Monday, August 15, 2011

Who said we can't have the best of both worlds?

The past few days I was really, REALLY not in the mood for cooking. In fact I even uttered that to my Quay Lo and he said that I might want to consider telling my friends and readers that I am going to close down Quay Po Cooks for a break. I don’t know why, but I just felt out of it. I wondered if an episode of depression was starting to kick in!  Then after a short conversation with my Quay Lo who is ever so supportive about how I feel and ever willing to do anything to make life easy and happy for me, including foregoing a real meal, I decided to not take the path down darkness instead I went into my kitchen and started cooking.  

Just a few days ago, when my classmate, Puteh posted on her FB:
"Depression is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long. Put this as your status if you know someone who has or had depression. Will you do it, and leave it on your status for at least an hour? Most people won't, but it's mental health week and 1 in 3 of us will suffer at some point in our lives. Show your support. I copied and pasted, will you?"

I re-posted that on my FB status because I agreed 100% with what was said. In reply, I have written on my FB that we are what we think and my blog is instrumental to my healing. So now I have to walk the talk. This made me change my thinking that very moment and I went straight to my fridge. I took a piece of pork loin out of the freezer and let it thaw. Then I started to gather all the ingredients and prepared to braise the pork loin with lots of vegetables and herbs for dinner. Braised pork is one of my Quay Lo's favorite dishes.

When the pork loin was done perfectly and the gravy was prepared, I told my Quay Lo that dinner will be ready soon. He came into the kitchen and looked at the pot of gravy, cooked vegetables and the braised pork loin and an idea struck him. We had talked about cooking ahead so that on evenings we didn't feel like cooking, we would have something in the freezer that we could simply warm up. He observed that we could save the pork loin for future meals (he loves pork sandwiches) and use the gravy and the aromatic vegetables from the braising pot for a soup. His wave length was on minestrone, so he suggested that we add more chicken stock, a small amount of diced boiled potatoes for thickening, a can of Italian tomatos, a can of black beans, and a handful of freshly cooked pasta. Though the vegetables and gravy were already well spiced, we added freshly ground oregano. We ended up with a two quart braising pot full of soup which we simmered for half an hour then let it sit for another two hours, before reheating qnd having our first meal of it. I knew the reason he suggested this was because he wanted to have the soup ready so whenever his Quay Po goes cranky, he can just tell her “Honey, it is okay, no need to cook if you don’t feel like it.”  By this time, the heaviness in my heart was gone. We now have a whole braised pork loin, well seasoned and cooked perfectly, wrapped and ready in the fridge and an ultra delicious soup placed in three containers (each enough for a meal for both of us) in the freezer as welll as that evening's dinner.

My god daughter, Cheryl posted on the status of her FB "If you have a wonderful husband or a boyfriend who works hard to take care of you and would do anything for you, then re-post this as your status to give the honest good men out there the recogniton that they deserve. Because great men are few and I am proud that I HAVE ONE.:)" Cheryl, if you are reading this post, I am happy you feel blessed because we will be a happier person if we all have gratitude. My Quay Lo told me that gratitude is one of the most important keys to a happy life and if we can truly be thankful for what we have, we will be contented and what we don't have will not bother us.

I did not re-post that on my status, but I am giving my Quay Lo the recognition here for successfully pulling me out of my "CRANKINESS" and into cooking a nice meal for him instead! It is one that I am proud of. The soup was so good and I know the pork loin will be "killer". Yay! Quay Po Cooks will be here to stay for my Quay Lo, my friends, family, my readers and especially my blogger friends! So remember when you feel down and out, you can change your thinking!  Trust this, you are what you think:D

Here are the recipes for the pork loin and the last minute self created pasta and vegetables soup (Quaylo says it's "minestrone"). Both braised pork loin and the soup is SOO delicious that I am not shy to blow my own trumphet! Tell me if this is not the best of both worlds! I would also like to dedicate this post to all those who have or had depression and wish you all speedy healing! HUGZZ!!

Braised pork loin

2 to 3 lbs boneless Pork loin without skin and tied with kitchen twine
1 green apple, chunks
2 stick celery, cut into 1 in piece
200 gm asparagus, cut into shorter length
1 ½ medium white onion, cut into 6 portions
5 cloves garlic with skin
4 shallots, sliced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
2 tbs sunflower oil
Enough of chicken stock to cover the pork loin

To Marinate pork loin:
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cumin

Mix all the above and rub thoroughly over pork loin and set aside and let it marinade for about 30 minutes.

