Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bento Days

Attempted another bento for Curry this morning.

I seldom cook beef at home and it is certainly not my favorite meat. The last time I ate a 1/2 pounder steak was during my pregnancy with Missy E and the doctor told me that I am nearing anemic and I need more iron! So, Curry took me to Outback Steakhouse and made me a carnivorous creature, chomping down every piece and soaking up the juices with my french fries! The second time round with Prince D, all I wanted was burger from the infamous chain of Burger King where they supersizes everything, including the tomato slices with the bun itself. Talk about big, America is dominant... even their tomatoes are called "beef steak tomatoes"!

To make this Bento, I used Eyerib beef slices and keeping with the motto of eating moderate before Curry loses his perfect waistline and curses me later that I made him fat, I stretched 1 slice and produced 4 nice beef carrot rolls. Opted for the cherry tomatoes with Korean kimchi to spice up his palate a little during this cold cold day of 35'F and under.




Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tomorrow will do.

Probably it is the long winding winter with its once in a blue moon teasing sunshine and warm temperature of 45'F, my attention and patience in doing anything these days is short lived. Didn't finish reading every articles in the February issue of Harper magazine, bought a new jersey pattern book for my kids' sweater knitting and haven't even started on the gauge counting yet! Wanted to resume the homeschooling sessions with Missy E and start potty training Prince D this month but so far no progress. Despite having an extra day this Leap Year, my February has gone "wasted"!

Thanks to my dear friend, Crazymommy, the passionate blogger and around the clock mum to 2 kids like myself, I have been introduced to the importance of homeschooling my kids. I had the idea before but there was no drive and determination to do it then. But in this era, peer pressure and competition is a part of life. And being a kid now is more stressful than being one in my days. Sometimes I think maybe we the parents have too much information about everything or trying to live our lost years through our children by making them into persons of whom we didn't become ourselves.

Regardless, every parents do want a better life for their kids and being pushy is part of the parenting skills these days. The only difference is the degree of pushiness. I believe all kids are able to learn and we shall be the beacon to lead them to imaginations, interests, hobbies and dreams. I consider myself a Guide and not a Pusher and hopefully my kids agree with me too!

So, maybe I should just leave February to end without any more push! Come March, there will always be a better tomorrow and another try for everything.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Snapshots of a Snowy Tuesday





Recipe of the Day: Soup

I was browsing through my collection of cookbooks and I looked into one which contains recipes of Chinese soups. As with the principles of Ying & Yang, Chinese soups contain many types of ingredients, each one with certain qualities or benefit that contribute to the good of the body.

I actually made this Chicken Feet with Turnip and Mushroom soup 2 weeks ago when I had phlegm and a dry cough. The recipe mentioned that turnip is good to reduce phlegm and as I was losing my commanding voice around the house, I was desperate and gave it a try!!

And I can attest to the fact that it does work. My voice gradually came back and the phlegm was gone within 2 days. Missy E was having phlegm since Sunday and a bit lethargic compared to her usual self. So, I made this soup again tonight and made her gulp down the whole bowl. Hopefully I will hear her incessant "Why" questions to everything again by tomorrow.

By the way, the broth was clear with mild taste of the mushroom and the chicken feet together with the turnip complement each other just well.

Ingredients:

10 to 12 chicken feet (blanched in boiling water for 10 mins)

half of a small turnip (cut into chunks)

3 medium dried shiitake mushroom

white cabbage (discretionary amount)

6 cups of water

salt to taste

scallion for garnish

Method:
1)Simmer the blanched chicken feet together

with the turnip and mushroom on medium heat for 45 minutes.

2)Add the cabbage & salt and simmer further for 10 minutes.

Garnish with scallion & serve.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nihon o suki desu!

My short but memorable 2 months stay in Japan 7 years ago has opened up my interest in everything Japanese since then. I love their kitchen and dinnerware potteries which incorporates simple artisan works with minimal strokes and yet eye catching at the same time. Their landmark temples are filled with sacred and peaceful atmosphere and I prefer the calmness compared to the smokey incense burning away in the Chinese Buddhist temples. The food choices are simply tantalizing to the eyes and appetising to the palate. But I think it is the cleanliness together with the art of conformity to organization from its bento boxes to displays of things which really captivates the essence of simplicity merged with elegance. I love antiquities of every sort but the modern lifestyle of the Japanese young and daring is also a part that I like. The way they play with their fashion from hairstyle to shoes and their obsession of LV, Coach and branded goods makes me think I am not that vain afterall.

