Monday, February 22, 2016

Back Again after a Long Hiatus!

Sorry folks! I have been terribly missing from my blog.

My sisters, niece and I at Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen temple in Jenjarom (near Banting) on the first day of CNY.

In between working on 2 books (yes!), working on planning our web design business, planning this year's marketing master class. taking care of my women entrepreneur association as president, engaged in meetings and interviews, and taking care of my family (their holidays included), I have been neglecting this blog a whole lot.

I haven't been making soups as much as I want to BUT I did buy a slow cooker or crockpot (that's how Americans call it) and that helped a lot. In the past, I used to boil my soups on the stove but the downside of this is that I have to be at home and watch the stove.

With a slow cooker, I don't have to worry. I can put all my soup ingredients (herbs and chicken or meat) into the cooker with enough water and I can put it on Auto to simmer the whole day (6 hours or so) and when I get back from wherever I am going, I have soup ready to slurp!

Or I can cook soup at night (yay!).  I can put all the soup ingredients into the slow cooker around 11pm which then means the soup can simmer the whole night through. It is done in the morning when I get up.

All I need to do is cool the soup down, ladle them into individual stainless steel containers (again, this helps cool the soup super quick) and once the soup is cool, store the containers in the fridge or freezer. I usually make 3 portions of soups (each portion makes 2 bowls of soup - enough for me and Nic) so this means we will have soup for the next 3 dinners.

I try not to freeze soups especially lotus root soup because I realised the freezing process changes the texture of the lotus root slices. Anyway, it is good to drink up soup as fresh as the day it was simmered. If you have leftover lotus root soup, just store it in your fridge and endeavour to drink it up within the next 2-3 days.

Today is the 15th day of the Chinese New Year - how quickly Chinese New Year has flown by! I went home for CNY (home as in Banting where my parents still live though technically, I now make my home in Penang) and had a tiring CNY helping my mum spring clean our house.

While home, I took over most of the cooking since my mum is getting old and can't do much cooking these days. This meant I was in charge of making "chai boey" on CNY Eve after our reunion dinner (with the dinner leftovers - actually it doesn't sound as gross because the roast chicken, roast pork, mixed vegetables and 'hou see fatt choy' made a truly delicious stew) which we had for the next 2 days!

I also made sambal hae bee for my sis to take home to Singapore. My arm almost fell out at the amount of slow stirring of the sambal! It took me about 30 minutes to ensure the sambal was ready. Now I know why sambal hae bee is expensive. It's not the dried prawns that is expensive - it's the labour!
My mum, dad and sisters and I. Yup, all girls so it's girrrlll power. 

Anyway, I saw this article from The Star Online that featured fresh wai shan in a dessert and thought of sharing it here. I copied the recipe (although you can access the recipes via this link) because newspapers are notorious for archiving their articles. In no time, you won't be able to find this recipe.

As you can see, most of the time, I'll keep recipes here so that I can also refer to them when I need to. (This usually happens when I am back in Banting and thinking of what soup I can cook for my family.)

Happy Chap Goh Meh!

(Here's something I haven't figured out: why do Penang people eat "pengat" or bubur chacha on this day? If you know, please leave your answer in the comments. I never grew up in Penang and I certainly never ate pengat on Chap Goh Meh although I certainly don't mind eating it.)

Anyway, perhaps it is about sweet beginnings and sweet endings. May this Monkey Year keep you smart and agile!


60g fresh huai shan (wild Chinese yam, also known as shao yao), peeled and shredded
3 pitted red dates, halved
600ml fresh sugarcane juice
30g rock sugar

Place huai shan, sugarcane juice and rock sugar in a medium saucepan or pot. Bring to a simmer over medium to low heat for 8-10 minutes. Do not allow to boil over. Remove and pour into individual serving bowls and enjoy it warm as a refreshing thirst quencher.

By the way, do check out my wai shan recipes below. 

Wai San, Carrot & Red Date Soup

And also, the time when I was growing wai shan in my garden!