Friday, April 25, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Korean Seafood Pancake

I love Korean food. I love the mesh of sour and spiciness. When a person mentions Korean food, most would think of Bibimbap or Kim Chi soup. For Dumpling and I, it's Korean pancake and bulgogi (for her) spicy beef soup (for me!)

The seafood pancake is one item that we would always order when dining at any Korean restaurant. So I decided to try and cook on our own. Here's our attempt ;)

:: The gathering list

As our version is seafood pancake so basically it can be any seafood items which you like:

1) Scallops (chopped into bits)
2) Shrimps (chopped into bits)
3) Spring Onions (I chopped mine into about 1.5 - 2" long)
4) Korean Pancake mix (Check the instructions on the packaging - for mine it was to mix 500gm with 800 ml of water. I halved that for one pancake. If you are using a pancake mix, no egg is required.)
4) Cooking Oil (I used about 3 table spoons, If if is not enough, you can add more along the way)

Optional: I sometimes add in crabsticks (kani) and if the kiddo is not eating, slivers of sliced red chili (seeds removed)

Dipping Sauce 
1) Vinegar
2) Light Soy Sauce
3) Water
(Mix equal parts of the above - i.e 1/3 of each)
Optional: chopped garlic added to the dip (Dumpling is not into garlic so we pretty much leave this out)

:: Hot Tips

I decided to add a photo of "what not to do" as above. LOL. This was one of my earlier attempts where I made 3 rookie mistakes. 

1) I did not use a FLAT pan (which resulted in a nightmare of attempting to flip the pancake over without the bits of seafood falling out)

2) I added WAY TOO MUCH of the ingredients where the flour mix could not bind the seafood as it was too 'thick'

3) The ingredients were cut a tad too big and took forever to cook.

:: The cookout
1) Add a generous amount of oil into your pan. As I am terrible with flipping the pancake over, I used the HappyCall Pan instead. So, what I did was also to spread a bit of oil on the top 'lid' too.

2) Pour in enough pancake mix where it covers the entire base with a bit of 'batter' to spare and then add in your seafood and spring onions. Sprinkle them evenly.

3) Press down the seafood into the batter and wait till the bottom is browned. The trick is to cook initially on "high fire". This process takes quite long for me - to press and hold and yet wait for the seafood to cook. So please cut your seafood into smaller bits and add sparingly. I know of some people who will toss the seafood separately prior and you can do that too - it helps to shorten the cooking time.

4) When the bottom is browned and the seafood is cooked, add another thin layer of the pancake mix over the seafood and then close your HappyCall Pan 'lid' and flip the pancake over. Open up the lid and press down the pancake.

5) Prepare the dip. Cut pancake into sections and serve hot. :)

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - Earth Day Special: Chinese Picture Books

In view of the upcoming Earth Day, Dumpling and I have been reading titles on 'nature' and on protecting the environment. Amongst some enjoyable ones: one title from the 巴巴爸爸 series, Berenstain bears and 如果地球被我们吃掉了which I have previously blogged about in a giveaway here.

Here are 3 more titles which we have also enjoyed:

:: 我的环保行动书: 垃圾放哪里

This is part of a 我的成长故事图画书 - 我的环保行动书 series which I recently bought and which I am starting to really like. This series has about 30 odd titles in all and is segmented into various larger topical groups with about 4 books under each topic. 

The entire series is suitable for younger children with its cute illustrations and simple explanations. 

In this title, it serves to explore and introduce the concept of recycling and taking care of our environment through the eyes of a boy who lives next to his teacher. 
The sentences are kept short and simple and the story is done in an interactive manner through the speech bubbles by the students and teachers. 

:: Charlie and Lola 查理与劳拉系列
Translated from an English title, everyone's favorite pair of siblings takes us on an educational "tour" on being ecologically friendly through Lola's imagination and experience! Lola comes to understand the importance of looking after our planet through recycling and leads her school to take part in a contest where they win and plant a real tree in recognition of their effort. Lola's 'never-say-die' spirit and perseverance shine through in this lovely story.

I bought this as a 15-book set. Here's the link to view on dangdang. 

