National Flower Series – East Asia 2 – China (Mudan) – A little bit more


Paeonia suffruticosa (tree peony) is native to China, where it is known as Mudan.

In front of the Audience Hall of Mu Tsung Huang Ti … there were planted thousand-petalled tree-peonies. When the flowers first opened the fragrance of their perfume was perceived by everyone. Each blossom had a thousand petals, large and deeply red. Every time His Majesty gazed upon the sweet-scented luxuriance he would sigh and say, ‘Surely such a flower has never before existed among men!’ (Ninth-Century Chinese Writer)

Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6: Biology and Biological Technology, Part 1, Botany, by Joseph Needham (Cambridge University Press 1986).

The tree peony is not actually a “tree” but more of a woody-shrub preferring some shade from harsh afternoon noon. The woody stalks produce the next season’s flowers and should be left in tact throughout the winter (unlike herbaceous peonies which die to the ground each season). They are very slow to establish, but well worth the wait. Huge blooms appear in mid-spring (before herbaceous peonies) and the flowers are surrounded by lovely fern-like foliage with a reddish tinge.

Writing about national flower China, I found this post that I have read a while ago is now a suitable time to re-blog this. Very knowledgeable writer.

National Flower Series – East Asia 2- China (Mudan) – Unofficial

National Flower Series – East Asia 2 – People’s Republic of China – UNOFFICIAL

Although People’s Republic of China has not officially declared a national flower, everyone in China knows that the Republic’s unofficial national flower is peony (Paeonia Suffruticosa) also called 牡丹 (mǔdān) or 富贵花 (fùguìhuā) “flower of riches and honour”, 花王 (huawang) “king of the flowers”, and is used symbolically in Chinese art and is considered as a symbol of prosperity.

The Qing Dynasty adopted Poeny as the national flower for China. However, over the past 20 years, numerous attempts have been made to select a national flower. The two front-runners are the peony and Chinese plum blossom. Some people believe China is too large and diverse to be represented by just one flower. The idea of a dual national flower (including both the peony and plum blossom) is growing in popularity. Another suggestion proposes having a different flower to represent each season. In 1994, a panel from the Chinese Flower Association recommended the peony as the national flower, along with these seasonal flowers: orchid (spring), lotus (summer), chrysanthemum (autumn) and plum (winter). This, however, was not ratify by the National People’s Congress. In 2003, another selection process had begun but until to date, no decision had been made.

The ancient Chinese city Luoyang has a reputation as a cultivation centre for the peonies. Throughout Chinese history, peonies in Luoyang have been said to be the finest in the country. Dozens of peony exhibitions and shows are still held there annually.

Paeonia (peony or paeony) is a genus of flowering plants, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America. Boundaries between species are not clear and estimates of the number of species range from 25 to 40.

Most are herbaceous perennial plants 0.5 to 1.5 metres (1.5 to 5 feet) tall, but some resemble trees 1.5–3 m (5–10 ft) tall. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, often fragrant, flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer.

National Flower Series–East Asia 1–Japan–Chrysanthemum


National Flower Series – East Asia 1 – Japan (De-facto or non-official)

Japan do not have officially declared national flowers like other countries. However, two flowers that have significant influences in Japanese cultures and histories : Chrysanthemum (菊花) and Cherry Blossom (樱花) were deemed to be the de-facto national flowers.


Chrysanthemums, often called mums or chrysanths, are perennial flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae which are native to Asia and northeastern Europe.Chrysanthemum are herbaceous perennial plants growing to 50–150 cm tall, with deeply lobed leaves with large flower heads that are generally white, yellow or pink in the wild.

Chrysanthemum had a deep rooted relationship with the royal family as evidenced by the following observations. It is believed that chrysanthemum may have been brought to Japan in the eighth century AD and the Emperor adopted a 16 petals yellow chrysanthemum flower design as his imperial seal (菊花印章) which shall solely be used by the members of the Japanese Imperial family. The Emperor also have chosen to name “Chrysanthemum Throne” to represent the periods reigned by Japanese emperors. A number of formerly state-endowed shrines (官国弊社), kankokuheisha) adopted chrysanthemum in its crest, most notably Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine. In addition, the Japanese honor awarded by the emperor were named as the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.In Imperial Japan, small arms were required to be stamped with the Imperial Chrysanthemum, as they were considered the personal property of the Emperor.

