My Dad’s Fight Against Cancer And His Last Moments With Us

April 18, 2016 at 9:16 pm

My dad on his birthday celebration in 2011, a year after his surgery. He looked so good then.

It’s almost 2 months now since my dad has passed away. I thought I’ll write about his fight against cancer, and his last moments with us.

After my dad had his liver surgery to remove the cancer tumour in May 2010, he had been doing pretty well. Almost every 9 to 15 months, he had to go back to do TACE when there were other tumors found in his liver, he recovered well from TACE, never had any side effect, and usually was up and about the following day.

Early 2015, he was told there were little pimple like cysts found in more part of his liver, and he had to start another treatment. He started on Nexavar, an oral chemo drug. That was about the same time we started him on Naturally Plus Product to help fight the cancer.

He was doing alright initially, and then the side effects kicked in. Dryness of the hand and foot (which caused cracked skin), constant visit to the toilet due to frequent bowel movements, loss of appetite, increased thyroid level, hair loss. He was always having stomach discomfort, and overall because he wasn’t eating much, he became physically weaker, however, he was alert and mobile.

As Nexavar was not helping him much with controlling the cancer marker reading, by end of 2015, Dr requested him to switch to Inlyta. Although the cancer marker was improving, the side effect was immediate. He got tired easily, became weaker, started getting water retention on the leg which caused discomfort. Second week into Inlyta, he became extremely weak. We were in Japan on a holiday; my sister, who was his main caretaker, was messaging us and telling us he was getting weaker, had difficulty in walking, getting diarrhea, feeling nauseous and his blood pressure was very low. Making us all worried and wondered if we should cut short our trip.

We decided to stop Inlyta.

Although he slowly built back his energy, the damage was already done. We almost couldn’t make it for our family trip to Bali because of his condition. He made the decision to go ahead although he had to be on wheelchair due to his swollen legs caused by fluid retention, a symptom of thyroid.

We had a blast in Bali, spent Christmas there, all 15 of us! Dad although on wheelchair, was alert, watching over the younger kids at the pool and (literally) roaring at them when they misbehaved. He was also beginning to walk more.

When we came back from Bali, he was admitted for a couple of days because of cellulitis on his legs, nothing major, but just to be on antibiotic.

Almost every weekend, we were at my sister’s place, spending time with him. We were also planning to rent a villa for Chinese New Year so we could all be together for 2 to 3 days. I tried to have lunch with him on work days too, and on one such occasion, he actually said he didn’t know how long more he had. I almost cried.

Middle of January this year, as he was regaining his strength and getting better, he decided to go back on Inlyta to control the cancer. Again, all the side effect came back, and he got weaker than the last round. He was admitted again to drain the fluid which was accumulating in his abdomen. After that, his health went down hill even after we stopped Inlyta.

From being able to sit up on his own, he had to be lifted; he spent most of his time sleeping and he was in a lot of pain, always asking about the next dose of pain killer just after eating the current dose.

On Chinese New Year day, he was having so much difficulty staying up for the tea ceremony and family shot. It was his last.

My dad during the Chinese New Year Tea Ceremony

Feb 12th, 5th day of Chinese New Year, I was taking a blood test at the clinic because I was running a fever since 1st day of Chinese New Year, my sister called and told us to rush to her place. My dad was showing signs of his body shutting down. Hospice who was providing him support told my sister so when she called them and let them hear the way he was breathing (differently).

We got to their house around 9:30pm. Dad was breathing differently, as if labored, he acknowledged my arrival, but didn’t speak to me. All my siblings were there at his bedside. When my sister asked if he wanted ice cream, he actually looped his pointer and thumb together, indicating ‘little bit’. We fed him a little ice cream to cool him down. We changed him, and then left the room thinking he would need his rest.

My sister went to check on him slightly after 10pm. Her loud shout roused us out of our drowsy state. All of us rushed to the room to see what had happened, and saw him took his last big breath. He left, with all of us by his side.

