Mar 27, 2008

IRISH STEW FOR TODDLERS AND MOMS

If you are looking for a simple stew, here is one. Simple for a young child and good for adults.

What you need
3 lamb chops or 375g stewing lamb
2 small onions sliced thinly
2 potatoes cubed
half medium carrot
a sprig of fresh thyme
80mls vegetable stock

Trim the excess fat from the lamb. Saute the lamb lightly in a frying pan till the sides are sealed. Place the lamb in a casserole dish. Cover with the onions, carrots and potatoes. Add the thyme and vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to as low as possible, covered and cook for about 2 hours. The vegetable would have become soft enough for baby and the lamb very tender. Pick the meat off the bone and mash some with the vegetables.

You can substitute the lamb with chicken. Half Chicken is sufficient but reduce the stewing to an hour and half, max.

Mar 25, 2008

WHICH DONUT ARE YOU

Are you a doughnut lover? Lately there has been an explosion of Doughnuts kiosk, bakery and even the usual bakery is selling all that fancy doughnuts. Did you try any of them? I still love my Dunkin Donuts although now the phase is already long gone and not a sight of any shop. The influx of Doughnuts from Japan has taken over. Japanese doughnuts are fanciful and has various toppings. What is the difference between the Japanese ones and the American ones? Well, I find the American ones a little heavier. The Japanese ones are fluffier because the flour they used are very fine and doesn't seemed to contain much gluten.

I still love the all American doughnuts with my coffee. I took the quiz, you can try it too!





You Are a Boston Creme Donut



You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.

But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.

You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.

You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

Mar 23, 2008

HOT CROSS BUNS FOR EASTER

Hot Cross Buns are sweet, spiced and moist with currents in them. They are really delicious especially if you warm them slightly and served them in a dollop of butter.

These buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. With Easter just around the corner, these buns have become a favourite among kids and is so popular that bakers bake them with many variants, with Chocolate among the favourites.

In case you are wondering how to make them, I also have a recipe which was passed on by my aunt and is usually baked on Good Friday and more on Easter Sunday.

500g wholemeal flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp active dried yeast
150ml lukewarm milk
60ml hand-hot water
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp fine salt
60g light brown sugar
30g currants
30g mixed peel
60g butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

Mixed 125g of the flour with the caster sugar
Sprinkle the mixture over the yeast in a large mixing bowl
Stir in milk and water
Leave this mixture for 20-30 minutes in a warm place, untill it becomes frothy

Meanwhile, mix remaining flour with mixed spice, salt. Add brown sugar, currents and mixed peel. Stir the melted butter and beaten egg into the frothy yeast mixture. Fold in flour mixture and mix them to a smooth dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into about 12 pcs and shape them into buns with a flat top. Create two crosses slashed to form a cross each. Set them on the greased baking pan and let it rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. Once they have risen to about double in size, you can bake them in the oven at 190% for 15 minutes or untill it turns golden at the top.

Mar 21, 2008

HOUSE LIZARD, SEAHORSE, CENTIPEDE AS MEDICINE

Have you ever cringed when you visit a chinese medical hall when you find that 'animal' medicines are being used to treat illness? Some of the 'animal' medicines commonly used are creepy crawlies like house lizards, centipedes, and seahorses.

House Lizard
The chinese uses this to treat symptoms like paralysis due to stroke, numbness due to rheumatism and inflamed sores. The tastes is salty and cold by nature and is mildly poisonous. It helps to expel wind, relieves pain caused by cold or dampness and soothes nerves.

Seahorse
The Seahorse is used to treat impotency, incontinence, deficiency of the kidneys, infuries due to fall, and difficulty in childbirth. It is sweet and warm in nature. It helps to strengthen the kidney, improves virility and reduces swelling.

Centipede
Treats infantile convulsions, stroke, poisonous snake bites and inflamed boils. Helps to expel wind and relieves febrile diseases. It neutralises toxins and clears the channels and relieves pain. It's taste is pungent and warm in nature, and poisonous.