Cherry Blossom (Sakura)

A cherry blossom is the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is sometimes called sakura after the Japanese (桜 or 櫻; さくら). Many of the varieties that have been cultivated for ornamental use do not produce fruit. Edible cherries generally come from cultivars of the related species Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus.

In Japan, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime, and film, as well as at musical performances for ambient effect. There is at least one popular folk song, originally meant for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), titled “Sakura”, and several pop songs. The flower is also represented on all manner of consumer goods in Japan, including kimono, stationery, and dishware.

The Sakurakai or Cherry Blossom Society was the name chosen by young officers within theImperial Japanese Army in September 1930 for their secret society established with the goal of reorganizing the state along totalitarian militaristic lines, via a military coup d’état if necessary.

During World War II, the cherry blossom was used to motivate the Japanese people, to stoke nationalism and militarism among the populace. Even prior to the war, they were used in propaganda to inspire “Japanese spirit,” as in the “Song of Young Japan,” exulting in “warriors” who were “ready like the myriad cherry blossoms to scatter.” A cherry blossom painted on the side of the bomber symbolized the intensity and ephemerality of life;in this way, the aesthetic association was altered such that falling cherry petals came to represent the sacrifice of youth in suicide missions to honor the emperor.The first kamikaze unit had a subunit called Yamazakura or wild cherry blossom.The government even encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms.

In its colonial enterprises, imperial Japan often planted cherry trees as a means of “claiming occupied territory as Japanese space”.; http://en.wikipedia

It is such a coincidence that the two countries (Japan and China) I have selected to kick off the EAST ASIAN COUNTRIES NATIONAL FLOWER SERIES do not have officially declared national flowers. However, its is still included as part of the National Flower Series because of their significant influences in these countries’ culture; that particular species’ origins; uniqueness to the countries; likability and perception by the people that rendered their de-facto status.



I don’t usually re-blog but I can’t help but to re-blog this post. This cake is exceptionally beautiful and the baker must have taken lots of patience to bake this cake. Color selection, cake cutting or moulding and putting the cakes in one piece will definitely not easy. Thumbs up to the creator/baker be it human beings or machinery (joking)! Verdict: I dare not to eat because it is too beautiful plus.+++…but do you?

What I Cooked Today Series – General


Before I proceed, I have to stress that what I am writing is nothing great as what a food columnist or food critics would have written. I am just documenting what a normal housewife have cook at home. It can be just a simple and plain post. Believed me, it is not going to be technical but just a summary of what a typical Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese family would have cooked and the rationale behind writing this series are:

Firstly, is In honor of housewife/househusband role in a family – what I cooked is just what my mother, my mother in law or my sister in law would have cooked at home routinely.

Personally, I think that a housewife (or househusband, if any such terms oh yes, my grammar checker did not alert me on any mistakes) who cooked at home, though no direct income generation plays a vital role in a family. He or she will have to ensure that the foods are delicious, prices are reasonable and working within household budget, foods consumed by their kids are nutritional enough to build a strong and healthy body and etc. However, the role of housewife have always be ignored or belittled and not many people (including family members) would take their contributions into consideration. Of course you can employ a maid, eat out but I opt to believe that home cooked food, however, simple is something that will always be appreciated and remembered by the family members.

I am different from other housewives in my mother’s generation is that now I have an avenue to share what I cooked “worldwide” due to availability of information technology infrastructure and cost of such technology is minimal. I can use computer to blog, use the on –line dictionary to check what I have written, taken photos using my telephone at any point of time of my choice, I can check what others are writing, I have many resources to check on-line whether the information I have written is correct or not (no hearsay mentality)…That is, practically impossible during my mother’s time (我只是在替她们出一口气, 把不起眼的小事与大家分享…..LOL)

Therefore, it is hoped that when reading my posts, you will start to appreciate the persons who prepare home cooked food for you.

