Chris’s Halloween “tradition”

Chris and I have stopped dressing up, but given that we have Halloween trick-or-treat sign ups, we have participated in this every year where we allow trick-or-treaters to ring our doorbell to ask for candy from us. This has become a tradition since moving into this building. The other tradition that Chris personally has is that of the assorted candy bag we buy, whether it’s from Costco or Target, he will pre-pick out all his favorites (Kit Kats, usually, or peanut M&Ms) and set them aside… for himself. It’s as though they never existed for the children. And what do the children know — they have no idea what our assortment was like!

I’m not fully in favor of this approach, but I figure that if there are only seven or eight Kit Kats in an entire 15-pound bag of candy, then it’s not the end of the world. We’re not really being selfish. And this year, we actually received far more trick-or-treaters than we normally get, so it was even more fun to see all the little kids dress up (even grown adults trying to get free candy).

Autumn chill

The chill is really setting in today. Winter is around the corner, and autumn is steadily warning us about this with the temperatures that continue to creep down on us, along with what felt like a very sudden change in the colors of the leaves today. Even along our street, I noticed that all the leaves had changed colors, ranging from burnt orange to greenish-yellow. Autumn sweeps over the city and it feels as though yesterday was never summer.

I also felt the impending dread of Daylight Savings Time ending. I hate the darkness at 4pm each day when I’m at the office and all the street lights are already on. I hate not being able to see light outside my window at a time that is supposed to be late afternoon. I just want warmth and light. I had that in Florida the last two days, probably more of it than I’d wanted given how humid and muggy it was, but it felt so much better than today in New York.

Work travel salads

The default food I end up eating on work trips is salads: they tend to be relatively healthy, not too expensive, and they don’t make a mess. They also don’t take too much time to eat. When I’m in Boston or other major cities, I usually look for a Sweetgreen because I know what to expect, and I know that the ingredients will always be fresh. When I’m in cities I am less familiar like Orlando, I will just default to a nearby salad spot or the hotel restaurant. Today, I had a grilled shrimp pumpkin seed salad for lunch, and it was massive and filling.

Work travel can invite the temptation to eat poorly, to eat less fresh fruits and vegetables, and to eat quick fast food that is usually greasy, fried, and just bad for you. Salads can help balance this out (assuming you don’t pick a salad with fried chicken or “popcorn shrimp”).

Laotian food in Orlando

Oftentimes when people think about Orlando, they don’t normally think about good food. They think about tourists, the different theme parks ranging from Disney World to Universal Studios to Seaworld or Aquatica. And with that comes the dreaded thought of overpriced theme park food that is either too bland, too salty, and too expensive.

Having come here a number of times for work travel, I realize that Orlando actually has quite a number of good food options as long as you are open to spending a little time to research. Cuban food is quite plentiful and popular here. A handful of delicious “New American” type restaurants are sprinkled throughout the city, in downtown and outside. And funnily enough, this trip, when looking at restaurants within a close radius of my hotel in downtown Orlando, I even found a Laotian restaurant. I don’t believe I’ve ever been to an actual Laotian restaurant before. I had this delicious crispy sticky rice with pork served in lettuce wraps, as well as a dry spicy beef noodle dish that was quite fishy and fermented. The restaurant decor was quite attractive, too, with an entire wall painted to depict gorgeous elephants and even some random dragons.

If you look, you will find it. I certainly did. And as I ate my dinner, more and more diners came in to fill up all the seats in this casual eatery.

Cooking video editing vs. travel video editing

I edited and uploaded my 14th video to my YouTube channel tonight. This one was about my 5-minute Instant Pot Indian chicken curry, and after spending the last three videos working on travel in Newfoundland & Labrador, I realized that this one was far less fun, with less things to be creative about. Granted, the areas where cooking videos can get creative are when you are speeding up long tasks, slowing down others, etc., but with the Instant Pot-themed video, there really aren’t that many opportunities to do that. So even though I was satisfied with what I’d created in the end, I was feeling lukewarm about it and not very excited.

This is probably just the ebbs and flows of video editing different content. You’ll love some, like others, and hate the remaining. It’s just a work in progress to see what works and what doesn’t.

Food Film Fest

Tonight, we went with some friends to the annual New York City Food Film Fest, a festival where while you watch films about food, you also get served the food that you see on the big screen. While I liked some of the short films more than others, I will say that you certainly get what you pay for, as there is certainly no shortage of food or drink (alcoholic and not!). Without even realizing it, I feel like I’d only had a few small bites (it’s all small bites, for that matter), and immediately started getting much fuller much faster than I had anticipated. Some of the food was inevitably cold, which was a bit frustrating, but other food, such as the ribs, were actually decent at room-temperature. It’s hard to make good food at scale that is also hot.

While I enjoyed the experience, I’ll be honest and say that I am probably not in a rush to go back. We subsequently found out that a number of these films were on YouTube, and a few of them were quite passable to me.

Jerk chicken seasoning

I’ve always wondered about all the different chicken seasonings that exist out there, and one of the ones I’ve always been intrigued about, yet a little bit intimidated by, was jerk chicken. It seems weird that I would be intimidated by this given that my Indian and Middle Eastern spice collection would very likely cover a lot of spices needed for jerk chicken, but I’d always shied away from it. A colleague actually made her family’s version of jerk chicken for culture day yesterday, and she told me how simple her spice blend was — only about 6-8 ingredients, plus some fresh peppers, and that was it. Other than the specific chili pepper she mentioned, I pretty much had all of the spices already. Now, I need to add this to my list of things to make (and potentially film and add to my food channel, and call her out!).

Oven turn-on gone awry

For culture day, we either had to dress up in our culture’s dress, and/or bring in food that is from our culture. I brought in Vietnamese coconut cassava cake to share. Well, that almost never happened because last night when I was pre-heating the oven, I made a massive mistake and forgot to take out one plastic container that had fallen to the back of the oven, and a lot of plastic started burning and leaking.

Yes, I’m very Asian. I use my oven to store things, whether it’s baking pans, skillets, and even spare glass and plastic containers I use for storage. I’m usually very diligent about removing things from the oven, but this time, this single plastic container fell out of my roasting pan, and I totally missed it until I started smelling the burning smell. I was successfully able to remove the dripped plastic after it dried on the oven racks, but was unable to get it off in the undersides of the oven that I could not reach. So I asked for the handyman to come take care of it today. I hope they don’t hate me and think I’m really that careless. This has never happened before!

Spirit week

It’s been spirit week in our office this week, with a different theme every day. Monday was pajamas day, Tuesday was Hippie Day, today is celebrity day, tomorrow is culture day, and Friday is sports day. Today, I dressed up as Julia Child. Okay, that’s hard to do because she’s about a foot taller than me, is white, and also looks absolutely nothing like me, but I put on a collared button-up shirt as she normally wears under an apron, a strand of pearls (she usually wore a choker/pearl necklace in her cooking shows), and also brought a large wooden spoon to add to my apron pocket, also indicating I am a cook.

I never participated in Spirit Week in high school, but as an adult, it seems more fun for some reason, and I’ve taken more ownership over it. Plus, it’s just fun to see people dress up in ways they normally do not at work.

Visitors galore

Sometimes, I forget what it is like to work at a company headquarters where there is constantly a buzz, people coming in and out, constant new things happening. Being in a remote office usually means things are a bit quieter, conference rooms are easier to book, and we have more quiet periods to actually get things done. So it’s been a bit different this week to see so many visitors come in other offices. It’s as though the office as a new life to it in some way. Then, after the visitor rush is gone, we go back to the same quietness as is now normal for us.

It also means I need to use the phone booths more so I can get actual work done.