Cherries in a Tree? Strawberry Tree? Have I Heard It Wrongly?

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INTRODUCTION

This is my first post on the “ Plants Around My Neighborhood and in Singapore Series”. The rationale of this series is simple, to share with readers what I have discovered around my neighborhood in Singapore. If you follow this series “diligently”, you will be able to find that there are so many nice plants around our neighborhood, including fruit trees. The first post shall be my “childhood tree” Buah Ceri trees or Mutingia Calabura.

 

MUTIANGIA CALABURA DEFINED

“Muntingia calabura, the sole species in the genus Muntingia, is a flowering plant native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and western South America south to Peru and Bolivia. Common names include (English) Jamaican cherry, Panama berry,Singapore cherry, Bajelly tree, Strawberry tree; (Spanish) bolaina, yamanaza, cacaniqua, capulín blanco, nigua, niguito,memizo or memiso; (Indonesia) kersen; (Vietnamese) Trứng cá (thực vật); and (Filipino) alatris, aratiles, manzanitas and sarisa.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muntingia)

 

VILLAGE CHERRIES

Those who lived in the “Kampong” or village may not  be unfamiliar with these little cute cherries that hang beautifully in a tree. Though native in latin America, these trees were widely grown as  shady trees in Malaysian kampongs. They were called “Kampong Ceri” or Village Cherries.

Last week when I brought my kids for a stroll around my neighborhood, I was surprised to find this Muntingia tree that was surrounded by  factory buildings in a light industrial park (near Ubi Avenue 1). It immediately brought back lots of childhood memories when I was in Kuching. In the 1970’s, we lived in Sekama Road, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. There was a huge Muntingia tree at the road entrance to our house. I remembered we used to play under the trees after dinner or lunches as it is very shady. While playing, we would pick and eat the little red cherries that hung beautifully in the trees. It had a rather unique flavor of its own and is extremely sweet. We called the tree “Buah Ceri” tree (literally translated as “Cherry Tree”).

I have not seen these trees for at least 25 –30 years. I can still remember very clearly about the taste of the cherries and its hairy leaves. When I saw the trees, I immediately brought my kids to look for the ripe cherries under the trees and to my disappointment, I only managed to get three ripe cherries on the trees and another three that have fallen to the ground. Surprisingly, all the three ripe cherries that I pluck from the trees were found in branches that almost touched the ground and we have to squat down to pluck the cherries. I believed we are competing with the birds nearby for the cherries in the trees and the bird did not dare to fly too low to eat the cherries those giving us chances to pluck the cherries.

 

SPECIES INFORMATION

Scientific name: Muntingia calabura L. (Muntingiacea)
Family: Muntingiaceae
Common name(s): Jamaica Cherry, Strawberry Tree, Bajelly trees, Buah Ceri (Malaysia) or Kampong Ceri, Kersen (Indonesia),
Chinese name: 南美假櫻桃, 麗李, 文定果

Muntingia is a fast grower and produces an abundance of small red fruit with a sweet and unique flavor. It is a small tree 7–12 meters tall with tiered and slightly drooping branches and has serrated leaves 2.5–15 cm long and 1–6.5 cm wide.

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Source: http://azueroearthproject.org                              Source: https://kwgls.wordpress.com

The flowers are small, white and resemble strawberry flowers and the fruit (about 1-1.5cm) resembles little red cherries, hence its common names, Strawberry Tree and Jamaican Cherry.

 

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Source: http://taipeigov.blogspot.sg                                  Source: https://kwgls.wordpress.com

The fruits are edible, sweet and juicy and contains a large number of tiny (0.5 mm) yellow seeds. It fruits nearly all year long and the green immature fruit ripens quickly, changing to a solid red color within a day.   The cherries are very sweet and taste similar to cotton candy. They also taste like strawberries that are very ripe.

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Source: http://boymbmlm-learning.blogspot.sg              Source: https://kwgls.wordpress.com

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • The fruits can be eaten raw, directly pluck from the trees or processed into jams (for tarts) and the leaves can be used for making tea.
  • The fruits are sold in Mexican markets. In Brazil, they are considered too small to be of commercial value but it is recommended that the tree be planted on river banks so that the abundance of flowers and fruits falling into the water will serve as bait, attracting fish for the benefit of fishermen. In Malaya, the tree is considered a nuisance in the home garden because fruit-bats consume the fruits and then spend the day under the eaves of houses and disfigure the porch and terrace with their pink, seedy droppings.
  • In nations where the climate is inhospitable to the Muntingia, these cherries are considered luxury imported items and sold at a premium.
  • Scientific researches have shown that fruits extracts of Muntingia posses anti-oxidant activity and anti inflammatory activities. These scientific results have provide an affirmative piece of evidence with regards to the therapeutic uses of Muntingia fruits in folk medicine.

