Siumaai Cantonese Style

Siumaai Cantonese Style served with rice and green beans drizzled with dipping sauce
Siumaai Cantonese Style

Siumaai Cantonese Style is my take on this well-known Chinese speciality. There are different versions and different spellings (such as Sui Mai, Shaomai & Shumai) but they are all much the same and very tasty. Typically they will contain shrimp and ground pork but I’ve deliberately left out the shrimp this time amid disconcerting reports about antibiotic use at shrimp farms. Given that most of the shrimp sold in our local grocery stores is farmed in Asia where reports have claimed that the product contains not only antibiotics but also Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.

Note: Watch this video from Consumer’s Report if you like shrimp and cook it at home.

Why Use Organic Free-From Ground Pork?

Why Use Organic Free-From Ground Pork? My recipe was done with “free-from” organic ground pork that states that it is free of hormones and antibiotics. Canadian sourced farmed shrimp is more reliable and free from antibiotics and raised in clean water. Needless to say, if you want to add shrimp to the recipe that’s the way to go!

Traditionally Siumaai are steamed and Vicki and I make them this way, but you will need the correct equipment to steam them. Bamboo steamers are inexpensive and can be found in most Chinese grocery stores. Alternatively, you could use this recipe to create closed pan-fried dumplings. Even Wontons are made using dough wrappers filled with ground pork and/or shrimp so that’s an option too!

Makes 30 dumplings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 oz lean ground pork
  • 1/2 green onion chopped
  • 2 Napa cabbage leaves (chopped), plus 6 full leaves  to line steaming baskets
  • 1/2 carrot finely grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 whole egg
  • 30 wonton wrappers
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Dipping Sauce (optional):

  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (use Sriracha or your favourite Hot Sauce)
Main Ingredients on a cutting board
Main Ingredients

 

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  • In a large bowl combine the pork, onion, chopped Napa, carrot, ginger and cilantro.

pork,napa,ginger,carrot,green onion, and garlic in a bowlingredients mixed together a large bowl

  • Using a measuring cup mix together the corn starch, soy sauce, sesame oil, and the egg.
  • Stir and combine this mixture to the ground pork.
  • On a clean flat surface lay out your wonton wrappers and top each one with about 1 generous teaspoon of the pork mixture.

wonton wrappers with pork added to each onenapa cabbage placed in steamer baskets

  • With a small bowl of water, lightly wet the edges of the wonton wrappers using your finger, and lift and pinch each one together forming a small pouch open at the top.
  • Place the 6 Napa leaves into two steamer baskets and add the Siumaai on top of the leaves and try to avoid them from touching each other.

dumplings placed on top of napa cabbage in steamer basketbamboo steamers on stovetop with boiling water in a pan

  • Stack your baskets, cover and steam over boiling water for about 20 to 22 minutes until cooked.
Siumaai Cantonese Style in a steamer basket
Siumaai Cantonese Style in a steamer basket
  • Dipping Sauce: Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil and Sriracha
Siumaai Cantonese Style with rice and green beans drizzled with dipping sauce
Siumaai Cantonese Style

Notes: Often eaten as appetizers or as part of the Chinese brunch called Dim Sum, Siumaai can also be the main course served with rice and vegetables.

In addition to shrimp, you can add chopped water chestnut which is a classic ingredient as well.

Leftovers (if you have any) are terrific heated in a frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil!

Galaxy Tab A (2019, 8.0, LTE)
Galaxy Tab A (2019, 8.0, LTE)

 

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Siumaai Cantonese Style

Siumaai Cantonese Style is my take on this well-known Chinese speciality. There are different versions and different spellings (such as Sui Mai, Shaomai & Shumai) but they are all much the same and very tasty.

