Monday, December 27, 2010

Salmon Pot Pie chowder for Christmas Dinner

Ingredients for the chowder:
4 fillets of salmon cut into bite-sized chunks
1 shot of white wine
1 small onion
Cooked potatoes (diced)
Steamed carrots, peas, corn (bought frozen)
250ml sour cream
Half a can of Campbell mushroom
Pinch of dried dill
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 packet of frozen puff pastry
Makes 4 individual pot pies

Sweat onion in a tbsp oil before adding in salmon pieces. Shake in the dry dill and add the white wine. Add cooked potatoes, vegetables and stir fry for about 3 mins. Add the can of Campbell mushroom and chase it with sour cream. Do not overcook the fish. Place in individual dishes.

Roll out the puff pastry dough on a floured surface and stretch it over the dish. Place in an already hot oven at 200C for 30 mins.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to apply your Visa to Heaven/ Sharing with youth at JHC

I’m so pleased to be here and honoured that I may come to be a part of this. This week, I was on iTunes and I bought 2 songs that I can blast while I’m at the gym. I just love the beat. Let’s see how many of you recognize the lyrics…

Here we go, come with me;
There's a world out there that we should see;
Take my hand close your eyes,
With you right here I'm a rocketeer,
Let's fly... – Far East Movement, Rocketeer

When people meet me, one of the first questions I get asked is “where are you from?” I’ve lived in many countries and have traveled to many different places, so I’m often tempted to say “I’m from this planet” because home is more than one place to me. However, when pressed for an answer to why I speak the way I do, I say I was born in Singapore which used to be a colony under British rule for 123 years. So I am the fortunate holder of two different passports.

Objects: Singapore Passport/ Canadian Passport

How many of you have a passport? You don’t really need one if you plan to stay in Canada the rest of your life, but if you want to travel, you’re going to need one. Tonight, we’re all travelers from some place going to some place else…We’re all on a journey, and tonight, I’d like to rocketeer us into the world out there for 20 mins.

Who was born in Canada? What does it mean to be a citizen of Canada? It means you have full rights to all the benefits of living and enjoying all that Canada has to offer. It also means you will need to abide by and follow through with the laws of this country.

If you have your Canadian passport at home, go home and take a look at page 4 because there’s this interesting section that has to be filled out: It says

“Bearer’s Permanent Address” and “In case of accident or death, please notify”.

Now if you spend any time with me, you’ll find out quickly that I am a very rational, highly practical person, I am a bit of a skeptic and I ask a lot of questions. But it is in asking really good, hard questions, that I’ve gotten really good answers in my life.

Page 4 of my passport made me ask two questions:

1. Where is my permanent residence?
2. In case of death, where am I going to? Heaven or that other place no one wants to talk about?

I have moved 14 times the last 23 years. I’ve concluded that my permanent residence is actually very temporary. What I really want to ask is this: In case of death, how do I make sure my permanent residence is in heaven? Maybe the question is: Is there a heaven?

To answer that question, I’ve got to use this!

Object: Mapbook to Europe

No heaven is not via Europe. Bear with me…When my husband and I lived in Switzerland, we had to apply for a visa to visit France. We drove from our tiny city of La Tour-de-Peilz in our dinky little car all the way to the South of France using this to navigate our way.

When we finally arrived in the outskirts of Nice after what must have been a 10 hour drive (my husband never learned how to drive), I was exhausted and lost and wanted nothing more than to find our hostel. So being the woman driver, I asked Monsieur Gas-pump-attendant who would surely know the way. He gave me the clearest general directions possible.

Tournez a gauche pour 2 minutes,
et puis continuez a droit at the fountain,
et ensuite toute droit passé le marche and le voila! Youth Hostel!
A piece of cake!

After 20 minutes of going around 3 fountains, and two exits, and I don’t know how many supermarkets, I decided we’ve got to ask somebody else. So we stopped at the grocers and asked Mademoiselle. This time we got names of roads as well as directions! However this didn’t seem very helpful when it started to get dark and I was getting hungry and my husband couldn’t quite follow names of roads like

Avenue Villemont, Rue Diderot, and Rue de la Liberte…it was all very unliberating!

Finally, I stopped a gang of foreigners who gave me the best direction possible. You see, they had just come from the same hostel we were going to, and one of them decided to get into our car and personally show us the way.

I learned this important lesson that day:
The clearest direction comes from someone from the hostel and was committed enough to come along for the ride to show us how to get there.

