Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ginger Vinegar part II

Dear reader,

This is the second part of our kitchen adventures :) You can read the first part here.

Once the gingers are peeled and clean, you need to squashed them, to bring the flavor out... that's what we have been told, anyway, take a nice flat surface, a kind of hammer thingy and start to squash them :)

Once crushed, you need to dry fry (no oil!) them a bit till you have some golden bits. These help to dry them a bit before the next stage. The flavor will be very strong now.
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Slow Fry

Nice and smelly :)
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Golden Fried

Once golden, you can go on the next phase, put them all in the pot and add the vinegar:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Adding The Vinegar

Now, you can fire the whole thing, keep boiling for 20 minutes and let it rest:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Fire it!

Leave the whole pot in the dry and clean place. And that's it! For the soup though. From time to time, you need to put it back on the fire to boil it again, I think it should kill bacteria etc... We started Monday evening and we boiled it once every two days.

As the vinegar level went down and we see that the ginger were getting down, we added a new batch of ginger (2.5 catty, which is around 1.5 kg) and added some vinegar. We reboiled it for 20 minutes and it's resting again.

Keep doing this for the weeks to come. Next time, we should be adding the eggs.

When purchasing bugs can shrink your wallet

Dear reader,

Another post today to talk about Chinese medicinal herbs. In order to get a better recovery, our postnatal helper asked us to get some herbs and other ingredients for different kind of soups.

Here is one of them:
Expensive Bugs

It's a kind of herb that looks like a bug, half herb, half bug, called Cordyceps. From what I understood, it's a fungus that grew on the head of a caterpillar, killing it... :D Yummy is it?

Thing is I should have less than 200gr but it cost 3k HKD (300EUR/350USD roughly) for this small pack. Trading gold is now has been... it's time to trade herbs.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ginger Vinegar part I

Dear reader,

As we went into the last eight weeks, we started to get prepared a little bit more for baby's arrival and one of these tasks is to prepare a ginger vinegar pot. In the Chinese traditions, Pork feet eggs ginger vinegar is a soup that is cooked for a new mom. It's a high calcium and iron content meal. The pot need to be readied several weeks before the delivery in order to maximize the nutrients benefit of it. I'll post several post about this as it takes time to get it done.

So, the ingredients are:
-sweet vinegar
-pork feet
-a clay pot

For the sweet vinegar, we use Tung Chin brand, there are other brands out there, after a quick round up among friends advices, we went for this one. It's said to be less thick.

Bottle of vinegar
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Sweet Vinegar
Note the 2500mL! Yes! It is a huge bottle.

For the ginger, we use what we call "ground ginger", they are said to be more suitable for this soup. They are smaller, a bit dirtier and a bit more expensive (7HKD/catty instead of 6HKD/catty at our retailer)

Ginger Vinegar Soup - Ground Ginger

For the eggs and Pork feet, I'll talk about them later as it can be prepared after the delivery.

For the pot, DO NOT USE METAL POT, the soup is quite acid and the resulting oxidization of the metal will mess it up. As we are using induction cooker, it was quite a mission to find a suitable pot. At first, we found a small clay pot (4 liters) in Jusco (a local Japanese megastore) with a thin layer of metal on the bottom, it works, but we wanted something bigger. We then found another clay pot with a complete metal layer at on the outside at the same place, it's bigger (8 liters) and should be just fine. If you use gas cooker, there will be no issue, you can easily find clay pot of any size.

Time to mix things up!

First, you need to get a pretty large amount of ginger, we had 3 kg of it. Peel them and make sure they fit your pot. One very valuable piece of advice: WEAR GLOVES unless you are used to feel hot and spicy things through your hands.

Peeling work:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Peeling work

Smooth and clean:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Ground Ginger Peeled

Before continuing, make sure you do have the right pot. Here is an example of wrong pot:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Wrong pot
It's in metal, and the ginger obviously do not fit... :D

Here is a better one:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - The Right Pot
Inside in clay, right size!

Keep the skins as they will serve for mum's bath after delivery (I will talk about that later too). Dry them and keep them in a bag for later use.

