Posts filed under Food

Winter Solstice Food

Filed in Food, Memories

My sister says it’s tomorrow, but I say it’s today.

What is?

The Chinese Winter Solstice festival.

I think she’s right, altho her household seems to be celebrating it today cuz there was tong yuen for dessert this evening. Or maybe they made it one day early to coincide with my nephew’s return from Melbourne this morning.

These glutinuous rice balls in syrup are very much a part of my childhood. I remember helping to make them on the day of the festival each year. Someone (I think it was my nanny, the old lady who took care of us – brought us up – while mother went to work) would make the dough, divide it into a couple of batches or more, leave one white and add colour (red was definitely one of them) to the others, and then have the children help shape the rice balls that would later be put in boiling water to cook before being added to the syrup.

Looking at this year’s batch of tong yuen at my sister’s just now, I was vividly reminded of those days:

The whites and the reds were there, but the greens and the yellows a little unfamiliar. Still, they made a pretty picture so I decided to do a Marita Paige (pale, pale imitation, tho – sorry, Marita). As I was aiming my camera at the bowl, my nephew walked in, saw what I was trying to do and burst out laughing. He asked if I was going to show the picture to mother. Well, no – it’s for my overseas friends, lah!

There is another tong yuen memory somewhere in the recesses of my mind.

During my first winter in England, there was a small winter solstice gathering, and a friend and I decided to contribute some tong yuen. We went to the one Chinese shop in Norwich to get the flour. According to my friend who was from Hong Kong, we needed two types of rice flour – lor mei fun (glutinuous rice) and something called jeem mei fun (I don’t know the English name for this). The shop proprietor’s wife looked at us blankly when we asked for the second. She’d never heard of it. Altho she was Chinese, she was originally from Guyana and was not familiar with the Chinese language.

I think we managed to find both types of flour and went back to the dorm kitchen to make the tong yuen. We also bought some red bean paste which my Hong Kong friend said was needed to fill the inside of the tong yuen. It was my turn to look blankly at her. The tong yuen of my childhood were 100% flour with no filling whatsoever inside. I acceded to her wish for some red bean paste tong yuen and we proceeded to make the dough. The first round of dough broke into pieces when we tried to wrap it around the bean paste. After some trial and error, we eventually found the right combination of lor mei fun jeem mei fun for the dough. And then came the next surprise.

I wanted to put the cooked tong yuen into some syrup we’d made. My friend said no, the syrup would be poured over the tong yuen only when we were ready to eat. And then not a lot, but just enough. That was not how I remember eating tong yuen as a child – drenched in syrup (the tong yuen, not me).

These days, you can buy frozen tong yuen in supermarkets. They come with fillings, either red bean or lotus paste. As for the ones I ate earlier this evening, they were 100% glutinuous rice. Same as the ones eaten in my childhood. Drenched in syrup.

I don’t even understand the language!

Filed in Food, Fun Stuff

I got this off YP’s blog, and really laughed out loud when I read my results:

You Are French Food

Snobby yet ubiquitous.
People act like they understand you more than they actually do.

Going to the hips

Filed in Food, Friends

Picture courtesy of fellow JI fan, “ManchesterFan” Anne, who was recently in Vienna.

Just looking at the cakes is enough to add pounds (kg?) to my hips (not to mention my “seat” , too).

What triggers migraines?

Filed in Food, Health

After lunch today, I felt the onset of a migraine attack. Before long, there was a hammering behind the inside of my left eyeball.

What triggered it? I’d not been out in the sun at all today ever since arriving in the office around 7:45 a.m. I thought hard and figured it was probably something in the lunch I had.

Lunch today had been a fish fajita with corn salsa, which I’d ordered from this catering service recommended by colleagues in the Human Resource Department. It could’ve been one of the vegetables in the salsa, or maybe the salad dressing.

I googled for information about foods that trigger migraines, and came up with the following list:

  • peanuts and peanut butter

  • caffeine in all products, not just coffee
  • dairy products
  • yeast
  • some beans (which includes peanut), as well as broad, lima, Italian, lentil, soy, peas
  • avocados
  • dried meats
  • sauerkraut
  • pickled herrings
  • canned soups and packet soup mixes
  • chicken livers
  • ripe banana
  • soya products as well as the bean itself
  • sodium nitrate, which is used to preserve hot dogs, bacon and cured meats
  • the preservative benzoic acid and its associated compounds
  • MSG, common name for monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer which is now in almost universal use in almost all processed foods
  • nuts
  • sourdough breads
  • cheeses which have been aged, i.e., cheddar
  • red wines, beer, champagne, vermouth
  • chocolate
  • anchovies

(Source: Migraine Triggers: Foods that trigger Migraine Headaches)

Looking at the list above, I might as well give up eating for life. Even soy and soy products are listed as migraine triggers!

Actually, I don’t take a lot of stuff on the list. A lot of them are quite foreign to my Chinese stomach, anyway. But not coffee. Coffee is a must-have for me, even though I really should not be drinking it because of my lupus.

In fact, altho coffee is always mentioned in lists of foods that trigger migraine, I’ve actually found it to be an effective migraine killer. More than once, black coffee has helped to drive the hammering away. Otherwise, it’s 2 x 500mg Ponstan. This afternoon, with only one 500mg Ponstan left in my supplies, I took it with black coffee. The migraine’s gone. Fast relief, but I don’t think I’ll try this concoction again.

Other googled articles on migraine triggers:

The first article includes suggestions on keeping migraines away.

Update on curry house

Filed in Food

I went by this morning around 7:45 a.m., and it hadn’t opened for business for the day. Is this the new routine, then? If it is, where am I going to satisfying my occasional roti telur craving?

For this morning, I had two pieces of local kuih, one of them is yau char kway, but I don’t know the name of the other, I only know how to eat.

kuih – cakes or pastries
yau char kway – literally translated “oil fried devil”, but the English name is flour fritters