Time Out - For Now

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's been so crazy busy at Cookalot I haven't had time to write. It's a miracle I'm still standing or remember my name.

We had a lovely Christmas but more about that later when I have more time to sort out my photos and thoughts. Suffice to say we ate our way through the festive season and have at least three more dinners coming up. Things are not looking good for the waist and hip region but we'll work on it next year, I promise. Note to self: You better, your metabolic rate is not what it used to be.

Anyhow, that's not what this entry is really about.

What I really wanted to say, in my usual meandering way is we're moving. Hubs recently signed up with a new company. The ink had scarcely dried on the dotted line before they send him packing to Beijing. As it's for eighteen months, we thought it's best to go as a family. We leave 2 January 2008. This might seem sudden but in actual fact, we've already known for two months. I didn't want to mention it until everything was concrete. However, with our visas and air tickets arranged and Hubs having received his first paycheck from the new company, this is about as concrete as it gets

The movers are coming on Friday to pack up our bare neccessities, computers included which means I won't be online for at least a week or so.

Here's wishing everyone A Very Happy New Year. I hope 2008 will bring you many pleasant culinary adventures and discoveries.

See you later alligator!


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:25 pm

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Christmas Comes Early

Friday, December 14, 2007

Santa visited Hubs early this year. Being the DIY sort of guy, Hubs went out and bought, by proxy, the Apple iPhone this week in Beijing . That makes two happy campers. Him, because his new toy hasn't been released in this part of the world yet and for me, it's one thing off my to-buy list. And well, I rather like seeing my husband happy.

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Pink Sweater

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My son has lots of guts and I can prove it.

May I present Exhibit A:

Sonny-boy in a pink sweater

And no, I'm not living out some unfulfilled fantasy of a daughter that never was - I've always wanted a son anyway - he's wearing this out of his accord because, in his exact words:

i) it looks good on me,
ii) pink is M's favourite colour, and
ii) I like it.


For the record, I bought the sweater from the boys' department of H&M.

And also for the record, the other young chap I know who is man enough to wear pink is Francine's eldest son.

Way to go, boys!


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

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Deep Fried Thai Chicken Balls

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This came about because I am in the process of cleaning out my stash of frozen ingredients but more about that later.

I found lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal (blue ginger) in the freezer - all brimming with hope of one day coming together in the form of Tom Yum Goong. I almost did too if not for the chicken filet I found in the next drawer.

I was feeling particularly Johnny-on-the-spot and decided to make up some Thai inspired chicken balls. I didn't have a recipe to follow and therefore, made it up as I went along.

The result: delicious, fragrant morsels - the perfect finger food.

Deep Fried Thai Chicken Balls

You Need:

300g minced chicken
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
2-3 slices galangal
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemon grass (use only the bottom white portion)
salt and pepper to taste
half tbsp cornflour
oil for deep frying

You Do:
  1. Blitz the garlic, shallot, galangal, lime leaves and lemon grass in a food processor until you get a fairly fine paste. Use a bit of oil if you have to.

  2. Place minced chicken and marinade paste in a mixing bowl. Add cornflour, salt and pepper. Knead thoroughly to ensure everything is well blended. Let sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

  3. Before frying

  4. Shape chicken paste into small balls.

  5. In a wok or large pot, heat up enough oil for deep frying. When oil is hot enough, gently slide the chicken balls in. Cook until golden brown.

  6. Serve with Thai sweet chilli sauce.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 1:11 pm

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All I Want For Christmas Is...

Monday, December 10, 2007

... World Peace.


This was precisely what a fellow member and friend wrote in reply to a thread of the same title in a parenting forum. We had a good giggle about it of course. No offence to past, present or hopeful beauty pagent winners out there.

My reply was simple: Nothing. I don't really want anything as Hubs had the gift giving department pretty much covered throughout the year. All I want is for him to be home during Christmas, which he will be.

In terms of presents, we don't really 'do' Christmas, Hubs and I. Of course we'll get each other nice things but the sentimental value or meaning isn't as strong as it is for birthdays or our anniversary. To us, Christmas is more of an excuse to put up the tree, decorate the house and have nice meals and family gatherings. We are not particulary religious although we've told Sonny-boy the real reason behind Christmas.

We do, however, make it a big event for Sonny-boy. This is one time in a year he gets to cash in his whatever-I-want ticket. Within reason of course. (I've since killed the PS3 and X-Box 360 or whatever it's called idea. We already have the Wii and PS3 has gotten lousy reviews. Besides, he's not really suffering with his PS2 or PSP. So.) Throughout the year, we are rather tight-fisted when it comes to presents, buying them only once every few weeks and even then, nothing flashy. Don't want the boy growing up with a false sense of entitlement and what not.

