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Spaghetti Tacos July 15, 2010

Filed under: Favorite Recipes — jlnburstein @ 5:44 am

I modified this from the Taco Pasta Toss Recipe in the March 2010, Rachael Ray Magazine.

1 pound penne pasta

1 tblsp olive oil

1 pound ground turkey (you can use beef if you prefer)

1/2 onion finely chopped

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tblsp chilli powder

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 cups cheddar cheese

2 tomatoes seeded and chopped


Taco Shells

1.  Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain and return to pot.

2.  In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add ground meat and cook until browned.  Add onions, garlic and chili powder (you can add additional seasoning like corriander, cumin, salt and pepper, I kept it low key for the kids)  Cook until the onions are soft.  Stir in tomato paste for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth.

3.  Add the meat sauce to the pasta and toss to coat.

4.  (This is where I converted the recipe to Spaghetti Tacos)  I spooned the coated pasta into taco shells and topped with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.  You can also serve in a bowl if you prefer.


Drawn to Art December 23, 2009

Filed under: Interviews — jlnburstein @ 6:35 am

by Jennifer Burstein

published in Mei Magazine, Spring 2009

Cynthia Tom

“An artist is someone who obsessively does their art no matter what.”

Cynthia Tom was surprised to realize that not everyone grew up working on art projects at home.  As a child she worked with her mom making crafts from “found objects”.  Her dad enjoyed sculpting.  Cynthia studied business in college.  She also played competitive volleyball.  Following an injury to her back from playing volleyball, she returned to her artwork during her re-cooperation.  Cynthia has tried different kinds of art including drawing and jewelry making.  However, her passion is painting.  She currently is president of the Asian American Women Artists Association.  Her most recent project is called “A Place of Her Own”.  The project asks women artists and writers to imagine what kind of place they would create if there were no limitations or restrictions.  Learn more about Cynthia’s work at http://www.cynthia tom.com.

Jessica Emmett

“I define who I am…for I am the only one that live as the kind of person I want to be proud of.”

Jessica Emmett described herself as an “extremely artistic” child.  She enjoyed crafts and building things.  She would draw and paint “all the time”.  While she attended college she studied photography and media arts.  Many of Jessica’s projects focus on the topic of adoption.  She was inspired to share her personal experience of being adopted by another artist, Jo Spence, whose art was inspired by her battle with breast cancer.  Jessica conducts art workshops for adopted families, gives talks for adoption organizations, as well as, shows her artwork.  Jessica recently traveled back to Hong Kong for the first Hong Kong Adoption Festival.  She described it as “a once in a lifetimne trip”.  Check out Jessica’s art at www.jessica-emmett.com.

Flo Oy Wong

“I want to know if I had a voice…”

Flo Oy Wong enjoyed art as a child and remembered admiring art when she was as young as 10-years-old.  However, she did not start studying art until she was in her forties.  Flo was a teacher and mother.  She experimented with using rice sacks in her art.  Rice sacks are an important item in Chinese culture.  Her Asian Rice Sack Series has been displayed at Angel Island, Ellis Island and the San Francisco Public Library.  She became one of the founding members of the Asian American Women Artists Association.  Her work has been shown all across the United States.  She has also traveled to China leading an exchange program for artists in 2005.  She is currently working on a series of dolls called “Cocooning the Third Eye Dolls” in honor of her older sister.  To admire her work visit her website at www.flo-oy-wongartist.com.


The Mystery of Nushu August 31, 2009

Filed under: Children's Crafts,World Cultures — jlnburstein @ 7:04 pm

by Jennifer Burstein

published in Mei Magazine, Fall 2008


Hundreds of years ago in China most girls were not able to go to school.  They did not learn to read or write.  However, they wanted to be able to communicate with their friends and women family members.  This was especially important after they married and went to live with their husband’s family.

Over time the women in the Jiangyong County of the Hunan province developed their own secret writing system.  This language was called Nushu.  The word Nushu has been translated to mean “Woman’s Writing”.

Nushu is thinner and less square than traditional Chinese writing.  It also looks more like cursive writing.  Similar to traditional Chinese writing, Nushu is written in columns and is read from right-to-left.

Girls would learn the language from their mother, grandmother, aunts or friends.  They would write it in fans or in books.  Because most girls were experienced in embroidery, they would sew the words in their needlework.  When a girl married, her women family members and friends would give her a special book.  The women would write special messages and songs in Nushu for the new bride.  Pages would be left blank for the bride to use the book as a diary.

In the 1920’s women were given the opportunity to go to school.  As girls learned traditional Chinese languages, the need for Nushu mostly disappeared.  There are only a few women who are familiar with Nushu.  Much about Nushu remains a mystery.


“Nushu, a Women’s Script”, http://www.crystalinks.com/nushu/html, July 31, 2008.

“Nushu – the syllabic script used exclusively by women in Hunan, China”, http://www.omniglot.com/writing/nushu.htm, July 31, 2008.

“The Discovery of Nushu”, http://www.chinavoc.com/life/focus/wmbook.asp, July 31, 2008.

