Tuesday, January 31, 2012

US intelligence warns Iran poised to conduct terror attacks in US

No further details provided. Live well but be vigilant.

read more here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homemade Shangdong Food

I was invited to a Shandong Friend's house last night for dinner and tasted amazingly delicious and healthy food. No rice, only homemade sourdough Mantou ( taste like a very mild soft pretzel) and 3 kinds of salad and Dumplings. Together with many plates of fresh fruits. An array of Chinese and American wine. Very simple but delicious.(only a couple of pics were successful)
Sourdough Mantou

Asparagus Salad. recipe from http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/shandong-style-asparagus/

cucumber salad

Seaweed salad recipe from http://about-chinesefood.com/cookbook/seaweed-salad-3794/


Chinese cuisine has a number of different genres, but the most influential and typical known by the public are the 'Eight Cuisines'. Shandong Cuisine is one of them.

As early as the Spring and Autumn Period, more than 3,000 years ago, Shandong was territory of Qi and Lu. Both states were economically and culturally developed. Because they bordered the sea, and had mountains and fertile plains, they had abundant aquatic products and grains as well as sea salt. The people of the area have stressed seasonings and flavorings since ancient times.

always enough with lyrics by casting crowns

Friday, January 27, 2012

China’s very mysterious data

China is a marvellous country. I wish them the best. But they have not found the secret formula for perpetual uber-growth.
No such formula exists.
Read more here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Current Rules of Engagement puts not only Americans troops in Danger but enables easy recruitment of Suicide Bombers

"The rules of engagement are meant to placate [President Hamid] Karzai's government at our expense. They say it's about winning the hearts and minds, but it's not working. We're not putting fear into the enemy, only our troops."
Taliban can be said to have succeeded for now. Wow, American forces operating in fear by rules laid out by themselves.  An American Presidency that wants to negotiate with them. They don't even need to use any of their own resources to instil fear in the American troops. Cool, now they can use their resources to recruit more Suicide Bombers. Young naive boys and girls can be shown how easily it is to confront American troops, just sit back and watch how they disintegrate themselves. 
Read more on The controversy of Joshua Waddell, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/world/2012/01/marines-career-threatened-controversial-rules-engagement/2127401#.Tx8JRUmFGGA.facebook#ixzz1kQqWugVZ

Yusheng, an undiscovered Dish Americans would love

usually seasonings like salt and pepper, sesame seeds etc are kept in these red packets and opened at the table.
Everyone toss it together as high as possible while saying aloud happy festive wishes

The art of YuSheng is not so much in its recipes, more the way it is eaten. A happy gather of people who want only good things for one another. Some add wasabi, chilli peppers, abalone, lobster to their dish. Creativity is allowed.

Yu Sheng 鱼生 similar sound as 余升(meaning abundance rising) - an Auspicious Chinese New Year Dish

Throughout Chinese New Year (15 days), Singaporean and Malaysian families gather to eat a dish that is meant to summon good luck for the rest of the year. But it's not so much the eating that brings good luck - it's what you do before you eat it.
Lo- Hei :a happy communal experience we look forward every year.

The dish is called Yu Sheng ("raw fish"). It's a salad of thin slices of raw fish, combined with sauces, spices, cracklings, and vegetables.
The ingredients are served unmixed, and the guests combine the ingredients then toss them in the air with expressions of good luck, such as "Lo Hei!" (tossing luck)

As a raw fish salad, the fish (preferably mackerel and Salmon) must be extremely fresh, and the vegetables must be newly sliced.Yu sheng is just one of many traditional Chinese New Year foods you can enjoy throughout the celebrations.

Here are 2 recipes :
A.Nonya (Straits Chinese) Yu Sheng 
Shredded carrots, radish & colorfully pickled ones, cucumber,jellyfish, crunchy wonton skins, different kinds of seaweed, pickled vegetables, pomela fruit

Key ingredient - Raw sushi grade salmon and mackerel

plum sauce, sambal belachan( lime juice, chopped lime leaves, rojak flower, and coriander), sesame seeds and crushed peanuts

B.Prosperous More Fruits Yu Sheng
Strawberry , grapefruit, jicama and apricot on top, kiwi, cantaloupe, cucumber, mango, and carrot. In the center salmon sashimi on top of cabbage, garnish with cilantro, spring onion and fried shallot. Before serving, pour over plum sauce dressing and grounded peanut.

