Friday, May 15, 2020

The wonder of Split Rock Succulent Cactus Blossom and Other Cacti's

Never knew a succulent cactus - split rock can blossom.  I found it with a blossom stem back a couple of months ago.  Then, slowly, it opened up in mid-March just when self-quarantine order started.  It was an amazing hours watching it open up and closing on time daily with the sun.
 Will it bloom?  Please don't rot off.
 Looks very promising.
 Incredible to see such a beauty right here in my home.
 After 1-1/2 week of daily shine, it begin to fade a a bit. But daily, it closes and opens.

 After 2 weeks, it shriveled and crumped up, but it tried to open up still in the morning.
Other Cati family in bloosom this year - Christmas cactus has been blossoming quite regularly.  I think it really likes its humid Aquarium home.  It's out of the aquarium for these flowers to have enough room to expand.

 This bead cactus has been surviving quite well outdoor for two years now.
 This is another cactus I found with tiny blossoms already opening up.  I hand pollinated it with split rock's flower earlier.  I don't know if that will help either ones for the next blooming season

Other blossoms.  This one is peculiar succulent.  its flower stem just keeps on growing and growing.
 This picture was taken about 2 months ago.  It's flower stem is currently about 20 inches long in length.  There are cute little flowers along the stem.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Goodies to try during Self-Quarantine

Not that I particularly like chocolate chip cookies, but I find it challenging to make them.  Especially, the type with crispy crust on the top and gooey, chewy, not cakey. 
This one is after testing Martha Stewart's Chocolate Chip Cookies  recipe while staying home during this COVID-19 self-quarantine.
I think it turned out pretty good. 
The ingredients are found here:
 My modification - half recipe
    1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 large eggs
  Chopped Semi-Sweet Chocolate Pistoles about 1 cup
 I chopped my semi-dark chocolate pistoles.
 I decided to mixed in the chocolate pieces with the egg mixture first to prevent 'dry flour' symptom and to prevent flour to develop gluten from getting mixed twice.
 After the chocolate is well mixed. Add flour till well combined.
Scoop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper.
 Baked in my countertop electric convection oven, top rack. 350'F fro 8-1/2 min.
 I noticed the cookies rise up high.  I should have flattened the scooped dough before baking.  I like flat cookies.
 So, I pressed down intentionally with the back side of the teaspoon.
 See the crispy crust formation on the top.  Cool.  Just love it.
 Tastes great.

Then, there is a quick cookies I learned to make with no baking powder and adding chili flakes and cayenne make it a delightful snack after good exercises.
1/4 stick soft butter
1 C flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2/3 C organic cane sugar
1-1/2 tsp homemade vanilla extract
Dash of cayenne
Shake shake shake of Chili Flakes
Chopped semi-dark chocolate pistoles - 1/2 C

Bake in 400'F oven, 8  min.

Young Coconut Drink

I always feel lucky when I find a fresh coconut that just arrived at the grocery store.
They are so refreshing.
Pick a coconut that is heavy and you can hear the liquid sloshing.  
Pick a coconut with husk that are not turning brown, unless your intention is to shave the hardened coconut meat later to make coconut cream or milk. 
I just want to eat the fresh coconut fresh and drink coconut juice.
Using a serrated knife - I love my GINSU serrated knife I had for 39 years.  It is still as sharp as the day I bought it.
 Slice off as much husk as possible.
 Double bag in plastic bags and place it on floor.
 With a firm strike with a Hammer, strike down at the top center to crack.  There are other fabulous methods demonstrated in the YouTube.  For me, this works out just fine.
The plastic bag with help catch any juice spilled out.
 Place a glass over the crack.  Revert the coconut to dispense juice into the glass.
Ahhh, this one is such a full coconut, and I think I hit too hard, I lost about 1/2 cup of juice into the plastic bag.  When the coconut is really really fresh, there is hardly an outer coconut shell formed, but soft fiber still.  In Viet-Nam, the street vendor would just poke the straw through the 'eyes' found on the top of the coconut and let you drink out of it.  Otherwise, he uses his sharp machete and slice the top of the coconut open and serve the juice in a glass, scooping the fresh coconut meat with a large spoon for you.
You can filter the coconut juice through a fine sieve, cheese cloth, or coffee filter if you want,
 The fresh coconut meat is like a soft jelly.
 You can process this in a Bullet processor to make coconut cream... but I can never stop from eating them up

