Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mum knows best: Tong Guai, her secret recipe.

Here's my parents Mr and Mrs John Chan Hiu Fei. My niece Jane says, "My stylo Milo "Grandma. Thanks to the little lump of Tong Kuai aka Guai aka Dang Gui aka  Angelica acutiloba. Mum used to be the Vice President of the Women's Institute of the 6th division chapter. She held cooking demos and was a cooking judge, so she knew what she was talking about.

Tong Gui  Angelica acutiloba
Gee Zai , Goji aka Wolfberry (above), garlic (below)

Chinese red dates (dried)


and a young virgin chicken. LOL
When I arrived back to New Zealand, in 2006, my daughter treated me as a mum-daughter thing to watch a musical,"Menopause". I laughed as I was pre-menopausal and was dreading the big day.

One of the things they were singing about was TONG GUAI, and she didn't understand what it was. I explained to her. The audience were mainly women with a few brave men.

TONG GUAI is known as a women's herb. It is used as a helpful regulator of one's menses and also keeps a women young looking and also, eases a women in her transition to menopause.

This is no laughing matter, though my girls friends and I laugh about it. My mum told me, from the age of forty, I should brew this concoction with chicken every month after my menses .

What's the verdict? I breezed through my menopause without any debilitating hot flushes, weight gain, mood swings or any of the nasties associated with it. It arrived and it went even before I realised it. I wonder if the TONG GUAI was responsible for that.

And as the proof is in the eating. I went to a students' reunion, some thought I was one of the students, and another even made the remark that the teacher was younger than the students. LOL.

***These are the raw ingredients, the TONG GUAI is chalky colour, and the Chinese Medical hall proprietor will roast it, and shave it to thin slivers.

It is also called Angelica acutiloba dang-gui in Chinese/Mandarin. A highly regarded herb used for female hormonal balance, blood purification, migraines & much more.

In New Zealand, they sell it in clumps. I try to grate it into powder as it is very hard to shave it. You can buy them in a fluid form or tablet in a health food store.

The bigger red things are dried red dates, the little ones are Gow TZE, they are very good for you. The other two is ginger and garlic. Some times I also add some shitaki mushroom. In the old days, the best chicken is a virgin rooster or a hen before it lays eggs.  We joked about this. How do you know? ***

Alphabe-Thursday: Xanthorrhoea

Xanthorrhoea is a genus of flowering plants native to Australia and a member of familyXanthorrhoeaceae Xanthorrhoea is commonly known as yakka, also spelled yacca and yacka, a name probably from a South Australian Aboriginal language.  It is another word for grass tree. 

I am pretty sure this is a Xanthorrhoea plant. Correct me if this is not. New Zealand is very near to Australia and we have a lot of common plant.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Emily

 Emily with her husband Morgan Hamilton.
Emily and her mum Karen Chan.

Download Emily Chan - Mum's The Best
It was my niece Emily's birthday yesterday. I told her to follow a tradition that some Chinese practise. The day you are born is the day of your mum's greatest suffering. If you don't understand, go ask your mum, or any aunt who had given birth. I reminded Emily to give her mum a present. I told her, perhaps the song she sang for her dad, my brother Charles.

This Chinese Song titled: Mom's the best person in the whole wide world is half a century old. It was recorded by a famous child actress Sio Fung Fung and later by Teresa Teng.

This recording is modernised and recorded by Emily and her then fiance, now husband, Morgan, a gift to her dad for Father's day. Both Emily and Morgan are Australians and they don't speak a word of Chinese. But when you listen to their singing, you wouldn't have guessed.

Most Chinese mothers sing to and teach their children this song. If one billion Chinese sing this song at some stage of their lives. I wonder how many times this song had been sung.

Shi shang zhi you ma ma hao
you ma de hai zi xiang ge bao.
tou jin ma ma de huai bao
xin fu xiang bu liao


Mommy's the only dearest in the world
Those with mums are like treasures
Run to mum's bosom
you will be so happy

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Volunteer life surf guards.

A beautiful rose that is colour co-ordinated with their uniform. I just took the photo half an hour ago.

 Grace from St Mary's school and Sophie from Western Spring's college.

 It's hard work asking people to buy their calender. I didn't see anyone buying.
 When you are at the beach, and see these equipment, that men and women like Grace and Sophie who have been busy trying to raise funds.

 Here is the rose bush, dedicated to all the life surf savers. Ka Pai and Pako Paki.

This weekend flower is an orangy yellow rose. I am dedicating this to the wonderful people who are volunteers of the Piha Surf Life Saving Club. Especially to Sophie and Grace who instead of enjoying the sun, sand and surf, they were at Pt Chevalier Mall trying very hard to get people to buy their calender. I asked them if I could do a blog of them as I appreciate their hard work. They are the heros that we so often that for granted.
Piha is a very dangerous beach and it is made worse when people don't swim in between the flags and do stupid things. I am watching Piha Rescue on TV and often my heart is in my mouth. I work with a friend who gives up her weekend at the beach. She tells me sometimes there are silly people who go during the off season when there is nobody and jump into the beach fully clothes.
I remember once upon a time, I almost drowned at Piha when a rip current carried me out to the sea. Since then, I don't go to the sea even though the beach is 5 minutes from my house.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FSO: Water in motion

You can't see it. there is a lot of water in motion inside this pipe.

