Friday, July 29, 2016

Hey Me, it's time to Be Happy!

I actually drafted this post months ago, intending to continue writing as and when I am able to find time to pen down my thoughts.  Well, it never happened as it's still sitting in the draft folder with the same words, however with my birthday just round the corner I suddenly have an urge to finish this post.

4 years ago I wrote a blog post My Story, All 39 years of it, Dedicated to Me for a linky party with fellow mummy bloggers.  It was a post that allowed the public to have a glimpse of my life story and in that post I ended with a note that I'll probably talk to Me again in a decade's time, guess it will have to be a little bit earlier than that.

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Dear Me, 

I know I said that I will write to you when you turn 49 but I decide to write to you just before that.  What prompted me to write this 2nd letter at such a short interval?  Well, it's this photo that came up on my facebook newsfeed.

If I could write a note to You, my younger self with only two words, it will be...

It has been a roller coaster ride these 4 years, along with Mum's sudden departure in November 2013 came the lowest, saddest, darkest moments in your life.  You missed her nagging, the bickering you had with her and then hated yourself for being rude, cruel, disrespectful to her when deep down inside you know she cares about you a lot to fuss over you.  Few months after her departure, you wrote that you just needed a good cry to move forward, we both know it didn't made you go far before you went into hiding again, till date you still can't get over it.

Then things at home started to spiral downwards, one thing led to another, suddenly we are a single-income family with all the burdens and responsibilities landing on your shoulder.  Many a times you felt overwhelmed, suffocating and an urge to scream the hell out loud at every one to just STOP IT!  And I know, there were times where you can feel that your brain is going to snap, you were so so close to crossing that thin line to do something stupid and regretful.  You even felt the presence of depression approaching.  I am so glad your willpower is much stronger than we both thought it is, we fought and won the battles with them.

Some nights you cry yourself to sleep, sometimes calling out for Mum in your heart, asking her for directions, talking to her in your mind and thinking what she would have advise you if she's still around.  Surprisingly, the next day you felt so much better, maybe Mum did really hear you, took away the worry and whispered assurance in your dream that "Every thing's going to be ok."

Your biggest problem and worry is DinoBoy.  You were afraid that you have not done a good job in raising and moulding him to be that better child.  "Tiger Mum" - some of them labelled you as one, it was not a good feeling to be labelled but you turned a deaf ear and did what you thought was right at that moment,.  You taught him using the ways Dad and Mum taught you, instilled in him the core values and discipline of life when he was younger.  Give yourself a pat on the shoulder because you have successfully mould him to be a sensible child.  He may still have his flaws but no one human is 100% perfect, he just needs time to grow out of them.  This is already half the battle won right?

Every one in the family has their own dynamics, including you but you did not have time to deal with yours as you spend most of your waking time trying to help the others deal with theirs because they were lost and stuck at that moment.  

The stressful environment in the house caused DinoBoy to be exceptionally difficult, creating trouble in school and student care, it was taking a toll on you and hurting your relationship with him.  You made a hasty & shocking decision to pull him out of student care when he did something disastrous in the centre that day.  I know, you have had enough of it, removing him from the cause of the problem is the only solution at that moment, of course you know you will not be able to take it if such things keeps happening.  You thought there will be huge quarrel or argument with DinoPapa that night but instead both of you sat down to discuss the next steps to take in a calm manner.  Though it was a battle lost but there is still hope.

Months later, you secretly praised yourself for making that decision as things becomes quieter, your spirit felt lighter as a huge chunk of stress were removed from your shoulder, most important thing is that DinoBoy also becomes happier, more responsible and responsive to your requests and demands too.  Hey, we won that battle! High five for that!

The other day DinoBoy look at you while you were working on your crochet project and casually said "You are frowning again Mum.  Don't frown!".   It struck you that frowning seems to be the permanent expression on your face since god knows when, we both know all the stress are reflecting on your face and it has become a habit that you didn't realized you were doing it.  

