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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Red Date Tea 红棗茶

During confinement, according to Chinese beliefs, new mothers are not supposed to drink water, but should take in fluids in other forms, such as soups or infusions. There are 2 main types of infusions that most new mothers drink, one is the rice tea and the next of course is red date tea.

Which is tastier? Definitely the latter.

With experience from previous confinement, this time I pre packed the red dates tea ingredients for my confinement lady (CL), so that there will not be variations of taste. Well, during the last confinement, the CL just grabbed this and that, w/o exact proportions, so the red date tea tasted somehow different each day. I didn’t want this to happen again, so I prepared 27 packs of it. Why 27? I will be in hosp for 3 days, 30-3=27. One or 2 days at the end w/o this, it’s okla for me.

The amount of stuff I bought:
Red Dates / Zizyphi Fructus (hong zao) 红棗: 4kg
Blue Dates蓝棗 : 1kg
Black Dates黑棗: 2kg
Dangshen / Codonopsis Pilosulae (dang shen) 黨參: 1kg
Dried Longan flesh / Arillus Longan (long yan rou) 龍眼肉: 1.5kg
Chinese Wolfberry / Fructus Lycii (gou ji zi) 枸杞子: 1kg

The amount I packed for each day:
Red Dates: 140gm
Blue Dates: 30gm
Black Dates : 70gm
Dang Shen : 30gm
Dried Longan : 50gm
Wolfberries: 30gm
Anything extra, just keep it for herbal soups.

1. Remove seeds from all the red dates. Score black and blue dates with a knife.
2. Wash Dangshen to remove dirt. Rinse all dates, wolfberries and longan.
3. Put everything into a pot of boiling water (4L) and simmer for 3 hours.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hasma with Red Dates Sweet Soup 红枣雪蛤膏

Hasma, as said in Wikipedia is Asiatic Grass Frog's fallopian tubes, a part of the female's reproductive system. Therefore, I don't think any man should be taking this. Just like you wouldn't see a woman taking deer penis soup. Chinese likes to eat whichever part to rejuvenate the same part of the human. Just like if u have poor memory, u are advised to take pork brains... kekeke. There goes the saying, pork head.

My confinement lady prepared this 4 times during confinement.
It's really yummy, just don't think that u're eating the innards of a frog.

2 grammes of this in dried form is enough to prepare a serving the size of a rice bowl, but I'm taking double portion, 4 grammes.

2 Servings:
4 g dried hasma
10 pcs red dates
2 Tbsp rock sugar
2 rice bowls water

How to do it:
1. Soak dried hasma in cold water for about 4 hours or until expanded. It'll look like jelly.(Soak in the fridge overnight and clean the next day)
2. Clean hasma, use a tweezer to pick out black or brown bits. Be gentle and don't break it up. What is left are just translucent jelly. Discard soaking water.
3. Deseed 10 red dates.
4. Double boil cleaned hasma and red dates with 2 cups of water and 2 Tbsp of rock sugar, depending of prefered level of sweetness, for 3 hours.

Can be taken warm or chilled. Refreshing and good for the fairer sex.

Hasma in its dried form.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chicken Essence 炖鸡精

The Chinese comsume a lot of chicken during confinement, most of it going into soups and herbal concoctions.
It's one kampung chicken a day! Yup! One chicken to prepare only one serving.
Well, kampung chickens are the local variety of forest chickens that runs around freely. Let's say, it's a free range chicken that is not prized for it's meat, but for its qualities. It is believed that soup made from this type of chicken is more nutricious compared to a normal free range meat chicken.

Almost everyday, I take this during confinement, except on the days when I take double boiled hasma.

So, here's how it's done

1. Put in 3 slices of angelica (dong gwai) into a big bowl.
2. Cover the angelica with a small bowl.

3. Chop Kampung chicken into smaller pieces for easy handling.
(skin and excess fat should be removed from the chicken)

4. Use a cleaver to chop and smash the chicken parts in it's bones to break up everything.
(it'll look like roadkill)

Can u recognise what part of the chicken this is???

5. Put the "chicken" into the big bowl, surrounding the smaller bowl.

6. Put in 2-4 Tbsp of liquid (water - if u're using herbs, if no herbs, u can use ginger juice, or DOM, or ginger wine or Henessy or whisky)
7. Cover the bowl with a plate.

8. Prepare half a pot of boiling water. Place a rack in the centre.
9. Place covered bowl onto the rack. Make sure the boiling water is half way up the bowl.
10. Let the water boil for another 10 minutes and turn to low heat to slowly double boil the chicken for 3 hours. You must cover the pot!

11. After 3 hours, turn off heat, and let the pot cool down to an easier to handle temperature.
12. Remove the pot cover and the covering plate. Remove bowl of chicken from pot.
13. Remove chicken bits from bowl. (the bowl looks dry, but don't be fooled)

14. Remove the small bowl and you'll release the trapped chicken essence underneath.
15. Strain the essence to remove excess oil. The chicken essence is ready to be served.

**This can be done with other herbs as well, eg: Cordyceps. Just replace the angelica in Step 1 with prefered herb.

**If u want to do this in a double boiler pot, just place the small bowl right into the upper pot of the double boiler. Place chicken directly into the upper pot with the small bowl underneath the chicken. The big bowl and plate used in this post is used in place of the upper pot of the double boiler pot.

