Monday, April 28, 2008
This post introduces you to two types of common seaweed. In fact, these two are the necessary and are basic ingredients for Miso soup.
Below is the hard, bark like looking seaweed called 'Kombu'. See the white stuff on the kombu? It's supposed to be glutamic acid (a.k.a. ajinomoto). Kombu is one of two ingredients in basic Dashi, the other being katsobushi.
There are various types of dashi. Ichiban dashi (first dashi) - used for soup bases, tamagoyaki or cawan mushi. Niban dashi (second time dashi) used in simmering dishes. Others include kombu dashi, shitake dashi and as gourmet as you can get by including more exotic anchovies and sardines in it for specific dishes.
Personally, I only use Ichiban dashi and Niban dashi. I don't like to use the instant granules because it's so salty and I don't like the flavour.
When making dashi, you do not wash kombu before use. You are supposed to use a wet towel to wipe it and then leave it in a pot of water to sit for a while - until it softens and open up.
The picture below shows you "Wakame". It's the 'slimy' green seaweed you get with your miso soup. It's tiny and dry and need to be soaked before use. There is also the salted 'fresh wakame' which you can purchase if you use a lot of it, otherwise you need to freeze it. It's more convenient to use the dried wakame because when you need it, you just soak some in water and it's ready.
Whilst most of the time wakame is used for miso soup, it can also be added to cucumber pickles. You can see the picture on the packet.
- Focus on enjoying people, not on indulging in or accumulating material things.
- Plan to spend whatever you have saved. You deserve to enjoy it and the few healthy years you have left. Travel if you can afford it. Don't leave anything for your children or loved ones to quarrel about. By leaving anything, you may even cause more trouble when you are gone.
- Live in the here and now, not in the yesterdays and tomorrows. It is only today that you can handle. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not even happen.
- Enjoy your grandchildren (if blessed with any) but don't be their full time baby sitter. You have no moral obligation to take care of them. Don't have any guilt about refusing to baby sit anyone's kids, including your own grandkids. Your parental obligation is to your children. After you have raised them into responsible adults, your duties of child-rearing babysitting are finished. Let your children raise their own off-springs.
- Accept physical weakness, sickness and other physical pains. It is a part of the aging process. Enjoy whatever your health can allow.
- Enjoy what you are and what you have right now. Stop working hard for what you do not have. If you don't have them, it's probably too late.
- Enjoy your life with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends. People, who truly love you, love you for yourself, not for what you have. Anyone who loves you for what you have will just give you misery.
- Forgive and accept forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Enjoy peace of mind and peace of soul.
- Befriend death. It's a natural part of the life cycle. Don't be afraid of it. Death is the beginning of a new and better life. So, prepare yourself not for death but for a new life with the Almighty.
- Be at peace with your Creator. For ... He is all you have after you leave this life. .............
Friday, April 25, 2008
I decided to top it with a box of Natto to complete my lunch Donburi. Only Natto lovers will understand this immense LOVE for what some may term as 'smelly beans!' I only smell the loveliest of all smells - fermented Natto. Mmmmmm.........
Believe me, this donburi picture doesn't credit it's flavor!!!
On the top box, I had some preserved apricots, fresh tomatoes and my 'famous Amos' chocolate cookies. I made one batch on Wednesday which yielded 6 boxes. Today there is only 1 box left. Sigh! Have to make again today!
Total Fats (g)
Inari-Sushi (Bean Curd Pouches w. Sushi)
Nigiri-Sushi (Fish-wrapped Sushi)
Nori-Maki Sushi (Seaweed-wrapped): Futo-Maki (Egg Omelette, Fish Vegetable)
Nori-Maki Sushi (Seaweed-wrapped): Kekka-Maki (Tuna)
Maki Sushi (Seaweed-wrapped): Kobana-Maki (Egg Omelette, Cucumber)
1 regular serving
Sushi: Californian Rolls
1 serving, 5 piece
Sushi: Rice, cooked
This is an all time Hawaiian 'sushi' favorite! Much as I have heard about Hawaii, I have never been there. But thanks to the internet, I've visited many interesting sites and learnt many different but interesting recipes. I have also found out that the Spam Musubi is an icon of the Hawaiian local cuisine, and are sold practically everywhere in Hawaii.
1 can of SPAM
2 cups of rice
2 1/2 cups of water
**sushi vinaigrette for rice
1/4 cup shoyu
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1. Slice the SPAM and marinate in oyster, shoyu and sugar for at least 15 minutes. Remember to flip over to marinate the other side.
