Monday, March 31, 2008
I guess blogging has surreptitiously taken part of life now. Looking back, I had done a triathlon and my mind is telling me to hit the brakes before I eat, sleep and talk Blog! As with all my other interests, I never let one takes precedence over the other so as not to lose interest and abandon one in favor of another. My language books have been left in the same corner of my study table since mid February.... yup the same time I started this BLOG! Very addictive!!!
There are alot of activities going on for the Spring months and hopefully I will get them done! For Missy E, it means kite days, tricycle outside and swings and slides all afternoon. For Prince D, as long as he is part of all the fun, he won't complain. To me, spring is always a wake up call to go back on the threadmill and daily 45 mins walk to pump up the heart and brain cells! Curry is doing a good job in maintaining his 32 inches waist and I will not lose out in looking good too!
Can't wait to see all the daffodils and trees blossoming. And the fruits fields.. cherry, strawberry,blueberry and peach. Ah... thinking of them already make my mood better, not mentioning the many ideas that I have swimming in my head of what to make of them in my cooking and baking! Spring is just awesome and bye bye winter....really I mean it BYE BYE winter!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Started the process last night to let the dough sit and rest before shaping and baking them this morning. Making puff pastry is really a test of all patience and should never be attempted by a 1st timer without any knowledge of how the texture of the dough is. It was a mess when the butter met the flour and iced water. But it got better during the rolling and folding part. From the making part to the resting part, the whole thing just spells "SINFUL"....... butter blob with the utmost aroma and fat all over. And when time to shape them again, they look so plain till they met the oven and became "SUPER SINFUL". While some houses might be filled with the goodness of brewed coffee and bacons with eggs, my whole house was just smothered with the invisible buttery smell the whole morning!
Strawberries and Blueberries are my favorite fruits for pastries. I am amazed on the sizes of the strawberries and was made to look at every pint at the grocery to find the smallest among them or else my pastries have to be super big to accomodate the giant fruit! The big ones went into the pot for mousse making and the blueberries are safe. Instant made custard pudding was used to comfort my mind of the extra cholesterols that I have to endure if I made from fresh eggs!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Same story with the pork hocks. It just looked so fresh at the Asian grocery's meat counter and my hand automatically reached out for a pack containing 4 nicely cut pieces. Pork knuckles in vinegar was my confinement nourishment and that was the only time I ever bought a different part of the pig's anatomy besides the usual pork sirloin. So getting these hocks were something new. And yet, it stayed in my freezer frozen and hidden among the more popular chicken and minced pork for 2 weeks until today!
This was an easy recipe, as with all my others listed here as Easy Quickie. With 2 seasoning sauces, 1 spice, the usual minced shallot, garlic and ginger, I concocted the easiest braised dish!The Kecap Manis together with the dark soy sauce combined to make a rich sauce which has the right consistency of sweet and salty. And it certainly give a more glistening black and brownish color to the cooked hock which appears more appetizing.
4 pork hocks, boiled in water for 7 mins to get rid of smell
1/3 of a medium size radish, cut into thick round slices
1 red shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 thumbsizes knob of ginger, minced
5 tbsp of dark soy sauce
3 tbsp of sweet soy sauce/Kecap Manis
1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbsp water
1)Heat pot with oil and fry the garlic,shallot and ginger.
2)Add in the pork hocks and fry turning evenly and cover to cook for 10 mins.
3)Add in dark soy sauce, Kecap Manis and pepper. Coat evenly and add 2 cups of water.
4)Cover pot and simmer on medium heat for 25 mins.
5)Add in radish and continue to simmer for 20 mins or till meat is tender and starting to detach from the hock bones. Add in the cornstarch mix and let simmer for 3 more mins.
6)Dish up and garnish with cilantro.
Serves: 3 to 4 adults
Thursday, March 27, 2008
But sometimes I find it unfair to refer us, the stay home moms as the Leisure Ladies. Perhaps it is appropriate for pampered wives with grown up kids and who volunteered themselves in every charity organization in the name of "Occupation". For moms like me who have to run the management of the house from 7am to 12am and on weekends too, I simply cannot relate myself to having a Leisure time. Maybe sneaking in for short naps while the kids are having theirs is considered leisure hours but still, knowing that they will be more active and hyper after their naps just makes my brain more restless. And yet, Missy E never naps and Prince D thinks he will lose out on all the fun if he naps for too long!