October 26: Water in MotionAnything from a dripping faucet to a waterfall.

link to Mr Linky at the Friday shoot out link below.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Camp America, Jennifer Koelet

Jennifer is the one with a stripe T shirt and crown in Camp America. She has since gone to Papua New Guinea.

It is a great privilege when your blog is visited by an organisation like Camp America.  It is a healthy way for children to spend their summer vacation.

I recall this blog I did when I interviewed Jennifer, ( Her mum Ellen is my friend) from my church who went to Camp America as a counsellor for an article for the church magazine.

Today I want to reflect on a new person I was asked to interview for my church magazine, Jennifer Koelet. I wonder what kind of teenager she is, to spend out of her own pocket GBP600, or US$1000 or NZ$1200 to go to work for Camp America.

Camp America is an opportunity you shouldn't miss!
It's a chance to do something different with your summer and spend it in the U.S.A. living & working either with children or 'behind the scenes' as support staff on an American Summer Camp. Each year over 7,500 young people take the opportunity...will you be one of them? If you're a 'first timer' to the programme, read on to find out about the fantastic opportunities & experiences you could be part of in summer 2011!

I work with Adele, a woman who as a teenager had been to camp America and her daughter will be going too. They are fantastic people and I salute them.

Ka Pai, Paki Paki Jennifer. I am glad to have the privilege to do this interview.

1. Please tell us about Camp America.
Well last June I got placed in a camp in Maine, called Camp Sebago. It was a six weeks long camp in a row and was run by the Salvation Army. I was a camp counselor which meant I was a leader to 16, 9 and 10 year old girls with my co-counselor, a girl from England. Camp was an awesome experience, I made so many great friends from all around the world, learnt a lot about myself and also a lot about kids.

2. How did you get selected to go?
I applied to Camp America at the beginning of the year, but only got chosen on the 25th of June. This meant I had one day to pack, and leave for camp on the 26th. It was a crazy day.

3. Did you enjoy yourself? Did the American kids like a Kiwi teen (You)?
I had the most amazing time. Especially meeting all the kids. They loved meeting someone from another country all though sometimes couldn’t understand what I was saying because of my accent.

4. How did the trip impact you?
This trip to America made me more confident and helped me to learn many things about myself. I found out that I can do awesome things for God by helping kids understand God’s love. The trip has given me confidence in being more independent.

5. Now that you are back in New Zealand, what are you doing this year?
This year I’m still working in Fresh Direct Floral and also I am the children’s ministry’s intern at church. This means I help Wendy out with what she needs doing and to organize the school holiday programmes, which I really enjoy doing. I’m also helping direct a SUPAkidz (Scripture Union Primary Adventures) camp in July. I love helping with these camps because I used to go to them as a camper when I was at primary school. This year I’m also going to try to start working part time and do a lot of volunteer work at schools and with kids so I can gain experience with children. I am not quite sure what God has in store for me for the future, I think I will go to university next year to study to be a primary school teacher. I also hope in the long term will do more travelling and visit Europe where I was born.

6. I see you with your mum a lot. It is good to see Mums and daughters together going to church and other activities.
Tell us about Ellen your mum
My mum is pretty awesome, we live together so we often do things together. She always encourages me in whatever I do in life. She has influenced me in the way she treats others. She is very kind and generous to all her friends which makes me want to follow her and do the same. She has brought me up in a Christian household so I have always known about living your life as a Christian, but only when I was about 14 did I decide to follow Jesus for life.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Alphabe-Thursday: Letter W for wishful and wisket and white

A white marble topped coffee shop table.

This is the table my late paternal grandmother brought from China to Borneo almost a hundred years ago. Here I was in my  step grandma's house, visiting from Singapore.

A wishful thinking for an old wisket cosy for the tea pot. This is not grandma's wisket. It belongs to my friend.
 When my late paternal Grandma left China for Borneo almost ninety years ago, she brought two things. A marble coffee-shop style marble table and a Chinese tea pot with a paper mache wisket cosy. She also brought a slave slave, given to her by her parents to serve her in any way she liked. This slave girl aka as MUI ZAI was in an era when the old paternalistic Chinese society when males were superior to the useless girl.

Grandma returned to China before the World War two .

Grandpa always had his tea pot filled with black Chinese tea. It was kept warm by the paper mache wisket cosy. Grandpa married a second wife, so these items went to her.

That pot was very valuable as an antique. When Grandpa was still alive, an antique dealer came round to houses of old people to scour for old things. He offered a good price for the tea pot, and the wisket paper mache cosy. The latter, the antique dealer had never seen. Grandpa refused to sell, no matter how good the offer was.

