Crochet UFO Invaders!

In Knitting or Crochet linggo, UFO refers to unfinished object.  Most corners of my room hide a UFO or group of them.  Hiding in traveling cases, shopping bags, plastic boxes etcetera.  They come in different shape: rectangle, circle, hexagon and also in different colors.   It’s time to get rid of them one by one and the only way to get rid of them is to develop the guts to finish them off completely or unravel them to make a different project.  It’s almost putting oneself on a mission to kill malevolent invaders whom you encounter sporadically in an unexpected moment, such as when you are cleaning the house or you are looking for certain items.  I’m sure some of my craft peers have encountered this kind of problem and if you have not,  I very much admire you and send you my sincere CONGRATULATIONS!

I’m on a mission to finish this round UFO that had been hiding in my closet for almost 10 years!  It is a yarn version of a thread doily.  My primary purpose was to make this as a round table cloth.C821F7E2-72D0-434F-9265-53B55FD52BD8.jpegIt will take a few more patience, will power and few weeks to bring it to completion.

Wishing myself Good Luck!

Pork Stuffed Bitter Melon

4EB25496-BF0B-4E78-9BD2-48BCECEF3385.jpeg

I remember a vietnamese friend of mine who made a pork stuffed Bitter Melon Soup.  I love the taste of that soup so I have the craving to make some, specially that my Bitter Melon plant had produced enough fruits due for harvesting.

Warning:   If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, or breast feeding, please, please don’t consume this fruit.  For those who have never eaten this fruit before, just be cautious and or totally avoid it. Negative reaction upon ingestion had been cited in some articles that I read here in the U.S.

The fruits and leaves of Bitter Melon are commonly eaten in most Asian countries.  It is shuned or feared in the U.S. due to inconclusive research done by a lot of pharmaceutical companies.  The possible inconclusive benefits such as anticancer, antidiabetic, antiparasitic effect etc. are overshadowed by the plant’s abortifacient and other teratogenic effects.  It is ironic that countries whose populations eat the fruit or other part of the plants  produce more children.

Ingredients I used

Meat Stuffing

1/4 tsp basil

1/4tsp parsley

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic – minced

!/4 cup onion – diced fine.

1 oz rice Vermicilli – soaked for 10 minutes then cut in 2 to 3-inch long strands.

1/8 tsp salt or more if more fluid is added.

1 oz black olive – sliced and drained

1 egg

1/4 lb ground pork or chicken

1 large bitter melon or 2 to 3 small ones.

 

Soup

2 cups water

1 cup chicken broth or chicken bone broth

Green onions – chopped.

Preparation

Slit Bitter Melon lengthwise without cutting the middle part of the other side of the melon.  Cut a 1 inch slit at both ends of the other side just enough to pry open the melon. Remove the pulp and seeds with the use of teaspoon or its end.  Set aside.  Beat the egg until eggwhite and eggyolk are well blended.  Set aside.  On a medium size

Place the meat in small mixing bowl and sprinkle it with one of the spices.  Using your hand, mix the spice into the meat thoroughly.   Repeat the same process for each remaining seasoning or spice until all of them are used.

Add the drained Vermicille noodle, black olive, salt  and egg to the mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Stuff the mixture inside the Bitter Melon.  Do not pack the stuffing mixture too full inside the bitter melon as the rice vermiccilli will expand.  Use a cooking cotton cord to tie and close the bittermelon shut at both ends and middle.

If there is extra stuffing, shape them into balls and add to the soup

Making The Soup

Place the stuffed Bitter Melon in a  kettle big enough to accomodate all ingedients.  Add the  2 cups water and the 1 cup chicken broth.  Place the Kettle on stove top and turn heat on high setting.  Cover the kettle until liquid start to boil.  Let lid vent so fluid will not overflow.  Cook until bitter melon and meat are done about 45 mins.

When meat and Bitter Melon are well done, add the green onions and turn off the heat.  Cover completely for 10 mins to cook the green onions.  If a big Bitter Melon is used in the recipe, cut it across in 3 to 4 serving portions.  Serve warm.

The soup is good for 3 to 4 people.

 

 

Gardening In The City – II

D65AB5F9-31B9-4908-B064-1944D0E147EDThe photo above shows the young Butternut Squash fruit.  The flower petal had dried off and ready fo fall off the fruit.

Vegetable Container Gardening is fun and the fact that most vegetables adapt well in unusual environment makes this type of gardening a pleasant and healthy hobby; in addition to the joy of watching plants grow, you get to harvest, cook and enjoy the flavor of whatever vegetable you planted.

I have never grown this type of Squash before.  I was extremely pleased that it can bear fruits even if it’s grown in a pot!  The leaves are huge — the size of a big dinner plate, I’m sure the reason for this is because the pot it is planted on is on a semi shaded area, which  get direct sunlight only in the afternoon.  Plants are so adaptable, which is wonderful!  The seeds came from the grocery bought Butternut Squash which I have washed/cleaned  and dried the previous year.

