How to make Nab Vam tapioca strings

This is a super easy recipe to make Hmong Nab Vam strings (pronounced as na va), also known as tapioca worms.  My fellow sister in Christ, Nam Phoumee, taught me how to make this recipe! Thank you Nam Phoumee!!!!!

Nab Vam Ingredients:

  • 1 - 16oz bag of Bot Banh Gio flour (see picture below)
  • 9 cups of cold water
  • food coloring of your choice

Other stuff to get ready

  • a really big pot to cook the mixture
  • a steamer pot with a top pot that has holes and a bottom pot for water (I got mine from a korean store)
  • a big strong spoon (flat or round, preferably a wide spoon)

Let's start!

  1. Mix the flour and the 9 cups of cold water in a pot.  Stir until disolved.  It will resemble white milk.
     
  2. Add the food coloring of your choice.  I prefer to use the powder food color cos it makes the color brighter.
     
  3. Place the pot on the stove and cook on high heat and stir.
     
  4. Watch the pot closely and stir continously.  Within 3-5 minutes the mixture will start to thicken.  Then in the last few stages it will get really thick within a few seconds!!!! This is why it is important to use a big strong spoon. Keep stirring!
     
  5. When the mixture starts to develop big bubbles and get shiny, turn off the stove.
     
  6. Stack the steamer pot in the sink.
     
  7. Pour the hot mixture into the steamer.  Using the big spoon with a downward pressing stroking motion, press the mixture down through the holes.  The tiny strings will fall into the bottom steamer. The technique to this is to press downward and stroke it to the side.
     
  8. Scoop out the strings and put them in the container of your choice. (see picture above)

Update!!! -- I recently bought a potato ricer to try to make my worms and they turned out beautifully! You should try it out. You can buy it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

 

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment! The key to this is continuous stirring!

Dynamite Mussels

These mussels are exceptionally easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen mussels (I bought mine from the asian store)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (you can use the Japanese Kewpie brand or regular mayo)
  • a few squirts of sriracha sauce (adjust to your liking)
  • smelt roe fish eggs (optional)
     
  1. Thaw the mussels. Pat dry with a towel or napkin.
     
  2. Place mussels on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
     
  3. Mix the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce together til it blends together.
     
  4. Using a spoon, scoop out the sauce and layer it onto the mussels generously.
     
  5. Broil in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until it turns golden brown.
     
  6. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Variations

  • Add the smelt roe after you layer the mussels with mayo / sriracha sauce.
  • You can also cut up the mussels into smaller pieces and then place them back on the shells, then add the sauce and bake.  It makes it easier for eating.

Enjoy! Leave me any comments if you tried this! :-)

Hmong Long Cheng Bread

 

This is a delicious, warm sweet bread that is great with coffee or tea.  I learned how to make this bread from my sister in law Ntxawm Cheng.  Thank you Ntxawm Cheng!!!! It's a simple process.  She taught me how to make a huge batch.  But this version below is one that I slightly modified to make half the batch (about 30 loaves depending on how big you make them). 

I don't know what the real name of this bread is.  But it kind of tastes like the bread that I ate once in California, so I'm just nicknaming this that bread!

Hmong Long Cheng sweet bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 lb sugar (this is about 25% of a 4lb sugar bag)
  • 5 packages of vanilla sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 and 1/2 can water (use the coconut milk can)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 5 packages instant yeast
  • 5 lb bread flour (save at least 2 cups for dusting)
     
  • 1 large rectangle aluminum pan
  • 2 large aluminum baking sheets
  • parchment paper
     
  1. In a really large aluminum pan, mix evaporated skim milk, condensed milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar, coconut milk, water, baking powder, and yeast.  You'll get a slushy consistency.  I used my hands to do the mixing but if you want, you can use a whisk.  By using my hands, I'm able to feel if the sugar has been dissolved.
     
  2. Add the bread flour to the mixture and continue mixing until incorporated.  The mixture will resemble a really thick pancake batter and will be very sticky.
     
  3. In an oven, heat to 170 degrees.  If you have a warm feature in your oven, keep it at 170 degrees.  Cover the aluminum pan with foil and let the dough rise in the oven for about 1 hour.
     