 

CONCLUSION

Buah Ceri trees is a tree that brought fond memories of my childhood. We used to pay under it, we climb up the trees, we fight for the cherries, and we just eat out of hands immediately after plucking. It had been looked down as compared with other fruit trees as it can survive in a very poor habitat and can produce fruits in abundance. Not many people will appreciate these wild fruits and not many people would have noticed such a tree around your neighborhood. In a city life, I wonder how many kids dare to eat the fresh fruits directly pluck from a road side tree…..How can a “fake” cherries compared to the “true cherries” that were sold in the supermarkets..

Hope this post will give reader some additional information on this plant and appreciate its presence in this concrete world!

Happy Reading!

    

Source:

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 25-5-2013

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On 25-May 2013

Usually, for Saturday and Sunday, if we dine at home, it will be something simpler as both my wife and me are rather lazy to cook. So today, we have noodles, noodles, noodles. We have 3 types of noodles including the kolo mee directly “imported” from Kuching.

1. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Green Vegetables and Pork Slice (菜心肉片炒米粉)

This is the type of fried rice vermicelli that my late mother used to prepare for us. I have insisted my wife to cook in this manner with only 3-4 ingredients (rice vermicelli, pork belly slices, chye Shim and shrimps). Besides at home, I have never eaten fried vermicelli with these simple combinations be it the one cooked by my mother in law or in parties or outside hawker stores. Usually, most fried rice vermicelli will have mushrooms, red carrots, bean sprouts, fish cakes, eggs and etc. But I am very insistent  to use only these 4 ingredients and it should not be substituted. Changes in any of the ingredients will not give the same flavor.  Today, the dish was prepared by my wife for my kids,PLEASE TRY THIS COMMONER’S RICE VERMICELLI!

2. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Laksa Sarawak Paste (砂朥越辣沙酱炒米粉)

As my wife cooked quite a lot of fried rice vermicelli above, I have decided to fry the above rice vermicelli with my own home made Sarawak Laksa Paste. You can learn more about home made Sarawak Laksa Paste here. Firstly, I slightly fried my laksa paste, when it started to emit the aroma, eggs were added followed by peanut powder and condiments. Before I serve, I add in shredded cucumbers and the taste was fantastic. Just imagine you are eating Indian or Malay fried noodles. PLEASE TRY THIS NEWLY CREATED RICE VERMICELLI FRIED WITH SARAWAK LAKSA PASTE and you wouldn’t regret it.

 

3. Sarawak Kolo Mee (Dry Noodles) (砂朥越干捞面)

This is another famous delicacies from Sarawak and shall I said, have attained at least the same status as Sarawak Laksa in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. It is unique and available in Sarawak only. There are visitors saying that this dish resemble the 车仔面 that were sold in Singapore in the 1960’s. You can read more about Kolo mee HERE, Kolo bee hoon HERE, and Sarawak Laksa HERE. Today’s Kolo Mee was brought to me by my mother in law who is visiting us from Kuching. She bought at least 8 packets of the noodles. This is a must try item in Kuching and I have never heard of any visitors ever complained about this dish be it Asians or Caucasians. PLEASE TRY THIS SARAWAK DELICACY WHEN YOU VISIT KUCHING, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA and without trying it, your trip to Kuching will not be considered as complete.

Uniformity is a beauty, don’t you think so?

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What is this? – Series 19

Did not do any photographic effects except re-arranging the photos. The color is not that attractive but I found the patterns were very nice. Is it not? It is an item almost all households will have.

Series 18 answers can be found HERE.


Answer: Posted on 27-May-2013

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These are the cloth hangers that I have in my room. Can you appreciate the pattern?

The Beautiful Hong Kong Orchid Trees …..