The last few weeks of his life, he has brought the family together like never before. To know that he’s no longer in pain, and he would be reunited with my mom lessen the grief a little, but we all miss him deeply.

A strict boss and a man full of principal and integrity, he spent 3 quarter of his life working in the bank and then at the church right till the last few weeks of his life. We don’t know how many lives he’d touched or affected until we speak to the people who came to pay their last respect.

I’d never said I love him before (nor did he), the last hug I gave him which he received awkwardly was when he sent me off at the airport to further my studies; and now I’ll never have the chance again.

Loudao, we all miss you ok?

Alpheretta and Atlanta 2015

June 5, 2015 at 5:05 pm

After Paris, it was a week of intensive meeting in Alpheretta, Georgia. Most of the days, we woke up before sun rise and then done for the day only in the night, it was a productive week though.

One of the highlight of the trip is the extended weekend stay, where I’d be meeting my friend from college days whom I’d not met for more than 20years.

These are some memories captured for the trip.

♥Hotel – Courtyard Atlanta Alpheretta♥

We stayed at Courtyard Atlanta Alpheretta by Marriott. It’s near to the office, and at the surrounding area, there are lots of restaurants within walking distant.

Room is spacious and clean.

I like the verandah that came with my room, overlooking the swimming pool. Although it was too cold to hang out at the verandah, it offered a nice view.

I spent almost every morning at the gymn as I woke up almost 5am daily (caused by jetlag) and hence did a morning yoga before breakfast.

I like the complimentary breakfast. We got to choose one item from the menu, and a drink. It’s better than a buffet with the same food served over and over again.

The best is the complimentary use of the washing machine and dryer in the hotel, detergent included.

♥Restaurants and Food♥

Office Food
Hmm.. we got catered food daily, and I didn’t really like them. The worse of the lot, the food served on Tacos Tuesday.
Taco shell with a bit of every thing… eeeyucks, especially the blobs of beans….

Burgerfi
A gourmet burger restaurant, the food in Burgerfi was so good, out of 5 lunches we ate there twice.

Chicken Apple Dog was good.

But their Vegefi Burger was even better. Didn’t taste vegetarian at all, don’t know how they made it, but it was juicy and flavourful.

Onion rings were good, but the portion is so big, after 2 rings, the rest just tasted greasy.

Pappadeux
Papadeux was another restaurant that we went twice. Just to get some seafood.

First dinner, I had the salmon, it was really good.

2nd dinner, I had the Alaskan King Crab, oh well, the crab wasn’t as nice as Japanese snow crab, the flash tougher, and less sweet compared to snow crab. It was just for the experience.

Ghion Cultural Hall

It was Valentine’s day and most restaurants were full. So we found an Ethopian Restaurant which is quite highly rated to dine. Ghion Cultural Hall it was.

It’s a weird place. From a shabby entrance, we had to go through a dodgy hallway before entering a brightly lit hall which is the restaurant.

I have never tasted Ethopian food, so I can’t tell if it’s authentic, but I didn’t like the food. We ordered a chicken and an egg dish with some special rice flour pancakes. It was like a curry dish, spicy but with very little flavour, more like a peppery kind of spicy.

We had the coffee as well, and it came with an incense burner, I don’t know if it enhanced the flavour of the coffee, but it was more like a ‘show’ for us.

Pho Dai Loi
The best meal we’d eaten during this trip is probably Pho Dai Loi in Atlanta, during our extended stay. It was so good we went back twice, although it was quite a distant away.

It’s a canteen like eatery, brightly lit, simple deco, no fuss kind of place.

But the food was good, so far whatever we tried, they were all good.

♥The Extended Stay – Holiday♥
The fun part of the trip besides our stopover in Paris, is the extended stay. Sally, Lesley and I spent a good weekend together. We moved to down town Atlanta for our stay, and we put up at Country Inn & Suites By Carlson.

We went to the North Georgia Outlet Mall for shopping. And this is what it looks like when 3 women spent the weekend together.

It was so cold, and temperature was below 0C that when we went downtown in the evening for a ‘tour’, we didn’t even want to get down of the car.