  4. The dough will double its original size.  Remove from oven and place the pan on a solid surface.
     
  5. Dust your hands in flour and take a baseball size piece of dough.  Roll it into a hot dog bun shape and place onto the parchment paper 1 inch apart.  You can also roll it into a circle if you wish. Try different shapes!
     
  6. You can use two baking sheets to cut the cooking time in half.  Just remember, the bottom one will cook faster so you will have to keep an eye on it.
     
  7. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the bottom turns slightly brown.  The top may not be brown, but as it cools it gets brown. Remove and cool on a rack.

Variations:

  • Add some pandan custard to the inside when you are rolling the dough into pieces.
  • You can also try taro, vanilla custard, nutella, etc ... be creative!
  • You can also try to slice the top to make cool shapes like X's or other. Get creative!

Tips:

  • Personally, I like my buns soft so I try not to let the bottom part brown too much.  Once you take it out of the oven, it still continues to cook a little.  You will notice that the top will start to brown more even after it's out of the oven.
     
  • If you want to freeze the buns for later use, don't cook them all the way brown.  Use a tong to lift up the bottom to see how solid the bun is.  If it's flimsy, it's not cooked.  If it's firm but not brown, remove from oven. Let it cool first before putting into a bag or freezer.  If it's hot and you freeze it in a bag, condensation will build up and you will have a slimy bun hehe.

Good luck!  Please leave me a comment if you have any questions.  I'll be back to post more step by step pictures.  A lot of people have been asking me for this recipe so I am posting it here for you to try! I love to share, so sharing it is!

Here's a video if you want to see me in action!

 

Photoshop Geisha Tutorial

This is an Adobe Photoshop Geisha Tutorial.  Although there are many ways to get this look, here's my spin on this Geisha tutorial. Hope you like it!  The screenshots are for Mac users, but for PC users you can use the (control) key where I list the (command) key.

1.

Launch Photoshop and open a file. Duplicate the background (command+j)

2.

Go to Channels and select the Red channel. Press (command+a) then (command+c).

3.

Back in the Layers tab, add a new layer. Then press (command+v).

4.

From the Layers tab, switch Normal to Luminocity

5.

Command+m, adjust the curve like shown.

6.

Add new layer, color lips black (#000000), change Normal to Overlay

7.

Duplicate that same layer and change opacity to 35%

8.

Add new layer, use a soft brush and brush in some color where the eyelids are, use color (#f62f67).  Add a layer mask or use the eraser to remove the red parts on the eye ball.

9.

Add new layer, draw some lines on cheeks with a soft brush.  Use color (#f62f67). Change Normal to Hue.

10.

Select all layers and duplicate.

11.

Then merge layers. Deselect all the separate layers.

12.

On the flat layer, Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast, adjust the contrast to 41.

13.

Add kanzashi flower to image.  You can download the kazashi flower here and use in your own picture.

14.

Add new layer, use black to color in lines around the eye. Then change Normal to Overlay.

15.

Save image.  You're finished!

3 Days on a Juice Fast and How I Nearly Died and Live to Talk About It

Normally I have a moderate level of common sense but desperately seeking a way to lose some weight, I tried the Juice Fast.  On Saturday, July 9th, 2011 I watched "Fat, sick and nearly dead" on Netflix.  It was a documentary about a guy fasting on juice for 60 days.

Inspired by the idea, I wanted to go on my own juice fast for 7 days.  I went and bought myself a juicer and some fresh veggies/fruit.  All together I spent around $150 (juicer) and $50(fruit/veggie) = $200.00.  I thought, well this is only temporary so it probably wouldn't hurt to put juice in my body.  I had seen a nutritionist in the past and talked about fasting, but just never tried it.

I wash all my veggies thoroughly and rinse them in water multiple times. I also clean and sanitize my juicer after each use.

Day 1

The day went by great and I had no problems.  I was too motivated to lose weight and detox that I didn't care if I was eating or not.  I just drank the juice and went on my merry way.  I lost 2 pounds.
 

Day 2

The day went by okay.  In the evening I made a really digusting juice drink with beets and other veggies.  I was super hungry and couldn't stand the taste of swallowing juice any longer. I held my breath while I chugged the juice down.  At the end of the day, I lost another 3 pounds. Totaling 5 pounds! I was excited and had no idea what was coming for me the next day.

