Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why the delay in postings

Was just looking at unposted "post", all there to be edited. What is the delay? Is it the perfectionist in me? Making sure it is just right? Ha, ha, not if you have read by blog- typo, spelling and grammatical horror! Maybe, I am editing it to portray myself the way I want the world to view me? I hope not!! Hmm, maybe there is a little editing there...... if I being honest. Hey, who wants to put herself out there as being _____ (whatever fills that blank!). Still I think it is essentially Me and my beloved family. It is hard because you always want to be portray everyone in good light. Plus it is hard to write about hard times. I guess that is why I never truly kept a journal. Heaven forbid, if it fells into the wrong hands. That is then to imply that there would be "juicy" stuff to be ashamed off!!! Ha, ha. I think I have lived a fairly normal life.......

Hah! Feels good to ramble on. Maybe that is why people keep journal. Was just reading Sister C's blog. Her attempts in keeping a journal in her younger days (yes, you are still young). It so reminds me of me at that age. I too tried and failed with journals. Repeatedly. I see that my Daughter L has the same problems. In my annual spring cleaning, I come across numerous journals she had best a dozen pages then cold silence. Ha,ha. I remember she had a coach that wanted them to keep a journal of their soccer / sports which they had to " show" him, weekly. There they could rant about the game, fellow players, how they felt, about the coach etc. Anything that affected their game. She invariable forgot to write in her journal. Okay, maybe that is not a fair comparison as you know someone is going to read it. Or maybe, she was just plain lazy. Yes, my sisters she can be lazy too. She is human.

I digress. Actually I take that back. Daughter L example is like Me. She is like Me. We both are writing or not writing because we know it is going to be read. Make sense????

This is what happens when you wake up at 6 am to bake Rock Buns for your daughter's breakfast so that she has something in her tummy before she takes the ACT examination! You ramble on nonsense.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Young Man

Been sitting in Son A's Martial Art Studio classes more often these days. His class schedule changed recently, so that he now goes every night for about an hour. With the price of gas, it just does not make sense to drive back and forth within the hour. So, I sit. Read a book or magazine. Do a bit of work.

And I look up. Often. When I hear grunts, cheers or sound of punches raining on somebody! Is it my son? I am amazed at him. He is really quite good at Muay Thai and also at Jujitsu. He is more often than not the youngest in the class and he more than holds his own. It is totally mind blogging to see him lift and carry his training partner for the day, normally a person of approximately his weight across the studio. And do this repeatedly. Of course, I worry that he is going to hurt himself. I am in awe! The strength of my baby. He is able to lift and carry his own weight. The prowess of youth.

I watch with pride as he spars with kids older than him, college age and young adults. He has improved so much in the last 2 years since becoming a Black Belt holder. He is faster, stronger and more skillful. His Sensei was commenting tha other night about how fast and hard his punches and kicks are these days. Son A takes a private training session with the Sensei once a week. It has really help him hone his skills. The Sensei watches him during regular classes and gets excited when he see Son A sparring, using techniques he just taught him. He is beaming with pride when Son A wins or does well against an opponent. He was just saying he wishes his son would want to train as much as Son A. The other day, Sensei tells Son A he is prodigy #2. Prodigy#1 is an older college aged young man who is skillfull and currently the lead instructor aside from Sensei. Son A hopes to be a paid instructor once he reaches 16.

Me. I am proud. But... sometimes I wonder if I'll have to someday rush him to the emergency room because of an injury. So far, so good. He is careful and not boastful. That helps because if you think you are invincible, that when you get hurt. Oh, don't get me wrong, he knows he is good. He is confident and he goes out there to prove it over and over again. But, he knows his opponents. He knows who has a temper, who has something to prove......

I am also filled with pride when he leads classes. It is still so amazing to me to see him at the front of the class. Where is my little boy who used to be trying to wing it,among the crowd of the class? He is now particular about his form and doing his best. He is a young man,My Young Man.

I better post this already. Been thinking I wanted to take pictures of him in action. That is pictures that shows him in action without actually showing him! Yes, still have that hang up. Keep forgetting my camera so....... IT is posted.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Second thoughts about blogging.

Been in the dumps lately. All bottled in and not posted on the blog. I think I have a problem putting it out there. The blog is not quite working out as a journal for me. I am not free spirited enough to let it out there.

I enjoy the playing on the computer, taking pictures and writing about the good times, the funny times- the tougher time....... as you can see no posting for over a month. I guess I will limit it to my hobbies until and if ever I feel differently. Ha, ha, even that has not quite worked out. I am so happily engrossed in my cooking for example, I forget to take pictures or write down what I tweaked about the recipe. That I think will work itself out once I can set aside enough playtime and set up for it, knowing I will blog it. I will do that for my daughter L, though she will be in dorms for a bit so maybe no cooking yet.

Busy with my family. Proud to say, husband is busy getting fit. He has been biking up to 16 miles a day. GO Baby! He is aiming for 30 miles a day. Really proud of him. Me- my Wii Fit age went down to 29 the other day so that is pretty good, right???? Weight wise I have not budged much, though my clothes are feeling looser. That's what counts said my doctor when I complained to her the other day. At the amount I am exercising 2 years ago I would have lost 10-15 lbs in the first month alone. I have to jump start my metabolic rate. Have to work harder.

