Friday, July 19, 2013

No Sundays for single mums, also my last post until ....


Hi all, I just want to announce that I will not be posting after this for a long while. I can't tell when I will be back. However, I will still keep my Quay Po Cooks facebook page to share my food photos. Do visit me there if you have the time. Here is the link. 




Thank you all for your love and support these past three years. Your comments and your visits are very much appreciated and knowing that you all enjoyed what I have shared so far brought me much joy. Hugs to you all! 

Here is my last post until..... 

When I was a single mum, I don’t have Sundays.  Sundays are supposed to be a rest day where one can laze around. You will often hear children of single mums are at a disadvantage but that is not true. When I was one, my son Nick had everything children with both parents had. That is because single mums are usually very dedicated to their children and they sacrifice even more to ensure their children’s well being. Here is an article which I would like to share with all the single mums out there. Kudos to you all!  Oh and please don't let anyone tell you that you have a broken family just because you are a single mum. 

Who wouldn't yearn for lazy Sundays where one could take it easy and stay home, eat something fast and simple when feeling hungry. Even stale baguette and eggs could make a divine afternoon snacks! Mm… Mm… Mm

French Toast


Ingredients
1 whole baguette
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup full cream milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbs butter

Method:
Cut baguette into 1 inch thick pieces. Mix beaten eggs with milk and add ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Soak pieces of baguette into the egg mixture for 10 mins each side.  Fry pieces of baguettes in two batches. Melt 1 tbs butter in the pan on medium heat. Reserve the balance 1 tbs butter for the second batch.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Don't regret regret


I came across a speech “Don’t regret regret” by Kathryn Schulz. She is a journalist, author, and public speaker. Her speech had a direct effect on me and made me stop procrastinating attempting to make a dessert which I had put off because of fear of failure.

To start I had this paper in my recipe folder for ages....

Please note milk is missing in the note below. Use 2/3 cup low fat milk.


It was given to me by my Quay Lo and I kept it in my drawer for quite some time. Usually, I am quite excited about new recipes and it isn't very long before I try it. However, this time I put off attempting the recipe for a long time. I had tried making pudding cakes from other recipes several times in the past and I always regretted it when I did. I never seemed to get it right and the outcomes were disappointing. So was I regretting regret through my procrastination? Let me answer by saying how much I am thankful for hearing Kathryn's speech. 

She said, “We need to love the flawed and imperfect things that we create and forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret does not remind us that we did badly. It reminds us to know that we can do better.” 

It sounds almost unbelievable but immediately after hearing her talk I got that piece of paper out of my drawer and went into my kitchen to make the pudding cake. To my surprise, although I judged that it did not come out perfect, the taste and texture were better than I had expected, and it was actually quite good. Not only that, but the attempt helped me to identify ways to improve the recipe to get to a more perfect result. I was happy that I learned an important lesson today and that is not to regret regret.  It interferes with our learning.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Living with a lot less


After I broke my foot, I have been living my life in our living hall with just one small carry on bag so I could avoid the stairway. 



The experience reminded me of an  article I had read about living with a lot less which was very interesting. I think it is worth sharing.  

I mentioned to my husband many times that I wanted to live with a lot less since we were getting old. However, the experience with my broken foot, has really made me fully realize that we could.  Like the author of this article, I really do not want to be cluttered with excess belongings! I want to give away and sell all my possessions (except my Quay Lo). LOL!

Jokes aside, I knew I would be much happier to live more simply with less. I did not want to be a slave to things! I know this sounds very Buddhist, or at least minimalist, but it appeals to me deeply.

Then, something struck my mind; how could I really become completely free of possessions if I still wanted to bake and cook? I satisfied my concern by remembering that I could bake this healthy loaf of bread in a counter top microwave cum convection oven, and it turned out so beautiful! Who needs a big four burner oven? Not me. So I can still become the Zen chef after all. As long as I am sure not to toss out the mixer, or that large spoon, or that big porcelain bowl I use for resting dough, or the canisters with the ingredients all line up so trimly on my kitchen countertop, and I must have that......

Zucchini Bread


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 jumbo egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 1 cup granulated sugar
 1 1/2 vanilla extract
 1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped hazel nut

Method:
Grease and flour one 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Put to good use, No waste


Lessons learnt from my mum always stays with me. My mum never let me waste food. She would make sure I finished every bit in my bowl. I was taught to take what I can eat only and leaving food and let it waste is totally unacceptable. She even scared me by saying if I leave a grain of rice in my bowl, I will marry a husband who have a face full of scars. LOL!

