Thursday, November 27, 2008

Homemade plum jam + plum juice

This was old...but since I'm blogging on my easy cooking recipes, I thought I would go back and document about my plums as well.

We have a Santa Rosa plum tree, and this past summer it had an incredible crop. We gave bags and bags to family and friends, still had alot left over so I decided to make jam and juice with them. Santa Rose plums are very sweet, fragant, and have lots of meat. Funny thing is last year we barely had much fruits at all, this year there was sooo much that we became a plum victim :) hahah . We didn't want to leave them on the tree because they would fall once too ripe, and that would be such a waste. To get an idea, this was about how much plums we had at one picking.

So here goes the easy steps to make jam and juice and preserve them for later consumption (refrigerator and its freezer is the best invention ever!)

1. Wash and de-seed about 30-40 plums for the jam, and 30-40 plums for the juice.

2. Cut them into pieces depending on how chunky you want them. I like mine jam a little chunky, so I cut the raw pieces into sizes of about 1/2 inch cubes. For the juice I leave the pieces as-is because they'll go into a blender anyways.

3. For juice: blend in the blender, adding 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water.

4. (Optional) Add a dab of salt if prefered. When I mix something sour with sugar, I usually add a tiny dab of salt to bring out the two contrasting tastes.

5. Sample the juice, add sugar and water to taste. I like my somewhat thick, almost like a smoothie

6. Pour the juice into bottles and store in refrigerator for later consumption. You can even freeze them.

7. For the jam, I follow this recipe.

8. I also added some fresh mint leaves from my herb garden. I used ~30 leaves, coarsely chopped into size of about 1/4 of the leaves.

9. This plum jam is excellent with waffles. They make very quick and healthy breakfasts. In the morning, I usually just throw 2 pieces of waffles into the toaster while I'm getting changed for work, then come back to add butter and the plum jam, then....tahdah!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

porridge (jook) and salted egg

I always love porridge as a "cleansing" meal. I remember my Mom used to make the best porridge (jook) for me when I was sick. Sometimes, she'd add ground pork, ground shrimp and other ingredients, or sometimes just plain jook with side dishes like salted egg, dried shredded pork, or pickled radish (dua mo'n). Porridge is my comfort food, it is the equivalence of the chicken soup for me. Hot, light, non greasy, it totally cleanse up my system, works well for a healthy diet every once in a while :) hehe.
Porridge is extremely easy to make. All you need is about 1 cup of rice, or if you have left-over cooked rice, that would do too :-) Both the hubby and I have been a little bit under the weather lately, its usually dard and cool when I get home from work, so "jook" sounds like a good slurpy dinner recipe. I made a pot of just plain jook to be eaten with salted eggs (I also like to keep in stock either salted egg or dried shredded pork for rainy "jook" days like this)

Here's the simple steps to make plain porridge:

1. Wash 1 cup of rice, and drain (I add about 1/3 tsp of olive oil and mix well into the damp rice)
2. Boil a pot of water
3. Turn heat down to medium, add rice, watch and stir every so often to avoid boil over
4. (Optional) I also add some sweet corn, because I had some left over in my fridge.
5. Scoop off the foam if any
6. Add additional water as needed (depends on how thick you want your jook, I usually like my less thick and more silky, so I just add more water and cook longer)
7. (Optional) Add a dab of salt

As for the salted eggs, I've tried several brands from the Asian grocery stores, but this brand is so far my favorite. I don't really like the ones made in China, they seem overly salty. These are made in Taiwan, the eggs are not too salty, individually wrapped and that somehow gives me a warm assurance of quality. Now, as biased as it sounds, the kind I like best is still the ones my Mom makes herself (she does that once in a long while).

Recent OC wild fire

As most of you have already heard about the Diamond Bar, Anaheim Hills wild fires last weekend. We were in North OC on Saturday, and definitely could smell the smoke, not only that we could actually see pieces of ashes falling down our windshield. It was sad to see the thick layer of black smoke layer, and hearing about it on the radio at the same time.
I'm posting a couple pictures I snapped while we drove on freeway I-10 later that evening. The sunset was especially glowing red, wonder if that was because of the contrast from the dark smog layer?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vietnamese lemongrass porkchop

I usually visit my Mom and oldest sister on weekends and go grocery shopping together. They usually insist that they'll make some foods and pack it for me so that I'll have something ready to eat for the week :) My Mom and sister always worry that I don't have time to cook and eat healthy. Aren't they the cutest?

One of my favorite and most convenient is the lemongrass porkchop. I'd store the marinated meat in a container and keep it in the freezer. I'd bring it down the eveing before, and the next day after coming home from work it's already defrosted and ready to be cooked. This can be grilled or panfried, though I love to grill for a couple reason: 1) no frying oil 2) quick and easy, we all own some type of grill right? (I remember my first George Foreman grill, I still miss it). Then all I need is to cook some rice, and perhaps some quick steamed vegetables.

Ingredients and Instructions:
- 6 slices of porkchops - washed and drained
- 5-6 tbsp of ground lemongrass (we buy the already-ground lemongrass from asian grocery store)
- 1 tbsp of ground chili garlic sauce
- 2/3 tbsp of salt (sprinkled 1/3 tbsp on one side of the porkchops, then flip and sprinkle 1/3 tbsp salt on the other side)
- Rub all ingredients well onto the pork chops.
You can let it marinate for at least 1/2 to 1 hour before grill. I usually let it sit overnight, or as mentioned above, leave it in the freezer and defrost prior to cooking.