Friday, 3 August 2012

Chinese Egg and Tomato Dish Anyone?

Chinese Egg and Tomato Dish
A friend of mine wanted to know more about an Egg and Tomato Chinese dish I mentioned I made the other night. It first started with an English Language student boarder from Taiwan we had a number of years ago who often made an Egg and Tomato dish when he cooked for himself. I asked him about it and it admitted he really didn’t know how to cook much else. He explained to me further how this was a very simple dish and how most guys like himself would know at least how to make this dish on their own. Kind of like how most young adults here would at least know how to make Macaroni and Cheese meal from the box, a North American student staple. He moved on and we eventually had a young guy from China stay with us.

This Chinese boarder, who was also studying English, I often spotted making the same Egg and Tomato dish. I asked him about it one day and he was happy to talk about it. He said many students go out to the streets and grab a bite to eat as the street foods are usually cheap and very tasty. If not, there are a few easy to prepare dishes many young adults just starting out will know how to make: a noodle with bean sauce (already made, just add noodles), the Egg and Tomato dish he was cooking, and I think he mentioned a couple more dishes I can’t recall. He was kind to show me how to make it and when he spotted me making the same dish, he gave me pointers so I could improve my skill in making this dish.

Chinese Egg and Tomato

Start cooking the rice first as it takes the longest time to cook. If you have access to a steam cooker of some sort, use that as your first choice to make Jasmine Scented Rice. If not, then I guess you do not have much of a choice than making the rice on the stove. Follow the instructions on the bag except for adding some butter. It always says that step on the instructions on the side of the bag. Have you ever had butter-flavoured rice at a Chinese restaurant? Well then, don’t add it here. The rice will turn out fine without the butter. You will also notice the instruction say not to open the lid. I can’t stress that part of their instructions enough, if you open the lid, you will let all the steam out and then it takes longer to cook but now you won’t know how much longer it will take because now the timing is all off. Except for not adding the butter, follow their instructions exactly. While you are cooking the rice, start cooking the main dish.

You will need two eggs to every medium sized ripe tomato you use and this usually equals one serving per person. Multiply the number of eggs and tomato ratio with the number of people you are cooking for. You will also need some green onions, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, minced garlic and ginger.

I highly recommend you do not use garlic or ginger powder; it is just not the same. Have a jar of minced garlic in your fridge. They are easy to acquire from the grocery store and can be stored in your fridge for a long time. If you don’t use ginger that often to justify doing the same thing as with the jar of minced garlic then when you are at the store picking up your items, break off a piece of fresh ginger and place it in a vegetable bag. The cashier might be confused with seeing an empty bag; just let them know there is ginger in it. They may end up rolling their eyes and place the ginger in your grocery bag without punching it in the register because it is such a tiny piece but at least you can walk out of the store with a clear conscience.

Wash and dice the tomatoes and try to keep as much of the juices that come from it as you will need it.

Slice up some green onions. They are there just for colour as in making the dish taste and look more interesting. You can always add more as you go along if you feel it could use ‘a bit more colour’.

Crack your eggs in a bowl and scramble.

In a medium sized and pre-heated pan, add a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent the eggs from sticking to the pan. Pour in your scrambled eggs and make scrambled eggs. You want to break large pieces into smaller pieces. You want to cook the eggs to the point where most of the liquid egg is cook but not completely. There may be a point where you are wondering if you should cook them just a bit longer and that’s the point when you should stop cooking them and remove the egg back into the bowl you had them to start with. What? You exclaim. Bear with me, it will soon make sense as we go along. Ok, so now the cooked eggs are back in the bowl you originally scrambled the yokes in; we are going to leave them there for now.

In the same heated pan, over low heat, you are going to add more vegetable oil because we do not want the tomatoes and eventually eggs to stick to the pan.

Next, add your minced garlic and minced ginger to the newly added vegetable oil in the heated pan. Stir for a few seconds.

Add the sliced green onions. Stir long enough to spread the onions around.

Next, add the diced tomatoes and all the juices that may have came from it. Now you see why the tomato had to be ripe as only ripe tomatoes are going to have juices. Gentle mash the tomatoes while they cook and simmer. Timing really depends on how high you have your pan so do not worry about timing too much. Cook the tomatoes until they look cooked and soft but still have most of its shape.

Go back to your eggs you have previously cooked. Stir the eggs getting the last liquid yoke left in the bowl. Break up large pieces if necessary. Add the eggs into the pan with the cooking tomatoes. Keep cooking until the eggs are heated again. 

While you are heating up the eggs in the tomatoes, add a pinch of salt and stir.

Add ¾ teaspoon to start of sugar, it is ok to eye-ball it. Stir and taste. Does it taste a bit sweat but not overly sweat? If so, sugar adding part is done. If not, add a smidge more, stir and taste again. Keep repeating until you start tasting some sweetness but it isn’t too sweet. This step may take some practice. Any liquid yoke that was added the second time around will be cooked by now so everything should be ok with the eggs.