On Valentine’s Day, which we three spent together, we decided to have a picnic lunch. Went to Wholefoods Market to get some stuff, and then head to Piedmont Park.

Sunny day, but oh so cold. We sat on benches, and had our lunch, slightly shivering.

The park is beautiful though.

Too bad it was so cold, or we could have stayed there longer.

Because of the cold weather, there’s not much we could do outdoor, hence it was more shopping. Went to an upscale shopping mall, Lenox Square Mall. We experienced the bad traffic which Atlanta is famous for, so bad, a few kilometers took us more than an hour to cover.

Heard so much about Athleta, I was glad there was a store there for me to grab a couple of yoga pants.

Best part of the weekend was that I was able to catch up with my friend, and also got to know my colleague better. It was a good weekend spent together, eating, chatting. Don’t know when we can do this again.

Paris In A Day

May 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

(Back dated)

I had another opportunity to go to US for work in Feb. As this round, I was going with a colleague, Sally, we made plans to take Air France, then spend a day in Paris, before flying to Atlanta for work.

My French colleague provided us the necessary information to maximise our stay there, so that we can see the key sights within a day.

So here is what we did on our 1D1N trip in Paris.

We stayed in Ibis Gare du Nord TGV near the city; the hotel is about 200m from Gare du Nord, station along the RER B train to the city from the airport. We got a day pass at the airport station (Euro23.50) when we arrived in the morning, which allowed us to travel on RER and Metro (and I believe bus too although we didn’t take the bus). And from Gare Du Nord, it was easy to get to the city centre via the metro.

Gare Du Nord is a big station, and we had to ask for direction before we could even get to the exit.

Gare du Nord viewed from across the road.

There are a lot of Ibis hotels around Gare du Nord, the one we stayed in, i.e. Ibis Gare du Nord TGV is along the road on the right of Gare du Nord, about 1minute walk away. This is the view from across our hotel entrance.

The hotel is a small hotel, with narrow walkway between rooms.

However, the room is of moderate size and very clean. We booked a triple room, which came with a queen bed and a single pull out bed.

After we’re done with our check in, we started our tour.

♥Eiffel Tower♥
We took the subway from Gare du Nord (RER Line B + Line C) to Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel. The Eiffel Tower is not far from the station. It was a beautiful day, but oh, so cold.

It was below 0C that day. My teeth were chattering, and my bones were aching, this was the closest we got to the tower.

♥Arc de Triomphe♥

My French colleague actually asked us to walk to Trocadéro (which is across the River Seine or La Sein from Eiffel Tower) to take a bus from there, but we couldn’t find the bus station, so instead we went to the nearest Metro station and found our way to Charles de Gaulle Étoile.

Right above the station, is Arc de Triomphe.

This is where the Champs-élysées Avenue begins, and so did our shopping.

We had something to eat at Publicis Drugstore, and it was my first time trying out Pierre Hermé macarons. Oh my goodness! It was much much much much more nicer than Ladurée. For Euro2 per macaron, I bought 8! They seemed to be less sweet, the shells were softer, and the filling much creamier and flavourful.

Later when we went passed Ladurée, I wasn’t even compelled to go in.

We entered a couple of shops, and spend most time in Loius Vuitton, Sally got herself a bag, while I was tempted, my frugality got the better of me.

We found it really nice that in all the shops, pets are welcome, even in Louis Vuitton, you can stroll in with your dog and no one will stop you.

♥Louvre♥
We took the metro from Charles de Gaulle Étoile to (actually, any metro station along the Champs-élysées Avenue which is on Metro Line 1 will do) Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre. From there, we walked Musée du Lourve.

I’d been to the museum more than 12 years back, and since we have limited time in Paris, we have no intentions of visiting the museum, but more to just take some photos around there.

♥Notre-Dame♥
In the afternoon, the weather has turned slightly warmer, so it was more comfortable to walk around. From the Lourve, we walked back to the Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, and took the Metro Line 1 to L’Hôtel de Ville, and then walked towards Notre Dame.

