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The Smeg FAB28


Monday, July 30, 2007



Oi. I so need a Smeg FAB28 Retro Fridge. In what else but red, of course.

And a set of these fridge magnets from Celia Birtwell to go with it too.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 6:22 pm

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Barbecue


Thursday, July 26, 2007



Would you believe it, we haven't had a decent barbecue all summer until last Sunday?

For some reason, Mother Nature decreed it should rain only on the weekends and when it was relatively dry, we had other things on the agenda. Anyway, the weather broke and we were promised sunny conditions on the aforementioned Sunday. Plans were hurridly made with the hubby's parents to come over for a barbecue.

I kept it simple because I was still lazy worn out from the holiday and the aftermath of post holiday cleaning and laundry.

On the day itself, my husband got it into his head it would be a great idea to eat under the tree so that's what we did.


We brought out the patio table and I set it accordingly. I also considered the best placement of the table so everyone would be under the shade come early evening. My husband sort of rolled his eyes abit but I can't help it. It's little details that make all the difference sometimes.



So that was that.

Now on to the food... Like I said, I kept it simple.


On the grill we had various sorts of meat and fish kebabs, spare ribs, skewers of red onions and slices of pineapple.




For the sides, I made two types of salads and a yoghurt mint dip for the Turkish bread:
Potato Salad


Tossed Salad


Mint Yoghurt Dip


Turkish Bread


To finish off, we had thick slabs of freshly cut watermelon.

After the meal, my son decided we should all play Uno. He's mad about it now eversince I introduced it to him a few months back. Ironcially, I was about his age when I first started playing. Back in the 80s, it was new and all the rage then. It's also something new for opa and oma who are bridge fanatics.


Having cleared the table to make space for the game, I brought out coffee, tea and Turkish Delight. My husband popped open a bottle of port and we were good to go. I think we played for a good two hours, I can't remember as were having too much fun. Before we knew it, it was 9pm and still bright.

Blooming Jasmine Tea

Something must be said for dining under a tree with the grass beneath your feet. It's such a relaxing and pleasant experience. At one point, I kicked off my sandals just to feel the grass. Couple the aroma of char-grilled food with the scent of freshly cut grass - my husband had just mowed the lawn earlier on in the morning - and you get a bit of heaven.

I'm already itching for the next barbecue.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:01 pm

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Hey


Monday, July 23, 2007



We're back and all of us have skin tones the colour of golden brown cookies or light golden syrup. At one point though, one of us threatened to turn lobster red because he didn't do the prep work (ie pre tanning) in the backyard before leaving like she did.

I've just crawled my way out of a mountain load of holiday washing and cleaning ( the spiders had a holiday at our house too while we were gone) AND hosting a small barbecue yesterday so I'm completely whacked.



*****

Today the in-laws have rounded up all five grandkids, with the exception of one toddler, for an outing at an indoor playground followed by dinner at their house. I want to kowtow them but since they've raised four boys, this afternoon is tiddlywinks to them. I would rather take my chances with a tricky soufflé, thank you very much. Anyway, it couldn't have come at a more opportune time because that means a whole day to myself to recharge - bliss!

So here's the POA (Plan Of Action)of the afternoon: Put a pot of tea on, take out my stitching and settle in front of the telly and play catch up on all my taped episodes of TV shows.

Will write more when I've gathered the rest of my grey cells and found my funny bone.

In a while, crocodile!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:42 am

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Gone Fishin'


Wednesday, July 11, 2007



See ya later alligator!

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Practice, Practice, Practice


Wednesday, July 04, 2007



Like an an athlete training for his or her sport, I was busy all day in the kitchen practicing on the recipes I hope to wow my parents-in-law's guests on Sunday.

As they are born a week apart from each other (how romantic is that?), a joint birthday celebration will be held this weekend at their house and I have offered to cater the entire affair as a personal present to them. It's only a party of 12 adults. Unlike their previous celebrations with as many as 60-70 guests, a dozen is a very manageable figure, nothing to worry about. Unless of course, one of my dishes refuses to cooperate. But I have Plan B, I always do.