Nowadays, children are raised in an environment where parents rushed to fulfil their desire so they grow up to be indifferent towards what they get or own, including food. My mum said, it is the parents’ doing that they developed this behavior. I think she is right. So it is the parents’ responsibility to eduate their children that they must not waste food.

So under the training of my mum, I could never stand leftovers food starring at me when I open my refrigerator. I had this Tupperware of left over pulled pork which I could have make pulled pork burgers again but then I wanted to do something different with it. What I came up with is this.

Pulled pork and spinach penne
Largely adapted from epicurious.com






Ingredients:
1 cup left over pulled pork
1 tbs unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, diced
sea salt to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups penne
½ cup shaved Parmesan
parsley for garnishing

Method:
Heat butter in pan over medium heat. Add leeks and season with sea salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to caramelized. Add pulled pork. Add cream and chopped rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1cup pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Be careful what you give a woman Ha! Ha! Ha!


If you are a woman, I am sure you will agree with this.
What about me? I agree with it 100%!!


The above makes me think of  a “ball” story I heard from one of my ex boss'. Somehow, it seems to underscore the joke above. He told me one of his golf “kaki” (mates) brought home a few boxes of new golf balls and handed them to his wife to put away one evening when he returned home from a fantastic golf session. When dinner was served that evening, he saw a huge bowl of soup on the table and nothing else. Know what the soup was? “Golf ball soup”!!! LOL! I am sure you know why he got that! So gentlemen, be careful, be very careful what you give to your lady. If you give her the right “balls”, she might make this delicious meal for you instead. 

Meat balls





Ingredients:
Enough oil for frying the meat balls
1 lb ground beef
1 finely chopped medium size white onion
1 egg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
Quay Po’s tomato sauce (click to the recipe)

Method:
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl by hand except bread crumbs and sauce. Roll meatballs to about the size of a golf ball or slightly smaller. Roll meat balls in bread crumbs. Heat oil and fried meat balls till golden brown. Set the fried meat balls on paper kitchen towel to drain the oil and set aside. Heat tomato sauce in the pan and add in the fried meat balls and let it simmer for about 10 mins. Garnish with parsley before serving.

You can serve the meatballs with just freshly baked bread or pasta. I served them with pasta and garlic butter sauté zucchini.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Do you believe in "Destiny"?

"Yau Yuen Chin lay lang seong wui, Moe Yuen tui mien but seong foong" (A Chinese proverb with the meaning: If one is destined to meet another, they will even from afar, if not, they will not know each other even they are face to face." 



This expains the belief in "Destiny" by example. Do you believe in destiny? I believe in destiny but I do not think it is pre-ordained. I think destiny is self created by choices we take in our lives. For example, how I got to know these two nice people, Fan and Treedson is through my choice to accept the invitation from the "nourish" team to be the judge for the baking competition "Think Out of the Shell" sponsored by Nutriplus last October. 

During the whole duration of competition, I had fun with all the contestants...


Fan and I
(Photo courtesy from "nourish")

Kelly, Treedson, I and Fan
(Photo courtesy from "nourish")

.....and since then I have been keeping touch with a few on facebook. Fan and I have been talking for months about a get-together but just could not find a time where both of us were available. Finally we did it. Fan and Treedson came to my house to have tea with me. (This was before my trip to USA). Fan brought a lemon butter cake, carrot cake and her famous brownies while Treedson brought with him a box of yummy madeleines and a bottle of champagne to celebrate our friendship. As the host, I could not just serve coffee and tea, could I?  So, I decided to introduced them to a new dessert which was recently introduced to me by my Quay Lo. Fried Pie but this time, I put in my own little twist. The original recipe did not call for lemongrass and pecans. I included these two ingredients because I wanted to use them up to clear space in my fridge. So I made a blueberry paste infused with lemongrass and added toasted pecan for the filling. 

You will only know how good this dessert is when you try it. True enough, like me, Fan and Treedson loved the fried pie. Don't let the photo of this fried pie fool you. It tasted far better than it looks. This is a very difficult dessert to get a photo that can suggest its delicious flavour.

Fried pie with chopped apple & pecans in blueberry paste infused with lemongrass and anise.