National Flower Series – East Asia 6 – Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – Bauhinia Blakeana

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Bauhinia blakeana or Hong Kong Orchid Tree is an orchid tree of the genus Bauhinia with large thick leaves and striking purplish red flowers. It is a native species discovered in Hong Kong was chosen as the logo of the Urban Council in 1965, it was later incorporated in the flag and emblem of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China after the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floral_emblem#Hong_Kong)

Species Information

Scientific name: Bauhinia blakeana
Family: Leguminosae
Common name(s): Hong Kong Orchid-Tree, Hong Kong Bauhinia, Butterfly Tree
Chinese name: 红花羊蹄甲 洋艳紫荊, 香港兰

Bauhinia Blakeana is a garden legume which is a close relative to garden peas and can grow until 20 to 40 feet in height. The leaves are large twin lobes, with grayish green color and can be as large as 6 to 8 inch in diameter.

Source: www.public.asu.edu

The large, orchid-like flowers are rich magenta purple with paler veins, and the uppermost petal is darker towards the base.

Source: www.gardenweb.com

The Hong Kong orchid tree is now widely planted as an ornamental within the Special Administrative Regions and many other tropical countries. Flowering seasons usually begins around December and closes in March each year.

A distinct species or A cultivar……?

Though the flower has been Hong Kong’s emblem since 1965, however, there are still debates if the trees is a true species by its own or a hybrid between Bauhinia Purpurea or Bauhinia Variegata.  In in the American Journal of Botany article published in November 2004, “Hybrid origin of “Bauhinia blakeana” (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae), inferred using morphological, reproductive, and molecular data” , it was written :

“…………..It is therefore evident that although B. blakeana is a hybrid that has resulted from a cross (probably natural) between B. purpurea and B. Variegate, it has only been perpetuated genetically by artificial horticultural practices: it is not capable of reproducing itself independently. It is therefore inappropriate to regard it as a distinct species and is better referred to as an artificially maintained cultivar. A new cultivar name is accordingly formally published here, replacing the previous specific binomial published by Dunn (1908):  Bauhinia purpurea × variegata ‘Blakeana’, cv. nov. “ (Source:http://www.amjbot.org/content/92/3/525.full)

However, it was written in Wikipedia that:

“….A 2008 research was able to identify the female parent as Bauhinia purpurea, but it could not differentiate the male parent as Bauhinia variegata var. variegata or Bauhinia variegata var. candida. This is not unexpected, as Bauhinia variegata var. Candida is a white-flowered form of Bauhinia variegata var. variegata, and not a separate specie or sub-specie. Interestingly, the 2005 research suggested Bauhinia blakeana is genetically closer to Bauhinia variegata, while the 2008 research indicated it is closer to Bauhinia purpurea instead.”

Bauhinia purpurea Bauhinia variegata var. candida

Source: kumarpati.wordpress.com

Source: www.tropicamente.it

Bauhinia Blakeana is very similar to Bauhinia Purpurea. One way of differentiating them is the number of stigmas/ Bauhinia Blakeana have 5-6 stamens whereas Bauhinia Purpurea have 3-4 stamens.

Another distinct differentiation is Bauhinia Blakeana can only be perpetuated by horticultural practices (e.g. Grafting) and seed pods are seldom noted. Whereas in Bauhinia Purpurea, being a parent plant, long seedpods are always being produced for future reproductions. In the above Bauhinia purpurea picture, take note of a brownish seed pod next to the flower.

 Source: www.efloras.org

Hong Kong and Bauhinia Blakeana

  • Hong Kong people call the leaf “clever leaf” (聰明葉/聪明叶), and regard it as a symbol of cleverness. Some people use the leaves to make bookmarks in the hope that the bookmarks will bring them good luck in their studies.
  • It is the official flower emblem of Hong Kong and appeared in Hong Kong’s state flag. Besides, it also appeared in coins, stamps of Hong Kong.

  Source:www.kakei.us

  • In North Wan Chai, outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, there is an open area with a 6 meter high giant statute of a golden Bauhinia Blakeana. This area is called The Golden Bauhinia Square (Chinese: 金紫荊廣場) and it is the place where the ceremonies for the handover of Hong Kong and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was held in July 1997. The major part is composed of a bauhinia on a base of red grantite pillar on a pyramid. It became a tourist attraction and a flag-raising ceremony is held every day at 8:00am.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Bauhinia_Square

Additional Notes:

  • The Genus “Bauhinia” is named after the 16th Swiss botanists and brothers, John and Caspar Bauhin and the twin lobe leaves were said to represent the two brothers.
  • Bauhinia Blakeana blooms can be used as cut flowers and in flower arrangements.

