RSSArchive for August, 2008

Fried Banana Fritter (Kuih Kodok)

Fried Banana Fritter or Kuih Kodok in Malay is a common street food in Malaysia. I had not eaten this for 9 years since I immigrated to Canada. I missed it so much that I decided to make it at home despite that I do not like deep frying in my kitchen.

The Fried Banana Fritter is soft and sweet and full of banana flavour. It is best eaten warm. I got the recipe from Kuali but made some adjustment to it as I find that the recipe in Kuali has too much salt in it which makes the banana fritter more savory than sweet. I prefer it to be sweet.


  • 150g (net weight) ripe bananas (about 1 large banana)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon Quaker oats (I subtitituted with 1 ground flax seed)
  • a pinch of baking soda

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Pork Liver Soup

This is a small interruption to the Washington DC travel series as Ben is away at Chicago right now. Here is a simple soup recipe which Ben enjoys which I like to share with you.

It’s Pork Liver Soup. I had a lot of this soup during my confinement as it has lots of ginger in it.


  • big knob of ginger
  • pork liver
  • chinese cooking wine
  • ground white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • soy sauce to taste
  • sesame oil

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Washington DC: Korean War Veterans Memorial

Washington DC sure has a lot of memorials dedicated to war, don’t you think? I am sitting here just thinking … in the recent history of the US, the past 50-60 years or so, are defined by wars. There seems to be a war somewhere that the mighty US military is fighting. This is so reflected in the sheer number of war memorials here in their capital city and the importance placed in them.

Come to think of it … many of the important events in history are characterized by wars and battles … and most great civilizations and countries had great armies. It shudders me to think that one country can only attain greatness by its ability to wage and win wars.

Just a short distance from the Lincoln Memorial is yet another war memorial that we visited, the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Although the Korean war was initially waged between North and South Korea, it was actually a wider war … it was a proxy war between the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War era. The war erupted when North Korea invaded the South in 1950. The war lasted 3 years. I believe the war technically had not ended because of the stalemate in fighting that both parties just ceased fire without any further hostilities.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is simply depicted by 19 large statues of a squad in patrol. All branches of the US Military is represented in these 19 statues although I cannot tell one from another simply because everyone of them were draped in raincoats (is that what you call that? raincoats?) which obscured their uniform.

If you look carefully at each of them, you might be able to pick up their facial features that they also represent an ethnic cross section of whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanic and Native American Indians. Each of them are in various state of readiness.

On one side of the memorial stands a wall of black reflecting granite with etchings of images of war. It is quite surreal standing in front of it and seeing the reflection of the statues on it.

At the tip of the memorial is the Pool of Remembrance. Here is where it is listed the casualties of the Korean War.

The above is just the total killed in action. Over 470,000 are listed as missing from the UN side. Canada fought alongside the Americans as part of the UN force. Over 500 of Canadian soldiers were killed in this conflict. You might not realize this but a total of 17 countries represented the UN side while the North Korean was aided by both the Soviet Union and China.

One more … one more war memorial tomorrow and I will be done with wars.

Feedback please … are you guys bored with this series so far?

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Washington DC: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Of all the memorials on the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is perhaps the most controversial of all. Just might as well … as the US suffered it’s only defeat in a war with pulled out from it’s involvement in Vietnam without achieving its objectives. The US got involved in Vietnam to stop the march of communism from China down to South East Asia. However, the country used the wrong strategy to fight the communist north and thought that sheer firepower will ultimately win the war.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is actually made up of three sections … the Three Soldiers sculpture, the Vietnam Women’s memorial and the most famous of all the Memorial Wall. The Memorial Wall is made up of two walls gradually sunken to the ground from one side and rising from the other.

Believe it or not, the Vietnam Memorial is designed by a 21 year old Arts student. You see, when they organized a competition for the design of the memorial, they made one decision … and that is all designs are to be identified by a number and the artist name is not revealed. It so happened that the design of the young artist was chosen over many other big names. Many believe that this design would not have been chosen if the artist name was made known.

The design of the Vietnam Memorial is very symbolic but controversial. In the beginning, not many people is willing to accept the design as they deem it to be not traditional enough as a memorial. The bickering went to and fro until a compromise is made — and that is they will include an additional traditional memorial to the Memorial Wall. The addition is called the Three Soldiers.

The Three Solders are designed to depict a white, black and Hispanic soldier who fought side by side during the war. The artist of the Memorial Wall was so incensed with the addition of the Three Soldiers that she refused to attend the dedication of this memorial.

On the wall are the names of over 58,000 Americans who were killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. The names are etched in chronological order according to the date of death. The first name started in 1959 from the left and ends in 1968 on the other end.

There are directories in the parks that you could look up the names on the wall. Since the names are sorted by death chronically order, looking for a name out of 58,000 would be quite impossible. From the directory, you’ll find the panel where the name appears.