Method of Braising the pork loin:
Heat oil in the cast iron pot. Add onion and garlic, stir fry till onion is slightly limb. Add shallots and stir fry till fragrant. Remove onion, garlic and shallots and set aside. Use the oil to sear the pork loin and make sure all sides are browned.  Remove seared pork loin from pot and set aside. Remove half of the oil from the pot and turn the heat up to high. Throw in all the vegetables and mix well with the oil. Return the pork loin back into the pot. Add chicken stock till it completely covered the pork loin and top it with the cooked onion, garlic and shallots, rosemary and thyme. Braised it in an oven at 220 degrees C for about 50 mins or till the meat thermometer reads 72 degrees C for medium cooked pork.  Remove all contents from the pot and reduce the stock till it thicken. You may thicken it further with 1 tbs corn flour in 2 tbs water.  Return all the cooked vegetables into the pot of gravy. Make sure you cover the pork loin and let it rest for 15 mins before cutting to serve. I served it with mashed potato and buttered asparagus.

For those who want to know how to tie the pork loin here is a good video tutoial:

Vegetables, Beans and Pasta soup

Reserved liquid, vegetables and gravy from braising the pork loin
1 litre chicken stock
1 can Pomodori tomatos, roughly chopped, with liquid from the can
1 can black beans with liquid from the can
200 gms cubed ham (smoke cured will work especially well here)
2 small potatoes, skinned, par boiled, and cubed
1 tsp fresh or re-ground oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and black pepper to taste (be sure to taste before adding) 
140 grams of cooked pasta shells or macaroni*

* We had a bag of corn and "vegetable", gluten free, pasta that had been purchased by my Quay Lo by accident so we decided to use it up. It was quite good actually but semolina flour pasta is more traditional.

After braising, remove the pork loin (this would work well with braised beef as well) and add the above ingredients to the pot. Simmer for thirty minutes and let stand until completely cooled (this will result in a nice exchange of flavors between braising herbs and spices with the newly introduced ones.) Store and reheat as desired.


  1. The pork loin looks delicious! And, I think everyone deserves a blogging break every now and then.

  2. Cooking for your family members should be a satisfaction. We should think how lucky we have been compare to those unlucky ones! "Have a break, have a Kitkat". (I am not advertising for Kitkat). You are a wonderful cook.

  3. Early on I decided I would take a break on weekend.Not that I am not cooking thanbut all of you that blog know that we are working hard to bring the best of us here because we love what we are doing.And mostly it is great fun.I blog on 2 other blogs thann my personal blog and know how you feel.Nothing is gonna happen if you take a break.People willm miss you but fully understand.And ones that love your wonderfulldishes will come back whenever you are ready;)
    Thank you for this fanastic dishes today:)

  4. It all looks so marvelous. For not feeling like cooking, you certainly did a wonderful job cooking (as always)! :)

    But, I do agree we all need and deserve a break now and then.... If you're like me, though, you'll relax, dream about what you love doing (cooking in your case), plan for your next project, then move right back into the kitchen just as happy as you can be. :)

  5. Wow - they are amazing dishes and I'm glad that you decided to continue to cook....I just found your amazing site!

    It takes a lot of strength to admit a depression or an are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope your time in the kitchen is healing rather than frustrating.

  6. the food looks good... and I bet it taste YUMMY!!! You know what, when I am depressed, I just have to hop to my kitchen and make something out of it.. and force it down to my family members throat!

  7. hi quay po,
    i'm wondering if you stop blogging, what would happen to me and other reader..everyday,everytime when i online, sure i will check on your blog first to see not only the recipe but what you have written for the watching drama everyday..couldn't stop..
    by the way, you have such a caring and creative hubby that making all the women feel envy..
    how i hope my hubby would be half like your quay lo..haha, may be i should marry to a quay lo too...
    don't feel depressed you have us, your loyal reader, just think of us you'll feel good...

  8. I wish I was your neighbour. Your dishes always make me drool :)

    btw, is that blue pot a cast iron piece from Ikea? If it is, would you recommend it?

  9. that corn and veggie pasta soup and that mouthwatering braised pork loin !!! Can see that you have the best of both worlds :) Love your photography composition...Well done!

  10. Your minestrone soup looks delicious! I love that you pulled yourself out of the funk by cooking. You definitely have a great man at your side as well.

  11. Cooking can be quite therapeutic and this dish is wonderful...and eating will be great too. Hope that you will feel better.

  12. Nooooo!! Don't do that! Don't stop blogging ... you know, I was going through that phase just lately (that's why the big gaps in between posts) and I think I still am but I am hanging on and now more so esp after I've read this beautiful post of yours. It is very encouraging indeed and altho I still don't feel like cooking (also due to so many lovely buka puasa stalls around), I know I will one day and will continue to share it when I'm ready ... and looks like you've bounced back a lot sooner! Good for you!

  13. Love that pot!
    Love your blog :)

    Sometimes it happens to me too.
    But then, I hang on and it goes away. Phew. The mojo gets back on.
    Veron, keep it up. Your readers will miss you if u stop, and please don't stop.

