Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Coffin

Coffins - One life, all have died

There is a famous morality monk named Vuong thu Trung, the abbot of the temple in Suzhou. He exhibited a small coffin on the reading table.
This coffin lid opened and closed again, about 3 inches long.
The questions asked by his brethren: - What does this coffin mean?

The monk explained:

- People have lived and all of them have died or will die. After we die, we will lie in coffins like this one. I am surprised to see why people spend a  lifetime worrying and strenuously chasing after  wealth, fame, tastes, and talent, but no one tries to know what death is. When things are not like what I want, I immediately look at the coffins. Immediately, my mind is calm, and all anxiety and sorrow quickly vanish.
This coffin provides a valuable lesson about morality.

- When you are suffering from a lack of money, and experience business losses, try to imitate the monk, Viên Thủ Trung, looking at the coffin. The Word of God from 2,000 years ago still echoes somewhere: "Source Oh! If I this night catch your soul, shall the wealth piled up there, whom you'll leave it for?" (Lk. 12, 20-21).

- Whenever you feel bored and disappointed because of the treacherous coast, the coffin reminds us that people will be in there and no one will again be lovelorn or abandoned. 

- When you are intoxicated with the power of winning, or vice versa, or upset by the loss of power or the loss of function, the coffin will remind you that all the kings and governors on the earth must surrender and lie quietly just like the poorest people in the society.
- Whenever you see  unfair, hateful, jealous, or injustice in circles your life imagine yourself becoming a person who lies in the coffin, where there are no longer trumpets, nor scrambling and humiliating one another. These excellent lessons of the casket are for the rich, the poor, and the suffering in the world,  as well as for those who cannot and do not. Death is a symbol of equality and a sign of peace. Look down at the ground in the cemetery. Everyone there, regardless of wealth or civil division, is located in a straight line path, evenly and quietly, so that the body penetrates and dissolves the dirt.

MS Truong Van Sang.
Go to Coi Nguon to read the Vietnamese version


Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Story of a Streak of Tigers

This story is about a woman fleeing a streak (group) of tigers. She ran and ran forever, but the tigers were closing in on her. When she reached the edge of a cliff, she saw some vines, so she climbed down and clung to them tightly. Looking down, she saw a few other tigers waiting below. At the same time, she found a mouse was gnawing the vines to which she was clinging. At that moment, she saw a small cluster of beautiful fresh strawberries so close. The fresh strawberries emerged from a clump of grass. The woman looked up, then looked down, and looked at the mouse. Then she broke off a strawberry and put it in her mouth and slowly enjoyed the strawberry flavor even though there were tigers below and above her, and her clinging vine was in danger of being broken.
This was the toughest situation of life and death that any of us may ever face. Maybe this might be the only remaining moments of our lives. It might be the only strawberry that we can enjoy. We can choose to despair in that situation, or we suddenly awaken to enjoy the fun and feel the preciousness of every moment that we are alive. Please cherish and enjoy every second of your life.

Life can be filled with great splendor, but it can also be more miserable and unhappy. Feel the beauty and grandeur of gratitude to support and encourage our life and to open for us a wide landscape that is more beautiful filled with but more energy for us to live happily. We should feel inclusive, but if we feel smug and are filled with self-esteem and hold contempt for others, we will feel that we are the center of the universe and want to be like that forever. Then the splendid will be gone and be mixed with craving and addiction. On the other hand, the suffering aspects of our lives will make us more humble, as well as softer.
Knowing and feeling pain is an important factor to be able to be present for someone else. When you are feeling sorrow, you can look straight into the eyes of people because you have nothing to lose - you are just being there. Suffering makes us humble and gentle, but if we only feel bad, we will collapse from a stroke. We will be desperate, depressed, and sad. Therefore, we will not even have strength to bite into a strawberry. Beauty, splendor, misfortune, and misery are adjacent to each other. One aspect was inspired to raise us up, the other was to make us suffer and be softer, both of them are aspects of life in parallel.

Source from the Internet


Vegetarian Fried Spring Rolls (Chả Giò Chay)

I previously wrote about these vegetarian fried spring rolls or sometimes called egg rolls, but this time I wanted to change a few ingredients in this recipe. Indeed, egg rolls, whether vegetarian or meaty, are a very easy snack to make that please guests in every party. Vietnamese egg rolls always occupy a special place on the list of the famous dishes of Asian cuisines. My vegetarian egg rolls are always a favorite dish at the start of the party. Also, the ingredients that I carefully chose are used to make these special egg rolls. Even though this is a dish of fried food, I too want to enjoy occasionally its crispy taste and the sweetness of root vegetables that is interspersed throughout to form these unique Vietnamese egg rolls.
2 oz thin rice vermicelli, soaked and chopped
8 oz medium firm tofu , thickly slice 

1 small acorn squash, peeled and steamed
1 large Japanese yam, peeled and steamed
1 cup cooked mung beans
1 cup sweet corn
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 small sweet onion, minced
5 cups mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 cups shredded cabbage
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 shallots, minced
Salt, pepper, sugar, and soy sauce, to taste
2 eggs
Assembling and frying
1 to 2 package egg roll wrappers (about 30 pieces)
Peanut oil for frying
To prepare the filling:
In a food processor, Add  sweet corn , then pulse a few times. Place this mixture into a large mixing bowl. Use potato masher to mash steam Japanese yam and steam squash and put into a bowl with corn,

In a large nonstick pan add 1/4 cup of peanut oil and pan fry tofu both side until golden brown, Slice fried tofu into a match stick and add to the corn mixture

In a large nonstick pan, add 2 tbs oil. Add garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook until wilted.

Combine the mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Season with salt, sugar, soy sauce and black pepper.

Use the 2 egg yolks add to the filling and the egg white for sealing the egg rolls.