Son A has love and lost since the last blog. He has come out a little wiser about girls ( I hope!). He is busy with his Jujitsu, Muay Thai and Tae-Kwon- Do. Also, he is excited about Lacrosse and thinks it might be the sport for him.

Daughter L is started on the stressful college application process, meeting datelines ( or not!), being sweet (most of the time) tired out by all her sport activities but enjoying it all.

Well, at least I am trying to post something!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Garden Frontline news.........

I have to confess, I have not been out in the garden for as long periods as I had been. Life has got a little hectic. Of course, I check on whether my seeds have sprouted and water the seed trays. Handle the obviously critical matters but basically left the garden alone.

Oh, yeah, I forgot I did on Monday, strip the citrus trees of leaf miner affected leaves- your know the ones where you see a white trail where the leaf miners have 'mined/sucked' out the juices. San Diego is under a citrus quarantine -backyard fruit are not to be transported out of location as Mexican insect have been found in orchards. California is a citrus producing state so the quarantine is very important. Sadly, I finally had to resort to chemical intervention for the leaf miners - one recommended by the Department of Agriculture. I kept it to only my citrus orchard. It should be safe to harvest my fruits (if they were ready) 5 days or so after application. So that is fine as it will still be awhile before I harvest the citrus.

Oh, before I forget, I also ran into another pest. This time on my mango tree. Some kind of borer had decided to attack the trunk of my tree. Remember, I had found one side of the tree dying off when I came back from vacation and never found out why it happened? Well, I guess the borers must already have been at work but not visible. Again, Agriculture Department recommended a Bayer Tree and Shrub product that was safe. I am prepared to forgo a season of fruit although they said I do not have to. Ha, ha. I am agreeable as there is no flowers on the plants and unlikely until next spring!! Hey, I love my mango so I am glad I do not have to make a hard decision.

Finally, the tomato horn caterpillars have reduced. I still find one or two a week but not the numbers I used to. The tomato plants are finally coming back and are flowering. Little tomatoes are also visible. It is so sad that almost two month for the surviving tomato plants to come back to fruiting. Another plant that is finally thriving is the pea eggplant (terung pipit).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black Hokkein Spaghetti

1 lb dried thick spaghetti
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 cup medium size prawns
1 cup sliced meat- chicken, pork or beef
1/2 cup squid, pineapple scored or cut into rings
3 cups Choy Sum, cut into 2 inch length. (maybe substituted with
Bok Choy aka Nappa Cabbage
3 eggs (beaten)

3 tablespoon dark
1 tablespoon light soya sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoon cornflour
1 cup of water

  1. Boil spaghetti according to the box. We use Barilla Thick Spaghetti - boil until al dente only, 12 minutes.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients together in bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan. Add sliced shallot, fry until translucent. Add garlic and fry until just golden brown.
  4. Add the meat, fry for 2 minutes or until just cooked.
  5. Add prawns and squid, fry another minute or 2 until prawns just turn opaque.
  6. Pour in sauce and bring to a boil.
  7. Add noodles and vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes till vegetables are done and noodles are heated through.
  8. Serve .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Craving for Black Hokkein Noodles

The family had a craving for Black Hokkien Noodles but was not interested to go out to groceries or look for a pseudo Hokkein Noodles. So, I rustle up Black Hokkein Spaghetti. I used thick Spaghetti Noodles. It turned out quick good. So much so we had it again this weekend, but I did not have the thick spaghetti. Had to use spaghettini- pasta with ridges along the sides, which we love for regular italian sauces as it clings to those ridges. Have to say, go with thick spaghetti. Udon would do too, I think. I thought I would blog this so that daughter L would have it for college. After all, that was one of the reason for this blog. For course, we had to have finely sliced omelet to top it off because that is what we like!

Doesn't it look yummy? It looks lighter in the photo. Anyway, it was good eats and will do in a pinch when you are far from the real McCoy.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dream Catcher

Son A has been working hard at school. We are so proud of him. It is wonderful to see him so motivated and driven to do well in school. That is not to say that he is `perfect'. Dear boy, still has his lapses. Only these days, he kicks himself for it versus me `kicking' him! Middle school has brought such a maturity to him that makes me beam with pride and tear up. Yeh, I am a sappy Mom especially at a time in a boy's life he needs his mother to have a little dignity and restraint! And did I tell you how cute he looks? Especially so, in button down shirts and polos. I am not surprise that he gets the attention he does from the girls!

Week 2 of school has
ended. Each day, when I pick him up from school, he gets into the car and say, "Mom, I have great news", or "Mom, I have bad news". Or, if there is no exceptional news, I have to ask him how his day was. This week I was greeted with two "Mom, I have great news" events. He rummages through his backpack for the paper that shows his `great' work. Often, this is preempted by me saying I wish he would keep his paper neatly and not dog eared. Anyway, I digress. Happy event 1 - He tested great in Math, achieving mastery levels in all levels of this Math/ Algebra curriculum.Event 2- He tested Reading and Comprehension at post high school level!!! He was ecstatic, especially since I am always asking him to read, and read a wide range of genres. He reads Mad magazine and Lat , for God sake! Ha, ha, we are all so proud of him. He, happily relates this to his sister who then tells him she tested out at 4th grade to be post high school level and then they stop testing her in elementary school!! Not even that comment could take away the pride he had in his testing. Never mind how Che Che did, he is doing okay by himself. But it did start him thinking on the reading level of high school kids....

