Asparagus (蘆筍)

I love to serve Asparagus as dinner for 2 or dinner for a crowd because it is:

1) a simple dish to prepare
(rinse and drain; pick one stem up and snap the end off; drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper)

2) a dish that I can prepare a few hours before dinner
(store seasoned asparagus in a single layer on a baking pan in the refrigerator)

3) a simple dish to make
(bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until crunchy or tender for about 12 minutes to 20 minutes)

4) elegant
(the green stems of beauty stands out on a white platter)

5) nutritional
(vitamins B6, iron, C, plus fiber)

Asparagus also has no fat and no cholesterol.

Choose asparagus with tips that are closed and dry, not soggy or slimy. The smaller stems are the most tender, the larger ones taste heartier and bolder and tend to have woodier stems.

Interesting facts:

1) One distinctive problem with asparagus is that a constituent chemical of the plant is metabolised and excreted in the urine, giving it a distinctive, mildly unpleasant odor. Apparently not everyone who eats asparagus produces the odor, but also not everyone is able to smell the odor once it is produced. Some people prefer not to eat asparagus because of this effect, as it can put a damper on an otherwise romantic evening…

2) Asparagus comes in purple, white and the most common, green. Purple asparagus is a little sweeter than the green asparagus and the white asparagus is sunlight-deprived with milder and more delicate taste.

If you have time, try wrapping each stalk of Asparagus with bacon and the result is as such.

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Happy Hearts Day!

My Dad forwarded me an email. It was George Carlin’s views on aging. I have just forwarded the email to two of my blogger friends who encouraged me during my early days of blogging. Now, I would like to share George’s brilliant ideas with the rest of you…

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m four and a half!’ You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key you get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m gonna be 16!’ You could be 13, but hey, you’re gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life, you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There’s no fun. Now, you’re just a sour-dumpling. What’s wrong? What’s changed? You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn’t think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60. You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a Day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30 ; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; ‘I Was JUST 92.’ Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a Little kid again. ‘I’m 100 and a half!’ May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay ‘them.’
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, Who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next County; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Happiness keeps You Sweet,
Trials keep You Strong,
Sorrows keep You Human,
Failures keep You Humble,
Success keeps You Glowing,
But Only God keeps You Going!
You are so special!

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Care for a 30 minute or less meal?

Take outs and leftovers have taken over my refrigerator for the past two weeks. Yes, that is how long that I haven’t been cooking a full meal.

Fortunately, uncut cabbage keep real well in the refrigerator. This particular one has been in my refrigerator for at least two weeks.

Tonight, I wasn’t ready to cook anything complicated, so I made two simple dishes, Bake Salmon and Stir Fry Cabbage. Unlike the Cabbage, I bought the Salmon fresh this morning. I love this Salmon recipe because the fish’s flesh is tender and full of flavor.

Stir fry Cabbage with Szechuan (Sichuan) Peppercorns
(Recipe adapted from Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su Huei)

1 cabbage (about 1 lb)
3 dried hot red peppers
1 t szechuan peppercorn
1/2 T mashed ginger root
1/2 T each: cooking wine or sherry, white vinegar, sugar
1/2 T sesame oil
3/4 T soy sauce
1/3 t salt
1/2 t cornstarch

Rinse the cabbage and cut it into 2 inch squares. Heat the wok then add 3 T oil. Add the cabbage and 3 T water. Turn heat to high and stir fry until cabbage is soft but crunchy, do not overcook. Remove and drain water.
Reheat the wok then add 2 T oil. Stir fry red peppers, peppercorns and ginger root untl fragrant. Remove the szechuan peppercorn. Return the cabbage and seasonings to wok and stir fry. Transfer to serving platter and serve.

Hoisin Baked Salmon
(from an old newspaper clipping)

Two 6-oz pieces salmon
2 T hoisin sauce
2 t soy sauce
few drops of sesame oil
1/4 tsp chili paste
1 tsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place salmon in a baking dish. Brush seasonings onto fish and bake for 10 minutes.

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Easter

On Easter weekend (usually at the end of March), children can attend egg hunts. It was Little Chicken’s first year in picking up her own eggs without any help. Inside each decorated plastic eggs are candies.

I did not know this until I researched it on the internet; The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that rabbit, a symbol of fertility, laid eggs, a symbol of new life, in the grass for them to find.

But Easter Sunday is much more than a day of colorful plastic eggs and chocolate bunnies.

As Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birthday, Easter is celebrating Jesus’ victory over death.

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Sweet Creamy Avocado and St. Patrick’s Day

Did you know that the Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Celebrations are generally themed around the color green. Although Avocado is not related to Irish, but it is green.

If you like Avocado and you like dessert, this recipe is for you. It is super simple. My only complain is washing the food processor afterwards.

Recipe adapted from The cooking of Malaysia and Singapore by Ghillie Basan.

Serves two
1 avocado, (pitted)
juice of half a lime
30 ml /2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
30 ml /2 tbsp coconut milk
a pinch of salt

Put the avocado flesh into food processor and puree it with lime juice. Add the condensed milk, coconut milk and salt and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

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Deep Fried Belacan Chicken and Five Facts About Me (Part 2)

There is something about deep fried food that attracts both the young and old. If I were to pick a dish that I loved from childhood (cooked by my Mom), it would have to be Fried Chicken.

Here are some tips for deep frying foods from busycooks link.