Ingredients:
Enough oil to fry the pie
Pie Dough (Please click to get the recipe)
Filling (see recipe that follows)
1 egg beaten for egg wash

Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup toasted pecan, roughly chopped 

1 apple, remove skin, cored and chopped


Blueberry lemon grass and anise paste

250gm frozen blueberries, thawed

8 tbs sugar


6 - 8 tbs water
2 stalks lemongrass (tender inner white parts only, smashed)
1/2 tsp ground anise or 1 whole anise
1 tbs flour (more when needed to thicken the paste)

Method:
To make the paste, place blueberries, sugar, water, lemongrass and ground anise in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add flour and let simmer until the paste thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the paste cool completely. Remove lemon grass. Pour mixture into blender and blend till smooth. In a bowl, mix blended mixture with chopped apple and toasted chopped pecan and mix well.

Assemble the pie:
Roll doll out in about 1/2 cm thick and cut out 4 inches circles. Spoon 1 heaping tbs of prepared filling onto the center of the dough and then seal it. Lightly brush with egg wash on both sides and then deep fry the pie in hot oil. Drain the oil in paper towel before serving with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.










Sunday, May 12, 2013

What is a Stage Mum? Oh and Happy Mother's Day


My Quay Lo teased me often and call me a "Stage Mum" whenever I share our son’s music. 



I was not very sure what it means so I checked it in the wikipedia. What was written there was “A stage mother may also be the official manager of her child (e.g., Rose Thompson Hovick, Dina Lohan, Ethel Gumm, Teri Shields, Jaid Barrymore, Susan Duff, etc.) — representing her child in negotiations for the professional services of her child. Such managers have often been derided as "momagers" in the film industry.” Haiyah, where would I be qualified to be a Stage Mum? I don’t have a say in my son’s career. All I do is to share his music whenever and wherever I can. LOL!

Having said that I am going to share with you his new venture into making his first electronic dance music and the titled of this piece is “Sieze the Night”. Since today is Mother's Day, hey Mothers, go seize the night and, if you like what you hear, please share the link with your friends. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

Please click on the picture to watch on youtube

This is the first time, I hear up beat music from my son and it is pretty cool because I found myself dancing to the music while cooking in my  kitchen before I broke my foot. So now, you must be curious what dish I was cooking right? It was a simple lunch for me and my Quay Lo on one lazy Sunday afternoon. Although I could not dance to the music today, I will still seize the night for this is my special day. My gift to all the great mums out there is this simple yet delicious recipe. Happy Mother's Day!

Smoked oyster stew and grilled cheese sandwich





Ingredients:
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
½ tsp minced garlic
½ small onion, chopped
1 tbs unsalted butter
2 cups full cream milk
1 cube chicken boullion
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 can smoked oysters, drained
1 tsp diced chives

Method:
Boil potato cubes till tender in small pot till tender, drained and set aside. Saute garlic  in butter till fragrant and add chopped onion and saute till translucent. Add cream, milk, chicken boullion, pepper, smoked oysters and cook on low heat Stir occaisionally. Add sliced mushroom and cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with diced chives. Serve with grilled cheese sandwich.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Bad things come in clusters all at once

We had a wonderful time in Vegas three weeks ago

Who knows when we returned to LA, everybody were down with a bad flu. Then, two days later, I tripped and fell while getting out of the long bath. I landed on my overturned left foot and my 5th metatarsal into two and displaced it. OUCH!!! Few days later my Quay Lo's feet got an infection and now admitted into the hospital. HAIYAH! So that's why I titled this post "bad things come in clusters all at once". So true right? At least for me, it is.

Actually when bad things happen to us, what choice do we have other than to accept it and be strong to face the adversity? Although this time, it is too much for me to handle, I have accepted it and wait for it to pass. For I believe that after every dark night is a brighter day.

Wouldn't you start to wonder if all these happened for a reason? If you do, read this interesting article. Then, you will understand why Aristotle said everything happens for a reason.



Right now, moving around with my foot in cast and on crutches is the only choice for me. It is frustrating to have to depend on others to do almost everything. In spite of that, I still feel blessed because I know that even if I fall a million times and broken into pieces, my family will still be there to pick me up and mend me. I agree with Michael J. Fox. He said "Family is not an important thing. It's EVERYTHING."

My step daughter, my step son in law and my Quay Lo have been taking care of me since the accident occurred. Big bear hugs!! Big thanks to my son, my BFF and my step brother, my SIL, my niece and nephews for sending me encouraging messages to keep me positive. Many of my friends who knew what happened to me on facebook also send their well wishes. You know who you are. Thank you! I am very grateful for all the love and support.

