The 10 Commandments For Stress Reduction

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thou shalt not be perfect, or even try to be.

Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people.

Thou shalt sometimes leave things undone.

Thou shalt not spread thyself too thin.

Thou shalt learn to say "no".

Thou shalt schedule time for thyself and for thy support network.

Thou shalt switch thyself off, and do nothing regularly.

Thou shalt not even feel guilty for doing nothing, or saying no.

Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant, and unattractive at times.

Especially, thou shalt not be thine own worst enemy.
But, be thine own best friend.

Amen to that!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:30 am

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My Five O'clock Shadow

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No, no, I haven't suddenly sprouted out facial hair - heavens to Murgatroyd! This is literally my shadow. Taken yesterday at five in the afternoon.

Hey, a girl's got to make her own fun right?


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 9:51 am

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Tom Yum Roast Chicken

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This is another invention of mine, specially made up for occasions when you want a substantial meal but are busy or don't want to put in the time. Yesterday, it was a bit of both for me. I had errands to run and I also wanted to stitch, do my nails and finish off the ironing. Not just stand in the kitchen for hours on end. I do that sometimes but today was not such a day.

After returning from walking my son to school, I marinated the chicken and let it soak merrily in the refridgerator. I proceeded on with my errands, followed by all the things I wanted to accomplish for the day. In the evening, I stuck the whole lot into the oven, poked about about every once in a while to make sure I haven't cremated the chicken and about an hour later, voilá! Dinner is served.

Tom Yum Roast Chicken

You need:

About 1 kg of chicken parts ie, drumstick, wing etc. You may also use a whole chicken.
1 packet of Tom Yum Soup paste ( I used Asian Home Gourmet)
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped into small segments
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2-3 shallots, peeled
2-3 blades of kaffir lime leaves (optional, it's just for the fragrance)
cooking oil
soy sauce to taste
chilli sauce or paste to taste

You do:
  1. Put chicken in a mixing bowl.

  2. Blitz the lemongrass, garlic, shallot and kaffir leaves if using in a food processor. Place the rough paste into the bowl of chicken.

  3. Add the rest of the marinade. Massage it well into the chicken. Set aside in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours

  4. When you are ready, preheat oven to 180C.

  5. Arrange chicken in a casserole dish and place it in the oven. Save the leftover marinade.

  6. Whilst roasting, baste chicken with the leftover marinade every 15 mins. Once the chicken is cooked, change the oven setting to grill and increase the temperature to 200C. Give it one last basting and grill until the top is a deep golden brown. Serve hot.

  7. *****

    Last night, I thought Pineapple Rice might be a good accompaniment. You know, to go along with the Thai inspired theme and all. For variation, you could also pop in a couple of potatoes with the chicken just before roasting and serve with white rice and sautéd vegetables.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:22 am

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Dutchess' Quickie Steak Sandwich

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:25 pm

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What Kind Of Sandwich Are You?

You Are a Ham Sandwich

You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.
Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.
And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 7:57 pm

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Mee Goreng

Monday, August 27, 2007

K's been on this Mee Goreng craze last week. It seems she's had the dish a few times for lunch and dinner now and her family is getting quite sick of it. I can identify with that. Sometimes I go potty over a particular type of food and make it so often, the two men beg me to stop. Or they threaten to confiscate my wok and spatula until I cook something different.

I haven't had the spicy noodles in years and hearing her talk about it made me hanker for some. I flipped through my cookbooks and found the recipe I was looking for: Indian Mee Goreng (Indian Fried Noodles). Yum! I made up the rempah which worked out to be enough for three single serves. No matter, I split it into three portions, used one and froze the other two until needed, which, I suspect might be very soon.

The one key ingredient I was missing was the fresh yellow egg noodles which is not available here. One thing about living overseas, you learn to i)improvise; ii)make do; or iii)go without. I refuse to go without so I had options i) and ii). Today I thought I'd make do with some fresh frozen mee pok (flat egg noodles) and it turned out rather authentic taste wise. It's not the same texture as one would get in the hawker centres but the general flavour was there. And being on the wrong side of the pond, that was good enough for me.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 6:25 pm

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Saturday Night Live

We had such awesome weather over the weekend, I just had to snap a couple of horizon pics from our backyard. Right after our raclette grill dinner.

