Sweet mung bean soup with lily bulbs

Sweet what bean soup with lily what?

This is a typical sweet soup that the Chinese make during summer. Both mung bean and lily bulb are ‘cold’ in nature, so they are especially good for toning down the heat on a hot summer day. It’s also great for clearing those unwanted pimples (not that I have any 😉

You can get all the ingredients you need from a Chinese grocer. You only need 4 ingredients, or 3 if you don’t count water.

Ingredients:

Mung beans
Dried lily bulbs
Rock sugar (I use cane sugar lumps)
Water

First thoroughly wash the mung beans and  lily bulbs, you will regret it later when you find sand in your soup. Put both inside a pot, pressure cooker, slow cooker…whatever your favourite method of cooking is.

Then fill up the pot with cold water. If you are using a slow cooker, don’t fill up too much at the start, you can gradually add more water as the legumes cook.

Cook the mung beans and lily bulbs until they are both tender. I used a slow cooker, on high, it took about 4 hours. I stirred the soup a few times also. Put in the rock sugar last – use as much or as little as you like. Stir until the sugar is melted. Now it’s done! A piece of cake!

I like mine ice cold rather than scorching hot, so I wait until the pot has cooled and stick it in the fridge. Beats any ice cream.

Today, being Australia Day, we celebrated with snags, grilled onion, plus a nice summery peach and tomato salad. And yes, we ate it all on the coffee table!

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Make-your-own sushi

We love DIY or MYO food –  hotpot, charcoal BBQ, pho, bibimbap… Anything that requires the remotest hint of DIY is a big hit.

I got this MYO sushi idea from my friend Mary. It not only tastes great, but it’s a easy, last-minute throw-together with fresh and tasty ingredients.

Start with chopping up some fresh vegetables, into thin strips. Things such as carrots, capsicum, lettuce, cucumber, or even celery work beautifully.

Don’t forget the spanish onions!

Then get some eggs…

…mix it up and fry them up in the pan. Don’t touch the egg mixture whilst it’s in the pan. We want a perfect circle for some nice and thin egg strips. There’s no need to flip it over, I always find that the top will cook without burning the bottom.

Here we go, these are the cold fillings. Don’t mind my thick egg strips, sometimes one just can’t be bothered.

You will then need these essential ingredients: sushi seaweed (can be bought from any good grocery stores), sushi rice (imagine sushi rice in the picture), some beef mince and of course, a beer. Cook the rice now (or, rather, before you chop the vegetables).

Next, we brown the mince in an appropriately-sized frypan. Heat a little olive oil in the pan. Don’t you just love the colour of olive oil against the shiny pan? Add some garlic powder, or real garlic if you like. Some sweet paprika and cumin powder. Season with salt. Viola! Very tasty beef mince.

Oh, don’t forget to slice up some smoked salmon as well. Your sushi will thank you for it.

Last but not least, bring on the mayo, wasabi and soy sauce. They go amazingly well with sushi. I’m in love with the cute little dish (with mayo in it) we got from Vietnam, complete with its own tiny ceramic spoon.

When you have everything ready, here is a step-by-step instruction on how to roll your own sushi.

Come on, go ahead, you know you want some!

If you have any left over ingredients, they are perfect for salads, sandwiches, fried noodles, fried rice, omelette, anything you can think of!

Things that I like today

My Alannah Hill sequined skirt – it goes with everything! Okay, maybe not everything, but it’s so versatile.

Emergency shallots. I say emergency because there is not enough of those. But hey they are organic.

Lemons that have been struggling to grow ever since last Autumn. Come on tiny ones!

And finally, my collection of books on vampires, werewolves, witches. I think the addiction with the supernatural is slowly dying. Although I’m reading The Lovely Bones at the moment, and it’s great.

Cairns trip

We took my brother to Cairns for three days around Christmas (don’t ask me why, but we didn’t regret it!). After enduring the hustle and bustle of SE Asia and a month of the post-holiday blues, Cairns was exactly what we needed for a relaxing time in the sun.

We arrived at Cairns on boxing day, and hired a car to tour Port Douglas and Mosman Gauge. Whilst the highlight for me (and probably my brother too) was the scenic drive and great weather, Ben much preferred his hot Audi A3 Club Sport Quattro, which was, unfortunately, rendered quite powerless on the single lane highway.

I was looking forward to go on a 4km walk at the Daintree National Park, but much of the area was closed for construction (this wasn’t on the QLD government website). We had to make do with a 300m loop next to the car park. Port Douglas was close by, so we stopped there for lunch and a bit of retail therapy for me.