Hamburger Adventure with Kale and Parsley

So many ways to prepare ground beef.  The most common ones are the old time favorite Hamburger.  But have you tried them with chopped kale and parsley in them?  I've already tried with chopped parsley in the previous blog.  This time I added chopped kale and parsley.  It turned out great.  You can serve them between hamburger buns or serve them next to your favorite rice and thread cut cabbage with TONKATSU sauce.
Wash the Kale bunch in salt water.  Chop away the first 2 inches of stems.
Chop all the stems to smallest possible sizes and chop leaves fine.
Wash the parsley bunch in salt water.   Swim them around to make sure to wash out loose debris caught in them.
Normally I would use all the stems from the Kale or parsley, but to shorten the time to cook them to tender, either chop them fine or remove the stems (if you wish).
Add chopped vegetables into 1/3 lb of Organic ground beef.
Mix with your favorite salt.  You can add Tajin, cayenne, Chili Flakes, etc.
Add a bit of Vermouth Wine.  Form gently into patties.  Do Not Press tight.
Place in hot skillet.  Cover.
 In a separate skillet, make Kale fried rice.
 Cover the the hamburger and cook one side for 5 min. until bubbly.  Flip
 Cook until your preferred likeness of the burger.  I like mine well done.
 Serve with Rice and thin thread sliced cabbage as posted previously in the blog or serve with your favorite side dish.  The TONKATSU sauce is always good with Hamburger steak like this served with rice.

Pecan Chicken with Celery Mustard Green Fried Rice

This is the first time I've ever tested with Mustard Green or prepared one.  The first impression I had was "Bitter!"  I didn't think I could eat it until I decided to mix it with Pecan Chicken with Celery I prepared the night before.  I mixed the two, and voila, the taste of mustard green changed to delectable.
Break pecan pieces
Chopped celery sticks - about 4 stalks
Chopped chicken pieces - 1/4 to 1/2 C
1 bunch Mustard Green, washed in salted water
2 cloves of peeled garlic  or 1 large broken into 2 (doesn't matter, but always stir fry greens with a bit of garlic)
1 to 2 Cups of Cooked Basmati Rice (much less carb than short grains) or your favorite rice.
1/4 C + Organic Avocado Oil or your preferred cooking oil

Skillet with lid

There is no exact amount of pecan or chicken mentioned here.  Just use as much or less the amount you like.  I don't care too much meat in my stir fried vegetables, and I like them in small pieces.
Break Pecans into pieces.
 You can basically follow your own favorite MOU GU GAI PAN recipe or just stir fry with oil, salt.
 Add some liquid - water.  About 1/4 C.  Mix 1/8 C of water with 2 tsp Potato Starch (KATAKURIKO).  Add to the vegetable, medium high heat.  Stir and cook till the starch mixture is totally 'clear'.
 Remove and set aside.
Wash Mustard Green in salted water.
 Cut them into edible size.
 Peel 2 cloves of garlic and add to 'hot' oil  The oil should be 'shimmering' in the skillet.
 Right away add mustard green.  Toss to coat greens in hot cooking oil.
Toss and stir fry for about 1-1/2 min till wilted.  Add precooked Basmati rice.
 Cover.  Add 1/4 C water.  Lower heat to medium low. Cook for 2 min.
 Open the lid and add Pecan chicken with celery.  Stir fry and combine everything.
 Remove from heat and serve.   Serve with anything else you like on the top.