Sunday, 28 March 2010

Keeping Fit - Difficult or Not ?!!!

For some weeks lately, everyone who has met me has given the same comment that I look fatter. Hearing these words, I am not yet worried right now because I can see myself still slim in the mirror everyday, but I have truly realised that it is already time to be more vigilant to sweets, cakes, sugar, milk, butter… and their related products, and simultaneously to think seriously of a more proper diet regime and a more regular training program so as to control my weight effectively, keeping it from putting on any more.

As per my own experience in the past, to keep fit is not too difficult and quite feasible, but it requires patience and a high spirit of determination. That means for a certain period of time ahead, sometimes I must sacrifice part of my interests, I cannot live only by instinct. Furthermore, I must live by more will, essentially follow some strict rules for my daily living activities. I must choose which habits are good to maintain and develop while removing which are not good. Especially for my eating habit, from now on, I should temporarily limit myself from almost all roasted or grilled dishes or other fat-high food stuffs with their attraction for at least 3-4 months. Instead, I should offer my top priority to calcium-rich and fat-low or fat-free dishes, especially more vegetables and fruits. I know this process is not easy, but everything is always difficult at the beginning, should be gradually easier in doing afterwards. Therefore, for a practically beneficial objective of keeping fit, getting a healthier mind and body, living younger and looking nicer to everyone’s eyes and to myself too, I must overcome all and try my best.

To start this challenging campaign, this afternoon, I tried to make up a relatively adequate menu of several healthy dishes for one month ahead for convenient automatic implementation and unnecessary to think or wonder before cooking or eating out each day. As soon as I completed drafting a table on Winword for my new menu, very promptly, appeared in my mind the beautiful image of a special dish named Bun Rieu Cua.

Bun rieu is a Vietnamese traditional and typical rice noodle soup, which can be seen in many popular street-shops in every corner of Hanoi.There are several varieties of bun rieu, including bun rieu cua, bun rieu ca, and bun rieu oc (respectively with crabs, or fish, or snails as main bases for the soups). Bun rieu cua is served with tomato broth and topped with crab paste. In this dish, various freshwater paddy crabs are used, including the brown paddy crab found in rice paddies in Vietnam.The crabs are cleaned by being placed in clean water to remove dirt and sand. Then the crabs are pounded with the shell on into a fine paste. This paste is strained and the crab liquid is a base for the soup along with tomato. The crab residue is used as the basis for crab cakes. Other ingredients for this dish are: fried tofu, me or giam bong (kinds of rice vinegar), Garcinia multiflora, split water spinach stems, shredded banana flower, rau kinh gioi and some other herbs.

For me as well as most of other Vietnamese people, bún riêu cua must be enjoyed at its full delicacy with some small slices of fried tofu. Besides, depending on each person’s taste, bun rieu cua can be more flavored with a special sauce being shrimp sauce well stirred with lemon, fresh chilly, and a bit sugar. Finally, for me, this speciality is more perfect if taken with some pickled baby eggplants (ca phao), very typical of the Vietnamese countryside, that is the origin of Bun rieu cua.

Enjoying these charming images of Bun rieu cua, I am telling myself that this simple dish, with so remarkable qualities of calcium-high content, cool and fresh ingredients of tomato and various herbs, rich natural protein source of crabs and tofu, and most importantly, its special taste and flavor, is worthy of the top and opening position in my new menu. Today my menu is still short, but hopefully, day after day, it will surely get longer with more healthy dishes.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

My ordinary close friends everyday !

Today is Friday already. I have been so busy this week with my son having made good preparation for his exam of Vietnamese which he must be going to start by 1.30 this afternoon. I am wishing all the best luck for him to do it smoothly. And also this afternoon, I can be reassured to return to my own work of writing new posts.

After a simple lunch with my usual favorite instant noodle branded Omachi, this afternoon, I was sitting for a while at the window, with a cup of tea, listening to light music, my mind feeling at ease. Suddenly, a thought came to me: I had written more than 10 articles on various dishes but seemed to pay attention only to special delicacies. What about those ordinary food items which I've been familiar with everyday, especially for my lunch ? I would be so unfair if I did not mention them as memorable close friends of my daily life now. Yes, first of all now, I am speaking of instant noodles.

Instant noodles have been familiar to each and all the members of my family for quite a long time. We have liked this product line for its time-saving and convenient advantages. Especially when the weather is rainy or cold and we cannot go out easily, or when there is no power, then instant noodles naturally become our strong support in getting our meals ready quickly and with a taste good enough.

Moreover, for my little Tuan, nothing is more tasty than instant noodles. Particularly, since recently, he has become best fond of the one branded Cung Dinh (Royal Palace in meaning) with its sour and chilly beef-soup flavor. Almost every Saturday noon, when at home, he usually prepares his lunch by himself with this instant noodle.

And about half an hour later, if I agree, he also prepares another bowl of noodle for his Mum but with another product named Omachi with a lighter flavor finely called "chops well-cooked with vegetables and fruits".

For myself at present, instant noodles of various brands together act a regular main role in my every weekday lunch. I like best the product series branded Omachi for they are made of potato, so they can partly help me avoid getting hot inside. This choice is quite sensible when I stay home alone. Cooking rice with some dishes for only myself is so time-wasting and heavy for me.

For preparing instant noodles, the quickest way is the same as the instructions shown on the packs. However, to make my lunch more delicious and have changing flavors day by day, I can cook the noodle in a small pan, and add different things.

Usually, I add tomatoes or vegetables for more cooling and freshness. For more flavors, I can add an egg, some pieces of soya curd. To make the noodle sweeter, I can put in some pork pieces, or chops, or beef, depending on my likes each day. So from one same block of uncooked dry noodle, I can make into many dishes of different delicacies. Finally, I never forget to add on top some herbs (preferably coriander) and green onions before getting the noodle completed. So I always have a good appetite with these do-it-myself meals.

