Life's like that!

December 23, 2009

Recipe: Man Tou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

1 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water

600g all purpose flour
1 cup cold water

1. Proof yeast in warm water.
2. Add yeast+water into flour.
3. Mix in cold water. Knead until smooth. Cover dough and let it rest in a warm place for 4 hours.
4. Roll dough into a long shape and divide into 8 portions. Shape dough into ManTou and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Steam on high heat for 15 minutes.


Recipe: Chinese Steamed Buns

This morning at 5am I decided to make Chinese steamed buns to satisfy my craving. I remember having a bag of prepacked steamed buns flour and used a filling recipe from the book 'Delicious Snacks & Dim Sum' by Agnes Chang. Thanks to my dear sister for giving me this wonderful book!

I mixed 1/2 cup (instead of 1 cup stated on the package) of sugar with 1 cup of fresh milk, then added the package of flour. Kneaded it for 20 minutes. Add 1 tbsp oil and kneaded for another 10 minutes. Let dough rested for 30 minutes.

Filling Ingredients:
1 chicken breast, diced finely
6 shitake mushrooms, diced finely

1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp corn flour
1/2 tbsp oil

Homemade buns just taste so gooooood!


December 22, 2009

'Relax' + 'Calm Down'


Since 3-4 months ago, daughter started to say 'relax' to husband and me whenever we get into some 'heated debate'. The first time we heard her say that word, both of us were stunned. Now daughter knows we listen to her 'advice', so she is more confident to tell us what is on her mind.

Calm Down

I have no idea where and when daughter learn about this word, but she uses it now whenever husband or I get upset with her. If she does not want to follow our directions, and sees that we start to get cross with her, she would say 'Calm down, ok? Calm down.'

Sigh... she is growing up so fast.


The Great Escape

This morning I was feeling quite tired, so I didn't check on the chickens.

Around noon as I was preparing lunch, I saw some 'thing' running outside the kitchen window. When I looked closely, I realized one of the ladies was roaming outside the chicken house! I immediately went to the backyard to investigate.

Turned out that there was a gap between the chicken house and chicken run, so the escape artist must have either flew or ran out. After several failed attempts to grab the chicken, I realized that this lady was too quick for me to catch. So I decided to pull the chicken house away from the chicken run to make room for the lady to go home. Sure enough, once the chicken saw the opening, she strolled into the waiting 'wings' of her two other friends and enjoyed her lunch.

I then pushed the chicken house closer to the chicken run, making sure that there is no room for escape this time. I don't think I will underestimate the chicken's ability as an escape artist again.


December 21, 2009

Recipe: Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

I am really craving for some delicious egg tarts on a cold winter morning. All praise be to Allah (SWT) I found this recipe that seems to be easy to make. Allah (SWT) willing I hope to make a batch today.

Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Original recipe yields 12 tarts.


  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salted butter, cold and cut into small cubes (if unsalted butter is used, add 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 1 cup evaporated milk/whole milk


1. In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar and flour. Mix in butter with a fork until it is in small crumbs. Stir in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Add more butter if it is too dry, or more flour, if the dough seems greasy. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and press the balls into tart molds so that it covers the bottom, and goes up higher than the sides. Use 2 fingers to shape the edge into an A shape.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Combine the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain the eggs through a sieve, and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Strain the filling through a sieve, and fill the tart shells.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.

Note: I used small egg tart shells that I bought at an Asian grocery store, so I modified the portions in this recipe to make 12 small egg tarts.

Portion measurement modification:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 egg, beaten

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 4.5 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

P/S: As I used a small convention oven to bake egg tarts, I set 15 minutes to bake and 5 minutes to broil in order to get the golden brown surface.


First Day of Winter + Look on the Bright Side Day

Today is the first day of winter and several East Coast cities received a blizzard storm yesterday. Hopefully people will take it easy while shoveling snow.

Look on the Bright Side Day

When : Always December 21

Look on the Bright Side Day is today. We hope you see the light. Literally looking on the bright side may be a bit difficult today. It is winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. And, December days tend to be cloudy. However, we're going to be optimistic, and fully expect you to succeed.