H, what is the number for the Chinese take-out again?

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:56 pm

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Hail Cesar!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007



My husband sent me out on a mission today - book a holiday for the three of us, departure prefably next Wednesday. I was only too happy to oblige since I've been kind of nagging at him to take a break during the summer. Like other normal people. We haven't had one in five years. During the summer, I mean. We do go away of course but once, just once, I wish we could go during the proper season. It's always his hectic schedule that gets in the way. I'm not complaining of course because its work but you know what I mean.

Something must be said about my husband's complete trust in my taste for, well, almost everything. Except music, I suppose. I'm a closet disco queen and I've got hidden stashes of ABBA, Barry White and various 70s complilation CDs about the house. Shh...

When it comes to travel, I love my creature comforts. I'm not afraid to say it. I absolutely refuse to go camping, a perennial Dutch favourite holiday activity. We'll get a super camper-van my husband would coo. Nah! I would spit back. Any holiday requiring me to cook and clean is not a holiday at all in my book. Give me room service, restaurants, house-keeping, cute little packaged toiletries. By sending me out on my own with full executive power, my husband knows whatever I choose, it'd be fairly comfortable to say the least. And with my inborn Singaporean ability of sniffing out a bargain a mile off, he is also assured our throats will not be slit money wise.

So there we were, at the travel agent. We, meaning my son and I. From now till 13 August or before I go crazy, whichever comes first, he and I are Siamese twins. Joined at the hip or the proverbial umbilical cord. It doesn't really get cut does it?..... Oh well, musings for another day.

After four hours with a very helpful and patient assistant, we are now booked for an 8 day soujourn to Belek, a town along the Turkish Riviera, about 45 minutes from Antalya airport. I'm really proud of myself on this particular one. And relieved too, since it was a last minute booking during peak season. Five star resort on an all inclusive package with all the frills. From 11 - 18 July, we'll be roughing it out (haha) at the Cesars Temple Hotel. * happy dance*

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:01 pm

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Roast Duck Noodles


Monday, July 02, 2007



This morning we - my son and I - had to make our bi-annual trip to the dentist. I breezed through with just the usual scaling and polishing. The boy was not so fortunate. He had two holes which needed filling. The dentist gave him a temporary filling for the bigger one which has been hurting and we made another appointment to finish off the rest of the job properly.

Just before heading home, we made a pit-stop at the asian store as I needed some duck for tonight's meal of roast duck noodles, Cantonese style.


You don't need to be a brain surgeon for this one. It's all very straightforward - marinating and roasting the duck, blanching the vegetables and noodles and finally, simmering the pouring sauce. Extremely easy but what a satisfying comfort food for the old tummy.

This my version of the pouring sauce. Please note that measurments are a guess-timate, I did it by feel. You should of course adjust all measurments according to your taste buds.



Sauce For Duck Noodles

  • 2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Peking Duck Sauce

  • 1 tbsp light soya sauce

  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil


  • Mix everything together in a sauce pot. Bring to a simmer, adding a little more soya sauce or water if it gets too thick. Pour over noodles, vegetables and sliced duck. Serve with green pickled chilli or red chilli paste.

    Burp!

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    The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 7:39 pm

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    Tapioca Kueh




    One of the staples in Asian cooking is the tapioca root. It's not very pretty to look at, humble even but it's more useful than you think it is. You know the old saying, never judge a book by its cover? This would be it.


    Tapioca, also known as Yucca, can be ground into flour for cakes or as a thickening agent, deep fried into chips (one of my favourite snacks), formed into sago pearls for desserts and even as a binder for pharmaceutical products. Or it could be grated to make this:

    Tapioca Kueh

    This was my second attempt. The first try was one soggy mess because Ms Smarty Pants here wanted to take the easy way out by buying ready grated tapioca. All would be well if the grated tapioca was not frozen. After thawing, it wasn't semi-dry and fluffy but just a lump of mud-like something. Still, I did not heed the warning bell going off in my head and proceeded with the recipe. Result: The taste was there, everything else wasn't.