Plum Sauce recipe:
4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp peanut oil, 2 tbsp plum sauce (from bottled), 1/2 tsp each of white pepper. five-spice powder, cinnamon powder, juice of 1 green lime, toasted sesame seed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bill Would Create School Holiday for Lunar New Year

Jan. 23, 2012, 4:45 p.m.
In many communities throughout the United States, people are commemorating the Lunar, or Chinese, New Year on Monday. In San Francisco, public students have the day off. So do public school students in Tenafly, N.J. Yes, Tenafly, which has a sizable Korean population.
In New York, State Senator Daniel L. Squadron and Assemblywoman Grace Meng are calling on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to declare the Lunar New Year a school holiday. The two, both Democrats, said the day was “the Asian community’s most important and greatest holiday.”
“One out of every six New York City school students is Asian American, and today they have to choose between observing it with their families and community or going to school,” said Mr. Squadron, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, including Chinatown. read more here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Love is

We listened to the meaning of Love at church today. I will never be all of these qualities, but I can try. Then one day, in God's time. I will be with Him where I can be surrounded by the perfect Love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

New International Version (NIV)
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A little Oak Tree

by J Greathouse

There is a little oak tree
in my backyard
that understands

Standing alone
fighting the unknown
So out of place
with the rest she has to face

she is among
a group of  Pines
All standing handsome
all fine

The little oak tree
hidden beneath
is adored dearly
by the Big Pine beside her she sees

The Pine is nestle among his peers of Pines
All standing strong and reaching high
Looks down on the little oak tree and say
Smile, you have me.  

The rest of the Pines
are always so nice
Everyone seems
To want her in the team

The little oak tree tries to be
A part of the company
So she leans close and stays small
Snuggly, observing from behind

The Pines are evergreen
Whether it is hot or cold
The Pines seems to thrive
the harder the times

No matter how the little oak tree tries
Half the year, brown she will go by
Stands out like an odd one
even though she is shy

See, the little oak tree
will never be
A Pine
Because the oak tree is an oak tree
No matter how Pine she wishes she could be

The little oak tree looks at me
and unlocks my heart like a key
Even though we are not the same
I know, she says, what flows in your vein

Surrounded by Love
Shaded by Security
Supported by Faith
Yet I still long
To be

In a far away place
where my mother is
and where the family
can always make me
Feel a little more, me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rhema Marvanne - Note to God - with lyrics.

Liberal Washington Post Thinks Keystone XL Decision A Bad One » Pirate's Cove

Liberal Washington Post Thinks Keystone XL Decision A Bad One » Pirate's Cove

BREAKING NEWS: Rick Santorum Won Iowa

via redstate.com
By 34 votes, Rick Santorum won Iowa. For the past two weeks we have heard Mitt Romney was the first non-incumbent to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Wrong!
The Des Moines Register reports Rick Santorum won. More troubling for the Iowa GOP, the GOP reports it will never have a completely accurate vote count because the votes in some precincts have gone missing.
The only thing that can be said for sure is Rick Santorum is the real winner.
If Newt Gingrich now wins South Carolina, we are in for a heck of a ride.