We walked pass an outdoor skating rink near Hôtel de Ville. My first time seeing an outdoor skating rink. Later I realised this is Patinoire de L’Hôtel de Ville, the most popular seasonal ice skating venue in Paris. Aah, if only the girls were here, I’m sure they would enjoy skating there.

It was a short walk across the River Seine to Notre-Dame.

There was a big crowd in front of the cathedral, some just to take photos of the facade, some were queuing to get into the cathedral. For us, we just walked around the cathedral, trying to spot the gargoyles.

That was our last stop for the Paris tour. We were kind of tired, and wanted to go back to the hotel for a rest. From Notre-Dame, we walked towards Saint-Michel (the Latin quarters) and then took the metro (line 4) back to Gare Du Nord.

After a short rest, we were out again, to go to Hard Rock Cafe Paris as Sally is a Hard Rock Cafe merchandise collector. We took the metro (line 4 then 8 or 9) from Gare du Nord to Grands Boulevards, then walked there.

We wanted to have a good French dinner around Grands Boulevards, chose a restaurant which we thought was decent, but the food turned out pretty disappointing.

If it wasn’t so cold, we probably would have gone back to Eiffel Tower area to enjoy the night scene. But it was bone chilling cold! So instead, we went back to the hotel to have an early night.

The following day, we had to check out early to go to the airport for our flight to Atlanta. I was actually loosing hope of having a good meal before we leave, but good thing was Sally spotted this cafe, Cafe la Chaufferie, just behind our hotel; and we had a scrumptious breakfast there.

Bread with crispy crust and chewy inside, and the crumbly croissant were freshly baked. I had a chunky piece of cheese that came with my breakfast and it was good cheese.

Now we can leave Paris happy and satisfied.

Remedy for Dengue 治疗骨痛热症的方式

April 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

A couple of weeks back, a friend I know from blogsphere passed away due to Dengue. A shock to most of us who knew him, as he was still joking away when he was admitted to the hospital, most of us didn’t take his hospital stay seriously, thinking he would come out in no time.

2 weeks ago, a teacher Zara likes and admires tremendously from school contracted Dengue and was admitted into a hospital with a platelet count of less than 50, we thought we’ll help out as she was from outstation with no family to care for her here. After asking around and googling, we found 2 remedies which will help to increase platelet count.

The 1st one Papaya Leave Juice and the other Double Boiled Frogs with Small Bitter Gourd.

There’s nothing the doctor can administer for Dengue besides putting the patient on drip and feeding Paracetamol to the patient for fever, hence most people depended on this natural cure.

Here is how it’s prepared.

♥Papaya Leaf Juice♥

Ingredients
5, 6 papaya leaves from young papaya trees, best if it’s from trees that never borne fruits.

Method
Wash, clean and cut the leaves up and then juice them a slow juicer to extract out the juice.
Or use a mortar and pestle to pound the leave till a pulp and squeeze out the juice.

5~6 papaya leaves will only extract out half a cup of juice.
As the juice is extremely bitter, mix the juice with 1 or 2 tsp of honey. Take 2 tbs of juice 3 times a day.

♥Double Boiled Frog Legs with Small Bitter Gourd♥
Ingredients
5 frogs (the people selling the frogs will skin the frogs)
5 small bitter gourd

Method
1. Clean the frogs
2. Slice the small bitter gourds into half, remove the seeds, and slice the bitter gourd
3. Place frogs and bitter gourd into the double boiler (do not add any water)
4. Double boil for 4hrs
5. Remove the frogs and bitter gourd, and you’ll get about 1 bowl of soup.
6. Serve warm

This is another extremely bitter soup, but as the popular Chinese phrase 苦口良药 says, a bitter medicine cures the disease.

We made this and sent to Zara’s teacher for the first few days she’s in the hospital, we are glad that her teacher is well after a few days and now fully recovered.

