Going Chinese

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I realise I haven't been posting about food lately and this is supposed to be a food blog. Shame on me!

The thing is, I haven't been really doing anything noteworthy culinary-wise because I've been busy with this and this, among other things.

However, at some point I made the following dishes for a Saturday dinner:

Sing Chow Fried Rice

Szechuan Sour and Spicy Soup

Crab and Lap Cheong Omelette

Gengdu Pai Kuat (Kyoto Spare Ribs)

The prep work took forever but it was well worth it in the end, especially the spare ribs. They were delicious! If the bones were edible, we would've chomped them up too, like the carnivores we are. *blush*

Funny thing about the ribs: The recipe was kindly supplied by K. However, the ingredients had no measurements and her instructions were about 2-3 sentences long. So I mixed and stirred, using a distant memory of having eaten the dish as a taste guide. At the same time, I also wrote down how much of everything I used. So, it was pour, mix, taste, pour again, taste again, okay, that's good, write. Once it went like this: pour, mix, taste, pour again, OOOPS, TOO MUCH!, add a counter balance, taste again, whew!, okay, write. I felt like a mad scientist. *snigger*

Thanks K, for your recipe, it is definitely a keeper. I will use it the next time I want to wow my in-laws during dinner or if I want to soften up the hubby.

Note: In an ideal world, my crab and lap cheong omelette should have shark's fin in it too. However, because I'm living on the wrong side of the pond, I had to do without and make believe that there were.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:20 pm

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Orange Chiffon Cake

Earlier in the month, the week when it snowed, I was on a baking frenzy. The warmth and baking aroma wafting from the oven made the house extra cosy. The above photo is the orange chiffon cake from the bake fest. I made a banana cake and 3 different types of cookies as well but the photos were so bad due to the poor lighting, I don't have the heart to put them up. So, it's just the chiffon for now.

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Taking Stock

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yesterday, during one of our usual phone calls, my husband remarked that I haven't been updating my blog very regularly. My husband, who's always been supportive of my shenanigans, checks out my blogs from work (sorry dear, did I just get you into trouble? Ooops...)or while on business trips. So much so he leaves unpublishable comments on them. Now do you know why I have to vet the comments first??!

Okay, back to my husband's comment. I replied that the only reason why I haven't been writing about the going-ons in our lives is because I've been busy living them. I guess that's a good reason as any.

It's been 7 months since I started my blogs and I have to say I'm enjoying the experience. I started them mainly to amuse myself and over the course of time, from your lovely emails and comments, I've come to realise that readers out there are amused too. I get words like 'funny' and 'humourous' alot. I don't do it on purpose ie, sit in front of the 'puter, hands poised over the keyboard and say, let's be funny today, shall we? It just comes out that way. And to all the known and unknown readers out there, thank you.

However, the one thing I do do on purpose is to keep the blogs light and chatty. For those who so kindly take minutes out of their busy schedule to drop by, the least I can do is leave you with a sense that you've just a tea break and if I do make you snigger, snort or laugh out loud in the process, even better.

So I guess that means I'm going to be doing this for a while more. *smile*


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From My Kitchen To Yours...


Here's wishing you a very happy Chinese New Year - may your souffles always rise and pantry never run dry!

I know I'm at least a week late with my greetings but as Chinese New Year goes on for an epic 15 days, I guess I'm still in the running. In my defence, I've been away. Heh.

As it's the year of the Pig, red, fiery or golden - the choice is yours - I thought I'd post a picture of what's on my kitchen wall. I didn't put it up because of it being the Pig year and all, that was a coincidence, but rather, because he looked so... so... adorable. After cows, I'm hog crazy. I just love them! Anyway, if you look closely, it's not a photograph at all. It's a print of a painting. Yes! The pig is a painting. And what a detailed painting it is. The artist, whoever he/she is, lovingly brushed out every single porcine strand of hair on its cute face. *Sigh*....

Oink! Oink!

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Checking In

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We had a fabulous week in Benidorm, Spain. So much so my husband and I started to check out the real estate in the area.

For now, I've got a mountain load of holiday laundry and shopping booty to plough through.


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Monday, February 12, 2007

There were 2 more Carnival functions that my husband and the in-laws were due to over the weekend. Loosely translated, they were the Belgium Evening and Belgium Afternoon, the names being self-explanatory.

Over the shopping lunch break, we discussed costumes. Out of the blue, I suggested Andre Rieu, the celebrated violinist. Hailing from Maastricht, he is her favourite and world famous son. Over here, everyone knows Andre and we had the pleasure of attending one of his concerts last year.

My husband took to the idea at once. We did a quick inventory of costumes from Carnivals past and realised that all we needed was a wig, a frilly shirt and a toy violin. We already had the coat-tails. The wig and frilly shirt was procured almost immediately after lunch. The violin was a bit of a challenge and with shops closing at 5pm on Saturdays, we went home sans violin.

In the car, I offered to make a violin. He was rather doubtful but agreed anyway. After all, we were getting desperate.

