Sesame Orange Cookies – a TCM-inspired recipe

As part of our herbal medicine education, we are asked to do a class project each term and the most common one chosen is to cook or bake something using some of the herbs we have learned. Here’s a simple cookie recipe using food-grade herbs.

Sesame Orange Cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp aged satsuma peel, chopped fine*
  • 3/4 cup black sesame seeds, ground*
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamon

*Organic is best. I used Hunza organic black sesame seeds and dried my own organic satsuma peels in the oven on low temperature.

Directions: In medium/small bowl, melt butter then stir in sugar. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients except flour. Add butter and sugar mixture to large bowl. Add egg and vanilla extract. Now, half cup at a time, slowly stir in flour. Once all ingredients are blended, hand roll small balls of dough and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8 min or until bottom is lightly browned.

Adjustments: In future I would add additional Chen Pi at the end when rolling cookie balls to ensure every cookie has some peel. Maybe add in a tsp fresh tangerine juice or zest as well.


Herbs included:

Black Sesame Seeds (Pinyin: Hei Zhi Ma) – Tonify Yin (sweet, neutral)

  • Tonifies Liver and Kidneys, nourishes yin and blood, lubricates intestines
  • Lightly slows aging signs (graying hair, wrinkles, dry skin), aids constipation

Aged Tangerine Peel (Pinyin: Chen Pi) – Regulate Qi (spicy, bitter, warm, aromatic)

  • Promotes the flow of qi, dries damp and transforms phlegm, helps prevent stagnation
  • Aids digestion

Cardamon (Pinyin: Sha Ren) – Aromatic to Transform Damp (spicy, warm, aromatic)

  • Promotes movement of qi, transforms dampness, and strengthens SP
  • Aids digestion
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Letter to Myself

I’m on break between finishing Term 2 and starting Term 3 so it’s spring cleaning time. I’m organizing all my papers and filing, etc. It’s actually a really nice thing to do today, despite the beautiful weather outside.

In the process of cleaning out my filing cabinet and reorganizing, I found the letter I wrote to myself when I first realized I had to change my life on that birthday trip to Sea Ranch in 2011. I had a hard conversation with my family and there were tears. Afterward, Lia handed me a piece of paper, titled it IT’S OKAY. and told me to write whatever I needed to sustain me through this mess. It is the most badass letter ever. I love it. I had no idea I still needed it. Thanks, past self. You always know what to say.

I can’t put all of it here, but this part I was particularly stunned by:

The world changes. People you love make mistakes, but they will always love you. Love them. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Fail. Fail a lot. No, seriously, you don’t know failure. Find out what it is. Seek it out. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid or not talented. You are smart, but not about everything. Live a little. Make that list. The one at the top. And ask for help. Stop procrastinating and make the next thing happen, whatever it is. Because you are worth it and it is time.

A year later, I started school. And I am so much happier. So much more myself now.


I am very late to this party, but I just saw the video of Joss Whedon accepting his Equality Now award in 2006 (I wrote my thesis on Buffy and other modern feminism/postfeminist topics post-Girl Power in 2005). And this. This. This. This is my answer to why we need feminism.

So… why do you write these strong women characters?
Because equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it.
We need equality. Kinda now.

Video (YouTube) and Film•Ick (transcript).

Joss Whedon Love: Equality Now Speech

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Things I’ve learned about short hair (at 4 weeks)

I got my hair cut from super long to a pixie four weeks ago today. Here’s what I’ve learned so far (photos above from Home showing 2):

1. Pro: For the first week and a bit I thought I had to wash it every day to avoid looking like a matted sewer rat. Now I’ve learned that a little water and a little less styling wax than I use on clean hair works for a slightly less coifed bedhead-y look. At worst, I can jump in the shower just to get my hair wet again (no shampoo required) and restyle from there. Hooray for sleeping in!

2. Pro: As a side effect of the above, I haven’t touched a blowdryer since….two weeks ago?

3. Pro: The cheap wax I’ve had since college (called Hairgum) works better than the expensive stuff (by Davines) I splurged on. It makes my hair look shinier, smells less like I have hair product on, and is less stiff so running my fingers through my hair isn’t as tacky (though the other one really isn’t bad either). Continue reading

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And for my last trick…

Time for a pixie cut!

I had one last thing I wanted to change this year, but I purposely made myself wait on it to space out the transformation. Everything else changed seemingly at once. I wanted to make sure I REALLY wanted this and it wasn’t a reaction I would regret.

So I was chomping at the bit by the time I got to the salon last Friday (Nov 2nd). I had been so fed up with my long hair – realized I rarely wore it down, it thwacked me in the face even when it was supposedly tied up and out of the way in dance, it took forever to dry – and was so excited to try something new. I ended up donating 15 inches (of beautifully cared for and healthy hair, I might add) to Locks of Love and getting something even better than what I had mind. I was open during the process to seeing what my hair did and taking the advice of my awesome stylist. And of course, I couldn’t really picture what it was going to look like. I could only hope it would be something like the mishmash of ideas I’d gleaned from the inspiration images I gathered (and walked my stylist through in our consultation the week before).

Here’s what I was going for: a little Emma Watson, a little Audrey Hepburn. Definitely something around the ears (ear curls?), simple bangs that could be spiky and piecey or swept aside less noticeably, and really short at the back.

Rosa tied my hair into two braids so we could donate the maximum length (and leave the smallest amount on the floor). Here’s the chop:

And here’s the new cut!

Continue reading

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Twitterstorm Thoughts

A Feminist in the Kitchen:

i don’t think there’s a singular voice that can or should speak for all of feminism. all of these voices are, whether we like it or not, the voices of women.