8pm, outdoors:

The photos are so amateurish, I wish you could see the sky for real instead of my butchered version. Couple it with the scent of freshly mowed grass and twittering birds..... nice!


9.30pm, indoors:

More often than not, this is what you'll find in our living room each evening, right after I've tucked the boy in bed. A pot of tea on the coffee table, me in my regular spot on the couch with my stitching, and the telly on. Hubs has often wondered about me being able to follow the programmes on TV without missing a stitch. I tell him you have to be born with it.

Today I was in the mood for something European so I pulled out my cheeky Blond Amsterdam tea-set and brewed a huge pot of Wedgwood tea. I'm not exaggerating when I say huge. This pot can hold up to two litres of char.

I like my tea neat and strong.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:20 pm

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Listen To Your Mother

Friday, August 24, 2007

The son and I. Front door hallway. About to leave for school.

Me: Do you need to pee?

Son: No mummy.

Me: Go pee, or else you'll have to hold it until we get to school.

Son: Mummy, I don't need to pee.

Me: Are you sure? You better go.

Son: (getting annoyed now) Mummy! I don't need to pee! Believe me!

Me: Okay, fine. Let's go.

Not four steps out into the front yard, the dear boy goes:

"Mummy! I need to pee!"


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:00 am

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H Is For Heavenly

As in a slice of Marbled Ricotta Cheesecake Brownie.

Inspired by Precious Moments' photo of the aforementioned, I just had to make one myself. The ingredients ... ricotta cheese, cream cheese, chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar... it reads like a who's who list of artery clogging but delish foods.

This is a bona fide all round cake. The kind you reach for when you've had a very bad "I-want-to-rip-someone-from-limb-to-limb" sort of day, or when you're feeling brighter than a lit Christmas tree. This is also the kind of cake which will hold its own at elegant dinner parties (with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream) or at intimate tea for twos. Personally, the best way of eating this (not that I have but would like to try) is by sticking all of five fingers into the middle, scooping a bit up and then licking each digit very slowly to savour the sweet sticky mess. You see, at some point, the ricotta and chocolate brownie layer melds together to form a moist, fudgey center. Lekker!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:24 am

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Designer Handbag Cake

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oi. Pink Cake Box has done it again, this time with a designer handbag cake.

I personally don't care for Louis Vuitton in all its manifestations and forms but this cake is amazing! There's some serious detailing going on in there and what's a bag without a zingy red lipstick and compact, right?

I pray to the kitchen gods they will do a Birkin or Kelly soon.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:13 am

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Birthday Cupcakes

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A bit of backtracking here.

In mid July, I offered to cater for my parents-in-law's joint birthday celebration. With Hubs as my head waiter and me behind the stove, we ran a three course full service dinner for fourteen guests. Everyone enjoyed it and said I should consider setting up shop. I smiled and waved off the notion graciously. After, these were the in-laws' nearest and dearest friends. What else would they say? I know I'm good but not that good. So I took their well-meaning, if not over zealous compliments with a kilo of salt. I know where I stand.

A month prior to the party, I was going over the menu with mother-in-law. After finalising the dinner, we broached the subject of birthday cakes. I told her cupcakes were rather fashionable at the moment and it has all but taken over the regular cake, would she love to have some this year? Something a little different...

Yes, she would.

I came up with two types of cupcakes and with the mature guests in mind, delibrately kept the frosting simple and elegant. I did try to inject a bit of the summer spirit too, with the ingredients and flower cum butterfly theme.

For the flower cupcakes, I placed a couple of fresh raspberries in the paper cups before pouring the batter inside. For the topping, I used a white chocolate frosting. When you take a bite, the rich, cloying chocolate is off set by the tart raspberries and mixed together with the mild vanilla flavoured cake. Quite the oral treat. With cut stawberries for flowers and mint for leaves, they were easy on the eyes too.