So here was the deal: The party was at 8pm and we arrived home at 6pm. My husband had to leave by 7.30pm so that left me all of 1.5hrs to whip something up. I dropped my shopping bags and started work in the study downstairs. I forbade father and son to enter until I was done. I needed Full Concentration. I scrounged around our recycle box in the backyard for cardboard and raided my craft cupboard and drawers for supplies. As for how-to, I made it up along the way using a googled up violin image. At exactly 7.30pm, voila! A handcrafted original was born:

I can now add violin maker to my resume. *haha*

It's no Stradivarius but it'll do for the weekend.

My husband was blown away. I suppose he was just expecting a cardboard cutout, not a 3-D creation. As with all the other projects that pass through these two hands, especially if some form of creativity is involved, I must get it right or nothing at all.

I got a report from my husband the next morning. It seems that the getup was such a success that people were going 'Hoi Andre!' and buying him beer. The violin was much admired too. This makes me very happy. I'm quite sure my stock has since gone up.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:31 pm

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Saturday Sojourn

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Today I conned, er, I mean persuaded my husband to take me to Maastricht for a spot of shopping and late lunch. The dear man agreed after I pointed out he needed new business shirts and jeans.

So the long and short of it was, after a few hours of fighting the crowds (you'd think the stores were giving away the stuff, not selling them), all three of us came away with booty. Some more than the others. No prizes for guessing who. *evil cackle*

At 3pm, we sauntered into our favourite bistro cum restaurant called De Ville, glad for a seat and warmth from the cold. It'd started drizzling and at 7C, it's like having ice water splashed on your face.

We studied the menu for a bit which, in my case, is such a sham as I always, always order the same thing - the duck salad. It's a bed of deliciously fresh salad topped with roasted duck breast and slices of orange and orange peel. Add a good splash of tangy orange vinigrette and you've got a surefire hit to the stomach lining. Yum!

My husband ordered a traditional Limburgs bacon salad and my son had his usual Toasti Hawaii - grilled sandwich with ham, pineapple and lots of gooey melting cheese.

And so we spen the following hour eating, talking and laughing. It was a lovely family time.

And now, if you don't mind me, I've got to sort through my spoils of war now. *wink*

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Friday's Feast #

Friday, February 09, 2007

Have you been sick yet this winter? If so, what did you come down with?
Yep. Had a throat infection sometime in December and an intestinal infection last week. :( Strangely enough, no flu.

What colors dominate your closet?
Black, red and white.

How would you describe your personal "comfort zone"?
Comfortable.*heh* Well, it would be at the left corner of our couch. That's where I stitch and watch television. I have my workbox, various remote controls and the phone next to me so I don't have to move. Oh, and a pot of tea on the coffee table too.

Main Course
On which reality show would you really like to be a contestant?
The Amazing Race with my husband. I think we'd make a good team.

Which holiday would you consider to be your favorite?
I know the default answer should be Christmas but I generally find holiday seasons very stressful. Maybe it's because I do lots of planning and prep work to make it fun for everyone else. And rightly or wrongly, I must have everything just right.


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Good Morning!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It was snowing lightly as I tucked myself into bed last night and here are photos taken from the patio this morning:

This is my favourite kind of snowfall - soft and delicate, as if Heaven had sifted a layer of icing sugar all over Earth.

I linger on for a couple of seconds more to take in the whole scene. Never mind if it was below O degrees Celsius, I feel very blessed.


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Random Post

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

As always, during our walk home from school, I ask my son about his day.

Me: Did you have a good day at school today?

Son (nodding): Yes. Juffrouw Jos came back to school today.

Juffrouw Jos ( or Miss Jos in English) is his form teacher who's been on a week's leave.

Me: Oh? That's nice! Did you miss her?

Son: Yes, I did. And guess what, mummy? She still remembers all our names!


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Is There Anything You Didn't Put Inside?

Monday, February 05, 2007

That was the question my husband asked last night when I showed him what our son and I did while he was away at some Carnival event.

It's Carnival season now (the period just before Lent followed by Easter) and every weekend right up to Carnival Week, there's always some 'thing' going on. These are social gatherings which place in halls where alcohol flows freely (figuratively speaking since one still has to pay) amidst a repetoire of song, dance and stand-up comics.

I dislike it.

More specifically, I dislike the crowds (mostly in fancy dress), I dislike the noise and I especially dislike the traditional songs (oompah oompah music I call it) played during the festivities. During the season, I normally hole myself at home and wait for the madness to pass over. This is one of the cultural things I 'don't get'.

Yesterday, my husband went to one such 'thing'. This time it was a men-only affair which is a kind of tradition here. Back in the day, when the town was a mainly farming commmunity, this was the one day that Farmer Joe could get away from Farmer Jane and their seven pride and joys. It starts from 9am in the morning and lasts right up to the evening.