  • To start, choose your cooking oil carefully. Oils with high ‘smoke points’, in other words, those which do not break down at deep frying temperatures, are best. Peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil are some good choices.
  • Choose a deep, very heavy skillet to fry with. Add oil to the cold pan, leaving a headspace, or space at the top of the pan, of at least two inches. This allows a safety margin when the oil bubbles up as the food is added.
  • Make sure that the food you’re going to fry is dry. Letting it sit on paper towels, or coating it in flour or bread crumbs is a good way to ensure this. Let the coated food sit on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes so the coating dries and sets.
  • Begin heating the oil over medium high heat. If you have a deep fat frying thermometer, use it! The best temperature is 350 to 375 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil is ready when a 1″ cube of white bread dropped into the oil browns in 60 seconds; that oil temperature will be about 365 degrees F.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan! Carefully add the food, leaving lots of space around each piece so the food will cook evenly. If you add too much food at once, the oil temperature will drop and the food will absorb fat instead of instantly searing.
  • Watch the food carefully as it cooks, regulating the heat if necessary to keep that oil temperature between 350 and 375 degrees F. When the food is browned according to the time in the recipe, it’s done. Remove it with a slotted spoon or a heavy stainless steel sieve with a long handle. Drop it onto paper towels to drain.
  • Fried foods can be kept warm in a 200 degrees F. oven until all the food is fried.
  • Oil and water DO NOT MIX!! Keep water away from the hot oil. If you pour water on the oil, the mixture will explode. If the oil smokes or catches fire, cover it with a pan lid or cookie sheet. You can use baking soda to put out any grease fires, but be careful that you don’t spread the flames around.
  • I always keep a fire extinguisher in my kitchen, just in case. Learn how to use it NOW, before you may need it.
  • Don’t reuse the cooking oil. Some sources say you can strain it and reuse it, but the oil has already begun to break down from the heat, and undesirable compounds like trans fats have formed. Let the oil cool completely, then discard safely.

The following was the Deep Fried Belacan Chicken that I made. The meat is moist and very flavorful.

The secret to my delicious deep fried chicken is the following ready spice mix Balacan Chicken packet from Hup Loong. Looking at the chicken photo on the packet, I think I can further improve on my deep frying skills.

My last article was Five Facts About Me (part 1). Here’s part 2. The next two facts about me are not related to food. I am not even sure if I should reveal this much information about myself. I was triggered to write the following after seeing neighbor dog’s poop on our driveway.

Fact 4: I am a sinner. In the past, I have thought that I am a good person. However, ever since I start attending church, I am more aware of my sins.

I have “Monk” syndrome. I am intolerant to hairs that are not attached to one’s scalp. Hence, I use the vacuum at least once a day. Additionally, I am constantly striving to be perfect. May the Lord grant me the wisdom to do what is right.

Fact 5: I love to write. I love to write because I can edit. I can delete the sentences that I don’t think is appropriate. I can take my time to collect my thoughts and write them out in a way that is easy for my readers to understand. I know my pastor would love for me to pray out loud at church. However, as is, I have a hard time speaking eloquently to articulate my thoughts. Perhaps someday when I am 60 years old, God will bless me with a gift of tongues that is in plain language so that everyone can understand. If that happens, I can speak freely with the help of Holy Spirit.

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Five Facts About Me … (Part 1)

I have been tagged by Cocoa, Eliza and Bernice to list five facts about me. Well, it is not a hard article to write except as usual I am trying to be perfect again. I wanted to write an article that will benefit my readers as well. I want my readers to leave my blog feeling satisfied, as though they have not wasted their time dropping by….

When I need strength or inspiration, I turn to my favorite book. Tonight, I opened my Stream in the Desert book and the verse was 2 Corinthians 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for you.” It said, there is a large balance credited to my account in the bank of heaven. It is waiting for me to exercise my faith to draw upon it. Wow, what a boost of energy. Imagine, an endless credit. I will not be shy and start withdrawing on God’s resource. God’s grace is sufficient for me. So, here are the first 3 food related facts about me.

fact 1: My spiritual food is God’s words. I turn to His words for comfort. When no one else understand my situation, God tells me He understands. Nobody knows but Jesus. Whatever my situation may be, I can turn to Him. I love the lyrics to the song Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen by Louis Armstrong. Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, Sometimes I’m level on the ground … Nobody knows the joy I have, Nobody knows but Jesus!

fact 2: During my free time, I like to shop for unique items.

A few years ago, when we were vacationing in Richmond Vancouver, I bought this adorable, one of a kind teapot. There are two birds on this teapot. One bird serves as the handle and the other bird will appear when tea is being poured out of the pot.

These days, it is hard to shop with a fully potty trained 2 year old. It is great that we can save money on diapers and pull ups but visits to public restrooms can be a little annoying when I am in the middle of shopping.

It is also hard to shop with an active 2 year old. Once, I had some unique coffee cups in my shopping cart. Little 2 year old Chicken jumped up on the side of the cart and the whole cart fell down on her! There was a loud crash which I am sure, the whole store heard. My first instinct was broken merchandise. Aah, my sinful nature. Thank God, miraculously, the cups survived and my daughter was not injured at all. God is gracious.

fact 3: Since I have a rather fair skin, freckles are more prone and visible. In addition to sun screen, I apply vitamins and preservative-free minerals on my face.

to be continued…

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