For instance, the above is Panel W17 which says that it’s on the west wall and panel 17. There are a total of 70 panels in all.

The names are sandblasted on a type of highly reflective black granite — almost like a mirror. It is chosen because the reflection sort of bring the present and the past together for those who stands in front of the wall.

There are only names … no ranks are shown.

As I mentioned, there are two walls … one points to the Washington Monument and the other points to the Lincoln memorial. It tapers off towards both ends and that symbolizes a gaping wound that the nation had to endure. One other interpretation says that from one end to the other symbolizes from the opening of a wound to the closing and healing of it.

Whatever they mean, the memorial is simple but moving. Everyone walks the path along the wall with silence.

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Washington DC: The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is located at the far eastern end of the National Mall. Besides the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial is the most recognized and visited monument in the DC area.

The above picture was taken from the Washington Monument. It seems like it’s just a short distance from the looks of it right? Well, it is almost 1 km between these two monuments. Between them is the famous Reflecting Pool.

It was very hot and humid that day. It was just a long walk along the Reflecting Pool and we had a miserable time really. People tell me that summer is not a good time to visit Washington DC and I now know what they mean.

The Lincoln Memorial is designed in the form of a Greek temple. It is surrounded by 36 massive columns which represents the 25 Union and 11 Confederate states during the time of Lincoln.

Lincoln as you recall is the President who led the country during it’s darkest hour of the Civil War. He managed to reunite the country and died under an assassin bullet just days after achieving it.

Right in the middle of the temple is the seated Lincoln gazing down the Reflecting Pool unto the Washington Monument. Many people had analyzed his posture … one of which is that they think that Lincoln made a “A” and “L” hand sign which stands for his initials. The left hand is “A” and right hand is “L”. Here is what “A” and “L” looks like:

You tell me … does that look right?

There are also two inscriptions of Lincolns greatest speeches … one is the Gettysburg Address and the other is his Inaugural Address. The Gettysburg Address is well know even to non-Americans — especially the starting sentence and the ending sentences.

It is also here in the Lincoln Memorial where the greatest rally in America was help. This is exactly where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have A Dream” to 250,000 marchers. Suanne took the opportunity to deliver her “I Have A Dream” speech too. LOL!

Contrast this with the real speech here (

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Washington DC: The World War II Memorial

In terms of area built, the World War II Memorial is perhaps the largest memorial on the National Mall. One would have thought that the World War II Memorial were built decades ago but you’ll be surprised, as we were, to learn that it was built just a few years ago.

“World War II was the only war that was fought across six of the world’s seven continents and all of its ocean”, so wrote a British historian. It killed 50 million people in all.

As the name implies, this monument is built to remember the sacrifices of Americans during the most devastating conflict in human history. Whether one agrees or not, the World War II had a profound impact on the American psyche. It was a “good” war … a war against tyranny and of liberation.

The US fought the war on two separate fronts — the Atlantic and the Pacific.

World War II was the turning point for the Americans on the global stage. It was out from this war that they emerged as the breadbasket and industrial superpower of the world.

The World War II Memorial was placed right between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. This reflects the importance of the World War II in preserving the democratic ideals of two great leaders of the US.

Approaching west from the Washington Monument, is the wide ceremonial entrance with sculptures of scenes of America at war. We walked down this pathway and even without any signs, we knew what each of them meant.

Right in the middle is the fountain and plaza.

Around the plaza stands a total of 56 pillars which collectively is known as the Roll call of the nation. Each of these pillars represents an US state, territories and the District of Columbia. They are arranged in accordance to the order when they entered the Union … starting with Delaware.

You see the wreaths on each of the pillar? They are designed as wreaths of oak and wheat which symbolizes the industrial and agriculture strength of the country.

On the northern and southern end of the plaza stands two arches, each inscribed with the words Atlantic and Pacific. This represents the two arena of conflict the US was involved in.

Gold stars. You know what is so symbolic of gold stars in the US? You see when a family has children serving in war, they proudly display on their windows a red bordered small flag with the corresponding number of blue stars. The blue stars are replaced with a gold star if the son became a casualty of war.

So, on the western side of the World War Ii Memorial is a wall of 4000 Gold Stars. They represent the 400,000 Americans who had given their lives during the war.

While we were there, we saw three Marine Ones flying over to the White House. The Marine One is the call name of the helicopter that the US President travels in (the plane is called Air Force One while the helicopter is called Marine One). You will know it’s Marine One when you see three helicopter flying in unison. One of the three (or more) helicopters carries the President with the rest flying as a decoy to confuse any potential assassin.

They flew past very fast and the only picture I managed to take was the one above. Boy, they sure was noisy. Anyway, it was cool to see the Marine One.