2. Wash and cook the rice - 2 *cups rice and 2 1/2 cups water.
*The cup used here is from the rice cooker. One cup from the rice cooker cup is equivalent to three quarters of the standard measuring cup.
Don't ask me why because that's what I found out when I made comparisons. And that's why I don't like using 'cup' measurements for baking, I find it inconsistent.
3. When rice is cooked, mix sushi **vinaigrette as you do for sushi rice.
(**this is optional, but I like the combination). Leave to cool.
4. Prepare a 'box like' container if you do not have a sushi press.
5. Meanwhile, oil a pan and start frying the marinated SPAM. Some parts will caramelize and turn black because of the sugar but it's delicious, just don't burn it!
6. Stuff the sushi rice into the sushi press and compact the rice into a firm block. Remove rice block out of the sushi press and line top with fried SPAM.
7. Wrap with a piece of Nori.
8. Slice the block of Spam Musubi into six or eight pieces (depending on the size of your sushi press).
Thursday, April 24, 2008
My parents arranged for my music teacher to come to the house to teach me. When I was first introduced to her, I wasn't much impressed with her because she was very quiet and only taught what I was to learn for the day. I thought she was quite pretty and demure but beyond that, she came across as a very 'non verbal' person. Along the way, I found out that she was a former Miss Malaysia/World (1977).
I remember, even when I was to seek clarification on a particular Jazz beat that she was teaching during a particular lesson, she was unable to clarify and deliver properly her explanation. I was cool with her because she never pressured me to do my practical exercises. Much as I enjoyed paying my organ, I didn't quite like the practices that came along with it. My dad was my biggest fan and I was 'forced' to 'perform' for him nightly - those 'performances' constituted my practices. My music teacher taught me the ABRSM theory and Yamaha practical for Organ. This went on for several years and I went on to play for Sunday Masses at Church.
I even went on to teaching some neighbour's kid during my school holidays. I can remember I hated every moment of it. I wanted to 'strangle' the kid because she was yakking and asking questions all the time. I threw in the towel after three months. I knew I wasn't made for this.
Eventually, quitting completely was the most practical thing to do when exams provided the ideal excuse.
Years down the road when I had my own kids, I started them with Piano lessons as soon as I possibly could. I traveled the road many parents have attempted. Many has succeeded, I on the other hand, like some, has failed. I enrolled my eldest daughter for the Yamaha JMC course. This is a real test of patience for a working mother. You had to camp in for your kid's music class every week!
After a while I cajoled my mum into going with my daughter but after several lessons, both grandmother and granddaughter were blur as beagles. I then attempted to send my 'English speaking Indonesian Maid' - that didn't work out either. Finally I did the most sane thing - pulled her out of the Yamaha system and enrolled her under the music teacher in the Ballet school where she was also learning Ballet.
When my second girl came of age, I also enrolled her in both ballet and music at the same school. From Ballet, they progressed to Modern dance and Tap dancing. Soon, I was shuttling four days a week for dance classes and during exam period it was anything from 7-10 times a week because of extra classes and sorts.
Hubs was freaking because our weekends became the property of the ballet and music school. He said that his kids were busier than him and he had to almost 'make appointment to see my kids'. Hmmmm....not very becoming but very honest. We reassessed our priorities and I for one was sure I didn't want my kids to be professional dancers. Maybe I got carried away with keeping with the "Joneses" and was enjoying the mummy gossip (yeah! we go through our phases) that was taking place in the ballet school.
So away with dancing and just concentrate on Music. I got them enrolled under this 'very highly recommended teacher' who was an ex-Yamaha biggie. She operates from two apartments in PJ and is a large and amazing pill popping woman. She is very talented and skilled but unfortunately comes with a horrible temperament and lacking in patience. Nevertheless, she provided my two daughters with some very torturous but skilled foundation. I tolerated as long as I could and finally I decided, with the support of my two girls to uproot and change music teacher again.
There were several teacher changes after that and each one with a very valid reason and necessary, for that different phase that required a different experience and exposure.
Reasons would include 'loss of interest', 'teacher too lenient or too fierce' and even 'teacher with not enough experience' and so on. There was one instance when I suggested a change because I noticed that there was not much progress and #2 got into a major struggle with me because this teacher had become her mentor. As always 'mum knows best', I won the battle.
It's been a rough journey and because, not only did I have to be in touch all the time with their music progress, I had to also change pianos for their different stages of progress.
