Chinese Herbal Soup – Strength/Blood Tonic

I have been feeling run down and tired lately so I decided to make some herbal soup in our newly acquired crockpot to help replenish vigour and promote blood/haemoglobin production.


Astralagus – Huang Qi
Codonopsis (Dange Shen) or Ginseng
Dioscorea – Shan Yao
Polygonatum/Solomon’s Seal – Huang Jing
Red Dates/Jujubes – Da Zao
Lotus Seed
Longan (dried or fresh; remove pip)
Black Fungus/Cloud Ear Fungus
Dried goji berries/wolfberries


Amount of herbs I used. From top left clockwise: Solomon's Seal, Astralagus, Diascorea, Liquorice Root, Goji Berries, Dried Longans, Black Fungus, Lotus Seeds and Red Dates.

4 whole cloves of garlic
About a 3cm knob of ginger – peeled and sliced

Other Ingredients:

1 whole small chicken (skin peeled off)
½ head of celery – chopped
5 carrots (depends on the size – they’ve been pretty small at Coles lately) – chopped


  1. Place the whole chicken in a large pot, fill with cold/tepid water and bring to a boil.
  2. After boiling for about 10-15 mins, chuck away the water and wash the chicken under cold water. This is to remove as much fat/oil from the chicken as possible. You can peel the chicken skin at this step as well if you haven’t peeled it before boiling.
  3. Place chicken in the crockpot with all the herbs, fill with hot water and bring to a boil. After that, bring it down to a simmer and let it simmer for as long as you like. I’ve heard 5 hours is a good amount of time.
  4. In the last hour or so of your self appointed simmering time, add the carrots and celery and bring to a boil.


Soup! After 1 week it made my toenails pink 🙂


  1. Important: do NOT boil/simmer the herbs in a metal pot. Only use ceramic or clay as the metal will react with some herbs. You can parboil the chicken in a metal pot, but not Step 3 onwards.
  2. You can use chicken pieces if peeling is not your thing. Chicken bones make the stock tastier but not necessary.
  3. Drink the soup as soon as possible for maximum benefit. Everything can be eaten except for the Astralagus as it is too fibrousy.
  4. Keep the lid on when boiling/simmering to retain certain medicinal properties.
  5. Black chicken is less fatty than normal chicken so that is preferable. I saw it for AUD$15/kg at the butcher’s in Market City, Chinatown and decided that the AUD$5/kg Coles variety is good enough for me  :p
  6. Make sure you heat the soup thoroughly post refrigeration to prevent salmonellosis. The entire portion of soup must reach a minimum of 60°C for 60 seconds to ensure safe consumption.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted quantities of herbs as this is my first time and I suppose its trial and error to find a good combination. I like herby soups having grown up with Bah Ku Teh so stronger is better for me, but other people might prefer it to be subtle so it is really up to you. Generally you can’t really taste the herbs since the soup is quite sweet and tasty.

Medicinal properties of the herbs will be posted separately since I hate long posts (don’t you?  :p ).



Patch 4.0.6 Update: Mana Drinks

A couple of days after I wrote my previous post, a patch came out. Not only did they buff the mana regeneration rate of holy pallies and druids such that it isn’t such a big issue anymore,  but they also made consumable mana drinks a whole lot cheaper!

4.0.6 manadrinks

Firstly, they have changed the ‘Cocoa Beans’ to ‘Imported Supplies’ which cost 1 Chef’s Award but contains 40 Cocoa Beans.

Secondly, they changed the recipe! Instead of using Fresh Water, it uses Refreshing Spring Water.

Thirdly, South Island Iced Tea got buffed and now gives 96000 mana/30sec.

4.0.6 manadrinks recipes

South Island Iced Tea is still the most expensive since the price for Tropical Sunfruit has stayed the same. However, Starfire Espresso has now overtaken Highland Spring Water as the leading drink since it technically only costs 80 copper (for the Refreshing Spring Water) and half a Chef’s Award to make a stack of 20. Or a whole Award (which you get from doing a Cooking Daily) and 1s 60c for 2 stacks. Heaps better than the ‘cheapest’ pre-patch cost of 4g 40s/stack for the Highland Spring Water!

Again, these prices are all reputation dependant but even if you were only neutral with Org (which is impossible) the water couldn’t possible cost much more than 20 copper. Even the dirt on my sandals cost more than 20c! I can’t believe how unbelievably cheap it dropped down to. The only thing is you’ll need 450 Cooking to get the recipe but here’s a hint: Thanksgiving is the perfect time to level your cooking  😉 More on that later!