The butterfly cupcakes were more straightforward. I baked my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, sliced off the top for wings, arranged them using the same frosting and sent it flying with a good dousing of icing sugar.

Here is the recipe for the frosting. It is by Jane Homby and is taken from the June 2007 issue of GoodFood.

White Chocolate Frosting

You need:

100g white chocolate
140g unsalted butter
140g icing sugar

You do:
  1. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave on High for 1.5 mins, stirring halfway. Leave to cool.

  2. Beat butter and icing sugar in a large bowl until creamy.

  3. Beat in the chocolate. Cover and chill for up to one month. Prior to using, bring frosting back to room temperature before spreading over the cakes.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:34 am

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Breakfast With Pornstars

While we're still on the subject of breakfast, this is what pornstars have for their all important number one meal of the day. A certain Ethan Reynolds has yoghurt parfaits for breakfast and he's got abs I can do laundry on while Benjamin Bradley prefers a bit of protein. I'm obviously on the wrong diet!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:08 am

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What Kind Of Breakfast Are You?

You Are Yogurt

Modern and streamlined, you prefer a breakfast that's quick and healthy.
You live a fast paced life, and you get breakfast only when you're lucky.
And while you are strapped for time, you are still a hardcore foodie.
You often eat the best that your money can buy. You figure you're worth it.

Funnily enough, I do have a cup of yoghurt every morning. Anything more and my tummy starts to protest. I'm not one for breakfast and yes, I will spend my last penny on good food, right after that pair of heels.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:07 am

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Our Little Grapevine

Almost ripe for the picking but not quite yet.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 9:44 am

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Mum's Soto Ayam

Mum's Soto Ayam

You need:

10 cups of water
1 medium sized chicken
10 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 thumb sized galangal (blue ginger), sliced
15 cloves
8 aniseed segments
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1.5 tsp white pepper
2 chicken stock cubes
salt and pepper to taste
100-200g of bean sprouts (or according to preference)

How to:

  1. Blanche bean sprouts in boiling water, drain and set aside.

  2. Place 10 cups of water into a heavy bottom pot and bring to a boil.

  3. While waiting for water to boil, heat up some oil in a wok, fry shallots and garlic separately until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

  4. Fry the galangal, cloves and aniseed segments until fragrant. Remove and set aside

  5. When water is boiling, add in the fried galangal, cloves, aniseed, 3/4 tsp nutmeg and 1.5 tsp white pepper. Let boil for 5 minutes.

  6. Place chicken into pot. Let boil for another 10 minutes and then lower flame. Simmer for at least an hour.

  7. Remove chicken from soup and quickly dip in cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove skin and debone chicken. Return the chicken bones into the soup. Shred chicken meat and set aside.

  8. Add chicken stock and fried shallots and garlic into soup. Season with salt and pepper Bring to a gentle boil for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

  9. To serve, place some a portion of bean sprouts and shredded chicken into a bowl and pour the hot soup over. Best eaten piping hot.

Note: Soto Ayam is normally eaten with bergedil, (fried potato patties), but we don't like it too much so we go without. To make the soto more substantial, I sometimes add tung hoon, (mung bean vermicelli) to the soup.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 9:13 am

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Weekend Cooking

Monday, August 20, 2007

As mentioned earlier on, I spent the entire weekend cooking. I fiddled with new recipes as well as visited the old favourites.

The new kids on the (chopping) block:

Turkish Style Pizza With Ground Beef.
Spicy and flavourful.

Peanut Butter Hummus (left) and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (right).
Perfect with Turkish bread.

Old favourites:

These two dishes are so beloved in our family, I have the recipes committed to memory.

Soto Ayam.
This is my mum's recipe. It may be Indonesian in origin as it doesn't use tumeric like the Malay version. One of the first dishes I learnt to cook, I can now do it in my sleep.

Beef Satay.
Made from scratch with Hubs in charge of grilling them over the barbecue. We believe in only using charcoal so there was this fanstastic aroma enveloping the patio. I'm sure our next door neighbours got a good whiff too if they'd been out in their backyard.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 4:49 pm

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My Paella Holy Grail search is finally over! At least for the seafood variety.