In any event, Son A, ap
pears to be doing well in all classes with the exception of US History. The first test was on US state capitals, which my dear son thought would be a snap, since he already learn that in 5 grade. Well, as you can predict, he did not do so well.... He says he remembers the state capital if given a map. He is able to put down the state capital and the name of the respective state. He was not able to answer a straight question. What is the capital of______? Imagine that! I told him he needed to know his subject thoroughly and be able to answer the questions which ever direction they took. Besides, if you can actually place on the map, the state and it capital city, you really know the stuff. Straight questions capital to state should be a done deal. Guess not. He must be a very visual kid.
Here's where the Dream Catcher comes in. In order to raise his scores, he has opted to take on extra credit work. He comes to me and ask if I could help him weave Native American baskets??? Yeh, right! No, I said, I cannot. Besides where will we find the reefs needed? So he researches and come back with the idea of Dream Catchers and has his teacher approves the project. He comes home from school on Friday and asks me to help him with the project. He researches online and gets instruction on how to make a Dream Catcher and presents it to me. Okay, he needs dried grapevines. I send him into our garden to look for it. We have only green vines. I was not about to make another trip across town to buy a dried wreath for the project (at least not if I could help it). So, I go out to the garden and we find some dried raspberry stems. We soaked them and fashion a wreath out of it. I started the first rows for him and he finished the weaving and stringing the bead on the Dream Catcher. Lastly, we tied a bunch of feathers to complete the project. Not too shabby, even if we do say so ourselves.

With this Dream Catcher,
Son A, hopes to capture back his grades. One can only applaude him for his effort and persistence.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spidy at Work

I was right! Spidy is definitely my hero. But before I go on, I want you to know that I went through a whole day yesterday where I could not find Spidy. I was really upset that all the plant trimming and removal of one of the Terung Pipit plant may have been too much for Spidy. Spidy's plant was just trimmed, not removed...yet! My plan is to remove all 3 plants and free up the space for other vegetables. Now, I have to come up with a plan on how to move Spidy. I really want to keep him happy if I can.

More about my hero, Spidy. This morning as I climb up the stairs, who did I see but Spidy. He had chosen another leaf at eye level for his new perch. What do I see in his hands??? None other than a small Tomato Horn Caterpillar. Whie my birds in the garden had not been able to `eat' those darn high caterpillars, Spidy is trying to catch them while they are young. Nothing like taking care of problems early!

I know is kind of strange my relationship with Spidy. My relationship with Spiders go along way back... back to Kuala Kubu Bharu. Yep, to before nine years old. I use to hunt for spiders among leaves of plants. My favorite plant to find `good' spiders was along the lily plants with their strappy long leaves. Two leaves would be `glued' together, by spider nest, white, wooly and sticky. I would catch spiders and keep them in matchboxes. I use them to fight my friends' spider. Okay, I was a tomboy, generally these friends were boys! I was known to be quite the champion.

Ha, ha. Over the years, my relationship with spiders have been less happy. Since moving out west, black widow spider and hugh spiders have made me a little squemish. Finally, with Spidy, I have come a full circle to having a spider friend. At least I think we are friends.......

Monday, September 8, 2008

Spidy is back!

About the time that I came back from my summer vacation and to the destruction by the Tomato Horn caterpillars, I discovered a friend. SPIDY! My very own Spidy, my hero. I found him on my Terung Pipit plant ( pea eggplant). At first I was not sure if he was friend or foe. But I thought more likely a friend since he did not eat my plants but the insects that visit it. I would walk up the steps and see Spidy's silhouette on the leave. Slowly, I would come to be eye level with him as I reach almost the top steps. Thus became my routine each morning. I would check if he was still there and what he would be doing. It almost seemed.... that he would be waiting for me, too.He would stay on the leaf even when I would pull on the leaf to get a better look at him. I would say hello Spidy and have my little chat with him. Yeh, I know the insane gardener who has been in the sun too long.

Over the weeks I would watch him at work.
Sometimes, he would have an insect in his legs. I would watch him take the insect to the underside of the leaf to his web. It felt like we were both working in the garden. Him with the pesky insects and me hunting for the Tomato Horn Caterpillars who have reappeared. This time, seemingly on the Terung Pipit plants.

Anyway, those Terung Pipit plants were growing enormouss and taking over most of the first planter box. It showed all signs of growing into much larger
plants. Besides, with the caterpillar problems, I only had 1 eggplant among 3 plants! It is a bad return for the valuable planter space. They were also shading out the other plants. I decided to move them from the bed. This morning, I trimmed the plants, being careful not to hurt Spidy's web. However, when I looked for Spidy he was gone! I check his web and all the leaves but could not find him. Periodic check during the day did not yield my friend.

