Thursday, May 31, 2012

Don't beat yourself up

Do you have days when you start the day so “mong cha cha” (or "Blur" as we like to say or "in a fog" as my husband would say)? One morning, I served coffee to my Quay Lo made from a recycled coffee cartridge. What a waste of effort and time, but worse than that, what a lousy first sip. To coffee drinkers that first sip is the most important and the most savory. I'm sure he made a face as if a kid forced to take medicine. 

If that wasn't enough, instead of putting the milk back into the refrigerator, I put it into a cabinet in my kitchen where I keep all the hardware and odds and ends like thumb tacks and twine. Had my Quay Lo not found the box of milk there, we may have spent days wondering where the sour smell came from.

I could have scolded myself and worry that I am getting old and useless. I could have felt bad and let those feelings wear on my mood. Instead I am lucky to have coaching from both my Quay Lo and my mum who feel that an exercise in self scolding or feeling bad is a waste of energy.  I have changed the way I used to feel about such mistakes and how sometimes I would lose my self esteem. Instead, when I do something silly, or fail at a task,  I think of other things to offset my mistakes. For example, I think of how clever I was to use up leftovers to make another new dish or how I prepared an elaborate surprise party for my husband's birthday. I now try to approach my mistakes positively instead of critically, remembering that each mistake is an opportunity to learn or make a change for the better. Next time, when you are about to beat yourself up over some mistake, try to change your thinking. You will immediately sense a big difference in how you feel. I think to deal with our disapppointments in a more positive light is one of the keys to happiness.

Here is a recipe you can "nail" as my Quay Lo likes to say. That means you can get it perfect, just like you are. Did you know you are perfect in every sense? Perfect for your time and  place. Perfect for yourself and perfect for others. All those little flaws and mistakes are your humanity and a part of your true beauty.  

Stuffed Cannelloni with creamed spinach and risotto with roasted capsicum and cherry tomatoes topped with sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese casserole.

The fillings:
leftover meat loaf - 1 1/2 cups (I chopped them up)
leftover creamed spinach - 2 cups (you may use other left over creamed vegetables)
leftover risotto - 2 cups

Added ingredients:
1 cup whipped cream
1 head roasted garlic 
20 Roasted cherry tomatoes
1 Roasted capsicum (chopped)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 box Cannelloni
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil to oil the baking dish

Mix leftovers chopped roasted capsicum together. Oil the baking dish with olive oil. Fill each cannelloni with fillings and place into baking dish. Brush the cannelloni with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Topped with cheddar and parmasen cheese and bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees C till cheese is melted and brown. In the mean time, roast capsicum, garlic and cherry tomatoes coated with olive olive, salt and black pepper. Dish out a big portion of the baked canelloni on a serving plate and garnished with roasted vegetables and serve hot.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Regrets of the dying

My Quay Lo tweeted this article back in February. I learned something from it so I would like to share this with you all about top five regrets of dying. 
Here is the article:
"Top Five Regrets Of The Dying"

I immediately replied to his tweet by saying my last regret would probably be none of what was stated in the article. It is more likely that I would wish that I did not "sweat the small stuff" and choose to be more happy than to be right in some arguments. What will yours be? Or, is it too scary to think about it?

A week before the article, my Quay Lo and I were talking about death and what our wishes would be for all the neccessary arrangements. We both wanted our loved ones to celebrate our lives rather than mourn the loss. To those who loved and survived us, we want them to open champagne and put on all our favorite music and remember the good times we had together.  We hope they will share some food, and share their memories of us. We both think it would be nice to know that among the food they share, some of our favorites are included. We laughed as we talked about this. My husband said that it sounded like "hungry ghosts" and we laughed some more. (While we mean no offense to anyone, we don't really believe in ghosts.) Later, after our conversation, I decided to examine the question of what would be the best food for our friends to share at our memorial feasts. I didn't think about this because I didn't expect anyone to follow the suggestions literally. This isn't a dying wish or anything that anyone should feel is binding at all. Our main interest is that our friends and family celebrate our lives that were, instead of mourning our lives that are no longer.