So while my husband and the entire male population of the family clan were bonding over beer and a revue of shows, I was home with our boy baking away. He wanted chocolate chip cookies while I wanted more of the oatmeal stuff. Since we had time and ingredients on our hands, I thought, what the heck, let's do both.

So back to my husband's question that evening:

"Is there anything you didn't put inside?"

He was alluding to the stuff I piled on in the oatmeal cookies. The recipe called for only raisins but I was feeling experimental so I chucked in whatever was in the cellar. This must be the most hodge podge oatmeal cookie ever. I mixed in raisins, white sultanas, blackcurrents, cherries and cranberries. Sort of like the culinary version of "How many clowns can one stuff into a Volkswagon Beetle?".

Here's what it looks like:

I must say I rather like it. It's a mish mash of tastes with the tartness of cranberries being offset by the sweetness of the other fruit. In contrast, the chocolate chip cookies were just that, plain chunks of milk chocolate in a crispy base with a handful of chopped pecan nuts. For a joke, I made one that was almost the size of a CD. When my son saw it, he went all goggle eyed and asked the usual:

"How are you doing it???!!!"

Ah, the innocence of youth...

Oh, and I also need a new spatula now. Kindly observe Exhibit A:


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Things To Do With Leftover Mandarin Peels

This month, Chinese people worldwide will be welcoming the Year of the Pig. As part of the New Year tradition, visits to family and friends will be made. On paper, this sounds like a wonderful excuse for meeting up. However, in practice, it can swing both ways. One, it can be enjoyable or two, considered a downright cruel and unusual form of punishment. As a child and later an adult, I would be bored to tears, being hustled from one home to the next. The only saving grace is during these visits, snacks, cookies and mandarin oranges will be plied upon the guests. I normally stuff my face so I reduce the chance of having to answer inane, eyeball rolling quality questions put out by well-meaning relatives. The other saving grace is of course the collection of ang pows; red packets filled with money given out to children and singletons.

So, to all my fellow Chinese readers, with whom I might share some sort of unspoken bond, the kind that can only be forged by going through the same traumatic experience, this is for you. The next time First Auntie or Third Grand-Auntie wants to know why you're still single, ("is it because you're too picky?") or if you're married, when are you having your first child? And if you already have a child, why are you not having another one? One is too lonely, the more the merrier. Well, you get my drift. So, the next time that happens and you've already downed your nth mandarin orange (after all, one can only gobble up so many without appearing greedy), you might want to try this to kill the boredom:

Sometimes it's okay to play with your food.

Thanks, Kristin (my fellow Singaporean exile in the Netherlands), for forwarding the photos to me. I almost spit out the bowl of muesli I was eating while reading your email. Haha!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:27 am

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The History Of Cake

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A lady from a food forum of which I'm a member of, posted an interesting thread on the history of cake. Me, being a history buff, decided to do some more research on my own. I found some really cool sites bursting with information.

If you have the time, and I do mean, have the time as these make for lengthy reading, do visit here, here and here. And if you're still up to it, you might want to read about wedding cakes and tiramisu.

Just another thing I want to point out. Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake!" An excerpt taken from a book I recently finished:

This story was first told about the Spanish Princess who married Louis XIV a hundred years before the arrival of Marie Antoinette in France; it continued to be repeated about a series of other Princesses throughout the eighteenth century. As a handy journalistic cliche, it may never die. Yet, not only was the story wrongly ascribed to Marie Antoinette in the first place, but such ignorant behaviour would have been quite out of character. The unfashionably philanthropic Marie Antoinette would have been far more likely to bestow her own cake (or brioche) impulsively upon the starving people before her. - Antonia Fraser, author of "Marie Antoinette - The Journey"

Now, let me go eat cake!


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The Devil Wears Hugo Boss

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a fun quiz called 'Which Tarot Card Are You?'. I drew the Empress card. Out of curiosity and also because I cornered him, I got my husband to take the quiz too and voila:

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

My Devil wears Hugo. *heh*


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Friday's Feast #129

Friday, February 02, 2007

What was one of the fashion fads when you were a teenager?
Here's 3: Shoulder pads big enough to qualify as pillows; pleated pants big enough to stuff a turkey in each trouser leg; hair big enough to trap small birds and insects with. Everything was big in the 80s.

Name one thing you think people assume about you when they first meet you.
That I'm high maintenance.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how hard do you work?
It depends on whether I like what I'm doing or not.

Main Course
If you were given a free 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl to sell anything you currently own, what would you advertise?
Nothing. I don't like the idea of selling 2nd hand items. I'd rather give or throw away.

Fill in the blank: I love to ________ when it is _________.
I love to snuggle up with my hubby and watch a movie when it is the weekend and our son is already tucked in for the night.


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I Wish...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My son: "Mummy, I want a magic lamp with my own genie inside for Sintaklaas this year. I want to rub the lamp so the genie will come out and do what I say."

Me: ".....??!!"

Yes dear, and Mummy here wants a 16 carat flawless diamond and Daddy wants a holiday villa in Valencia but we can't have what we want all the time, can we?


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