Finally, before nighfall, I checked on my garden again. And there was Spidy!! I hope he is back to stay.

Ugly Betty (L) / Captain H

It was only the second week of school and my poor daughter (L) already had a beauty of a bruise on her leg. I tried to take picture of it but it so ugly that the camera would not take a shot!! The lighting and angle just made it difficult, the camera would not focus or when it did it just refuse to click and lock the shot. L was laughing none stop. I told her the bruise was so ugly it broke my camera!!The picture just does not do it justice. It is ugly, yellow, purple, green and so, so big.

Dear daughter was cleated at a soccer scrimmage. Needless to say, her Field Hockey coaches gave her a hard 0f time about it! Everyone had a good laugh at her expense. Ha, ha she kept knocking into it with her graceful movements so there were many moments of *#!#&*.
Never mind, the beautiful `personal tattoo' that she spots with her cute short Field Hockey Skirt.

Not if you are sporting on this band on your arms.Yeh, my baby is Field Hockey Captain. So proud of my warrior daughter who wears the battle scars of her games!! GO BABY!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Whose Flower Am I?

Okay for my garden enthusiasts, here is a little quiz. Look at the pictures and try to guess whose flower they are i.e. what plants do they belong to.

Now, that was not too difficult was it?

Bonus question! What plant am I the fruit of?

Answers(from left to right) : Lemon, Japanese Eggplant, Coriander,
Chive, Tomato, Curry Leave, Terung Pipit, Japanese Shiso,
Purple Ruffle Basil. Bonus - Curry Leave Berries

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Citrus Orchard Update

Finally, I am feeling a bit better. I went off the Sudafed PE and unto Zyrtec since I think it must be allergies causing the nasal drip. Took that for 2 days and today I am drug free. Went back to exercising and to my garden....

Happily, the citrus orchard is doing well. Just take a look!

I was excited. Last week, I spotted 4 new baby pomelos on the tree. Then I fell sick. Then the little fruits fells off. Sympathy drop off??? However, the lone pomelo is hanging in there. It just seems that it is not growing very much bigger. Hmm, maybe it is turning more yellow and ready to eat??

The grapefruit tree is amazing! It is almost a lie to call it a tree.It is such a small shrub. Just look at the trunk! I am hoping that it will take off this year and grow bigger soon because I am looking forward to grapefruit for breakfast and salads.Yet, it has these five grapefruit that keep growing and growing. Don't they look so beautiful and delicious?

Look at the Bitter Lemon fruits (Limau Perut). The tree is just full of them. I have a beautiful supply of fragrant leaves for my curries and Nonya dishes. I remember the times in Malaysia that I had to hunt for these leaves before I could make a special dish. It is such a pleasure to have it just outside my door.

Limau Kasturi or more commonly known in the US as Calamasi. The important ingredient for sambals and the oh so refreshing air limau. This tree is actually quite old, maybe 5-6 years old. It had been moved all over my garden. Had half of it die off one year because of frost but it came back. This year it is giving me tons of fruits for drinks, salad, sambals. Hey, maybe I might even make pickle limes and dried limes. Have to check with Ah Khor for recipe.

I forgot to take pictures of the Satsuma Mandarin Oranges, Valencia and Navel Oranges. Will have to wait till tomorrow morning to take pictures and then post blog.

It is Saturday morning and here are the pictures of the other citrus I forgot yesterday.

Two seasons of Navel Oranges; note the green oranges and the small oranges with flower petals just falling off! It takes about 5 months for the oranges to mature. It should ripens towards the second week of November through early spring. Best times are from February through April, when they are sweetest.

On the left, Satsuma Mandarin Oranges. Should be ready about Thanksgiving if the weather cooperates! These are our family favorite to snack out of hand. I am sure we are going to have to buy from the shops to supplement- those little`Darling' Clementines.The snack of Athletes!

On the right, Valencia Oranges. Sweet, juicy Valencia, excellent for juice. Valencia season is from February through October. But because we are along coastal California is will be a little later.

I really do not `remember' when each type of citrus is ready. I just watch the fruit, its size, weight and color. Okay, sometimes, I just pluck one and try. If it is sour, I wait and try again a week or two later. So scientific

RAW Deal

Thought I would `upgrade' my digital photography skill and start working with RAW files. Been reading about working with RAW versus Jpeg files and liked the options I had. Of course, there I went taking photos in Raw format, some of them, one shot moments without doing enough research!

So, I go to upload the pictures.I cannot view them in the window explorer. I wanted to view and delete some of the photos before uploading. Anyway, I said to myself, okay, we will open them up in PSE 5.0. Only when I go to import those photos, it failed because it was in the wrong or a format not recognized by PSE 5.0. Now, I search the web and find out that it only recognizes Raw format from specific cameras. Needless to say, not my Nikon D40X!

So, now hopefully I can find a program that can read it or convert it to Jpeg. You know what, I am not going to try too hard and spend too much time on this. I will change my camera back to Jpeg setting and write this off as a Raw Deal aka also a lesson learnt.

N.B. Found trial version of program that let me convert my raw files ReaConverter 5.5 Pro. Can only convert 5 files at a time during trial period of 15 days. I guess I did not learn my lesson because it was off the first click on Google search! But there are other free programs out there. Another path for me to wander down when I have time...ha, ha.... when is that??????

