Monthly Archives: March 2013
In the FuXian Lake district near Kunming, there are many resorts popping up all on this deep, freshwater lake. It’s a summer resort destination for many tourists from the province as well as around China. The restaurants around the lake serve visitors delicious traditional delicacies native to the area. The most popular dishes are Copper Pot Fish and Copper Pot Rice. The popularity of their food arises from the use of simple, local ingredients (the fish come from the lake and Xuan Wei Ham is locally produced in Yunnan by salting and drying pork legs).
Xuan Wei Ham is used in this recipe and is reputed as one of the most famous hams in China; it’s a rich and tender pork, with a lovely aroma, a beautiful appearance and a delicious taste. Although produced in Yunnan since the mid-1700’s, the history of its popularity goes back 1909 when an entrepreneur in Xuan Wei City in the north-east of Yunnan Province to production into the ham-processing business to make this salt-cured and air or smoke-dried ham. Xuan Wei Ham has been a sought after food product and delicacy ever since it made it’s debut at the Panama-California Exposition from 1915 to 1917. This exposition was held in Balboa Park, San Diego, USA to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
This dish gets its wonderful flavour from the Xuan Wei Ham. You can find deceivingly small copper pot at a Kitchen Market at Da Shang Hui for around 220rmb. Mine is the smallest size and a cute little pot that would be triple or quadruple the price were it bought in North America. Using the proportions here, the finished dish just barely covered the bottom of the pot but nonetheless produced a scrumptious combination, reminiscent of my holiday at FuXian Lake and worth every penny – er…rmb!
2/3 cup oil, divided
1 cup uncooked rice
3 – 4 cups of water, divided
1 cup Yunnan Xuan Wei ham cut into 1 cm cubes, using the fatty pieces as well as the meat
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in small 2 cm pieces
Coat the copper pot inner wall with 1 tablespoon of oil.
Soak the rice in 2 cups of water for two hours. Drain the water and place the rice in the copper pot.
Heat a wok. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat over medium high temperature. Fry the Xuan Wei Ham cubes in the oil until they are crispy and browned around the edges and have a pale-coloured, cooked appearance. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon and put the cubes into the copper pot, leaving the oil in the wok.
Add the remaining oil to the wok and heat to very hot. Dry the potato chunks with paper towel and then carefully add them to the oil to prevent oil splatter, frying and turning frequently until the potato chunks are cooked on the inside and golden brown and crispy on the outside, which will take about 10 minutes. You may need to add more oil.
Put the potatoes in the pot together with the rice and ham and stir, adding 2 cups of water.
Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil on a high fire. Once the water is boiling, give the ingredients one stir and turn the heat to low. Then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Check the rice at 10-minute intervals and add more water if necessary.
Remove from the heat, place the pot on a trivet on the table and your delicious copper pot rice is ready to serve straight from the copper pot. Enjoy!
STORY NUMBER ONE
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time..
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.
Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object..
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.
Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.
He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.
Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street … But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.
The poem read:
“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”
STORY NUMBER TWO
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top up his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.
His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.
As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.
Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction
Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft
This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.
SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?
Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.
(Pretty cool, eh)