The drive back to Cairns was relatively relaxing, and we managed to check into our amazing hotel before 5pm. The hotel room was huge, and the bathroom even more impressive. Allow me to rave – there was a separate shower and spa bath, and the shower had two different types of shower heads. The bathroom also had a double sink. The sliding doors in front of the spa bath opens into the bedroom. There was a separate toilet, with its own sink! To pass time, we spent countless hours in the hotel’s pool which was never crowded.

We booked a trip to Green Island the next day. Green Island is around 40 minutes from Cairns by ferry, it’s simply a touristy island national park, with a resort and beaches. We spent copious amounts of our time snorkling (seriously fun, lots of fish to see), but I was generally unimpressed with the island, especially the overly touristy atmosphere. To illustrate, we got our lunch from the little cafeteria on the island, and after 20 minutes of impatient waiting, we had to hassel the cashier. We were told that the cook dropped the order and had not yet made it! We missed out on the crocodile feeding show that was highly anticipated, but was compensated for our meals (a simple burger and very bland deep fried seafood baskets came to a whopping $50 for the three of us).


Cairns itself was beautiful, by the way! Although quite touristy, it is a well-set out city. Look at the Esplanade and the public pool!

How can you not relax in this beautiful setting?

Part 3 – Angkor Wat sunrise

The next day, by either sheer stupidity or tenacity, we got up at 4am to watch sunrise over Angkor Wat. There are two types of pass, which will either give you one or two days’ access to all the temples. The two day pass has a picture of you printed on it, which was not exactly a glamour shot at 4 in the morning.

It was pitch black, and our little panic alarm / small LED torch became very handy. We were told by our local guide (yes, she got up at 4am too) that if we bought a cup of coffee or tea from the street vendor then we could borrow his plastic chairs. At $1USD, the rather ordinary drink was decidedly expensive by Cambodian standards, but well worth it for the comfort of sitting down.

We grabbed the prime spot – right up against the edge of the lake that is in front of Angkor Wat, good viewing point but also the worst in terms of getting bitten by mosquitoes.  I was mildly surprised (amused?) that there weren’t any little boats carrying monks dressed in bright orange robes on the lake, as one would expect from watching Tomb Raider.

Now came the exciting part – so we waited.

Waited…

Waited…

And waited…

Finally.

A small ray of light poked through the sky above the magnificent temple, and its highest point illuminated. First a round of gasps and exclamations, then an avalanche of cameras clicks around us. We didn’t miss out on the action, and grabbed our respective Canons and clicked away.

The light gradually flushed the sky and clusters of dark clouds came into view.  Then, almost instantaneously, the sky was ablaze with orange and crimson, and the temple a grand silhouette against the striking backdrop. The intense hues were gone almost as soon as they appeared, and daylight finally broke through, revealing the surface details on the divine structure that was Angkor Wat. A few small insect bites and a few hundred photos later, we learned that this was one of the best sunrises our guide had seen, what luck!

It was time to thoroughly explore the temple. We were well-acquainted with Angkor Wat on television, through shows like the US Amazing Race; and a  miniature version at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. How they paled in comparison with the real thing! No images or models could depict the grandeur of these ancient temples grounds, with its huge sandstone blocks and intricate carvings.

Several areas were off-limits to tourists, including steep sandstone stairs leading up to each of the towers, apparently a Korean guide died not long ago racing down the stairs (a very silly thing to do)! The same steep steps were ubiquitous in ancient Khmer temples we visited later on, but we saw a young girl, 7 at most, bouncing down the stairs like she did it every day (and she probably did, to sell souvenirs at the top).

Coming out of Angkor Wat, it was breakfast time. Little kids crowded around the tourists (that’s us), trying to sell us post cards in absolutely perfect English.

‘Where are you from?’

‘Australia.’

‘The capital of Australia is Canberra. The largest city is Melbourne and it has 3 million people.’

‘Um no, I think it’s Sydney. And Melbourne has more than 3 million people.’

‘No! You are wrong, it’s Melbourne. Do you want to buy my post cards?’

‘No thank you.’ (We were specifically told by our guides to not buy from street kids, as this would only encourage their parents to send them out on the streets more often.)

‘You are very beautiful. You look Chinese.’

‘Ummm thanks. I am Chinese. You are very sweet’.

The kids followed us to the restaurant, and I later received a ‘love letter’ from the girl I was chatting to. But still we resisted, and did not buy from those kids. This scene would often repeat itself during our time in Cambodia, little kids would follow us everywhere. It’s sweet and heart breaking at the same time.

To be continued …

The Musts, The Maybes, The Never Wills

Let’s see which of these will become the musts, the maybes and the never wills in 2010.

– Shop less
– Learn to swim properly
– Take better care of my hair
– Exercise more
– Learn 30 more recipes
– Eat better and healthier
– Save more money
– Take at least two overseas trips
– Start my post grad later in the year

Keeping this list handy, I might need it again next year.