Mitt has ‘splainin’ to do

Mitt has ‘splainin’ to do

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wiki goes dark

Wikipedia goes dark for 24 hours to protest web piracy bills

Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day? The shutdown of one of the Internet's most-visited sites is not sitting well with some of its volunteer editors, who say the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten the credibility of their work.
"My main concern is that it puts the organization in the role of advocacy, and that's a slippery slope," said editor Robert Lawton, a Michigan computer consultant who would prefer that the encyclopedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge. "Before we know it, we're blacked out because we want to save the whales."
Wikipedia's English-language site shut down at midnight Eastern Standard Time Tuesday and the organization said it would stay down for 24 hours.
Instead of encyclopedia articles, visitors to the site saw a stark black-and-white page with the message: "Imagine a world without free knowledge." It carried a link to information about the two congressional bills and details about how to reach lawmakers.
It is the first time the English site has been blacked out. Wikipedia's Italian site came down once briefly in protest to an Internet censorship bill put forward by the Berlusconi government. The bill did not advance.
The shutdown adds to a growing body of critics who are speaking out against the legislation. But some editors are so uneasy with the move that they have blacked out their own user profile pages or resigned their administrative rights on the site to protest. Some likened the site's decision to fighting censorship with censorship.
One of the site's own "five pillars" of conduct says that Wikipedia "is written from a neutral point of view." The site strives to "avoid advocacy, and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them."
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales argues that the site can maintain neutrality in content even as it takes public positions on issues.
"The encyclopedia will always be neutral. The community need not be, not when the encyclopedia is threatened," he tweeted.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which administers the site, announced the blackout late Monday, after polling its community of volunteer contributors and editors and getting responses from 1,800 of them. The protest is aimed at the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act under consideration in the Senate.
"If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States," the foundation said.
Both bills are designed to crack down on sales of pirated American products overseas, and they have the support of the film and music industry. Among the opponents are many Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay and AOL. They say the bills would hurt the industry and infringe on free-speech rights.
Social news website Reddit.com is shutting down for 12 hours on Wednesday, but most companies are staying up. Google Inc.'s home page linked to a petition urging Congress: "Don't censor the Web."
Dick Costollo, CEO of Twitter, said he opposes the legislation as well, but shutting down the service was out of the question.
"Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish," Costollo tweeted.
Since Wikimedia depends on a small army of volunteers who create and update articles, it's particularly concerned about a lack of exemptions in the bills for sites where users might contribute copyrighted content. Today, it has no obligation under U.S. law except removing that content if a copyright holder complains. But under the House version of the bill, it could be shut down unless it polices its own pages.
The plans for the protest were moving forward even though the bill's prospects appeared to be dimming. On Saturday, Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the bill would not move to the House floor for a vote unless consensus is reached. However, Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said work on the bill would resume next month.
The White House raised concerns over the weekend, pledging to work with Congress to battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy and innovation in the Internet. The administration signaled it might use its veto power, if necessary.
That the bill seems unlikely to pass is another reason Lawton opposes the blackout.
"I think there are far more important things for the organization to focus aside from legislation that isn't likely to pass anyway," he said. He's been contributing to Wikipedia for eight years.
Danny Chia, another contributor to the site, said he had mixed feelings about the blackout. The neutrality applies to the content, but a lot of people interpret it as being about the site as a whole, said the Los Altos, Calif., software engineer.
In an online discussion, others raised the same point about the blackout: Appearances matter, and if the audience sees Wikipedia taking a stand, it might not believe the articles are objective, either.
Wikipedia has seen a small decline in participation, from a peak of 100,000 active editors a year ago to about 90,000 now. Wikimedia Foundation blames this mainly on outdated editing tools, and believes it can get the number growing again with software upgrades.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homemade Bak Kwa 肉乾 - Sweet Sticky Grilled Pork Jerky

The best part of making your own Bak Kwa is you can season to your liking and it is healthier. Why spend all the time and energy and pay more for something you can simply make at home. 
  • 1 kg ground pork
Marinate with the following seasoning:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 200g sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1/8 teaspoon five spiced powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon plum powder or zest of an orange ( if not available, skip this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons rose wine / hao tiao wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey

 Season the ground pork with the marinating ingredients and mix thoroughly.
 Leave the pork in the fridge overnight or at least for four hours for the marinates to permeate the pork.

 Preheat the oven to 175F.Place dollops of the marinated pork on a baking sheet and try to spread the meat as thinly as possible to cover the whole sheet. I am using a toaster oven to do this. Should not be thicker than a fork but not too too thin also. Remember you have to grill it later.

 Bake in the 175F oven for 15 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch.
To store, you can layer the pork pieces in between layers of aluminum foil  or glad wraps to prevent them from sticking together.

The bak kwa is now ready for grilling or wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and freeze
until needed.

 Grill the bak kwa in medium heat to prevent burning. Or you can broil it in the oven but stand right next to it and watch. It should take 1-2 mins. The meat will shrink. Serve as with best quality tea. 

Our Daily Challenge in our relationship with others - Ich versus Du

Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated to English in 1937. (via wikipedia)
Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:
  • that of the "I" towards an "It", towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience;
  • and that of the "I" towards "Thou", in which we move into existence in a relationship without bounds.
One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. All of our relationships, Buber contends, bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou.
Buber explains that humans are defined by two word pairs: "I-It" and "I-Thou".
For "I-It," the "It" refers to the world of experience and sensation. I-It describes entities as discrete objects drawn from a defined set (e.g., he, she or any other objective entity defined by what makes it measurably different from other living entities). It can be said that "I" have as many distinct and different relationships with each "It" as there are "It"s in my life. Fundamentally, "It" refers to the world as we experience it.
By contrast, the word pair "I-Thou" describes the world of relations. This is the "I" that does not objectify any "It" but rather acknowledges a living relationship. "I-Thou" relationships are sustained in the spirit and mind of an "I" for however long the feeling or idea of relationship is the dominant mode of perception. A person sitting next to a complete stranger on a park bench may enter into an "I-Thou" relationship with the stranger merely by beginning to think positively about people in general. The stranger is a person as well, and gets instantaneously drawn into a mental or spiritual relationship with the person whose positive thoughts necessarily include the stranger as a member of the set of persons about whom positive thoughts are directed. It is not necessary for the stranger to have any idea that he is being drawn into an "I-Thou" relationship for such a relationship to arise. But what is crucial to understand it the word pair "I-Thou" can refer to a relationship with a tree, the sky, or the park bench itself as much as it can refer to the relationship between two individuals. The essential character of "I-Thou" is the abandonment of the world of sensation, the melting of the between, so that an individual stands in direct relationship with another "I".
Despite the separation of "I" from the "It" and "Thou" in this very sentence describing the relationship, Buber's two notions of "I" require attachment to a word partner. Despite our splitting of these individual terms for the purposes of analysis, there is to Buber's mind either an "I-Thou" or an "I-It" relationship. Every sentence man uses with I, refers to the two pairs: I-Thou and I-It. This instance is also interchangeable with Thou and It which would refer to I. It is bounded by others and It can only exist through this attachment because for every object there is another object. Thou on the other hand, has no limitations. When Thou is spoken, the speaker has no thing or has nothing which means that Thou is abstract. The speaker yet “takes his stand in relation”.
What does it mean when a person experiences the world? Man goes around the world hauling out knowledge from the world. These experiences present man with only words of It, He, She and It with contrast to I-Thou. What this means is that the experiences are all physical and do involve a great deal of spirituality. The twofold nature of the world means that our being in the world has two aspects: the aspect of experience, which is perceived by I-Its, and the aspect of relation, which is perceived by I-Thou.