NOTES:

Theoretically, I have already finished the East Asia series of National Flowers after my post on Taiwan’s national flowers here, but I have decided to include two Special Administrative Regions of People’s Republic of China namely Hong Kong and Macau. Too bad, Mongolia does not have national flowers.

Rest be assured that this series (national flower series) will be continued and I am aiming to complete the series in one years’ time.

Thank for reading.

 

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 24-5-2013

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On 24-May-2013

Fried Yellow Noodles with Bean Sprouts (豆芽炒面)

This is a rather unusual type of fried noodles that is extremely economical and nice. It is yellow noodles fried with garlics, bean sprouts and sweet, thick black soya sauce. It is neither the Penang Char Kway Tiao nor Kuala Lumpur Fried Hokkien Noodles. Its characteristics are simple, sweet and slightly wet. We used to have this type of noodle in Kuching when I was young and it was the cheapest noodles then when compared to Kolo Mee and Tomato Sauce Kway Tiao. However, it is hard to find in Kuching nowadays. Even if you can, unless you specially requested you just want bean sprouts and mee only, they will add in cockles (like Penang Char Kway Tiao) and eggs for you.

Today is holiday and I am rather lazy to dine out or cooking, so I just cook this traditional fried noodles. The kids like it because they have their favorite fried eggs and the noodles were sweet and soft. (Note: The ratio of bean sprouts and yellow me should be at least 1:1).

Cheers and have a nice holidays..

Yellow, yellow, yellow …….

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What is this? – Series 18

Did not do any photographic effects except enlarging. Should be easy because of the color combination but does it look nice?

Series 17 answers can be found HERE.


Answer: Posted on 25-May-2013

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White and yellow were always associated with egg yolk and egg white. Yes, the answer an egg omelet in a pan before it is hardened.

A PICTORIAL PRESENTATION OF BUDDHISM–PART I

Tomorrow is Wesak Day Celebration 2013 in Singapore and Malaysia, the full moon day of the 4th Month of the Lunar Calendar. I have decided to put up this pictorial post to show my respect to the Buddha and share with readers some nice pictures that I have collected. To understand more about Buddhism, you can refer to here.

WESAK OR VESAK DAY

 

Vesākha (Pali; Sanskrit: Vaiśākha, Devanagari: वैशाख, Sinhala: වෙසක් පෝය), Wesak or Vesak is a holy day observed traditionally by Buddhists in Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and the South East Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Indonesia.Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s Birthday“, it actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha.

The exact date of Vesākha varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. Vesākha Day in China and Korea is on the eighth of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years Vesākha is celebrated in June.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesak)

 

THE TRIPLE GEM

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Triple Gem Comprises Buddha (佛), Dharma (法)and Sangha (僧)


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Buddha (佛)  – The enlightened one or the awaken one

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Buddha in the Childhood – Every steps that he walked will produce beautiful lotus.

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Tooth Relic of Buddha – The Scared Relic of Gautama Buddha preserved in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Other temples in the world that have tooth relics were in Kusinagara (India), Beijing (China), Kashiong (Taiwan), Singapore, Kamakura (Japan), Rosemead (USA)


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Other Buddhas

  • Amitabha Buddha (阿弥陀佛) – Principal Buddha in the Pure Land Sect
  • Bhaisajyaguru Buddha (药师佛)- Buddha of Healing or Medicine Buddha
  • Dipankara Buddha (燃灯佛)- Past Buddha before Present Buddha
  • Maitreya Buddha (弥勒佛)- Next Buddha after Present Buddha

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Bodhisattvas (菩萨

Anyone who motivated by great compassion, has generated a spontaneous wish attain Buddhahood for the benefits of all sentient beings.

  • Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (观音菩萨)- a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddha’s
  • Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva(地藏菩萨)- a bodhisattva who vows not to attain Buddhahood until all the hells are emptied
  • Samantabhadra Bodhisattva(普贤菩萨) – a bodhisattva who made 10 vows that form the basis of a bodhisattva; bodhisattva associated with actions
  • Manjusri Bodhisattva (文殊菩萨)- a bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom.