However, what happens happened. I believe I am doing the right thing to stop feeling bad and self pity. I just need to get better at moving around with my crutches. Hey! I am pretty good now after using them for two weeks. I managed to cook my own meals and did laundry. I could stand on one foot to eat my meals. Quay Po "BOLEH"! (CAN). Are you proud of me? If yes, clap hands please. LOL!

The doctor estimated that it will take six to eight weeks for the bones to heal. He was concerned that the bones may not union properly. In that case, he said surgery is necessary. Wish me luck that I don't need that. I hope to be on my feet sooner than normal. I am eager to start cooking and blogging again. I miss you guys! Till I return, you all take good care. Don't be like clumsy Aunty Lucy, look before you leap! LOL!

Lots of love from Quay Po

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Taking a break

Dear family and friends,
 

Times flies and I have been blogging for almost three years this coming July.  This will be the first time I am taking a long break and I know I am going to miss sharing my stories and recipes with you all. I hope to be back by the beginning of May 2013. In the meantime, I will try to stay in touch on my Facebook Page
 


 Thank you so much for reading my posts, your frequent visits and taking time to leave kind words. Please know your love, support and friendships means a lot to me. 
You all take care and A Big Bear Hug! 
 
 With Love, 
Quay Po

Friday, March 22, 2013

Moments


Recently, Nick made a musical video called “The Departure” introducing himself as a solo artist. A question that is often asked of him is “What inspires you?” People seem fascinated with the creative process. He answers “moments”.


Please click on picture to see the video

I agree with him. “Moments” inspire me too. First let me say what I mean by a "moment".  After all, a moment can be any part of any day by its purest definition. For this discussion I use the word to suggest something special that occurs in a short space of time, something that is memorable, and usually in a good way or at least a compelling way. I love to  reminisce about those good moments and, like many of us, I even conspire to try to make special moments. Anyone who has tried to do this will know that it isn't always successful and it seems that the very best and most memorable moments are ones that simply happen spontaneously. That doesn't stop us from trying though, does it? One "moment" that I decided to try to make was a surprise party that I threw for Nick on his 21st birthday...




 ....and the speech that I made that evening.

Good evening everyone. My hope is that this a happy occasion for all of you, and I hope you will enjoy the good food, drinks, and the fellowship of your freinds on this occassion. Having said that I have to confess feeling a small note of sadness. That is because we are here to acknowledge and celebrate our son's 21st birthday. Of course that is a happy occassion and it is our practice to celebrate these milestones. Still, I have to acknowledge a slight tinge of regret in me to see my son come into manhood. Mothers know that when their sons move into their adulthood, the little boy is left behind, only to be recalled in our memories. No one can stop time, least of all me. But I will always cherish each and every memory of Nick's life and look foward as it continues to unfold.

Nick, we want you to know that your Dad and I couldn't be more proud of you. Of course it hasn't been all even sailing. Life does not deal out only pleasant, happy moments, but we have had our share of those and more. You have achieved many accomplishments and they are a credit to yourself, your drive, and your creativity. And of course, to the fine parenting skills of your capable parents. Ahem!  So whatever lies ahead for you, we know you'll take to it with determination and you'll do well.

You know, the best 21st birthday present, in my mind, is to see your family and friends together and celebrating with you and I hope you're enjoying every bit of this moment.
The part of being a parent I value the most is the feeling of being comfortable together with you. There's no need to impress, exaggerate or get complicated. That means a lot to me and I value that ease we have together.
Nick, you've never asked for much or caused us a lot of anguish. You're a friend to anyone and everyone, and you've grown up to becomee someone that is a pleasure to be with. I love that about you.

So I would like, on behalf of us all here, to wish you joy and happiness. So everyone, please raise your glasses to our very special son. 

Ladies and Gentlemen: to Nick and Happy 21st Birthday!”


I did not cook or bake back then but if it were now, my gift for him will not be a party at a pub but one at home. And one dish I would cook for him for sure is this one that he loves.


Lemongrass prawns
Largely inspired by Chef Janny of Proud Janny Restaurant







Ingredients:
1 tbs oil
20 pics medium prawns, deveined with shell on
3 stalks of lemon grass, finely cut
3 to 5 red chilli padi, finely cut
1 tsp minced garlic
salt to taste
1 cup of evaporated milk or coconut milk
10 pcs curry leaves
parsley for garnish

Method:
Heat oil in pan on high heat. Saute garlic till fragrant and add lemongrass, curry leaves and chilli padi till lemongrass is soft. Add in evaporated milk or coconut milk  and reduce heat to medium. Add in the prawns and let it cooked till the shells turn bright red. Scoop out the prawns on the serving plate and continue to let the sauce simmer to reduce to slightly thicker. Pour sauce over the prawns and serve immediately.