Later that night you sat at the work table thinking back, flashes of the unfortunate, unhappy, tense moments in the past 4 years appeared in your mind and you wonder when will this end.  Then you remembered DinoBoy's words.  Yes, you have been worrying for the family for far too long, it's time to start living for yourself, time to enjoy life.

Well, I know you will be doubtful about that, of course you can Be Happy!  No one is destined to live their life in misery if they choose not too.  People says changes require baby steps to start with, I say happiness need no baby steps, you can jump high up in the air at this instant to feel happy immediately.

Photo Credits

Still not convinced?  Well, you are a Abraham-Hicks believer, you love the phrases they shared and agreed to the words.  You've even tried the methods they shared and received positive results, so here's a couple of phrases to you off with.

Yes, look at an issue and instead of finding faults or questioning the "reason" the "why", try looking for a solution.  You've done that before last year by pulling DinoBoy out from student care and look at the result today!  Need I say more?

You've read 5 Love Languages of Children, you know that by filling up his emotional tank and attending to his love languages you are able to get DinoBoy to respond to your requests much easier.  And he loves being praised because it's one of the way he felt assured that he has done right.  The more you assured him, the better he will perform.  Looking back, he has not been giving us as many heart attacks as before.  And let's be frank, you were beaming with joy when you shared with others that he did his homework, assessment book revisions, learning his spelling without us having to nag/scold/yell at him?

And lastly, this...  Yes, what done's is past.  You have come this far and from what I have shown you above I am confident that you have learn a huge load of things since the last time I wrote.  You will be able to tackle every lemons that Life throw at you. Oh ya, where is your Lemonade Empire huh?

From this moment on, I wish you well, I wish you health but I demand you to Go Forth in Joy and Get On with It, live the life in a happier & light hearted tone, TODAY! 

I'd like to see a happier you the next time we speak again.

Just Me

Friday, July 22, 2016

Skechers - Great shoes for every lifestyle

When it comes to choosing a footwear, it's never a "grab-and-go" affair for us as there are many factors to consider before deciding on one pair.  Comfort is the top priority for DinoPapa as he is on his feet almost the whole day, nothing too pointy or constricting at the toe box area, the sole must be wooden instead of rubber (you know how our soles break when we squat down too often?  Wooden soles have lesser chance of that happening) and no fanciful designs for him.  Both DinoBoy and myself has broad or wide feet (How do you know that you have broad feet?  If you try on most of the shoes and your toes feels tight, chances are you have broad feet) most of the shoes we see in the mall and stores are on the slim side thus unable to accommodate our feet.  

Like most parents who are concerned with our children's well being.  Knowing that DinoBoy's little feet is on the wider side, we took extra care to choose the best shoes for him.  It was easy when he was a baby and toddler because most of the shoes for that age are made with softer soles and wider toe box.  It gets a little bit challenging when he's older, we have to resort to purchasing his shoes from overseas, where shipping usually cost quite a fair bit, but for his comfort and the development of his feet, we did not think twice about spending that kind of money.

A Good Pair of Shoes Does Matter
Why did we put in so much money and effort in choosing a good shoes for ourselves?  A footwear that probably last us a year the most, and for DinoBoy it will be lesser since his feet will be growing constantly till he's older.

The reason is fairly simply.  A shoe may fit us length wise but if it hurt your feet at your toe, you won't be able to walk with your natural movement or stride.  This can lead to quite a few problems such as ingrown toenails, blisters, corns and calluses or some thing more serious such as crooked toes, inflamed nerves, pain in the ball of the foot and in some serious cases it can lead to arthritis too.

So it pays to treat our feet well by giving it a good pair of comfortable shoes because they carry our entire body's weight most of our life time.

A shoe brand we trust
Even though DinoBoy has limited choices for shoe brands locally, one of the trusty brand we love is Skechers, a brand that constantly have trending shoes that has won many awards for shoes performance and designs.  With their GoRun, GoWalk, Performance, On the Go, Relaxed Fit, Sports, WorkShoes series, they practically have shoes for every lifestyles and occasions.

