i had a hankering for tea eggs so i went to market basket to pick up a dozen. originally i thought about biking down there, but i get more exercise by walking, and i didn't want to get salt water on the bike and not have any easy way to clean it. i think by next week things will be better for biking. i haven't biked for over a month now, which coincided with my weight gain. when i was in china i was around 135 lbs; now i'm 151 lbs, a gain of more than 15 lbs. i need all that exercise i'd get from biking to keep my weight down.

with a small snowstorm scheduled for this evening, i didn't know what to expect at the supermarket; but surprisingly, it wasn't very crowded. people are probably all snowed out by this point; if we can't measure the snowfall in feet, then it's not worth getting into a panic over. at the checkout counter, i saw a woman whom i thought might be tibetan. she and her adult son were speaking in a language i couldn't identify. so i finally asked him, and he told me they're nepalese. i asked if it was similar to tibetan, he said there are similarities, but for the most part they're different. they seemed tibetan because of them were wearing these thick golden nugget earrings.

back at home, i consulted 4 different online recipes (1 2 3 4) and even called my mother. each one had a different take on how to make proper chinese tea eggs. i made tea eggs before, back in september 2012. i used a slow cooker and cooked the eggs for 24 hours. one thing i learned was slow cooking didn't really improve the flavor; in fact, cooking the eggs for such a long time made them expand and not that great to eat. simple steeping was just as effective. this time around, i'm going with the easier approach.

i started by boiling the 15 eggs (3 leftovers plus a dozen new) in cold water with a tsp of salt. once it began boiling, i left it boiling for a few minutes (i remember my mother telling me not to cook them too long) before taking out the eggs. i rinsed them off with cold tap water and began cracking the shells to get that distinctive tea egg marbling effect.

while i was cracking the eggs, i reboiled the water, this time with the 2 tea egg packets (purchased from chinatown a few years ago, one bag filled with tea, second bag filled with spices), some old sichuan peppercorn (about a tbsp) and a tsp of salt. once the eggs were all cracked, i put them back into the pot and let everything simmer for 3 hours. sometime during the simmering i added another tsp of salt (my notes from last time said the eggs weren't salty enough). afterwards i turned off the stove and let the eggs steep overnight.

XL contacted me in the afternoon via QQ from venezuela. i knew it was her, because all my other former chinese coworker friends would be asleep at that time. we are the only two people on the same time zone. i got some more details about her life in puerto la cruz. she doesn't have a kitchen in her hotel room and says they are not allowed to cook anyway (something about increasing the humidity). a maid comes to her room every day and cleans it. for lunch and dinner they have a chinese chef who cooks for them, as well as on the weekend (sunday). the only time they get to experience local cuisine is in the morning when they have breakfast at the hotel. she said she already misses china even though it hasn't even been a week yet. meat (beef) is really cheap there, but vegetables and fruits are expensive. twice a week, after dinner, they have a spanish language class for the 10 new employees. so far they've learned "hola" and "adiós". she wants to learn how to swim in the hotel pool and even bought a life preserver ring, although the only time is after work, and the pool gets too cold for her. having lived inland all her life, she said she's afraid of the sea. i sent her some photos of my tea egg preparations. i told her to take some photos of her food.

it seemed daunting, but i managed to empty out 2 shelves in my hallway closet to accomodate my grow house. now there are boxes all over the rest of the house. living in a small apartment, i can't afford to be a hoarder. i took my first step to reducing my overall clutter by tossing out a broken umbrella. i bought it in japan back in 2005, and i finally replaced it 2 years ago when i discovered not only was one of the spines broken (technically could be fixed) but there were holes in the fabric near some of the joints. i only kept the umbrella for sentimental seasons, but it had to go. it was a great umbrella, super light and portable, they really know how to design good umbrellas in japan (although like all things, the umbrella itself was made in china). i plan on tossing out something everyday.

for dinner, i heated up a can of campbell chicken rice soup. this was the perfect opportunity to add a handful of frozen spinach to make it somewhat healthier. the spinach can get a little slimy, next time i'll try adding some kale instead. maybe next week i'll make my own soup.

in the late evening i moved the fluorescent shop lights into the closet and turned them on to check they were all okay. i'd like to upgrade to LED, but i'm still not sure if LED's give me the same amount of lumens for less wattage. i also tossed out some more empty boxes. maybe one of these days i can declutter my basement and hopefully set up a grow station down there instead.