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January 25, 2002
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Jet's Birthday, Observed

Today was Jet's birthday, as observed in the Li household.

It started with a trip to a Vietnamese market and Ranch 99. Mom had called both of them to ask if they had Dungeness crab, and both said that they did, though Mom trusted 99 more. Today is also Friday, which is the day that most of the markets restock for the weekend, so the crabs were most likely liveliest and freshest today. The trick was figuring out *when* the crabs were actually going to arrive.

So we went out, Jet in tow. Jet really liked riding in the cart with Dad pushing him around. The groceries were something new to Jet, with all kinds of new scents, sounds, and things to see. He seemed to enjoy playing with Dad the most, though. That was pretty cool.

It was funny knowing that the main reason I wanted to go to these places was just to smell them. The scent of a good Asian market is always different than that of an American market. Still as clean, but with different spices, the scents of different fresh produce, and the meat and seafood markets don't smell at all; but the array of items is always so different than what can be found in a normal supermarket. That I really like to see, the pure white honeycomb tripe, the feet of chicken and ducks, the huge displays of leg roasts of pork, the tongues stacked on each other, and all the tanks of live fish and shellfish.

I miss that. I miss having an entire aisle with nothing but noodles and types of noodles, a refrigerator case filled with all kinds of fresh noodles, and a whole case of kinds of tofu, from the light custard to the leather and the spongy once-frozen tofu as well. A display of textures that are possible with soy and a bit of plaster of paris. The bakery areas filled with buns and breads with red bean filling, pineapple topping, custards, mung bean filling, coffee rolls, light fruit filled cakes, and the thousand shapes of baked sweets. Deli's dishes and dim sum rather than salads and sandwiches.

Both markets were huge, busy, and filled with people and really fresh, quickly bought ingredients. Sadly, neither of them had lively crabs, yet. 99 Market said that the delivery was late, and wouldn't likely get there until sometime in the late afternoon. Oops. So the immediate quest was unfulfilled, but we *did* manage to find bunches of the pea shoots that we'd had in the seafood restaurant in Denver, and plenty of other yummy things for dinner tomorrow. Mom and Dad said they'd try for the crabs later in the day.

From there we went to the Albertson's and got Jet's carrot cake. The manager of the bakery had thrown in an extra one-layered white cake for free as well, but with only us, having a second cake wasn't particularly a good thing, as we'd pretty much have to eat it. Mom said she didn't want it, and we gently brought the carrot cake to the checkout, where the bag boy nearly ruined everything by almost upending the cake box on its *side* in an attempt to throw it in a bag! Agh! Mom was alert, though, and caught the box before it could be upended from the surprised bag boy's hands, and kept it safe in her arms as we went out to the car. Yay, Mom!

Lunch was meat and vegetable bow that Mom and Dad had gotten in LA. They were light, fluffy and the filling was textured, tasty and really good. With the steaming to reheat them, they were light and hot and really, really good with the soup Mom served. Yum. I was really glad she had them in her freezer.

Kathy met us for a movie, out at a theater that was a bit east of us. We got there a little early, so hit the Starbucks and found her sitting by the line at the theater. We saw A Beautiful Mind and found it really intriguing, with some Sixth Sense-like 'oh that's why', afterwards. I liked that.

Mom managed to get the crabs while we were gone. Dad had had fun with Jet out in the back yard while she had gone shopping. Jet loves their backyard, all that grass to play in and a tree with a mound of dirt that he can push around. John and Dad found that if they put Jet's mittens on him, he can't dig in the dirt or bring things to his mouth and eat them. The mittens also mitigate the feeling of the grass on Jet's hands, so he crawls around on it with no problem with his mittens on. Otherwise he is suspicious of the odd feeling on his hands.

So we had large, lively, heavy gorgeous Dungeness crabs for d inner. Mom and Dad just put them in the steamer over boiling water and after a bit of scrabbling for a little while, they were quiet and got done pretty quickly. Mom had also made mei fun, with lots of yummy things amid the rice noodles. We basically got a whole crab, each, though Dad was cool and parted them up into dozens of legs, cracked claws, and interior halves. Everyone dove in and everyone got to eat what they liked best and plenty of it

There is nothing like fresh crab meat, hot from the steamer, with a bit of vinegar and ginger. Yum. When we'd eaten our fill, the mei fun gave a solid balance for all the plain seafood.

After dinner we had Jet's birthday party. Jet got really cool presents. Mom's painting teacher gave Jet a sock monkey, which Jet immediately hugged, right out of the box. Mom and Dad got him a walking roller that says A, B, C! and then plays some music when it's rolled and a spinning toy that does the animal sound that the spinner is pointing to when the handle off the side is pulled down. Kathy got him a copy of Green Eggs and Ham, which he peered at and turned the pages of, and, most intriguing of all, a six foot long boa sock puppet. The boa's mouth is the puppet, and there's even an opening in the mouth that allows the snake to swallow things! Jet was very curious about things disappearing.

The cake was quite a hit. We let Jet have the whole cake, to start, and he looked at it and just touched the icing to start. Eventually he got up enough gumption to start messing up the lettering, and when he got enough red on him he stopped for a bit, so we took the cake and cut everyone, including him, pieces. He tasted the cake and immediately started going at it with both hands. Yay!

Jet likes carrot cake!

We all liked the carrot cake. It was spicy, light, and yummy and the cream cheese frosting wasn't so rich or so thick as to overwhelm the cake itself. It was quite the hit with everyone.

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