I do buy Japanese Cooking magazines here whenever I see one. Not that I can discern every word but I do have a knack on learning languages and Japanese is easier to learn compared to Chinese. So, I proudly say that I can read a little bit of the contents and with all the brilliant food photography, who needs to read!

I attempted a Bento box for Curry today. I hope it brings a smile to his face at lunchtime. With a regular alarm clock every morning called Prince D, waking up to make beautiful bento boxes is not that dreadful anyway, as long as there is plenty of leftovers in the fridge to perk up and pack!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday is just another day.


Sundays may be a sleep in day for some people but not me. With Prince D awake at 5.30am and screaming to be let out from the upstairs toddler gate to crawl downstairs to play is hardly any quiet rest day in this household. He must have realised that he missed out on his piece of cake last night and will make us pay at this early wee hours!!

Waking up with a half functioning brain is a norm. My body limbs do not co-ordinate with each other and my nerves are more difficult to charge than any old batteries. At times, the kettle filled with water sits on the stove and I forget to turn on the knob. Sometimes, I forget to take breakfast while buzzing around prepping the kids their most important meal of the day. And on Sundays, these symptoms of "brain malfunction" is more apparent than ever since Curry will be around to pick up whatever is left undone by me.

The sun was glorious today, with its ray shining through every windows of the house. It is soothing to hear the icicles on the roof sills melting away like dropping rain drops and the snow outside disappearing patch by patch. I just had to take someone for a walk outside to absorb all the goodness the sun offers and my only choice was Prince D as Missy E was feeling a bit under the weather. The fresh air was so good and I really needed the walk to kill some calories from last night's slice of cake. Maybe it was only a few calories burnt, but still.... i tried! And as for Prince D, His Highness was bundled up in his royal stroller, kept mum and hardly lift a finger or foot.

The fashionistas of Hollywood have been waiting for today... the Oscars will air as usual and after a no show of the Golden Globes due to the writers strike last month, it must be a spectacle worthy of watching this year. While they strut and pose on the red carpet, I will wrap myself up in my comfy PJs and fluffy slippers and enjoy the show .... ... and maybe have another piece of that birthday cake. Well....... someone has to eat and finish it up soon!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Don't forget the cake!

Like I blogged about earlier, that cake is such a "Man" cake. The petite white chocolate cups are filled with raspberry cream and the side all coated with nuts. The fillings are peach & raspberry. In my view, it really epitomizes Curry's character, no frills, all you see is all you get, built tough on the outside but warm and sweet in the inside. Missy E has been waiting all day long to take a bite of this and Prince D couldn't sacrifice his bedtime and went to bed without a bite. Nevermind, we only managed 1/4 part tonight and I see our mouths filling with cream & sweet for the next few days.

Had a glass of Pinot Grigio to go with the cake... Heaven!

Oh... by the way, I had a bigger slice of the cake to compensate my lost strength in the scrubbing of the grease after the deep frying saga. Well deserved.

Curry's Birthday Dinner


Curry loves spicy food, hence the nickname! Made his favorite hot & sour soup with extra 6 dried chillis together with all the goodness of tofu, shitake, black fungus & minced beef. He gulped it all down without a wink..... I was wondering then if his tastebuds were still working. I took a sip and I was scrambling for ice water to cool down my burning tongue!

I have been scrambling my mind on what to do with the 3 pieces of chicken thighs since morning and desperate moments call for desperate measures. The most simple thing: deep fry! (Frankly, I hate the idea as the cleaning up thereafter is always laborious, not mentioning the smell just permeates throughout every nook & corner of the house). As Curry always reminisces his working days in Japan with all the glorious foods they have there, I thought of deep fried panko chicken strips. Who doesn't love deep fried food (I was yearning for it too!) and with panko in hand, I told myself that I will conquer my fear of the grease. With the exhaust fan at full force and the kitchen windows swung open to the -7'C cold air, I braved myself through a sizzling moment of 20 minutes deep frying away. The result: Curry gobbled up 3/4 of the plate in under 6 minutes together with all the condiments! Well, I have no complaints... like he always said... "If your food is good, I will finish it up quickly but if your food is bad, I will eat slowly." So, that is the verdict!