I finally found a recipe which replicates the ones I've had in Spain and the Canaries (namely, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria). The recipe calls for fish or chicken stock but I thought, what the heck, I've got a bottle of fancy pants lobster boullion, let's use it and see what happens. I also threw in a handful of chorizo, just to spice things up a little.

My next culinary mountain is the meat Paella. I hear they use rabbit in some versions. Game season is coming up so I'll get to experiment real soon. *yeh*

Meanwhile, I am still in the market for a paellera...

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:15 am

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Walk Tall

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yesterday, the two men were out doing man things. They left at 9.30am and would only return by dinner time. The to-do item on the man thing agenda was helping R (youngest brother-in-law) put together a new garden shed. Hubs was the electrical man. I made sure he had on rubber soled sneakers before he left. Don't want him coming home fried or anything like that.

Anyway, with the whole day stretched out before me, I put on my John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits double CD at full blast and proceeded to try out some new recipes as well as prepare for the next day's satay and ayam soto feast.

I let the two CDs run back to back. I love all of his songs but today, this one from 2004, jumped up at me in particular.

Walk Tall
- John Mellencamp

The simple minded
And the uninformed
Can be easily led astray
And those that cannot connect the dots
Hey look the other way
People believe what they want to believe
When it makes no sense at all
So be careful of those killing in Jesus's name*
He don't believe in killing at all*
Walk tall
Yeah walk on
Through this world
Walk tall
Somewhere out in the distance
Is the death of you and me
Even though we don't think of it much
It's still out there for us to see
If you treat life like a bar room fight
You'll die stinking of gin
No drunkards are allowed in heaven
No sinners will get in
Walk tall
Yeah, walk on
Walk tall
Through this world
Walk tall
So be careful in what you believe in
There's plenty to get you confused
And in this land called paradise
You must walk in many men's shoes
Bigotry and hatred are enemies to us all
Grace, mercy and forgiveness
Will help a man walk tall
So walk tall
Yeah, walk on
Walk tall
Through this world
Through this world
Yeah, walk tall
Then walk on
Walk tall
Then walk on
Through this world
Through this world
Through this world
Through this world
Walk tall
Walk tall
Then walk on
Walk tall


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:35 pm

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Bikini Cupcakes From Cupcake Momma

Friday, August 17, 2007

See these quirky, sexy creations? They are done by Trish, owner of Cupcake Momma and ahem, dedicated to bikini-mad me. First a star from the hubby and now this. Woo-hoo! Thank you, Trish!

Trish and I have been friends for a good couple of years now. While we don't speak to each other regularly (enough), we both know we can count on each other for an honest opinion or a listening ear for the occasional gripe. Saying she's a wonderful baker is an understatement since she's the bees' knees when it comes to cupcakes in Singapore. She's a magician with sugar paste and frosting - you know, like Merlin and his spells. There is nothing she can't conjure up and no event she can't cater to. You name it, birthdays, weddings, corporate events.... even the odd Bruneian royalty order or two.

Aren't the cupcakes a scream? I had such a good laugh over it. Trish knows my penchant for the little two-piece thingies, having amassed something like forty odd sets. Most of them never get to touch the sea or pool water as they are embellished with crystals (mostly Swarovski - I know, I'm insane), beadwork, appliqúe or embroidery. I do buy some specifically for swimming of course and when on holiday, always bring at least two or three. And no, I don't mind the appreciative looks I get. After all, I did buy them because they were eye-catching or special in the first place. I just don't like being stared daggers. It's just rude. This also occurs when I'm fully clothed. I don't like it of course - who would, but I've learnt to live with it.

So, here's one last airing of the bikinis I got for this summer, just before the season ends:

This I could bear to swim with. *haha* I figured I could stitch the beads back on if they fell out.

Not this number though. I was afraid the hardware might have a reaction to the salt or chlorine. So they were strictly for lounging on deck chairs.

For a wrap, I have a black, frilly chiffon tunic. It's got three quarter sleeves and looks like a short dress, albeit a see-through one.