Skins ready to get a sunbath in the oven:
Ginger Vinegar Soup - Drying the skin
Side note: the oven was a bad idea, just lay them flat on some newspaper in a dry place.

This is the end of part I. Actually, we took an evening to peel the gingers...

UPDATE: Part two is HERE.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Starting to get painful

Dear reader,

As baby is in the wrong way, Yukyin is feeling its head pushing on her stomach... It is very painful. She is thinking non stop about it and it makes her easily depress.

We would be very thankful that you keep her in your prayers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Last Ten weeks!

Dear readers,

Today, we went to see the doctor and had the 30 weeks check up. Concerning baby's health, it is doing fine, it grew at a very average pace, meaning that its due date calculated with today's measurements still match the ones from past check up and using Yukyin's period. So, about this, everything is fine.

We also had the opportunity to ask the doctor about pregnancy diabetes and other illness that could harm baby at birth. The doctor has been really really comforting and very professional. He answered to all question and made a blood sampling in order to make sure Yukyin's good health.

The bad news is that... our little kiddo has not turn around yet... It's still head towards up... and its legs are stretched... which would make it difficult to turn around. Usually, baby is expected to have its head towards the bottom around 30 weeks in order to prepare for delivery. Yukyin is quite concerned about that as baby will have less and less room to move. She was thinking about a natural birth (with an eventual epidural) but now, she might need to get psychologically prepared for a c-section. She started to lost motivation, feeling a little bit down about that. I try to remind her that God is in control, and as we saw with her itchiness, everything is answered through prayers, but that's not an easy task for her.

So, still 6 weeks to go before we will know for sure if she has to go through a c-section. During this time, naturally, if you have one or two minutes to pray for her and baby, that would be great.

Thanks a lot for your help

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm Sick, nothing serious... feeling so frustrated

Dear reader,
I think that this will be a short post. Yesterday evening, when I came home from work, I felt that something was wrong behind my nose. At first, I did not give too much thoughts about it, but then, later in the evening, things got worse and worse.. started to have a headache and runny nose.

I went to see the doctor this morning and he diagnosed a simple cold. Apparently, office's air conditioner has been repaired and the tiredness I went through all these weeks finally got me.

So, I took a day off, feeling a bit better but the medication just nailed me down. It's kind of funny how my nose got better, but I am feeling SOOOO exhausted... Need a nap.

Today, I felt very angry, when I went out for the groceries with Heidi, we went to look for some plastic tub, for baby's bath... but in the shop everything was stacked one in front of the other, was a total mess to access the one we were interested in. So, I don't know what happened, but I got angry... so angry... I wanted to throw everything on the ground (which I did) and yell at anything (which I kept myself of doing)... I felt slow and limited in my mind... my reaction time has nearly triple, I am so angry about that state... I really thank God for the patience He entrusted Yukyin for accepting those hard moments of pains.

Now I know how she feels when she is complaining about her pregnancy... the feeling of frustration that she has when her baby prevent her from doing what she wants to do. Sometimes, it's hard to live with. But now, I got to taste the same experience, in a shorter time frame. Thanks God for reminding me this.

Chérie, if you read this message and I know you do, I want to tell you that you are my most precious and that you are doing great as a future mother. I wanted to add that, I am so sorry that you went through my behavior today. Pray that you accept those apologies.

So dear reader, if you have 2 secs, can you please pray for my recovery? That would be much appreciated. This way, I can stand back up and fully take care of Yukyin as she deserves to be.


By the way, for an update about her, she is still feeling itchy around some small part on her breast, but far far faaaaarrr away from what she was feeling before. So, we consider this problem to have come to an end. But, baby really got bigger, and it takes more and more room, preventing her to eat too much. If she eats too much, she gets full very quickly and feels pain on the lower ribs.

So, if you have 2 additional seconds, please pray for her

Friday, May 8, 2009

Camera gears and me

Many times, I tried to post something about photography, but I ended up deleting everything because it's such a messy subject. So I will just talked about how I ended up owning the gear I own today. It will be a very photographic oriented post, so if you are not interested... just skip it..