Other than added stability, support and comfort, the shoes are light weight too but that does not compromise on the it's performance.  With its Memory Foam technology found on the insole which seems to mould onto your feet, hugging the contours of your feet and provide a perfect fit to your feet.  Do you know that you can throw your Skechers shoes into the washing machine to clean?

DinoBoy owned his first pair of Skechers covered toes sandals when he was about 5 years old. it was both comfy and roomy, great for his growing feet for the next year plus before we have to let it go.  Talk about "durability" and "value for money", Skechers sure meets our top requirements~

Skechers & Us
This year per DinoBoy's request, our goal for 2016 is to take part in as many run and walk as possible.  We went for our first family run in March 2016 and did not stop from there.  In the midst of these healthy activities DinoBoy outgrew his pair of running shoes, we did not think twice and headed off to Skechers store nearby (click here to check store locations) and got him a pair of Skechers GoRun shoes.

Later, we were very lucky to have Skechers sponsoring us a pair of shoes each for the NTUC Fairprice Walks with U in May 2016.  These Skechers GoWalk shoes are so comfortable, the GOmat Technology with high-rebound cushioning and GO Pillars shock absorbing means a lot of weight and pressure are taken off our feet and "transferred" onto the shoes.  We wore them when we are out on weekends, recently we spent a whole day at Pulau Ubin in these shoes and our feet are... well, Happy Feet!

Even though he has 2 new pairs of Skechers shoes, he still hangs on to his Ben10 slipper which kinda just fit his feet nicely, thank goodness he is only wearing it to our weekly trips to the swimming pool for his lesson.  Last week I jumped up with joy when he finally relented and agreed to let us bring him to Skechers to get a new pair of sandals.  Woohoo!

Shape Run 2016 will be happening this Sunday 24 July 2016 at Bayfront Marina, we are taking part in the 1.8km Fun Run Category. Skechers has graciously sponsored us with their running shoes for this event again, here's what we will be wearing for the run.

And DinoBoy just HAVE TO show off his stylo-milo Skechers Boy's ERUPTERS II Sneakers, watch the video and you will know why.

With these shoes we are ready to take on Shape Run 2016 and add it into our list of run for this year.

If you have not decided what running shoes to get for Shape Run 2016 (if you are taking part) or for you daily jogging/running routine, do consider Skechers GoRun series shoes.

Read about our great shopping experience at Skechers Waterway Point outlet over here.

Disclaimer : We received complimentary shoes from Skechers for the purpose of this blog post and another one on SHAPE Run 2016, no other compensation was received. All opinion in this post are 100% ours, all photos in this post belongs to the DinoFamily, you may not use them for your own purpose without seeking our permission.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

National Geographic Live! Presents : Chasing Ancient Mysteries With Albert Lin

Photo Credit : Mark Thiessen
Following sell out shows in 2015, National Geographic Live ! will return to the Esplanade Concert Hall this August featuring modern day explorer Albert Lin.

A departure from the previous years’ focus on the animal wildlife, Lin’s forays into ancient histories is grounded in a strong scientific and engineering background. He leverages on cutting edge technology and the crowdsourcing platform in his expeditions – from exploring Genghis Khan’s tomb to digging deeper into the 2014 disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner, MH370.

In his well-known project “Valley of the Khans” to seek out the Holy Grail of archaeology conqueror Genghis Khan’s long-lost tomb -Lin illustrated the role of technology in preserving the ‘collective cultural heritage’. Respecting the Mongolian tradition that forbids the physical excavation of burial sites, he challenged the traditional barriers of archaeological methods to exploration with the use of non-invasive, advanced technology and other cutting-edge tools to survey the remote region in central Asia.

Photo Credit : Mike Hennig

A UCSD-trained materials scientist, engineer and appointed Emerging Explorer for National Geographic in 2010; Lin is a pioneer in utilizing modern tools to test and push the frontiers of exploration and seek answers to long-standing questions in History and Geography. A rare find in his field, Lin is an advocate of the power of the people and the crowdsourcing platform.

Join this boldly imaginative young explorer live on stage, as he reports on his latest findings in Mongolia and elsewhere and discover how technology is opening up new frontiers for exploration.