Sadly, they have to be put away for now but they'll see daylight next year. That is, if I don't come across something which catches my eye. Again.

And by the ways, do check out Cupcake Momma , and tell her the Dutchess sent you along, okay? *wink*

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:02 am

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Last Night's Dinner

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sambal Kang Kong with White Rice.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:09 am

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Happy, Are We?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

YES, we are!

Life is good. Nothing worth griping about. I'm contented and extremely grateful for the way my life has unfolded so far. That's not to say I didn't have to work for or at it.

To quote a certain fast-food chain's ad campaign....

"I'm lovin' it!"


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 5:14 pm

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You know how tennis players get tennis elbows? Well, I've developed what I call cooking shoulders, courtesy of the Wii's Cooking Mama. All that chopping, stirring and what not have wrecked havoc on my right shoulder and triceps. My fate was sealed when the hubby and I did a few sets of tennis (on the Wii) late Monday night after the boy was asleep. I can hardly lift my right arm properly now without some level of pain.

I've set a self-imposed ban on the machine until my shoulder gets better and am crawling back to the kitchen now to cook real food. I managed to lay my hands on the last bundle of Kang Kong at the asian store this afternoon. Do I smell Sambal Kang Kong this evening? I think I do..... with extra belachan!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 4:51 pm

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A Fish Called Dutchess

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

You Are Fish

You have a well formed palate and a daring appetite. If it's served to you, you'll at least try it.
People are pretty scared of your exotic ways. But once they get a taste of you, they're addicted!

I've always believed in trying everything at least once. If I don't like it, I can always throw it away, hide it behind the closet, donate it, burn it, flush it or spit it out. Unless we're talking about hair gone wrong. That could be dicey business.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:06 am

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Glutinous Rice

Yet another childhood favourite.

As kids, my mother used to take my sister and I to the wet market for groceries and we would inevitably end up at the food stalls for a spot of breakfast. And more often than not, I would have a plate of glutinous rice and a glass of soya bean milk. If I was feeling especially greedy hungry, I would ask for a bowl of soya bean curd as well and promise Mum like mad that I would finish it. Ah, those were the days when I could eat more than my body weight and the calories just slip through the toes. Nowadays, everything stops in its tracks around the tummy and hips.

Anyway, as I was saying, what had been a childhood favorite has since morphed into grownup comfort food. There's something very soothing about warm, savoury sticky rice. I like mine with chopped spring onions, fried shallots and loads of pickled green chillis. And don't forget the soya bean milk too. *burp*

Like a thick down duvet on a winter's morning...

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:44 am

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Pork Liver In Sesame Oil

I love pork liver and can eat this particular rendition forever. It's originally meant to be a Cantonese post-natal confinement dish. The liberal use of sesame oil and ginger (so prevalent in confinement cooking), makes it especially fragrant. However, even good things can turn around and bite you in the nether regions when you least expect it. The lovely sesame oil, so aromatic whilst cooking, turns rather strong during the aftermath. My whole kitchen stank of it and took almost two hours to be rid of the offending odour.

In this particular instance, I cooked some Ginger Rice as an accompaniment to the liver. Following Karen's advice, I grated the ginger instead of my usual julienne and boy, did it pack some extra oomph. I left the dinner table with a warm fuzzy feeling in the belly.

Claypot Pork Liver In Sesame Oil

You need:

200g pig's liver, sliced thickly
1 green pepper, wedged
1 red pepper, wedged
1 onion, wedged
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 slices old ginger


Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
1/2 tsp light soya sauce

Marinade for liver:

1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp ginger juice
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
dash of pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

How To:

  1. Marinate liver for 10 minutes.

  2. Heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a wok. When the oil begins to smoke, add ginger and fry till fragrant.

  3. Include peppers, seasoning and fry well for a minute.

  4. Put in the marinated liver, including the leftover marinade, and fry briskly for another minute. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of water over ingredients. Keeping stirring all the time or until liver is just cooked. Serve with rice.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:15 am

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First Day Of School

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's my son's first day of the new school year today. This year, he goes to Groep 4 - Singapore's equivalent of Primary 2 and I think, Grade 2 for the US school system.