Curry's Birthday

Today is Curry's birthday... saving the age number from the world... I believe men also prefer to hide their age. Happy Birthday...

Due to the big snowfall yesterday, the cabin fever struck! Too lazy to dress up and go anywhere. White is everywhere outside but our moods are kind of gray! The Chinese birthday Red eggs surely perk up a little blood rush inside of me and my brain is kind of stuck on what to prepare for the birthday dinner! Maybe we should just eat the cake all day long and be merry!

Chinese Red Eggs is a must for every birthday celebrated in my house. Although they are only given out to relatives & friends when there is a new baby arrival in the Chinese family, I prepare them every year for birthdays. To me, they represent a new start for the birthday person, full of eagerness in their reddish hue and ready to roll into another new year ahead. This is truly a tradition that I insist and wish that my kids will observe into their adult lives.

Curry's birthday cake is very nice. At first sight, it is undeniably a very "Man Cake" without all the frills and colors that coat any confetti cakes. Can't wait to dig in later.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Clinton or Obama?

The 2008 Presidential bid has evoked my interest to learn more about American politics. With all the constant press coverage of caucasus, primaries, delegates and lobbyists, one will surely learn something if not the whole process.

Since January, Curry has been in control of the TV remote and his "flip-flopping" switching among the news/comments channel is comparable to Mitt Romney's stand in every issue!

If we are able to vote, I think we will vote the Democrats. But who will we choose among the 2 candidates? I don't know. Hillary appears to be more articulate in her speeches and her plans are practical but Obama is no less in ideas and determination. Both have their distinctive charms and poise which undeniably contribute to their popularities. The Republicans candidates don't seem to have much difference in personality nor plans from their peers, hence I don't think they achieve the "star" status in the media as much as their Democratic counterparts.

So, be it Clinton or Obama (if the Democrats do hold the helm in November!), I only hope for a better tomorrow and the war in Iraq to close its chapter.

My Favorite Things (Part 2)

The Dim Sum magnets collection. These were presents from my Aunt Cat 5 years ago. They are not expensive but it is the time and intricate work that goes into each that amazes me.

They greet me everytime I reach for my fridge and gives me a smile on my face. Perhaps the manufacturer can do better next time by adding the scratch & smell element to each of them!! Dim Sum is hard to come by these days and when I can have it, I really can order the whole varieties that are offered. Simply one of Asian's best food group!!

Have a cup of Joe.

Snowing again today. Talk about "Old man Winter"... well deserved title! Here I am, cooped inside the house with my kids and looking out the backyard door. The snow drizzles down relentlessly and the cold unforgivingly painful.

Amidst all that, I find comfort in my cup of instant coffee of which I gulp down a cup or two everyday to get my cells & nerves charged up for the day. The aroma pokes my nostrils and wakes up my senses. The first sip warm my lips to my heart.


Hmmm... if only there was a piece of warm pancake drenched in maple syrup to go with my cup of Joe... life would be perfect. Weird times call for weird appetites I guess! It is late into the afternoon and I am craving for pancakes!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Favorite Things (Part 1)

I always love photography and would gasp at the sight of any beautiful coffee table book. The subject of the photos may range from nature, people to art. Amazing photos, be it black & white or color can provoke senses of the mind and I am always amazed at how professionals can capture the essence of the subject matter. Emotions of sadness, happiness, anxiousness, silliness and any kind which is beyond the description of words projected in the photos dazzle my mind and my thoughts.
Curry has owned his Canon Power Shot Pro 1 camera for almost 4 years now and I never managed to study its functions thoroughly. We have been snapping photos with it well over 500 in total (of who else.. the 2 kids.... so it is always "Faster, Quick, they are crawling and running away. Come on, just snap it now!!").
So never have we ventured further than the usual aim, shoot & click sequence!!