:: 树真好
This last story is not a story on recycling but a gentle poetic story translated based on the English title "Tree is Nice" by Janice May Udry . The title is not based on any storyline but on how and why a tree is nice but with examples on what you can do with a tree and on a tree. Its simple approach brings about much beauty and how this unsung hero is able to do so much (and in turn let us do so much) in an understated manner. What's also lovely is its lovely illustrations which won it a Caldecott medal. 

This is one title to be enjoyed on a quiet morning where you can spend time looking through its illustrations and be reminded of the simple joy and beauty a tree brings us. 

"This is one of those books which prick a child into a realization of the beauty of the everyday world." - New York Times

This post is the second post of an Earth Day series. Part 1 shares how we recycled old envelops, newspapers and postcards to make a Corner Page Bookmark. Click on the photo to head to the post :)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day Ideas - Page Corners Bookmarks!

In this household, whenever Dumpling tells me that she is bored, I'd ask her to challenge herself by creating things. There are days where she will cut up papers, staple and stick them together to make something new and there are days that I will suggest an activity. It was such a day on Good Friday as the little one has been homebound because she has been fighting a cold. I decided to let her work solely with existing materials we have at home and repurpose them for something useful in 'honour' of Earth Day.

(A typical usual crafting scene)

The idea started when Dumpling asked me what Earth Day is, when we were at the library and she saw a display of suggested titles, etc. In case you are not aware, Earth Day is an annual event on 22 April, where events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection (source).

That question triggered started a series of small pockets of activities to keep ourselves occupied  (truthfully, and me from yelling at her too) for the past days where we have been home bound. 

We made these.

Here's a close up :)

I first saw these page corner bookmarks here and I fell in love with them. Practical and cute, these are definitely useful for us because Dumpling is going into chapter books and she finds it hard to track which page she has left off at. We have bookmarks but those are hard to come by these days and I thought why not make them ourselves especially when we can easily make them out of 'old materials'. 

To start off, I did a demo where I snipped off the corner of a red packet and then pasted the cutout of a flower on the top corner. It looked like this (bottom photo).

I then showed her the web page where I saw those book corners and she really liked the monster series so away we crafted. :)

To start off, you will need these:

:: The gathering list
1) Old envelops (since we are on a recycling mission here)
2) Any old stock card items - post cards, inserts in magazines, flyers, etc. (These are lovely as the backing for the eyes or the teeth)
3) Newspapers / Hong Pau 
4) Scissors 
6) Glue 
7) Marker
8) Optional: Masking / Washi Tapes 
(I happened to receive some from Scotch Expressions Tapes from 3M and put them to good use here! I have to say that I am pretty impressed as they were easy to use, pretty and definitely easy to 'remove where it did not rip off the piece of paper it was stuck to)

:: Steps
1) Snip off the corner of any old envelops
2) I then added the sharp jagged teeth for Dumpling to cut them out

Now, for the above versions, there is no protruding backing piece like the pieces here:

3) If you prefer such an option, you will need to fold down the envelop corner and cut it out where it forms a square when "opened". Thereafter, fold one side up and cut it off. Because Dumpling was actively involved in this project, after folding up the triangle, I 'puffed' the piece up where she can start cutting by  following and cutting up the line at the edge before cutting across. 

4) Therafter, Dumpling stuck some washi tape on the remaining top triangular piece

5) She then pasted a row of teeth (made earlier by her by using the remaining bits from the earlier hong pau) to the underside and then added on the eye pieces (made from hong pau and newspapers)

6) Color in the eyes and voila! We are done!

She wanted to make more and came up with these with more of our Washi Tape:

And we even decided to stretch it a tad further by NOT making a monster but a jellyfish page corner bookmark! And we had to do was to stick on a strip of air bubble sheet and cut out some strips as the tentacles! 

Aren't these  page corner bookmarks the cutest??? These would also make lovely gift ideas too.

In honour of the upcoming Earth Day, stay tuned for the next post on some recommended stories which I have read with Dumpling on 'nature' and being environmentally responsible :)

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

Disclosure: I received a few rolls of Scotch Expressions Tapes from 3M where I found them useful for our recycling project here and hence, the sharing. This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Parenting with love - sometimes "damages" can be permanent... the un-repairable scratch

One of the key reasons why I blog is to capture all those golden moments which I am sharing with Dumpling. It didn't occur to me at all that some readers may interpret differently where it seems that I "have it all" or am in control of everything.