I may be the only foodie to blog a suggested menu for her own memorial service. So here I go, with some ideas about food that is nourishing and comforting and that we like. It is food that is best taken with a favorite wine. We hope it is food that will make our family and friends feel at ease, contented, and thoughtful.

Feel free to click on the pictures to get the recipe. Oh, before that, I would like to share a very inspiring video with you about how Ric Elias who was given a second chance to live. He had eliminated those regrets he had thought of, when he thought he was dying.


Cod in lemon grass sauce

Lettuce cup with minced Pork croquettes 

and salsa

Stitch's Magarita in case you don't want wine

QPC Snow White Cocktail

Choy Geok

Carrot Cake


Chocolate croissant pudding with whiskey sauce

This post is a good reminder for me to pay more attention to the people that matter most to me and not waste the little time I have on earth on those who are not. Hugs to all.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Aunty Lucy "pecah lubang" (uncover the truth)

Two months ago on a Monday, I accompanied my Quay Lo to the dentist and used the Valet parking at the building where the dentist was. After his dental appointment, we both walked across the street to get a two hour massage. Since we were around the vincinity to our good friends house, we called them and asked them to join us for dinner and we told them that we would pick them up from their home. 

We saw this Italian restaurant just next the the Valet Parking and went ahead and booked a table for four, for dinner at 7.30pm. After picking our good friends up from their home, we returned to the same building where the dentist and the Italian restaurant were. We used the Valet parking again.
After dinner, as usual, I had to look for the parking ticket, here, there, everywhere in my big bag and finally found two parking tickets instead of one. I knew one was the afternoon parking ticket and one was the evening. The evening parking ticket is what I needed to hand over to the jockey. I was confused because I could not figure out which one was the evening parking ticket. Both tickets had the same number. WHAT?? Am I loosing it or something was wrong with my eyes? I took both the tickets to the jockey counter. I told him I could not understand why I had two tickets with the same number. Then this petite Chinese lady heard what I said and came over to see what went wrong. She asked me to give her the tickets and as soon as she saw the tickets, she turned to me and said, this is not your problem, this is our staff problem. She quickly checked through her log book and immediately started to scold the jockey. I believe by now, you guys have already figured out what happen. Holy Macro! Aunty Lucy may have put someone out of job!! 

Despite all the hoo ha, we had a fun night and a scrumptious Italian dinner and we were so stuffed that we did not want to have a heavy lunch the next day. So, my Quay Lo fixed us a very simple pasta salad for lunch.  it was a light and refreshing lunch and I am a happy girl because I was served by my King. LOL!

Pasta salad with chicken and tahini dressing
Ingredients for the dressing:
1 tbs tahini
1/2 tbs honey
1/2 tbs dijon mustard
2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbs chopped parsley.

Mix all the above well and drizzle on to the cooked pasta and herbs boiled chicken breast.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Guest post for Luan Ee of Extra Virgin Chef

Two weeks ago, Luan Ee asked me if I would do a guest post for her. I did not jump at it because she is a chef and I do not know if my simple home cooking dishes will be good enough to be published in her blog. She told me it is fine with her so here I am sharing with you, my humble pull pork recipe. If you are interested to get the recipe, please hop over to Extra Virgin Chef to get it. I am very sure you will spend more time than you intended to at her space because you will find so many mouth watering recipes and food photos there. She shared a lot of cooking tips which are invaluable. That is very generous of her. Also, don't forget to read her amazing story on how she made a big career change in her life. Quote: "From a frequent flyer to the deep fryer, and from the keyboard to the chopping board." Simply inspiring!!
Pull Pork 

1 cup garlic spice rub (see recipe below)
1 (2 lbs) boneless pork shoulder
2 cans of beer
2 Tbsp duck fat

Ingredient for spice rub:
1 head roasted minced garlic
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tbs lemon zest
1 tsp ground black pepper

Combine well all ingredients in a food processor or by hand.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

Spread garlic spice rub all over pork. Let it marinate for 1 hour.
Heat duck fat in dutch oven. Sear the pork shoulder till all sides are browned.

Remove pork shoulder and add beer. When the beer is boiling, return the pork shoulder into the dutch oven.

Put the dutch oven in the oven and let the meat braise for 4 hours. Turn the meat after 2 hours.