These medicine should be consulted by an authorised Chinese Physician for safety.

Mar 18, 2008

HEALTHY CARROT CAKE KIDS' LOVE

I used to look for a yummy carrot cake after trying on at The Coffee Club years back. Although I've never gotten closer to any that tastes as heavenly as that one, I found one so simple and it is something that my kids love. Here is a recipe for CARROT CAKE.

2 eggs
100g raw brown sugar
180g grated carrots
90ml vegetable oil
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
60g oz raisins
60g chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to medium heat.
Line an 18cm cake tin.
Beat the eggs and sugar together to form a creamy mix.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix to a batter.
Spoon to your prepared and lined cake pan.

Bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes untill it is slightly golden brown on top.You can stick a toothpick in the middle to make sure it comes out clean.

Carrot Cake is lovely with Cream Cheese Frosting. To make that, combine 8oz cream cheese, 2 oz butter and blend it with a mixer. Add a teaspoon vanilla essence, followed by 9oz of sugar powder and beat untill it becomes smooth.

Mar 16, 2008

ALTERNATIVES TO FOOT REFLEXOLOGY

In one of my previous post, I wrote about the foot reflexology and it's benefits. I have some of my friends who are not keen in letting their feet be massaged at all. So what do you think are other methods that are similar in Food Reflexology?

Well for one, Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the act of washing feet also has masso therapeutic effects. This washing of feet is best done before bedtime. It is done in a simple method. Fill a basin with warm water and soak your feet in it. Rub your feet at the same time. This will boost blood circulation, treat diseases and strengthen the constitution.

Another way is to wear slippers with bumps. Lately many slippers have these reflexology bumps. It is good to wear these slippers during a few hours of the day as it massages the feet as you walk. I have a pair of bedroom slippers that works wonders. It has these bumps and I wear it in the house in the morning and evening. It makes me feel awake when I put it on. In the evening especially after a whole day on my feet, it helps to soothe away the pain.

You can also set up your little garden with a patch of pebbles flooring. You can potter in your garden in your barefeet and step on these pebbles and feel fully refreshed. I have a friend who made one in his aparment, which is truly a good idea. Most asians do not wear shoes in the house so walking on these is a good way for reflexology.



Mar 14, 2008

CHEESY BEEF CASSEROLE KIDS LOVE


I am very tempted to share this yummy recipe which I just tried last week. At home I store lots and lots of cheese because the kids get their calcium from it. There was a time when I bought as many as 20 packs of 6slices per pack because it was on offer. I use them in many of my dishes when I am not cooking Asian or Local dishes.

The kids love cheese over their pasta, sandwiches, pies, chips, fries! Last week I did a casserole instead. Here is what I did.

You will need:
500gm of minced beef (chicken is fine if you have personal reasons for not eating beef)
1 onions chopped fine (my kids don't eat onions but finely chopped is ok)
1/2 can of ketchup
1/2 can of tomato sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper

8-10 slices of cheese or 500gm of mozarella is fine
200gms of chilled digestives biscuits

Method
Saute the onions in oil, add the beef and break it up so it doesn't clump together. Add the ketchup, tomato sauce, seasoning and let if simmer a while. Taste and add more seasoning based on your preferece of sweetness but go easy on the salt since we are adding cheese.

Remove from heat and pour on your casserole dish or baking pan. Line the biscuits at the side, inserting into the beef mixture. top them all using the cheese. Add more biscuits at the top if you want. Put them in the oven for about 10mins to low heat to let the cheese melt. This is really yummy!

You can add some spinach if you want to get a balance healthy beef casserole biccy.




Mar 12, 2008

STORY BEHIND 'PICKING OF MEDICINES' (TCM)


As a child, I watched my mum going into a Chinese Medical Hall and asked the Chinese Physician to 'collect' or 'pick' medicine for ailments or supplementary cures. My mom loves to consult them and believes in a natural healing process of Traditional Chinese Medicine, compared with consultation to see the local GP. It was a practise that was encouraged by my grandmother and our family line for so long since the Western medicine had not advanced to what we have today.

