Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shumai Love

I was watching a Filipino tv show online and there was a segment about making shumai. Shumai is a traditional chinese dumpling served in dim sum. I grew up eating shrimp shumai but stopped when I developed an allergic reaction to shellfish; fortunately other types of shumai are readily available in asian supermarkets but you have to get them from the frozen aisle. After the show ended I went to bed obsessing over shumai. The next day, after class I drove to Whole Foods and bought the main ingredients: pork, fish, jicama and carrots (see complete ingredients below).

Unfortunately I don't have the exact recipe, I made up the measurements as I was mixing. First, mix ground fish and pork, followed buy chopped carrots and jicama. Add sugar, black pepper (can be substituted for white pepper), fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch. I'm not sure how much meat I had but one stick of carrot and half of medium-sized jicama will suffice for this recipe. I couldn't find wonton wrappers in Whole Foods; so, I ended up using egg roll wrappers – cut them in 4 pieces and voila! Here are the before and after shots.

I asked my mom and grandma to try it and both said it was tasty and better than the ones in the restaurants (^;^). My mom's birthday is coming up and she wants me to make shumai for her. Since I don't have the recipe, making shumai for a big event is a bit daunting but I am ready for the challenge!

That's the shumai cooking. I was going to edit the video but decided not to – it's the mishaps that make things interesting (~_^).

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
(Scott Adams (1957 - ), 'The Dilbert Principle'

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Vine that Ate the South

When you remove the risk, you remove the challenge. When you remove the challenge, you wither on the vine.
~Alex Lowe

After I got off work last Saturday, I went to check the backyard garden for plants in dire condition but I saw something a lot worse than wilted plants, the kudzu behind our fence was starting to devour the trees planted alongside it. I immediately ran to the carport, grabbed the pruners and gloves, changed shoes and started cutting the vines. After a couple hours of battle, I finally freed the trees from being ingurgitated by this voracious plant. The vines were vicious; I inherited scratches that felt like hundreds of tiny cats had clawed me but it's worth the plight.

While I was cutting the vines, I thought of ways of how to get rid of them or at least prevent them from climbing over our fence and all I could think was, could I eat them? lol. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate everything about kudzu – when they flower, my backyard smells heavenly – I am lulled by its intoxicating fragrance. It's actually the only time when I look forward to seeing it thrive – to watch kudzu flower. So for curiosity's sake, I looked up recipes for kudzu and to my disbelief, kudzu is safe for consumption and I am so excited to share these recipes I found online:


Kudzu Quiche
Makes 4-6 servings.

1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped, young, tender Kudzu leaves and stems
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper to taste
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream, eggs, kudzu, salt, pepper, and cheese. Place in pie shell. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until center is set.

Rolled Kudzu Leaves

Kudzu Leaves 1 can diced tomatoes 2 teaspoons salt 3 cloves garlic, cut in half Juice of 3 lemons
Bacon Grease (optional)

Stuffing ingredients: 1 cup rice, rinsed in water 1 pound ground lamb or lean beef 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of allspice Salt and Pepper to taste

Gather about 30 medium-sized young kudzu leaves. Make sure area has not been sprayed with chemicals to kill the Kudzu.

Wash leaves. Drop into salted boiling water. Boil a 2-3 minutes, separating leaves. Remove to a plate to cool. Remove heavy center stems from the leaves by using a knife and cutting down each side of the stem to about the middle of the leaf. Combine all stuffing ingredients and mix well.

Push cut sides together and fill with 1 teaspoon stuffing and roll in the shape of a cigar. Place something in bottom of a large pan so that rolled leaves will not sit directly on the bottom of the pan. Bacon grease is great for seasoning.

Arrange Kudzu rolls alternately in opposite directions. When all are in the pot, pour in a can diced tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 3 cloves of garlic, cut in half. Press down with an inverted dish and add water to reach dish. Cover pot and cook on medium for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook 10 minutes more.

Deep Fried Kudzu Leaves

Pick light green leaves, 2-inch size.

Thin batter made with iced water and flour

Heat oil. Rinse and dry kudzu leaves, then dip in batter (chilled). Fry oil quickly on both sides until brown. Drain on paper toweling. Eat while warm.

You can find all these recipes at And for those who enjoy being inebriated once in a while, kudzu flower is great for hangover and alcoholism. If you want learn more about kudzu, check out the video below. Happy eating and hopefully you learned something today about the mighty kudzu.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Raining Elephants

It's sunny today, no droplets of rain in sight. I'm constantly hoping for a good rain everyday, not just a shower but heavy, pouring rain that will last for a couple of days. We've had some sporadic rain drops followed by a beautiful vivid sky but nothing too exciting like a torrential downpour. I don't want it to rain cats and dogs, I want hippos and elephants for once! I try to water my plants regularly but the arid summer days leave the ground bone-dry. How do I make it rain longer than 5 minutes? Perhaps I should stop dancing LMFAO Party Rock Anthem and learn rain dance instead. To answer this relevant question, I've conducted research on ways to make it rain and I found several enthralling answers.

  1. Wash your car.
  2. Go on a picnic.
  3. Do the Rain Turtle ritual.
  4. Camp outside without a shelter.
  5. Don't bring your umbrella.
  6. Straighten your hair.
  7. Hang clothes on line.
  8. Bath a horse (it seems to work all the time).
  9. Go fishing.
  10. Apply geo-engineering.
There you go, I hope you enjoyed my succinct and riveting list.

How can I accept a limited definable self when I feel, in me, all possibilities.
— Ana├»s Nin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dreaming of Sleep

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

~Oscar Wilde

I thought I was going to be more productive this year but all I can think of is how to sleep and how not to fall asleep at work. I don't normally listen to music when working but I've been playing "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall and Totoro soundtrack to help me focus (these are the only available tracks in my computer). Majority of people probably start their morning with a hot cup of coffee to keep them energized throughout the day; unfortunately, unlike most people, a hot cup of coffee would put me to sleep instantly. So, rather than consuming coffee or hot tea, I've been drinking coconut water. I don't think coconut water has any active biological component for mental alertness but it sure beats plain water when it comes to taste. Sure, coconut water is refreshing but it's not as refreshing as having eight hours of sleep! For those of you who aren't getting enough of sleep, you should read this –

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Alright, it's time for me to go to bed – time for my hormone of darkness to do its job.