Houston 2015 – January

April 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm

In January, I went to Houston for a work trip for a week (10th Jan to 18th Jan). Making this my 3rd trip to Houston, the 1st was in 2008, the 2nd in 2013. It was a pretty last minute trip, so I didn’t have much planning done.

Flying to East of USA is a pain. The flight time is looong, 13hrs from KL to Amsterdam, transit for 4hrs, and then another 10.5hrs from Amsterdam to Houston, worse still if you go with an airline like KLM, which I did, where the seats are smaller, and the space between rows of seats are narrower. It was quite torturous in my opinion. Luckily the food served was pretty decent, and they have quite good in flight entertainment.

These are just some photos captured during the trip for memory keep sake.

♥Amsterdam Airport Schiphol♥
(photos are all taken from mobile, hence the quality is not as good)

It’s a nice airport, with lots of cafes, but I like the Dutch Kitchen the best.

The Gevulde Koeken, which is an Almond Paste filled Cookie was so delicious, I had it again on my transit to go back home.

The are quite a number of shops there to keep me occupied; and of course, most of the souvenir shops sell cheeses. I didn’t buy any, didn’t know what was good.

I was attracted to the Meditation Centre, and went there to check out, I think it was meant to be a surau (Muslim prayer room), so I saw some people praying there, but also a few taking a nap in the quiet room.

4hours transit isn’t that bad.

♥Houston Shopping♥

When in the US, of course, we have to do some shopping. I really really love the variety of items available there.

At Sports Authority.

At REI.

Of course, can’t miss a visit to the Outlets.

I was so tempted to get the Samsonite Cosmolite (check out the price!), but buying it would mean incurring additional baggage charge on the KLM flight, which only allows 1x23kg checked suitcase. Sigh.

I always love to visit supermarkets wherever I am. And I just realised on this trip, there’s a Wholefoods Market just near the office.

The variety of organic and natural product is just amazing. This is where I purchased my very first set of natural skin care product from, many many years ago, in the Wholefoods Market in California.

Hilton Garden Inn
This is the hotel we always stay in when we’re in Houston. Nice room, but electrical appliances in my room were noisy, so I had to turn off the air-condition (heater actually since it was winter), pull out the plug for the fridge before I could have a good sleep.

Breakfast was included, and they were pretty delicious although not many choices to choose from.

For dinner, usually we went out in a group, only a couple of times I had to eat on my own.

At PF Changs near the hotel, having a romantic dinner all by myself.

At BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.

I managed to meet up with my Texas BFF Jerry, who drove 45mins to meet up with me at a Vietnamese Restaurant, Mekong Grill. Food wasn’t great, and we joked about how authentic a Pho can be if it’s served with crab sticks, but it was nice to just have a catch up with him.

The best dinner I’d had on this trip is at Mia Bella. This is another restaurant that our colleagues like to frequent, as the food is always so delicious. I had a Pan Seared Sesame Crusted Salmon, it was heavenly. The sesame gave the salmon a nice flavourful crunch. Oh boy, if I were to go to Houston again, I have to go back to this restaurant for another of this heavenly dish.
It really really tasted nicer than it looked.

My favourite meal of the day is lunch, as I love the variety of delicious food served in the company’s cafe.
Check out the Asian section – pot stickers, sushi, Vietnamese rice rolls.

The Italian Station have super delicious looking pizzas, and flat bread pizzas.

The salad bar has such nice raw vegetable and delicious toppings that I actually have salad for lunch for a couple of days.

My lunches.
Salad with over the top toppings.

Chicken Pot Stickers, so yummy.

Turkey Burger, which was so juicy and well grilled.

After a week in Houston, I put on weight, of course.

I drove in Houston to get to the office and to go to the shops. Actually, you rarely see people walking. I did walk to restaurants a couple of times with my colleagues, and we can see that Houston roads are not meant for pedestrians. There is no pavement for one. And the roads were so wide you have to do a hundred meters dash every time you cross a road.

While driving, I have to remind myself to keep the right all the time, just so I don’t make any mistakes, since in Malaysia we drive on the left.