We often see rows of small little drawers behind the counter at a Chinese Medical Shop. This is the place where the chinese medicine physician will get the medicine from.

The method of buying herbs or chinese medicine is known as 'picking'. Why was it called 'picking' medicine, have you ever wondered? Well I found a story behind this Legend and I am not sure if this is the ultimate story after all, but it does make sense how this method or calling is derived from.

The legacy started by Sun Simiao, who was known of King of Medicine during the Tang Dynasty. Sun Simiao often peddled his medicinal skill outside. He wears an apron with many pockets sewn in to store each medicine. One day, he arrived at a small village. He had just picked some medicine and stored in his little apron pockets. Along the way, he saw a lady who had just been bitten by a dog. The lady was groaning in pain. He stopped by the lady and helped to apply the medicine which he tooked from the little pockets without delay. Very soon the bleeding had stopped and the lady was feeling much better.

His application of these medicine needed only small doses. It was not long when his method become a common practice and being called 'picking medicine' Many shopkeepers of medicinal shops started to follow Sun Simiao by storing their medicines in small drawers or compartments which are also further divided in 3 or 4 smaller compartments. When a customer comes to purchase the herbs or medicine, they started to use the term 'picking medicine'.

So if you go to a chinese medical shop, you will normally hear some customers who will asked the shop people or physician to 'pick' medicine for them for an ailment or cure.





Mar 9, 2008

DELICIOUS SEAFOOD HOR FAN


Fried Hor Fan is a favourite dish in my home. There are many variants of Hor Fan originating from many different dialect and some have been tweaked to satisfy the different preferences. Hor Fan is a white colour flat noodle, can be fried or served as a soup dish.

At home, I make this Fried Seafood Hor Fan using a ready mixed stock that I mix with some seasoning that can be found in most Asian homes. It is very simple and can be stored in the fridge and used within few days. All you need are only the other fresh ingredients like the Hor Fan noodle, Seafood (I use prawns) and Egg.

Here are the ingredients and the method for Fried Hor Fan, done at home.

Seasoning Stock
Oyster Sauce 2 tbsp
Light Soya 2 tsp
Fish Sauce 1 tsp
Dash of salt
Sugar 1 tsp
Chicken Stock 750ml
Chicken Powder 1/2 tsp
Sesame Oil 1/2 tsp
Hua Tiao Chiew 1/2 tsp

Mix the above ingredients in advance and store them in the fridge if not using immediately


Ingredients
Fresh Hor Fan
Fresh Prawns (leave tail on or shelled)
Chye Sim
Egg
Cornstarch
Light Soya 1 tsp
Ginger, minced
Garlic, minced
Oil for frying

Method
In a large wok, heat some oil. Fry the fresh hor fan until slightly browned. Add a tsp of light soya and fry briefly. Dish it out onto a shallow bowl or plate.

Saute Prawn lightly untill it is just cooked. Place the prawn on the fried hor fan.

Saute Garlic, Ginger in the wok. Add a ladle of the seasoning stock and the Chye Sim. The cooked stock should be simmering. Add the constarch which has been mixed with some water and let the stock thicken slightly. When it is starting to boil, add the egg in and off the fire immediately. Give it a good whirl with your ladle so that the egg will cook nicely in the simmering heat.

Pour the thicken gravy on your plate of Hor Fan and serve immediately. If you prefer a bland taste, you can reduce the fish sauce to half a teaspoon and leave out the salt. Enjoy!