This type of squash bears male and female flowers in the same plant so that one does not have to worry about planting two each planting season.  Ideally, this Squash needs a lot of space so that it’s many vines can scramble all over the place.  In my limited garden area, I let it climb on trellis or fence.  It does invade all available spaces if left alone, so if you have plants that you don’t want to be shaded from sunlight by the squash’s  huge leaves, make sure to guide the squash vines away from them.

F706398A-C792-4EC5-9DD3-1E067BB787C5

The Photo above shows a very young fruit with the flower still blooming.

 

Look at that glorious yellow color!!!  58A3914E-C3E6-498E-8869-EFD91894F8B7.jpeg

 

10B6E8E4-FA0F-4B0D-B4E4-982470992ECD.jpeg

The photo above shows two maturing fruits and one on left, I harvested.  Note the difference in color.  The mature one has orange tint coloring while the two young fruits are light green in color.

 

Gardening In The City – I

It is good to know that even if we live in a condo facility I can still garden.  However most of my plants are in containers.  The Condo facility where we live allow an individual homeowner to garden in a limited space behind the home, as long as it’s taken care of by the homeowner.   Home owners are also allowed to use flower pots placed in entry way only so that it does not get in the way of maintaining/landscaping the front yard.  Below are photos of my garden this year.

16635E31-6371-4512-A16E-E4B765E1F7A8

The plant climbing on a trellis is a Bittermelon (Ampalaya, in Tagalog; Amargoso, in Bicol dialect).  As the name implies, the fruit is bitter but it has lots of medicinal value such as to fight or prevent diabetes and cancer.  The leaves are lacy and beautiful.  It is easy to control and train to stay only in areas where you want the vine to stay.  You simply guide the plant towards the area where you want it to cling.  If it clings to forbidden area, just pinch the tendril or clinger and move the vine away.  It will cling to anything on its path but the good thing is that it is easy to redirect the errant branch.

BACBFBC6-A964-40AA-A231-DEB83DD37268

The Bittermelon bears both male and female flowers in the same plant.  Above photo shows the front view of male yellow flower.  It has yellow orange anther which holds the pollens.

B4275256-E1E7-406D-9193-2F49F63F8428

The above photo shows the side view of the male flower.  It does not have a fruit nodule at the base of the flower as compared to the female flower.

923B71F0-BF80-425C-9119-5BF10C91631B

The above photo shows the female flower which has closed, I assume, after having been pollinated and ready to develop the fruit at its base.

F17D4A7F-7B22-4927-BE96-30B6295BCC07

The above photo shows the immature fruit.

109E78C9-0C27-4D30-844C-E666B2A7BB07

The above photo shows the mature fruit.

It is good to note that there are several varieties of this plant that bears fruit in varying sizes depending on the variety.  The above plant bears a medium size fruit ranging from 4-inch to 6-inch in length.  The size is also affected by how rich the soil that the plant is planted in.

My favorite seed source for Asian Vegetable seeds: Kitazawa Seeds Company

Pineapple Tunic

70BC2781-FFA6-4A40-AB24-A7044253B8BE

My most recent crocheted work.  I love working this pineapple design.  I used Crochet Cotton Thread from This site

The thread is very nice to work with.  I used crochet hook size 3.75mm.  This specific thread can be searched at Mary Maxim by typing on the search box “1 lb cotton thread” and clicking on the photo of the 1 lb cotton thread to see more color options.    I ordered 2 more 1 lb cones to finish the pineapple design on the sleeves.  I will crochet a skirt to match the tunic.

Transient Beauties

44479CC4-9A66-40D1-86A8-4F57F6996C8FSo Beautiful and so fragile… only last a day or two; each bright bloom reminds me of a passing day, a fleeting moment under the bright sunny sky.  How can I have a bitter and unforgiving heart and at the same time admire these beauties before my eyes?   I will forgive, I will be generous just like these flowers which put forth everything it has to give.  I will Give and forgive and therefore be happy for this is the season of my life!

Advance Happy Mother’s Day to all MOTHERS!

Ambidextrouse Crochet

What does Ambidextrouse crochet mean?  The technique of using both right hand and left hand in making crocheted work.  Right handed crocheters hold the hook on the right hand and make the crochet stitches from right to left; at the end of a row, the work is turned and the crocheter makes the next row from right to left again.  Crochet stitches have a right side and a wrong side.  The right side or visually smooth side of a crochet stitch is the one made facing the crocheter and the wrong side or bumpy side of crochet stitch is the one facing away from the crocheter.   By using right hand only to manage the crochet hook, the crochet rows are made up of alternating right side and wrong side of stitches.

The result of the crocheted work done by left handed crocheters is the same as that of the right handed crocheter.   Left handed crocheters hold the hook with the left hand and make crochet stitches from left to right.   But what if one desires crocheted work where the stitches are all facing in the same direction so that the work has a definite right side and wrong side?  This is where the advantage of being an ambidextrouse crocheter comes in.