Serve over rice.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Online Fundraising Auction using UrberCart (Drupal module)

The Havanese Fanciers of Canada (HFC) wanted to hold an online fundraising auction to raise money for their rescue, Havanese Fanciers of Canada Rescue, Inc. They work with local shelters, veterinary clinics, and tireless volunteers across Canada assisting Havanese or Havanese-typed dog needing a second chance or some minor help. Their online auction is call Havanese Rescue Benefit Auction.

One of their fundraising efforts involves hosting an online auction. In the past, they would hold these online auctions between a defined time-frame and email their bids in. One person would receive each bid and manually edit web pages as bids came in. In the beginning, this process wasn’t too bad but by the end came, the process became a mere nightmare for the person at the receiving end of bids. This person would have to deal with late bids; bids with little to no information on what they were trying to bid on; people asking who bid last and instructions if so-and-so does a bid on item X, then out-bid them for me; and the list of follies of manually running an auction goes on.

There were two prior years where they have done an automated online auction and they were done on a Drupal 5 (the latest version at the time), and a different product/auction module. The developers of this auction module admitted their module was Aces in their previous version 4 and would consider making the same improvements in version 5 of their module if someone would step up and pay them to develop it. On behalf of HFC, I sent them an email of inquiry and it was far too pricy to bother taking it forward anywhere. I even researched who else was interested in seeing their module developed to split the costs but these other organizations were just like HFC who do not have a lot, don’t get a lot, and do the absolute best with whatever they get.

The club wanted to do another online auction this year. I did recommend eBay for the easy and simplicity of it but cost was and still is a large factor to any decision they make. Despite eBay’s ease of use, large audience, recognizably, and able plug-in modules its eBay’s cost was one the clincher for us. Here are a few reasons discussed: (1) EBay’s cost are hard to justify for a very small auction; (2) Most eBay’s audience are looking for deals and this is opposite of the club’s goals; and (3) the club currently asks donors to pay for shipping costs which is opposite to the eBay culture.

Their hearts were set on an online auction that was both close to free as possible and somewhat automated. Research began for an auction website to subscribe to, or an auction Drupal module to install and configure. I did find something in UrberCart, a Drupal module actively developed by UrberCart, http://www.ubercart.org/what_is_ubercart.

Havanese Fanciers of Canada Rescue’s website, http://www.HavaneseRescue.ca, is currently on Drupal 6 series core platform. Drupal is content management software allowing many editors to update the website at the same time. The very basics of UrberCart are enabled and configured to do just the following: (1) provide auction products, (2) payments using check or paypal, (3) automated notice system to inform bidder of items they were out-bid on and items they won. These were their requirements for an online auction.

Even though the club is using a small portion of the UrberCart module, it is able to provide so much more to other websites: shipping and handling, purchasing multiple quantities, taxes, product attributes, many other product types (roles, files, etc). You can read up more about UrberCart at http://drupal.org/project/ubercart or http://www.ubercart.org/. Also there are a number of add-on modules develop by other developers to add other functionality.

Because Drupal is a content management software allowing multiple editors to dig in, many of the project’s committee members were log in and got involved in posting new products, reviewing products and bids, and participated in some practice bidding prior to the live auction. This really gave committee members to get their hands dirty, get a real feel for the auction, clear up, and make corrections anything that may not fit with their goals, the website flow, and so forth.

Bidders appreciate the automated messages and they are sent during every cron job, so to make sure people get their automated messages within a reasonable amount of time, the cron jobs frequency was temporarily changed to every 15 minutes. Bidder are receiving their automated messages once per item and within 15 minutes. So far, this has been working out well.

Their auction is currently running until March 25th. We will be sending out an online survey afterwards to truly evaluating the real success of the club’s use of this module. So far, committee members are dealing with resetting passwords, which has nothing to do with the UrberCart module, and they are receiving many positive feedback.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

'telnet' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

I have Windows 7 on my computer at work now. Yeah, I know, finally. One thing I discovered recently was Telnet doesn’t work from the command prompt? I received the following error: “'telnet' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.”

From what I have been gathering, Microsoft disabled this feature by default and did so with Windows Vista as well. I don’t’ use telnet that often but it can be handy when trying to troubleshoot ports through firewall if nothing else.

Telnet in Windows 7 can be enabled by going to Start >> Control Panel >> Programs >> Programs and Features >> Turn Windows features on or off (you’ll find this link on the right hand side).

Check Telnet Client.

Click OK.

Telnet will work through the command prompt right away.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Expectations and Hopes for the New Year

I am looking forward to this year and I have every intention to make the most of it. I want to write more posts for the various blogs I contribute to; be more involved with social media websites; start working with my dog, Oliver, with obedience and Rally-o training, and; spend more time with friends and family. All and all, a somewhat balance resolution for the year.

There will be some challenges to face and work through; and, the big scheme of things, they are things that can be worked through.

I don’t seem to be starting the year too cheery thus far with a mild cold and flu like symptoms. I stopped by Costco today to pick up bulk quantity of facial tissue paper with lotion, nothing is too good for my red and soar nose. It shall pass.