Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Picture of the Day: Plant-based "Meat"

My spaghetti sauce using plant-based "meat"
On the weekend I tried cooking a non-meat substitute called Beyond Crumble in a spaghetti sauce.

Beyond Meat was started in 2009 by Ethan Brown who questioned why we were eating meat from cows, how it was not very efficient to raise them, nor environmentally good for the planet.

The plant-based "meat" in Beyond Meat is made from Canadian yellow peas, coconut oil and potato starch, and a bit of beet juice to make it look like beef.

I have tried the Beyond Meat burger patty that looks like beef, sizzles like it on the stove and while it doesn't taste like beef, it doesn't have a rich feeling in your stomach.

Coincidentally I have also tried Impossible Foods and the burger patty tastes of wheat, its main ingredient, which threw me off, but as shredded meat in a pancake pocket it was fantastic, and in chilli fries.

So that experience inspired me to try Beyond Crumble (plant-based bits of "meat") in a spaghetti sauce.

When cooking it, you're advised to cook the "meat" last, which is the opposite of what one would usually do with real beef. So I cooked the onions and garlic together, followed by celery and carrots with a bit of chopped mushrooms before adding a can of whole tomatoes and then added Beyond Crumble with chicken stock and some water.

Open the bag and there are what look like cooked beef balls, that after a short time of simmering, broke down into small bits and somewhat gelled with the tomato sauce.

The verdict? Again after eating spaghetti with the sauce, I was full, but didn't have that heavy feeling in my stomach.

It's an interesting product, but at the same time, it's not a completely natural one either. It's something to eat once in a while, but it will never replace meat.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Love Does Not Equal Money

Scammers take advantage of lonely women in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a lot of lonely women. Part of it is statistically there are more women than men (in 2016 there were 3.96 million women, 3.37 million men), and also men prefer women who are younger, or may go across the mainland to find their mate.

That leaves some women in Hong Kong desperate to find someone and con artists are taking advantage of these lonely souls.

There have been 119 women duped by online romance scammers out of HK$75.9 million (US$967,000) in the first three months of this year, five times the amount of the same period last year.

They con Hong Kong women out of millions of dollars
The latest victim? A woman in her 40s who works in a financial institution and was swindled out of HK$14 million in a so-called online romance that lasted eight years, the longest scam recorded so far.

She first "met" the man in August 2010 in an online dating profile, where he claimed to be a white male and a film director. After befriending her for three months, he started to ask her for money, claiming he was detained by Malaysian authorities for being caught carrying £300,000 in breach of the country's laws.

He began by asking her to transfer HK$10,000 and then used various excuses to get her to give him more money. In the end she made a staggering 200 to 300 transactions in amounts ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Throughout the eight years, she never met him in person.

It wasn't until the victim talked to her family about getting more money (she had already spent her savings and borrowed some) that she realized she was duped and called the police.

These shadowy figures can hardly be found again
Official police data shows 93 percent of the victims in the first quarter this year were women, almost 12 percent of them professionals. More than 80 percent of them were between the ages of 31 and 60.

How lonely and desperate do you have to be to willing to part with your money? It's very sad to hear of yet another case of a women being cheated out of her hard-earned money, but this only motivates scammers to continue to focus on women here.

It also shows how warped their sense of what love is -- that it is closely tied to money. Another observation is that so many of these scams have been reported in the media and yet these women don't wonder if their so-called relationships are real. Maybe it's denial...

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Housing Prices Still Going Strong

Everyone still wants to get into the property market, including millennials
Young Hong Kong people might be complaining about the ever rising property prices, but this weekend they dug deep and dived into the real estate market.

According toe real estate company Colliers International Hong Kong, buyers snapped up about 250 units in four projects in the past three days, with prices ranging from HK$19,975 to HK$28,235 (US$2,545 to US$3,600) per square foot. Prices having continued to rise for 24 consecutive months, proof that housing prices aren't falling anytime soon.

Wings At Sea II in Tuen Mun had 100 units sold on Sunday
One of the projects by Sun Hung Kai Properties, Wings At Sea II, at Lohas Park, Tseung Kwan O, sold 100 units on Sunday, according to Sammy Po Siu-ming, chief executive of Midland Realty's residential division.

He said around half the buyers were millennials, who probably got help from their parents for the down payment or to pay the mortgage. This is the only way young people can afford to buy a home in Hong Kong, which was judged the world's least affordable housing market by US planning consultancy Demographia for the eighth successive year in January.

Meanwhile 78 units at Sun Hung Kai Properties' Mount Regency in Tuen Mun were sold out in three hours on Saturday, bringing nearly HK$400 million for the city's second-largest developer.

Grand Oasis in Kai Tak sold 50 units worth HK$700 million
Flats smaller than 430 sq ft on Hong Kong Island costs an average of HK$16,103 per sq ft, while for Kowloon it's HK$13,763 per sq ft, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

Demographia's report says the media property price in Hong Kong now stands at around 19.4 times the median annual household income, compared to around 8.5 times in London, a city that is also deemed one of the most unaffordable places in the world.

Despite the financially challenges, millennials in Hong Kong are getting into the property market. They accounted for 32.3 percent of all new mortgages taken in the first quarter of 2017, up from 19.1 percent in the same period in 2013, according to figures from credit bureau TransUnion.

One 2,617 sq ft flat at Mount Pavilia sold for HK$74 million
Another developer, Wheelock Properties sold 50 units at Grand Oasis in Kai Tak within one and a half hours of its launch on Friday, raising HK$700 million, while New World Development's Mount Pavilia in Clear Water Bay, sold 17 units on Saturday. One flat that is 2,619 sq ft sold for HK$74 million, or HK$28,235 per sq ft.

Even though the government has tried to implement cooling measures to the property market, they aren't working... though it must be secretly happy to make more money from stamp duties, while property developers are laughing all the way to the bank.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Fans Shocked as Jet Li Ages Rapidly

A picture of him from a video message for Chinese New Year this year
Fans are shocked to see martial arts star Jet Li, 55, not looking well these days.

Recent photos of him revealed how hyperthyroidism and spinal problem have taken a toll on his heath. The star of such films as Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die and Expendables 2, revealed five years ago he has been suffering from hyperthyroidism.

Recent photos of Li taken in Tibet
A recent photo of him taken in Tibet shows his frail appearance and he apparently needed assistance to walk.

Hyperthyroidism causes changes in a person's metabolism and heart rate, and is usually treated through medication, which Li is taking. He said last year in Beijing that his strong belief in Buddhism as well as meditation and scripture reading helped him stabilize his condition.

He also said doctors warned him in 2013 that he would wind up in a wheelchair if he didn't stop making physically demanding action films.

He is well known for portraying Wong Fei-hung
"I'm just a regular guy. I'm not Wong Fei-hung. I'm not Huo Yuanjia [kung fu heroes he has portrayed on film]. I'm just like you," he also said last year.

Li said he was also suffering from leg and spinal problems and that he was unable to stand straight for too long, his poor health the result of decades of demanding film roles, stunts and injuries. He first started making films in his teens after he was crowned a wushu champion in the late 1970s.

It is sad to see such a favourite star deteriorate so quickly in the last few years. We can only hope he is not in too much pain.