During downtimes, I tend to find my comfort in things that I am familiar with. For me, my solace is in foods and flowers.

Back in February, mom packed her best Sichuan braised beef and mushroom sauce for me to bring back to school. While I was half-joking that this would completely ruin my summer shredding plan, these homemade frozen foods already took up half of my check-in bag. These dishes are classic for making noodle soup and rice bowl. The thick cuts of beef shank and briskets are perfectly tender and luscious and not too greasy. A spoon of the mushroom sauce lifts the umami taste to the next level. I am so happy to be a spoiled child, being able to have an authentic throat-burning Sichuan dish with no complicated preparation. The aromatics touch my soul every time and arouse my memories of home. Of course, I changed my mind. I rather gain another pound for the comforting. Here we go, it is week 3 of lockdown. Once I realized I have to rely on the only 2 or 3 servings left in my freezer, I know it is the time to save up and cook more on my own.

I started running my test kitchen and refreshing my baking skills. My parents and I have also been exchanging ideas every day like top chefs. I shared my recipe of oat-flour banana bread, and they taught me how to make basic chili oil. I usually do not cook Chinese food very often because managing to differentiate dozens of spices is like studying chemistry. Now I feel like making some Mapo tofu and chow mien is a way of bonding with my parents. Once I master wantons and braised beef, I guess I can say I have succeeded the Chinese kitchen wisdom.

Besides cooking, I am arranging flowers again. I was so surprised to find a decent variety of flowers while purchasing toilet paper already became a war. A corner of my room has become my studio, and wine bottles are my new vases. This moment triggered my memories of being self-employed as a florist. That was a precious time in my life because I learned to be alone and figure things out independently. When there was no wedding to keep me hustle on weekdays, I spent time designing and arranging with my favorite flowers and use my favorite colors. I am just doing it to please myself, at my own pace. As I am excited about creating the perfect Ikebana style with a wine bottle, I already forget about the stress and anxiety.

There will always be ups and downs, but I appreciate that I found exceptional comfort in foods and flowers.