Tuesday, December 2, 2008 ;
2:34 PM
Some daily life pics.

The cold and dry weather has caused many to fall sick. In school, at work, people all around us are having a cold and related illnesses.

Being in China, of course I took the advice of the locals and tried some of their recommendations. For example,

1. Ban lan gen is supposed to be good for clearing phlegm, sore throats. So i did buy sachets of that to make into hot drinks. I drink that instead of tea.

2. Sour pears. These pears are not for direct consumption. I buy them at the wet market, wash them and cut them up into slices, with skin. Then I boil them until they are very soft, add some rock sugar towards the end. The result is a very soothing cough syrup. haha.

Anyway I boil a lot at one go and store them in Nalgene bottles in the fridge. Whenever we need any, we pour some out into a mug, warm it up and drink it. It's soothing for coughs and sore throats.

3. Luo Han Guo.
I'd known this is good for colds, sore throats and coughs but in Singapore I'd always seen it in syrup or powder form.

Now I buy the dried fruit, boil it to make up the drink myself. It actually tastes very much more concentrated. The kids didn't want to drink it at all because of the strong herbal taste.
Dh and I felt it was quite nice, especially if I add enough rock sugar or honey. It seems very effective too. And so cheap for such a large quantity of "herbal tea" that results.

Below shows the Luo Han Guo at initial stage. The water is just stained brown only. After 30min of boiling/ simmering, the liquid is black.

I keep forgetting to take pics of what my ayi has taught me each week. Recall she'd teach me one Korean dish per week? Well, this particular week, she said she'd show me a dish that all kids love to eat. They'd definitely eat.

The previous week, she taught me Korean miso tofu soup, and the kids wouldn't drink it although it's nice. So this week she said the dish is guaranteed to please them. I thought, how nice, maybe something really special. She even said that during her previous job, the 2 Korean kids asked her to make this for them everyday. I was looking forward to it so eagerly.

She taught me Korean fried chicken! (She insisted it is the Korean way)

Hmm, ok, I thought it was something very uniquely Korean. I realise, every culture in the world must have fried chicken as a dish. It is ubiquitous.

However, to give credit to her, the way she made it is much healthier than how fried chicken sold outside is. I had never fried chicken in Spore before, so tell me if it is very different from Spore or US fried chicken. If it is so, then maybe it is really the Korean way. :-)

1. Boil the chicken drumlets until the meat is cooked thoroughly. Poke a chopstick through the thickest one to confirm. Pour away all the dirty water.

2. Coat the cooled drumlets in Korean tempura flour (must be Korean, she says). {Sometimes when I remark that Japanese cuisine is similar to Korean, she is very shocked and insist that it is not.}

3. Coat those flour-covered drumlets in beaten eggs. 3 eggs for just these few drumlets!

4. Coat the egg and flour-covered drumlets in Korean bread crumbs. I said can make my own, she said not good, must buy that particular Korean brand that she bought for me. Ok, I got it.

5. Put some oil in the frying pan, heat it up and then fry the drumlets. She used much less oil than what is normally used for frying. I know cos I've ordered fried chicken wings from Coronation Plaza before. And she doesn't reuse the oil. So, it is healthier, I guess. Since the oil doesn't cover the whole drumlet, she has to keep turning them.

And since the meat has all been cooked in step 1, she fries each one for just seconds. It's like put in, turn, turn, then take out.

Hence, I think that makes it score more points on the healthy side too.

There it is. It does look good. It is not salty too, cos she didn't marinate the meat, neither were the flour or eggs or bread crumbs salted. She said for adults, if need be, can dip in sauces to make it tastier.

There's this other dish that she made another week, using minced pork and carrot. It was delicious and the kids love it very much. It's like making pork patties but with veggies chopped inside. Because of the minced garlic, ginger and onion, it smells and taste really good.

Forgot to take pics, even though the next week, ds2 requested her to make it again.