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Dharmacakra ( 法轮)– Symbol that has represented dharma, the Buddha’s teaching of the path to enlightenment。

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Mantras (经书)– Sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities (Source: free on line dictionary)


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Sangha (僧)- Monastic community of ordained Buddhist monks and nuns。

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Buddhists Devotees

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Bathing the Buddha Ceremony (浴佛仪式)– Bathing  of Buddha on Buddha’s birthday that has been inherited from Buddha’s time and is still observed by Buddhists around the world. The message is “it is easy to wash away physical dirt but it is much more difficult to cleanse one’s inner “dirt” for greed, anger and ignorance.

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Wesak Day Celebrations – Colorful Decorated Vehicles in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia


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Basic Buddhist Teaching Summary from http:/triangulations.wordpress.com.


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3 Main Schools of Buddhism: Mahayana (大乘), Theravada (小乘), Vajrayana (密宗或藏宗)

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Vijrayana Buddhism

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Mahayana Buddhism

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Theravada Buddhism


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Countries with the top 10 Buddhist Population 2012


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Buddhist Temples – In Tibet, Cambodia, Japan and India


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Common items found in Buddhist Temples

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Incense and candles for praying to the Buddhas


 

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Bodhi Trees – Types of trees where Buddha had sat under the trees and achieved enlightenment.

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Bodhi Leaves – Leaves of the Bodhi Trees


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Lotus – Symbolic purity of body, speech and mind. Buddha was said to born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.


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Buddhist sayings


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A picture colored by my daughter as requested by her school 2 months ago. She is studying in a Singapore name Maha Bodhi School, a school owned by Buddhist Association of Singapore.  As the short form of the name is MBS, sometimes people mistake her school as Marina Bay Sands!

HAPPY WESAK DAY AND HOPE YOU ENJOY THE PICTURE.

MAY THE TRIPLE GEMS BRING ENGLIGHTMENT TO EVERY BEINGS IN THIS WORLD..

A PICTORIAL PRESENTATION OF BUDDHISM– PART II

In conjunction with Vesak Day 2013, I have decided to share with readers some nice images of Buddhism. Part I talk about Buddhism in General and you can read it HERE. and Part II basically displayed pictures of Buddhism of 20 countries (North America: 2, South America: 1, Oceania: 2, Europe 3, Africa:1, Asia:11) in the world.

Note:

  • I have compiled these pictures from the internet and none of the pictures belong to the Guai Shu Shu. I have to thanks all the websites that I have sourced the pictures.
  • For a particular country, it may depicts images from different schools of Buddhism. Therefore, the temple may be a Mahayana Style temple whereas the Sangha picture may belong to the Theravada Schools, and etc.
  • The aim of this pictorial post is to share with readers how different countries practice Buddhism and it should not be construed as preaching of Buddhism.

 

BUDDHISM AROUND THE WORLD

IMG_3632 Canada

IMG_3548 South Korea

IMG_3556 China

IMG_3557 India

IMG_3552 United Kingdom

IMG_3549 South Africa

IMG_3594 Vietnam

IMG_3596 Tibet and Nepal

IMG_3555   Sri Lanka

IMG_3631 New Zealand

IMG_3564 Japan

IMG_3560 United States

IMG_3547 Australia

IMG_3595 Cambodia

IMG_3554 Singapore

IMG_3550 Russia

IMG_3559 Thailand

IMG_3553 Malaysia

IMG_3633France

IMG_3634 Bangladesh

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 23-5-2013

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On 23-May-2013

White rice served with:

1. Sweet Corn Pork Rib Soup* 玉米排骨汤*
2. Mustard Leaf and Bitter Gourd Braised With Pork Rib 芥菜苦瓜焖排骨
3. Blanched Broccoli with Minced Pork 肉碎西兰花
4. Taukwa (dried tofu) Omelet 豆干煎蛋
  • Sweet Corn Pork Rib Soup is the first dish that I have cooked for the second time within a period of about one months. In future, any dish that have repeated will be denoted with an asterisk (*).
  • Dish 2 is the dish that we created our self. Don’t try this dish unless you like the bitter taste. My wife loves bitter dishes especially bitter gourd. Mustard leaf by itself is also very bitter, therefore, with two bitter vegetables within a dish, it will be a dish with an acquired taste. You may ask whether my kids like it or not. It very much depends on how bitter it is. If I blanched my bitter gourd and mustard leaf with salt before I cooked, it will not be that bitter and they will love you. However, like to day, I do not have the time to blanch it before hand, it is rather bitter. Usually, I will add a can of canned mushrooms and they will start to look for the mushrooms. They are brave enough to take the soup and actually, it is one of my way to let the kids try new dishes. Putting something that they like  and they will gradually get use to the taste over time.
  • This is the third continuous day that I blanched by vegetables and today is the broccoli and apparently they like it and I will continue to cook my vegetables this way which Is healthier. The first day, I blanched my baby kailan and served with oyster sauce. In the second day, it is blanching of white stem pak choy and served with fried ikan billis. Today, it is blanched broccoli served with blanched minced pork!
  • Any body tried Dish 4 before? It was a dish taught by my mother in law. Fried the dried bean curd and followed by putting some eggs on top of it. It is another dish that my kids will fight for.

