Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Visiting Family

While I was out and about in New Jersey, in the evening, I went visiting family.

This is my brother, David and his wife, Evelyn. 

Since I dropped by out of the blue, I caught David in the middle of cooking dinner.  And it was rather exciting to see him in action because I can’t remember the last time when that happened.

And then I remember that he’s always been the cooker, me the taster.  He would be able to remember the ingredients that Zen Mum would put into her meals, while I couldn’t retain a thing.

In our younger years, he would be in the kitchen while I was seated at the table, drooling and anxious to get eating.

I watched him make Lobster Bisque, which was quite tasty.

 Steamed fish (I forgot to ask what kind) with ginger and soy sauce.

Really tasty baked chicken, which he brined for eight hours.  I recall the ingredients being salt, sugar, water, herbs and other spices.  The brine made the chicken quite moist and flavorful.  Two thumbs up!

Roasted red potatoes, seasoned with olive oil, salt and other herbs. 

Steak, medium rare, and green bean casserole.  The recipe for the steak was inspired by a trip to Ruth Chris.  David made his own recipe and he said that it was pretty darn close.

If I were a beef-eater, I would have sampled because those were bold words.

 But what captivated me for most of the evening was this cake. 

Evelyn had baked what looked like vanilla cake with confetti sprinkles.  I sat next to it while I watched David cook dinner and the cake kept calling me.

Cake:  Sally…eat me…I am tasty…you know I am…

Me:  Damn you, Cake!  Stop looking at me!  Stop talking to me!  I have will-power.  I am a strong woman.

Cake:  You will be mine before this evening!

And who won?

Sally-in-the-Zen, of course!  (by the skin of my teeth).

But I have to confess, after the really tasty dinner, I had to book out promptly and I forgot to take a bite out of that thing.

David and Evelyn are cool, and they have a nifty side business going. 

And it involves CAKES.

To be continued.

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New and Untried

Going to new places and trying new things, especially food, is always a plus in my book.  I’m not above chain restaurants, most especially when I’ve never tasted their fares.

Try most things once, I always say.

So, continuing on my exciting adventure into the new and untried, while at Weehawken, NJ, I dined out with a couple of companions at Houlihan’s

I’ve had stuffed mushrooms and I’ve had stuffed mushrooms, but the ‘Shrooms


Description from their menu:  

Jumbo mushroom caps stuffed with herb and garlic cream cheese, coated in distinctly crunch panko bread crumbs and crisp-fried.  Served with creamy horseradish sauce.

My verdict:  O.  M.  G.

Seconds and thirds and fourths, please!

And the Fried Calamari?

CRUNCHY and quite tasty!

 My companions ordered tasty looking meals.  Like Scallops and Risotto.

Steak and Shrimp with Fries.

And for myself, the Grilled Rosemary Chicken.  Quite tasty!

The overall dining experience was really enjoyable.  Although the weather outside was freezing, inside the restaurant I was warm, munching good food and laughing with new companions.

What a lovely night.

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Glimpse of History

Here’s an interesting tidbit that I bet you didn’t know about Weehawken, New Jersey.  I surely didn’t!

According to Wikipedia, singer Kate Pierson of the B52’s is a resident in this city.

That’s cool!

But admittedly, its name alone consumed my thoughts.  What does it mean?

Well, glad you asked.

Weehawken (WEE-haw-ken) = rocks that look like trees.  Looked it up in Wikipedia.

What in the world did I ever do before Wikipedia?


Because I pondered quite a bit on the name, I started history browsing on Weehawken. 

Let me start off by saying that some time ago, I got bitten by a history bug.  Now history was never really an interest to me, but nowadays, I find that digging into it occasionally has been pretty satisfying.

Until I lost my interest and go back to making oatmeal raisin cookies.

But the city got me curious about its name and its history.  So I dug really briefly and I thought I’d just share another interesting tidbit that I found about Weehawken.

How about the Hamilton-Burr Duelthat took place on July 11, 1804 in Weehawken?  According to Weehawken, “Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met at Weehawken, NJ to resolve their political and personal differences with pistols.”

Hamilton did not walk away from this duel.


