Tuesday, April 06, 2021

My Cactus Collection

These were all 2 to 3 inch pot size succulent cactus or whatever else they are called.  Very interesting things to observed are that as soon as they are transferred to larger pots, over several hours, the cactus grew in sizes and shapes like they are stretching out their arms.

The little creamy-white flowers on this "Ladyfinger"cactus are real.  They shoot out its flower stem carefully of their fine nets of thorns surrounding itself and opens up after peeking out them.  

The one to the right is the Cereus Ming Thing Cactus.  I am not confident with the names, but if you know, please let me know.  It's a gnarly green mound of cactus.

Interesting part of this Ladyfingers are the tiny baby nodules growing all around are easily popping off and replanted to root itself in a few weeks.


This is Mammillaria Mystax or Elongata  Again, I am not sure I have identified it correctly.
See how its flower stem try to shoot out from behind a curtain of thorny stars

The flower on this one is a fake straw flower that came with it when I purchased it.  I wonder how its real flower bloom will look like.  Patiently waiting.
The is a pair of "Peruvian Old Ladies".  These 2 seems to be takings their good ole' time growing themselves.  Since these pictures were taken back in Jan - Feb, these two's white hair have grown longer.  The body - not so much.

This one is an interesting round "Ball" Cactus about 3" round.  Since replanting, it is now 3-1/2".  Not sure what the flower will look like, but looking forward to it.
This the surviving Ruby or Moon Ball Cactus - Red and Yellow.  After the first giant Ruby Ball's death, I try not o tend to this cactus too much.  Leave them behind sheer curtains for indirect light and less watering.
And this is?  another Mammillaria family(?) 

 

 
 




Friday, April 02, 2021

COVID-19 VACCINE REACTION AND COOKING - How about baking Pâte à Choux today?

During my rest time after receiving my 2nd COVID-19 vaccine, I tried many different home menu.  Not that I really want to, but, the vaccine has been making me quite ill.  From high fever of 102'F to swollen arm with itchy red rash, insomnia, at times it feels like I am charged up with super steriod on 2nd and 3rd day, then slump into whole body ache.  Muscle weakness. Blurry eyes, brain fog, forgetting things after 30 seconds.   Then, at times, I am all clear on what I need to do and finish it.  My arm's rash disappeared after five days, this time.  It lasted 15 days during my first shot.  The spring weather aided to cheer me up.  Had a couple of nice fresh Kale leaves cutting to make dishes from the garden.  
It's been many years since I last baked Pâte à Choux.  The ingredients are simple and fun to make.
Before I post my adventure result on Pâte à Choux, I want to post some other cooking testing I've completed thus far.
1.  Fennel, Banana, Apple, KAKI Salad
This one was fun tessting.  I had a bumper crop of KAKI in 2020 FALL, and I still had some KAKI lasting into Jan and Feb.  This addition of Banana and apple was very good.
Thinly slice 1 large bulb of organic fennel
Chop 1 granny smith apple
Cut up 1 banana
Cut up 1 KAKI
For dressing, Mix some Mayonnaise, a bit of vinegar, a bit of dijon mustard to taste.  

2. Snap Pea Couscous Salad.  This one is very easy to make.

Rinse and soak snap peas in cold water with a pinch of Salt for 20.  Rinse clean.  Devein and slice into halves.

In addition to  preparing Couscous as instructed on the box, add Organic white corn (mine is frozen that I got from COSTCO).  Add as much as you like.  Cover and let couscous pot set as instructed. And cooled off.  Toss couscous and Snap peas in a serving bowl.  Mix your favorite vignairette and serve.

3.  Tempura - Light as feather.

There are many recipes on making the Tempura batter.  At least once - many many years ago, my batter bloomed like a flower when fried.  It was airy and quite delightful.  But I could not remember the formula for it.   One time after the other I tried.  I could not recreate it.  So, I gave up and came up with my own.  

