Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Alphabe-Thursday: letter T: Tong Gui and my mum.

Tong Gui  Angelica acutiloba
Gee Zai , Goji aka Wolfberry (above), garlic (below)

Chinese red dates (dried)


and a young virgin chicken. LOL


When I arrived back to New Zealand, in 2006, my daughter treated me as a mum-daughter thing to watch a musical,"Menopause". I laughed as I was pre-menopausal and was dreading the big day.

One of the things they were singing about was TONG GUAI, and she didn't understand what it was. I explained to her. The audience were mainly women with a few brave men.

TONG GUAI is known as a women's herb. It is used as a helpful regulator of one's menses and also keeps a women young looking and also, eases a women in her transition to menopause.

This is no laughing matter, though my girls friends and I laugh about it. My mum told me, from the age of forty, I should brew this concoction with chicken every month after my menses .

What's the verdict? I breezed through my menopause without any debilitating hot flushes, weight gain, mood swings or any of the nasties associated with it. It arrived and it went even before I realised it. I wonder if the TONG GUAI was responsible for that.

And as the proof is in the eating. I went to a students' reunion, some thought I was one of the students, and another even made the remark that the teacher was younger than the students. LOL.

***These are the raw ingredients, the TONG GUAI is chalky colour, and the Chinese Medical hall proprietor will roast it, and shave it to thin slivers.

It is also called Angelica acutiloba dang-gui in Chinese/Mandarin. A highly regarded herb used for female hormonal balance, blood purification, migraines & much more.

In New Zealand, they sell it in clumps. I try to grate it into powder as it is very hard to shave it. You can buy them in a fluid form or tablet in a health food store.

The bigger red things are dried red dates, the little ones are Gow TZE, they are very good for you. The other two is ginger and garlic. Some times I also add some shitaki mushroom. In the old days, the best chicken is a virgin rooster or a hen before it lays eggs.  We joked about this. How do you know? ***

Here's my parents Mr and Mrs John Chan Hiu Fei. My niece Jane says, "My stylo Milo "Grandma. Thanks to the little lump of Tong Kuai aka Guai aka Dang Gui aka  Angelica acutiloba. Mum used to be the Vice President of the Women's Institute of the 6th division chapter. She held cooking demos and was a cooking judge, so she knew what she was talking about.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Japanese rose/Portulaca grandiflora hybrids

In August 2008, I did this post and it attracted 828 hits.

I liked the Japanese Rose, it is nothing like a rose that you are familiar with. In USA, it is called a moss rose. It is a succulent or a bush.

Portulaca grandiflora hybrids grown in Singapore Malaysia.

The common varieties in Malaysia are many-petaled (doubled) hybrids which comes in different colours: white, red, pink, orange and a white-pink combination.

There is also a single layer petal, and the leaves are broader.

Japanese Rose makes a nice ground cover, borders and beds in the sun. It also makes a good hanging basket plants. My paternal Grandfather grew many kinds of flowers in the garden of his big bungalow. The Japanese Rose has reddish stems. It grows like a grass carpet with green single thick pine needle like leaves. He grew them as borders for the opulent look, the one inch rosette-like flowers are beautiful and can be cut for a little vase. Grandfather’s footpath to the house is very long, and on both sides of the footpath are lined with the beautiful flowers.

The Japanese Rose blooms only in the morning under strong sun. In the afternoon, the rosette closes up into buds but they still look very beautiful.

In NTU, there is a ruling that residents can grow only in pots and not directly in the ground except at the gardening club allotment. I grow my Japanese Rose in pots. I have a whole border of red, pink orange and white Japanese Rose leading to my house. If you drive out from the North Spine car park, there is a nice border and patch of beautiful Japanese. Slow down and appreciate and smell the flowers.

I teach my Samoan student after she told me that her Grandma's name is Rose, she laughed and laughed. My other kids laugh that I am singing them a Chinese song. Then I realise that it is an Asian version. This song is about the Rose of Malaya, I guess it is about this rose, and not the rose that one that is more known in the Western world.

(Wilfrid Thomas / Chris Langdon)
(Based on the traditional Chinese Folk Song,
"Meigui Meigui Wo Ai Ni" - Music: Chen Gexin)

Frankie Laine - 1951
Buddy Morrow & His Orch. - 1951
Gordon Jenkins & His Orch. (vocal: Cisco Houston) - 1951
Petula Clark - 1951

Also recorded by: Miss Hue Lee (Yáo Lì) (original song - 1940);
The Quests; Anita Mui; Frank Chacksfield & His Orch.