I long to sit quietly in the library to read a book or shop every household goods store to search for the best bed linens to match my teak wood bed, getting into the latest kitchen gadgets and of course taking a coffee break with an oversized muffin at Starbucks. In my book, those are considered non-existence but just imaginery. Now, how leisurely can that be?
I am not complaining about my life as I believe that we all exist for a reason and that is what I am going to do. But some conflicting minds do overload themselves with thinkings that we are all yawning away and manicuring our nails all day long. Perhaps our succesful husbands are objects of envies and we the wives are the 'punching bag' for some envious souls. Or is it ourselves who projected the idea that we can freely spend our spouses' money by roaming in shopping places when the fact is that we fear another day cooped at home again with the kids and we are window shopping only, or maybe we never complain enough to others besides our own spouses of our exhausting lives?
I strongly believe I am no Lady of Leisure but Multi-Purpose Mom is a title that I prefer. And to all my mommy girlfriends, I salute you!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Ironically, I like canned goods. They are handy when I can't find the fresh version of the particular ingredient such as pineapple, straw mushrooms and red bean paste. Canned and bottled sauces and soups are also helpful when spice scooping, mixing and marinating is not in my to do list of the day!
Cream of mushroom is a favorite in my pantry. With spaghetti on hand and getting a bit bland with the rice day in and day out, throw in some broccoli, chicken meat and mushroom and you have a good one pot dish.
2/3 box of spaghetti
1 can of Cream of mushroom
15 mushroom, sliced
broccoli cut into small florets
chicken chunks/chicken breast meat
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1)Boil water and cook spaghetti.
2)Heat oil in pot and fry minced garlic. Add chicken meat and continue to stir fry for 7 mins.
3)Add mushroom and broccoli. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4)Add cream of mushroom and simmer further.
5)Drain spaghetti and add into sauce pot and mix. Simmer for 7 to 10 mins.
Serves: 3 persons
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Japanese have so many gadgets that I sometimes wonder what else can they not make nor do anymore. How did they get so creative? Is it because of the overload of raw fish and wasabi or the Kobe beef that channel all sorts of idea to their brains? From Robot dogs to computerised rice cooker, automatic doors on taxis to backside washing toilets, life in Japan must be very technophilic! Leaving the technology aside, I can find things like the onigiri rice ball shaper to be equally fascinating. With 3 compartments which open to 2 parts and indented openings on the top part to allow the fingers to push out the formed rice balls instead of digging is really a brilliant idea and making the rice balls coated with black sesame seeds was so easy and I won't mind having an onigiri party.
Recently, the Kyaraben method which incorporates the making of character sushi and lunchbox contents is the latest trend in Bento making. The characters is from a wide range of children's favorite from Hello Kitty to Elmo with numerous colors and features of the faces clearly present and can be more fanciful than any kids pencil boxes! Special gadgets which are more fanciful than my plain Onigiri maker are thus invented such as the special molds and shape punch which makes the face features. I see myself splurging on these things in future when Missy E and Prince D start their full day school schedule. Infact, their Bento boxes are sitting in the basement cupboard, waiting to be filled with mommy's homemade and healthy goodies. I just hope that they don't demand a 3-D Princess or Dinosaur rice ball for their lunchboxes or else I will never enjoy making another Bento in my life again!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Although exhausting, I am always happy to attend a potluck with family and friends. The cooking always starts early and the morning cup of coffee is so good in giving a burst of energy to the senses. Extra attention is required when the eyes sensory are not fully charged and cooking while still in the overnight pajamas and messy hair is a funny sight but all these meant the chef is serious!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Infact, I used 3 eggs for this recipe. Everyone can make an omelette but sometimes this dish is too simple to make that it simply doesn't come to mind at all and ignored when we are clueless as to what to prepare for dinner. I love the color that the yolk yields, so rich and vibrant. Appetizing as it is, eggs are indeed very nutritious and aptly named the Incredible Egg. If I was to choose my last meal, I would want a fried egg over easy, sandwiched between a slice of cheese and 2 slices of wholemeal bread and I am already half way to Heaven (if God says so!).