Now I’m aware it’s a hostel, not Heaven, but here’s the logic of the enquiry. Is there someone who is from Heaven who could show me the way. So I checked. Buddha, Guru Nanak, Mohammad, Confucius, no religious leaders of any lasting reputation said they came from Heaven, let alone show me the way. All except one.

Jesus made this outlandish claim in the book of John in the Bible 6:38 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Then further on in the same book He says, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I remember thinking that’s rather pompous, isn’t it? No one goes to God but through him! Who does Jesus think He is? When I was younger, I thought he was some Jewish man who lived 2000 years ago who spoke in a language that nobody speaks now. I am a Chinese woman, born in Singapore, educated in the States and I don’t even read Hebrew, or eat baba ganoush. We’re from two different cultures! Why couldn’t God have come as a Chinese man, spewing Cantonese or Mandarin and eating dumplings with chopsticks? I had thought God was very narrow minded to come as a Jew.

And then I thought -Would it be any easier to believe he came from Heaven if he came as a Chinese man? Then a light bulb went off in my head: The question was not why did he come as a Jewish man, but why did he come at all?

It seems Mr. Bruno Mars knows because he sang it in his song Grenade:

Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked, Cause what you don't understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I'd do anything for ya
I would go through all this pain, Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby ; But you won't do the same

Why would anybody go through dismemberment, mutilation, and death?
One word: Love. You wouldn’t do it for anything less.

What are you willing to lose for the one you love? There’s a cost to everything. Did you know that your body parts can be insured for different amounts? Last year, one of the biggest insurance companies in America stated a quarter of a million dollar policy would pay you the cost of losing:
• One hand, ear, or foot: $125,000
• One hand or foot plus the sight in one eye: $250,000
• Thumb and index finger: $62,500
I mean, would you throw your hand on a blade for me if I paid you $125,000? You wouldn’t. Honest, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t do it for any other reason other than love. The truest love is sacrificial, not a monetary transaction. I don’t think it’s so far-fetched to think that God is conversant in this global language that you and I understand- Love.

This is how the Bible puts it:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son (from Heaven) into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Erwin McManus wrote in his book Soul Cravings, “This is the story of God: He pursues you with his love and you have perhaps not said yes. And even if you reject his love, he pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come. This is the story of Jesus, that God walked among us and he pursues us with his love.”

So this is what I’ve got so far:
One. Jesus came from Heaven. Who does he say he is? God.
Two. He promised to take us to be with Him. Three, He came because He loved the people in the world and He showed it in a way that everybody can understand.

But come now Shirley, you haven’t answered the question:

In case of death, how do I make sure my permanent residence is in heaven? To help explain this better, let me share this with you. This is my

Object: Record of Landing in Canada Document

In order to land legally with my son in Canada, I was given a Record of Landing on 26 April 2000. It is an official document signed and dated and approved. It’s similar to what you are being handed right now, but let me walk you through it. What you have is a Visa Application to Heaven.

I thought this would be appropriate for all of us because a passport to Christmas is really about starting a relationship with God, and applying for visa to Heaven.

What does it mean to be a citizen of Heaven? It means you have full rights to all the benefits of living and enjoying all that Heaven has to offer.

Object: Visa to Heaven (Click on image to enlarge)

The good news is in the Pre-payment section: Jesus paid the price of our death for dying on our behalf. On the cross. It is an exchange: His death for our death. His resurrected life for our eternal life.

What’s important on this Visa is that His signature, Jesus’ name is on this document as the Chief Immigrant Officer.

But what is most important is the decision of the applicant. This is a personal choice that you make. If this expresses the desire of your heart, then I’d like you to bow your heads and say the prayer with me.

"Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me enough to come to Earth to
show me that I matter to you. Thank you that it is a free gift to me
but it cost you your life to find my way back to God. I want to
know you as the way, the truth and the life. Please help me to
make you both savior and Lord of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen."

This is no secret forumla. God is interested in your heart's intent, expressed in the sincerity of your words (or what I'd like to call prayer.) If you said that prayer, you can look forward to some of the benefits you will experience when you go to Heaven. Wouldn’t you like to know what Heaven is like? I would!

If you asked Jesus to come into your life as your first step to believing His love for you is real, I want to welcome you in as a successful applicant to heaven. You can sign right there.

I started my talk tonight with people often asking me “Where are you from?” But I want to conclude tonight’s sharing with the much more important “Where are you going?” Jesus came so that you may have life to the full, and He didn’t mean for that full life to ever end. When you think of Christmas, let me leave you with the words of CS Lewis.

