Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mint Flower

Mint flowers can be used the same way as leaves. These are flowers from my mint plant. 

Wheels: Big machines

When I was little in Sibu, they didn't have big vehicles like this to transport the caterpillar trucks. The conveyor belts easily ruin road surfaces. They had men on foot putting pieces of thick tree barks just before the belt. This was a slow process, after putting one bark to the front, they have to go back and retrieve the last one. I wonder if anyone remembered those days.

This must be why I have a fascination with big vehicles, and I just used Sam to watch the juggernauts and counting their wheels. Now, when ever I see a heavy truck, I try to grab my camera.

Drs. Doom and Gloom

House going under the hammer.

I wonder if it is a sign of recession or is the owner moving up?

A big beautiful villa with fenced in privacy.

Road Side Fruits

This is a true story of a distant aunt and we were told not to emulate . The village where the clan stayed was a small place where everyone knew one another. We didn't really stay there except the few years when Dad went to England and we went to live initially in an old house by ourselves and later with Grand Dad.

Grand Dad told us about this aunt. One of her kids had been caught stealing fruits from a neighbour. This neighbour came to complain. She argued that the fruits grew by the road side, hence everyone could pick it. Her logic or lack of logic became a life lesson for us. That we should never pick anything not belonging to us.

Whenever I go for walks, and see fruits dangling over the footpath, tempting me, I laugh to myself and think of this aunt.

These pix show capsicums growing over the fence of a public park. No one seems to have helped himself to any, or did he? Upon close examination, because the fence had planks on uneven joints, I could see lots of ripe capsicums on the other side of the fence. May be some one did apply my aunt's logic. 

Water catchpit filter bag

When I saw the circle, I thought it was quite unusual, perhaps it was a fountain. I didn't have the water engineer to tell me his expertise. Then I walked on Wesley park, and saw the sign. The water engineer would have been very happy to tell me more. Only a couple of days before, he had told me about the storm water pipes and stream at this park.

Hedge hogs 3

Hedge hogs

I was merrily enjoying myself at the breezy Wesley Park when I sw a hedgehog. As usual, I am excited about this find. Then on closer look, I am sorry to report that it has gone to Hedgehog Heaven. 

I don't know why, it doesn't seemed to be injured. I suppose it is the inevitable circle of life. The Chinese have a phrase for it: SHENG LOU BIN SHI, translated as growing up, getting old, getting sick and dying.

Green Vegetables.

We eat a lot of dark, leafy greens like  Shanghai little Bok Choy, choy sum and Taiwan Bok Choy and lots of other types. They are available in Asian groceries  and are packed full of vital nutrients. We didn't always have these greens in Auckland.
Just a quick wash, and chopped to one and half inch lengths and a quick stir fry in garlic flavoured oil. Or to make a watery soup, dunk some veges in some boiling broth. When I fry noodles, I always add the veges, they make the dish colourful.
The Kiwis ate Silver beet. I don't like silver beet as they are tough and fibrious. I remember my Mum told me when she was in Australia, a Hong Kong friend said they called them vegetables for the pigs.
I drove my new elderly Sri lankan neighbour to the local garden centre. I asked if he ate silver beet, and he sid "yes." I bought him a punnet of seedlings telling him that it is customary to present someone a gift CHIANG MEIN LI when you see them for the first time. We talk about gardening and he calls me "daughter" and I call him, "Uncle".
My kids like vegetables especially G. She told me that she is the daughter that likes FU QUAH /bitter gourd and D hates it. Sam likes mushroom and tomatoes.

Another time, Another place.


Yester-year, 1980 to be precise, we went camping in the Bay of Plenty. We were in an old tent loaned by a friend who bought it at an Army Surplus store, there was no ground sheet. It was raining dogs and cats. There were holes and the tent leaked and we were miserable.

I can't remember how many nights we endured this wetness until we changed our itinary and made a detour and drove to my cousin Henry's place at Whakatane. He offered his lounge for us to crash in. We did not hesitate to say yes. At that time, My Uncle and Aunty Kok Fei and my two cousins were visiting Henry. 

We went with D. who is now in Melbourne and W.H. in Kuching. This is the car that was stolen by street kids.

This was our first car, our little 1300 CC  Ford Escort. We drove around a lot, and even to the mountains to ski. At the end of it's life, it was relegated when we bought a newer car. It was rejuvenated when we loaned it to our newly found friends I. and F. from Kuala Lumpur. They named it the Red Baron. The story behind I and F. is a post I have long wanted to write, recently I rehashed it a lot. I must write it before school reopens.


