Giving Thanks

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Unlike many Vietnamese immigrants, my family looks forward to Thanksgiving. Not because of the holiday itself and celebration of colonialism, but because it marks both my parents’ anniversary and my birthday. The long weekend feels like a federal holiday dedicated to my family.

My extended family usually meets, too, but this year we found ourselves together in the hospital. We went to visit my uncle who developed a pancreatic infection after a recent gall bladder surgery. His condition is worsening.

We visited him on my parent’s anniversary. How timely. He introduced them and, later, presided over the wedding. My parents wouldn’t have met and married if it weren’t for him. So, if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here either.

None of us would be. Not in the US, at least. My uncle was the first to escape Vietnam in the quiet of night, without a whisper goodbye to the family in order to keep their innocence when the Viet Cong came to question his whereabouts. He made it to Los Angeles, from which he managed to sponsor my mom after her escape by boat and months in refugee camps. One by one other family members came over. If my uncle hadn’t settled in the US, they could have ended up in Canada, Australia, or remained in the camp indefinitely.

Beyond his role in our family, he’s a prominent figure in the Vietnamese community. A highly gregarious and charismatic person known as an actor, singer, community organizer, and poet. I haven’t met a Vietnamese person in California who hasn’t heard of him.

What’s next? The doctors say that he needs to eat well: lots of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, little fat and sugar.

This is where I hope to be helpful. I’m going to grow veggies for him — the foods he finds comfort in to ease the pain and bring him to health. After all, I’m here because of him. And I am thankful.

To the Max

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The first announcement has been made for the Heirloom Grain and Brew Dinner at Maximiliano! Mark of Pagnol Boulanger, Chef Andre Guerrero of Maximiliano, Mark Jilg of Craftsman Brewing, and Bob Kunz of Highland Park Brewing are preparing the feast. I am so excited to see eat my grains in many forms, transformed by such skilled artisans.

You can buy tickets through this LINK.  I hope you’ll join me!

Mai and Mark - Grain Magicians
Mai and Mark – Grain Magicians

Me looking at me looking at me

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Someone at the farmers market said, “You’re famous! I saw you in the Fort Bragg paper!” I thought this guy must have mistaken me for someone else because no one from Fort Bragg ever interviewed me. Then, I remembered that Mendocino County has 3 papers owned by one company, and it must’ve been the Willits News that wrote it based on a conversation a few weeks ago. At least some coast folks are hearing about me. As my cousin would say, I’m ‘local famous’.

Article can be found at this LINK.

Fall – Fo sho

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Whatever I said earlier about fall creeping in, that was nothing compared to the sudden Kramer entrance this month. First rain, then frost, and everything’s turned red and gold. It’s time to stuff the wood stove with logs, glean the last fruits from the garden, and cozy up.

My farmer friends and I are delighted by the seasonal signal that we will soon get to sleep and catch up with the rest of our lives. I plan to slow down, reconnect with friends, and resume my other hobbies: music, art, and cooking. I still can’t play violin because my head dosen’t turn that far, but I’m enjoying the albums from this year. Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell and Low’s Ones & Sixes are at the top of the list. Have you heard them? Click HERE to give Carrie & Lowell a listen.

Art work is directed towards work-work as I’m designing an Edition Menu for the Maximiliano dinner in December. Rob Beckstrom of SparePress, Ukiah and I are collaborating to create a menu worth saving for a dinner worth savoring.

Chandler & Price Letterpress, SparePress Ukiah

As for cooking, I still can’t chop but I appreciate all the things that can be cooked whole. Stews, anyone? I’m posting recipes on the website, so if you’re feeling lost as to what to make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, look at the Recipe page! And feel free to send me some to post.

Happy Fall!