250g minced beef
2 stalks of chopped green onion
salt & pepper
1) Beat eggs and heat oil in pan on medium.
2)Stir Fry the minced beef for 5 minutes.
3)Add eggs & green onion and let set before turning over. I prefer mine a bit
scrambled (and also because my non-stick pan is no longer in its original
form due to the abusive spatula and overworked!)
4) Add pepper & salt.
Serves : 3 as side dish
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I don't know what prompted me to buy 1 sweet potato at the grocery last week. They named it Yam but I have always known it as Sweet potato. Perhaps the usual puds looked too boring and overflowing in their cubicles and the prepacked 5lbs bag which sells for $2.99 scared me of being a potato maniac and making my family curse me for cooking potatoes all week long.
But the sweet potatoes look nice, with their reddish long elongated shape ending with a tip and their bright orange flesh reminds me of the sweetness of Japanese squash, Kabocha. The only time that I ever eat sweet potato is in a dessert type sweetened soup cooked with Chinese rock sugar and yam (which is called batatas here). And I have no idea on any other recipes.
The Easter Eggs reminded me of Scotch Eggs, which is hard boiled egg wrapped in a minced meat coating and dipped in bread crumbs, deep fried to golden brown. I used the same method, boiled and mashed up the sweet potato, coat it all over the meatball and dip them into Panko and deep fried. The deep frying part was a bit tricky with medium heat and constant turning as the meatball were golf balls sized and thank goodness they were already cooked beforehand as the panko browned really quickly outside. Maybe my choice of olive oil had too high of a smoking point and was not compatible with the panko and now I understand why Rachael Ray had to cook everything under 30 minutes with her famous EVOO while I fumbled all over the humongous meat balls to get an even browning.
The taste of the end product was quite unique. One bite and you get all 3 textures... crusty panko, mushy sweet potato and chewy meatball. I personally like it as I love the sweetness blending in with the meatiness of the inner part. Curry was a bit skeptical as he never liked pumpkin nor squash, but he finished up dutifully, so that is still a good sign.
1 medium sized sweet potato
5 large cooked beef meatballs
1 egg, beaten
Panko (about 1 cup)
Oil for deep frying
salt & pepper
1)Boil water and cook sweet potato till soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from water and mash and let cool. Season with pepper and salt. Add in scallions.
2)Take a handful and coat all over the meatball. Smooth and shape into a perfect round. Let the meatballs stand for 15 minutes.
3)Heat oil for deep frying on medium.
4)Deep coated meatballs into beaten egg and then panko. Deep fry 2 or 3 at one time. Keep turning the balls to get an even browning (about 7 minutes). Lift up and let cool. Cut into half and serve.
Serves: 3 (Can be served with salad and dressing)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
It is indeed gloomy and wet outside while I am moody and dry with ideas inside on what to do with Missy E and Prince D. Sometimes, I am all energetic, ready to cut and craft with Missy E and sing along with Prince D. I even roll around with them and get stuck in their crawling tunnel once in a while. But today is the day that I am not in the 'mood'. Has my "Hostile Monday" finally met its match called "Moody Wednesday"? Or have I exerted too much energy on a sunny Spring day yesterday and nothing left for today?
At times like this, I wonder what other mommies like myself normally do when they are stuck at home with their own offsprings! Do they whine like me too or there are just super ones out there that have ideas to supply and utilise everything in a craft store and always a candidate for all bake sales and volunteer work at their PTAs? I personally don't like craft work except for knitting and using my fingers to cut and paste cliparts from the internet for my digital scrapbooking. Really admire those mommies that can visualize anything and make something out of the toilet paper roll to egg box.... I will only think of them as a secondary support of something more important like the toilet paper and eggs! Once the primary source is used up, to the recycling bin they go.
