Peranakan dessert using Nature’s best blue dye: Bluepea flower, clitoria ternatea

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I love the splash of baby blue in the Peranakan rice dumplings.  The blue comes from a pretty bluepea vine commonly seen in gardens or self sown.  Mine came up mysteriously one afternoon, and L twirled it around a vine.    In a pernakan restaurant near our place, the owners dried the flowers.  Soaked them in water and squeeze the dye out.

Bluepea flower plucked to dry

Bluepea flower plucked to dry

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Dried blue pea flower

Bluepea flower vine in my pot

Bluepea flower vine in my pot

Bracing for the summer: Lemon Grass tea drink

one week break before term starts.    I’m chilling out.

L stocks the fridge with mangoes and lychees.

Ahhhh…  Lemon grass drink. $3 for a glass in a Thai restaurant.

Can I attempt to DIY?  Love the smell of lemongrass and ginger flower. Spicy, exotic. Refreshing. Unique.

1) 3 stalks of lemon grass stem from garden.  Remove outer coat. Cut off 1 cm of each side – discard.

2) Crush to release fragrance and cut to smaller pieces.

3) Add pandan leaves (screw pine) from garden for extra fragrance – optional. (My pandan leaves are thriving in the pond this summer and crowding out the fishes.)

4) Add 4 litres of water.  Bring to boil for 15 mins.

5) Add 5 tbsp of sugar. (More if you like it sweet)

6) Discard lemon grass and pandan leaves. Serve either hot or cold.

Mmmmmm..

3 stalks of lemon grass

Crushed lemon grass and pandan leaves with water.

Pandanus Amarylifolius

Pandanus grow in soil or water.  Mine is grown soil-less in the pond, and its thriving as a waterplant. No fertilising required. Experiment with the ones you get from the market, tiny roots hanging- voila, an edible garden.

In Southeast Asian dessert, we add pandan leaves to almost everything.  We have pandan chiffon cake. We boil greenbean soup with pandan leaves.  Thais wrap pandan leaves to chicken pieces and fry it and even make little dessert baskets for jelly.  So I was really surprised to find out that the PRC Chinese (vs Southeast Asian Chinese) can’t stand the smell of pandan leaves.)

For that matter, taxis put pandan leaves to ward off cockroaches too.  JL, our chef friend taught us a trick to ward off houseflies. Apparently, they don’t like the smell of fresh mint.  He demo-ed it when we were having pizza at BaiSha, Li Jiang.  Well.

Herb Garden

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My own herb garden for an otherwise roof garden exposed to too much sun. 

Passion fruit in the foreground – grown from seed of a fruit purchased from NTUC Fairprice, curry leaf –  grown from cutting from my mom – chilli plant – grown from seed and Thai basil.

If you notice the tiny black flower on the Thai basil, it needs to be removed to prevent the Thai basil from becoming too woody.   You dont want it to focus too much energy on flowering and producing fruit.

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 All plants pictured here are sun loving and needs lots of water.

Dill used in steaming/ grilling fish.  Also pretty as hedges or cover hideous pipes.

Rhoeo Spathacea “Moses in a basket”. The Chinese IMG_0168[1]boil the purplish leaves and drink it.However, only after the brackets or clam-like structures appear, is it edible.  Be careful when you break off the leaves as the sticky sap causes itchiness to your skin. When I was young, my mom would take about 5 leaves and boil with water until its purplish-pink, add rock sugar.  We drink this when the weather is extremely hot, as it helps cool the body.  

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On right of the Thai basil, I’ve planted some laksa leaves. The scent of the Thai basil can be over-whelming and left undisturbed, can grow quite bushy. I’ve to trim it down so that the laksa leaves get more sun.  Otherwise, white fungus like mould can be found under the leaves.

 

 

  

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Other suggestions for herb garden – pandan leaves grown in sand or water.  Here, they’re grown in an ikea vase in water, as part of the water feature.  We’ve fighting fishes in the pot and L has installed an ingenious filter system with use of lava rocks.

 

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Cat whiskers or Orthosiphon aristatus also known as Java tea. We got to plant this because someone recommended it as an old remedy for treating kidney stones.  Flowers are either white or purplish.   Apparently, the leaves contain potassium and glycosides orthosiphonin believed to dissolve uric acid, phosphate and oxalate from the body.  Take the fresh leaves and boil with 1 litres water until half left. Drink 3 times a day until stones are passed out.   L’s brother who’s into Chinese medicine didnt mention about this plant, so probably this is a peranakan medicinal concoction.

Limau Purut is another plant I’m getting next. The first limau purut I bought from world farm didnt survive. The roots were not established.  Paid $15 amd it was probably a cutting and I left it in full sun with no water.  When I dug up the soil, I found that there were no roots.    After my Egypt trip, I’ll get another limau purut. I love the smell of the leaves.