Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Roast chicken with rice? Of course it works!!

I love my Chinese food as well as a good English roast dinner.  I also love combining the two, much to my eldest daughter's disgust.  Some people will find it odd but to me it's perfectly normal.

When I was growing up, using a knife and fork to eat off a plate was a real treat compared to the everyday mundane chore of having to use chopsticks and a bowl to eat out of, picking bits from different dishes.  To have everything on one plate was brilliant and much more fun.

Now that I am much older and have my own home I miss having rice every day and when I don't have it I crave it.  Even when we go away to Majorca we always have to seek out a Chinese restaurant and have Chinese food at least once whilst we are there.

I have never made a roast dinner or even attempted to cook a roast chicken until I was married and living my own life.  I don't do it very often and usually it is a bit hit and miss as to how well the chicken and roast potatoes turn out.  I have recently tried making cauliflower cheese which I love to eat, and although it looks a simple dish, and to some people simple to make, it was a mammoth task to undertake, with melting the butter and then adding the flour and then the milk, constantly stirring to ensure it doesn't go lumpy always made my arm ache.  That was all before I'd even carved the chicken, which to a regular English family was always seen traditionally as the husband's task.  However, my loving husband has given up his right to carve claiming that he has never done it before and would only butcher the thing and make a mess, that it was solely left up to me to do on top of all the other jobs I get landed with in the process of making a roast dinner.

Anyway, if we're having roast chicken with guests I would just stick to the English version with roast potatoes and about 5 different types of veg.  If we're having it on our own I would normally put the rice cooker on and have mine with rice (with some potatoes too) and loaded with gravy - delicious.  I would put a smaller portion of rice on my husband's plate and I would give my daughter potatoes as she always complains about having rice.  Sometimes I would even make boiled potatoes as well as roasted ones because I prefer roast whereas she prefers boiled.  And my husband?...well, he eats anything so I don't need to think about him in that respect.

When cooking the rice, I would always tend to make extra too so the leftover chicken, veg ad gravy can all be put into a tub to be taken to work the next day.  Colleagues have always commented on the wonderful variety of meals I brought into work for lunch, which always made them hungry.  They were much better than sandwiches.

Also, with the leftover carcass I would use to make juk, a Chinese rice porridge type thing, otherwise known as congee.  The carcass and an extra chicken leg makes a lovely sweet tasting broth for this.  My daughter use to love it when she was a baby and hopefully my second daughter will too.

Sometimes, when I don't feel like doing a whole chicken I would normally roast chicken legs or drumsticks, since I prefer these to chicken breast anyway.  Occasionally I would use pork shoulder steaks instead of the chicken which works just as well.

Rice, to me, is as versatile as any potato and in my eyes can be used with any meal.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Going into her own room

A few weeks ago my baby girl went into her own room for the first time.  She is 7mths now and her room had been ready for that length of time but was being used as a dumping ground for all sorts of things.  So that weekend my husband cleared out the junk and attempted to move the cot bed out of our main bedroom into her own.

As with all husbands (and men in general), they come with their own little bright sparks of ideas and when mine decided to just slide the cot bed over into the other room he thought he was on to a winner.  Little did he realise how much extra work he had to do to.  The cot bed would not got through the door at whatever angle he tried and finally decided to dismantle part of it.  He took off the panel at one end which also detached the two legs and again attempted to slide it out of the room.  He managed it, but he could not get it across the landing into its new room.  In the end he had to take the other end off before he could get it into the other room and then had to refix everything again.  What seemed like a 10 minute job actually took about an hour.

Everything was finally in place ready for my baby girl to have a good night's sleep.

I was dreading it as I thought that I would be up all night having to go to her everything 10 minutes.  All the while that she was in my room she would wake up about 10 times in the night and I would have to go to her calm her down and put her dummy back in.  Her cot bed was at the foot of my bed so some nights I was dozing with my arms and head hanging over the side into her cot for about 2 hours.  I had stopped giving her night feeds when she was about 5 months old and some nights she would have a good 3 hours solid sleep before waking up at least every hour.

To my surprise, my gorgeous girl did exceptionally well; I needn't have worried at all. She slept soundly to about 5am and moaned only once in the night.  I left her to get on with it and she was quiet within about 5 minutes.  I could not believe my luck.  All night I'd been listening out for her but daren't go into to check for fear of waking her and I needn't have worried at all - what a clever girl!!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Why did my mum never let us speak in English at home

Ever since I was a little girl my mother never let us speak in English at home, insisting that my brother and I only ever speak to her in Cantonese.  Even so, she expected us to be very good with our studies and lay down the law that we should always get A grades in our school reports.  How can she expect such a thing when she can't even help to explain any of our homework for us.

My mother never learnt to speak English, her schooling only terminated when she was about 12 years as her parents could not afford to keep sending her.  I am sure that if she was able to flourish academically then she probably would have been very successful.

Luckily for me and my brother we were good academically and our love for reading helped us a long way when we got to the important stages of our schooling.  We would always go to the library and bring home maximum number of books we were allowed on our cards.

And luckily for my mother I loved all the Chinese television and music that she put on, whereas my brother wasn't all that bothered.  I would always sit with her to watch everything, all the old TVB classics such as the Legend of the Condor Hero, and its sequel firmly remain my favourites.