Buber uses an example of a tree and presents five separate relations:
  1. the first relation is looking at the tree as a picture with the color and details through the aesthetic perception;
  2. the second relation is identifying the tree as movement. The movement includes the flow of the juices through the veins of the tree, the breathing of the leaves, the roots sucking the water, the never-ending activities between the tree and earth and air, and the growth of the tree;
  3. the third relation is categorizing the tree by its type, in other words, studying it;
  4. the fourth relation is the ability to look at something from a different perspective. “I can subdue its actual presence and form so sternly that I recognize it only as an expression of law”;
  5. the fifth relation is interpreting the experience of the tree in mathematical terms.
Through all of these relations, the tree is still an object that occupies time and space and still has the characteristics that make it what it is.[1]
If "Thou" is used in the context of an encounter with a human being, the human being is not He, She, or bound by anything. You do not experience the human being; rather you can only relate to him or her in the sacredness of the I-Thou relation. The I-Thou relationship cannot be explained; it simply is. Nothing can intervene in the I-Thou relationship. I-Thou is not a means to some object or goal, but a definitive relationship involving the whole being of each subject. The inevitable fate of Thou is to become an It.
Love is a subject-to-subject relationship. Like the I-Thou relation, love is not a relation of subject to object, but rather a relation in which both members in the relationship are subjects and share the unity of being. The ultimate Thou is God. In the I-Thou relation there are no barriers, and this means that man can relate directly to God. God is ever-present in human consciousness, and manifests himself in music, literature, and other forms of culture. As previously mentioned, Thou is inevitably addressed as It. Because of this, the I-Thou relation becomes the being of the I-Thou relation. God is now spoken to directly not spoken about.
God is the worldwide relation to all relations. There is no world that disconnects man from God. What this is a world of It alone. The individual’s action is guided by I-Thou. "One who truly meets the world goes out also to God."

Monday, January 16, 2012

20120108華人星光大道 關詩敏 - 我是真的愛你

20120108華人星光大道 關詩敏 - Express

Chinese Egg Dumpling - great in Hot Pot or stand alone appetizer

Chinese Egg Dumpling
Flavorful and Golden. Tasty and Pretty. Add them to your Chinese New Year Hot Pot.
via Kaleidoscope

5 eggs
500 grams (1.1 lb) ground meat
I like to add diced shitake mushrooms and carrots
5 grams (5/6 tsp) salt
instead of MSG as called in this recipe, I like to add a tbsp of cooking wine 
a dash of sugar so the stuffing is not sickly salty
a dash of oyster sauce
5 grams (1/6 oz) finely cut scallions
5 grams (1/6 oz) chopped ginger
25 grams (1 2.3 tbsp) cooking oil
1. Add the salt, MSG, scallions and ginger to the meat and stir well until substance becomes sticky.
2. Whip the eggs in a bowl and mix with the oil as follows: Put some of the oil in a large steel soup ladle 8 cm (3.2 inches) in diameter and heat over low fire, then add into the ladle some of the whipped eggs. Turn the ladle frequently to allow the eggs to coat the sides of the ladle and thus form a small wrapping for the meat. Put in 25 g (5/6 oz) of the meat and fold the wrapping in the ladle with the help of a pair of chopsticks to make a dumpling, Heat one more minute and place on a plate. Repeat this procedure until the whipped egg and ground meat are used. Steam for 10 minutes and the egg dumplings are ready to be served. Alternatively, boil in soup.
make sure the ladle is not too hot or too cold

OR you can do it the way my mom taught me, in a non stick wok

Friday, January 13, 2012

Five technologies to watch

Innovation in energy technology is taking place rapidly. Five technologies you may not have heard of could be ready to change the energy landscape by 2020.

