A Bunch of Humble Wonders

What are humble wonders? They are the things you don’t give much thought to, but they add a whole load of flavour to your food (and life!). On Monday I found a potted plant by the gate and wondered what it was and what it was doing there. From the smell of the leaves, it was clearly a Thai basil leaf plant. I then found out that a friend who lives down the road had dropped it off. Mystery solved!

Later in the morning of the same day, I received a message from two friends who had read my previous blog and wanted to get some Thai basil leaves to cook with minced pork. One complained that she couldn’t find them anywhere. I thought that was a bit strange since I always find them in the supermarkets. Then it dawned on me that it’s often labelled by its Chinese name (Jiu ceng ta).

A very determined Val (of Val’s Amazing Lunch Boxes. See earlier post) found a packet of Thai basil leaves and proceeded to cook minced pork with basil leaves for her family. She added a sunny side-up egg for her brother. I asked her how it tasted, she said: “Amazing!”.

Actually, Thai basil leaves are easy grow, and so are pandan leaves, curry leaves and lemongrass. With these few leaves, you can make drinks, curries, soups and a variety of dishes. You don’t really need to grow them because they are incredibly cheap. They add natural flavours to dishes and desserts. Apart from being inexpensive they are healthy.

Recently, I forgot to buy ginger for the tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) syrup. We were having tang yuan on the last day of the Lunar New Year for dessert. But I had some lemongrass and pandan, so I boiled a stalk of lemongrass and a piece of pandan leaf with sugar. It had a milder taste than syrup with ginger. I actually liked it, as the glutinous rice balls tasted better without the overpowering taste of the ginger. (We had glutinous rice balls with two types of filling: peanut and sesame.)

We will be starting the HomeGems: Gardening page, with Andrea Pavee taking charge. She has herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruits in her garden. The first in the series is entitled Nature’s Gift @ Home – How Does Your Garden Grow? I have a lot to learn from her as my gardening efforts have not been very successful so far, but I keep trying!

By Chayo, Homskil Editor 1, 7 March 2021

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