“Exploration has always been about going where we haven't been able to go before. Today, technology helps us navigate past those old barriers” - Albert Lin

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Let's get to know more about Dr Albert with this simple interview.  Also, click here to know more about Chasing Ancient Mysteries with Albert Lin

1. What was your passion as a child? Did your parents encourage you to pursue your passion/desire?
As a child I wanted to be a park ranger, I have always been fundamentally at home in the mountains. At an early age my parents encouraged that by constantly supporting my path into the wilderness, if not through camping trips then through climbing lessons. Then there was the addition of wonder that was brought into all aspects of the wilderness with the scientific world of my father’s astrophysics carrier. This was a natural recipe to become a lifelong explorer.

2. What is your key lesson and takeaway for you from all your exploration journeys, especially to the remote locations?
Always bring Tabasco sauce... joking. Actually, honestly, I have repeatedly been surprised at how my limitations in imagination have been blown away by reality. The world is much more diverse and beautiful than I could predict, and every single journey has confirmed that.

Photo Credit  ;Ben Horton

3. Which cultures do you have the most interest in?
Simple – all.

4. How has your experience been in sharing the story of the Valley of Khans for years, to different cities and nationalities across the globe?
Having had the honour to travel and share my experiences across Europe, Africa and Asia, I have realized that the story is really about the human experience (both Genghis Khan’s and ours today), and the power of this global tribe that we call – humanity.

5. How has technology changed the idea and concept of exploring and expeditions?
It’s a continuous evolution, but the most exciting things for me is the role that the global community can play in exploration. In the past century, scientific curiosity and exploration was a privilege of the rich. Now we are connected in a way to more information and resources then in any time in human history, I think we are only at the beginning of how we engage our networked connectivity to change the landscape of how science and exploration is conducted.

6. What else can Singaporeans look forward to from your upcoming talk this 30th August 2016?
From all the experiences and adventures, ultimately it boils down to the reminder that we are actually JUST NOW entering into the great age of exploration.

Photo Credit : Erik Jepsen

Chasing Ancient Mysteries with Albert Lin
Date: 30 August 2016, Tuesday
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Concert Hall
Ticketing details: Tickets are priced from $39

“We have to decide why progress is important. Is it to create things that could make us obsolete, or is it to create tools to help us become more human?” - Albert Lin

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Giveaway Details

Prize : A pair of tickets to Chasing Ancient Mysteries With Albert Lin

Contest Ends : 02 August 2016 @ 2359hrs
Open : Singapore
How to Enter : Please answer the question by commenting on blog post and also by using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and conditions of giveaway are as follow:
- To avoid being disqualified without prior notice for the giveaway, please read carefully the following and fulfill ALL the requirements stated.
- Tickets are non transferable nor exchange for cash.
- Tickets are for shows between 4 – 19 June 2016, daily except Mondays at either of the show timing. Sponsor will confirm this at a later date and cannot be changed once it is determined.
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Monday, July 11, 2016

Connected Learning Online Chinese Tuition - What goes on during the class

Since I shared an intro post about Connected Learning in March 2016 over here, and posting about DinoBoy's Chinese learning journey with this online tuition centre in my facebook page, I have been receiving questions from many interested parents regarding their course fees and structure.

So, let me share with you what went on during the 1.5 hours of P4 tuition class besides laughter, squealing, friendly bickering (also bully the tutor), discussions (constructive and non constructive).  The twice weekly lessons are always so noisy, lively and happy that I tend to lurk around to see what's going on; KPO me lah hahaha~

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Tuition Fees & other charges
Well, Connected Learning provide Chinese tuition for Primary 1 to Secondary 4 students, as stated in their website their fees ranges between SGD210 to SGD260, pretty affordable to me.  Besides the monthly tuition fees, you also need to pay a one time registration fees of SGD53.50 and SGD30 course material fees. *All terms and conditions apply*

The Technical Part
First of all, ensure that you have a working computer, laptop or iPad with camera and of course a stable internet connection.  You will need to download a free videoconferencing software and to login with the password to join the class. 