Look on the Bright Side Day is a day to be optimistic. The term itself is an optimistic one. It calls upon us to look for something positive, out of an otherwise bad or sad situation. Often, a bad experience has positive lessons to be learned.

If you have a bad day yesterday, look on the bright side.... today is another day, and an optimistic one at that!


December 17, 2009

DIY Compost Bin

After reading about how to make a compost bin with chicken wire and wooden stakes, I decided to try my hand on making one.

I bought a roll of chicken wire (48x56 inches) and a bundle of wooden stakes (1x2x48 inches). The whole process took me about half an hour to unroll the chicken wire, and tie it to four wooden stakes with plastic cable fasteners.

I used to dump veggie scraps in the white wire cage that was part of a guinea pig cage, but it is not big enough to hold more scraps. After I transferred the scraps in that white wire cage into the compost bin, daughter helped to dump some leaves in there. She even told me that she made a mountain for me!

I'm so glad to have a good helper with me working in the backyard!


Poem: If Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Visited you?

Received from a homeschooling mailing list.

If Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Visited you?

I wonder...

If Prophet Muhammad (SAW) visited you
Just for a day or two,
If he came unexpectedly,
I wonder what you'd do?
I know you'd give your nicest room,
To such an honored guest,
And you would be honored to serve your very best.

You would try to be the very best,
Cause you’re glad to have him there,
and that serving him within your home
Would be a joy without compare.

Bu when you see him coming,
Would you meet him at the door
With your arms outstretched in welcome,
To your blessed visitor?

Or would you have to change your clothes
before you let him in?
Or hide some magazines and put
Qur’an where they had been?

Would you still watch all those movies,
from upon your T.V. set?
Or would you quickly switch it off,
Before he gets upset.

Would you turn off the radio,
And hope he had not heard?
And wish that you'd not uttered
your last, loud hasty word?

Would you hide your worldly music,
And take out your Hadith books?
Could you let him walk right in,
Or would you rush about?

And I wonder if the Prophet (SWT) spent, a day or two with you,
Would you still go on doing all the things you always do?
Would you go right on and say the things You always, always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?

Would your family conversations,
Keep up their usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal,
To say a table grace?

Would you keep up each and every prayer?
Without putting on a frown?
And would you always jump up early,
For Fajr prayer at dawn?

Would you sing the songs you always sing?
And read the books you read?
And let him know the things on which,
Your mind and spirit feed?

Would you take the Prophet with you,
Everywhere you plan to go?
Or would you maybe change your plans,
Just for a day or so?

Would you be glad to have him meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they stay away,
Until his visit ends?

Would you be glad to have him stay,
Forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief,
When he at last was gone?

It might be interesting to know,
The things that you would do.
If Muhammad(SAW) came one day,

To spend some time with you


December 15, 2009

Video: 60 Chickens

First saw this video on Urban Chickens Network blog. Put together by Daniel Gasteiger, writer of the Your Home Kitchen Garden blog.


Recipe: Sweet and Salty Chocolate Snack

A few days ago I watched Ina Garten on Food Network and I really like one of the recipes that she prepared. It is a sweet and salty chocolate snack that I usually buy at Whole Foods Market for about $6 per pound. Now that I know how to do it, I can make it any time I want.

1 White Chocolate semi-sweet bar or 1 bag of chocolate morsels
1 bag of stick mini pretzels
1 cup of salted peanuts

1. Chop the chocolate bar into small pieces. Melt chocolate bar in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.
2. Mix pretzels and peanuts in a mixing bowl. Pour melted chocolate into bowl and mix well.
3. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pour mixture onto baking sheet and spread out evenly.
4. Leave it to cool (about 2-3 hours). Break up into small pieces and store in an air-tight container.


Warmer temperature... but not for long!

Yesterday's high temperature reached 65 degree F, so I spent late morning till early afternoon in the backyard with daughter. Daughter helped me to hang laundry outside and we had lunch in the backyard while watching the chickens dug around for bugs.