Makes 30 dumplings

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 12 oz lean ground pork
  • 1/2 green onion chopped
  • 2 Napa cabbage leaves (chopped), plus 6 full leaves  to line steaming baskets
  • 1/2 carrot finely grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 whole egg
  • 30 wonton wrappers
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Dipping Sauce (optional):

  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (use Sriracha or your favourite Hot Sauce)

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine the pork, onion, chopped Napa, carrot, ginger and cilantro.
  • Using a measuring cup mix together the corn starch, soy sauce, sesame oil, and the egg.
  • Stir and combine this mixture to the ground pork.
  • On a clean flat surface lay out your wonton wrappers and top each one with about 1 generous teaspoon of the pork mixture.
  • With a small bowl of water, lightly wet the edges of the wonton wrappers using your finger, and lift and pinch each one together forming a small pouch open at the top.
  • Place the 6 Napa leaves into two steamer baskets and add the Siumaai on top of the leaves and try to avoid them from touching each other.
  • Stack your baskets, cover and steam over boiling water for about 20 to 22 minutes until cooked.
  • Dipping Sauce: Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil and Sriracha

Notes

  • Often eaten as appetizers or as part of the Chinese brunch called Dim Sum, Siumaai can also be the main course served with rice and vegetables.
  • In addition to shrimp, you can add chopped water chestnut which is a classic ingredient as well.
  • Leftovers (if you have any) are terrific heated in a frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil!
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Easy Vegetable Bone Soup

Easy Vegetable Bone Soup in a bowl
Easy Vegetable Bone Soup

Easy Vegetable Bone Soup is literally one of the easiest soups you’ll ever make. When you’re busy doing other things and your time to devote to the kitchen is limited and you want to make something hot and nutritious in a hurry, you can never go wrong with soup. And, when all you need to do is a little chopping and tossing all the ingredients in a pot why not choose the easy way? The pot simmers away while you spend your valuable time productively tackling other tasks.

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Vicki and I will also often opt for soup when we don’t have the ingredients we need to cook up a full dinner. Furthermore, it’s a nice change from one’s routine and ideal to help you slim down after a long winter. Most of us tend to bulk up on carbs over the winter months whether due to our need to stay warm or our reduced activity levels. So soup is a welcome alternative that fulfils our body’s needs without adding to our girth. 😀

Makes 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs beef bones
  • 2 cups tomato vegetable juice
  • 2 cups no-salt, canned, diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into coins
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 3/4 cup green beans, chopped
  • 1 cup potato, diced
  • 1 cup black beans

Ingredients on a cutting board beef bones, corn and potatoes

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DIRECTIONS:

  • Place bones, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, onion, seasonings and 6 cups of water in large pot and bring to a boil.

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  • Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. 
  • Add remaining vegetables; cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Remove bones and bay leaves and discard.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with fresh bread and butter.
Easy Vegetable Bone Soup in a bowl
Easy Vegetable Bone Soup

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Easy Vegetable Bone Soup

Easy Vegetable Bone Soup in a bowl

Easy Vegetable Bone Soup is literally one of the easiest soups you’ll ever make. When time is short and you want something hot and nutritious in a hurry, you can never go wrong with soup.

Makes 8 Servings

  • Author: Bill Wilkat

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef bones
  • 2 cups tomato vegetable juice
  • 2 cups no-salt, canned, diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into coins
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 3/4 cup green beans, chopped
  • 1 cup potato, diced
  • 1 cup black beans

Instructions

  • Place bones, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, onion, seasonings and 6 cups of water in large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Add remaining vegetables; cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Remove bones and bay leaves and discard.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with fresh bread and butter.
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Examining a Garage Sale Guitar

Examining a garage sale guitar on a bench
Examining a garage sale guitar

Examining a Garage Sale Guitar can be an interesting endeavour but you may not know how to evaluate it, or where to start. Every now and then you might come across an old guitar that could be valuable or just have a place in your collection for nostalgic reasons. So the question is how do you determine which category your find falls under? And, perhaps most importantly is it worth the time and effort?