We are using iPad because our one and only one laptop hooked up in the study room is quite old and not very fast.  And the thing about wifi connection in the house, we only can get strong connection in the living room where the modem is, with iPad DinoBoy can choose to sit on the dining table or at the living area.

The Tutors
Connected Learning tutors are based overseas but the centre will keep them updated on our school syllabus, they can also retrieve important information from our MOE website.  They will then prepare their lesson materials accordingly. 

The tutor will usually teach one or two lesson in advance than the school's lesson progress so as to prepare the kids for it.  I think this is good for those who are really struggling with the language, by learning the words and understanding the lesson first, the kid will be able to concentrate on other things that the teacher may be teaching instead of feeling stressed up trying to do catch up.

I am also glad to know that the tutors are flexible in their teaching too.  They will access the kid during lesson and based on the kid's strength and ability to grasp the language they will decide to teach more or less new words or phrases to the kid.  This means that their aim is to let the kid learn and understand the textbook lessons and to sort of "push" the kid if he show potential in yearning to learn more.

We all know our kids prefer to converse in English, this is not a major problem with the tutors as they understand some basic English or have tools to help them translate English words to Chinese.

The Tuition Lesson Structure
This is DinoBoy's tuition note book, it contains the words and phrases he learned during the tuition classes.  These words may be those found in the school textbook or they could be additional words given by the tutor, in such cases these words will be closely related to the textbook lessons.   The pages looked messy because of his hideous handwriting and its a mishmash of every thing, it actually can be broken down to a few categories which the tutor will go through during the lessons.

#1 识写词/识读词 Writing, Recognizing and Reading
The class usually starts with a lesson in the school textbook where the tutor will request the kids to take turn to read a passage each.  Key words will be taught and further to explained with example of the usage of words or phrase.  Sometimes she uses photos or pictures to reinforce the teaching and for discussions.  For additional words from the tutor, they will be flashed with the hanyupinyin and it's relevant English meaning.  Tutor will also show example of usage of words/phrase and encourage the kids to try to do so too.  

Initially my "jiak kantang" or "eat potato" boy constantly 成了笑柄 or become a laughingstock at almost every lesson when he made funny comments, either by direct translating the English words to Chinese or use the words inappropriately or sentence construction are all messed up.

#2 形似字 Chinese characters in similar shape
As if Chinese characters are not complex enough, some of them look similar but have totally different meaning or even different pronunciation.  The tutor will try to share as many of these similar characters words to the kids, explaining each word and teaching them to differentiate each word by looking at its radical which usually gives a hint of the meaning of it.  

An example for such is 冰 Ice and 泳 Swim, both look almost the same but of course they are not, kids will probably write an extra stroke on 冰 Ice or confuse it with 泳 Swim thus pronouncing it as 泳 Swim.

In case you are not aware, the P4 kids are tested on this in exam paper under 辨字测验 section, its MCQ and usually the question will give words that look similar as choice answers to confuse the kid.

#3 成语 Chinese Idioms
Kids now are not exposed to Chinese idioms as much as before.  Chinese idioms are beautiful, these four characters usually reflect the moral behind the story rather than the story itself or they holds a deeper meaning than the words.

Knowing some Chinese idioms will definitely benefit the kids especially when it comes to composition as they will enhance the feelings towards a situation or person.  When used correctly they will probably help the kids to earn extra mark or two in contents.

Again, in the exam paper under 词语搭配 section, sometimes Chinese idioms will be used as a question to test the kids.

#4 语文运用 Language Usage
After learning all the above, they must be put to use so that things or sentence make sense right?  The tutor will flash a series of questions for the kids to answer, and here is where the friendly competition & bickering comes in.  Practice makes perfect but these friendly competition makes remembering the words easier and of course the class more lively.

What else goes on during the lesson
#1 Spelling
Yes, even though its online tuition there are spelling too which happen I think every other week or once they finish a lesson.  The tutor only give words to learn as the purpose is for the kids to revise the words learnt so no long sentences as seen in the school's spelling list.