Along the years, the most common phrase from the two girls would be "Mum, want to stop piano lessons, can ah?" Mum's response "CANNOT!" I think they got used to my consistent answer and after a while they stopped asking.
As the girls grew into high school, they asked to take up a second instrument. #1 took up the Cello and #2 took up the violin. Finally both girls finished their Piano Grade 8, ABRSM. #1 opted to stop music lessons but loves to sing. She's got perfect hearing and pitching and that's where she's put her music lessons to good use. Give her a music score and she'll hum you the tune.
#2 opted to continue to do her Diploma and will sit for her exams in December 2008. Next year she finishes her Violin Grade 8 and hopes to pursue a career in music. This is the child that the pill popping teacher said 'has no potential'. I didn't believe her and moved on to another who nurtured her and developed her 'luke warm' interest for music into a passion.
It's so difficult to make decisions as parents. Here we want to be the new generation parents who are hip and friendly, there we have to gripe with our kids idiosyncrasies and force them to do 'the right thing' (in our opinion) even though they don't agree with us!
I have to admit that I have 'forced' them to complete their music journey and did not give them a choice to opt out until they finished their grade 8. I am just very relieved that none of them rebelled and turned away from it completely after completing this journey. I didn't want them to regret that they didn't finish on a whim of a decision.
This journey has been one spotted with tears, anger, harsh words, punishment and prayers but alongside also came excitement, achievements, enjoyment, unity, harmony,thanksgiving, rewards and discipline.
I am a firm believer that a good teacher maketh a good student. I'm not qualifying their music teachers ability and skill, it's just that at different phases of our kids lives we need to have the ability to decide what's next and the right time to (edit) stick to our guns or to move on.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I still prefer the recipe given to me by my friend Alice.
150g Joshinko (Loh Mai Fun/rice flour)
80g Fine sugar
kinako or katakuriko for dusting
5 - 8 strawberries (depending on size)
1. Put Joshinko, sugar and water into a microwaveable bowl and whisk till all ingredients are combined. (Optional: You can add a few drops of pink coloring if you want).
2. Put into microwave at medium heat for 3 minutes. After that bring out and mix paste well.
3. Put back into microwave for another 3 minutes on medium. Bring it out and mix the paste well again.
4.Put back into microwave for another 1 minute on medium.
(While in the microwave for the second and third time, the mochi paste should expand and deflate like a balloon). When ready, the mochi looks semi-transparent and is pliable.
5. The mochi is very hot and you have to be careful because you need to work with your hands.
6. Dust hands and tools with katakuriko.
7. Dust a stiff plastic spatula with katakuriko, cut up about a 'golf ball' size of mochi and use hands (dusted with katakuriko) to flatten the mochi out and fill with Anko and Strawberry (optional). Wrap up by picking up the opposite corners and pressing them together to seal it.
8. Roll in katakuriko before packing in a box and into fridge.
Friday, April 18, 2008
This all-in-one meal is popular because everything is in one deep bowl, saving time in preparation and cleaning up. There are endless variations of donburi. On a personal level, I've not cooked a single meal for lunch for the past six months. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, it's the washing up that I loath. My change of maid has been a constant nightmare and I thank God that my agency has finally got another change for me. My new help is a breath of fresh air. She understands and is able to carry out instructions without making a complete mess of things.
This is my first lunch meal I've cooked in half a year. SueSue asked me a question that triggered me to cook Donburi.
For me, cooking lunch must be fast because it's the busiest time. I have three school/college going children who have completely different time tables and schedules. The youngest one goes to day care after school and I send lunch over everyday (ta-pau/packed).
The second one is the busiest of the lot with an irregular schedule because of extra curricular activities like Choral singing, Debate brainstorming sessions, Music classes, Dance practices, etc, etc.
The eldest goes to college and we spend pretty much time having long breakfasts/brunches and coffees whenever her classes commence midday. All said and done, I would have done very well in the "Limousine business" if I had not been a stay at home mum!! LOL!!
Salmon Steak Donburi and Miso soup
(for 2 persons)
1 salmon steak - marinate with salt and pepper
10 pods of snow peas (remove the fibrous string)
Toasted sesame seeds
2 bowls of hot Japanese short grain rice (Cooked)
Some lemon slices
1 tbsp of Kikoman shoyu
1 tbsp of lemon juice
One square inch of butter (less if you wish)
1-2 tbsp all purpose flour
1. Dust the marinated salmon steak with all purpose flour and fry it in melted butter.
2. Meanwhile boil a small pot of hot water and add salt and blanch the snow peas.
3. While frying the salmon, turn it once only and drizzle in the soy sauce from the side of the pan and add the lemon juice.