Mar 8, 2008

PLANTS FOR HOME


I walked past a shop selling plants yesterday. I wanted to add some green plants near the entrance of my house. Preferably green plants that are weather hardy. The front part of my home is very windy. My orchids thrive very well and I see them growing flower buds at least once a month. The pandan leaves are also growing and there are many new baby ones that are sprouting near to the roots. I am thinking of dropping by the nursery to get some soil to plant the baby ones in them. I also grow some chives ( spring onions ) in pots because I use them a lot in my soups and dishes. But these plants that I have currently are mainly low plants, and I want to get some nice tall ones instead. I love the bamboo plants but I was adviced by a friend that they are not easy to care for... and I love those tall palm tree plants but I am not sure how tall they might grow.

Perhaps I should source online for plants.. I like those what are neat and easy to maintain and have a minimalist effect..

FOOT REFLEXOLOGY

These days, you see many stops in the malls, and in estates offering Food Reflexology. I am a fan of Foot Reflexology. The first visit I had was way back in 1990 and I was still studying. My friend's father goes regularly to a massuese that handles foot reflexology. My friend tags along on weekends and finds it addictive. She coaxed me, and about 5 other classmates after a school session and we had the first taste of that. Boy it was quite painful actually.

A person who does foot reflexology needs to equipped with the knowledge of the six main channels and 66 acupoints on a person's foot. These are correlated to many organs in our body.

The methods used in foot reflexology involves lots of kneading, rubbing, stretching and twisting. After a session of foot reflexology, depends on individual, one can feel refreshed, sleepy, light, and some even say they sleep well or rid of constipation.

Did you know that after each session of reflexology, it is IMPORTANT to drink a glass of water? During food reflexology, our body wastes are accumulated in the kidneys, hence consumption of water will help to expel these body wastes through the passing of urine.

read: Alternatives to Foot Reflexology

Mar 6, 2008

SYMPTOMS OF EXCESSIVE YIN OR YANG IN YOUR BODY

How do you know if your body has excessive Yin influences or Yang? If you go to a Chinese physician, he will ask you questions to check if you have the symptoms of Yin or Yang.

Yin Syndrome means Excessive Yin Influences
Pallor, Sensitivity to Cold, Body feels cold when you touch, feeling of tiredness and fatique, do not feel thirsty and prefers to drink warm drinks. He will also pass alot of clear urine, and thin stools.
(need to be prescribed Yang herbs for a balance)


Yang Syndrome means Excessing Yang Influences
The face is flushed, may have bloodshot eyes. The body feels warm to the touch. He will have a dry mouth and he will prefer to drink cold drinks. The urine passed out is yellowish and he passes dry and hard stools.
(need to be prescribed Yin herbs for a balance)

With these symptoms, one can prescribe Traditional Chinese Herbs to strengthen the yin or the yang in the body. An example is, a person who has a cold may feel cold although his body is warm. He has a headache and has runny nose and do not feel the need to drink much. This is the influence of excessive Yin in his body. Therefore he will need to be prescribe herbs that can strengthen his Yang in the body. Once a body has a balance of Yin and Yang, he will be recover back in health.

Mar 5, 2008

TONICS THE CHINESE WAY

The Chinese community regards tonics as one of the important factors of healing food in their lives. It can be taken as part of our daily diet, on its own or cooked together meal or in a dessert. It benefits the person and the main objective is to have good health. Tonics come in many variety so it is important that we select the right one for each ailment or benefit.

Nourishing Tonics nourishes Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang.

Qi: Examples of these are, Ginseng, Liquorice and Chinese Dates
These are suitable for those who are easily tired, those who have poor appetites, who perspire easily as well as if they are short of breath. It can be taken if one is down with cold too.

Blood: Angelica (Dangui), Wolfberry
These suit people with a pale complexion, who get giddy spells, or having blurred vision and those that suffer from insomnia.

Yin: Lily Bulb, White Fungus, Zhimu
People with a weak constituition, or stress and insomnia, constipation, dizzy spells with ringing in the ears and dry mouth

Yang: Cordyceps, Monkshood Daughter root(Fuzi 附子)
Those who have cold limbs, afraid of the cold, weak and aching back/limbs and frequent urination are advised to take these.


Below are pics of Ginseng, Cordycepts, White Fungus, Wolfberry