To assemble the rolls:
Peel and separate the egg roll wrappers piece by piece and set aside.

Place one wrapper sheet flat on the countertop.

Put 1 tbs of filling on the center of the wrapper.

 Fold both sides of the wrapper into the center to cover the filling.

 Press and fold the bottom of the wrapper over the center of the folded portion to form a compact rectangle.

Roll tightly from the bottom to the top to completely enclose the filling. Continue until all of the mixture is used.

To fry the rolls:
Pour 2 inches of peanut oil into a fry skillet. Heat the oil to 350°. Work in small batches, and do not crowd or let rolls touch each other.

 Fry over moderate heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown.

Remove the rolls with tongs and place onto paper towels to absorb oil. If intending to serve soon, then keep fried rolls warm in a low temperature oven. 
Traditionally spring rolls are served with a plate of Vietnamese salad and sweet soy dipping sauce.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Baked Tuna with Orange Juice & Soy Sauce

Having the maximum taste and nutrition with a few ingredients is the goal that I try to reach every time I create a new recipe. Cooking especially for just two is another challenge when preparing a nutritious meal without wasting ingredients when selecting among some ingredients that are on hand before mixing them together. Baked fish is an easy dish to prepare to achieve this task with maximum enjoyment during the process.

Two 6 oz. tuna or tilapia fillets
1/4 cup diagonally sliced scallions
Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs soy sauce
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp hot chili paste (Korean or Vietnamese)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs peanut oil

Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.
Place tuna on a baking dish and top each tuna with scallions. Divide the sauce equally and pour on top of the tuna. Sprinkle each tuna with 1/2 tsp of sesame seeds.

Bake in a preheated oven set to 400° for 20 minutes. Serve with steamed vegetables and hot cooked rice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sweet Potato Turkey Soup

I like to prepare this soup after Thanksgiving Day because of all the leftovers from the turkey, and its bones are perfect for this soup. Also, the extra sweet potatoes that we bought will be used to make this soup. The carrots and celery from the tray of vegetables will contribute to this soup, as well.  After a big meal, a cup of this simple soup will make me feel a lot better.

5 cups turkey broth
1 can of stewed tomatoes, drained and puréed
2 cups of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup sweet onions, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
3 cups of leftover turkey meat, cubed
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
In a medium nonstick pot, add oil, carrots, celery, onions,mushrooms and garlic.

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are wilted. Add Stock,  puréed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and fresh thyme and stir to combine.


Bring to boil, and reduce heat to simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender (about 10 to 20 minutes). Add turkey to the pot and stir to combine.

 Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat soup thoroughly and serve.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Promise ...

The Promise ...
Both are age 17. As patients in the same hospital, they meet while strolling, and in one eye blink, two young hearts throbbed as one. They read deep emotional feelings in each other's eyes. They read in each other's eyes a passionate love, and from that day they were not alone anymore.
Until one day, both are informed that their illnesses are no longer curable. Before each of their families welcomed them home, they sat together one evening, meeting together to overcome fate ... .They promised to write to each other every week two letters to bless and encourage one another each day. Then they parted.
Three months passed swiftly, and the girl’s health became increasingly frail. One day while holding a letter sent to her by the boy, a peaceful, serene, open mouth smile was fixed on her face while her frantic mother called her name. but the girl was gone. The mother removed the letter from her daughter’s hand and read: "... when fate toyed with your life, you should not be afraid because you are always there beside me and everyone cares for you. I am gradually becoming healthy, and I will come to see you one day soon, and you will not be lonely.”
The next day, the mother opened the daughter’s cabinet and discovered several dozen letters written by her daughter, in addition to envelopes and stamps. On top of these letters is a letter the girl wrote to her mother: "Mom, this is the letter I wrote to my boyfriend when we came together to promise to each other all remaining lifetimes together, but I found myself becoming quickly weaker, and I am afraid that I cannot keep that promise. I have probably already written these letters; however,  every week, please help me to send these letters to him  because I want to leave him thinking that I am still alive and encouraging him to rise above his illness. I just want him to have enough confidence to live”.
Her mother located the address on the cover letter to the boy. When she entered this house, she saw on the table a photograph of a young man, looking full of vitality and vigor, fringed with black ribbon. She was amazed when the young man’s mother said the boy had gone one month ago.
The young man’s mother had tears in her eyes and pointed to all the letters neatly arranged in order on the alter next to his photo and said, "I lost my son one month ago, but before leaving, he spent three days and three nights to write these letters. He asked me send one every week to his girlfriend because that girl was looking forward to encouragement from him to fight her illness. From that day, on requests of my son, I was sending these letters out each month, not knowing that the girl would receive them".
After understanding the meaning of these letters, both mothers cried without a sound. Both of them decided to still send one letter to each other weekly that their children had intended to send. They felt it necessary to do so because of one lofty aspiration.


Asian Flare Cranberry Sauce

Every year when Thanksgiving comes, I always cook the turkey, and never does my family table lack a cranberry sauce dish. This sauce is very easy to make and hard to get wrong. This year, will prepare this sauce to have the taste of Asia, because, after all, I am Vietnamese. I will introduce a new way to bring this dish to another level with the taste of ginger, cinnamon, and anise, which are the spices that are used in most Asian cooking. I also will cut back on the volume of sugar used in this dish to compromise for the tangy, sour taste of cranberries. By doing that, I added honey, Fuji apples, and Asian pears to bring out a natural sweetness. I hope this cranberry sauce remains the forever sauce, not just for Thanksgiving, but for every day.

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 fresh orange, peeled, cored, and diced
1 Asian pear, peeled, cored, and diced 
1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp ground star anise
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook on low heat until the cranberries burst and the sauce is thickened. Remove and place in a jar.