That's not what this blog is about. I would like to be as truthful as I can but I think it is in all of us to capture those really good moments so that we have beautiful memories to look back at.

I don't have it all and it is certainly not easy being a FTWM and a homeschooling one too. There are many moments where I struggle, get too hung up on 'results' and that I face a roadblock be it working on Dumpling's mannerisms or we hit a plateau during homeschool. I too get tired, cranky and lose focus once in a while. Why I stuck with what I do will be another post altogether and I will get to that post very soon. But for this post, I like to share something heartfelt and something not that easy to write.

In the homelearning group that I moderate and in my day to day dealings with parents of preschoolers (I am in the EC industry), it is very apparent that no matter what the "garmen" says, the primary school system is indeed punishing. I recently saw a Ting Xie list (Chinese spelling of perhaps 40 short 'everyday' phrases of 4 words each) for a 9YO Ting Xie test and I had to just naively ask if it is a term's work (of which the answer is no.).

It is no wonder that all these bring out the worst in many of us, yours truly included. But interestingly, it is in these moments that I learn and 'grow' through praying for grace. See the scratch below? This scratch will always be a permanent reminder for me to focus on only the important stuff.

This scratch happened only when the violin was less than a month old when Dumpling upgraded to a larger violin. I was cranky after a long day at work, dealing with well 'difficult' parents and in Dumpling's violin notebook, the teacher had a note on getting her to practise scales, some techniques and also to monitor some other technical setups. She tried a few times and I was 'trying' too. I had to correct her over and over again when she 'zoned out' and after failing to get her to pay attention, I snapped. I basically told her it was her choice of instrument and if she wants to learn, then learn it properly. If she is not gonna be 'serious' about it (yes, I used that word on a 5YO), we might as well stop. YUP, I SAID THOSE AWFUL WORDS.

That didn't go down too well with her as she was very upset and we had a tug of war - me pulling the violin from her and she, pulling it back because she said she wanted to try again. And that's how we ended with that battle scar. The violin costs about half a G by the way and I was devastated to see this ugly, 'in-your-face-inch-long' scratch especially when it was so new.

To say that I went ballistic was an understatement.

After some time where we both took a break, Dumpling came to me to say "Mama, I am sorry. I am sorry that we quarreled and I am sorry that we scratched the violin. But thank goodness, it was only a scratch."

At that moment, I was so ashamed of myself. My 5YO kiddo had no qualms coming to me to apologise and was so gracious as to even try her best to comfort me. I was deeply humbled and yes, thank goodness it was only a scratch on the violin where it is easily replaceable. What if these quarrels had cost a permanent scar in our relationship? Moments like these teach me grace and lead me to breathe deeply and think about what prompted me to take on coaching her on all these activities on my own. It is LOVE. I wanted her to encourage her love for knowledge, to nurture that love for questioning and to also continue to love music yet I was doing it so wrong that night.

I once read - if someone were to gift you with a present, would you have thrown it or break it? Not likely. Yet, so often, we end up being so short and so harsh with our "gifts" from God. Isn't that a great irony?

If we would not break these earthly presents, why would we break the bond, trust, love and respect between our child(ren) and us, especially the gift that God has bestowed us with? Let this be a gentle reminder to us all not to lose sight but focus on the most important thing - LOVE. Have a blessed week ahead.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Through her eyes #10 - Ring a Ling

How many of you remember this? :)

As a kid, a treat for me in school will be these triangular packets of Magnolia milk. These days, if I wanted an ice cream, 'branded' ones would come to my mind immediately - Ben and Jerry's, Cold Stone Creamery, 

Häagen-Dazs, etc. 

What I took for granted is a rare treat for the kiddo! She'd listen out to the familiar "Ring-a-ling" and rush down with me in toll, excited about her treat? This small humble van is what kids' cold dessert dreams are made up of! 

Do you prefer a cone or wafer? Or if you are adventurous enough, why not try it with "roti"? What about flavours? Choices are a plenty - vanila, chocolate chips, blue berry, mango, raspberry ripple (my personal favourite!) or the local delights - coconut, red bean, sweet corn? 

I thoroughly enjoy my weekly moments with the kiddos as we dash down to the carpark where this magic van awaits us. :) What are your favorite flavours / concoction?

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

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