For this you need 1 or 2 egg whites beaten into stiff peak meringue or whole egg beaten to pale foamy peak, 2 Cup of PANKO or home made bread crumbs, a bowl of 1/2 C to 1 C flour.  The measurement depends on how much vegetables you want to fry.  I had shrimps (not farm raised - wild caught), wash, soaked in salt and some wine for 15 min. to get rid of smell, devein and slice open the shrimp.   Coat with flour, let dry.  Wash, peel, and slice Organic sweet potatoes (not Yam), coat with meringue.  

Heat in frying pot - I use organic avocado oil.  Dip sweet potatoes sliced in meringue, then, coat with bread crumb.  Fry gently in medium low heat.

Do the same with shrimp.  Dip into meringue, then, coat with bread crumb.  Fry till when pierced with fork, it is tender and golden.

Let extra oil drip off.  Place on oil remover sheet or paper towel.  Serve.


 For deep fried fish, I used thawed out Cod. Wash with Salt. Pat dry.  Slice them thinly.  Coat with seasonings and flour.  Dip in batter - beaten foamy eggs mixed with flour with some KIRIN beer with 1/4 tsp baking powder.  (The batter should be thick.)  Deep fry it till golden.  Result - I don't like it.  The batter tasted really good, but it did not form a crispy crunchy crust.   Maybe I should have used baking soda.  Well, till next time.
 
 4.   Avocado Fennel Salad with Banana.
This one was also delicious.  Slice Avocado, Fennel, Banana, Bartelle Pear - top with some cilantro.  Toss and serve with your favorite vinaigrette.  
 
So, are we there, yet for the Pâte à Choux ?
Everyone knows the basic  Pâte à Choux  recipe, right?   1 C water, 1 Stick of unsalted butter, 1 C flour, 4 eggs @room temperature. *Wash eggs and dry before use..
Heat 1 C of water and butter in a pot.  Bring to boil. Have a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon or large sturdy spoon ready.  *Quickly add flour into the boiling water and stir crazy.   
Remove from the heat.  Quickly Stir until smooth.  *Do not let the batter cooled down.  
Crack and add 1 egg into the batter, and mix quickly to incorporate into batter.
Add next 1 egg.  Mix quickly to incorporate into batter.
Repeat the same with the next 2 eggs.
The batter should be nice and smooth.
When there are large lumps, keep stirring till you can minimize it.
If there are many lumps, put the batter through the sieve.
* I had to stop and refrigerate the batter to bake in the morning because the house is already quite warm from the heat trend we are having during the day.
 
The next morning.  I brought out the batter from the refrigerator.  The batter remained soft.
I poured the batter into a piping bag with #8 tip.
On a sheet pan with organic heat proof parchment paper, pipe the batter into desired Pâte à Choux shape or into Eclare - bar shape.
 
Preheat  oven to 450'F (mine is a large gas stove). 
 *NOTE:  DO NOT OPEN the OVEN Door to Peek.  Pâte à Choux batter depends on the steam formed within itself to puff up and create its crispy outer shell.
Bake in center rack for 10-12 min.  Then, lower the oven heat to 350'F and bake for 20 min. - 30 min. or till golden brown. 
 
Fill with chantilly, decorate with fruits, powder sugar, chocolate glaze, Matcha frosting, dragonfruit frosting, etc, etc, and serve.  
I filled it with slice of banana and chantilly.  Bad idea to cook them when you are hungy.  I ate the whole entire half sheetful.... No food for the rest of the day.

To make my chantilly, to assure my body can handle the lactose in the heavy cream, I used 1 Cup of Heavy Whip Cream, 1/4 C Lactose free Non-Fat Milk, 2 Tbsp of sugar.  Whip heavy cream and lactose free non-fat milk together for 1 min.  Add sugar 1/2 Tbsp at a time.  Increase speed after 2 min.  Whip for 1 min, then, at high till the desire medium to stiff peak form.  Transfer to piping bag with desired tip. and pipe into completely cooled Pâte à Choux shell.  *Normally, the center of the Pâte à Choux shell is emptied.  I noticed mine is quite puffed up and empty that I left them alone as they are.  I didn't have powder sugar and my Nutribullet is out of commission for the moment that I did not decorate with snowy powder.  
(The pictures will be uploaded a bit later.)