"Aim at heaven you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." May the joy of receiving Jesus keep you satisfied in this life and onto the next.

Bon Voyage and I hope we fly the same skies!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oat Crunchies


100g rolled oats
50g medium oatmeal
150g soft brown sugar
100ml corn oil
1 egg
Half teaspoon almond essence

Dried cranberries
Toasted almonds (slightly crushed)

Mix oats, oatmeal, sugar and oil in a bowl. Leave to stand for an hour. Add the egg, almond essence, dried cranberries and almonds and mix thoroughly. Please teaspoons of the mixture on a greased baking tray and use the back of a spoon or fork to press flat.

Bake for 15-20 mins at 180C. Leave to cool for 2 mins before transferring to wire rack.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Ox-tail soup in November 2010


1 ox-tail (about CAD$11)
8 bowls of water
1 onion
2 large carrots
4 field tomatoes
1 tsp herbs*
1 bay leaf
3 slices ginger
6 cloves garlic
half cup of wine (sherry is best)
salt and pepper to taste

Udon noodles
Head of broccoli
(*provencale or thyme, optional)

Blanche the ox-tail in boiling water then set aside.
Saute onions, garlic and ginger in big pot with one tbsp olive oil.
Add ox-tail to pan fry to seal in the juices.
Add water, followed by carrots, wine, tomatoes.
Keep on med low for 2 hours.
Add broccoli in the last 5 minutes

Boil fresh udon noodles for 3 minutes.
Ladle enough to cover noodles. Add green cut chili and you'll have enough to feed 7-8.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Successful 曼頭 and Peanut butter cookies

So I'm not a fan of anything that needs rising. First of all, it takes too long and second- I hate to make a small batch. Still, the need to steam some bao was beyond the casual itch, so bao-dom, there I went. I ended up making twelve. It turned out beautiful and I was kickin' myself for not stuffing it with char siew like the recipe asked for. Instead, it could be a good staple to stick in some curried stew I was planning this week.

This was a recipe my ex-colleague Arlene shared with me years ago when I worked at the EFCCM office. Simplest pea-brainer PB cookie recipe.

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1 egg

Mix them up and roll them up in balls. I added kashi on some, pressed an almond in others and baked the rest virgin. Proof they were good? I ate 3.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recipe for basbosa

1 cup wheatless
Half cup coconut
Half cup oil
half cup yoghurt
One third cup water
1 spoon baking powder

Mix all the ingredients together. Oil the surface of a shallow non-stick baking sheet before putting the mix onto it. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350F (180C)

Bring to boil, one and a third cup of sugar and one and half cups of water. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and a few drops of lemon juice. Cool before pouring it over the baked basbosa to steep for half an hour.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mother's Day Open Homes Party 2010

Playing "Soularium" to get to know one another.

Leftmost side is Davone (from Laos); Sitting L-R: JiHong (from Hunan, China), Ronda (from Egypt), Helen (from Chengdu, China), Stephanie and Sarah (from Philippines)

Having a spot of tea, a smidgen of coffee and a whack of homemades. Ronda's basbosa was a delightful Egyptian dessert!

A group photo on this lovely Sunday afternoon 16 May 2010 (L-R) Sarah, Stephanie, Ji Hong, Cindy, Shirley, Ronda, Zhong Le, Davone, and Helen.

Cindy Shum (from Toronto/Hong Kong) sharing her encounter with Jesus in the office and how He made a difference in her life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Char Siew Bau recipe

Okay, every once and again, we have a yen for these delectable dim sum staples- an entire meal in a round ball of flour. But then again, there's more than flour that meets the eye and greets the taste buds. Here's a recipe I had tried and worked.

Ingredients for the filling:
1 tsp oil
8 oz BBQ pork (diced char siew)
3 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
3 tsp sugar
chili sauce

For the dough: (makes 12 large or 24 small buns)
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1.5 tsp dried yeast
3.25 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp oil
1.5 tsp baking powder

Dissolve the sugar in the water, then add the yeast. Stir lightly, then set aside for 10 mins, or until foamy.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the yeast mixture and the oil. Using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients into a rough dough. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it is very sticky, knead in a little more flour- the dough should be soft. Lightly grease a bowl with the oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it so that all sides of the dough are coasted. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside to rise in a draft-free place for 3 hours.