Make Your Own Secret Message Fan


1 piece of 8 1/2″ X 11″ paper in a plain color

1 piece of 8 1/2 ” X 11″ paper with a pattern (scrapbook paper is good)

Colored markers

Paper clip



1.  Decorate the plain piece of paper using the markers.  Write a special message.  You can also use stickers, punches or other decorations; however, make sure that you can fold the decorations.

2.  Place the patterned papers over the top of your message.

3.  Fold both papers together to make a fan.

4.  Secure the bottom of the fan with a paperclip.

5.  Cover the paperclip with a ribbon.  Tie the ribbon and make a bow facing the front.

6.  Give the fan to your friend.  Make sure you explain to your friend how to open the fan to obtain your message.


Dear Beautiful Daughter

Filed under: Poetry — jlnburstein @ 3:14 pm

by Jennifer Burstein



Dear beautiful daughter

Our daughter we love

We flew through the sky

Through the white clouds above


To finally hold you

To hug you so tight

Our future together

Has come into sight


The journey was long

The excitement was real

From the moment we saw you

Our hearts you did steal


Your eyes chocolate brown

Your hair shiny black

Your face full of worry

There’s no looking back


Dear beautiful daughter

With tears in your eyes

We will love you forever

For all of our lives


Hotel rooms and restaurants

First bath and first smile

On airplanes and buses

For mile after mile


With mama and dada

And handsome big brother

A new family born

Unlike any other


Our first family memories

We now have to share

Of the place you were born

And those that live there


Dear beautiful daughter

So brave and so strong

We will love you forever

For all our lives long


The airplane was crowded

We prepared to take flight

The long journey home

Would take most of the night


You slept and you wiggled

You played and you cried

We flew through the air

Mom and dad at your side


Dear beautiful daughter

So lovely and sweet

Your long journey home

Is almost complete


The airport was crowded

But we made our way through

To greet other people

Who have waited for you


Aunts, uncles and cousins

More family and friends

Grandma and grandpa

Their love never ends


Asleep in your bed

With a kiss on your face

Your safely at home

In your own special place


Dear beautiful daughter

So bright and so clever

May you life be happy

For now and forever


Chef Lee Anne Wong Inspires Mei Girls to become Top Chefs in their Own Kitchen

Filed under: Interviews — jlnburstein @ 2:59 pm

By Jennifer Burstein

Published in Mei Magazine, Winter 2009

Chef Lee Anne Wong started working in restaurants when she was 15-years-old.  She tried a career in fashion but decided it wasn’t right for her.  She became a student at the French Culinary Institute to become a chef.  She graduated in 2000.

Later Lee Anne became a constestant on the television show, Top Chef.  Now she works as a Supervising Culinary Producer for Top Chef.  She gets to plan the challenges for the contestants, shop for all the delicious food, and set up the food for the cameras.  Part of her job includes keeping the Top Chef Kitchen neat and orderly.  This means that even as a chef she still has to wash dishes!

When she is not working on television she is an Executive Chef for the French Culinary Institute.  She is also working on a book.

Her advice to future chefs is “Be a sponge.  Take every opportunity you have to understand more about food, whether it’s a greasy slice of pizza you’re eating or some weird, unidentifiable creature from the sea.”

Lee Anne was generous enough to share her recipe for banana pancakes with the readers of Mei Magazine.  Remember to get your parents help when working in the kitchen.  Enjoy!


Flossie Wong-Staal, Ph.D.- A scientific explorer discovering how viruses work!

Filed under: Interviews — jlnburstein @ 5:09 am

by Jennifer Burstein

Published in Mei Magazine, Summer 2009

We learn from the time we are very young to stay away from germs.  We wash our hands, don’t share our food and cover our mouths when we sneeze.  When we do these things we prevent these invisible enemies from invading our bodies and making us ill.  These tiny germs are living things called bacteria or viruses.

Flossie Wong-Staal studies viruses to find ways for doctors to help their patients who are ill.  Also, she attempts to discover ways to stop the viruses before they hurt people.

Flossie Wong-Staal was born in China during 1947.  Her family moved to Hong Kong in 1952.  Hong Kong was part of England.   Her teacher recommended she have an English name.  Her father named her Flossie after reading about typhoon Flossie in the newspaper.

After finishing high school, Flossie moved to the United States.  She attended UCLA in southern California.  After years of studying she received her doctoral degree in molecular biology.

In 1985, Dr. Wong-Staal was leading a group of scientists.  She discovered how to duplicate the human immunodeficiency virus.  This was a major discovery.  Learning how to duplicate a virus allows researchers to better understand how it works.  With this understanding scientists can develop methods to fight the virus.  She continues this work today at the University of California, San Diego.

Major discoveries [are] few and far between…small incremental steps are taken on a daily basis,” according to Dr. Wong-Staal.  However, she went on to state, “There is nothing like enjoying what you do at work.  Doing research and making discoveries that can improve human life and conditions is a very rewarding career.”