Stir Crazy Winter Stir Fried Home Cooking

Winter came and gone and it's spring of 2021.  It feels like a 'Ground Hog' Day or the Repeat movie.  Are we back to do what we can without the fear of catching COVID-19?  I think cooking at home is a "normal" thing to do that we all have ... kind of found an excuse not to out of one reason or the other before COVID-19.  And before COVID-19, we were day dreaming 'how nice it will be to cook or bake this and that.'  Now that we have to do it regularly for economic or for safety reason, I find myself... I wonder to think that how lazy we were before COVID-19.  I replaced my spare time maybe to eat out just that I can get to the next appointment or activities.  Thinking back when my mother used to cook 3 meals a day - that must have been a "endless" nightmare de la femme.

So, I learned to crop my garden vegetables with scissors before any bugs get to them, and cook them, and let it grow again.  I have gardenful of celery, three kinds of Kale that my friend gave me.  If you have a bottle of organic ketchup and Soy sauce, frozen wild caught seafood, you can make a nice decent quick dishes.  Stir fried veges of all sorts.

Stir fried Celery, Asparagus, and Scallop over stir fried Kale Basmati Rice

I learned that cooked basmati rice result better when stir fried a bit and cooked in covered large pan.  When cooked in the electric rice cooker, I did not really like the fully cooked soft texture all these years.  So, I wash, rinse, basmatic extra long grain rice and soak them for 30 to whenever I remember that it is waiting for me to cook.

I chop up some onions, garlic, heat up large fry pan with oil.  Add onions and garlic, add handful of chopped Kale (I often freeze my garden Kale if I can't cook all of them.).  Add soaked Basmati rice.  Stir fry for about a minute.  Add enough water to cover the rice.  Cover.  Cook over Medium heat till all the water is evaporated and rice has doubled/puff up inside the pan.  *NEVER open the lid of uncooked rice while cooking.  Well, it is up to you, but it is important that you don't let the steam escape and change the temperature of the rice.  Once visually you have confirmed that the rice is cooked - the top most rice sitting looks dry, prepare a cup of warm water, open the lid, quickly stir all rice bottom to top and side to center, add the cup of warm water.  Cover, and cook till the water is gone.  Done.

Defrost frozen wild scallop in some salted water.   Drain and chop up scallops to your desired sizes.  I like them small.  Wash, rinse, devein celery stalks and chop.  Wash, rinse Asparagus, then, snap off the bottom stem.  Cut into bite size.  Peel 1 clove of large garlic, cut in halves.   

Heat a fry pan with some avocado oil over medium high.  Add garlic.  Add Scallops, Stir fry till scallops turn white.  Add celery, asparagus, and stir fry . 2 min.   Add 2 Tbsp of ketchup, 1 tsp of soy sauce (to taste), toss and stir fry.   Add 2 Tbsp of water if needed to steam cook the veges.  Server over rice.

Stir fried Kale with sweat peppers and carrots

Stir fried Kale Rice, Tofu, and CHING TSAI (Bok Choi), Tofu, Chicken, and rice vermicelli Stew

Cook Basmati rice as mentioned in previous section with Kale.

Clean and chop up CHING TSAI - not sure why it is called Bok Choi at the grocery store but the large stalk of vegetable with green leafy tops with white stems - I 've always been calling it the CHING TSAI - the "green vegetables", but regardless, chop it up, chop 2 cloves of garlic.  Stir fry them.  Then, set aside.  Stir fry chopped chicken tenders.  Add cooking wine or white vermouth.  Reconstitute rice vermicelli with hot water in a large bowl.  When softened, scissor the into 4 to 6 inch strands. * just make a cut at the top and bottom of the rolled up rice vermicelli.   Cut medium firm Tofu into pieces - square or rectangle.

Combine all in a large pot.  Add 4 cups of water.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Serve


What else did I cook.... I have to upload the photos.  Till next time... have a good cooking days.  

Be Safe.  Be Kind and Wear that Mask in the Public.