grandma, you are LUCKY INDEED!

  6. Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish says:

    Happy birthday to her! I love to see grandmas who have such bright, warm eyes and are so happy looking. Sounds like wonderful food to celebrate a wonderful person. Soup dumplings are one of my favorite celebratory foods. Yum!

  7. marianne says:

    Tell your grandma that I hope I look 20% as good as her when (if!) I get to be 88. Happy birthday to her! She sounds like an amazing person.

  8. Kathy says:

    Your Grandmother is a beautiful woman (who does not look her age). I am happy for you in that you are able to spend precious time with her. Your Aunt is also a very pretty woman. Enjoy your time with them, as I know you are!

  9. Fiona says:

    All of that looks amazing, esp. the hunan tofu at the end. And your Grandmother looks amazing, too! Not at all old.

  10. Rashmi says:

    Your gradma looks amazing…..doesnt look like 88 at all….just beautiful….Happy birthday to her…..and many more to come….

  11. April in CT says:

    Your grandmother is so beautiful! Here’s wishing her a fantastic birthday!! I hope to look even half that good at 88!

  12. Dragana says:

    So sweet and beautiful! You are so blessed to still have a grandmother.

  13. cindy says:

    your grandmother definitely does not look 88. what lovely ladies in your family!

  14. Sheryl says:

    Grandma is beautiful! Happy birthday to Grandma and enjoy your time with her!

  15. Allison says:

    I just drove by Shanghai Dim Sum the other day! I wondered if it is different from regular dim sum (at least regular in terms of what I am used to). If this is your grandma’s favorite place, it must be good! I’ll have to try it out.

  16. Abby says:

    My grandfather will be 87 in March. He’s hands-down my favorite person in the world. (And my little one thinks he’s awesome, too, which warms my heart!)

    Everything looks wonderful. What a great meal!

  17. Caitlin says:

    Wow, your grandma definitely doesn’t look her age! My last surviving grandparent is my 89 year old grandma, and your post makes me so glad I’m flying out to NY in a couple weeks to see her. Grandparents are awesome, aren’t they?

  18. SallyBR says:

    Your Grandma does not look more than 70 yo. She seems in fantastic shape, and with a nice spark in her eyes

    sheng ri kuai le!

    (my pinyin has got to be worse than yours!)

  19. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful ladies and beautiful food! Love your blog.

  20. Holly says:

    May I just say that if you got your grandmother’s genes in the LOOKS department, you are a LUCKY lady! She looks no where near 88! Please tell me she’s had some “work” done! LOL!!! Fantastic birthday lady!

  21. Shoshanna says:

    Your grandma is a gorgeous lady! :o) She does not look anywhere near 88 years old. A happy belated Bday to your grandma.

    I am quite impressed with your pinyin. Especially the fact that you are able to sound it out phonetically. I have problems with mine and I learned pinyin in school.

  22. Asianmommy says:

    Yum! The Dim Sum & the Chinese dinner look delicious! Happy Bday to Grandma!

  23. white on rice couple says:

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful Grandma! What a lovely lovely lady she is, and your auntie is a hottie! Oh wait, your Grandma is a hottie too!!!
    We’re totally licking the gorgeous hunan tofu dish on the computer screen! look at those chilies and the flavor just pops through!

  24. emhuze says:

    Your grandma is a young looking 88.. absolutely! You are so fortunate to have such a lovely grandma.

  25. peabody says:

    Holy yum on those lobster noodles!

  26. jie says:

    yay…grandma looks so vigorous。。Happy B-day to her and many happy years to come..xoxo

  27. florence says:

    hahaha, we call the soup dumplings xiao long baos in Singapore. they say, the more folds they have, the better! i love the way the soup makes the whole dumpling so moist and flavourful! :D

  28. Lisa is Bossy says:

    Gosh I’ve never heard of Shanghai Dim Sum – is it new? Sounds like Mike and I will have to go… he LOVES yiu tiao (I checked with him. That’s proper pin-yin. LOL!!!) And while we’ve had a couple not-so-great/this-seems-a-bit-American-Chinese-food experiences at Chef Chu… your pictures are making me wonder if we’ve just ordered the wrong things. I’m now willing to give them another chance!

    Jen, not to get all sappy or preachy on you but having just lost my auntie a few weeks ago at the beautiful age of 87, I can’t stress enough to ask, and love and learn and listen to grandma as much as she’ll tolerate. Record her voice. Take videos of her cooking. Ask her to hand write a recipe for you. My auntie, who was like a grandmother to me, was generous enough to hand write all of her Chinese dim sum recipes out for me. She wrote me an entire cookbook and it’s what I go to when I make dim sum (it was her recipe I followed when we did your potsticker challenge). I will absolutely cherish it always.

    Hugging grandma on her 88th birthday?…You’re a lucky woman. I know everyone has said it in your comments here – but it’s just the plain ole truth.

  29. Megan says:

    I keep reading that as “human tofu” and it makes me do a bit of a double-take every time. Glad to know you’re not actually being cannibalistic. :)

  30. Ruth says:

    G-d bless your grandmother with many many more years, she doesn’t look more that 65!!! she is gorgeous, her eyes are bright and beautiful!! you are a lucky girl!!! the food is simply fantastic as usual!!

  31. Collette says:

    Ooh, love soup dumplings. There’s a place here (Chicago) that makes them so well. In fact, we just slurped down an order on Saturday.

  32. Jordie says:

    is it true that real authentic chinese dumpling wrappers are not made using just flour?

  33. Ruth Ann says:

    Your grandmother looks so beautiful and seems much younger than 88 years old. It sounds like you had a lot of fun.
    I agree with “Lisa is Bossy”. Consider writing down your grandmother’s recipes and stories if you can. I recently made a cookbook with my husband’s grandmother’s recipes which were written in her own hand and then also typed by me. Pictures of his grandmother and her family were added and all of the cousins loved the book. It is a great keepsake of her.

  34. Mrs Ergül says:

    Your grandma is really lovable! Happy belated birthday to her! Without constant practice, I’m losing my footing in pin yin…

  35. jenyu says:

    Aww, thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes to my grandma! :) We had a totally mellow time, joking around, talking, remembering the days when I was a little kid… Can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to spend this time with her. And yeah – doesn’t she look so NOT 88?!? :) My mom’s family is blessed with fantastic genes and they are all beautiful, really truly.

    Sheryl – thank you, sweetie.

    Allison – it’s not necessarily her favorite, but it’s quite good as Shanghai dim sum goes. Although we did think the salty soy bean soup was a little too salty (we asked them to dilute with more plain soy bean milk – then it was perfect).

    Abby – how awesome!! Grandparents are very special people. So glad your little one bonds with him too.

    Caitlin – you betchya, babe :) I hope you have a great time wiht her.

    SallyBR – thanks! I actually have to google my pin yin sometimes!

    Holly – ha ha, that’s a compliment to be sure :) She’s never had any plastic surgery, but she stays out of the sun as much as possible. All of her daughters looks 20 years younger than they really are. It’s crazy!!

    WoRC – oh! I told my aunt what you guys said and she translated it to Grandma (I don’t know what “hottie” is in Chinese). Grandma got a big laugh out of that one! :) xxoo

    Lisa is Bossy – thanks, and I do cherish my moments with my grandma very much. I totally understand what you mean. As for Chef Chu’s – email me and I’ll tell you what to order next time you go :) Also – Shanghai Dim Sum is on 19066 Stevens Creek in Cupertino. Service is slow, fyi.

    Jordie – that, I don’t know. I make dumpling wrappers with just flour and water… but I’m not an expert :)

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