Uncover the dough, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. If you are not using the dough right away, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you are ready to make the dough, flatten it and make a well in the centre. Place the baking powder into the well and gather up the edges to enclose the baking powder. Pinch the edges to seal. Lightly knead the dough for several minutes to incorporate the baking powder, which will activate immediately.

Heat the oil in the wok. Add the pork, rice wine, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar and cook for one minute. Allow to cool.

Divide the dough into 12 or 24 portions, depending on how large you want the buns to be, and cover with a kitchen towel. Working with 1 portion at a time, press the dough into circles with the edges thinner than the centre. Place 1 tsp of filling on the dough for a small bun or 3 tsp for a large bun. Draw the sides in to enclose the filling. Pinch the top together and put each bun on a square of waxed paper. When you get more proficient at making these, you may be able to get more filling into the buns, which will make them less doughy. Ensure that you seal them properly. The buns can also be turned over, then cooked the other way up so that they look like round balls.

Arrange the buns well spaced in 3 steamers. Cover and steam over simmering water in a wok, reversing the steamers halfway through, for 15 mins or until the buns are well-risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out hot. Serve with some chili sauce.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shirouri cucumber pickles

In a tiny Izakaya in Tokyo called Shinsuke is a recipe made known to me via a Christmas present from Myron's god-parents Anthony and Connie. Japanese tapas bars or Izakaya was unknown to me up until last year when we first visited Zakkushi- a local eatery on 4th Avenue and Burrard in Vancouver. My good friend Helen brought us there when we decided to meet and her kids were lovin' the skewered momos and chicken teriyaki don.

Ever since then, I've been learning about these appetizers, morsel-sized and absolutely addictive. This recipe calls for shirouri summer squashes but it's the dead of winter in Vancouver, and we must flex and do creatively what mother nature does not provide. I tried Japanese cukes and they worked out beautifully...which is the reason why I am feeling good enough to blog this publicly. So, if you're feeling somewhat in the mood for a little something on the side, this'll probably whet your appy.

Two Japanese or Korean cucumbers (roughly 6-7 inches)
White sesame seeds
Sesame seed oil

1 heaping tsp sea salt
1 cup (240ml) water

1. Cut off both ends of cucumber, then in half.
2. Core the halves with a sharp paring knife
3. Taking one half at a time, carve the halves into a continuous 1/4 inch (6mm) thick ribbon at a 45 degree angle.
4. Do this gently to avoid splitting.
5. In a medium bowl, make the brine and soak the ribbons until lightly salted, about 1-2 hours.
6. Hang the ribbons to dry where there's a breeze circulating until the skin is a little wrinkled, about 3 hours.
7. Cut into 2 inches in length and add a few drops of sesame oil.
8. Sprinkle sesame seeds and serve chilled.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pickled Radish

I was in Richmond having dinner with my niece's step grandmother Esther when she offered some of her home-pickled radishes. Now I don't know much about radish, but there's always something about pickling them at home that makes these incredibly delectable. How? It has to be sweet-soury yet, retaining some of its radishy identity- you know, that woody bite. The trick I discovered while pickling my own today, was to make them paper thin. The kind that you can read the newspaper print should it fall on the newspaper.

If you felt like pickling your own, here's the skinny:

Pick a heavy radish (the length from your fingers to elbow)
Slice it paper thin (I use a handy mandolin slicer)
Use 1 Tbsp sea salt to sweat the liquid out
Put aside for 3-4 hours, then drain the clear water out
Mix a quarter cup of rice vinegar (I used Golden Crown Garden brand)
with a quarter cup of sugar
Pour the mixture onto the radish
Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours

You've got a great side dish that goes well with any roasted meat. I had spicy noodles and this was a great cooling appy.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lemon Squares Recipe

210g Unsalted butter
0.5 cup Icing sugar
1.75 cups all purpose flour
.25 tsp salt

2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs or 5 med eggs
Juice from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp of grated lemon zest (from two lemons)
4 Tbsp All purpose flour

For the crust: Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add flour and salt till dough comes together. Press to bottom of greased pan (9 x 12" pan). Bake at 180C (350F) for about 24 mins or till lightly browned.

If you didn't have time to make the crust, the lemon filling recipe is enough for 24 regular tart shells.

For the filling: Beat sugar and eggs. Add lemon zest and juice. Fold in flour. Pour filling into baked crust and return to oven for 25 mins or until filling sets. Cool before dusting the top with icing sugar.