Thursday, 31 October 2013

Another Chinese ghost story - Encounters of the Spooky Kind

Another ghost story from the collection: Encounters of the Spooky Kind - directed by Raymond Chow and starring Sammo Hung.  The story begins with a man who has a nightmare about ghosts.  A kung-fu comedy with plenty of references to Chinese superstitions and folklore.  Enjoy!


Happy Halloween!

Hope you are having a great one whereever you are, and despite of the weather!

We spruced up our pumpkin and made pumpkin chiffon cake using the pumpkin flesh and seeds:

Still have lots of seeds left!

And we made ghosty cupcakes using icing sugar and marzipan - these have already been taken by the trick'o'treaters!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Perfect fluffy rice? I would rather it had taste.

Came across a video of Jamie Oliver showing how to make fail-safe fluffy rice from an Uncle Ben's packet of basmati rice:

Uncle Ben's is an expensive type of easy cook rice, and like easy cook rice it is not very flavoursome.  The huge amount of spices and other things he was adding in kind of proves that point.  Saffron is like gold dust - £3-4 for a tiny packet.  I think he heaped that amounts worth in there.  And the tumeric - wowee!

Watching this video reminded me of a cooking program I watched with my mum on satellite TV at night when I was a kid.  At midnight the only Chinese channel that we found hosted Cantonese speaking shows that included one Master Chan in his kitchen (師傅) who one night showed how to cook stir fried rice.  We watched open-mouthed as he spooned ladle after ladle of cooking oil into the wok of rice that as I remember could give 4 servings.  I think we counted over ten ladles of oil. Surely it didn't need that much?! The difference here, though, is that we know the reason why.

I guess it may be down to culture in that Chinese meals has the rice and the other compliments of the meal in separate dishes and bowls, whereas Western meals has it all on one plate.  From that, the rice in Chinese food is expected to have its own delicate taste and fragrance.  In terms of its texture, some types of rice are meant to be sticky - think of sushi rice and glutinous rice - so in that sense fluffiness is not so important to me.

And cooking rice in a pan: despite being here so long is such a strange thing to me. When I think of rice, I think rice cooker. All these chefs, filmed travelling around the world and cooking exotic foods - why have they not discovered its joys?? It is so simple and easy!

So yes, taste wins over fluffiness for me Jamie, and I prefer the rice cooker way ;-)

Chinese Ghost Stories: Nevermind Twilight, Here's a proper vampire movie!

Well, it is Halloween soon!

Anyone remember this? - a season of Chinese Ghost stories hosted by Jonathan Ross on Channel 4.  The stories included Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Rouge, Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain, Spiritual Love, Espirit d'amour and  one Mr. Vampire - this one scared the life out of me when I was a kid! 

What I didn't know at the time was that this movie, released in 1985, was nominated for a host of awards at the 5th Hong Kong film festival, was ranked within the top 100 must-see Hong Kong movies, was the inspiration for three movie sequels and a vampire craze (the selling of toys and merchandise of all things vampire). Despite having very basic visual effects, this comical representation of Chinese vampire folklore makes it worthy of its cult status. The full length version of this movie with English subtitles can be found here. Enjoy! :D

Answers to a UK Biology/Chinese GCSE question.

Saw this on Facebook:

The picture shows a page of actual GCSE revision questions.  The topic is Biology.  Question 2 asks:

'You see a website advertising a cure for blindness using stem cell therapy in a clinic in China.  Outline reasons why people should be cautious about going there for treatment.'

Well this is rich, considering the high volume of criticisms and outrage aimed at our very own National Health Service! 

But better the devil you know than the devil you don't, right?? ;-)

I can think of some responses to this question.  I wonder how many marks I would receive (and how far I could push the examiner's sense of humour):

Answer one: your waistline might expand with the amount of health food offered to you as part of your after-treatment.

Answer two: But you might be end up being fed rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hospital.  If you don't like rice then you've got a problem.

Answer three: Even worse, they could be feeding you mantou breakfast, lunch and dinner and then you will be well and truly stuffed.  Say gooodbye to your waistline.

Answer four: Everyone will have to use Google Translate to communicate with one another, which could lead to all kinds of disasters.

Answer five: They don't have Twitter or Facebook over there! How would you survive??!

Well? Did I pass?? XD

Thursday, 3 October 2013

China's National Day (国庆节)

The Parterre especially created to celebrate China's 2013 National Day

On the 1st of October of this year, China celebrated National Day and the 64th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.  Special ceremonies include the raising of the flag and the nation's leaders paying tribute at the Monument of the People's Heroes.  

China's National Day marks the start of two weeks public holiday and there are many festivals, including fireworks and concerts.  You can see videos of the ceremony at Tiananmen Square and watch the festivities here.

(Contrast this to the non-existent National Day of England: St. George's Day - a day that passes by without so much as a rainy garden tea party!  Why doesn't England have a National Day? :( )