It’s nearly 2 pm already. Now I must take a short break for having my yaourt the second time today. For nearly one year now, it has become my habit to have yaourt twice a day. Now I love yaourt very much. This passion of mine has surely come from the truth that this special milk product has helped me much in improving my skin,keeping me fit regularly,and also supporting my digestion better than before.

Furthermore, looking at such nice images as above, I cannot but remember back the days of my childhood when my Mother was still alive and always made everything by herself at home for me being her little daughter then. Among many many things she made, I still remember enjoying very much her so cool and fine white yaourt everyday.

I feel that time is flying so fast as it’s nearly 3pm already. I can imagine now Tuan must have completed all his exam. I can also imagine how he will look when coming home from school later this afternoon. No matter how well he has done with his exam, he will be surely tired and hungry when back home, and will certainly ask for something to eat then. So I must prepare something for his pre-dinner around 5pm or 5.30pm: maybe a small loaf of bread with cheese or butter will be a nice treat, followed by a drink of orange juice or apple juice. That’s fine.

And also now, what is for myself when nearly finishing this draft ? Maybe I'd better take a walk around my front yard as some exercise before re-checking my draft again and proceeding to post it on my blog. I’m whispering that I can be less strict to myself by allowing me to have a light instant coffee. Anyway, I am feeling very well and happy now, so enjoying coffee is quite reasonable and acceptable.

Good Appetite to All of You !

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Delicious Sunday Lunch of Fish - Good Spirit Meal too !

Among our daily meals at home, I have always had my special interest for fish dishes. It is partly because I have learnt from various information sources and through my own experience too that fish is very good for human brain for all ages, especially for our memory. Yet more importantly, it is because I always feel those fish dishes dexterously prepared by my husband Thang are really delicious.

Last Sunday, seeing me and our little boy Tuan very busy revising many lessons for his coming exams, our chef cook Thang considered it best to improve our spirit by treating us a special lunch with an unique and changed delicacy – that was Sour Bamboo Shoot Soup with Tipilia Fish taken with rice sticky noodle.

Since Tuan’s smaller age, both Thang and I have agreed to gradually get our son used to almost all the Northern Vietnamese popular dishes for daily meals and even some necessary seasonings and spices such as lemon, chilly, vinegar, pepper etc. So now at his age of 10, Tuan seems to enjoy even chilly dishes like the bamboo shoot soup as said above. Moreover, after a whole week having had lunch at school with repeated dishes, he apparently showed very delighted to eat a special dish of a changing taste. So he kept smiling while quickly arranging the bowls and chopsticks for his parents and for himself too.

Truly, the soup was so hot, good-smelling and delicious. Not only Tuan but all of us were enjoying its rich-tasty and sweet-smelling flavor of the tipilia fish getting on well with the strange sour and chilly taste of bamboo shoots, combined with tomatoes, and more flavored by some fresh chilly slices, appropriate herbs,and onions.

Only spices or seasoning in this soup but quite worth our keen impression were the two special herbs called Culantro (Mui Tau in Vietnamese) and Rice Paddy Herb (Rau Ngo), both with very distinct strong flavors, thus making an excellent match for fish. For myself, such a Sunday meal is valuable not only for its special delicacy but also for its spiritual meaning of our family's close tie, mutual care and love. That's our simple happiness.

After lunch, I washed the dishes without feeling any tired. Then I and my son surely had a higher spirit to continue working in the afternoon and for the whole new week to come.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Women's Day Spirit !

I have been very busy for nearly a week now for helping my son Tuan revise his Vietnamese exercises in preparation for the upcoming examinations next week. However, today, quite pleasant in the spirit of Women’s Day of 8th March, I can’t but write a new post, though short, to share with you my happy feelings yesterday evening when having a small party with my father, my darling and my little son.

Yesterday on Sunday 7th March, we held the Women’s Day in advance to take full use of this off-day. As my family is quite small, and usually none of us likes to be finical in cooking, my Dad decided to buy a special dish from a restaurant nearby for our dinner. That was Fried Soft Shell Crabs, a seafood speciality of our common favorite.

Having got the main course so special, my chief cook Thang could not forget to prepare some special soya sauce with chilly and lemon to accompany suitably the dish. He also had mayonaise sauce for our choice. Besides,he also prepared a salad from fresh cucumber, baby tomatos, herbs and onions. We all understood that vegetables are always good for balancing and cooling while eating fried food. And as an assistant, little Tuan cooked some rice as usual.

Though at such a simple party, we were all very cheerful. In an usual good appetite, Soft Shell Crabs should have been taken together with beer. But the cold weather yesterday only allowed us to have this with some whisky and red wine.. Anyway, we still raised our glasses happily to cheer up for Women’s Day spirit. My father, Thang and then little Tuan successively wished me, the only woman in the family, their best wishes for my improved health and all joys everyday. Hearing them, I felt so happy that I seemingly saw the fresh roses they had presented smiling at me at that moment. Suddenly, I recalled earlier in the afternoon, I had been very touched by Tuan’s action of drawing some flowers on computer as a special gift for his Mother. Then he smiled telling me that next time he would try to draw more beautifully. I smiled at him too and nodded quite contently and of course passionately.

Yesterday evening, I thanked sincerely all the three men (the eldest of age 80 and the youngest of only 10 years old) in my family for their warm emotions for me. And now, in the middle of the special day for our whole world of women, once again, I would like to express our best thanks to all those men who have special attention and true emotions toward us. Their wishes and presents, though small, are all precious as good encouragement and inspiration for us in life.

A photo of myself taken by my 10-year son this afternoon - Women's Day of 8th March 2010.