The first contact I had with camera was the Minolta film camera... 35-70 I think, nothing fancy, AF and that's all... It was just to take pictures during a trip in the center of France.

My second contact came with the digital camera Canon S45. A good camera over all. I think my brother still uses it, I am not sure, if he read this passage, he may confirms it. The color was a bit reddish, noise were quite obvious, but it gave good results for a first digital camera. I also liked its compactness, though I would have preferred a slimmer body, some quicker reaction time and by the time, I was dreaming about interchangeable lenses bodies at the time.

Then, I revert to the past. In 2004, I took a Voigtlander Bessa R2, with few lenses. A film rangefinder. Few years ealier, one of my friend showed me his Leica M3, it was magic. The way you clearly see everything, the way you can precisely focus on anything and the silence... So, naturally, I was looking for a rangefinder. while I could not afford any Leica bodies, the Bessa R2 was a quite good alternative. It was a good camera, well built, good handling, very light and compact. The viewfinder was fine. But, the base length was short (in other words, the focus stroke was short, it focused too quickly, so prone to error) and it was loud. The camera was making a very distinctive "chlack" when taking pictures. Sometimes, I was lacking of precision with tele lenses. Talking about lenses, I owned a Voigtlander Ultron 35/f1.7, sharp, compact, very well built, I liked it a lot. I also owned a Jupiter 3 50/f1.5, a soviet lens. I took it at 100USD on ebay, quite expensive but a really good performer. I used this lens 90% of the time. I liked the field of view, its bokeh. It appeared clear to me that with this lens, I found the way I look to the world. I also owned a Jupiter 9, a 85mm f2. Could not do too much with it as it was too long for the R2 to get a good grasp on focus precision.

Later, in 2005, As I wanted to do some macro photos, I started looking for SLR. Also, did not have a lot of money by the time... student life... so I got my hands on a 2nd hand Nikon F3 from ebay. Built like a tank, it was nearly fully manual, no AF, just a A mode, huge viewfinder. A very good body. Along with it, I asked Yukyin to get me a Tamron 90 f2.8 SP Di Macro lens, a very good macro performer too. I started to get some macro and some portrait shots but not that much... Doing film was still quite expensive, so I couldn't do much.

I kept these two bodies until 2006. The Bessa R2 went on sale with all its lenses, except the 85 that I left in France... don't know why... Yukyin was complaining that I never process my rolls of film, which it was the case, I still kept them in my dry box, I don't have the time to work on them. So, we broke the credit card and I got my hands on a Fujifilm S5 Pro, a DSLR, Nikon outside, Fuji inside, and that was make all the difference!!! Fuji is known to have unmatched color rendering especially for skin tone. As I only do portraiture, macro... It was perfect for me.

Following the body, I purchased a Nikkor AF-D 35 f2, a lens that would give me the same framing as the 50mm for film or Full Frame body. This lens is my all-around lens. It sits 90% of the time on my camera. The lens is sharp, fast. For the cons, I would say that I would prefer a focus ring that does not turn when focusing, a IF design and some weather sealing, but that's probably asking too much.

Then, at several occasions, we quickly find out that I could not frame wide enough, so I went to fetch a wider angle lens and finally took a Nikkor 18-70mm f3.5-4.5 Nothing much to be said, a good Swiss army knife. But I think I won't keep this lens so long, I just use it wide open and there is too much distortion, so will probably sell it to get a fix focal wide angle or an ultra-wide lens.

Last Christmas, I decided to sell the F3... another hard time... well, I was not using it a lot... in fact, not at all. So, guess it's better that way.

My last purchase was a SB-900, a flash. I got it just before Nikon raised their prices :). I am still learning how to use it, so pictures will come later.

Now, for the things I want, there is probably too much to say. But I know that I will continue portraiture/macro work, so I'll probably go towards long fix focal with macro possibility, like the Sigma 150mm f2.8. For the body, it's just a tool, as far as the S5 turn on and give me some good pictures, I keep it.