I am contemplating  and in the process of exploring whether I should set up a system for readers to search the dish by vegetables. If successful, when readers have raw ingredients but no idea how to proceed with the cooking , they can look up for the database.

Happy Vesak Day and have a nice day.

Game To Try Some “Wild Hibiscus” Tea………….?(洛神花茶)

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Do  you feel greasy after a bowl of Sarawak Laksa?

Do you need something to quench your thirst after shopping?

Are you looking for some weight reduction aids?

Is your family concerned about your hypertension?

Well, let’s try some home made “Ribena” or ROSELLA TEA.

ROSELLA TEA (HIBISCUS TEA) DEFINED…

Hibiscus tea is a tisane or “herbal tea” consumed both hot and cold by people around the world. The drink is an infusion made from crimson or deep magenta-colored calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is also referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower) or rosella (Australian), …… red sorrel in the wider Caribbean, ……known as simply Jamaica. Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. In West Sudan a white hibiscus flower is favored for its bitter taste and is not for sale, but for the use of the owners family and their guests. Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids, including citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinine, that give it its characteristic deep red color.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibiscus_tea)

Note: From this point onwards, I will use “Rosella Tea” or “Roselle Tea” interchangeably.

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For my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically included this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

洛神花茶也是邓老凉茶休闲系列的一种,采用科学配方,由洛神花、陈皮煮制而成的一款休闲养生产品,有美容、瘦身、降压之功效,特别适合现代女性饮用。

清热利尿、生津止渴、理气消食,能清凉解渴,消除疲倦、调节和平衡血脂、降血压,促进新陈代谢,且能改善便秘,对皮肤粗糙,肥胖者都有帮助。

(Source:http://baike.baidu.com/view/286210.html)

WHY THIS DRINK?

I remembered ever drank this tea in East Malaysia in my teenage years but not that popular and in fact we called it home cooked “Ribena” as the color resembles the black currant juice.

As I was doing my marketing two days in a wet market in Geylang East, Singapore, I was surprised to find some fresh rosella in the vegetable section. I bought 0.5 kg for SGD2.50 and went back home to cook a large pot of Rosella drink.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Rosella is one of the species in the hibiscus family with scientific name  Hibiscus sabdariffa.  Its common names are Jamaica sorrel, roselle, wild hibiscus, Queensland sour tea, lemon bush etc. In Chinese, it was either called 洛神花 or 玫瑰茄。This annual herb grows to 1.5 m or higher and produces elegant white flowers.

Rosella is native to Central and West Africa, but grows throughout in many tropical areas including Malaysia. In 1999, research work in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was initiated to study the viability of planting rosella as a commercial crop. In April 2009, UKM launched three new varieties named UKMR-1, UKMR-2 and UKMR-3, respectively that were developed using a variety “Arab” as the parent in a mutation breeding program started in 2006.  (Note: apparently, the Rosella that I bought belong the “Arab” variety).

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Source : UKM Research Paper by Noor Hasima Nagoor

What is edible is not actually the flower’s petals but the calyces and the sepals. It is neither the flower nor the fruit. As these two terms are not common in layman term, I have included a flower anatomy for the reader’s reference.