As with the 'first day' practice of his school, parents are allowed in the classrooms for a spot of oohing and aahing. The boy and I exchanged high fives after we admired his new classroom, new stationery and chosen seat at the front cluster of tables by the window. I'm sure his teacher will move him soon as he likes to look out of windows and dream. Just before leaving, I blew him a kiss at the door followed by a thumbs up. He waved back and I think I almost popped with pride.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:21 am

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We have a new toy - the Nintendo Wii.

The two men have been lusting after one eversince it was released. Every time they hit a toy store, they would look at the shelves of Wii games longingly. My husband, bless his heart, in trying to be a Good Parent ie, not wanting to overindulge his one and only son, has stoically refused to buy the console.

But I know better. Sooner or later he'll crack. Not from the boy but from himself. I can see it in his eyes. A wife knows these things.

To cut a long story short, Hubs bought a set on Friday and to include everyone in on the action, bought three different games. Tiger Woods PGA Tour for him, Need For Speed: Carbon for the boy and, this I had to laugh at - Cooking Mama for yours truly. We've been at it all weekend and our arms are really sore from the physical exertion. I'm not a games person and whatever spare time during the weekends are reserved mostly for stitching. So to tell you that this little white box actually ate into my stitching time....

Wow-wii indeed!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:48 am

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Biometric Passports

Friday, August 10, 2007

Early this morning, we set off for the Singapore Embassy in Brussels to apply for our new biometric passports. Because we live so close to the border, the office in Brussels is nearer to the one in Rotterdam. Go figure.

When we arrived there, I presented the duly completed forms downloaded from the internet. The nice Belgian lady scanned through them and asked me rather incredulously in French accented English, "Did you drive all the way from Holland to here?" I nodded, whereupon she tells me I could've just sent the whole lot by post; that I only needed to collect the passports in person.

Eeeeearrrrghhh!!! *slaps forehead*

This is just so typical of the way things are done in Europe ie, the left hand does not talk to the right hand. Last week I called the embassy up to make sure I got the proceedings crystal clear. Please come in person, he said. So I do. Today I'm there only to be told I could have saved the one hour drive and done it by post instead.



The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:15 pm

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I Am A Proud Singaporean

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Since I've been the mayor of New York, I analyse a city by its physical condition... as it says something about the self-respect and about the sense of pride the people have. The physical condition of Singapore is magnificent...

- Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

Today's National Day in Singapore. As I'm typing this, she is probably getting started on her National Day Parade at the Marina Bay.

To celebrate, I'm wearing a white top and crimson red trousers today. I'd wanted to wear a red mini but the temperatures suddenly dipped to 13o so I had to scratch that. The boy is wearing a red top and white cargo trousers. He's the only seven year old I know who can keep his white pants pristine after a whole day of activity. I think he gets it from me.

To further celebrate, I shall be whipping up a Singaporean dish today. I still can't decide if it's going to be Laksa or Mee Siam. Ideally I would like to have both, pig that I am.

Alot of folks here want to know which part of Asia I'm from. When I tell them I'm from Singapore, the general reaction I get is polite confusion. Like, I've heard of this place but am not sure where or what it is. Is it in China? Sigh...

So for the sake of my non-Singaporean readers, this is where I was born, raised and lived in until eight years ago. It is über modern, clean and efficient. My in-laws (as in the whole clan) visited us one year and were most impressed with the country. In their own words - I wasn't expecting it to be so modern... That was why in the beginning when we moved here (a small town) after Cologne, they kept asking me if I was adjusting and if I was happy. Well, yes, and yes. I'm very adaptable and optimistic so that helps. Having broadband access helps too. *haha*

Happy 42nd Birthday, Singapore!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:16 am

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KitchenAid, Sort Of

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I recently aquired a KitchenAid. Model number: ROBIN07. It's about 1.34m tall, comes with different speeds, kneads, stirs, mixes but does not always listen to instructions. Also questions your every move. Major drawback: does not come with a switch which you can turn off.