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup

Husband was away. The dishwasher broke down. It just refused to drain. Finally after cleaning the filter and running the dishwasher for 3 cycles, I gave up and called the repairman. No appointment until Tuesday, after Labor Day!. Decided on a Wednesday appointment as Tuesday being the first day of school can be trying. Who knows what will happen that day.

To top it all, I suddenly develop a hacking cough. My throat is irritated. Sucked on cough drops. No relief. Took Robitussin, still coughing. Now, I am up at nights as I keep coughing when I am lying down. Have to sit up to sleep. Totally exhausted. Cannot wait for husband to come home so I can collapse without guilt.

What do I eat? Listless, i just want something soupy. I am thinking of my favorite dish at Korean Restaurant- Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup. So I retrieve 2 cornish hens from
the freezer and thaw them. Rummage through my now sadly depleted fridge because I have not been grocery shopping. Find some garlic and ginger I need. No scallions but who cares! The pantry does not produce any glutinous rice but I do have some sushi rice. That will have to do. I find some sliced ginseng and also capsules of ground ginseng that I can use. Of course, I do not have the red dates needed. But visions of slupping the hot ginseng chicken soup pushes me on. How hard can this be? I have eaten this soup so many times. At worst it will be a good chicken soup.

I cleaned and washed the Cornish hens. Mixed the sushi rice with some of the powdered ginseng. Spoon in some of the sushi rice,sliced ginseng, ginger and garlic into the cavity. Seal it up with a pin (saved from bacon wrapped Fillet Mignon). You can use skewer or toothpicks.Put
the prepared Cornish Hens into my pressure cooker. Put in enough water to cover chicken. Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure. Once pressure is reached, lower flame, maintain pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Voila, Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup or at least a fair version with my limited pantry. It saved me!!!

I know, Ah Khor will probably say it is too "heaty" with my sore throat. Sadly, I am the most ignorant of all my siblings when it comes to Chinese remedies or medicine. Always been hearty so was never feed chinese remedies as far as I can remember. Did not have the influence of my mother in law or older generations as I have lived abroad for almost 20 years now. So I muddle along as I please. At that moment, I needed my Ginseng Chicken fix. Besides, my son loves the soup too! One for each of us, how perfect!

Husband is home and suggest I take Sudafed PE nasal decongestant. But I tell him I do not have a runny nose and I am not congested. He tells me that it happened to him before and the doctor told him that it was a nasal drip causing the irritation. So I take it. Fitful sleeping up to about 3 am coughing every now and then finally sleep. Wake up and I am a lot better. Looks like Dr.Quack may know a thing or two. Feeling a lot better today. Dear husband just drove me to get the night version of Sudafed PE so that I can sleep tonight. I guess I slept last night from pure exhaustion.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Successful Moon(cake) Landing

You know me. I just could not accept that I had failed at making Mooncakes. So, washed and cooled the baking sheets and immediately started another batch of Mooncake dough, this time I tried Lily Sek's of I made half the quantity as I already have more Mooncakes than we can eat. Mixed up the starter, set is aside for 1 hour. Luckily, we had a late lunch so I could still play.Meanwhile I pan toasted up some sunflower seeds and almond silvers to add to the too sweet filling. Chilled the mixture in the fridge.

Prepared dinner for family - Adobo Flank Steak and Grilled Eggplant on the grill outside.While Flank steak was cooking, I pulled out the chilled filling and rolled them into balls. It is now abou
t 9:30 p.m.! Of course, I was torn between watching the basketball finals between USA and Spain and redeeming my name!

Made the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes while I ate dinner. This recipe ask me to knead the dough.
The previous one said not to knead. I used almost maximum flour asked for; 220 gm for half recipe. Adding flour as I kneaded until it was no longer sticky. It felt like good playdough. I felt more confident.

I roll the dough into balls. Flattening each ball into a 2 1/2 inch circle. As luck would have it, next to me was a plactic 1 cup measure. I put it on top of the ball of dough and pressed down. A nice circle
of around 2 1/2 inches. I pick up the flatten dough. Put a ball of filling in the middle. Lily is right. If you put the dough and filling ball in the middle of a cupped palm and push the filling against the dough, it will stretch, allowing you to cover the filling without too much extra dough. I lightly roll the filled dough between my floured hands, before putting it into the mould and pressing lightly. A couple of knocks on the counter and it comes off the mould. A prefect little mooncake.
The imprint was more distintive this time. The recipe calls for broiling it in the oven for 5 minutes. My oven's broiler needs to be preheat.By the time I put the prepared Mooncakes in, it was quite hot. At 3 mins 40 seconds it was quite brown. Admittedly, I was watching the Basketball final and did not check on the Mooncake....Next time, I would broil for less time or keep an eye on it (so Ladies, no Chinese Soap or House Episodes).Take out of oven and rest 10 minutes. That was was good, as USA had started to make careless fouls....Brush on egg glaze and another 5 minutes rest. Caught a little more game.

Baked for 10 minutes as it was quite brown form my broiling. Cooled it on sheet and then on cooling rack. The imprint was so much clearer this time!