Sometimes I wish I can just sit on the sofa all day long and watch TV. Let the brain remain blank and no rush feeling to cook, clean or entertain the kids. Eating a whole box of Godiva chocolates with a big pot of tea to go with them.... how wonderful and yet wishful! This Cabin Fever thing is really sending degrees of laziness and boredom to my head and until the Spring Breeze and Sunny Skies come back, there will be no cure. Scissors need to criss-cross and papers need to be cut, Missy E needs to be given input of colors and ideas and Prince D must have his ways to make a Moody Wednesday ends its hours faster.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
When I first set foot here 7 years ago, I have the perception that everyone is living their American Dream. With their flashy SUVs and colonial style houses with green lawn more vast than the houses itself and equipped with its own sprinklers, makes me wonder if the US dollar really can buy all these luxuries. To someone like us who just arrived from Japan where rents for apartments is set with reference to how many Tatami spread are in the rooms and usually not exceeding an area of 800 sq. ft , paying 2/3 of the price in Japan for a 1,200 sq. ft with 2 bathrooms in America seems to be reasonable then. And thanks to Wal-mart, I learned the term of globalisation and how we came to depend on "Made in China" goods to accomodate our everyday needs from clothings to closets, DVD players to household electronics and simply everything that we use in our American home. The convenience of the plastic card just amazes me and soon enough I was caught up with its convenience of 'Spend and Enjoy First, Pay Later' philosophy.
7 years later, there seems to be a reversal of fortune. The globalisation effect seems to favor the other side of the trade alliance when China's economy is booming and developing in full swing from property to industries. And India is no longer famous only for its Bollywood films and answering Customer Call Centers for American companies when it is producing more millionaires and ventures in high tech technology development. While here in America, all we hear is economy is slump, companies are retrenching, costs of goods are up due to rising gas prices and foreclosures and bankruptcies are affecting millions of homeowners. Even Curry's company has changed hands twice and sometimes I can't even recall the name of his new company! In terms of the currency market, the US dollar is weak in comparison to the Euros and British Sterlings and recently, Japanese Yen even seemed more stable. The ever so obliging Canadians must be smiling their way down the border to shop as their dollar is at par with their American counterpart these days.
Well, maybe the term American Dream was aptly meant to be a 'dream' only. I was naive to believe that those people with big houses and cars were rich when infact they stretch their monthly payments of mortgages and loans over a longer period of repayment with more hefty interest rates than mine. I don't mean to be a sour grape but infact I find that some people do bite more than they can chew. Although I live in a small house with no private lawn of my own but only a small front yard and sharing the backview with my neighbors, I still live realistically, being comfortable and complacent with what I have and able to stash away some of my dollars for rainy days. Although I would love to drive a red Mercedes, my soccer mom Mini van still serves my need and I can wait till the day Prince D buys me one when he gets through college with all the money we save up for him!!! I might be tempted to be chic, shopping at Banana Republic and Nordstrom only but I really don't have the need for high heels nor flattering clothings anymore. I am just proud when Missy E said she couldn't use her piggy bank money because she has put them away!
Overall, America is still a good place to live as long as we don't overspend and over indulge. Economy will go up and down as it is a cycle of how resources are used to make supply and wealth is distributed to meet demand. Aiming for an equilibrium can only be a theory when there is always one party who has to give for another to receive. Perhaps the US dollar is not at the helm now but the green money is still the most recognized and widely accepted currency around the globe. In my view, as long as one knows how to stretch his dollar and keep the change, he will get through the economic roller coaster whenever it decides to roll.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I was a bit surprised to see plum blossoms branches, not outside but inside my grocery store. At a price that I will never fork out for daffodils nor roses, I paid $8.99 for 7 branches of budding blossoms with one bloom as proof that it is not fake! And of course I made sure I get what I paid for with the most green buds and nicest stems and solid branches while I examined and chose from the bucket for at least 10 minutes. Strangely, no one is getting any and my holding of my branches bouquet may have made other shoppers think I am nuts to give up the petals for the branches! Perhaps no one appreciates it but I adore both plum and cherry blossoms, which are absolutely beautiful when their buds all blossom in abundance on 1 stalk and the pinkish or white colors of the flowers gives a calm feeling to the eyes, while emerging buds gives hope and expectation of more beautiful things to come.