From time to time, my son expresses an interest in the kitchen so depending on what I'm cooking at the time, I will indulge him. After all, a man who cooks ups his stock ante with the girls. Last week, I gave him his first bao making lesson. I needed some mantou buns for the tau yew bak that was simmering away merrily on the stove. Besides, making mantou is foolproof.

Maybe it's the biased motherly pride in me speaking but the boy is quite a natural at kneading. At first I put my hands over his to give him a feel of the kneading process and then left him to it. He took to it like fish to water.

Next, I demonstrated how to fashion the semi-circle buns which we then placed into the steamer to cook.

After 15 minutes, I showed him the fruit of his labour:

"Mummy! They look like your lips!"


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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:17 am

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Turkey - A Spot Of Local Shopping

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Midweek during our lazy holiday, we managed to garner enough strength to venture into the local shopping district of Belek. We waived off the option of taxis. Instead, we chose to take the more interesting but kidney shattering mode of transport in the form of a train. I used the term loosely as it was a big open air metal container with attached seats, pulled along by a farm tractor. It was completely surreal, especially when we were chugging along the main highway with various vehicles zooming by. The son thought it was a hoot and wanted to bring the contraption home. He then insisted we were all farm animals and had to pick one. Hubs was a horse, sonny-boy was a pig and mum was a cow. Next he wanted us to sound like our respective animals. That's when I put my foot down. I'm not moo-ing in public! So I told him this cow was busy chewing grass and it's rude to moo with your mouth full.


The town itself is very small and not very modern. There wasn't much activity going on either. I attribute it to the scorching late morning heat and only mad tourists like us would be out and about. The weather was 40o and I reached camel status by drinking more than 2 litres of water per day.

We covered the town in 20 minutes flat and then retraced our steps to a store that sold scarves and belly dancing apparel. I wanted a coin scarf for my belly-dancing as the extra weight would help in the gyrations. The choice was mind boggling but I finally settled on a black and silver one.

I also couldn't resist this:

A beautiful cashmere shawl - perfect as a winter scarf or an indoor wrap.

It's rather stunning in real life. I love how the red offsets the softly opulent gold threads. There are three panels - gold, red, gold. Too much gold? Just flip it over for panels of red, gold, red then. The jaquard weave is completely reversible. I've since been washed the shawl and as an added bonus, it's retained the softness and shimmer.

The other thing I picked up was Apple Tea, a Turkish teacup set and lokum. Mustn't forget the lokum or Turkish Delight. I bought 2 boxes - in rose and honey flavour. If you don't have a sweet tooth, don't even think of trying one. My tooth is as sweet as they come and I can only manage a small morsel with a strong cup of tea. Even then, I feel the sugar gnawing at the tooth enamel.

So, that was all I bought. Hubs wanted to know if I was ill from the sun because of my lack of spending activity but I really didn't see anything else I wanted. I'm not one to shop for the sake of shopping. You know how it is on holiday - you go quite mad at the stores thinking you'd never get a chance to return again and end up with white elephants.



The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:42 pm

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Turkish Pancakes

Between 11am - 4pm everyday, a lady will set up her pancake station in a nook under the jungle gym which is some 20m from the pool we'd take permanent residency in. It's a local specialty and you have a choice of four fillings: goat's cheese, spinach, potato and sugar. Or you can have it plain. It tastes like prata without the heavy ghee and is lekker! I would scoff down at least three every afternoon, mostly with spinach or sugar. The local goat's cheese was delicious too but only in small doses because of the distinct after taste. I don't know what these yummy snacks are called so if anyone can help me....

Anyway, these were hugely popular with the other wildlife guests as well and there would be a perpetual queue by her little niche. I normally hate queues but didn't mind standing in this one. It gave me the opportunity to study the process. A live cooking demonstration if you will.

Here are some pics I took of the Pancake Lady:

"And what can I do for you young miss?"

First she rolls out the dough into a thin layer and then spreads the filling onto it.

Next she folds them into half and again before...

...placing them on a hot iron plate.

Giving it the old dab...

... and flip.
A note about the stick: I wanted to borrow it from her to jab at the queue cutters. Argh! Get in line like everyone else, you know?

And here we go again!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:59 am

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