2010年3月29日 星期一

Biking & Picnic

It was one of the rare sunny days in this early spring. We, three families got together, brought our kids and bikes to a lotus garden.  It was not lotus season yet, but the landscape itself in the garden was already beautiful.   We did not intend to have one, but some of us brought food and drinks, so, we had a small picnic, too. Richy joined the kids to bike around and the rest of us chatted under a wooden pavilion. The air and temperature felt great.  I felt it was like going back to the old days when friends and I chatted at places around our campus. The difference was that we all got older and got kids.
For some friends whom we have not seen for a long time, when we met, we may not find back the old feelings between each other.  For some friends, no matter how long we haven't seen each other, we can always pick up our conservation and laugh.  Whatever feelings I have, I like to treasure the moments when we were together and move on.

2010年3月22日 星期一

Kite 風箏


有人說: 夫妻關係就要像風箏,要懂得放手才能飛得高。再讀一次,這句話我有不同的體會,放風箏的人终究還是拿著線。我想,没有人能藉由一條線(或任何方式)去控管另一個人,每個人都有權利安排自己的生命、生活。
Some said the relationship between husband and wife is like flying the kite.  We need to give the other the freedom to fly, so it will fly high.  I can not agree. Because one still holds the string and decide for the other.  I think the bond between the two should be invisible and no one have the right to use the string to control the other. 
The past few days, Suzhou was covered in the Sand-dust-storm.  I suffered from respiratory problems especially during my sleep. For 3 nights, I had to struggle to breathe and wake myself up, otherwise I might had been dead in sleep.  I spent lots of time cleaning the house and doing the laundry during daytime.  Yesterday the weather was a bit better. The sand dust level was reduced a lot.  We went out to a Farm restaurant.  In the evening, we flew the kite. We had been swimming on the Sundays the whole winter.  It was the first time we went outing this spring.  This is my second Spring in China.  I am not as surprised by the spring flowers as I was last year.  But I still appreciate the spring blossoms very much.
The green house in the farm. (and the two funny statues?!)

2010年3月19日 星期五

East meets West 豬腳麵線加蘋果派

我和Richy的结合,就像這次他的生日,我所準備的“豬腳麵線加蘋果派”,一個傳統,一個急於擺脫傳統;要说一個有涵养,一個有不耐煩,也行。 不過,因時、因地的轉換,這時候的豬腳麵線加蘋果派,也跟上了混搭的風潮,吃得出幸福的味道。

Yesterday was Richy's birthday. Since he is quite a traditional man (what a pain), I planned to cook traditional birthday food for him. The traditional Chinese food set to celebrate birthday  is: egg, noodles, and pork knuckles, where egg stands for birth and new life, noodle for longevity, and pig knuckle (I guess) for strength and health.
What is for dessert? Winston had asked me to make pies this month, so I decided to make an apple pie for dessert.
This funny combination of two extreme food style leads me to think of "marriages".
Isn't every marriage more or less like the combination of  East and West. People tend to be attracted to someone different.  Every fight or argument may move two sides a bit closer or farther. No matter how close or how far, East is still East, and West is still West. Every story ends differently. Whatever the end is, as long as we are happy.

After all, my cooking of pork knuckles was quite a success yesterday.  My first try on making American apple pie was a big hit last night.  And the combination of them for dinner was unbelievably great. 
Recipe for Pork Knuckle:Trio Life 有萬巒豬腳的味道喔!
Recipe for Apple Pie: All Recipes . I made some adjustment on the crust and fillings. I think mine is better. 
Adjustments: add half egg for the crust to avoid crumbles on patting process.  This also makes the crust taste like cookies. I replace 1/2 cup white sugar with 3 tb sp of black sugar.  I also add ground nuts and raisins in the fillings.黑糖、肉桂、蘋果一起,真是绝配。

2010年3月15日 星期一

Foodie Weekend 細說蘿蔔絲餅

每次动手做 蘿蔔絲餅,就不免要赞叹老祖宗的美食智慧,香脆酥皮的做法,做出來的東西就是會讓人回味,春天的蘿蔔特别甜有多汁,我時來技癢,动手做了蘿蔔絲餅、红豆饼、和葱油饼。这次我很有耐心地将过程记录下来,表示了我对于此项食谱的敬意。

Maybe it is because of the Spring, we feel like to eat even when we are not hungry. This week we get a good excuse to feast. Richy's birthday is someday during this week. We started celebrating it last weekend. Saturday I made turnip pastries, Sunday I made stuffed bell peppers and stuffed tomatoes and baked vegetalbe & sausage mix. We bought a cheese cake for dessert. And that is not the end yet. I want to make something more on the coming Thursday. Although Spring is here, the weather is changing-- sometimes foggy, sometimes raining, and sometimes cold. Can't go outdoors, so I decide to do some cooking to please everyone's appetite.

Every time when I make the turnip pastries, I can't stop admiring the ancient wisdom in creating this recipe. So this time, I took my great patience which usually does not exist in the process of my cooking or blogging to illustrate the detail of making the pastries. 