Transfer braised pork to cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes.  Shred the meat and serve with your favourite steamed or roasted vegetables.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How do you eat your Ba Chang?

I got up very early last Monday to make some macarons and almond crisps for my friend Chris of Purglutton because I would be seeing her for dinner that evening. As I did not age the egg for more than 48 hours, the macs did not turn out as perfect as I wanted them to be. Furthermore, I was lazy to draw circles so they are of all kinds of shapes and size. I need to improve on my skill in piping. Chris was very kind to tell me she does not care about the look and she thought they were delicious. 

Chris gave me some Ba Chang she made herself.  Ba chang is one of my favorite things.  I tried my hands on it last year but I don’t think I want to do it again. Out of ten packages that I tried wrapping, I could only get one right. That was what I told my friend Chris over dinner. The first time I met Chris was at the Angry Bird Cupcakes class last November and since then, we have been keeping in touch by commenting on each other’s blog and on facebook. We wanted to meet up several times to catch up but we did not get to do that until last Monday. We found out that we are from same hometown, Ipoh. Somehow, we both agreed that when we meet people from the same hometown, we tend to feel connected easily. Obviously we chat till the cow comes home that evening. We had a fun evening together and greed that we must do that more often.

Coming back to the ba chang I got from Chris. When I reached home, I wanted to eat one before I go to bed. I knew I will be sorry if I did that. I tried very hard to resist the temptation but I was thinking about the ba chang the whole night long. LOL!  So, the first thing I did when I woke up the next morning, I warmed two, one for me and one for my mum for breakfast.

The Ba Chang are from Chris of Pureglutton.
She made these herself.

My favorite way to eat the ba chang is with sugar. Oh yes, you did not heard wrongly, I always eat my ba chang with sugar. I know, most of my Kuala Lumpur friends thought that I am crazy when they saw that but that is how “Ipoh Mali” people eat their ba chang. Can some of the "Ipoh Mali" people confirm this? How about you? How do you eat yours?

Chris, if you are reading this post,  TWO THUMBS UP for your ba Chang.  The taste was similar to those I had when I was living in Ipoh. They brought back sweet childhood memories. See my next picture for proof of how good it is, do I need to say more? LOL!

If you are interested to know how to make ba chang, check  this video and like what my Quay Lo used to say, "Knock yourself out!" LOL!

The Ba Chang Chronicles

Monday, May 14, 2012

Let's have some fun! What flower are you?

When I was admiring the blooming flowers in my garden…

I recalled when I was in my teens, one of my classmates took me to see a fortune teller. He lived in a big bungalow. In his garden, there were all kinds of flowers. The way he would tell your fortune was by the flower you picked in his garden. The flower that I picked was a bright red carnation. He got most of my character right and even got some of my past right. One thing he said about my future that was right was, my husband would be a big man and that I get to travel the globe. At that time, I was thinking, I was so poor and cannot even afford a bus ticket to go to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh, how would I afford to travel the globe? Honestly, I don’t believe in fortune telling at all. I was there because I was curious. After all, we only paid RM3.00 each.
Then one day, while I was browsing the web, I accidentally ended up at this website “What flower are you?” and took the quiz and here was the result.

"You are a carnation. You are down to earth and grounded. You tend to be more traditional than trendy. Your confidence gets you through anything. People trust you and are very loyal to you."

What a co-incidence! Believe it or not? LOL! Now click on the link and go take the quiz and find out what flower you are. Have fun.

Well, since I am talking about flowers, I would like to share with you a delicious and beautiful salad with edible flowers that I made for our Christmas in 2010. Click on the photo to get the recipe if you are interested.

This is a plate of butternut squash and edible flowers salad

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When life hands you leftovers

In end of March, one of my son's friend, also a local musician collapsed during a performance due to brain haemorrhage. He is only 30 years old and he did not have any medical insurance.

He went under a surgery and the Doctor said the surgery was successful and he is in induced coma and will take about three weeks to heal. Until now, he is still in a coma and his hospital bill is running causing much financial burden to his aged parents. Local musicians had been organising gigs to raise funds to help out and if you are interested to know more please go to his facebook. If any of you wish to do a little donation or wish to spread the words by blogging or tweeting, all the details are there. I am sure Alda's parents will be VERY grateful for your kindness.