He told us, it was the only family heirloom that was worth anything. We teased him that he was an old romantic who could not give up the tea pot because it held so much memories for his old flame, my late grandma.

My second grandma is still alive and just turn 100. As for the tea pot, she doesn't use it any more. No, it is too precious to use, just in case someone, like clumsy me, break it. She will talk about it though.

This photo is an exact replica of Grandma's old tea pot.

A wishful thinking of an era gone back, recalled by my younger sister. 

"Prof Madya Dr Margaret Chan Kit Yok" 
if we revisit Ah Kung upper Lanang Road house, as you enter, the rattan teapot warmer is on the table located at the right side of the big lounge cum dining room. Just realised there were no sofa at all. Only the marble top round table against the middle of the wall facing the main door. On the right corner were the dining table and the long benches. We used to play a game and raced to see who can touch the legs of the marble table. 

In Kung Dai's place, there was also a big room with furnishing like Ah Kung, except there was a row of theatre chairs on the left hand side of the wall adjacent to the small grocery shop.

Sundays Stills, – What Inspires You?

 A friendly fireman who gave me permission to take his photo.
 Giant garage sale to raise funds for children in parts of Africa at Mt Albert Baptist Church.
 Katherine lost her baby, but used her lost to start Emily Corner, to have books for every library in New Zealand.

 We raised fund for the Deaf Children in Kenya. These ladies inspired me to work for 16 years.

My late baby Andrew's never worn booties, 

inspire me to help bereaved parents and knit blankets for babies in intensive care.

Today I gave my book to a friend whose baby died yesterday, 
A bereaved Aunt told me she was looking for my book to give to her bereaved sister.
This is what inspires me that I wrote a book that has been helpful.

Sundays Stills, The Next Challenge – What Inspires You?

Why do you take photographs? 

 Let your pictures this week speak for you. 

No  long commentaries for this week,

 I will however give a short explanation for some. 

These are just a few that mould me to be what I am.


I am posting this reality funny story for a young friend Evonne and her mum.

About 10 years ago, we had a reunion, and all my siblings went from Kuching, Bau, Sibu, Kuching to celebrate my nephew's wedding and my Dad's 81 birthday. We were quite tired by the time we got to Sibu. Evonne's mum had kindly peeled and cut two plastic containers of mango for me. We kept it in the fridge in the hotel while we feasted for two days and went visiting our grandmas and aunts.

We were at the transit lounge of the Sibu airport when I remembered the mangoes. My sister E had reminded me to make sure I ate them or they would go off.  We just started eating them, me, my children and my nieces from Australia. A security guard came and used his body language of displeasure. I didn't understand him, and I kept saying, " Not durian, not durian." He kept waving his hand and saying "no! no!"

A kind person then translated for us, no mangoes on the plane. Then I said what if I shut the lid and take it with us. He still said no. What do I do? I offered it to him, and he said no. My brothers who are lawyers in Australia laughed at me trying to bribe the security guard. I went outside to the kiosk and asked the girls if they wanted some nice mangoes. They said no.

My cousin, a  plane mechanic came to say goodbye to us, arrive at the right time. he took it and gave it to the girls. This time they took them.

This is the first time Evonne and her mum will be finding out about this. We didn't dare tell them. This year, they drove me from Sarikei to Sibu, and I was tempted to tell them.

Mangoes are one of my favourite fruits. During my younger days in Sarawak, with my siblings, we love green mangoes. The crunchiness still makes my saliva glands secrete salivate. We eat it with a sauce of soya sauce, chilli, salt and sugar.

These days, I am miles away from my siblings in Sarawak, Singapore and Australia, I have no body to eat the green mangoes with. They don't taste the same. If I get a semi green mango, I make a mango salad with fish sauce.

In school, my students from Samoa eat them unpeeled and uncut. My drool come out, as I see them munch away. The other day, a French student ate her mango the same way. So I came home and tried to munch into this unpeel uncut Mango from Peru. I managed only one third of it. Then I peeled the skin before eating it.

In Singapore, the Chinese believe that mangoes are very heaty, and people get sick after the mango season. So they encourage us to drink a lot of cooling tea. The Indians think that eating yogurt would counteract it.
If you just like sweet mangoes with thick flesh, the Brisbane mangoes are very good. But I like a little sourness in my mangoes.
My mango salad is very popular and is very attractive.

You need two semi green mangoes cut into strips, and salt it a little.
Cut green and red capsicum the same strips as the mangoes.
Cut red onions into rings.
Chop spring onions.
Mix with one lemon juice, sugar, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce.(optional if you can't stand the smell or taste)
Chill and serve in a big glass bowl.

The Thais serve mango as a dessert with glutinious rice and coconut. cream. You can can preserved mango slices from Philipines.
***I showed the bitten into mango when I tried to copy the way my students eat them uncut and unpeel. As you can see, I didn't go very far.***