1. Two doughs( A & B): one for the pastry skin and one for the crispy part of the pastry skin.  The two will be folded together to create layers and crispy taste on the pastry skin.
    A: Pastry skin:2 cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 tbs sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup oil (any kind, but lard will taste better), mix together and make dough A
    B:Crispy skin: 1.5 cups of all purpose flour, 1/3 oil, mix and make dough B

 Dough A & B

2. Fillings: 900 g grated turnip-add 1 tea spoon salt and mix for 10 to 20 mins,  Pat dry the water.        Season the fillings with salt, chopped scallions, bacon (or smoked ham), black pepper
Fillings can be meat, or bean paste....whatever, as long as the pastry skin is made ready.
                                                                         Turnip fillings

 3. Make crispy pastry skin, this is the magical part I admire...
     Cut each dough into 20 pieces, wrap B in A, fold , flatten, and roll..
  Crispy pastry dough inside pastry skin
Flatten the wrapped skin..
Flatten again..
Roll again, and let it stand upright, and...

Flatten the pastry from the top and turn it to a wrapper.. 

Place fillings and wrap..

When finishing wrapping, put pastries upside down...
Brush egg mixture on the top, bake in 200C for 20 mins
With all the rolling and flattening process, Now the pastry skins are crispy.

Spring Turnips are surely sweet and tasty!

2010年3月9日 星期二

Women's Day

March 8 is Women's Day in Chinese Culture.  In Suzhou, the schools were promoting the behavior of respecting the elder.  Winston said his teacher asked all the kids to wash their mothers' feet at home.  I felt funny and embarrassed.  But Winston insisted doing it.  He said his teacher would ask whether they finish this kind of "homework" the following day .  So I had to take a basin full of water and sat on a stool to let Winston washed my feet.  It tickled and we both laughed. 

I know in kids' mind, they only want to do as teachers say. But at least the schools are promoting something valuable and I think the concept and attitute will build up in their mind gradually.

Last weekend was Wisnton's birthday. I am glad that he did not ask for any presents.   He planned a family concert in which Richy and I played Cannon D major and Bach's Minuet  together with piano and violin and Winston played Wild Rose with piano. So we played music on Saturday night with only 3 of us as both the players and the audience.  I made banana & apple cake and cooked glutinous rice with veggie mix for dinner. Although everything sounded normal and causal on this day, Winston was quite happy. This reminded me the bithday he had last year, I bought a big cake for him to share and celebrate in his class in Kindergarden and everyone had a great time. However, at that time I had considered to celebrate Wisnton's birthday in low profile because as kids grow older they tend to compete and compare on something unnecessary. More importantly, I don't want to spoil a little kid's small appetite or turn him into a dinosaur.

Glutinous Rice with bacon and Veggie Mix

Fruit and Nuts Cake

2010年3月2日 星期二

Lantern Festival

有些地方辦燈會, 有些地方放煙火
中華文化保存的最好的地方 ,遺址消失殆盡;
遺址最多的地方, 文化卻亟亟不保。

Some says the Chinese tradition is best presevrved in Taiwan.  However, because its early development, most traditional architectures were gone or rebuilt to modern styles.  I said the best traditional Chinese architecture still exist in China, but the spirit of the culture almost disappear in its society. I hope at least the hardware parts can be well preserved in today's society where every one realizes "antiques" attract tourism and money.
Taichung, Taiwan
View more hand made Lanterns in my friend Elaine's blog .

Yesterday was Lantern Festival. We ate glutinous rice balls to celebrate. Last year we celebrated it in Taiwan on the day before we flew back to China.  So this was the first time we celebrated it in China.  We forgot to bring one lantern for Winston to carry on Lantern Festival Eve to maintain this tradition. 
Lantern Festival is the 15th day of first month of lunar new year. People celebrate it to end the Chinese New Year festivities. Rice balls also calledYuan Xiao or Tang Yuan are the traditional food to eat on the day.

Rice balls, Tang Yuan

Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan are made of glutinous rice, sometimes rolled around a filling of sesame, peanuts, vegetable, or meat. The round shape of rice balls symbolizes wholeness and unity, and families usually eat together to celebrate the day. 

We saw many Lantern exhibitions in parks and museums in Taiwan days before Lantern Festival, but none in Suzhou's parks.  I believe they have at least one big lantern somewhere in the old town. However, on the Lantern Festival eve, there were many firewworks (almost out of control) everywhere (until midnight)  and flying lanterns in the sky with some broken in the middle falling to the ground and some hung on the electric power pole and causing temporary power shortage in the neighborhood.

From the place I live, I can see the lanterns carring candles flying high in the sky and fantastic fireworks from every side of the windows in my house.  Flying lanterns are beautiful and seem peaceful, but in fact, they are very dangerous.  In tradition, people fly the lantern into sky and make wishes to God. But there is no guarantee that every flying lantern would fly high in to the sky and extinguish itself. Maybe the government won't do anything banning until something really serious happens. Isn't making wish on the risk of others' safety too selfish?  Would God help selfish people's wish come true?

As for the fireworks, since many people are rich in a sudden in this developing country.  Some families buy tons of fireworks to celebrate big days the way they like.  So they play  long lasting fireworks to show their prosperity while others have to close the windows to avoid the stuffing smoke and noises all night long. I heard that one rich family killed 21 persons and 5 luxurious cars accidently in the fireworks on the Eve. I hope people would learn the lesson.

Who would think of the tragedy behind?

So, what can we do to keep the tradition safely? It is easy.  Keep the tradition but environmentally.
Carry lanterns, don't fly lantens (especially with lighted candles inside) . Show more lanterns in the parks and museums instead of exploding too many fireworks on the Eve. For the environmental reason, I think the fireworks should completely be banned in the world.  The firework factories had caused many deaths in poverty areas, not to say the air pollution by lighting them.