Add Christmas with his birthday falling on 20 Dec, you can understand why Sonny-boy loves this time of the year so much. He still has about two weeks to decide what he wants but at this time of writing, the Playmobil circus set seems to be winning. And because we are not parents to do things halfway, we are buying everything that comes in the circus range. It was the Playmobil airport and airplane set last year which cost us the price of an air ticket (albeit a budget one) for any destination around the continent. The saving grace is that he's played with it consistantly throughout the year so it's money well-spent. You can be sure I'm saving each and every single plastic component for any future grandchildren that may spring from Sonny-boy's loins. As with all the other Playmobil toys and sets.

As for the other man in my life, Hubs has been waxing lyrical about this and I plan on getting it for him. I did buy him the LG Shine for our anniversary earlier this year but it seems a man can never have too many of the latest gadgets just like a woman can never have too many shoes in her closet. The only apple I know is the one you eat or cook but Hubs says this is the bees' knees in phones right now so I'll just have to take his word for it.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:30 pm

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Rules Of Engagement

Eversince he began formal education at the age of four (the Dutch government like to start them young - I'm not complaining, what with an extra 6 hours of sanity on an almost daily basis), Sonny-boy has been quite the ladies' man at his primary school.

For some reason, (most) girls seem to go for him. I don't know what it is that makes him the proverbial pot of honey but okay, it's one of those unexplainable things. Until recently, he's been complaining about how he hates girls, why are they always talking or saying 'hi' to him etc. One even showed her affection by continually shoving him, sometimes to the ground. He's been putting up with it as I've raised my boy never to lay a hand on a girl no matter what. Instead, he's allowed to tell her to stop or tell his teacher. Or as a last resort, tell me.

Anyhow, what a difference three years makes. My son is in love. They are even talking about marriage. It seems a certain brown haired beauty in his class has snagged his heart. M sits diagonally across him and they make goo-goo eyes at each other during class.

Just last week, Sonny-boy did a Tigger at the school gate. Boing, boing, boing through the gate he went. Moments after the bell rang, M had kissed him and given him two love notes which she wrote and made herself. It said, "I love you and you love me too.... yes?" Wow, a girl who knows what she wants and goes for it - I like her already.

My love-struck son returned the gesture by making her four drawings and a paper collage of french fries (presumably M's favourite food). And to ensure there's no misunderstanding of how he really feels, he threw in a bar of Kinder Maxi chocolate as well. If anything, the boy is generous. Like father like son, don't you know. I found a nice paper bag for him to put everything in and wished him luck.


This morning, while brushing his teeth, Sonny-boy disclosed his intention of kissing M today during break time. Upon hearing it, I solemnly laid out the rules of engagement regarding kissing. For good measure, I repeated myself three times, just to make sure he capisce.

Because Mum Said So And I'll Get Into Trouble If I Don't

  1. Before kissing, ASK her for permission. If she says yes, go right ahead, but only on the cheek, please.

  2. If she says no, don't do it. DON'T even think about it.

  3. When she says no, she really means no. Not yes, maybe or ask me again. No means no. N-O. And please, always remember it so you don't get into trouble when you grow up.

Like the Dutch government, I also like to start him young. Unless it's age unappropriate, I prefer to educate my son so he's aware of what's what than to have him go around clueless, or worse, be misinformed.


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

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Pickled Green Chilli

As mentioned last week, I did a spot of pickling as we were out of green chilli. The Turkish grocer stocks them too but I just like doing it. Besides, I get to control the amount of salt that goes into it and my homemade ones has no nasty preservatives.

This is for anyone who wants to try their hand at it. It's dead easy and chances are, you may never want to eat the store bought ones anymore.

Pickled Green Chilli

1. In a medium sized saucepan, bring white vinegar, salt and sugar (to taste) to a gentle boil. Turn off heat and let pickling solution cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, slice the green chilli.

2. Fill another saucepan with water, bring to a boil. Blanche sliced chilli. Drain and set aside.

3. Add the blanched chilli to the cooled pickling solution. Give it a good stir to make sure the chilli is well immersed.

4. Leave it alone for at least 6 hours. Worry it once in a while by stirring, again, to ensure each and every slice is well marinated. When it's done, it will turn a shade of dull yellow green.

5. Store in clean glass bottles.

- To get crunchy pickled chilli, choose only the barely ripe ones and those that feel firm to the touch. Do not over blanche it either.

- I use 100ml of white vinegar for every 100g of chilli.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:04 am

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Chicken Run And The Great DVD Marathon

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sonny-boy and I just can't see or taste chicken anymore.

I made Hainanese Chicken Rice on Monday and from that 2.5l pot of pure chicken stock, I, like a magician pulling all manner of suprises from my hat, made a few dishes which sustained us all throughout the week. We had Kai Xi Mein (Shredded Chicken Noodles), Chicken Macaroni soup, chicken porridge and of course, chicken rice. All except Thursday when Sonny-boy cried fowl foul. I took pity on him and made him a cheese and salami pizza instead. The next evening, we were back on the bandwagon with chicken porridge.