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Washington DC: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

When I visited the Imperial War Museum in London a year ago, I was moved by the Holocaust special exhibit. That was the first time that I learned and understood what the Holocaust was about and how the horrible events helped shape the world today and taught us that we need to respond to cruelty of man. I wanted Suanne to see it too and included this museum as part of our itinerary.

There are actually many Holocaust Museums in the world and surprisingly most of them are located in the US. The one in Washington DC is called the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which was quite newly opened during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. While the US government funded the building and operations, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is funded largely by private sources, mainly Jewish I presume.

It is quite a large facility with a total of 5 floors of exhibits and other facilities. As expected, there is a security check before one is allowed into the building although the line moves very fast.

Other than the lobby, one is not allowed to take pictures. I am not sure why though. I mean, these are all static displays. Too bad I can’t share much with you on our visit there.

Admission is free to the Museum but you will need a timed pass for the Permanent Exhibition. Despite giving timed pass, the Permanent Exhibition is the most crowded of all and it’s close to impossible to really enjoy it. The Permanent Exhibit is broken down into three chapters over three floors. It started describing the life before the rise of Nazism and followed to the Final Solution where millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other “undesirables” were systematically exterminated. If not for the crowd, it would have been a good museum to learn about the holocaust.

We caught a show on the holocaust in the theater. The other exhibits are not as good as the Permanent Exhibit actually.

We had our brunch at the Museum Cafe which is located just outside the building. What surprised us was that they even have security checks for the cafe! They not only ask you to open your bags kind of checks … they subject the bags to explosive scanning.

We are not familiar with Jewish food and so picked them quite randomly. The above is the Matzoh Soup which I am not sure exactly what it is. It looked like a large meatball but it’s not meat. It was alright — a bit on the bland side.

We also ordered a couple of Knishes. It is very much like Char Siew Pau if you ask me. There is a flaky outer dough with different type of fillings. The one above is the potato Knishe.

The Broccoli Cheddar Knishe tastes better, mainly because of the cheese. Knishes are alright but frankly I won’t go out of my way to get them. I heard that it’s a very popular Jewish snack.

Bill came up to just under $16.

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Washington DC: The Washington Monument

This is the second full day in Washington DC. We had planned for this day to be largely a “Monuments Day” where we spend our time on the western part of the National Mall. The first stop of the day is at the most important monument of all of DC … the monument that is dedicated to the man who won independence for the United States.

Because of the importance of this monument, the Washington Monument is placed right in the middle of Washington DC and the National Mall. It is a simple looking obelisk and is the world’s tallest STONE structure and is the tallest structure in the whole of Washington DC. I am not sure about this but I won’t be surprised if there is a bylaw of sorts in DC that says that no buildings or structures may be constructed taller than this monument.

The Washington Monument was built over 40 years. Construction were stopped for sometime because of the American Civil War. If you look carefully, at the picture above, you will see that the lower 1/3 part of the monument is lighter than the top part. At the time it was completed in the late 1800s, it was the tallest structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower in Paris took over the title.

We were at the base of the Washington Monument very early … about 8AM or so. Already there were a lot of people lining up to get hold of the passes to visit the top of the monument. We were surprised to see such a long queue but really as soon as the box office was opened, the line moved along very fast.

We did not have to queue up because we got the entrance passes before we left Vancouver. You can get the passes to the Washington Monument through their website. They take just a few days to have it mailed to your home address. It costs about $3 for handling charges if you want to go down this route.

The Washington Monument’s height is 555′ 5″ … a very easy number to remember. Is the numbers supposed to mean anything? Anyway, the Washington Monument is made of marble, sandstone and granite donated from all parts of the country. Despite it being about 150 years old, it is amazingly very well maintained.

The base of the Monument is very simple. It is surrounded by the American flags. The entrance is basically a security check area.

The Washington Monument is located on top of a mound which gives a great vantage point to the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol. Because they regulate the number of visitors by issuing (free) timed passes, the entire area is not crowded.

They screen everyone carefully here and only let less than 10 people into the security check area at a time. Even though our appointed time is at 9AM, we did not get into the building until almost 9:30AM.

Once in, it’s very comfortable … the place is air-conditioned and have seats while we waited for the elevator that whisk us up to the top.

Prior to getting on the elevator, there is a bronze replica of the Houdon statue of Washington.

On the elevator ride, it took us longer to go down then to go up. You know why? It is because they slow the elevator down to describe to us all the various sections of the monument as donated by the various states in the US.

At the top there is an exhibit area telling the story of Washington and of the Washington Monument.

The above is the replica of the cast aluminum tip of the monument which is used to protect the Washington Monument from lightning strikes. At the time of construction, aluminum is a rare metal but was chosen because it does not tarnish and works very well as a lightning rod.

We spent some time taking pictures from the top of the monument. It was a muggy day and the pictures did not come out as well as we wanted. Anyway, click on the link below to check a few of the pictures we took.

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