Unfortunately, this trip was so last minute and short for any sight seeing. This was the scenery I saw daily, while walking to the car to get to the office. This one was on a day when it got really foggy.

Life Rushes By

February 28, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Since the end of the year, I have been so busy, hence the long absence of new posts in this site.

The 1st few weeks of the year were spent sorting out classes the girls should attend, finding tutors for the girls etc etc and finally a routine is established.

I’m involved in 2 big global projects on top of my normal day job. Every day, besides working the regular hours, we have night calls so all regions can work together for 2 hours. Globalisation and mobility get you sucked into work 24×7 that’s what I think.

Life just rushes by the last couple of months.

NoQ Store For Book Lovers

August 14, 2014 at 11:52 pm

If you knew me personally, you’ld know that I love buying books. I was a book worm when I was younger and now still do a lot of reading, although I may not have enough time to read all that I’d bought.

I love going to book fest and book sales to find a good bargain, but sometimes I want a specific title which can be difficult to hunt down in our bookshop. For example, I like reading Qiu Xiaolong‘s crime thriller series and it’s not found in our bookshops; My best friend recommended me Half The Sky and I’d been searching for it but only found the Chinese translated version available.

And then I was introduced to NoQ Store, a subsidiary of Times Publishing, one of the most reputable names in book printing, publishing, distribution and retail in the Asia Pacific! It’s an online book shop with 14 million titles spanning across different genres and all of them at discounted price! What more? Shipping is free if your purchase is RM50 and above.

And of course, I found Qiu Xiaolong’s latest books and Half The Sky available there. I’d just ordered them and can’t wait to receive them.

If you are a book lover, this is a good place to shop for books. And here is something for you.
From 14 August – 31 December 2014, you will be entitled to an exclusive 15% discount on all purchases at NoQ Store. Just use code MYTWOGIRLS at check out.

Happy shopping! (Like I did)

Notice added October – NoQ Store has since been closed from October 2014 onward.

Homemade Salted Vegetable / Hum Choy / Kiam Chai / 自腌咸菜

August 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Nothing beats homemade.

After seeing some videos/posts on how salted/preserved vegetables were made commercially, I’d actually try to limit purchasing of salted or preserved vegetables.

So I decided to make my own using a simple recipe I got from Best-ever Cooking Of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia & The Philippines. This is the 2nd time I’m making it, the end result is a crunchy salted vegetable with no chemical after taste like those you get from store bought ones.

♥Recipe for Homemade Salted Vegetable♥

Ingredients
1/2 cup of rice (actually this can be any amount, just make the amount you will be eating as porridge for that day)
5 cups of water (adjust the quantity according to how much rice you’ll be cooking, ‘rice water’ is what we’ll need to preserve the mustard green, and it has to be enough to submerge the vegetable)
500g mustard greens
35g salt

Method
1. Wash the rice, bring to boil in a large pan with the water. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain the rice, saving the liquid and letting it cool. The rice itself is not used in this recipe, so you can have the porridge like rice as a meal served with another dishes).

2. Wash the mustard green in lots of water and dry thoroughly. Using a kitchen towel to pat each leave and stalk. It’s important that they are fully dried.

3. Cut the mustard green into smaller stalks and mix with the salt in a non metallic bowl. Leave it for 30 minutes, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Salt will cling to the leaves.

4. Place mustard green into a jar, and pour over the completely cooled rice water, make sure the rice water submerge the leaves. Place the jar in a cool place for 4 to 7 days.

5. Drain the salted vegetable. Use immediately or store it in a container and refrigerate for later use. It can be stored up to a week in the fridge, but will taste better if used immediately. These homemade ones are not so salty, so you do not need to wash them before cooking or serving it straight as a dish.

Not too difficult right? The most tedious part of making this is the cleaning of the mustard green (they have lots of sand) and patting them completely dry.

Here are some photographs to document the steps.

Step 2 (Most tedious step) – Wash and pat them dry

Step 3 – Cut them, sprinkle with salt and let it sit for 30mins.

