Friday, February 25, 2011

Ah Niu's New Tuxedo

This is a true story.  It was about twenty five years ago.  My friend brought these stuffed animals from Hong Kong and gave them to us as wedding gift.  They have always been together and have been sitting on top of our headboard in our bedroom since the first day we were married.  They moved with us to several houses and they were always placed in the same location, even we moved to different houses.

They went through the ups and downs with us all these years.   They witnessed how we raised our kids. If it hadn't been for the valentine's card I received from my husband, I would have not remembered that we had been married for almost 25 years.   I then realized Ah Niu (the groom's name for the cow) and his wife had been with us all these years.

I noticed Ah Niu had lost his hat and tuxedo.  I also noticed his shoulder was beginning to fall apart.

But his wife still looks just as good as the first day she arrived.

I feel very fortunate to still have these two stuffed animals with us after all this time.  After days of futility to find Ah Niu's tuxedo, I decided to make a new tuxedo for him.  Because I don't know how to sew, I went online to search for some tutorial videos hoping to learn to sew properly.  Unfortunately, I didn't find any clips to show how to cut the pattern for a stuffed animal.  So I began to brainstorm myself with whatever I learned from the internet.

I used a vanilla card board to roughly measure Ah Niu's body and cut the pattern out first.  Then pinned the fabric on the pattern and cut it quarter inch bigger as seam allowance.  It was a little difficult to deal with when it was time to sew the shoulder area. I left out the sleeves and collars, since I wasn't good with sewing. I was afraid it would look terrible after all the effort; that's why I only made a simple tuxedo.  I remembered Ah Niu originally had a golden chain. I then looked through some old jewelry and found these gold chains that I bought from Singapore and thought they were perfect because they both have the same sentimental value to me.

 I added a new bow tie on him.  Now look at the handsome Ah Niu:

I thought I should also give something new to his wife.  I used the broach I found from the box and pinned it on as part of her necklace. Look at them now, aren't they a lovely couple?

It was fun to do this project.  Not only I get to save something sentimental, but it's always good to learn something new.  The internet is a great way to learn anything you wish these days.  All you need is some willingness to explore. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lamb Time

It is still chilly outside even though we had seen some signs of spring is coming.  I was craving for some lamb to keep the body warm.  There was a dish that I liked a lot from the Chinese restaurant I went to during the Chinese New Year.  I tried making the dish at home.  I believe I had success in making it as close as I possibly could.  It tasted like a spicy stir fry beef.  It was really tender and didn't even have that funny smell from the lamb meat. 

Lamb chop with XO sauce(XO醬羊肉)


1/2 lb. Lamb chop, sliced
3 cloves of garlic
3 slices of ginger
1 stalk green onion
1 pkg. Fresh Japanese organic mushroom
Marinate sauce: cooking wine, cornstarch, sugar, oysters sauce, 1 tbsp each.


1.  Marinate sliced lamb chops with oysters sauce,sugar,cooking wine, cornstarch.
2.  Stir fry fresh mushroom on dry wok to dry up the liquid, scoop out and set aside.
3.  Heat oil, add garlics and gingers, then 1 tbsp XO sauce.
4.  Add in lamb chops on high heat, stir fry quickly.
5.  Return mushroom and stir fry together for 5 minutes.
6.  Stir in green onion, stir well and serve hot.

I also tried to make a stew lamb in claypot which I really love to order at restaurant.  I was really happy it turned out well that the meat was tender and not too salty after stewed for two hours.

Claypot Stew Lamb(枝竹羊肉煲)


4 pcs. Fermented tofu
3 cloves of garlic
3 slices of ginger
1 tbsp cooking wine
half piece of rock candy )or 1 tbsp sugar)
1 tbsp  black bean paste
a little soysauce
1 lb. Lamb chop with bones
5 sticks dried bean curd sticks
Fresh gingko nuts 銀杏(白果)10顆 - optional
5 Waterchestnuts 馬蹄 (optional)


1. Break bean curd sticks into 2 inches long and soaked until soft.
2. Peel and cut across waterchestnuts into slices.
3. Heat oil in a wok or regular pan, add garlics and gingers stir until fragrant.
4. Crush and add fermented tofu pieces and mix well.
5. Add lamb chop and brown with above for 5 minutes,add soysauce and sugar.
6. Sprinkle the wine around, stir in waterchestnuts,gingko nuts and mix well.
7. Cover and cook on high to bring to boil, then turn to low to simmer for one and a half hour.
8. Transfer the meat into a claypot, continue cook in low.
9. Drain the bean curd sticks and add into the claypot. 
10. Cook with meat for another half hour.
11.  Serve with claypot while it's still hot.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chinese New Year Dinner - Asian Pearl Restaurant

Traditional our family would go out for a family feast to celebrate Chinese New Year.  This year we had our dinner at the fancy Asian Pearl restuarant.  The place was huge and comfortable.  They have many fancy food listed on their menu. A lot of delicatesen such as whole abalone, shark fins soup, bird's nest and other expensive gourmet dishes were on their menu.  We ordered these common dishes from the menu:

Honey walnut shrimp

Crab sauce over greens

Shrimp stuffed mushroom with vegetable

  Fried milk over fish filets - not that good

Fish cake with chinese broccoli - not crazy either

Scallop fried rice

We also ordered a dish of drunken chicken and stir fried lamb chops which I really liked.  I forgot to take pictues of them.  Most of the food were good but they were really pricey.  They also have great selections of dim sum everyday during lunch hours.   
  Asian Pearl
43635 Boscell Rd,
 Fremont, CA 94538

Tel: (510) 979-1368

Friday, February 11, 2011

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House - Madama Butterfly

It was a few years back my husband and I had an opportunity to watch Madama Butterfly at the Opera House in San Francisco.  I remember it was a very long drive because of the heavy traffic.  We arrived at 6:30 that evening.  It was a very cold night, but we enjoyed the opera very much.
This is the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.  It's a very old but beautiful buidling.

We waited a while before we were let into the theater. Here is a gorgeous interior picture I found online:

I was lucky to find these videos from You Tube.  There were two screens hung on each side of the theater.  It was a good thing that they shown the English subtitle on the screens through out the entire play. This is a story about a 15 years old Japanese girl who fell in love in Japan with a U.S. Naval officer.  Unfortunately the officer had to go back to America.  She waited for him to come back to reunite with her and their son.  After 3 years of waiting, she found out he had already married and brought the new wife with him.  She was so devastated and commited suicide.  For more detail on the story, you can read Madama Butterfly here.e

Here is a song most of us are familiar with:

This is the finale where Madama Butterfly wanted to commit suicide:

It was worth the time to experience the opera for the first time.  Ever since that time, I fell in love with opera and had watched a few since then.