The Mooncake
seemed a little harder than the other recipe. Lily's recipe said to store for 2-3 days before it is ready for eating. Cut one to try anyway. Just a tad drier but just as delicious pastry. The added sunflower seeds really cut the sweetness.The skin was evenly around the filling. Very nice.

This morning ( the day after) the pastry already seems softer and more shinny and taste even better. So, It is worth a try. I will make different fillings the next time and share the recipe.

Romance Killer ?

"I spend all my free time with you, Mommy. That is why I do not have a boyfriend!" How would you feel if your daughter told you this???? I guess, I will have to cut her out of my life so that she can have a life - a love life.
Am I a suffocating, controlling mother? I always thought she spent all that time with me because she loves being with me. All this while..........One day she says I am her Go To Girl and the next she says this. Hmm, she is spending all this time with me because......because.....I don't know why. Because I did not cut the umbilical cord? Because I frighten away prospective boyfriends?
Wait, I will not be the villain in this. This must be it. It is because I am better than a boyfriend, that's why.
All this because I asked if she wanted to watch a movie with me and she wanted to sleep! Sleep deprivation makes a daughter cut deep and draws blood. I don't make her spend her free time with me or do I.......? I do not know anymore. Why does she ask me to wait till she is free to watch certain movies with her or to wait and go places with her instead of going on my own. You know what I think? I think I do not have a social life because she is always making me wait to do things with her that's what. Trying to make me think I am the bad one. HA!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh where do I hide my Moon Face?

So sad to report, my Mooncakes experiment was not quite a success. They looked good before baking but when they came out of the oven, the beautiful imprint were so shallow, they were barely visible. I was looking forward to reporting success and giving tips on how to make them. Oh, where do I hide my shameful Moon Face????? I guess it is back to the kitchen.

Before Baking After Baking

I think the pastry dough was not firm enough to hold the imprint while in the oven. Maybe,I did not measure the ingredients accurately- too much Golden Syrup. That does not seem likely as the pastry was just nice, not too sweet.I put in only the half tablespoon of alkali water it called for, seeing how paranoid I was about that ingredient- so that could not be it ( too little? maybe but I think not- I was very focus on getting it right). That leaves the flour- too little? All in all the texture of the pastry/ skin was good.

I had used ready made black bean and red bean filling. It was too sweet for our taste. Next time I will either make my own or add nuts and sunflower seeds to ready made filling to cut down on the sweetness.

I think part of the problem could have been the wrapping of the dough around the filling. Maybe I did not wrap it close enough around the filling, leaving a air gap. This would not have given the pastry the support it needed, allowing it to `spread'.

Whatever it is, it is back to the kitchen for me though the sweet taste of the filling at the back of my throat is not encouraging me. Maybe I can make the Snow Skin Mooncakes instead. No, I will persist and make some beautiful Mooncakes soon and report back.

Now what do I do with these very sweet Mooncakes?

Friday, August 22, 2008

To Mooncake or Not

On my recent trip back to Malaysia I saw beautiful Mooncakes being sold everywhere. No longer contented with the traditional black bean paste, lotus paste with diced ham and fragrant nuts (Kum Thui), we now have chocolate, peanut butter, cappuccino, green tea, durian filled Mooncakes. The array become even more confusing with the Snow Skin version of Mooncakes - filled with strawberry, raspberries, blueberries, longan and every sort of flavor you can imagine. With the Snow Skin Mooncakes also comes the colors; the greens of the pandan and green teas, the pinks of the berries and others hues tinted by the fruits and herbs used. Then the sizes and shapes. Things sure has change from when double yolk Mooncake was the luxury!

Anyway, I was inspired to try to make Mooncake this year. My dear sister in law was kind enough to take me to buy some Mooncake moulds before I left ( and also a Ang Ku mould... hopefully more about that later). Of course, I have the dilemma of the alkali water aka Potassium Carbonate and Sodium Bi- Carbonate solution aka Kan Sui aka Lye water. I always knew that alkali water was involved in Mooncake as in many Chinese dishes.....and also how controversial it is. I guess I knew I would be trying this. Who was I kidding.

Anyway to the blogs I go to find out if there is a substitute for lye water / alkali water. I come across it being banned / pull off the shelves in Australia- highly cautic, strongly akaline. I read about Norwegian dishes that use it. Of European Artisian bakers who use lye and believe that there is no substitute for it.Pretzel makers use it (although I use sodium bicarbonate in pretzel recipes with good success. Will experiment at some point). Somehow the texture of traditional food is different without it. The Chinese use it in making Noodles, giving it the springy texture, the Kan Sui Koh, Kan Sui Chung (Rice Dumpling) to name a few. It boils down to being careful with it, using only a very small amount of it, keeping it out of the hands of children and buying food grade alkali / lye water, none of the drain cleaning grade!

So tonight, I have followed Betty Yew's Traditional Mooncake recipie and prepared my deadly starter for tomorrow's Mooncake skin. More tomorrow on the Mooncake adventure as I (hopefully) live and breath.

As a footnote, my husband bade me goodnight in the kitchen, with snide remarks about the potion I was going to kill him with.......

