Our Transformation from the High-Tech Conveniences to Low-Tech Asian Farming
I was born in the heart of Silicon Valley, where innovation and technology thrive, and for the next four decades, found myself caught in the whirlwind of a high-tech career. The fast-paced lifestyle, the long work hours, and the constant pursuit of success seemed to consume my every waking moment.
But deep within, a quiet voice beckoned me towards a different path—a path that would lead me away from the city and towards a life of purpose, self-sufficiency, and connection with nature.
I want to take you on a journey—a journey of leaving behind the comforts and chaos of the city and embracing the serenity and abundance of the mountains. This is the story of the transition from the high-tech world to return to our traditional Asian food and farming techniques, and the struggles and joys that accompany this transformative journey.
My parents are Vietnamese immigrants, and in my childhood, I grew up with very little and ate nose-to-tail because it was the most economical. When I began my career and returned back to the Bay Area after college and graduate school, I reveled in the fast-paced atmosphere of Silicon Valley. It is the land of golden opportunity and where American dreams are made of, of technological advancements, and of endless possibilities.
But amidst this lifestyle of having my groceries and food delivered to me within the hour via the Instacart and Doordash apps, a sense of emptiness gnawed at my soul when I had my first child 12 years ago. While I worked on innovative technology to revolutionize and connect the world, I couldn’t shut off this desire inside of me to begin living how our ancestors did: Wild. And FREE.
Contrary to startup hustle culture where I grew used to working 80 hour weeks, I chose to home birth in an inflatable pool in our living room just five minutes from the nearest Stanford hospital, and homeschooled on our dining table when we lived in the neighborhood with the best 10/10 Blue Ribbon public schools (all much to the chagrin of my parents, family, friends, and even co-workers). It was as if the relentless pursuit of career advancement and the never-ending race for more left me disconnected from the things that truly mattered—the simple joys of family, the serenity of nature, and the nurturing power of the earth.
We traveled the US in an RV with my parents and we took them to visit nearly 10 national parks that next year. Life became so fragile with the entire world teetering on the brink of extinction, or so it seemed on TV. 2020 was apparently just what we needed that catapulted us to spend more intentional time with our entire family, from parents to my little children. When the whole world seemed to stop on March 16, 2020, the day the country went into lockdowns, we had no choice but to look around at those we loved around us and come together despite our differences.
So we packed up and visited other regenerative farms around the country and learned firsthand what self-sufficiency looked like. We saw how complicated it could be to live off-grid, but we also saw how possible it was. And since we are a military family ourselves, nothing compares to the hard times we had when Tim was deployed to Iraq in 2007-2008.
Through much prayer and self-reflection as we traveled to the high mountains and desert sands, I realized that my calling was not confined to the confines of corporate success but extended far beyond that. It was a calling to reconnect with my roots, to embrace a lifestyle that celebrated the harmony between humans and the natural world, and to cultivate a deeper connection with my faith.
Leaving behind the familiar landscape of the city was a leap into the unknown. As my family and I made the decision to embark on this homesteading journey, we encountered countless doubts and fears. Would we be able to adapt to a simpler way of life? Could we acquire the necessary skills to thrive in our new environment? Uncertainties loomed, but we knew that the rewards of a life aligned with our values and purpose were worth the risk.
Through this journey of embracing traditional Asian cooking and farming, I have not only reconnected with my cultural heritage but also forged a deeper bond with my family, especially my mother. Our shared passion for the land and culinary traditions has become a source of joy, learning, and togetherness.
In the kitchen, my mom has become my teacher, mentor, and partner. As we chop, stir, and taste, we exchange stories, laughter, and wisdom. The kitchen has transformed into a sacred space where generations merge when my children sharpen their knife skills with Bà, where the past and present intertwine, and where the aroma of our ancestors’ recipes fills the air.
Beyond the practical skills and culinary techniques, my mother has taught me invaluable life lessons. She has shown me the importance of resilience, adaptability, and gratitude—qualities that have been passed down through our lineage and are deeply ingrained in our cultural heritage. Her unwavering faith in the power of food as a means of nourishment and connection has inspired me to share these traditions with others, spreading the joy and wisdom that our ancestors have entrusted us with.
As I reflect on my journey from the valley to the mountains, I am filled with gratitude for the transformative power of traditional Asian cooking and farming. It has allowed me to rediscover my cultural roots, deepen my relationship with the land, and strengthen the bonds within my family. This path has brought me a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and a profound connection to the world around me.
If you find yourself yearning for a more meaningful and connected way of life, I encourage you to explore the treasures of your own heritage. Embrace the traditions, the flavors, and the practices that have been passed down through generations. Allow them to guide you on a journey of self-discovery, connection, and growth.
As we continue to nurture our homestead, share nourishing meals, and honor the wisdom of the past, I invite you to join us on this journey. Let us find solace, inspiration, and fulfillment in the simplicity and richness of a life deeply rooted in tradition, culture, and the land.
On May 22, 2023, we will begin taking pre-orders for our upcoming cookbook for our Fall release! Stay tuned for the exclusive offers we will have when you pre-order!