If your anything like me, there’s seldom a guitar that you come across that you can’t find a way to improve or turn into a “player”. What do I mean by a “player”? Well, it must meet certain criteria to qualify and what that depends on most is what you intend to do with it. Let’s start by creating some categories of guitars:

1) The Student / Learner’s Guitar

2) The Campfire Buddy Guitar

3) The Serious Rocker Guitar

4) The Collector Guitar

Now you might feel that these categories don’t cover all your options and that’s fine. Or, you may want to rename them—especially the 3rd one if you’re more of a blues or a jazz player. Either way, I’m sure you’ll agree that you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a guitar that gets bashed around at a campsite. Or, one that finds its way into the back of a closet after the beginner that you bought it for has decided that it’s just too difficult to learn.

So, if the guitar that crossed your path is going to be evaluated, ask yourself first if you can place it into any of these categories? If not, it might already be a waste of your time. But, it could still be of value to a serious collector for different reasons and that’s another story altogether. If you have the time to devote spending hours researching the internet, library and other resources, go for it. If not, maybe you should keep on walking?Image result for apple icon itunes

 

What To Look For:

What To Look For is not always a straight forward thing either. However, there are some common things that I examine first and recommend:

1) String Nut: Is it cracked, made of bone or plastic or has it been replaced? Is the nut ill-fitted, discoloured, or loose? Plastic is common on low-end guitars and will discolour over time becoming yellowed, but on a collector guitar, that’s not a problem. Bone can also discolour but not as severely. Replacements can often be purchased ready-made, or you can get a custom one, but it will cost considerably more unless you do it yourself.

2) String Tuners/Machine Heads: Are they open back or closed, adjustable, bent or damaged in any way, have plastic knobs, or have they been replaced? Are the loose? Do they turn freely or are they difficult to rotate or even seized? These are pretty simple to replace nowadays but not in all cases. Some may require alterations to the headstock so study this carefully before you decide if it’s something you want to do.

Checking out the tuning machine heads--these are in excellent condition
Checking out the tuning machine heads–these are in excellent condition

3) String Action: Are the strings sitting very high above the fingerboard, or too close to the frets? Sometimes this is due to improper string nut height but may also be due to the neck adjustment (see No. 4 below). Take a sight line on each side of the nut looking down towards the guitar’s body and see how the curve of the neck looks (see example photo below). It should have a bit of up bow for proper string relief, although some guitars can play reasonably well with a straight/flat fingerboard, it’s not usually the case.  That’s because the action will be higher and thus more uncomfortable if you intend to play chords or notes higher than the 5th fret. Generally, anyone just strumming chords and notes within the first 3 frets will be fine with this, but it’s not desirable for the rest of us!

Viewing the neck from the nut on a --note the upward bow of the fingerboard.
Viewing the neck from the nut–note the upward bow of the fingerboard.

4) String Relief: Examine the string relief gap by depressing the strings at the 12th fret and plucking the strings on the neck side. You’ll then be able to see if they make contact with the frets indicating back bow, or if they sound out the note cleanly indicating upward bow of the neck. If they sound out cleanly, I measure the gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the fret at the 5th fret. If this is excessive it means that a truss rod adjustment will be required, and the same is true if the string is making contact with the top of the fret. It’s ideal when this gap is no more than 0.015 to 0.025″ without a lot of string buzz.

5) Cracks and Chips: Examine the neck, headstock, and body for cracks and chips that need repair. Minor cracks and chips in the finish are not really a big concern but anything that might affect the structural integrity of the instrument is what we’re looking for.

Checking the rear of the bay for damage on a bench
Checking the rear of the bay for damage

6) Frets: Examine frets for deep grooves and edges of frets for sharp ends. Deep grooves will require fret replacement which is an expensive repair. Minor wear can often be left alone or you can have fret dressing done, but it’s not always needed, depending on your intentions for the guitar. Sharp fret ends will require filing and sanding and can be easy to rectify. This is caused by shrinkage of the fingerboard wood in dry environments.