Then, two weeks ago I woke up to a bad news from one of my ex school mates. She told me her brother's life was ended abruptly by some robbers because of a serious head injury. The robbers hit his head with their helmets before robbing him. It always break my heart to hear of anyone lose a love one. I know how it feels and I know the pain.
A word of caution, please be alert when you are out and about. This can happen to anyone of us

Life had handed these two families lemons. It is so sad.  I know what to do when life hands me leftovers but I am not sure if I know what to do if they are lemons.  I came across this website that has so many suggestions on what to do when life hands you lemons and it was a fun read. I thought it is worth sharing with my friend and hope it will cheer her up. I know this will give her a chuckle and brighten up her day. Hope it will also put a smile on your face.

Okay, so now at least if life hands me lemons, I will have some ideas what to do with them. But there are other things life presents us with that could use our best thoughtful approach. Yes... I am talking about leftovers. You know, if we do nothing, they just sit there and grow a funny blue and green garden of their own. Unless you LIKE alien life in your fridge, you better be ready to do something with them. A few evenings ago. I turned them into a brand new dish, even though the "leftovers" were the ingredients.  With a little creativity, I invented a new dish.  I had some leftover garlic and butter sautéed zucchini and mushrooms. I used a piece of ciabatta bread, halved it and applied a little mayonnaise on each side. Then, I poached an egg (not very nice done though) and used the leftovers, some sliced tomato and lettuce, and constructed a sandwich for lunch. It was a scrumptious meal. So, next time you have leftovers, don’t throw them away.  

A fresh new meal made with leftover sauteed veggies

I have never been successful poaching an egg (you can see that in the pucture. I search the web for methods and gave exoerimented with a few. Finally, I found an excellent way to do it right from the blog "Martha meets Lucy" Here are the instructions:

1: You need a nonstick pan with a lid that fits. Preheat it on medium heat. 

2: Add a teaspoon or so of bacon fat or other fat that you have at home. However, the egg will be more tasty if you use bacon fat.

3: Carefully crack an egg or eggs into the pan ensuring that the yolk is/are not broken. You will see the bottom part of the white start to turn white immediately and you know you are on the right track.

4: Add 1 tablespoon full of water to the pan and cover.  The water will create steam to cook the top of the egg/eggs.

5: Let the egg/eggs cook with the lid on for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When you see a whitish think layer white formed on the yolk, the white white is completely set, you have to remove the egg from the pan and serve.

Note: The egg in the above photos was not poached with this method, I did not know how.  I did not take a photo of the ones I poached with the method I shared above but I can assure you this method works.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dainty dishes from a Dainty Chef

I was chatting on facebook with Jennifer of  Chasing Food Dreams and she asked if I would like to join her to taste nyonya food by our own local chef, Chef Debbie Teoh , Malaysia’s well regarded culinary expert for Peranakan cuisine. What do you think my answer would be? It is a YES, of course! LOL! I love Nyonya food and moreover, it will be an apportunity to meet Jennifer of Chasing Food Dreams in person (If you guys want to know what is most happening in KL, head over to her blog) . We wanted to meet up for several times in the past but it did not happen due to our own commitments. It was great that we finally met and had a good time together.

The nyonya food promotion was at, Chatz Brasserie in The Park Royal Hotel. 

I was there half an hour early so I went to the Klix lounge to enjoy a glass of white wine. They have good house white. That was to reward Aunty Lucy (me) for breezing through the traffic and did not lost her way. YAY!!

At 6.30pm, I walked down the escalator to the restaurant. Alice Yong of Jom Makan was there already. It was nice to meet her again. I met her the first time at MillesimeNot long after, Monica of The Yum List, her hubby and other bloggers arrived. Samples of food that would be served at the dinner later were all layed out on a table for photography. They all looked mouth-watering delicious. Look at the delicious spread. Don't you wish you were there with us? LOL!

