Bollywood and Goth photos with my sisters

I had such a fun day with my sisters (Song, Myra, mom, cousin Katherina, sister in law Nancy)!!!!!!! My sister Song went to India last year for a business trip and bought us all beautiful indian sarees. We didn't have the traditional Indian jewelry, so we had to improvise.  My sister Song was our stylist! She glammed us up for this photo shoot.  She did a great job!!!!!

I took these photos with my Nikon Nikkor 85 mm f/1.4G lens. I just absolutely love the bokeh!!!!!! (the tiny circles / particles).

This is a picture of my cousin Katherina. She's stunning!!!!

I love this shot!

Me, Katherina, Song, mom, Myra

Katherina

Katherina

My beautiful sister in law Nancy

Goth girls - Myra, Song, Annie, Katherina, Nancy

Click here to see more photos on Facebook.

Millenium Park

I finally found some time to post up some pictures we took when we went to visit Millenium Park in Chicago back on April 8th, 2012.  It was the first time I've ever visited this park. I've been to Chicago many times and seen a lot of tourist attractions but finally decided to make a road trip just for this purpose.

We paid for underground parking here. It was really expensive. $24 per hour.  We could have parked further but would have had to walk a distance to get here.  The only thing I wish I would have had more time for was to go visit the Art Institute.

 

Picture of me with the "egg".  The metal egg behind me kind of reminds me of T-1000, the bad guy who could morph into anything, from Terminator 2.

 

My hubby and me
 

Me in front of the stadium

 

My hubby and me - The tulips were really lovely and vibrant this time of year.

May Contest

Contest is now closed.  Thanks to all those who entered!

Please fill out the form if you would like to be entered into my contest to win free stuff.

Contest ends on May 20, 2012 midnight.  I will randomly choose one winner and announce the winner on May 21, 2012.

Please only enter once. Multiple entries will not increase your chances of winning.

How to make cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 premade graham cracker crust
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can cherry (optional for topping)
     
  1. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. It can be lumpy.
  2. Then pour the mixture into the graham cracker pie crust. 
  3. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Chill until cold.
  5. Then add your favorite topping.

March is almost over

 

Wow, time sure does fly by fast when you're having a good time. I can surely say March has been an interesting month for me.  I've been super busy at work as well as getting back into my photography side business. I bought a new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G lens that I absolutely love, love, love!!! I just got it two weeks ago but been so busy I haven't had much time to test it out much. I'll take more pics soon and share some tutorials.

I don't normally splurge on expensive stuff but when it comes to my personal interests, ummmm yes I do like to have the BEST!

A picture of me taken on Sunday at a park on the southside of Madison. 

A picture of my niece Serena and her little kitty.

 

 

How to make chinese steamed pork buns

This is a simple recipe that you can make at home.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil or you can substitute it with canola oil
  • 3 tbsp instant dry milk powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Filling ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground pork (or meat of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup cabbage (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup green onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice tofu (optional, but I suggest you use it because it makes the pork moist)
  • 1 chinese sausage (optional, sliced into small pieces)
  • hard boiled eggs (optional)
     

Making the dough

  1. Combine the yeast with the warm water, set aside.
  2. Combine all the dry dough ingredients together in a food processor. Blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Mix the oil with the yeast and water mixture.
  4. Open the food processor and pour the liquid into the dry ingredients. Process for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the dough and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until double in size.

Making the filling

  1. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands.

Putting it together

  1. Divide the dough into 16 pieces (or make bigger buns -  your choice, you just get less buns)
  2. Roll out with rolling pin into 6 inch diameter
  3. Add 1 tbsp meat mixture.
  4. Fold ends of dough into each other like you are building stairs with them. (watch my video)
  5. Place onto cut up squares of parchment paper.
  6. Steam for 12 - 15 minutes depending on the size of the bun.

 

How to make steamed rice cake banh bo

steamed rice cake, banh bo


 

This is a delicious Vietnamese dessert called steamed rice cakes also known as banh bo.  When I was little, my grandma used to make this for me (minus the coconut milk). There is a chinese version to this cake that doesn't use coconut milk. In hmong we call this "ncuav sawv".