    So this time, I bought the tubers in its original form, still frozen but otherwise untouched. Upon thawing, I started removing the skin followed by grating. All bloody 1kg of it. As in most Peranakan or Malay cooking, I thought my arm was going to fall off from exhaustion. And to ensure success, I drained and squeezed out the excess liquid from the grated tapioca. I was most determined not to fail. Not after all that labour.

    I was rewarded with this about an hour or so later:


    Everything looking the way it should be. Lekker!

    The only problem now is, even though baked in a relatively small 8" tin, it's still way too much for one person to finish. Any takers out there?

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    The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 7:22 pm

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    The Sunday Roast


    Sunday, July 01, 2007



    We haven't had roast chicken for quite a while now so I thought I'd put it on the table tonight. On a bed of potatoes, I dressed a whole chicken up with seasoning and fresh herbs. I kind of went mental with the herbs, throwing on sprigs of tarragon, sage, thyme and rosemary as well as a couple of crushed garlic cloves. To finish up, I gave it a pat of herb butter and sent the whole lot on its merry way into the oven.


    Trying out one of Heston Blumenthal's scientific theory on cooking, I set the oven at a low temperature of 150o for about 3 hours. I didn't follow Heston's method completely - the man roasts his meats at a low temperature (around 55o)for up to 24 hours. Yoicks!

    With the chicken roasting away, I went out into the backyard to do some more work. As in work on my tan. *wink*



    Check list:

  • new black and white embroidered and beaded bikini

  • sun block and sun hat

  • deck chair

  • glass of water

  • magazine

  • shades



  • Hellooooooo, summer!

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    The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:42 pm

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    Caught With My Apron Down




    Chicken Cordon Bleu with smelted Cheddar and pineapple on Ciabatta and fresh salad greens.


    My Modus Operandi when it comes to cooking and housekeeping, is to make the process and finished product look effortless.

    When my husband walks through that kitchen door after work, all he sees is a spotless kitchen, gleaming counter tops and his dinner neatly set aside. All that is required is a quick zap with the microwave or a couple of minutes in the oven. Like a magician pulling out meals from air.

    And when he goes into the living room with his beer to wind down while I reheat dinner, he'll be greeted with fluffed up cushions neatly arranged on the couch. Everything is tidy, with nary a clutter in sight.

    What he doesn't see is all the backstage work. The hours of arm and back breaking prep work and cooking time; the kitchen and living room looking like three hurricanes or one boy (same difference) paid a visit. No, no. He doesn't see all that because I don't let him. Unless it's the weekends when he's home the entire day.

    The reason why all this illusion is possible is because my husband normally calls me the minute he steps into the car on his way home. The commute is about one and half hours so that gives me plenty of time to work my cleaning up magic. I put the finishing touches on dinner, clean and wipe the entire kitchen - stove, counter tops and all. While I'm busy with that, I hustle my son to clean up his mess on the coffee table or the floor or wherever his latest spot of mass destruction was.

    See? Easy peasy.


    However, a bubble's got to burst at some point or other. Mine did some three weeks ago. I decided I wanted to make Chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner and some other dish which I can't remember now. It's messy work, Chicken Cordon Bleu. All that stuffing and crumb coating. Not to mention the frying. Earlier that afternoon, my son decided he wanted to stage a major road accident with his cars, trucks, helicopters, planes and goodness knows what. While I was busy frying the chicken filet, he was working out the final technical details of aforesaid crash. To say it was one huge mess is akin to saying Donald Trump has a couple of loose change to spare.

    At this point of chaos, who should breeze in unannounced but my dear husband? Not only was he early, he didn't even call. Talk about getting caught with my apron down! Well, at least my hair and make-up were still in place.

    Thank goodness for small mercies.

    Ay.

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    The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:28 am

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