Recent breakthroughs in natural-gas extraction highlight the speed with which game-changing technologies can transform the natural-resource landscape. Just over the horizon are others—such as electric vehicles, advanced internal-combustion engines, solar photovoltaics, and LED lighting—that are benefiting from the convergence of software, consumer electronics, and traditional industrial processes. Each has the potential to grow by a factor of ten in the next decade.
Placing rapidly evolving technologies such as these on a resource cost curve, however, is difficult: their impact could be very big or very small. And that’s even more the case for technologies that require significant scientific and engineering innovations to reach commercial scale at viable cost. This article describes five technologies that could start arriving in earnest by 2020 or so: grid-scale storage, digital-power conversion, compressorless air conditioning and electrochromic windows, clean coal, and electrofuels and new biofuels.
Not all of these will succeed in the market; they will earn a place only if they can outperform the rising bar defined by other rapidly advancing technologies. But even if only some of them pan out, those could transform the energy landscape. It’s possible, in fact, that the development of energy technologies is approaching a tipping point that will generate increases in energy productivity on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution.
Grid-scale storage. The large-scale storage of electricity within electric power grids allows power generated overnight to meet peak load during the day. Today, this kind of grid storage costs about $600 to $1,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh) and can be used only when the local geology supports pumped-hydro or compressed-air storage systems. Innovations using flow batteries, liquid-metal batteries, flywheels, and ultracapacitors could reduce costs to $150 to $200 per kWh by 2020 and make it possible to provide grid storage in every major metropolitan market. At these prices, by 2020 the United States alone would want to build more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of storage (the capacity equivalent of the current US nuclear-generation fleet).
That much storage capacity would be transformative: currently, our power grid tends to use only 20 to 30 percent of its capacity because we build it to meet very high demand peaks. With storage, we can flatten out those peaks, reducing capital requirements for transmission and distribution and making power much cheaper to deliver. Power companies also could use storage to smooth variability in the supply of weather-dependent renewables, such as solar and wind power, thereby converting them from intermittent power sources into much more reliable ones.
Digital-power conversion. Large-scale high-voltage transformers, developed in the late 1880s, set the stage for the widespread development of the electrical grid. Virtually the same technology is still in use today. A typical transformer costs $20,000, weighs 10,000 pounds, and takes up 250 cubic feet. High-speed digital switches made of silicon carbide and gallium nitride have been developed for high-frequency power management for everything from military jets to high-speed rail. They use 90 percent less energy, take up only about 1 percent as much space, and are more reliable and flexible than existing transformers. Today’s advanced applications include consumer electronics and variable-speed industrial drives for manufacturing. As such applications expand and the major semiconductor manufacturers begin to produce these technologies at scale, they could replace conventional transformers in the utility industry (at less than one-tenth the cost) by 2020. China is particularly well positioned to benefit from adopting digital-power electronics because of the scale of its planned grid expansion.
Compressorless air conditioning and electrochromic windows. Today, it costs about $3,000 to $4,000 a year to run a high-efficiency air conditioner in a hot region, and even the efficient windows now commonly used allow 50 percent of the cooling energy to escape. New compressorless air conditioners dehumidify the air with desiccants rather than the traditional “compress/decompress” refrigeration cycle. Electrochromic window technologies change the window shading, depending on the temperature difference between outside and inside. These technologies offer the potential to cut home-cooling bills in half. Advanced windows also could slash heating costs by half, allowing the sun to warm houses while keeping the cold out—the new windows are often better than the standard attic insulation in cold-climate homes today. These technologies are expensive now, but by 2020 they should cost only about half as much to install as current state-of-the-art cooling and window technologies do.
Clean coal. Today, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) costs $8,000 to $10,000 per kilowatt (kW). Innovative processes now under development could help coal-fired generators to capture more than 90 percent of their carbon dioxide, at a cost of less than $2,000 per kW. If the technology is viable by 2020, it would be possible for nearly 70 percent of the roughly 200 US coal plants currently slated for closure in that year to stay open for decades. The same goes for similar plants in China and Europe. Without supportive carbon regulations, though, we are unlikely to see clean coal deployed at scale. Coal without carbon sequestration will always be cheaper than coal with it. On current course, though, coal with carbon sequestration could become cheaper, more reliable, and more widely deployable than many renewable technologies.
Biofuels and electrofuels. With crude-oil prices approaching $100 a barrel, market shares for biofuels such as cane and corn ethanol are rising rapidly. Although second-generation cellulosic biofuels have proved harder to make than many had hoped five years ago, innovative start-ups focused on cellulosic and algae-based biofuels are starting to create high-margin specialty chemicals and blendstocks, generating cash now and suggesting a pathway to deliver biofuels at $2 a gallon or less by 2020. At the same time, biopharmaceutical researchers are developing electrofuel pathways that feed carbon dioxide, water, and energy to enzymes to create long-chain carbon molecules that function like fossil fuels at one-tenth the cost of current biofuels. The key question is whether these new technologies can be scaled. If they can, today’s constraints on biofuels—the declining quality of available land and “food for fuel” trade-offs—may diminish.
Many other technologies could play a major role further out in the future, such as small, modular “Gen IV” nuclear reactors; next-generation fusion technology; small, shrouded wind turbine designs; solid-oxide fuel cells; and low-cost ground-source heat pumps. Not all of them will come to fruition, but some will—and those that do could change energy markets dramatically. The rate of change in the underlying technologies is much faster than the market currently expects. Leaders of companies and countries who neglect what is happening on the margins today risk being pushed to the margins themselves in the not-too-distant future.