Spelling will be conducted where the words are being read out as usual, for those using computer or laptop, the kid will be able to use a digital writing pad to write out the words and the tutor can see the writing immediately.  For DinoBoy since no such device for iPad is available he will write them on the note book and put it in front of the camera to show tutor.  As you can see from the photo below, DinoBoy did his corrections too and show it to the tutor.  And the marks are given by the tutor verbally, he wrote it down for his own knowledge.

In case you wonder, no the boy does not cheat by looking at the words before writing them down.  It is not because I am around (95% of the time I am not, I'm all too happy to be able to do my own stuffs in peace), he is honest in this area, no cheating because he knows there are no short cuts to learning and it will do him more harm than any good.

#2 Composition
DinoBoy started with Connected Learning in March 2016 till the end of SA1, he only did composition twice with the tutor.  Frankly, I have no recollection of what they did as I was away doing my own stuffs *opps*   However, by looking at the photos I managed to snapped it seems to be taught the same as his school.  After he's done I will take a photo of it and emailed to the tutor for marking.

During his time with Connected Learning, composition was done once every one or one and a half month, but I understand that they will be doing it once a month since it is an area where most of the kids are weak in.

#3 Connected Learning tuition materials
Since this is an online tuition, there are rarely any homework as the tutor will try to finish the work given out during the lesson. I remember there was a couple of time DinoBoy's tutor stayed online with him till he finishes the last bit of homework, she even take time to look through and explained to him on his mistakes.

Besides learning through flashcards and textbook, they also uses 2 assessment books to reinforce teaching.  These assessment books are based on current school syllabus and exam format.

Connected Learning also have test paper which is set by the tutor in accordance to our exam paper format and syllabus. The exam papers will be emailed to me and I will have to print them out so that DinoBoy can do it during the class. He will be required to tackle these exam paper as if it is the school's exam. That means the tutor will not give him any help and he will be given the same amount of time as required to finish the paper.  This is good as he will learn to pace his writing and time himself on his progress.  The tutor will use this opportunity to see what are the areas/section that he takes longer then required to finish and give suggestions or solution so that they can work around the bottleneck and enable him to finish the test paper within the time limit.

#4 Progress Report
At the end of the month the tutor will give us a Progress Report where they will point out DinoBoy's weakness and will praise him on the efforts he has put in during the class.  With this report I will be able to work on the area of weakness with some other learning materials so that he can improve on it.

Our Review
As a full time working mum and the primary caregiver of DinoBoy, going with Connected Learning have made me saved much much more than just only monetary, I saved on the one thing that is precious to all working parents - TIME. Both of us need not rush off from school to have our dinner and off to tuition centre. Instead, I could come home to cook a simple healthy dinner for the family, where we could also eat as a family.

DinoBoy even have about 20mins to rest and relax before he start his tuition. Now, who say I can't have the best of ALL world? Ensuring he eats healthy home cooked meals, ample rest time, learning with a stress less mindset in the comfort of our humble cave errm.... I mean home.

Did the tuition help him? Well, we shared the news in our facebook page back in May 2016...

We also noticed that DinoBoy's Chinese language proficiency has improved significantly, he speaks with more confidence, his sentence constructions are better and sound more logical (no more cringing or frowning when I try to understand him), most important of all. his vocab has increased too!

Great Deals for You!
If you and your child are constantly struggling with Chinese and still unable to get the grade up to a satisfying level, we strongly suggest that you let your child try out Connected Learning by signing up for their free trial over here.

If you are happy with it and wish to continue, quote "DinoMama" and get 10% off for the first month fees when you sign up for their regular classes.

Last but not least...
#1 Head over to MummyEd where she share her 6 year old son's P1 Chinese learning with Connected Learning over here.