Many years ago when I tried to learn how to make this dessert, I failed miserably 13 times.  On my 14th attempt, I finally got the beautiful honeycombs in my steamed rice cake. Oh boy, what a journey that was!  The key to this recipe is PATIENCE!!!! Do not rush anything otherwise, you'll end up with a flat and unflattering cake.  I also found that the secret to nice honeycombs is also in the preparation of the first step. It is critical that you have a good solid container.

Update!
If you use instant yeast, you only need to allow the batter to rise for about 1 hour, then add the coconut/water/sugar mixture and let rest 20 minutes and then you can steam it. No need to wait 5-10 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 1 - 16 oz bag rice flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 package yeast or 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 - 13 oz can coconut milk (the cooking kind is preferred, do not use dessert coconut milk)
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar (adjust sugar to your liking)
  • 1 cup water
  • gallon ice cream bucket or other airtight container

Step 1

  1. Add 2 cups warm water, yeast, and 1 tbsp sugar to an ice cream bucket. Mix.
  2. Add rice flour and mix.
  3. Close lid, set aside for 5 - 10 hours (or overnight).  The batter will rise and fall.  The longer you keep it in the container, the stronger the flavor. 

Step 2

  1. In a small pot, add 1 cup water, coconut milk, and the sugar. Heat on medium until sugar is dissolved. Do not boil.
  2. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until cool.

Mixing it all together

  1. Using a whisk, stir the batter to loosen it from the ice cream bucket.
  2. Add the syrup from step 2 to the batter. Mix.  It will become the consistency like milk.
  3. Close lid.
  4. Set aside for 1 hour.

After 1 hour

  1. Open lid and you will see tiny air bubbles form.
  2. If you want to make multiple colors, separate the mixture into equal parts. Add food coloring of your choice. Skip this step if you don't want color.
  3. Heat a steamer to boiling and place a metal pie pan.  Make sure the metal pie pan is hot before you pour in the mixture.
  4. Steam on high for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. When the rice cake is done, the top surface should be solid.
  6. Remove from steamer and place into a freezer for about 10-15 minutes until cool.
  7. Transfer onto plate and cut. Serve

I hope you try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you!

Variations!

  • Steam in tart molds
  • Cut up the bottom of soda cans and use as a mold.  It has a unique shape!
  • Steam in small round molds or dishes

How to make sweet pork with eggs

sweet pork hmong

sweet pork hmong  sweet pork hmong

Sweet pork is a very popular dish at Hmong family gatherings.  This is a popular dish in Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and the Phillippines.  I will show you how I make my version of sweet pork.  It's very simple and easy! We call this in Hmong nqaj qaab zib or nqaij qab zib

I'll be very straight forward and honest, no one was willing to teach me this recipe.  Everytime I asked someone to show me how they made this dish, they would tell me it was very hard and complicated or they would tell me only half of the recipe.  So for many years, I experimented and tried different ways. I felt really bad asking for other people's recipes because some people don't want to give it away.  That's okay, I respect that.  So I went on my own food journey and tried making sweet pork.  I failed miserably many, many times.  The first time I made it, I put too much sugar and it came out like candied bacon. Hahaha!  The second time I  made it, it was way too salty.  The third time I made it, it tasted great but had no caramel color, it looked like boiled pork only.  As the story goes, many pounds of pork belly, sugar, and soy sauce later .... I finally resulted in this recipe which I use whenever I get a sweet pork craving.  Haha, do let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions how you make it. I'm very interested to know how you make your sweet pork recipe!

Sweet Pork Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pork belly, sliced
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3-5 pieces of star anise
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb ginger, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed tight
  • water, lots of it
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • additional soy sauce for browning eggs
     
  1. Marinate the pork belly in soy sauce and oyster sauce. Set aside.
  2. Boil the eggs. Then remove the eggshell when done.
  3. In a large pot, add oil.  Add the garlic and ginger. Stir until brown.  Add the brown sugar.
  4. When the sugar is melted, add the pork belly marinade including juices and all.
  5. Stir for a few minutes until the pork gets slightly white.  Then add 4 cups water or more  until the pork is all covered.
  6. Cook for 1 hour or more.  For more tender pork, keep adding water and cook 2 hrs or longer.  You can add the star anise at any time.
  7. The water will evaporate.  When it reaches the thickness you like, remove from heat and serve.

Remember, you can always adjust the taste by adding water, increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar or soy sauce!

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please leave me a comment if you try it or have any questions!

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