4. Prepare two donburi bowls and place cooked rice in each of the bowls. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds onto the rice.
5. Cut the Salmon into several pieces and arrange them alternating with a slice of lemon each.
6. Scoop some sauce mixture of butter, shoyu and lemon and drizzle onto the salmon.
7. Arrange the snow peas beside the salmon and you enjoy a fast and delicious lunch. Itadakimasu!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I have tried making Gyoza several times. While the filling is always delicious, the skin has been less than successful. I succumbed to buying the Gyoza skin from Jaya Jusco which cost quite a bit if Gyoza is the main course for dinner.
I realized that other recipes did not state anything about allowing the dough to rest. That was the 'trick' that was missing from my previous attempts. I've tried it three times since that fateful day I read Terri's post. The whole family has been stuffed on Gyoza for three consecutive days and still loving it.
If you want a fool's proof recipe, go to Terri's blog and you won't regret it!!
I'm giving you the recipe for the dip here:
1/3 cup of Kikoman shoyu
1/3 cup of vinegar
1 tsp of Japanese sesame oil
Lots of julienne cut young ginger.
Christmas Fruit Cake
250g Yellow Raisins
300g Black currants
130g mixed peel
130g glazed red cherries (halved)
250g Anchor Butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Brandy
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp treacle
2tsp grated orange rind
2tsp grated lemon rind
1 3/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
1. Chop ingredients (A) and mix them up in a thick, heavy bottom pot.
2. Add brown sugar, Brandy and water.
3. Put the pot over medium fire and add the block of 250g Anchor butter. Allow butter to melt and glaze the fruits.
4. Leave aside to cool.
When the cooked fruits has cooled down, mix (B) into it.
5. Fold in the flours and bake for 2 hours and 45 minutes @120 degrees C.
6. When fruit cake is ready and cooled down, wrap in foil paper and leave in a cool place (no refrigeration) and cut after at least one week.
My mum's tea today!!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
In the morning of the second day, the surgeon confirmed that it was appendicitis and #2 had to go for surgery immediately. In today's advanced technology, the removal of appendicitis is a simple and quick procedure. One needn't undergo an operation to remove it and have a six to eight inch scar for a souvenir anymore.
The surgeon recommended a Laparoscopic appendicitis procedure which entails three small incisions. A one inch incision is made in the umbilical for the laparoscope (a camera like device) connected to a huge projection screen for the surgeon to 'see' the inside of the abdominal area. The abdominal area is first pumped with Carbon dioxide to bloat it up like a balloon to create 'space' above the organs for the surgeon to carry out his craft. Another two small incisions are made for the instruments. One incision below the bikini area and one on the lower left. Dato' Haron was very specific in his explanation of the procedure and assured us that it was a quick and simple process.
I was still quite tense and #2 whispered to me and said that she wanted to move over to SJMC where her pediatrician's clinic was. I didn't quite have enough time to digest when I realized that hubs had already signed the necessary documents to go ahead with the Laparoscopic appendicitis procedure in DSH. I was a little concerned because she had to go under general anaesthesia. I've heard some fatal stories and I couldn't but help to worry of the risk involved.
By mid day #2 was being wheeled to the operating theater. As we were leaving to get some lunch, one nurse came running towards us and said that we hadn't signed the documents for the administration of GA. Agggghhhhhh.....!
So we followed her to the operating theater and waited for the anesthesiologist. I already had an issue with GA and now had to face with waiting for the anesthesiologist. I was a bag of nerves. I just continued praying in my heart and praying and praying.
Finally the anesthesiologist arrived after being paged for. I was relived to see a very fatherly figure of an anesthesiologist. He asked several questions in relation to allergies, health and drug consumption. After that, I felt the burden lift from my heart and realized that God had again answered my prayers. By 3.00p.m. she was back in her room feeling very tired and sore. She survived well and was a very good patient. No tantrums or whining. She had, had no food for more than 32 hours and was not allowed solid food. She just survived on sips of water.
That night, #1 stayed a second night with #2. In the middle of the night, #1 began to vomit. Early morning on the third day, #1 called and reported her state of condition. I rushed to the hospital. "I just need to go home to rest mum" #1 reports to me and zooms off home.
I stayed with #2 she had visitors coming in and out the whole day. It was heart warming to know so many people care and love her. I think she enjoyed receiving the little 'pressies' she got along with the visits!