Why am I doing this, you ask? Well, Hubs is away and to be honest, I've been feeling off skelter and wanted to make life as easy as possible. I didn't feel like doing too much in the kitchen. I can't cook when I'm moody.

However, nothing lifts me more than needlework so that's what I've been doing all week. Stitching and crochetting. And running The Great DVD Marathon. I recently purchased an entire season of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and the first season of Hotel Babylon and have been ploughing through them relentlessly. In addition to my current aversion to chicken, I can also add square eyes to the list.

Hotel Babylon is a scream. I only caught bits and pieces of it on the BBC and was almost going to order the DVD online when I saw it on sale at the local Intertoys. It was going for 9.90 euros and I had to do a double take to check it didn't say 19.90, or 29.90 or even 39.90. Having determined it was indeed below 10 euros, I made a grab for it. The second season is on sale as well at for 29.90 pounds and if not for certain circumstances, it would already be in the post, on its way to me. It might still happen, we'll see. What I will be ordering, however, is the book it's based on. Anyhow, if you haven't watched it before, do - the storylines are entertainingly outrageous and the actors, natural and believable. The guest stars are cool too. In one episode, Joan Collins made an appearance but she played such a sweet and gracious mega rich widow, she was hardly recognisable. I want my beloved Alexis Carrington back!

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Friday's Feast #171

Friday, December 07, 2007

I haven't done a Friday's Feast in a while so I thought I'd make up for it and do two this time around.

What was the last game you purchased?

Twister, for the three of us.

Name something in which you don’t believe.

That platonic friendships can exist between a hetrosexual man and woman. I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. Sooner or later, someone's going to want something more. Or maybe I just met the wrong people.

If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?

It would be celebrity chefs Heston Blumenthal or James Martin so I can pick their brains. The former for molecular gastronomy (kitchen science to the uninitiated) and the latter for creating dreamy desserts. Although fans of James Martin will argue he is as dreamy as the various desserts he whips up.

Main Course
What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Knowing when and where to draw the line and having the confidence not to budge.

Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.

Any room that has huge windows for natural light to flow through, a comfortable leather couch, a large screen telly (I'm myopic) and my needlework next to me. I think I kind of described my living room. Heh.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 12:56 pm

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Friday's Feast #170

What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?
None - I have issues with motion sickness, hate speed and am deathly afraid of heights. I am normally the one guarding the bags and jackets in amusement parks.

How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?
Smile, smile and smile some more whilst looking for any possible quick exits.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?

1 - not because I lack grey matter between my ears but I find such discussions a surefire way to heated arguments. I don't do politics or religion either.

Main Course
Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?

No and no.

Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?

Waaaaay too many. I'm a regular couch potato.


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We're all familiar with the word paparazzi. You know, those photographers who stalk celebs for that kerching shot. The more embarrassing or scandalous, the better.

Well, may I now present you with a new term, mamarazzi.

A mamarazzi on the other hand, is a mum who stalks her offspring(s) for that perfect Kodak moment, the cuter, the more embarrassing (for the child when he or she comes of age)/heartwarming/funnier the better. It is also her personal goal in life to be there for all the first-times in her child's life. Events like first nail clipping, first haircut, first tooth cut, first fallen tooth, first boo-boo on various limbs, sleeping through the night (it took us five years but we got there eventually), each time baby graduates to the next sized diaper and finally to proper big boy / big girl underpants, first day at school, first crush at playschool/kindy/primary, riding a bike, learning to swim, .... the list goes on.

You know, one of those mums.

And yes, I'm one of those. And proud of it too.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:05 am

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At Random

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's been almost a week since I made an entry and yes, it's because I've been busy. Busy in the kitchen, busy at my needlecraft, busy with my two men and busy with the day-to-day going-ons.

I've also been feeling abit off. By off, I mean a tension headache which results in the whole of my head, face and neck feeling swollen and well, achey. As if that's not enough, it's the Time Of The Month. Big, strong, macho, manly men have been known to quiver and break when their better halves go through PMS on a monthly basis. My manly man is lucky this month, he's taken cover in Beijing on the pretext of business.

Anyhow, that's also partly the reason why I haven't written. I'm sitting out this patch of sour weather before I put finger to type key. In my current mood, I can pickle vegetables just my looking at them, what hope is there of me being pleasantly chatty here? And I've always been mindful of making this blog a gripe-free zone.

So do be patient, I shall be back.

Oh, and I'm going to do some actual pickling later on in the afternoon. I found out yesterday I'm all out of pickled green chilli and in Cookalot, that's a serious no-no.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 11:17 am

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