Monday, March 18, 2013

Why giving matters


You may have heard the old adage "it is better to give than to receive," but you may not believe it. Well, now scientific studies show that it’s true. — Anthony L. Komaroff, MD 

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Sir Richard Branson are the proofs of "Giving brings happiness". They all said, "Stuff" really is not what brings happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters. 

We may not have so much to give like these billionaires but I believe we can always give within our means. For as long as we are willing to give, we will enjoy the same happiness like them.  There are peripheral benefits as well. For example, we set a good example for our children to follow so they too will be givers and enjoy the benefits of happiness, more satisfaction, and general well being that it can bring.

So, when my BFF (best friend forever), Peng asked me if I would like to bake something for a charity fare organized by the temple that she goes to, I said, “Sure! it is a good opportunity for me to give and it is within my means." But then, after that, I forgot all about it. Aiyoh! I am sincere in giving but organizing skills and memory could use a fresh up. LOL! Fortunately, my friend knows me well, and she  sent me an sms two days before the event to remind me. Then, I started scratching my head over what to bake for my contribution. I wanted to bake carrot cake 



and banana chocolate cake 



but then, these cakes need to be kept cold and they are not suitable for an event with no refrigerated facilities. Finally, I scratched out these muffins. My BFF told me the muffins were sold out quickly and another friend who bought it and tasted it said it was moist, fluffy and delicious. She said she wants to bake the muffins and there you go, the recipe will follow. 


The ones I baked to sell at the event was not the upside down version because they would have been too difficult to pack. I baked the upright muffins with cranberry sauce on top. They was really no difference in taste whether upright or upside down. Make your choice

Upside down cranberry muffin
This bake is inspired by “joy of Baking”



Recipe for cranberry sauce, please click on the photo to get my recipe.


Recipe for the batter, please click the photo to get the recipe from "Joy of Baking".  Two things I changed were 1) I used my own cranberry sauce recipe and 2) I reduced the sugar amount to 80gms from 100gms.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

A long overdue post


This is a long overdue post. For quite a while now I had lost the folder with the photos of the occasion. It is a pre-Christmas pot luck lunch at Sonia's home. She is the originator of the “Nasi Lemak Lover” blog.  All of us were to bring a contribution and I took  "chee cheong fun" from my favorite store and home made yong tau fu, the one that my Mum taught me.


Yong tau fu that mum taught me to make, with taucu

Chee cheong fun from my favorite store

the yong tau fu I brought to Sonia's house

The gathering was planned so that we could meet up with Jessie of “Jessie Cooking Moments” and her family. Jessie is  a Malaysian living in Australia and we were all eager to meet and greet.

Yen of “Eating Your Heart Out” and her hubby were there with us too.  Yen brought with her some delicious nama chocolate and banana cake. (Yen, correct me if I am wrong. LOL!).


Sonia was a generous and a terrific host as always. You can see all the food she prepared for us!

What do foodies do when they get together? We make food, of course, and Sonia let us help prepare the “tong yuen” and it was fun to do.

Yen’s hubby was having fun not only making the “tong yuen” but wrapping the poppiah. Check out his original sauce applying idea.

I brought everyone a small Christmas gift as it was the season. I even had a surprise for Sonia’s youngest son, Desmond. 

Please click on the picture to get the recipe


The little one that enjoyed my “otak otak” a couple of years ago, is now a big boy. I thought letting him play this Ang Pau game would be fun for him.  So I had a bunch of red packets with different amount of money inside and I told him that there were big and small gifts and that it was on him to pick out the biggest one.


He was so excited when he heard that. He looked at the Ang paus intensely, as if he could see the amount inside. Then he leaped to pull out an envelope and quickly opened it. From his expression, I could read what was in his head. “OH NO! AIYAH, only RM20.00. Chay!!” LOL!



For those of you who would like to try making popiah at home, click on the photo below to get the recipe. We have popiah parties and have a ball to see who is most skilled at rolling them,and who can eat the most.

Please click on the photo to get the recipe

We had a wonderful afternoon together. I regretted I could not spend more time with Jessie and family as I had to head back home early. But then, I am very glad I got to meet her in person. She is such a sweet young lady.