Rose, Rose I love you with an aching heart
What is your future?, now we have to part
Standing on the jetty as the steamer moves away
Flower of Malaya, I cannot stay

Make way, oh, make way for my Eastern Rose
Men crowd in dozens everywhere she goes
In her rickshaw on the street or in a cabaret
"Please make way for Rose" you can hear them say

All my life I shall remember
Oriental music and you in my arms
Perfumed flowers in your tresses
Lotus-scented breezes and swaying palms

Rose, Rose I love you with your almond eyes
Fragrant and slender 'neath tropical skies
I must cross the seas again and never see you more
'way back to my home on a distant shore

(All my life I shall remember)
(Oriental music and you in my arms)
(Perfumed flowers in your tresses)
(Lotus-scented breezes and swaying palms)

Rose, Rose I leave you, my ship is in the bay
Kiss me farewell now, there's nothin' to say
East is East and West is West, our worlds are far apart
I must leave you now but I leave my heart

Rose, Rose I love you with an aching heart
What is your future?, now we have to part
Standing on the jetty as the steamer moves away
Flower of Malaya, I cannot stay

(Rose, Rose I love you, I cannot stay)



Ngopi, a not for profit Cafe.



Not-for-profit cafe Ngopi in Anzac Ave. Picture / Babiche Martens.

 Friends were talking this cafe, and one of them frequents it a lot as it is near to the university where he works.

Where to go: Ngopi, Auckland Central

Not-for-profit cafe Ngopi in Anzac Ave. Picture / Babiche Martens.
Ngopi is truly a social business, in more ways than one. This central city cafe provides a meeting place for everyone from the lawyers and judges of the courts nearby to hungry university students and anyone else who's discovered this haven for morning coffee or sensational Malaysian food.
The big difference is that this eatery is a not-for-profit enterprise staffed by volunteers and any profits generated are redistributed to the two charities Ngopi supports: A21 Campaign, a movement to prevent human trafficking and help recover the victims of it, and Habitat for Humanity, which assists in reducing homelessness.
The eclectic fit-out is the result of extensive online scouring to pick up retro fittings and furniture as well as the design and building skills of Summit Renovations' Joe Moncur, who supports Ngopi wherever he can. He built their cabinet and counter because it's his favourite place to go for lunch.
Not only is the food at Ngopi fabulous - bowls and plates of laksa and char koay teow are easily as good as any you'd get in Malaysia - but you can feel good knowing that, through your coffee and lunch spend, you're supporting a good cause.
Now that's what we call community spirit.

• Ngopi, 79 Anzac Ave, Auckland Central, ph (09) 303 4172. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-3pm.

Grow Tall soup, the peanut root.

When we arrived in 1990 in Nanyang Technological University, there were lots of greenery, and we stayed in the only Staff Residence. Soon, they were digging up and building and building.

Some of us gardening enthusiasts requested the university for a plot of land. At first the plants grew but later, the rain washed away the top soil, and plants didn't grow. I was the NTU gardening club secretary and persisted because if I didn't, the university will convert it back to lawn.

The only plant that grew well was peanuts.  This was when I learn of the story of the FA SAN SAN aka the peanut root, The grow tall soup.

A non member asked me if I kept the roots of the peanuts. I told her another member grew it. I went to ask her, and was told this Grow Tall Soup was the very reason she grew the peanuts. She grew it and brewed the soup for her son.

The friend also asked if I brewed the FA SAN GAN for my girls. My girls are 5 ft 10 and 5 ft 9. I LOL, if I did, my girls would become giants. Their dad is almost 6 ft.

I did buy her some when i went to my home town, Sibu.

Though I didn't know about this, my sis-in-law told me this was a West Malaysian belief. They even have a ditty which she heard her students sing about a short teacher.

Ai Zai,
Ai Zai,
Ne Ah Ma Mo bai Ne Said Fan San Gan.

Your mum didn't brew you peanut roots.

Five years from when I left NTU, the plot is back to nature plot. My legacy of ferns, bananas and peace lilies remain an eye sore of neglect to some, but a gem to me when I went to visit last year.

Tongkat Ali

This is Tongkat Ali, literally translated as the walking cane of Ali.

Other Names: Eurycoma longifolia, Longjack

Tongkat Ali is a tree native to Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. The part of the tree used medicinally is the root.

Why Do People Use Tongkat Ali?

Tongkat Ali was dubbed the "Asian Viagra" in a May 1999 report in the New Sunday Times.

It has been used in Malaysia for many years by men to increase sexual desire, libido, sexual performance and to treat erectile dysfunction.

Tongkat ali appears to work by increasing levels of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is primarily responsible for the growth and development of male reproductive organs.

Because of its testosterone-enhancing properties, tongkat ali is also used by bodybuilders to increase muscle mass and strength. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/tongkat_ali.htm

The owner of this root herb however tells me otherwise. It is a misconception that Tongkat Ali is an aphrodisiac. His native doctor tells him that it is a cleansing herb. Once your body is cleansed, you will be healthy all round. This is the root of a very big tree found in the deep jungles of Borneo. It is valued more than 5 million dollars. Even then, he would not part with it. Usually people get only a small tree.