Growing up having to translate everything in the shops and the post that came through the door became a real chore though.  Even at the tender age of about 10 she expected me to be able to translate a business letter or hospital letter but my Chinese was still limited to the simple everyday conversational terms.  How was I supposed to be able to translate business terminology and medical jargon when even I did not know what they were in English?

Teaching my mum English was a waste of time, either because she was genuinely incapable of learning it or she thought it unnecessary as I was there to interpret everything.

Despite this, I am glad of the way that I was brought up because I continue to love my roots and my language and I have tried to learn to read and write on my own but since going to university and going out to work I have found little time to do this.  Therefore, unfortunately, lot of what I have learnt, I have forgotten because due to it lack of use I cannot remember much of it.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Parents' evening

Last night was Parent's Evening at my daughter's school.  On meeting with her class teacher I was told yet again that she is delightful and a clever child and extremely able.  She has nothing bad to say about her and in class she pays good attention and is always willing to learn.  She is in the top set of everything and is progressing brilliantly.

Why then, does my high achieving daughter does not show me her capabilities at home where I struggle to get her to read even the most simple of books?  Apparently, it may be because she works so hard all day long right up to last minute of the school day, that she is completely drained by the time she gets home.

My daughter's teacher says that her phonics, reading and writing is excellent and she is much better with the numeracy than literacy.  She then goes to say that she is certainly above the national average for her age group and has been doing work with some of the children in the year above.

Either the school has very low standards or I expect too much from her as I am sure that she is able to do a lot more than what I have witnessed.  In any event I know I should be a proud mum but I can't help feeling a little bit skeptical about all the good things that I've been told.

Well, at least she's behaving well and achieving at school.  I just wish she would be just as good at home...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Rice battle with daughter

I wonder if any other Chinese mothers have problems with their children eating rice.  My 6 year old daughter is adamant that she does not like rice even though she was weaned and brought up on it.  I cook rice most days of the week and vary the accompanying dishes each time.  Is it a case of rice overkill or is she just being awkward?  We have had many battles about it and her rice portion is tiny in comparison with what her cousins eat.

It does not help matters that her besotted daddy always tells her to "eat what you can, just try it and if you don't like it, it doesn't matter".  Well, my philosophy is, and the way that I was brought up was, that if you don't like it, tough, you're going to have to eat it anyway.  If it was left up to me I would make her eat every last grain even if she cried.  That goes for anything else that she doesn't like either.  "Eat what you're given and be grateful!"

I don't specifically cater for her tastes, I cook what I want to eat and she has to join in.  If I pandered to her every request, we'd be on frankfurters or mashed potato every night.  I am Chinese and I like my rice and I want her to appreciate the same too.  There are a couple of days in the week when I don't cook rice, some days we have pasta or jacket potato but even then she's dead fussy.  The list of things she doesn't like seems to be endless, yet these are the very things that she used to love as a toddler, such as Chinese mushrooms, regular mushrooms, courgettes, prawns, green beans...

Every night she asks what we're going to eat and when I come to the part where I say "rice" she immediately whines about it.  When I say there's no rice she shouts "hooray!".  It is driving me insane and makes me incredibly angry to the point where I just to lock her up in her room and let her starve!!  Of course I have not and would never do that but she needs to start showing a bit of respect and appreciation for all work I do to keep her tummy filled.

End of rant - for now!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Anyone want to look after a vomitting baby?

Since coming back from my cousin's house my baby girl has not been very well.  At Monday lunchtime she took one mouthful of her pureed food and decided to throw up.  It went absolutely everywhere and I didn't know what to sort out first - me, the table, the highchair or hair.  After a few seconds of dithering I opted to sort the baby out.  I pulled her out of the highchair and took her upstairs for a bath and a change of clothes, after which I had to leave her in the rocker in the kitchen whilst I cleaned the table and the highchair.

I decided to leave her at home with me.  Usually on Monday nights, my husband would take my elder daughter to her swimming lesson with the baby in tow to watch, whilst I had some time to myself.  That night I gave my baby her bottle early, which she didn't finish and took her up to bed.

Knowing that my other daughter would make a commotion when she came in, I wrote a note on the door for her to be quiet so as not to wake the baby.  Once she arrived at the front door I heard her read out the note and yet she continued to bounce about and talk as loud as she could.  Unfortunately, she was not considerate enough to tone the noise down and got a telling off.

Tuesday was not much better in that the vomiting continued, coupled with diarrhoea now - marvellous, just what I need!!

It is now Friday and she is better now, the vomiting and diarrhoea has stopped now but her appetite hasn't returned.  She only manages about one ice cube sized pureed food.  She likes to eat the pear but not the other vegetables I give her.  Hopefully that will improve soon.

Weekend away

We had a wonderful weekend staying at my cousin's house with her family.  The kids got on really well and we had a wonderful time playing on the Wii.

My husband had his eye test at the opticians but they could not find anything wrong.  The trouble he's been suffering with has continued to bother him and they have written a referral letter to his general practitioner to get it seen to at the hospital.  Hopefully they will get to the bottom of it.

It may have been our last get together with my cousin as she and her family are moving abroad for a few years. We will miss them all very much but I hope that they settle nicely in their new home and surroundings.