The Cherry blossoms ("Sakura") must be emerging everywhere now in Japan. Its peak season runs from the end of March till mid April and strolling in the Botanical Gardens or parks while enjoying a picnic with red bean mochi and a flask of hot o-cha makes life on earth worthwhile. The beauty of nature displayed by these trees is overwhelming and to feel the flowers billowing down onto my face when the spring breeze blows, gives me a sense of pleasant and romantic feeling to be in such a perfect atmosphere.
Well, these days the chances of seeing a peach or plum blossom tree is as slim as seeing my store bought branches bears the fruit of these trees and until Prince D can sit and watch 6 to 8 hours of DVDs on the car trip to Washington DC, I will just have to settle with my vase and store bought plum blossom branches.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Stashing away the winter apparels is a happy thing that I do since I will look 20lbs lighter and no more straddling around like a penguin and having to adjust my car seat to accomodate my extra bulk. However, without my puffy jacket, I am set to face the truth.... do I look and weigh more since the binging started from Thanksgiving Day to X'mas Day and New Year parties and also the Chinese New Year plus the 1st family cake of the year from Curry's birthday last month of which I ate continuously for 7 days with cream attached? No more blaming on the jacket if I did!
I chose a new template for the blog today to celebrate the coming of spring and I hope the writing will improve and the reading will inspire and inform whoever reads it.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
200g minced pork, seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper
2 cubes of soft tofu, cut into 4 parts each
1/2 packet of enoki
chopped garlic, white part of scallion and chopped ginger
1 tbsp red miso
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
salt & pepper
1/3 cup of water
1) Heat pan and fry garlic, white part of scallion and chopped ginger.
2) Add minced pork and stir fry meat for 5 mins.
3)Start steaming the tofu on another pot.
4)Add enoki to stir fry meat and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the gravy mixture and let simmer for 5 minutes.
5)Pour the whole contents of the pan onto the tofu and continue to steam for 10 to 12 minutes.
Garnish with scallion and serve.
Serves: 3 as side dish
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The recent prostitution saga involving the Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer is a very good example that prominent individuals do cheat on their spouses like any other disrespectful philanderer and the fact that they hold public offices which are supposedly to project ethical and exemplary behaviors and choices in life makes their illicit activities more despicable than an ordinary person. Although Ex-President Bill Clinton was successful during his 2 terms as President, he will always be known as the man who smudged Monica Lewinsky's blue dress. The US Senator from Idaho, Larry Craig must be thinking that it was all a joke when he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from his infamous actions in an airport bathroom, of which he is now trying to detract by bringing the matter before the wise men of the Court of Appeal. Certainly he cannot be thinking that he can be both law maker and law breaker simultaneously and the fact that he was alleged to solicit sex from men makes Bill Clinton's liasons modest by all accounts!
While I will never understand why these men can be so capricious in subduing their lusts, I find their wives who stand behind them in their press conferences and trying to put up a stoic face with holding hands amidst all the sneerings of normal thinking women and numerous speculative media equally obnoxious as their philandering husbands. If they choose to believe their husbands and use their own words in their own respective interviews or press conferences, at least the obligatory wives will not look so dumb on camera. Isn't it humiliating enough already to learn that your husband is cheating and the media informing you first hand before he decides to confess that you have to stand at the podium to be further insulted with his denials or admissions and listening him telling about the acts publicly when your mind is perplexed as to the truth and your heart aches like it is going to stop working. For the pride of women, please reserve some dignity.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I wouldn't say I am with Andrew Zimmern in his bizarre food palete but he is one brave Western soul. But I beat him on one thing that he absolutely found horrendous to swallow while I will happily eat.... the Durian. And I still don't understand how he can easily swallow a frog's beating heart in Japan or live worms in Philippines and lived to elaborate and described their tastes while his encounter with the Durian was so aghast that he was all wrinkled up in expression and swears that he had found his nemesis in life. Compared to the former 2, the Durian is only a creamy fruit with no slimy feeling lingering down the throat nor grimy substances that fill the gum and gaps between teeth and the pungent smell is infact more perfumery scented rather than obnoxiously stinky. Infact I find the smell of celery and cilantro more intoxicating.