Interesting how just a name can offer a glimpse of history in our modern world.


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Home Sweet Home

The first thing I did when I stepped into my house was a carpet angel. 

Yes, that’s right.  You heard right.

I did a carpet angel.

Just think snow angel but on carpet.

I threw my bags down, then threw myself down and promptly began to flutter away. 

Zen Master and Zen Mum were standing over me and I have but one word to say about the looks on their faces.


Here’s a preview of my adventure last week.

Visiting Weehawken, New Jersey.

Dining at a tasty place that I’ve never been to before.

Visiting family. 

And the highlight of the adventure…the David Cake. 

And let me sum up my feelings at this very moment with one final picture!

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Out to Lunch

This is Sally in the Zen. 

Using the mighty words of Arnold in the Terminator…

…I’ll be back.

I’m on the road this week.

I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. 


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Kodak Moments

I woke up at first light this morning and basked in the silence of my home.  Waking up on my own and not by an alarm is like the best feeling.

I shuffled into the kitchen and fixed myself a bracing cup of Starbucks coffee.  And then I went out into the patio and basked in the silence of nature.  Sunlight beaming over the trees, the cool, cool morning air was refreshingly brisk and crisp.  Red, gold and brown leaves still hung in the trees, some littering the ground. 

Times like these are like Kodak moments to me.

That moment ended when I saw my breath in the air.  And when I began to shiver from the cold.

And when I ran back inside.

I was suddenly wishing fervently for hot sun and beach-like weather. 

And I was then remembering about our trip to the East Caribbean, and wishing that I was there right now.


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Homecoming – Great Wall – Part 3

Click here for Part 2

How often can we say that we’ve been at one of the Wonders of the World? 

Oh, talking to me?  The Great WallOh, been there, done that.

We were at Ba Da Ling – the Northern Pass of the Great Wall. 

Zen Mum and I went up a little ways and it was quite a workout!  High in altitude and very steep in incline, it made for good times.  Zen Master took this picture just as we were taking a breather.
See that tower behind us?  That was our destination before heading back down.

Then I grabbed my camera back and sprinted up the way until I thought I was gonna fall over and roll down the Great Wall.  But not before I took this picture of Zen Master and Zen Mum chugging along.  At this point, Zen Mum chose to stop and take a break…

…while Zen Master and I continued the upward climb just to see if we could reach the top of the next crest before passing out.

And it was during this time that Zen Mum began climbing again.  So we waited for her…

…and then…TA DA!  GO TEAM!  We came, we saw, we conquered the Great Wall!

We were proud but pooped.  If only they had elevators for the way back down to the buses.


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Homecoming – Part 1

Click here for previous related post:  Homecoming


In April 2007, Zen Master, Zen Mum and I signed up for the The Best of China Cities – 12 days tour with a 6-city itinerary:  Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin, HangZhou, SuZhou and Shanghai.

Translation:  TRIP OF A LIFETIME

As an American-born Chinese, I make Zen Master proud by being unable to speak my own language.  English is the first language that I recollect when I was a child, Chinese being secondary.  In light of our trip, I’d thought it would be a good thing to be able to speak some Mandarin.

So, you know, I could blend in and not be a complete freak.

The library is my bestest friend, and it lent me some conversational Mandarin CDs for a few months prior to our departure.

I had kept a journal while in China, and here verbatim was the first page:

Friday, April 6, 2007: 

Woke up at 4:00 AM.  13-hour plane ride painfully long.  Saw for the first time Palom Plateau – mountains near Beijing.

Translation:  Woke up early to catch bloody long flight out of either Atlanta or Chicago (I don’t remember which) to Beijing.  As the plane neared Beijing, saw rugged mountains (LAND!!) and when we finally disembarked, I threw myself on the ground and rolled around on terra firma because I’d forgotten how it felt.  Can we say claustrophobia?

And can we say:  Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

WOW!  Too bad I couldn’t get a better picture, but the tour bus was going too fast!

Oh my!

I’ve always had problems with anyone invading my personal space.  That went out the window here.  We learned pretty quickly that there was no such thing.

The final entry in my journal for this day:



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