Lydia is eyeing the chicken essence..wanting to taste it..
But I didn't let her, angelica is not advisable to be fed to small children.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pork Trotters in Black Vinegar 猪脚醋

Tomorrow will be Lyanne's 12th morning.

Today is just the 11th day, we're making it a day earlier so that there will be more people eating it. Tomorrow's Sunday, and Mike's shop's closed, that's why there's less people around.

I'm a Cantonese, and according to Cantonese traditions, on the 12th day, we're supposed to eat Pork Trotters in Black Vinegar. Some even give this dish away to relatives and friends as gifts.

It's not confined just as a confinement dish..
It can be served on any other day, just that on this day, the 12th day of confinement is celebrated with this dish.

** Be warned that I like mine really sour. Do not add the whole bottles of vinegars without tasting in advance.


1 Pork trotter (chopped)
300gm -400gm old + young ginger (how much depends on individuals and the intensity of the ginger used, skin on or off up to ur preference, smashed or not, up 2 U)300gm molasses sugar
100gm sugar (optional, depends on sourness of the gravy)
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Sesame Seed oil
200gm Black beans
1.5L water
1 bottle sweet black vinegar (720ml) (Try half bottle first, adjust later)
1 bottle sour black vinegar (623ml) (try half bottle first, adjust later)

1. Wash and dry black beans. Dry roast them on the wok on low heat until they start to crack. (this step can be done in advance)

2. Place the beans in a big pot and boil them in 1.5L water for an hour.
3. Meanwhile, scald chopped pork trotter. Drain well.
4. Heat wok and put in sesame seed oil.
5. Put in ginger and saute for a minute.
6. Put in scalded pork trotters and salt. Mix well and fry until dry.

7. Transfer (6) into the big pot with the beans boiling in it.
8. Boil on medium heat for 1 hour.

9. Pour in both black vinegars and sugars. If too sour, add in more white sugar.

10. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 10 minutes, and turn off the heat.

****** This version is very sour, just the way I like it. If u can't stand the sourness, u can reduce the amount of vinegar used, or just dilute it with more water.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lyanne's Home!

I didn't get to be induced on 29th... I had stiff neck that day, so it was postponed to 31st, 7am.

31st dec, 4.30am, I woke up, feeling an urge to poo... It feels like it...
After 3 poo-like contractions and no poo coming out, I knew it... OMG!
Went out and check the clock. 5 mins apart! Oh no..... better be quick.
Woke Mike up and he quickly got ready.

Thank God Lydia is spending the night with Nanny cos I was supposed to be induced that morning and be in hospital by 7, so she didn't sleep at home that night.

It's 35 mins to Ipoh Specialist Hospital. Throughout the journey, my contractions shortened from 5 minutes to 3 minutes apart. I dared not tell Mike...

When we reached, I quickly went in on my own, while Mike parked the car. By the time I made it to the Maternity ward, the pain was just 1-2 minutes apart.
The nurses quickly attended to me. It was 5.50am

Midwife checked me, I was 5 cms dilated. I asked for epidural, she said, "No need, by the time u take the enema, u'll be 8 cm dilated." I was so scared! How to deliver a 9 pounder??????

My waters broke right after the razors left me. It felt like "pop" and "slusshhh"
Then, the enema. The nurse told me to go ease my self after 10 minutes, but I said, I'm not going to wait.. She went away.

I got down the bed and saw my waters... It was thick and dark green! Meconium! I kept calm and was telling my self that the nurse saw it and told the midwife..

I went in... I sat down on the WC..

Pain came, and it won't stop, it was a different kind of pain, I couldn't walk, or stand up, I was so scared.
I yelled and the nurse came to open the toilet door..she quickly got me a wheel chair and helped me got up onto the wheel chair.

The midwife came in and told me to get on the delivery bed, I dared not move my legs, the baby's pushing! They persuaded me to quickly get on.....and I finally did it with much courage.
She checked me again, indeed, I was 8cm dilated.

I was given gas, Nitrous Oxide, my mind was off the pain, I just focused on sucking in the gas while waiting for my doc to arrive. Baby's pushing... In my heart I was so scared.

Mike finally came back from the admission procedures, and he was surprised to see me in the delivery room. He tought I will be in the staging room. He quickly put on his apparel and came to my side, held my hands.

Dr Diva finally arrived and the nurses put me into position, legs up.
When the baby pushed again, I also pushed.

**At this point, I've forgotten about the pain**

1 push, can see the crown.
2nd push, the head's out!
3rd push! All out!!!! It was 6.26am
I cried in relieve.... I was so scared, really very scared! Everything's over now. Mike held on to me, wiped my tears...

Doc put Lyanne onto me.... and I could see her.....
The nurses quickly cleaned her and did whatever necessary.
Doc got my placenta and blood clots out, sew me and I was transfered to my room...

Everything's over... I can finally rest. I can't believe it. She's 3.84kg or 8 pounds 7 oz, and I did it without the Epidural...

Both baby and I were discharged on 2nd Jan, and headed home.


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