I Am The Go To Girl !

When my friends ask me who I go to for advice, I say me. I am the total package, and my mommy. My mommy is my Go To Girl. Thus said my daughter to me. Shucks.... I am blushing. I love you too babe


As I sit here at my computer, I am thinking about my siblings. A brother who is experiencing fatherhood for the first time in his forties, a sister who has a brood ( I exaggerate - just 3) of children ranging from kindergarten to a new teenager and my youngest sister a recent induct into baby boot camp! Been there, done that, still doing it. Do I have any advice for you????

I do not know about advice but I can perhaps share my feeling, hindsight. Nobody told me that I would love my kids so much, what I would do for them, how far I would go for them.This was not how I imagine motherhood in my twenties. Actually, I don't think I even imagine motherhood. Which lead to my mother and others thinking I did not like children!! I just was not ready to be a mother. I had a great career and a wonderful husband who was equally driven career wise. We just wanted our time together. It would be six years into our marriage and a continent away before we would start our family and begin our love affair with our children.

Like I said, I did not put much thought into motherhood. Yes, I wanted children at the right time.I would be a good mother- nuture, feed and cloth them, piano lesson etc. No further thoughts beyond that. Like my dad said, children are like "ubi kayu" ( sweet potatoes)- stick them in the ground and they will grow. It seemed like that was how we grew up.... ( he did do more. both my parents did. They greatly influenced my life- more about that in later postings). I think they were busy providing for the four of us. As long as we were happy they were happy parents. What more is there, then making sure that your children are well adjusted and happy. Both teachers, they always made sure that one of them would be home with us.

To me, parenthood was to be a natural progression in life not a driving force in my life. I never imagine that my career would take a back seat to parenting. I don't think many who knew me back then would have imagine this life I now lead. But then, I think I was one of the earliest in my class to get married at 25.( I know 25 is not real early but I married at the earliest age among my siblings too) It just felt right and it is- will celebrate my 25 wedding anniversary in 2010!

A dear friend told me recently how devoted and dedicated a mother I am. I never looked at it that way. It naturally evolved. My children made it so easy, I am truly blessed. My daughter who inspired many friends to start families because she was so "easy" to take care of and so loving. She made them think "we can do this". My son, the irrepressible rascal with the big heart. I thank my dear husband for enabling me to be to scale back work and be able to enjoy our lives together and be the mother I am ( and hopefully a good wife!).A wonderful partner and support. I appreciate it even more so these days, as I count down the days we have with my eldest, a daughter, senior year in high school.This time, next year we will be packing her off to college.Imagine that!! I am amazed at how my son is growing up- a wonderful young man, full of life, energy and passion. A wonderful heart. It is incredible how he `grew up' right in front of my eye as he moved from elementary school to middle school last year.

So I am thinking maybe I can share some of my parenting experience.
My brother - you are lagging behind but at least you are in the race!! (ha, ha) I mean game of parenting. Second sister ( salutation for the benefit of the youngest sister), you are not far behind. We both have teenagers of the same age.Little youngest sister - the newest entry - welcome to parenthood.

And maybe it will help others -how it differs from my and maybe your upbringing. Especially for those of us born in the East and now living in the West. Each step of our children lives especially in school had been new to us - we had to find out what to do. Maybe it can benefit some of you out there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Still Not Sure

I am still on the fence regarding blogging......I love taking pictures but I am still wary of posting pictures of my love ones on the internet. And that, takes half (maybe the whole) fun out of it. I know I can keep the posts private but......I just have to come to terms with it.... and hopefully soon.

To my sister who wants to wait for a block of time to work on a project, that is not our lives now! We have to seize the moment. Like this post, just a two paragraphs mussing about my ambivalence about blog. Ha, ha and I want to encourage you to blog.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not Total Devastation

Sorry if I made it sound like all was lost in the caterpillar rampage. My heirloom tomatoes were the main casualties. At the end of the day I did manage to rustle up a tasty meal the first night of steaks and potatoes on the grill with a fresh salad of lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, pepper and herbs like basils and parsley from the garden. Some of the lettuce were a bit old but the tomatoes were so sweet and juicy and the red pepper was not half bad. The herbs was very flavorful and fragant. Unfortunately, the potatoes plants in the garden wilted while I was away so potatoes that night came from the pantry. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to those lovely baby spuds from my own garden later in fall.

Happily, the kumquat flowers I saw before I left had developed into fruits. Should be a decent crop of kumquats if not too many drop. The strawberry guava tree is reliable as ever, masses of fruits, plumping up nicely but no color yet. The persimmons are quite large now and will soon color too.

Had an unfortumate setback with the figs. Must have been some scorching days while we were gone because I had fruit and leaf drops. Some of the figs remaining on the trees were quite dry. Hopefully I can nurse it back and have some fruit for this season. I should be fine next season.