We were at an Asian market today and I took some time to really look into things. Near the entrance were trays of eggs, chicken and duck ones and thank goodness no others! These eggs contained embryos of the respective fowl and is widely known as Balut in the Phillipines and I braved myself to take a peek into a cracked one. Although not wholly formed, a black dot eye with developing feathered wings were scary enough for me to take a run with the shopping cart to the fish section at the end of the shop.
At least fish is ok as I suck their eyeballs and love the cheek part. Next was the meat section, where the whole anatomy of a cow and pig that can be managed by the butcher were on display. From huge tongue to honey combed patterned stomach, the sight of raw meat has never been so bloody and before my next bowl of Vietnamese Pho with beef in future, I shall hypnotize myself to forget about today. They don't look so disgusting in their cooked color of brown.
I cannot say I am a brave eater of every kind but there are something that I love. Fish Sashimi appeals to me as epicurean and having a bite of at least 15 assorted pieces with a cup of cold Sake evokes the idea of paradise in my head. Blocks of coagulated pig's blood and black thousand year old egg complement my plain congee. In Japan, I gobbled up raw cow's liver with sesame oil and picked a live small fish in the aquarium at my neighborhood restaurant of which the owner skillfully sliced and presented on my table in 5 minutes and my mom had to turn away for fear of retribution from the fish while I relish the freshness of its flesh.
And to qualify as bizarre in Andrew Zimmern's vocabulary, I surely have a weird taste too since I can eat the Durian and he couldn't. And the thing called Balut that he can chow down easily but not me, will surely top my list of the weirdest and most Bizarre food a human can devour!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Moderation is the best and that goes for good things too. Perhaps I overloaded myself with too much natural Vitamin D, my eyes were droopy come mid-day. Missy E and Prince D, donned in their winter boots and mittens were having fun scooping and building ice castle, which was not very picture ideal and befitting with the sun out. Still, they can get all messy with dirt as long as my hours go by fast and the shower is working.
And to be able to nap, regardless how short on this sunny day just makes my day.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
My opinion is that Bill Clinton has done more harm than give much assistance in the whole campaigning process. To a lay person like myself, his bickering against Obama went a little bit over the top and it looked more like he himself is the candidate. He is a media magnet and as long as he is in the spotlight, Hillary will only be a shadow and the public cannot see her as an individual running in her own shoes with her own mind and substance. Chelsea, on the other hand campaigned with her own subtle style, approaching voters in her age group and projected Hillary's other side of family warm, which was very important in the nasty world of politics.
Women voters in this election really hold the key to whether Hillary or Obama will win the Democratic party nomination. Despite being known as the ever flickered minded gender, they can be the determining force too when important decisions need to be made, as seen in the demographic of voters in the last 3 states. Hillary's change of her old belligerent tone to a more focused and composed self on the debate stage with Obama these days may have helped to propel her image to the public of a serious leader who rather talk and work it out than whine on stage when confronted with a behemoth of words and good looks.
The pendulum of need to change strategy has swung to Obama now. Nothing is definite in this race, one day one candidate can bring the house down with the ruckus and cheering of its supporters, the next day, the rival ones get to win the debate. It is all a spectator's sport and with 7 more months to go before a new President takes the oath, it will certainly be a good watch!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I love my Asian inspired bowls as their varieties in colors and sizes are more appealing compared to the white and unicolored ones I see here in the States. With darker hues used for the patterns and set against the background of an earthy pallette of beige, peach, light yellow or grass green, the bowls that I owned are good enough for both dinnerware use and display in every part of the house. Accentuated with a mahogany place stand, a simple bowl can be as classy and unique as a crystal in a glass lit cabinet. My "Super Bowl" in my collection will be the 2 antique bowls, once owned and inscripted with my grandfather's name, passed down to me from my mom. To be able to own these sentimental bowls is a great honor to me and to have them displayed amongst my other favorite things, I feel so content. Good things do come in small sizes and my bowls are priceless.