So anyways, the funny thing is we don’t really need the drinks anymore but its nice to see that coffee is now the leading drink, as it should be  :p

Consumables: Mana Drinks

I was looking for the cheapest source for end-game mana replenishment (dungeons etc.). There are 2 recipes you can get from Cooking: South Island Iced Tea and Starfire Espresso. Unlike the Sauteed Gobi of pre-Cata times, there doesn’t appear to be gatherable sources to make mana drinks as both the aforementioned recipes require vendor items.

Vendor windows and recipe requirements. Sunfruit not included.

South Island Iced Tea^
92307 mana/30sec + gets you drunk :: 9g 28s/stack of 20*

Starfire Espresso
96000 mana/30sec + makes you sober :: 5g 12s/stack of 20*

The third option is to buy Highland Spring Water from vendors.

Highland Spring Water
96000 mana/30sec :: 4g 40s/stack of 20*

Surprisingly it would seem that the cheapest option is to obtain the springwater from a vendor. Plus you don’t get drunk/grumpy sober. Pretty expensive considering the gobi was health + mana for free (just needed to fish it up and cook).

I guess the only other option is to strike a deal with a mage to conjure you a supply of mana cakes everyday for a set price per month. Perhaps this is Blizzards way of allowing mages to generate even more monies. Ports and food. Aren’t they just a little bit greedy :p

Hopefully mana drinks won’t become such a dire issue once they buff the crap mana regeneration rate of holy pallies.

^ Tropical Sunfruit can be bought at Uldum or Twilight Highlands. I bought mine at Uldum from ‘Umi’ (co-ord: 50;38 @ the docks southwest of Ramkahen)

*Prices are reputation dependant; these are based on Org rep Exalted, Ramkahen rep Honored.

Edit: Patch came out on 08/02/2011 and changed stuff. See this post.

– ant –

Baking Myth

The biggest myth I’ve found about baking is this:

That all quantities of ingredients used must be measured with agonising precision otherwise the whole thing will be (literally) a flop.

As I’ve experimented over the years, I’ve not only found this myth to be untrue but came to the realisation that it is a relatively new myth.

Consider with me that some of the best recipes come from generations past; and yet when referred to, one finds that these recipes are somewhat imprecise. They use phrases such as “a pinch of salt”, “a smidgen of flour” and “a drop of vanilla essence”. A new baker of my generation would be pulling their hair out at such ambiguous terms. Doesn’t it strike you as rather funny that it is only in this digital age that we’ve become such anal bakers?

This is to bring a word of comfort to you and dispel the aforementioned myth. I have found that the most important thing when it comes to baking is, in fact, the consistency of the mix.

There are several consistencies you need to become familiar with. The main three are the cakes, the cookies and the ‘sticky stuff’ like puddings and brownies. Within each category, you need to become familiar with how certain ingredients or procedures can affect the final mix. For example, creaming butter and sugar using a hand mixer will produce a drier and stiffer cake mix than creaming it by hand. They both still turn out fine and, in fact, it will probably not do for the former mix to be watered down to the latter consistency.

If you are a new baker, you should follow recipes as much as possible so you can familiarise yourself with the texture/consistency. This will also help you gauge in the future which ingredients are necessary for certain mixes as well as the relative quantities required. Once you are comfortable with baking, you will find that there is actually quite a large margin of error allowed before disaster strikes.

If you would like me to expound further on this topic, please do leave a comment or email and I will be most happy to put a more detailed post up.

If you are a more advanced baker, trust yourself and test out the ‘Consistency Theory’ using leftover buttercream. In my kitchen, they become all manners of delicious one-of-a-kind cookies (because they can’t be reproduced for lack of records).

One last word of advice is this: It is always better to underuse the sugar rather than overuse it because it is easier to ice/frost your goods to make it sweeter, than to compensate for a hyperactively sweet dessert.

Consistency matters. You heard it here first. 😉

– ant –

A list of places to be and things to see…

Ant and I felt we should post the things we wanted to do and the places we wanted to go see.  We’re hoping to be able to write about them and post thoughts on our experiences. So here is a list of things we’d like to do and places we’d like to see (in no particular order):

  1. Visit Upper Crust in Collaroy
  2. Try Ben &  Jerry’s in Manly
  3. Go have a St Patrick’s Day breakfast/lunch
  4. Go skiing somewhere
  5. Try rockclimbing
  6. Go to trivia night somewhere
  7. Make Manakeesh
  8. Go to El Bulli in Spain – It’s closed now!
  9. Visit Adriano Zumbo
  10. Swim in the Great Barrier Reef
  11. Take the Ghan across Australia
  12. Drive the Great Ocean Road
  13. Eat at least three different types of ribs in the US
  14. Restore a 1984 Japanese Squier
  15. View Wildlife Photographer of the Year each year
  16. Watch Avatar
  17. Buy a Dyson vacuum
  18. Get a cat

We’ll cross them off as we do them and add more as we think of them – any suggestions are welcome!

Last updated 27/1/15