NOTE: Try to store your guitars where the humidity level is around 35 to 40% whenever possible.

7) If It’s An Electric Guitar: Electric guitars need to be checked to see if all controls, pickups, and connections work. Plug in the guitar and listen for unusual cracking noises or buzzing. With the volume controls on full, tap individual pickups with a small screwdriver to see if they are actually working. Then use the selector switches and re-check the pickups. Repeat the process setting the tone controls from treble to bass. Check volume controls to see if the function from zero to maximum. Cracking noises from volume and tone controls is common and can often be corrected with spray cleaners but sometimes replacements are required. If possible, examine the internal wiring and controls and look for new components and/or signs of poor repairs like sloppy soldering.

NOTE: If you believe you’ve discovered a collector guitar that may be valuable, it’s best not to make any alterations, replace components nor have any repairs done. That’s because in so doing you may even lower its’ value.

8) Bridges: I’ve left this to the end since there are numerous types of bridges and different things to look for:

Acoustic guitars will normally have a bone or plastic single strip inset into a wood bridge plate glued to the body. These may be set too high creating uncomfortable string action but can be easily removed and filed down. If broken, they are easily replaced as well. But, often you’ll find that the bridge plate might be lifting off the body. This can be removed and re-glued. However, if the plate is still secured and the top is bulging upward it’s a costly repair and you might want to keep walking again.

Archtop guitars will normally employ a wood bridge with thumb wheels that rotate to raise or lower the string action. These can be found on both acoustic and electric guitars, (as seen in the photo in this blog), and are often not anchored or secured to the body. If you can’t tune a guitar like this to pitch, it’s normally because the bridge is out of position and must be adjusted for the scale length of the guitar. Electric guitars will normally have this type of bridge made out of metal and they will usually be anchored or set in place. Some have adjustable bridge saddles that can be moved forward or backwards and on occasion, they might be missing or require replacement.

Electric Guitar Bridges: These can be simple designs like fixed types with saddles that are fully adjustable (i.e. up, down, forward and backwards). Or they might be tremolo types that have a bar to bend the strings downward to alter pitch. There are a lot more issues with these as there are wearing parts, missing springs, worn out threads, etc. Frankly, too much for me to cover in this article so I’ll have to do that at another time. Bear in mind that all to often these tremolo bridges have been improperly set up and will need a fair bit of attention to make them play as they should. Check out this link to see just one key thing that I can point out.

Based on what you’ve learned from these examinations you should have a pretty good idea of how to categorize the guitar in question and whether or not it’s worth your time and effort. Keep in mind that if you’re only spending $10 to $20 you can’t be too picky, and if it’s playable, you may just have found the ideal campfire guitar or a fun instrument to do a little experimenting on. If you’re in the learning stage of doing guitar repairs these are ideal finds that you won’t be worried about conducting tests and trials or modifications to as well.

Sensational Stuffed Peppers

Sensational Stuffed Peppers a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans
Sensational Stuffed Peppers

Sensational Stuffed Peppers are one of my favourite suppers. My late father was a chef and used to make these for us, and as far back as I can remember I’ve loved them.  In fact, for the longest time, this was my favourite dinner.  Nostalgia plays a big part in our enjoyment for food and I’m sure everyone has a favourite derived from a special moment from your personal history. Some of you loved a hearty Friday night meatloaf, while for others it was a juicy weekend steak, or perhaps a whopping big plate of Monday night spaghetti.  But for me, stuffed peppers were an anytime home comfort food and the aroma while they were cooking beckoned me into the kitchen every time.

NOTE: These stuffed peppers are best when made using green peppers although you can use red, yellow, orange, or black. But the taste is best with green ones as the flavour profile marries better with the tomato sauce and thus it’s more savoury.  Sweeter peppers lack that “je ne sais quoi” factor so while they are great, they will change the taste as a result. So I recommend that you make it with green ones before trying other types, or include some with other types as I’ve done and shown in this post.

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