It takes a lot of work, so I am glad she agreed. It helps to have her prepare everything. I make it together with her, it is a bit like making dumplings, group effort. By myself, I will be lazy to go through all the steps.

I made it myself once and I cut off many steps. Of course it didn't turn out as good. :-)

She told me, must be very 细心 (meticulous). After mixing all the minced veggies, condiments together, must roll into many tiny meat balls. Then must flatten them out. I just flatten between my palms but I saw she will use her nails to tidy up all the edges to make it a perfect circle. All the thickness of her patties must be the same, and the circle size should be about the same too. Then it will cook evenly and nicely. I agree, just that I usually don't have so much time.

Then we need to coat it with dumpling flour (not the tempura one now).

Not done! We still have to put it into the freezer for couple of minutes so the meat won't fall apart when placed into the frying pan. At first I didn't know what the freezer step was for. It was when I cut out this step during the weekend when she wasn't around, and my patties broke apart in the frying pan, that I thought maybe every step is really important. hehe.

Then we must still dip each patty into beaten eggs. Korean dishes all involve eggs. They love it so much. (When she taught me stir-fried tofu, must also dip the tofu slices into egg first. She says it keeps the interior soft while the exterior is crispy. I had done tofu so many times before and never dipped them in egg. But what she said is true.)

Then only put into the frying pan to fry.

During the frying, she will turn the fire on and off also. Since my gas cooker (or rather the landlady's) is quite weird and doesn't have a small fire setting, she kind of feels the temperature must be controlled really well. So she keeps turning the fire on and off, as and when she feels it is too hot.

So her little circular patties turn out golden and crispy. So beautiful. Mine are, like, errm, unevenly golden/ brown/ black, and not so circular. She makes the egg coating very crispy but I realise it takes very good control of temperature. The thin egg coating burns rather quickly. I complimented her and she blushed so much, said it comes with experience.

This pic shows some of the things she will buy over to my place when we have cooking sessions. I don't know how to read or speak Korean, and everything on the package is in Korean. Hence, I always tell her to buy everything. Even the meat. Easier for me.

I like the cooking sessions so much, it often eats into the time she needs for cleaning and mopping. I always tell her to leave the cleaning. She can always do the cleaning the next day. I don't mind the dirt so much, I just want to have more variety of things to eat, hahaha.

Like the meat patties took 2.5hrs, and we were both shocked to see the time after we were done. She cleans for 3 hrs usually, so I told her, forget it. She had to pick her son up from school, I had to rush to the bus stop to get my son, so that day, all we did was to cook.

I consulted the person who pays her, and he says it's ok. We get to eat something nice, and I get a free cooking lesson. Dh reckons cooking classes cost more than what he pays her to clean, so it's not a waste. Yay, I get the go ahead to do more of such things.

Our Sunday group regulars. Small congregation for now, but we're enjoying every minute of it. After each worship, the girls normally have more Qs for Dh, and so we often spend more time studying. They're young and very eager to learn. Very happy for their presence.

They play very well with the kids, often playing with them before and after service. The kids are taking well to them too. In fact, the last Sunday, ds2 chose to sit with J, the guy, instead of with me!

Now we always meet at our place, and so I'll be the one in charge of making the unleavened bread, getting the grape juice done. The first time they tried the unleavened bread I made, they were so funny. Right after service, they asked for extras. Said it was so yummy.

Asked me how I made it. I became a guru, haha. It was a nice feeling that for something with such simple ingredients, I could make it taste much better than what they tried before. And yes, I never add oil, sugar or salt.
(Add flour and water, knead dough, roll out, cut into small squares or circles, put on frying pan, heat, turn over, prick the air bubbles once in a while, and done.)

After service, I also have to count the contribution and record it. We set up an account for it already, since China banks allow accounts to be set up regardless of the amount. It can be 1 yuan, and there'd be no fees. Interest rate is higher than POSB's too. I get one of the girls to counter-sign also. I count it together with one of them.

Definitely very different from worshipping in a big congregation like back home. We are always learning, from every new experience.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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