Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Was it a Funny or Sad Birthday Story?

It was my husband's birthday. Time to source for a little cake.

There were not that many good cake house around town in Hanoi unless in five-star hotel cafes. But, I didn't plan to invest in any "high end no return" kind of birthday cake because our family just not cake fonders, so I decided to go for the best one that local Hanoian recommend.

The reason we bought a cake was merely to keep a record ...yeah... it's my 30th birthday! OK, we light up the candles, we sing the birthday song, blow the candles, cut the cake... snap! snap! snap! And finally a family photo Snap! Done!! We still enjoy every moment of it because we get to eat all the nice food and snacks around the cake.

The cake house was pretty nice with many variety to choose from. The shop was indeed packed with many locals. It was kind of difficult to get a really good peek on all the cakes on the shelves. It was very nicely done and rich chocolate flavouring with nice decor and patterns. Judging from the crowd they are getting, it has to be nice. So, I decided to choose one for my husband.

The sales person came to me, she was very polite and pleasant. The only unfortunate thing was she could not speak English. And the more unfortunate thing was I could not speak Vietnamese! With my level of Vietnamese which was probably sufficient to shop for vegetables and fish in the wet market, I had quite a hard time trying to communicate with her.

I asked her which one was nice in Vietnamese and she pointed to me one oval shape chocolate coating cake. It was not very big, no cream, chocolate flavour - BINGO! it fits my criteria. OK, I will take this. Then, she asked me something like what to write on the cake because I sort of like heard her said: "Viet" ie. means "Write" in Vietnamese. So I said "Happy Birthday".

Then she took out a "Happy Birthday" plastic tag and planted it on the cake. She started packing the cake into a box. I was a bit surprised because she didn't ask me the name I wanted to write on the cake? I guess it was not in their culture to write names i think. Anyway, I stopped her. Using my very best Vietnamese, I asked her: "Viet ten duoc khong?" ie. means "Write name can or not?"  She removed the cake from the box, took out a cone stuff with white cream and started writing the name on the cake. Before I could stop her, she had already written "Viet" on my cake!! Oh my god....

It is absolutely understandable that my Vietnamese was overly terrible but even then I thought, to the minimum, she should at least asked me how to spell it (even if my husband's name happened to be "Viet Ten"). Isn't?

On the other hand, I thought about it, she would have understood what I said because otherwise she would not be removing the cake from the box and started to write name on it. She would have interpreted that I needed to write something on the cake. But, what I didn't understand was didn't it cross her mind how strange this lady wanted to write "write name" on the cake?

I really didn't know what to say. She tried to fix the writing overlapping with my husband's name until I could not really figure out what it had turned into. Sigh... can't say much, just pay and go!

So, was it a Funny or Sad Birthday story? Anyway....

Happy Birthday Honey!

Monday, November 16, 2009

My children hate carrots!!

As we may have already know, carrots contain many vitamins and minerals. High in Vitamin A, high in carotene and aitioxidants (reduce risk of cancer). It helps to boost our immune system, protect our skin from sun damage, cleanse our liver, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, fighting aneamia and most importantly improve our eye sights.

Children today enjoy playing computers, PSP, DS and whatever and it is very damaging to their eyes. As a result, we see more children are wearing glasses today and it is alarming to see children as young as 4 years old have started started wearing thick glasses. My girl has developed a bit of myopia too. That was why I started to find ways to make her consume more carrots.

It was always tough to hide some carrots in her soup bowl and she would always complaint about it. Why today has more carrots than yesterday she would ask? She hated carrots to the extend that I had to cut them into very very small tiny size and she practically swallowed them in together with the soup rather than chewing them. And the maximum pieces of tiny carrots she consumed was hardly more than 5. That would amount to like 1.5 inch of carrot!

Recently, I found some good ways to make my girl take more carrots, much more carrots than before. She is in fact taking a carrot a day now.

Some vegetables or fruits are best taken raw, some worked better with light boiling. Chewing raw carrots has least benefits in terms of percentage our body can actually digest and absorb unless you juice them first (the absorption is only 5% based on studies!). Light boiling of blended carrots gives the maximum body absorption of 90% though. Unfortunately, my girl dislike cooked carrots totally. So I have opted for second best solution which is to JUICE them!

I found and tested some recipes that I am very sure your kids will enjoy. What you will need is a good juicer to start off with. Do go for more powerful juicer so as to cut down preparation time ie. need not cube them before juicing them which save a lot of time!

2 carrots - skin peeled, cut small * 
1 red apple - seed removed, cut small *
1 orange - cut small * and squeeze them seperately if it is seeded orange

* how small depends on how powerful your juicer is.

This serving size gives you approximately one glass of juice.

Practically any fruits or vegetables can be juiced with carrots. And in general, carrots are the dominant ingredient. Carrots are sweet, so mixing them with something sour would give a balanced taste, eg.
- green apple + carrots in 1:2 proportion
- skinned pineapple + carrots in 1/4 : 4 proportion
- strawberry + carrots in 1 cup : 4 proportion
- seedless grapes + carrots in 1 cup : 4 proportion
- skinned cucumber + carrots in 1:4 proportion

Many people said celery is also good especially for those with high blood pressure. I tried out this juice with celery. It was not that bad too. Though you would experience a bit of celery after-taste but overall experience was not that bad. Once you get used to the after-taste kind of thing, in fact the juice was quite pleasant to consume!

3 carrots - skin peeled, cut small
1 red apple - skin peeled, cut small
1/2 stalk of celery - cut to 2 inch length

If you are more adventurous, the following are some interesting websites with many many more fruits ~ vegetable juice recipes that you can give it a try! - once you register with them for free, you will get list of recipes and smoothies to start off with!

Enjoy Juicing!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

stubborn price tag!

This is nothing related to the theme of my blog but I just thought I want to share this little useful idea. 

Ever experienced difficulties in removing price tag marks on utensils, books, kitchenware, plastics etc.? (oh yeah.. at least related to books, bit related to learning, therefore a bit bit related to the theme of my blog...) Anyway, it is seldom but still a few occasions we would encounter such iritation. Because many retailers nowadays are much more thoughtful than before. At least they have gone either to barcode system without price tagging or at least they would opt for better quality price tag that does not leave any marks on the products.

I recently bought a laddle from a small supermarket. They were somehow "smart" enough not to tag the price tag on the handle but on the part where we use to scoop soup. It is not a good idea to use turpentine or thinner to remove the tag I am sure.

I happened to come across with this little idea - something we definitely have at home ie. Multi-Purpose Flour.

First, peel away the price tag as much as you could leaving just the stubborn trails behind.

Spread a bit of the multi-purpose flour on the surface where the stubborn trails were.

Use your second finger to lightly move about on the surface in a circular direction. 

The stubborn trails were practically gone in less than one minute! 

Remove the excess flour together with the stubborn trails.

That's all. No more struggling to wash away the terrible turpentine smell!