Cut the mustard greens

Mix with salt and leave for 30mins

After 30mins, the liquid in the mustard green will be drawn out

Step 4 – Place them in a jar with the rice water for 4 to 7 days.

Day 1

Day 7

Ready to eat

So how did we eat ours?

Cut a few stalks up and add into a bowl of noodle as condiment.

Stir friend them with chili, minced chicken with some salt and sugar, and drizzle a bit of soy sauce at the end.

(photos without watermark were taken from the phone, hence the bad quality)

Making Zong Zi (粽子) or Glutinous Rice Dumpling

June 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I love to eat zong, probably because I love glutinous rice.

My early memory of zong was my Ah Ma’s (maternal grandma for Hokkien), with black eyed peas and fatty pork, which is out of this world. I remember she made them all by herself during the Duan Wu (端午节)or the Dragon Boat Festival or as and when someone was visiting my uncles in Taiwan, and she wanted to bring them some.

I remember she would prepare the ingredient, put them in small little bowls, then she would sit on a stool, meticulously filling each one up and wrapping them into pyramid perfection.

As I spent my first 3 years of primary education living with my Ah Ma, my early childhood memory of food was her cooking. Her simple but delicious kon-loh-mee (干捞面)ladened with deep fried lard cubes and a sprinkle of ajinomoto; and her dried vege pork soup (菜干汤) were some of the best food I’d tasted. Her bak zhang (Hokkien for pork zong zi) was also a legacy, no other zong zi I’d tasted later are up to par.

My Ah Ma has passed away many years now due to her grief for the loss of my mum (who lost her fight with cancer). I didn’t learn up her bak zhang’s recipe, as I wasn’t interested in cooking back then, when both the family’s greatest chefs were still around. My loss really.

Due to a vow I’d made I’d not been eating pork for almost 20 years now, finding a good tasting pork free zong zi is very difficult, most of them were expensive with not much fillings except for glutinous rice.

So 4 years ago, I decided to make myself, using good ingredients, replacing pork with scallop following a pork zong zi recipe, and I used split mung beans instead of black eyed peas like my Ah Ma’s.

The difficult part in making zong zi is not in preparing the ingredients, but in the wrapping. The 1st year I made them, it took me so long just to wrap them properly and secure them with strings (yes, most of them have to be tied with 2 strings or more!); and about 1/4 of them burst open during boiling. 2nd year was better, but still took me a long time, and a couple still burst opened.

Last year, I watched this recording from Wendy Kong, and that’s when I really learnt how to wrap them properly. With right technique, I spent less time wrapping them, they are better secured and fewer zong zi unwrapped itself during boiling.

Last Sunday, while the whole world is celebrating Father’s Day, I decided to use that free day to make some.

This is the recipe I used, adapted to our taste over the years.

(Estimate to make about 30 zong zi, but can be more or less depending on the size the zong zi, so usually I’ll prepare more ingredient except for rice and split mung beans, mission is accomplished when the rice is all used up)

Ingredients:
1kg glutinous rice (rinse and soak in water for ~4hrs)
500g split mung beans (rinse and soak in water for 3hrs, then drain thoroughly)
30 chestnuts (soak overnight, pick out the skin and boil until soft about 1hr)
hand full of dried shrimp (rinse and soak in water for 10mins then drain, then fry till fragrant)
30 dried small scallop (rinse and soak in water for 20mins then drain, then lightly fry till fragrant)
30 salted egg yolks
30 mushrooms (I soak overnight, then stew them in some sugar, salt and oyster sauce)
60 bamboo leaves (soak overnight, wiped and clean each leave and I usually prepare more just in case any of them are torn)
30 strings

Spices for the rice
9 tbs oil
12 cloves garlic (remove skin and chop)
15 shallots (remove skin and slice them thinly)
3 star anise (rinse)
6 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
6tsp light soy sauce
6 tsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp salt

For the rice
1. Heat up oil in wok, stir-fry garlic, shallot and star anise until fragrant. Add in oyster sauce and stir until fragrant. Add in drained glutinous rice and stir well.
2. Add five spice powder, stir fry until fragrant. Lastly add in soy sauce, sugar and salt, stir evenly. Set aside.