Year of the Dragon - Symbolism and Food

Circular candy tray (candy for sweet and circular for togetherness).
via Chinese Horoscope
Chinese Astrology is a Balance Theory of Five Elements. Each animal can be converted into Five Elements. Dragon contains Earth, Water and Wood. It's a source of Water and It is also called the Water Dam in Chinese astrology. Since Water of 2012 comes with Dragon. it implied Water from the sky makes a dam overflow. Therefore 2012 is a strong Water year.( We need that in Louisiana) 
Dragon is a legendary animal and it is symbol of emperor in China. Since the Dragon is coated with mysterious color, Chinese consider that the dragon is unpredictable, untouchable and people cannot see its head and tail at the same time. Therefore, we can might see something unexpected happening in 2012. Also a person with too many dragons in the Chinese astrology birth chart will become smarter, sly and unpredictable in the coming year.

North American Chinese New Year Favorite dishes. For recipes, click on the individual names.

Egg rolls or Spring rolls or Gold Bars (symbolize wealth)
Chinese Boiled Pork Dumplings (also symbolize wealth)
Pan Fried Shrimp & Pork Potstickers (wealth)
Fresh Pear and Shrimp Stir Fry (shrimp for happiness and joy)
Shrimp Fried Rice(shrimp for happiness and joy)
Hainanese Chicken Rice (serve your chicken whole & cut at table for Chinese New Year. Cooking a whole chicken or duck represents wholesome health)
Taiwanese Beef Noodles (noodles for longevity)
Chinese Lettuce Cups (lettuce = rising fortune)
Stir Fried Beef with Mango or Nectarine(nectarine = happiness, health)
Chinese Whole Steamed Fish (having more than enough for this coming year)
Chinese Tea Eggs (for prosperity)

Chinese New Year Superstitions
In addition to food…there are some traditions that are important to welcome in the new year.
  • Clean your house to rid of bad luck! But please make sure you do this BEFORE the first day of Chinese New Year.
  • Clear all debts for a new beginning. 
  • Wearing new clothes: Wearing new clothes on Chinese New Year is something I’ve done since I can remember! This symbolizes having more than enough for the new year. You want to try to look as fresh and new as possible. However, do NOT wash your hair on New Year’s day – it would mean washing away good luck! Wear bright red (happiness & joy) or gold (prosperity).
  • Must exchange 2 tangerines/oranges with visitors or when visiting someone during chinese new year for good luck and give all children red envelopes with money in them. Try to keep the dollar amount an even number – happiness comes in pairs! Odd numbers are are for funerals. Try to get crisp new bills from the bank. How much to give? It’s just a nice tradition and gesture, so you really don’t have to go crazy.
  • Serve a candy tray of sweets to all visitors –yon it you can place nuts, pastries, cookies, candy, chocolates.
  • Blooming Flowers ( also a great gift): Fill your house with beautiful blooming flowers and plants, especially plum blossoms and chrysanthemums (both symbolize prosperity), pussy willows, bamboo, pine (longevity), peony.  Flowers and plants represent new growth and a blossoming new year.
  • No harsh words, negative attitudes or fighting, kid or it will set the tone for the rest of the year!
  • Firecrackers: Are meant to scare off the bad spirits.
  • Color Red: Colorful bright vivid red scares off bad spirits and demons too! Red also symbolizes virtue, joy and happiness.
  • Dragon Dance: Ushers in the New Year bringing good luck.
  • Do not say the number “four” – which symbolizes death in Chinese