  14. I'm glad you were able to pull out of your cooking rut. We've all been there at some point or other. I know I have! Thankfully, I have a blogging partner and we take turns posting so we can get our little cooking breaks in when our lives get hectic. Well, despite your cooking rut, your dishes look wonderful and your photos are gorgeous as always!

  15. Gratitude is indeed a great thing to have. Trouble is we have to keep reminding ourselves how blessed we are. I remember a quote I'd like to share"To be happy is to give thanks for all we have".

    The food looks absolutely delish.

  16. Very pretty delicious soup dish. Will bookmark it and cook this for my family. I'm sure they'll love it!

  17. Fabulous pictures of your meal options! I shall try to cook this delicious soup one day, as my DB loves his pork, too.

  18. If I could eat all these, I would not be depressed anymore. Oooo...the pork loin looks like to kill for. Yum!

  19. It's wonderful how Quay Lo supports you.

  20. @yummychunklet
    Yes, we sure do.

    Hey, how did you know I like Kit Kat? hehe

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I agree with you, in fact I miss some of my blogger friends when you don't post. In fact I get concern and wonder if they are well. I usually drop a line to say hi to let them know I care.

    Thanks, you have given me very good advice.

    Welcome to my blog and I am glad to have found yours. You too have a lovely blog an love all your dishes and bakes. I enjoyed myself when I was there visitiing.

    When you said you force your food down your family's throat, it gave me a chuckle!

    Every man loves and care for their woman in a different way. I am sure your hubby loves and care for you in his own way, if not, you will be still with him today right? I do not know what nationality your hubby is but if he is Asian, they are usually not so demonstrative, they show their support in other more discreet ways, do you agree?

    Same here, I guess if we are neighbors, we will be enjoying ourselves exchanging "MAKANS" hehe. Oh my Quay Lo bought the blue pot for me from Takashimaya in Singapore. I love this pot! You can now get this cast iron pot from Kitchen shop in Bangsar Village 2 or Empire Subang Jaya.

    So sweet of you to shower me with compliments. I love it and thanks.

    I am proud of myself being able to do that too:D A year ago, I just went sinking!

    Oh yes I feel better already. Many thanks for the concern.

    Thanks so much for sharing with me that you too experience feeling like this at times so I don't feel so alone. If taking a break helps, we should and for sure when you are back, we all will be there.

    I think everybody will have times like this but it may not be depression, at least I hope not. Although I have met you once, you gave me the impression that you are an optimistic person. I don't want to stop blogging and don't want to disappoint all my readers and blogger friends. You all are so supportive and I know all your kind words and encouragement will pull be up when I go down. Many thanks.

    @Veggie Girl
    It is great to have blogging partner, always more fun to have another person to do things with.

    @The Sudden Cook
    Yes, that's right, we have to keep reminding ourselves how blessed we are for most times we take things for granted.

    I am sure you family will like this soup, mine did:D

    If your DB likes pork, he will definitely like the braised pork loin.

    You are welcome. It is good to share our experience with our friends. We usually learn something from that.

    @That Girl
    Yes, I am very lucky to have a supportive husband, one that still stay even when I am cranky so often. hehe


  21. The soup looks so delicious! Love the colored pasta shells :)

  22. @chef_d
    Thanks for dropping by and appreciate your comment. Hope to have you here often.

  23. hi quay po,
    yea, you are 100% right..old fashion asian men is too shy to show their feeling for their half in the direct way.. have a nice day~

  24. @Janetan
    I am so glad you agree with me. You too have a wonderful weekend. Maybe do something romantic with your other half? hehe

  25. love your presentation here. Looks so earthy with that pot! I guess all of us should feel blessed with what we have and doing what we want and i know you are. yeah,s ometimes we do have some negative thoughts, that's very natural but i know you know what's best for you and you deserve all the freedom! we love you!

  26. I really liked this post. The problem with food blogging is not only do we have to cook often, but we try to make something different each time so we can blog about it! And then we feel guilty if we don't post as often as we usually do. Like me right now it's been awhile. I have plenty to post, but I am now back at work (in a school) and have to get used to juggling a full time job, cooking, family and blogging. I am glad you found your way back and your husband sounds like a great support! Cheers!

  27. great recipes, but just stunning photographs!

  28. @lena
    that pot is a precious thing to me, it is an item from the first set a nice dinnerware. Love you too!

    You said everything that I feel about blogging. Yes when you have to wear many hats, you need the skill of juggling them:D

    Thanks. I have been trying to take good photos of soup and failed but I have to agree that this time I am happy with the photos of the soup.

  29. Wow, what a feast! The pork loin looks amazingly delicious.

  30. @Shirley
    This braised pork loin makes really good sandwiches. An item to keep in fridge to be ready for a really lazy day.


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