To progress from the normal photo shots is my aim now and will add to the old sequence in this order: Style, Focus, Aim, Shoot & Click!

I have many things and possessions and yet I tend to lose track on what I have. And nowadays, the kids seem to have stretched and longer arms & hands to reach for my personal things. So, before all my beloved things get jumbled up in their toy box or possibly dump into the toilet bowl by my son, Prince D, it will be a good idea to click the camera & capture these favorite things of mine!
1st attempt: my dim sum Siu mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling) fridge magnet! Looks scrumptious enough to pop into my mouth!

Chinese Mandarin

Chinese Mandarin is infact one of the most difficult language to learn. That was why I never had the patience to study it till recently. Something must have clicked in my mind on how to tackle the multitude of characters with all its technical jargons of "Radicals", "Strokes" etc etc!

My spoken skill is bearable but I surely need to kick it up another notch. It frustrates me when I had to stop half way during a conversation in Chinese to recollect a word or two, not mentioning embarrassing when I had to answer in English instead to a Chinese question.

At my age with my limited brain power, continuously practising the writings of the Chinese characters is the best method. Kind of a memorizing game. I have mastered 60 characters so far and will attempt another 60 this year.

Lunar Eclipse


Brilliant view of the eclipse last night and thank goodness the view from our doorstep was clear. It was still bitterly cold with the biting breeze scraping through my skin and I was already in my PJs.

Curry (hubby!) prep his binoculars early and our girl, Missy E was so fascinated to use a real one instead of her Diego toy binoculars! She barely had strength to lift it (7lbs at least!) and the gap between her eyes were not as wide as the binoculars lenses gap itself and so she was looking into the dark & empty lenses and she said " Where? where? I don't see anything!"

It was also the end of the Chinese New Year celebration, the 15th day. Hopefully the remaining days of the Rat year will bring good and happiness to all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recipe of the Day : Side Dish


With little time to think of what to prepare for dinner, anything that takes the least time and ingredients will surely do. Cooking used to be very therapeutic but not these days... the prep, cooking and serving must be done in the speed of light! Zoom Zoom.

This tomato meat dish was concocted in my mind within 5 minutes I saw the cherry tomatoes sitting untouched in their little plastic basket. Simple, quick and nutritious... what more can I ask for..... and no one complained!

Stir Fry Cherry Tomatoes with Mince Beef
(Serves: 2 adults as side dish & total time: 15 mins)

Ingredients:

15 cherry tomatoes, halved
400gm of minced beef (seasoned with salt, pepper & sesame oil)
2 stalks of scallion (reserved bottom white part)
salt to taste

Method:

1)Heat up pan on medium with oil and stir fry the white part of
scallion for 1 minute.
2)Add in the minced beef and stir fry mix and let sit for 3
minutes.
3)Add in tomatoes and stir fry mix to coat with meat.Add salt if
required. Cover pan and let cook for 5 minutes.
4)Dish up,garnish with scallions and serve with rice.

Spring ... where are thou?




yikes! Snow storm predicted for Friday. Have some plans on that day and wondering if it will dampen my spirit and spoil the day!

Long to see the greens again, hear the birds chirp and squirrels and chipmunks scurrying through the trees & roads. But hope is here as I saw some buds on the trees outside the garage, it is just the waiting which can be frustrating. Just when I thought the bright sunny sun is going to appear everyday... the meteorologist says.... "Glorious day... BUT guess what... a whole new Ball rolling in... blah blah blah!"

Me & Myself

Life is busy... as with all other moms, my 2 young kids keep my days occupied. With their laughter, I find happiness and with their wailing, I wish I was somewhere else.

I was starting to springclean the house. Little did I realise that how much I have abandoned my interests in baking, cooking, reading and other aspects of my own life for the sake of upkeeping the best for my family. All the pots, baking supplies, books to read from years ago and things that I always wanted to pursue were left untouched in the same place collecting dust for the last 4 years!

As with all spring season, new life blooms and new hopes flow in my mind. Well into their toddlerhood now with their own thinking and perhaps their own search of private space, my kids can laugh and wail to their hearts content and I shall jump the boat and dive into developing my own space and time again!

Wishing myself luck!

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