Thursday, January 12, 2012

American Egg Rolls and Vietnamese Spring Rolls Recipes

Egg rolls are a great Chinese New Year Appetizer. They taste great warm or cold, left over can be toasted and taste even better. The american egg rolls are widely accepted among americans using thicker wraps. I have tried serving many different kind of egg rolls including Chinese,Vegetarian and Singaporean at parties. But if you have non-Asians coming to your party, it is best to stick to the traditional american egg rolls or the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Generally, egg rolls mean using a thicker wrap/skin. Spring Rolls means using a thinner wrap/ rice paper. Personally, I prefer the thinner spring roll wraps which you can get from any chinese grocery store. My favorite brand of course is Singapore made, TYJ Spring Roll Pastry. But you can try others. It looks like this. 

The Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll is also a favorite among non- Asians. It is light and very crunchy and uses shrimp and thinner wraps. I like the non fried ones but I won't recommend for a large party because it dries out rather quickly and tastes like plastic after that. These rolls can make ahead way in advance. Usually 2-3 weeks ahead, deep freeze them and fry them up on the day of party. But remember to keep their wraps dry so they don't stick together in freezing or burst when fried. If your guests like spicy, serve with a spicy sriracha sauce or a Spicy Thai Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham). 

Note: You can be creative. One time, I had a box of left over Pad thai, I wrap them up into small rolls and fried them up and they made an excellent appetizer. A close Thai friend of mine makes Fabulous Shrimp rolls loaded with only Shrimp and carrots and they are to die for. 

American Egg Rolls Via All recipes.com.


  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 quart peanut oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 ounces shredded carrots
  • 8 (7 inch square) egg roll wrappers
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)


1.Season pork with ginger and garlic powder and mix thoroughly. Heat mixture in a medium skillet, stirring, until pork is cooked through and no longer pink. Set aside.

2.In another large skillet heat oil to about 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) or medium high heat. While oil is heating, combine flour and water in a bowl until they form a paste. In a separate bowl combine the cabbage, carrots and reserved pork mixture. Mix all together. 
3.Lay out one egg roll skin with a corner pointed toward you. Place about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cabbage, carrot and pork mixture on egg roll paper and fold corner up over the mixture. Fold left and right corners toward the center and continue to roll. Brush a bit of the flour paste on the final corner to help seal the egg roll. 
4.Place egg rolls into heated oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels or rack. Put on serving plate and top with sesame seeds if desire.

  • 7 1/2 oz very thin bean thread noodles (in small skeins, also known as cellophane or mung bean noodles*)
  • 2 oz dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrots (4 to 5 carrots)
  • 1 lb ground pork shoulder
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (preferably from Phu Quoc)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb shrimp in shell, peeled and deveined
  • 25 (8-inch) square frozen spring roll pastry wrappers made with wheat flour, thawed
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • About 6 cups vegetable oil
Put noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water by several inches. Soak, pulling noodles apart and stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Drain noodles and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces (you should have about 3 cups), then transfer to another large bowl.
Put mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water by several inches. Soak 15 minutes. Drain and rinse mushrooms thoroughly, then drain again. Trim off and discard any hard parts from mushrooms. Finely chop mushrooms. (You should have about 2 cups.) Add to noodles.
Pulse shallot and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, then add to noodles along with carrots, pork, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, and salt. Pulse shrimp in processor until coarsely ground. (Do not overprocess or it will become pasty.) Add shrimp to noodle mixture. Mix with your hands until well combined. Chill filling, covered with plastic wrap, until cold.
Line 2 trays with wax paper.
Transfer one fourth of filling to a small bowl and keep remainder chilled, covered. Place 1 wrapper on a work surface, keeping remaining wrappers covered with a clean kitchen towel (to prevent them from drying out). Cut wrapper diagonally in half to form 2 triangles. With long side of 1 triangle nearest you, put 2 tablespoons filling along middle of long edge of triangle, and shape filling into a thin 5-inch log. Fold left and right corners of wrapper over filling, overlapping slightly and aligning bottom edges. (Wrapper will resemble an open envelope.) Dab top corner with yolk, then roll up wrapper away from you into a long thin roll, making sure ends stay tucked inside. Place on a tray, seam side down. Repeat with remaining triangle. Make more rolls in same manner with remaining wrappers and filling, keeping trays of rolls chilled, loosely covered, until ready to fry.
Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a 5- to 6-quart pot over moderately high heat until it registers 365°F on thermometer. Fry rolls in batches of 5 or 6, keeping rolls apart during first minute of frying to prevent sticking, until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. (Return oil to 365°F between batches.) Transfer as fried to a colander lined with paper towels and drain rolls upright 2 to 3 minutes. To eat, wrap hot or warm rolls in lettuce leaves and tuck in mint and cilantro leaves. Serve with dipping sauce.