#2 Have a PSLE going child who will be sitting the paper this year or next?  Read how Connected Learning are geared up for the new Chinese oral format that MOE announced earlier this year in their article Preparing Your Child for the NEW PSLE Chinese Oral Format shared in kiasuparent

Disclaimer : We were given trial Chinese lessons with Connected Learning Pte Ltd for the purpose of a series of posts. No other compensation was received.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Cantonese Style Beef Stew

We love stew and I am more than happy to cook them because it solves my dinner menu planning as we can have the stew for a few days.  And as you know, a pot of stew really tastes better as days goes by and more ingredients are added into it.

Recently I saw a beautiful daikon in the supermarket and bought it without second thought, its not expensive I think about SGD1+ for it.  I scoured the web for some ways to cook that beautiful vegetable, almost wanted to braise it but I know the rest of the gang definitely would not fancy that.  So I decided to make beef stew with it, but with a new recipe, after thinking I made up my mind to do a simple Cantonese style beef stew.

How SIMPLE is simple?  Well, I only need beef and daikon as the main ingredients but it needs a handful of others ingredients where some of them like Hoisin sauce 海鲜酱 and Chu Hou sauce 柱候酱 you probably have to buy it specially for this recipe.

I bought 2 packets of pre-cut beef stew cubes from supermarket, cost me SGD13+ per packet of probably 300g (am not sure coz I did not look at it), since I am feeding younglings (gosh, this word just pop into my brain as I type lol) I cut some of the pieces into smaller size.  I blanch the beef cubes to get rid of any impurities and smell, set aside.  You can use other parts of beef such as brisket if you prefer.

Next heat up some oil in a wok or pan or pot, I used my trusty corning ware, next add in the garlic and ginger to stir fry till aromatic.  Add in the Hoisin sauce, Chu Hou sauce, oyster sauce to stir fry for about 1 - 2 minutes.  The beef and the spices with the Chinese cooking wine are next, stir fry for about 3 - 4 minutes or till beef are browned.  Lastly, add water to cover the beef, turn down the fire to simmer the pot of stew for at least 2.5hours.  The water should have thicken into some sauce by then, add in the cubed daikon and continue to cook for another 30mins or till it is soft.  

The wonderful thing about corning ware besides being able to go from freezer to oven/stove to table, it retains heat so well that it takes shorter time then usual to cook the food.  Yay to ALL THAT!  Having said that, the timing I have indicated in this post is for normal wok or pan, for those using corning ware pot, adjust the timing according.  For this dish I cooked it for 1hr+, add in the daikon and continue to simmer for another 15mins or so, cover the pot, turned off the heat and let it continue to cook by itself.

Look at my beautiful pot of beef stew, the sauce is sweet, diakon is soft and beef are tender.  This big pot only lasted 2 days before we wipe it clean.  It would have been gone on the day I served it but as there are other dishes too so it "survived" till the next day.

* 300-400g stewing beef cube or brisket
* 1 daikon
* 2 tablespoon of cooking oil
* 2 cups of water
* 2 star anise
* 1 dried bay leaf
* 1 tangerine peel
* 2 - 3 cloves of garlic
* 3 slices of ginger
* 1 rock suger, about thumb length
* 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
* 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
* 1 tablespoon Chu Hou sauce
* 2 tablespoon Hua Diao or Shaoxing or Chinese cooking wine.
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* half tablespoon dark soy sauce, more if you want the stew to be darker

1. Blanch the beef and set aside.
2. Peel and slice the garlic, set aside.
3. Heat up oil in wok, add in the ginger and garlic, do a quick stir till they give off a fragrance, about a minute or so.
4. Turn down the fire, add in the Hoisin sauce, Chu Hou sauce, oyster sauce and rock sugar to stir fry till rock sugar has melted.
5. Add in the beef, star anise, tangerine peel, bay leaf and Chinese cooking wine.  Turn the fire to medium and continue to stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes to brown the beef.
6. Add in the water, together with the soy sauce and dark soy sauce, bring to boil and turn the fire down to simmer with wok covered for 2 to 2.5 hours.  Check and turn the beef frequently.
7. In the mean time, peel and cut the daikon into bite size, add into the wok, stir to mix.
8. Turn up the heat to bring the stew to boil and after that turn down the fire to let it simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or till the daikon is soft.
9. Dish and serve.

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