Day 3

The morning went well and my juice for breakfast was actually really good. I had juiced some strawberries, blueberries, cucumber, and carrots.  Then at lunch I juiced some leafy greens, carrot, apple and ginger.  While I was at work, I started to get hot flashes and then I started sweating like rain.

2:00 p.m.

I started feeling nausea. The hot flashes continued.  I felt an eruption of liquid coming up my throat so I ran to the restroom as fast as I could. Then for the next 5 minutes, I threw up in the toilet. I couldn't breathe because I kept gagging.  After it had finished, I cleaned up the area, washed my hands and returned to my desk.

2:30 p.m.

Oh no, the eruption feeling returned and I ran to the restroom again, this time nearly making it to the restroom door!  I had puked on my shirt.  When I finally got to the stall, water flew out of my mouth like a firehose.  It felt like a scene out of the exorcist, for reals. I was sweating like I was running a marathon or something.  My eyes were crying, my face was flushed red, and my neck looked like someone just strangled me.

3 p.m.

I couldn't take it anymore, so I went home.  On my way to the parking lot, I puked again on myself and used my hand to cover my mouth.  Then while I was driving, I puked all over the car and on the dashboard.  My shirt was drenched, my pants were soaked. It was so disgusting.  I was drenched from puke and sweat.  This was my horror.  Little did I know it would only get worse.

3:20 p.m.

I immediately ran to the shower and took a cold shower to cool off my body.  As soon as I got out of the shower, that's when the diarrhea came.  This was the single worst terrirfying stomach experience I've ever had in my entire life.  It was shooting from both ends; water firehosing from my mouth and diarrhea shooting from the other end. OMG, I seriously was in horror and felt like I had poison in my system.  I don't know if my body was releasing toxins or whatever, but it felt like poison as if someone was squeezing the living life out of me.  My body was giving up.  My body was rejecting everything and now it was forcing it all out! I was shaking, gagging, and sweating.  For two hours, I sat on the toilet and this repeated until I had no strength left.  I wanted to go to the ER so bad but I couldn't leave the toilet! It was hurting so bad, I was begging God to stop this pain. What made it worse was that I had to smell the vomit... it was the leafy green juice, OMFG ....

6 p.m.

I crawled to my bed and passed out.  Out cold for one hour.

7 p.m.

Saliva started building in my mouth and I started to swallow it.  As soon as that liquid hit my stomach, BAM! I started to puke.  Again, I raced to the toilet and the entire process started again. DAMN me.

8 p.m.

I asked my sister in law to help make me some chicken broth to drink.  I took a sip of Sprite to see if it would help with my stomach.  Nope. It just enforced the diarrhea to come again.

9 p.m.

I slowly drank the chicken broth. I tried to eat a small spoon of rice but it wouldn't go down my throat.  I felt as if my esophagus had no muscles to move food down.

10 p.m.

My husband finally got home from work.  He asked me if I still wanted to go to the ER.  By this time, the diarrhea had slowed down and I was stable enough that I didn't have to puke every 10 minutes if I put liquid down my throat.  I was so exhausted, I just went to bed.

12 a.m.

I puked and had diarrhea all over again.  DAMN. DAMN. DAMN.  I could not sleep at all.

Today - July 13, 2011

I couldn't make it to work today.  No energy and still had diarrhea.  The puking had subsided finally.  From the left over chicken broth, I added some rice noodles to make myself some porridge.  I was able to eat that okay and didn't manage to throw it all back up. I weight myself and alltogether through this entire ordeal, lost 10 pounds.

Lessons Learned

  1. My body was starving.  It was telling me I needed to stop juice fasting, so it slapped me in the face with my own puke.
  2. Losing a grand total of 10 pounds on the juice fast was NOT WORTH THE SUFFERING. HELL NO. NEVER!
  3. When juicing, never mix fruit and vegetables together.  It causes side effects.
  4. Some combinations of fruit juices together do not work well.  Hence, side effects.
  5. Do not do strenuous exercise while juice fasting. I did some minor aerobics and walked, nothing too strenuous but I should have not done anything.
  6. Don't be too naive to fall for something you see on TV or get easily motivated by how others lose weight.  Remember, the people in "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" were supervised by a physician and they did not have the added stress of a job at the time they were fasting.

Thanks for reading my blog. 
 

Day 2 Juice Fast

So tonight's juice consists of beet, strawberries, blueberries, snow peas, and a pear (I added the pear last because it needed something to make it sweeter).  Today was so HARD. I tried so hard to not look at foodporn.