  Source: www.enchantedlearning.com

5 REASONS YOU SHOULD DRINK THIS TEA

Rosella is widely consumed in most part of the world from Africa to Caribbean to Australia to Asia.. It is used in the preparation of teas, cuisines, jams and traditional medicines. The benefits to consuming Rosella are summarized as follows:

  • Weight Loss – Rosella contains a substance call amylase which can inhibit the intake of carbohydrates and hence aids in weight loss.
  • Cough and Colds – Rosella like chrysanthemum tea have the cooling effect. Therefore, it is  beneficial especially when you have a high fever.  Rosella has about 6.7 mg of ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that will help to relieve your cold symptoms. In addition, it had a mild anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties.
  • Thirst Quencher – Rosella have been recommended to become a substitute for sports energy drinks because of its ability to satiate thirst effectively. Rosella can either be drunk cold or hot and it possesses diuretic properties, meaning assisting the body to excrete excess fluids.
  • Alleviates High Blood Pressure – According to a study published in Phyto-medicine (2004;11:375–82), daily consumption of rosella tea can help to lower high blood pressure (or hypertension). Long term consumption of rosella is believed to have low potential for causing negative side effects make hibiscus an attractive alternative to antihypertensive medications.
  • Nutrition – Rosella is full of nutritional substances that include ascorbic acid, carotene, thiamine, niacin, protein…… It is an extremely good health supplement alternative although it had long been regarded as vegetables in the Burmese and Andhra cuisines.

source:  http://www.ehow.com/about_5448174_hibiscus-tea-benefits.html

CAUTION:

As Rosella is a natural diuretic, people with kidney problems should only drink in moderations.

In addition, people who have too much stomach acid or gastric problems such as acid refluxes should also be careful on the amount of intake. It is best to have the drink only after a meal.

WHAT IS REQUIRED

Fresh rosella (about 250g), white or brown or white granulated sugar (250g), licorice (3-5 long pieces but is optional), water. In the event you do not have the fresh rosella, you can use dried rosella that can be purchased in herbs store or stores that sell flower tea leaves.

PREPARATION STEPS

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  • Wash the fresh rosella and use a knife to cut the base of rosella. You should be able to see a hard rosella seed, pull it out. It is ok if you break the sepals as it will be boiled anyway.
  • Watch out for the juices that was excreted. Don’t let them stain your cloth as it will be very difficult to wash it off. The red calyces have been exported to countries  like UK, Germany and USA. The Rosella was extracted for use as red colorings for foods.
  • Boil the rosella together with the licorice (甘草)in a medium to big pot of water for about 20-30 minutes or until the rosella is soft. Note that licorice is added to lower down the acidity of the tea. For those which are not familiar with this drink, you will find that it is extremely sour like freshly squeezed lime juice and adding some pieces of licorice will help to make the drinks more palatable.
  • Add in rock sugar and boiled for another 5 minutes, sieved and serve hot or cold. If you found that the tea is too concentrated, you can keep the concentrated juices and add in water like when you are serving Ribena black currant juices.
  • NOTE: DO NOT THROW AWAY THE SEPALS. The boiled sepals can be eaten like a snack (imagine you are eating some types of preserved plums). I have used the sepals to make some cup cakes and surprisingly, it is not that sour but the incorporation of these cooked sepals help to  enhance the texture and color of plain of my steamed cup cakes. You can also add sugar and make it into some jam.

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OTHERS THINGS TO NOTE

  • SERVING – Rosella can be served hot or cold. Sometime, I have added condensed milk to the iced tea when I found that it is too sour. However, you can add honey or sugar syrup. The disadvantage of adding condensed milk is it may curdle a bit due to the acidic reaction with milk.
  • VARIATIONS – You can add dried orange or tangerine peel instead of licorice root. Some of the recipes even suggest to add chrysanthemum to the teas.
  • If you are using the dried rosella, use hot water to mix steep for about 10 minutes. These rosella can also be combined with dried rose (or other dried flowers) in the preparation of flower teas.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • The benefits of rosella cannot be debated as it will aid in weight loss, helps in the treatment of  medium to mild cases of hypertension, alleviates symptoms of flu or cold and a very nutritional plant with low toxicity.
  • Its ability to satiate thirsts make it an excellent choice of cold drinks in the tropics;
  • However, cautions have to be careful if you have gastrointestinal problems and kidney problems where consumptions have to be moderate and it is  better to consult a doctor prior to the long term consumptions of this hibiscus.

Lastly, let’s look at what we have on the internet for Rosella related products. Thanks for reading.

Source: http://www.iklanabc.com 

  Source: http://temulawakinstan.blogspot.sg

                       Source: http://www.southeastasiatraveler.com

   Source: http://carolslifejourney.blogspot.sg

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