Secondly, my blog will serve as a collection of what I cooked and I can always refer to it when I run out of idea and provide an analysis of whether or not such meals constitute a balance diet for my kids. I truly appreciate readers to tell me whether what I cooked is healthy for my family members and are we too picky or lope sided in our dishes selection… I accept constructive criticisms and if you like it, just let me know also. Blog readers can also use this as a reference to see what others family have in their meals when preparing their own meals…(Frankly, it may be difficult to intrude other family’s “privacy” as these foods are usually considered as “non-disclosure items” because it is simple, plain, monotonous, routinely prepared and nothing worth to talk about it).

Lastly, rest be assured what I will cooked will not be influenced by this blog, otherwise, my two little monsters will yelled at me. Hope that you like my blog. Happy Reading!!!

What I cooked today 2-5-2013

What I cook today series (家常便饭系列)- 2-5-2013.

Yesterday is a public holiday and we opted to eat out. Today, routine as usual and we ended eating what appeared in the photo above.

On 2-5-2013:
1. White gourd braised rice (白莆焖饭)
2. Bitter gourd pork rib soup (苦瓜排骨汤)
3. Steam bean curd (tofu) with eggs (豆付蒸蛋) – see my post under “creative food” due to release soon
4. Cabbage fried with glass noodles (包菜炒粉丝)

Things I Found Useful Series – Knitted Dish Cloth

THINGS I FOUND USEFUL SERIES …..Knitted or crocheted dish cloth

Everytime i walked into the kitchen, i felt the urge to share with you this dish cloth that i found useful in the kitchen. You may have known this for a long time, but it is new to me and I knew it is not popular among my friends.

Last year my mother in law brought me one piece of dishcloth knitted by her sister in Malaysia and told me and my wife that this is very useful. I have no objection of using it in the kitchen and after a few months of trying it, I started to like this brownish round shaped knitted dish cloth. Frankly, I did not use it in entirety but as a supplement for the normal sponges and scrubs that I have in the kitchen.

From my humble perspectives, I will give credits to its durability, abilities to scrub off rather tough stains without giving your kitchen utensils some unwanted marks. There is no fixed shape and therefore I can use to wash areas in utensils that are difficult to “go in”. I am especially fond to use this to wash oil stains in glasswares such as cover for the wok etc. It can be washed like a normal piece of clothing and dry rather fast.

I have to thanks my mother in law for introducing me this “traditional” piece of kitchen tool. Not forgetting conveying thanks to my kids’ grand auntie who likes to explore these home living areas and thumbs up for her choice of brown color for knitting the dishcloth….

A quick check with e-bay noted that prices of dish cloth costs about US$1-US$5 depending on design, type of yarn and size of the dishcloth.

Apparently, dishcloth is rather common in the western countries and due to its simplicity, it is likely to be a hot item to be knitted in social knitting groups gatherings. Social Knitting Groups are groups where knitters met together, each carries their own yarns and needles in their bags, meet, chat and socialized in afternoon teas gatherings etc. Is it a familiar scene where you Ah Mah always carries these equipments?

For those who loves to go “green”, you will be pleased to note that why Knitted Dish Cloth is preferred than the traditional sponges via this article titled: 4 reasons to switch to reusable dish cloth (

Fungi and Mushrooms I found in Singapore

Fungi or mushroom series – I take a stroll in Bedok Reservoir Park prior to my weekly marketing at a supermarket next to the reservoir. I am extremely delighted to find many species of mushroom thriving in the damp and moist areas during my half an hour stroll. Just unsure if these mushrooms are edible. However, it resemble the mushrooms that were sold in the supermarket! Do I still need to visit the fresh vegetable section in the supermarket??? Nature is wonderful and most is not appealing to the urban dwellers.🍄Weather is ⛅☔last few days, and I presumed that stimulated the growth of these mushrooms. Just posted by a simple ordinary man walking in the street. (at Bedok Reservoir Park)