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??????