The strawberries tasted great.  This is the first time I ever ate beet before. It is okay, has a really strong flavor though.

It came out really frothy. I didn't like the froth so I disgarded it.

This is how the juicer keeps the pulp separate from the juice.

Here's the pulp. WOW, so damn pretty for pulp.

Here's a pic of the pear I said I added in later.  Having the pear really made a difference in the taste.

Here's the final snapshot of the juice. It looks extremely pink and potent, which it is~! OMGAH, this juice is super strong in flavor!!!! I'm not so used to this, but I'm getting the hang of it.

Verdict of this juice: FAIL. I didn't like it. I think it's the beet that I don't like the taste of!

Day 2 Summary

  • Breakfast: 16 oz apple, carrot, cucumbers, orange, ginger (favorite of the day)
  • Lunch: 16 oz watermelon, cucumber, lemon, some leafy greens
  • Dinner: 16 oz beet, strawberries, snow peas, blueberries, pear (least favorite, most prettiest but man so hard to drink it)
  • Water throughout the day.

How do I feel today?
Today was rough.  Any smells of food made me just want to quit this juice fast and go for some hot food. BUT, I stopped myself from cheating because I know I must make a lifestyle change with the way I eat. Going on this juice fast probably is not the healthiest way to eat, but I'm only trying this for a week.  Please God, help me make it to day 7.

How much weight did I lose so far?
Well, I'm only on day 2, but I've lost about 2 pounds so far since yesterday. WOW. Water weight probably, but heck who cares! It's 2 muthafreakin pounds!

Am I going to exercise tonight?
Yes, gonna walk some and then maybe do some easy stretches. I am sore from yesterday.
 

 

Fat Sick And Nearly Dead

I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" on Netflix last night.  The documentary was really good. It inspired me to go on my own juice fast journey. 

Why do I want to do this?
I'm tired of getting hives & rashes that no doctor can explain.  Everything Joe mentioned in his film, I can relate to. I also need to lose weight and rid myself of these toxins in my body.

How am I going to do this?
Today I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy a Breville Juice Fountain for around $149+taxes.  I also went to Cub Foods and bought about $30.00 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables to get me started.

Okay, so now I have the juicer ... what should I do?
So my first juice concoction was a mixture of fresh snow peas, granny smith apples, carrots, and ginger. 

How did it look?
At first glance, once I stirred the juice it came out as a green-orangish color.  Sorry, I was too excited, I didn't take a picture. Haha!

How did it taste?
Mmmm, it was actually pretty good.  The ginger gave the juice a "kick" and I could really taste the snow peas. It was very light and refreshing.

How do I feel afterwards?
I drank about 16 oz of the juice.  I don't feel hungry or anything.  Well it's only been a couple of hours now.  We'll see how I feel afterwards.

Next steps?
I think my next concoction will include grapes, cucumbers, pears, leafy greens, spinach, watermelon and others!

 

Where to eat pho in Madison WI

This picture was taken on my Droid phone at Ha Long Bay, 1353 Williamson Street, Madison, WI.  This place has a variety of asian dishes ranging from Vietnamese, Lao, and Thai.  I was craving for some pho and since Ha Long Bay is the closest Vietnamese restaurant closest to me, I drove down to Williamson Street despite that the street was under construction.  In this picture, I ordered "PH8", it is the deluxe pho that comes with flank steak, meatballs, soft tendons, and tripe.  This is before I added any of the condiments. 

These are my favorite condiments:  (adjust the amount to fit your tastebuds)

  • lemon
  • beansprouts
  • basil leaf
  • jalepeno peppers
  • sriracha sauce
  • hoison sauce
  • sugar
  • fish sauce
  • crushed peanuts

Another place to eat pho is at Saigon Noodles, 6754 Odana Road, Madison, WI on Madison's west side.  I love this place too, but it is far to drive across town sometimes when traffic is bad. 

You can also eat pho at Lee's Bistro, 4604 Monona Drive, Madison WI.  The pho is okay here, but they didn't have many condiments to go with my pho and the portions were small.

Overall, I like Ha Long Bay and Saigon Noodles. If you want some Vietnamese Tri Color dessert, you'll have to drive to Saigon Noodles.  That is the only place in the Madison area that sells the best tri color dessert!

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