Wrapping and cooking zong zi
1. Wrap and tie Zong Zi following this recording, fill the cone with a layer of glutinous rice. Add other filings, top with split mung beans and cover with another layer of glutinous rice.
2. Base a big pot few bamboo leaves (I used the torn ones), add in 2 tsp of sea salt and water (3 cm from the dumpling surface after they’re placed in), bring to boil over high heat. Add zong zi, bring to boil again. Switch to medium heat, continue boiling for 2hrs.
3. Remove one to check if the rice has been thoroughly cooked at the end of 2hrs, if not cooked, continue boiling for another 15, 30mins (adjust your time accordingly based on your observation of the 1st zong zi).
4. Hang the zong zi in a well ventilated place in order to allow the water to evaporate.

In photograph, these are what we used.

Wrapping them take some skills and will improve with practice.

Boiling them take some time.

Hang to let the water to evaporate.

Viola, home made zong zi adjusted to our taste.

Duan Wu is almost 2 weeks ago, this recipe came a little late for this year, but who said you can only eat zong zi during Duan Wu? As long as you can find the leaves, this can be made any time of the year and adjusted to your own preference.

I’d made some according to the girls’ liking as well. Zara didn’t want the salted egg yolk, so I made a few without yolk for her, and double the amount of mushroom. Zaria didn’t want anything except a slice of mushroom.

Zaria asked as well, “Why do you make the dumpling using the same ingredients every year? Why can’t you change? Like putting sausages or bacon (what she likes), and instead of green beans, why not put baked beans?” Maybe I’ll accommodate her next time (but not baked beans zong zi though, that’s just too YUCKS).

The Pros And Cons Of Being Bilingual

October 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm

My parents sent my siblings to English missionary schools for 12 years (except my youngest sister who went to Chinese primary school and later moved on to missionary school), where as I went to Chinese primary school and then Chinese Independent school for secondary education.

I spent most of my schooling days speaking Cantonese (thanks to TVB and KL culture), and then when I started work, it was almost English all the way. For the last 6- 7 years I’m conversing more in Mandarin since I have to work with Taiwanese and mainland Chinese, speak to the girls’ school teachers.

The first thing that gauge what is the language that you are strong in would be what language do your brain think in? Mine? English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Even when I pray, I use more than one language in my conversation with God.

So there, I seem to have an advantage over my siblings, and some co-workers who don’t speak Chinese, or mothers who can’t help their Chinese school going children with homework because they never learnt Chinese. But… I find there are some disadvantages too. Here is what I think are the Pros and Cons of being bilingual.

Pros
1. I have a wider range of books to read and reference. For someone who likes to read, cook and bake, this is really great!
2. I can guide the girls in their school work.
3. My Chinese speaking colleagues warm up to me faster, and tell me things that they won’t tell the English speaking colleagues (at least not until they warm up to them).
4. I can read Chinese menus, Chinese sign boards in restaurants, it helps even locally.
5. I have no problem reading Chinese notice from school, or communicating to teachers in the girls’ school.
6. I can google in Chinese. When it’s related to Chinese herbs, Chinese places, Chinese recipe

Cons
1. I’m never very proficient in either language. Sometimes knowing how to say something in English but not Chinese, and vice versa.
2. Because of 1, it sometimes takes a moment longer for me to form a sentence in either language, occasionally even having to use Google or Phone Apps to help.
3. I’m never as eloquent as a native speaker. Even Zara speaks better English than me now, she use words more efficiently and effectively. I’m always in awe of those who can say/write something so well or beautifully, while I may sound so crude and unpolished.
4. I have the feeling that people are less tolerant of your Grammatical mistakes or mispronunciation of words (“Neh, she’s from Chinese school, that’s why.”)

For those of you who are bilingual, do you feel the same?

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