To be an ambidextrouse crocheter is to be able to crochet using left hand and right hand technique.  This means that if one is a naturally right handed individual, he/she will have to learn to crochet left handed and vice versa for naturally left handed person.

I am in my 2nd month on teaching my left hand how to crochet.  My right hand is functioning at an expert level while my left hand is functioning on beginning level.  What motivated me to learn to crochet left-handed is the desire to teach my left-handed crochet students easily and more efficiently.  By becoming a beginner on left-handed crochet technique,  I can empathize more on their difficulty in learning a new craft.  It takes time and patience, to train the muscles of one’s hands and fingers to work together.  I am learning that my left hand cannot really duplicate or mirror everything that my right hand does, for example, my right hand holds the crochet hook “pencil grip” style while my left hand holds the crochet hook “claw”/”cup hold” style.  To try to teach my left hand to  hold the crochet hook like my right hand does is next to impossible.  To do so is very uncomfortable and creates muscle strain on my wrist.  So in Crochet there is no right way or wrong way to hold the crochet hook.  Hold it in a way that works for each individual crocheter without creating discomfort on fingers or wrists.

 

Pan De Sal And Memories Of The Philippines

IMG_5377

Pan De Sal is part of traditional Filipino Breakfast.  It is usually eaten in the early part of the morning with coffee or very dark hot chocolate drink.  Most Filipinos dunk their Pan de sal bread  in coffee or hot chocolate drink before biting a mouthful.  I still catch myself doing either.   Pan de sal may be consumed for breakfast with coffee alone or other breakfast food such as fried rice, scrambled eggs, fried vinegar cured baby milkfish and fresh fruits.

It is best to eat Pan de sal bread in very early morning around 4 am. to 5 am. because it is still fresh and warm and just taken out of the oven of local bakers.  I used to get up very early in the morning to buy this bread from the little kid peddling this bread at dawn to town folks.  In my mind, I can still hear the little boy crying in a loud tenor voice,  T- – -I- – -N- – -A- – -P- – -A- – -Y!!!  Tinapay is a Tagalog or Pilipino word for bread.

I am sad to learn that this type of peddling is no longer practiced in the Philippines.  I’m not sure if it is now considered an illegal activity.  I have learned from friends when I visited the Philippines that even side walk peddlers have to apply for business license, no matter how small the quantity of the goods being sold.  I should not be surprised as it is a fact of life that nothing stays the same.

Every time I eat Pan de sal I’ll always remember  that sweet yeasty aroma and that little boy who peddled this bread at wee hour of the morning  who did other household chores, I presume, before going to school.

I found this simple Pan De Sal recipe on this site.  What I like about this recipe is that it does not call for milk or eggs.  Please click here

Borscht Soup — A beautiful, healthy and tasty dish!

IMG_5382
cooking the onions, potatoes and beets together (stir fry on medium heat and 1 tbsp oil)

Love at first taste!  I feel in love with this soup during my first encounter with it!  A friend and I decided to have some soup for launch at our local  little dining place called  The Soup Kitchen.  here’s the link for their website.  We both ordered this soup and while we were enjoying and savoring the flavor, which is a bit sweet, a bit tangy and just a little bit salty, we were trying to figure out the ingredients that made up the soup.  We both guessed that there must be beets and tomatoes.  We were right, because I found this wonderful recipe on Pinterest and here is the link for the recipe:  Please click here 

What is good about the above link for the recipe is that it showed photos on how she cut up the vegetables, especially the beets.  I have never prepared beets before for cooking so it was good that she showed how to cut it up for the soup.

Below is my method on how I cooked the soup.  I’ve read online that the beets take a while to cook anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes of course it will depend also on how thick or thin the beets are cut up.  I prepared (cut up) all the vegetables required in the recipe.  Then I sauteed the onion in 1 tbsp oil in medium heat (range setting at 5).  When the onion is blanched,  I add the following vegetables in the sequence given below, (the one that will take longer to cook, I add first and then the one that will cook fast, I added last):  1) Potatoes, mix and stir infrequently for about 9 mins.  2) Beets,   mix and stir about 7.5 mins.  If the kettle is too dry, add 1 and half cup water, (I add water this time   because beets have high sugar content and the water will prevent sugar from burning if the kettle is dry.)   3) Red Cabbage; mix and stir about 4 mins. 4) Green Cabbage and fresh tomatoes, carrots (if carrots are thinly sliced add it here but if they are cut up as big as the potatoes then add them with the Red Cabbage.  Stir once then, 5) add salt to taste, pepper, rest of herbs and spices. I like to add basil and bay leaf because it helps with the unsavory smell of cabbage.  Add tomato paste also at this time and also the lemon juice.  Mix and stir intermittently and Add more water if you like more liquid in your soup.  Cook until all the vegetables are tender.  Serve warm.

IMG_5388

Note:  The color of this soup that I made is darker than the soup on the given link because I added the Red Cabbage, which made my soup dark red but I still love it!   Also the color will depend on how much beets are added to the soup.