Cooks' notes: · Rolls can be assembled (but not fried) 1 month ahead and frozen, wrapped well in foil. Thaw in refrigerator before frying. · Sauce and filling can be made 4 hours ahead and chilled separately, covered.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mitts's Best Speech So Far

Rush Limbaugh has this on http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/01/11/mitt_s_best_speech_so_far.
A very succinct speech that delivers clear, inspiring and definitive points. Sign of strong leadership?

Spring Prep - Meet Worm Farm & Fruit Fly Trap

So we decided this summer we will stay in Louisiana. Which means it is time to revive the malnutritioned backyard. Think like a Farmer, that sounds like a good starting point. So Stew decided we should start adopting some 1000 worms and let them make us great great great ground parents near spring so they can all go out to work happily after that. So he ordered the Worm Factory from Amazon.
It is really quite simple. But the more love you gave them, of course the more fertile they are.
Worm Factory
And I can compost my food scraps easily and quickly due to its a thermo siphon air flow design.According to our friends who are Gardeners, worm castings are one of the richest forms of fertilizer that you can use. The Worm Factory 360 can be used indoors or outdoors allowing year round production. I don't have to worry about composting in the yard and Mowgli digging it out. It is also odorless. We only need to add a handful of worms and organic waste to the bottom tray. The worms will start processing the food. Once the bottom tray is filled add another tray. The worms migrate upward to the newest food source leaving the bottom tray full of nutrient-rich compost. As waste is broken down, moisture filters through the system, taking nutrient-rich particles with it. This makes it possible to harvest organic liquid fertilizer right from the spigot. 20 year warranty.
So we also bought this:
Live composting worms
Everything was going great until we found fruit flies in the house. Basically, I over fed the worms. Too much fruits and not enough paper fiber, so the worms could eat fast enough and the flies started to breed.  If you ever try and get rid of fruit flies, it is really hard, they are a lot tough than most flies.

Step 1:
Remove the food sources attracting the flies. Fruit flies have a life-cycle of 10 days giving them plenty of time to punish you for leaving moist, fermenting, organic material in which they may lay eggs.

Step 2 - Catch and Release Trap

  1. Drop a piece of apple into a large, clean jar such as a Mason jar. 
  2. Place the jar near the greatest concentration of flies, i.e., if they're hanging around the fruit bowl, put the jar in the fruit bowl.
  3. Put a paper cone with a small hole in the bottom in the mouth of the jar. It should have the pointed end pointed downward. The fruit flies will enter the cone through the large end by the mouth of the bottle and find their way through the hole into the bottle. They will not be able to get out.
  4. Release them outside when you have several, if you like.
So I made this :
And it really worked. Serves as a fruit fly lounge for them to hang out. I am going to release them when I get all of them together. Hopefully tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I had to stop feeding my worms for a few days. They should be hungry by now. No meat or citrus.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Drunken Chicken Wings

I learn how to make this recipe from China Broadcast Channels here. It is delicious and great cold appetizer or snack especially when you have a crowd. Very tradtional Chinese New Year snack in Shanghai and Hong Kong. You can use shrimp, chicken legs or pigs feet instead if you like. the steps are almost the same but make sure you cook with the right duration for different ingredients.

Key Note : this is one recipe you must add sugar. Because as the wine ferment over time, it will produce a little bitterness. Sugar will take care of that. It will also enhance the freshness of the chicken.

via taste hong kong.com
Simple steps basically blanch the chicken wings until mostly cooked, dunk them in cold water, pat dry and dunk them into wine and seasoning in a jar. Can keep up till 1 week but usually it is gone way before that.

Click here for recipes.

Libby's Pumpkin Sides Recipes

Pumpkin Confetti Fried Rice
 All recipes are from Libby's Website or verybestbaking.com
 Pumpkin is one of the Superfood.Rich in antioxidants, fiber and a low fat diet can help improve your health. Go out and grab all the pumpkin on Sale now after the holiday season and make these wonderful recipes.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup - great even by itself. I add tea to mine.

Pumpkin Muffin - kids love them

Pumpkin Cranberry Risotto - Best in Winter
Pumpkin with Applesauce - Great with any kind of pork or fried protein

Pumpkin Italian Strata - Show stopper, great for Sunday brunch