I told my friend K. in Singapore for these fifteen days of the Lunar New Year, I will send him a tree a day. This is the seventh day, so I will kick off with seven trees.
Like I mentioned before, I may not know the names, so I am not going to identify them and result in egg in my face. Some may be native, some may have been brought over by the early immigrants.
The weather was 27 degrees C, but it was beautiful and breezy in the Wesley Park. I hope that he likes them as much as I enjoyed looking for trees to share with him.
There were willows at the stream. The much loved New Zealand Christmas Tree aka Pohutukawa which is a Metrosideros excelsa. The Karaka, a Corynocarpus laevigatus whose foliage of large glossy green leaves make me think that I could use it in place of banana leaves to serve my nasi lemak. The large ripen orange-yellow drupes, elliptical shaped fruits make them so tempting to eat, yet deep inside lies a poisonous kernel.

Bitter gourd/ FU Quah

Bitter Guord is a kind of melon and you need an acquired taste to eat it, as the name implies, it is very bitter. It is very good for you, the Chinese believe it is cooling, and probably packed with vitamin C. Dried leaves and vines are boiled to make a therapeutic bath. I can't tell you what treatment it is for, because I forgot.

These days, with the alternative medicine gaining popularity, bitter gourd is believed to cure diabetes. I did buy satchels of bitter gourd tea in Singapore. In a hot humid weather, you don't want to drink sweet drink. A mild bitter tea is actually quite refreshing.

The Chinese cook it sliced diagonally and stir fried by itself or with eggs or pork or the Nyonga in a sambal. My Mum likes to make stuffed bitter gourd of pork mince and using the gourd as a casing. Some people make a soup.

Dad liked the stuffed ones very much. One of the last few dishes I cooked for him during my last visit to him was bitter gourd. He requested for it. I taught Yeti, Henry's Indonesian maid to cook it.

The Indians cook a curry. They usually have a small species which Rose says is better. The texture is harder and the ribs of the outer gourd much mucher.

The ones shown in the pix are medium size. The ones the Chinese like a much bigger. Mum and Dad used to grow them, They are very susceptible to insect stings and laying eggs so their caterpillars will ruin the gourd. We used to make paper bags out of newspaper and attache it with toothpicks  to the vine where the little gourd grows. These bags protect the gourd from insects laying eggs in the gourd.

At this festive season, people avoid eating the bitter gourd. They don't want the rest of the year to be bitter. 

In New Zealand, I have not bought any because it costs a lot of money. One of my daughters likes them, but I have forgotten which.

***The vine grows in my neighbour's garden. I have a feeling that it wasn't grown intentionally, because everything is like a bush. The leaves are very pretty and can be used as green in flower decoration.***

My mother in law learned from her friends to feed the juice of the leaves to a jaundiced baby. Jaundice to the chinese means heaty. I assumed that the bath cools the internal heat of the sick person.  
A warning to others, you should never give the juice to the baby because it is too cooling and the baby will develop weak lungs.  Grace

If the baby very hot (heaty) use boiled Fu kuah leaves.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dusk in a Southern Hemisphere Summer 2

Same background, from a different angle focussing on the clouds. The time was 8.30pm

Dusk in a Southern Hemisphere Summer 1

I couldn't resist taking these pix. Looking far ahead is the Mt Roskill Volcano crater.

Penny Royal

Penny Royal

My Penny Royal plants grew very well. I managed to propagate 5 little pot plants which I sit on our windsow sill. This morning, I found one of them have tiny purple flowers.

I don't know if they actually repel fleas which was why I bought them. But so far, since I last posted on fleas, we haven't been bitten. 

The leaves may be dried and used in sachets designed to keep insects away. 

Wheels: Motorised Wheelchair

This gentleman was going so fast that I had to walk quickly to take the pix. At last, he stopped at the traffic light for me to catch up.

This contraption is a soul saviour. It gives the user such great mobility and independence. One evening, the water engineer and I were in a park. A teenaged boy with a high degree of immobility was enjoying himself in his motorised wheel chair.

Games workshop, holiday fun.

Sam and his friend M. went to a Games Workshop. He painted an Aragorn.  M. painted a Space Marine. They had a good time despite the meticulous work as the figurines were about one inch tall. After painting, they sprinked the base with brown sand.

I think he did rather well. But then, every mum is a bias mum. The water engineer's favourite teasing phrase is," Everyone is out of step, only my child is in step."

Making my own pork jerky/Bak Kuah

Going to all the Lunar New Year Celebrations and meeting old friends made me nostalgic. Before the New year, I bought at the Asian Grocery store some pork jerky/BAK KUAH.  I couldn't find any more. The girl said, they sold out. Still craving fot it, I decided to make my own.
Surfing for a few recipes, I set out to make some. The result wasn't bad. G liked it, but then, she had left Singapore for too long, so anything would be good for her.  I had two true blue Kiwi brothers and they too dug into it. Sam said it was OK, too busy reading his Harry Potter book.
Honesty, it was ok for the first experiment. Next time, G said she will make with me. I should stick to the recipes and not concoct my own.