Asparagus tips in clear broth with wantons

It’s getting colder with the temperature in the negatives every day now. We couldn’t be clear whether it is still Autumn or we are approaching winter but it is definite that harsher weather condition is here to stay. Right now, being out in the cold night for more than 5 minutes is like having your face slapped a thousand times. Okay! I’m exaggerating but it’s really quite painful! Oh my poor face…

In response to this, more recipes for soups are expected to appear at this platform. After days of eating potato chips and heaty stuff, it’s time that I cook more soup. I like this particular one because I can get to eat my greens and it’s really a one pot dish – so convenient and healthy. I don’t think I have added any amount of cooking oil apart from a small drop of sesame oil when marinating the minced pork mixture to be wrapped into wontons, or should I say, the Chinese version of Ravioli.


Serves 2
For the broth:

500g asparagus
1 whole tomato
1 celery stalk, cut into 4 pieces
salt and ground black pepper

Main ingredients:
14 x 2 wonton skins (Ken and I can eat 7 each)
1 egg white, lightly beaten, to seal
Corainder leaves, to garnish
light soy sauce, to serve

For the filling:
minced pork
shrimps, deveined and cut into small portions
water chestnut, chopped into small pieces
finely chopped fresh gingerroot
light soy sauce
Shaoxing cooking wine
Sesame oil
salt & pepper

1. To make the broth, trim the asparagus tips off about 2.5 inches from the top and set aside. Put the rest of the stalks, tomato and celery into a pot with 1.5 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, then break up the tomato and continue to simmer for 5 minutes longer. Strain this stock into another pot.

2. Marinate the filling. Mix the minced pork with the rest of the filling ingredients. Knead the mixture for a few minutes, then add salt and pepper, soy sauce and Shaoxing cooking wine to taste and mix in thoroughly. I usuallydo this step first and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Divide the filling into the portions that you have for wonton skins. Put one portion in the centre of a wonton skin. Brush the edges of the skin with lightly beaten egg white and then seal the wonton skin with another, on top of it.

4. Heat a saucepan of water and add 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil and drop in some wontons (depending on the size of your saucepan) to cook them. Boil for 4 – 5 minutes, then transfer with a draining spoon to a strainer to drain. Cook the remaining wontons in the same way ( You may want to cover the cooked wontons with some hot water/broth so that they do not stick together).

5. Just before serving, bring the broth to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the asparagus tips and simmer for 4 – 5 minutes or until they are just tender.

6. Pour the broth into the bowls and divide the asparagus tips and wontons between the bowls. Serve piping hot and garnish with coriander leaves.

Baking is better than teaching

How nice it would be if teachers could know what was happening to every child in the classroom when they were teaching. There would be less misunderstanding between the two parties.

I commented on this because as a volunteer, I could observe how the teacher was teaching and definitely how the students were behaving. You could seldom have the full attention of EVERY child because let’s face it, attention span of these kiddos is short, say about 5 minutes and you need to be able to use this 5 minutes fruifully. That is also the reason why you need to structure your lesson appropriately in blocks of time for instruction and activities.

Today, the lesson was totally disrupted by a quarter of the class. The students were either fidgety or not paying attention at all. Sometimes, the teacher was not aware since she was engrossed with her teaching but other times, she had to stop the lesson to correct the behaviour. In her attempt to do that, sometimes she misinterpreted the actions of some children and thought that they were misbehaving and sent them back to their chairs (as an indication of warning/punishment).

The children were saddened because they felt that they have done nothing wrong to deserve the punishment. What went wrong? There was this kid who went across the rug to return the teacher’s card on top of the cupboard when the teacher was teaching. Of course, the latter thought that the kid was being funny and sent him out of the rug (back to his chair). The poor child felt accused; I could totally see that on his face.

I stood there, feeling absolutely sorry for him. He has done the right thing at the wrong time. Sigh! But aren’t we all guilty of that crime at one point or another? As an observer, I could see all the behaviour and reactions of the children and I wonder how much they have learnt today.

I wouldn’t have continued with the lesson. There’s no point. The children were not learning. I would pause and stare at them and they, at me and then asked them if they wanted to take over.

Let them have a taste of what’s it like. Maybe they would understand. I have done that to my older kids and they got the point but I’m not sure if it will work with these younger ones. Moreover, there is this difference in culture.

I had enough for today. I’m fuming mad as I stepped out of the school and I’m not even the teacher. I wonder how Ms H was feeling.

So I went back to baking to calm my soul.

Teaching is difficult. I’m complaining…I know.

Letter to a child

Dear child,
You know, I think you need to recognise that I’m not here to do your work. And when you need help, you call out to me, not because you want to learn but because you want to show me that you are right.

But the fact is, dear child, you are not. And when I tell you that you are wrong, you pout and sulk and show me tantrums. Whatever for? Do you do this to your parents and that they condone it? I pity them then, that they give in to whatever you want, even when you are in the wrong because you will not know how to distinguish right from wrong and think that you are mighty. Perhaps they don’t know how to deal with you and by giving in to you, they can put themselves out of their misery state.

Dear child, perhaps you would have realised that I am not one who gives in to your bad behaviour. All I ask is a little respect from you, just a little will do. After all, I am older than you and know more than the arithmetic that you know or even the few words that you can utter correctly. I may not know everything but I guess I am okay enough to be able to guide you. If you think you are right all the time and can do your work by yourself, why bother to ask me to help? I’m confused by you.

You know what? If you were in my class, you would learn what respect is. I will teach you that and that in turn, you can teach your parents. Or perhaps I can have a chat with your dear mommy and daddy and show them what that is. Maybe they need to be educated on that. Giving in to your whims and fancies is not going to do you good. I love you and that’s why I am not going to tell you that you are right even when you are wrong. You may dislike me for that but I don’t really care. I just want the best for you.

So, dear child, get this, I’m not your slave. So don’t think that you can order me around or show me your ‘wonderful’ attitude. There are many others who need my help in the class and if you don’t appreciate it, I need to move on to assist them.

No child left behind. We want to help every one of you but you also need to do a service to yourself by being humble and learn from others! Put down your pride; you are not always right.