Meanwhile, #1 comes back in the afternoon, to my surprise. The two of them often 'rolls eyes' at each other and have their differences. Surprisingly in a situation like this, they can't be out of sight of each other for too long! That's cool.
Hubs dragged #1 to the Emergency center to see a doctor about her vomiting condition. The doctor immediately ordered her to be put on the drip because she's dehydrated. When the nurse tries to administer the needle to the vein on the back of her hand, she asks "Kak, sakit kah? Adik saya cakap sakit lah". The nurse replies "tak lah". And so the nurse pricks into the vein and hooks up the saline solution and asks her to lie down to relax for an hour. When all is done, she comes back upstairs to #2's room and freaks out about how painful it was! #2 sheepishly replies "Yeah Cheah (sister)! Only last night you told me to shut up and go to sleep! See, now you get to experience it yourself!" #1 grins....lol!!
#2 was in the hospital for four days and we celebrated with Haagen Dazs ice-cream on the way home!!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I picked her up from school (as I always do) last Tuesday. We decided to celebrate the triumph of an inter-school debate together with #1 and my mum. All excited, we went to "Canton-i", the sister of "Drangon-i", I'm told. We were enjoying our food when #2 bends and squeezes her tummy and says "Owwww... stomach ache, I need to go to the toilet". As always, I don't allow the girls to go to public toilets alone so, together with #1 she went.
The tummy ache didn't get better, in fact it got so bad she almost couldn't walk to the car. I wanted to bring her to the doctor but she insisted that she wanted to go home, all the time sitting bent forward and hands holding her tummy. At home, things are not better. She hides under the blanket and tries to rest with no avail.
Finally the pain was so bad, I got #1 and her friend (who came to work on a project with #1) to send #2 to DSH (Damansara Specialist Hospital). I had to pick #3 from tuition and I assumed that it was some food poisoning or gastritis.
Some two hours later, #1 called me and summoned me to the hospital because "the doctor didn't want to tell me anything and insists that he wanted to speak to you (the mother)". I panicked a little when I heard that because it didn't sound quite right! Immediately I informed my husband and I drove towards DSH in the terrible storm and peak traffic jam at about 6p.m.
My mind was filled with all thoughts and possibilities. I calmed myself and started to pray in the horrendous traffic jam. As I did that, my thoughts cleared and I was prompted to take a route that I was unsure of. I spoke to myself and said "Oh no! I'm not going to get myself into a situation where I'd get lost and then delay getting to the hospital". The prompting was strong and I was desperate in the thick of the traffic jam.
I relented and took the risk. Thank God, I did because the entire road leading to the hospital was completely clear albeit some cars from the opposite direction. #1 introduced me to a Dato' Haron, I found out that he was a surgeon (panic some more). He explained that he wanted #2 warded for a night for observation because he suspected Appendicitis (relief, relief, relief)!
The GP who first saw #2 administered a pain killer because she was in excruciating pain when she got in and the surgeon was summoned to confirm the diagnosis which was not to be because of the pain killer. After an exchange of questions and answers, I agreed to have her warded.
#1 and her friend started to share with me the series of questions they asked the GP and surgeon before being told to summon 'the mother or father' to come to hospital. Apparently #1 had asked the GP "Doctor, how sure are you my sister has appendicitis?" The doctor mumbles something about not being able to confirm because of the pain killer and that tests they had to run. #1's friend asks again "Doctor, if you can't confirm it's appendicitis, then how are you going to be sure of it? (something in that context).
I gawk at them as they recount their conversation with the doctor. In my heart I was telling myself - no wonder the doctor wanted to see the mother or father. Which doctor could withstand such interrogation from two young 19 year olds? Don't get me wrong. They are two very wonderful and caring young girls but green in the dealings of the world.
#1 stayed over in the hospital to accompany #2, both shared the same bed. In the night when the nurses came at 1a.m., 3a.m. and 5a.m., these were the questions:
"Siapa sakit?" (Who's the one sick?) - both were sleeping in the bed.
"Check temperature, Siapa?" (Who's supposed to check temperature?)
"Anak kembar ke?" (Twins?)
Meanwhile, #2 was complaining about the needles in both side of her hands. #1 brushes her off and tells her to "keep quiet and sleep!".
to be continued in the next post...
How's your spelling?
|Your Spelling is Perfect|
Your spelling is excellent. You also have a great memory and eye for detail.
|You Are Cilantro|
The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.
You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.