Catching up on the Caitlin Moran Twitterstorm and the Tumblr post referenced above seems to capture my take best. I LOVED Caitlin Moran’s book. I honestly didn’t think about whether it spoke to all aspects of feminism evar because I picked it up for its humor. It is at heart an autobiography/memoir. And it has some lovely, very true things in it that may make some people embrace feminism who might otherwise have been scared away by it. Big applause for that. I’m glad it’s become a bestseller because that’s a great book for people to see, hear an excerpt of, etc. It gets those thoughts in the culture.

I’m a non-white woman. I identify as a woman first, and a person of color second. It’s not something I think about every single day and I like it that way. But it’s absolutely a fact that’s shoved in my face every day and as someone who believes in teaching media literacy and having wide representation in our media I am slightly bothered by the fact that Lena Dunham’s show doesn’t have any realistic representation of women in color in it. Especially to represent post-college women in New York in this day and age. But at the same time, I’d be very, very suspect of the show if it had one non-white woman just to make it more representational (psst we can tell when they do that). It’s telling a story well as is. Of course wider representation COULD make it better, but it wouldn’t be a solution in and of itself. Picking one show or one book to harp on isn’t the solution. It should be a swell of stories from different angles and multiple voices. Anything else would be false and phony and wouldn’t make us any happier.

I retweeted a video a few weeks ago about what Mindy Kaling’s show means to Indians in America. The show is also great (I’m definitely going to keep watching it) but it’s not perfect. I couldn’t ask for it to be (though I might hope otherwise). But it’s funny and it’s on a network. Seriously, I’ll take it. And hope that opens the door a little more and then a little more to more voices and actors and writers and producers from different backgrounds and who bring something else to the table.

I do think Caitlin should have expressed her opinion a little more eloquently, but that’s the hazard of Twitter and being known for snappy one-liners. She should (when she feels sincere about it) own up to coming across as dismissive and say more about her opinion (especially as a pop culture journalist) or she’ll be remembered by a lot of potential supporters as something I don’t think she is. And that would be a shame.

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Sleep No More

When I was in New York in late August (just before I started school), I was lucky enough to attend Sleep No More with Emily, who had been before. So I had enough of a guide to tell me what I needed to know to make my experience a complete one:

A 1930s hotel. You must not take anything inside. You must not speak. You must wear your mask. You have three hours. And while you may be frightened on occasion, nothing will jump out at you.

Inside: Shakespeare’s Macbeth meets Hitchcock’s Rebecca and it’s all told through dance (did someone put together a show based on my favorite things?). What follows is a theatrical experience unlike any other because it is fully what you make of it. If you are not sprinting down the stairs in pursuit of a character, you are in my way. I’m still having vivid dreams about this “show.” Like so many others, I long to return to Manderley.

Get in the mood, loves. This is a long one. (So long, I’ve had to break it up into two posts. Part II coming soon)

Someone compiled the soundtrack

I may not have been able to take anything in (there’s a $3 coat/bag check), but here’s what I came out with.

Sleep No More Artifacts

Artifacts from Sleep No More (Bible verse of salt, Aces card, McKittrick Hotel business card, audience mask) August 25, 2012

WARNING: Spoilers follow!

Continue reading

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Best Year of My Life

It’s been a long, weird year. Lots of tears, lots of change. But I think that I can say now, on the eve of my 29th birthday, that in a very strange way it has been the best year so far because it’s been a year of control and positive change.

I acknowledged that there was a problem

This is where I was a year ago. We went to Sea Ranch on my birthday in order to celebrate mine and my mom’s (the 3rd). While we were up there, I confessed to my family that I felt stuck and ready for a new challenge. I wasn’t sure what it would be yet, but I knew I wasn’t learning anything anymore and didn’t feel my work was as meaningful as it could be. I would eventually figure out why and identify what aspects did make me happy. But so much of the struggle was feeling that there wasn’t anything wrong with my life other than that I wasn’t happy in it. I was working with smart, creative people doing work that mattered. But it still wasn’t enough.

For years, I had taken for granted that I would go to business school after a few years of working. 3 years quickly became 5+ years and something was holding me back from applying. I finally realized it just didn’t feel right. That’s the first step, though. Just acknowledging that something isn’t working.

Continue reading



After class on Monday a girl who has more performance experience than I do returned a comment of mine with “Thanks! I was jealous of your pirouettes. Sometimes you were just floating.”


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Turns and the Basic Spot

Watching old dance videos with my family there’s a pattern we notice. First, Shawna’s always in her corner (back, stage left). And rarely on camera. But on the rare occasion the camera does catch me, it’s usually followed by me doing a turn. And as though the camera man also couldn’t bear the sight of my off-kilter flailing, there’s a quick pan to some other area of the stage. Aw, Shawna just can’t turn. But that’s ok.

Doing the contemporary style I’ve become most comfortable and happy in now, the turns are different. Gooey, so staying on your leg doesn’t necessarily apply. You’re leaning, using the momentum and falling out of it, not even able to spot because you’re watching your arm or contracting and focusing on the floor. Thing is, in order to consider myself a good dancer I should be able to do something basic like, say, use my core and stay on my leg. Because when pirouettes do make an appearance, that’s kind of key.

Today in class, we did the dreaded cross-out-in-cross-out-down-turn. Those regular across the floors of my childhood. But something was different today. Today Jenni gave me a simple note – she noticed I’m waiting too long to turn my head and therefore, while I’m spotting, I’m killing the momentum and off from where my body is going as we carve around the inside of that imaginary PVC pipe. Loosening my head atop my neck, I tried again. And suddenly, it was so much easier.

There’s still work I need to do, but it’s amazing how much a simple note can cause a giant leap forward. I know one of the main issues I’m having and can feel the difference when it’s addressed. Imagine if that note got to me in high school?

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