Seem to have lost one side of my mango tree while new leaves are growing on another side. Still trying to figure that out. The pomegranate plants too seem to have suffered from the heat. They had dropped their leaves but now seem to be coming back. The banana, ciku, nona, passionfruit and even the lychee trees seem to be thriving. All in all, I am happy. I always expect some casualties during my summer breaks. It is just those darn Tomato Horn Caterpillars! I do love my Tomatoes.Posted by Picasa

Vacationers without reservation

On the way back from the airport, I kept wondering, what will my garden be like? I hope my kitchen garden is alive. We had been away for 3 weeks. Normally, I would not worry too much as we have irrigation but..... You see, a couple of days before we left, I came across huge caterpillars in my vegetable patch. Those ugly critters were the size of my middle finger; Tomato Horn caterpillars! They were ravaging my vegetables. I even found one on my grapefruit tree in my orchard.They look so plump and juicy. Normally, the birds would take care of them but maybe this time they were too big or there were too many of them. I diligently search them out and metered out justice. I cut them in half ... cruel I know but I was fighting for our food. Besides, it made it easier for the birds to eat them then. I try to keep my garden organic so it means removing snails and other bugs by hand or apply organic solution like baking soda, garlic and chili or just plain jets of water. Anyway, I kept on the killing spree for a few days but worried as I board the plane that there may another generation of those caterpillars developing in my garden.......

Fast forward to our return. I open the back sliding door and look up to my Kitchen Garden. I see red tomatoes in the distance ( a small smile) but it does not not look too lush and green ( a frown on my forehead). I slowly walk across the patio and up the stairs to the kitchen garden......My heart sinks as I view ripe tomatoes on the ground and ripening ones on the vines- vines almost without leaves! As I suspected another generation of caterpillars vacationed in my garden while was away.My guests without reservations. I have spent the last few days trying to bring back the half dead tomato plants.

Caterpillar attack

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Heard from the back of the car.....

"Grandpa loved me best of all", said my son. "Are you sure?", retorted his sister. "He loved me first before you were even a thought in my mind". You see, she had asked for her brother. " Did he take you on train rides?" he asks."Yes, he did". "Well, he was thinking there will be another and HE WILL BE A GREAT ONE" said the rascal!

Children, your Grandpa loved both of you equally but in different yet same way (ha, ha that's Mama mumbo jumbo talk) But I hate to break it to you all, Grandpa LOVE MOMMY BEST OF ALL! I was his first born.

THE END.........

Friday, July 18, 2008

How Does My Garden Grow?

It has been one busy and exciting summer already. So many new things in my life. Beginning with creation of my mini orchard and kitchen garden, a birthday gift from my beloved husband. Absolutely perfect gift! Love it, love, love it! I thought I'll start my blog there, my garden.

I know, my sister is thinking- what about your beautiful, precious nephew? Well, I am still wary about this blogging thing. Once it is out there, it is out there they tell me. I do not know if I want to put his precious face out there just yet. Hmm, maybe I can show you him.

Take a Look - Butt Beautiful Nephew

Now, back to my garden. Yes, never forget it is all about me. We started back in late April. Putting a new lawn, redoing our patio and building of our raised beds for the Kitchen Garden. It was hard work cutting the composite planks to size. Of course, we did it the old fashioned( and hard way) with a hand saw. Ha, ha. That did not last long, when we decided to build more beds. We had Home Depot cut them to size. Of course, you do know cutting to size means different things to different people. Yes, they cut some of the planks to sizes of their own but not enough pairing of those to make a 4 sided bed! That's life. We had been through enough projects to know, bitch then carry on.

I had started 9 varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes from seeds that I purchased from Seed Exchange! Crazy because I had such a hard time fitting them all in my Kitchen Garden. As the summer went on and the Tomato Scare was on, I felt real good about my tomatoes and how it was going to save us. Along with tomatoes, I started Bok Choi,Cucumbers, Tomatillos, Cilantro, Basils, Parsley and Peppers. I sowed the Mesclun mix and Arugala directly in the beds. Yummy! Maybe,we can live off our kitchen garden this year. Did I tell you the basil smells heavenly?

Watch the slideshow to see how my Kitchen Garden came to be and a glimpse of my mini orchard.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why not blog?

Should I blog? I ask my daughter, as I am driving her to wherever I am always driving her. "Sure", she says. What do I blog about? "Bitch and moan about your children", she replies. "Wait, your cooking so that I can get the recipes when I go to college", she adds.

I ask my sister the same question. She says a blog about Asian plants, The trials and adventures of raising teenagers or letters to my newly born nephew, her son. It would seem my love ones have an ulterior motive or two!

Why not blog? I have already been through so many changes in my lifetime that I forgotten what it was like before..... When measurements were gantang and chupak to pounds and ounces to the grams and kilograms. From when I did not know what was a floppy drive to TB hard drives that I can hold in my hand- so unimaginable, when I stood in the cold computer room surrounded by mega computers.
Moving to and living in a country, a world apart from my birth place.

For months now I have wondered about the people who blog. Who are they, where do they find so much time to blog let alone live! Why do they blog? How difficult is it? Just recently my lovely niece showed me her blog The Silver Mandoline, about her culinary adventures. I had been taking pictures of my cooking this past year with an aim of creating a digital scrapbook. It started me thinking......

Never one to let technology leave me too far behind. Always one to say I can do it too (hopefully I don't fall flat on my face). To better understand the world my children live in, I now embrace, albeit hesitantly blogging.