***After thought*** The root as a whole would be more than MR10,000. If it is grounded into powder and sold as a Tongkat Ali "coffee" in an organic herbal bar, you could get $5 million. At any rate, it is not for sale.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Edible weed:amaranth at Mt Albert Pri school



In my Mum's garden, after she weeded the plot, after a few days , these weeds will sprout and she would cook it. Mum called them Horse shit spinach aka MA SEE HIN.

I cooked some and my kids wondered why I am cooking weeds.They pestered me to tell them the name of this vege.  Amaranth leaves are loaded with nutrition. Mum says it is packed with iron.

When ever I see this weed, I think of the last time I gardened with Mum in Australia.

Now, the seeds are used as a grain. Compared to other grains amaranth seeds (below) have a much higher content of the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron and the amino acid lysine. Amaranth seeds are also high in potassium, zinc, Vitamin B and E and protein.amaranth seed Amaranth leaves are loaded with nutrition.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Love where you live

I was very impressed with this family who brought their young boys to help in the charity help in transforming a local school.

I had on two occasion worked with the young family.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mignonette vine (also known as madeira vine)

I got the cushy job of taking photos during Mt Albert Baptist Church love where you live project. I volunteered to take photos and learned a lot of things including this obnoxious plant Mignonette vine (also known as madeira vine) .each of this nodule will grow into a vine, and smother other plants.

madeira vine  I

http://www.milkwood.net/2014/07/25/madeira-vine-an-ironic-harvest/  the author says the leaves and the bulbs are edible.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mum and the pasta machine

Pasta Machine Noodle Maker


30 yrs ago, when you couldn't get noodles dry or fresh in New Zealand  and Australia.

My mum in Oz had a noodle maker. It is still in use in cooking shows. 

My mum asked me to buy one. But I was Miss Lazybone, and I said, no thank you. Now I regret the hasty decision. Mum died shortly after I left her to return to New Zealand.

Every time I see the machine on TV, I think of my late mum, the last thing we did was roll Peking Duck pastry for Christmas lunch.

Saturday, March 14, 2015




  4th February 2015

16 March 2015

I experimented with my Terrarium


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cai Xin, Chinese green

a chinese green vegetables with lovely yellow flowers. Flowers are used for food decoration. Greens are eaten. I left mine to flower.

an unidentified fruit/ fruit of a calabash tree, Crescentia cujete, Bignoniaceae)

My big brother in law was very good to me when I told him I was taking photos for my blog. He took me on a reconnaissance on his little motor bike round his little town. I haven't been on a motor bike since my last year of high school, and with my camera in one hand, it wasn't a very good ride as it was very hot and humid and most of the road was not paved with asphalt. Never the less, we took some very good photos.

We went past this house where there was a fruit he wanted to show me. We saw another fruit that we didn't know, and I was more curious with the fence.

It was the size of a pomelo, and splitting opened showed it was a solid fruit like a dragon fruit, with no seqments.

Thanks to my facebook friend Jit Sin, I got an id for this.
Jit Sin It is used in organic gardening as a pest repellent. The flesh is fermented in a 1:1 ratio of brown sugar for a week or longer and the resulting liquid mixed at a 1 to 2:1000 ratio and sprayed on plants.

fruit of a calabash tree,  Crescentia cujete, Bignoniaceae) https://dokmaidogma.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/a-green-orb-but-not-a-pomelo/ 

Pokok Labu Kayu

Monday, March 9, 2015

red: Circus comic duo "Arlekino"

Viktoriia and Sergei came to Mt Albert Baptist Church ESOL class. 

They are clowns and continue the traditions of the world famous Soviet (Russia) where they worked for many years, after graduating from the Moscow Circus.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dischidia plants




Dischidia plants - Epiphytica.com

Dischidia is a genus of plants which very close genetic relationship with "Hoya plant", they are in the Milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae. Dischidia comprises ...

This is not my photo. When my immediate neighbour left Singapore, she left a plant outside her door. I took it and grew it, splitting into 2 plants. My neighbour Parimala came to visit me. She said she gave the plant to my nieghbour.

I gave one to her. I can't find my own photo so I borrowed this two . Now in my staff bathroom, there are two plastic plants. Reminds me of when I was in Singapore.

Friday, March 6, 2015

flower: hibiscus


Habanero and Fijian Chilli paste

My friend Maureen preciously from Fiji gave me this very very spicy tomato paste her mum made. It is amazing how after 100 years away from China, where my ancestors hardly ate any Chilli, 4 generations later, I can't eat my food without any chilli.

Once, a friend went to mexico and came back with some Habanero chillis, and he gave me one to try and plant. My friends and I had fun trying it.
Few days ago, I watch a UK TV, where the diners took and ate chillis. Silly people.

Habanero  is really a fiendish chilli. Beer or bread necessary to take down the burn!

Occasionally you can get them in upmarket supermarkets in Singapore, like Cold Storage Gourmet or the spiffy new Jelita Cold Storage. Jason's too. I must say that I don't make much use of them; I prefer milder chillis like the guero, the ancho and the poblano.

Was the hottest chilli when I grew it 15 years ago. But lost its crown.