From my garden, only four plants are still surviving - rosemary, sage, peppermint and thyme. I moved them to a sunny spot nearer to the kitchen door.

The ladies took advantage of the sunny day to do some sun and dust bathing. This one took a quick nap under the late morning sun.

It was quick amusing to see the ladies rolling around on the ground. They flipped and flopped, scratched and dug for bugs, then laid down for a quick nap together.

Unfortunately colder temperature returns today, so we will have to watch the ladies from the kitchen windows.


December 09, 2009

Recipe: Pickled Green Chillies

All praise be to Allah SWT we harvested quite a lot of green and red chillies from our patio garden this year.

I have been craving for sour food lately, so decided to make picked chillies today. Thanks to the wonderful internet, I found the recipe below.

Picked Green Chillies

The perfect accompaniment for Wantan Mee, Hor Fun and other noodle dishes.

# 300g green chillies
# 1/2 cup vinegar
# 1 cup boiled water, cooled
# 1 tbsp salt
# 5 tbsp castor sugar

Wash and drain chillies well in a plastic colander. Cut chillies into thin round slices. Pour warm water over the sliced chillies. Drain well and place chillies on absorbent kitchen paper.

Place the sliced chillies in a glass jar. Mix vinegar, water, salt and sugar, until sugar dissolves. Pour mixture into jar to pickle the chillies. The chillies will be ready the next day.


December 07, 2009

Cute Korean Counting Song 1-10


December 02, 2009

'Give Us Food!'

Whenever the feed tray is tilted one side, the three ladies will always complain to me as I walk to them. I sort of interpret the sound that they make as 'Give us food!'. They seem to think that I will actually listen and understand them, so I kind of 'pretend' that I do. As soon as I set the feed tray upright, the complain stops and they are happily eating away.

Well, I doubt I will get any 'words' of thanks from them soon.

Anyway I have been reading about past online issues of the Backyard Poultry magazine, first linked from The Official Blog. Lots of good information about raising small scale backyard chickens.


Lovely Horses in the City

About 10 minutes walk from our place is a horse stable where several horses roam on an enclosed horse ranch.

I love to watch the horses eating grass and hand out with their buddies. They probably get used to cars zooming past because they just carrying on eating even near the busy road. They hardly make any noise and they look so calm and relaxed.

There is a 'for sale' sign on this ranch, so the owner is probably thinking of moving the horses to a rural area. Allah SWT willing I hope to have these beautiful horses around for a while longer.


Yummy Malaysian Curry!

All praise be to Allah SWT I have been eating delicious Malaysian curry since last week.

The hot and spicy dish definitely helps me to stay warm on these few days of cold weather.

Ayam (Chicken) Curry with Roti from Sr. Nor

Sr. Anita's Ayam Rendang with Malay Rice Cake

I am so grateful for the generosity of the Malaysian families.


It's Snowing!

This morning it started raining and snowing lightly at 7am.

Half hour later, it becomes light snow. Daughter is enjoying herself watching snow falling on the front and back yards. Since this is light snow I don't think we will have enough to have a snow fight.

I am glad that I covered the chicken house last night, but I have a feeling that the ladies will not be happy about having cold weather.

Allah SWT willing it will stop snowing by early afternoon so I can check on the ladies.


December 01, 2009

Profit vs. Reusability

Since we have trial subscription to cable channels, I have been watching house makeover shows like's Designed to Sell.

While some makeovers include minor cosmetic changes to kitchens and baths e.g. paint and accessories, I notice many makeovers are about demolishing functional but outdated 'old-fashioned' kitchen counter and cabinets. This way new homeowners are attracted to buy the property and existing owners get to sell the house at a higher price.

I can't help but wonder why people do not think about conserving resources and reduce wastage when it comes to home renovation. Instead of taking the cabinets apart systematically, the owners/contractors just smash them to pieces and chuck them in giant construction trash bins.

At the rate of these house renovation goes, I wonder how long landfills last before they are full of reusable materials.