Nasi Ulam and Sambal Terung, an aromatic spicy rice was served as the first dish to wet our appetite.
Itek Tim, a soup with a discreet saltish a slightly peppery flavor. 
Ayam Buah Keluak - To me, this is the most special dish of all. 
The buah keluak had a uniquie flavor, nutty and yet not over powering. 
Terung dengan Sambal Udang Kering, a simple dish but a very flavorful.
Ulam Platter - another one of my favorites.
The sambal was heavenly.
Otak-Otak - This was quite different from those I had in the past.
There were chunks of fish, prawn and squid inside coconut and egg custard.
A complete new dimension of mouth feel from just mashed fish.
This sambal is have the right balance of sweetness and spiciness.
Lemak Nenas Ikan Sepat - A very addictive taste 
which is saltish, sweet and lemak at the same time. 

Here are the two different kinds of Nyonya Kueh for dessert:

Glutinous rice with sweet dried prawns filling wrapped in banana leafs. 
Yummy, rich and slightly spicy.
Seri Muka - I was surprised by this version. Instead of the usual
glutinous rice layer, it was a taro layer on top of cocounut pandan flour layer.
I could not stop eating, I think I had three. LOL!

If you guys would like to taste authentic Nyonya cuisine, you might want to indulge in the Buffet Lunch or Dinner or weekend Hi-Tea at Chatz Brasserie between 11 May and 10 June.  For such great food, the price are reasonably priced. RM62.00++ for Buffet Luch, RM82++ for Buffet Dinner and only RM59++ for Hi-Tea. I suggest that you make reservation early,  I was told the tables will be taken up pretty fast given that Debbie returned on popular demand.

It was a great pleasure to meet Chef Debbie Teoh in person and sample all her pretty and dainty dishes and desserts.

Having great pride in her food, Debbie took time to explain to us how the dishes were prepared. If only you know the amount of effort and personal attention she put in, from selecting quality ingredients to not forgetting the details in cooking the dishes, you will understand why they all tasted superior. I had a wonderful meal, one that make me crave for more. Not only did we had a scrumptious meal, we had a surprise at the end of the meal. Each of us got to take home a Nyonya Bachang.

The night itself, my Quay Lo sampled the Bachang and he loved it so much that he asked for more. I was rather surprised because he was not a big fan of Bachang. I told him I would take a class from the chef and make more for him next time. I learned that if we can gather a group of 12 persons, we can get Debbie to open a class for us. Anyone interested? 

A group photo with Debbie and other bloggers
Picture courtesy from Jennifer of Chasing Food Dreams
From left:Jennifer of Chasing Food Dreams, Isaac Tan, Yin Yin, Quay Po, Choi Yen of  Mimi's Dining Room, 
Chef Debbie Teoh, Sze Hui of Fish and Karen Oh of Life Muses

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The real reward in blogging for me

I love to support new bloggers. When I see a new blog that does not have any followers, I will not think twice at becoming the first. When I stumble onto a blog with good contents and yet there is no comment on their posts, I always leave mine. My reasoning is simple. I remember I was breathlessly joyful when I received the first comment on my post and the first person signed up to "follow" my posts. I was so delighted.

When someone visits my blog, and takes time to leave a comment, I will try my best to reply. When I see a new follower, I will check if they have a blog and if they do, I will always pay them a visit and leave my comment so they know I appreciate their interest and will return it. I want visitors to my blog to know I appreciate them. You see,  friendship is a two way street.

I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t care if there was traffic to my blog. When I first started the blog, I did feel that way, but I feel differently now. Now that I know what a joy it is to meet new people, and share ideas, and give and receive expressions of genuine care and concern, I have learned just how powerful the social side of the internet can be. As I wrote my blog I began to read articles about how to attract more traffic. One of these seemed to be straight forward and had some common sense advice. I would like to share with you, the tips that I have shared with Luan Ee of Extra Virgin Chef whom, I met her in person last month in Singapore. 

After reading all the tips in the article, here are my answers to their tips:

1. QPC Comment: I did not pay a professional to design my blog. Mine is a personal blog so it is not professionally designed. My son designed it for me and I am still very pleased with it.

2. QPC Comment: It is true, I get a lot of visitors through facebook. Each time I put up a new post in my blog, I will also post the link on my facebook page. 

3. QPC Comment: I am not sure if this is true because I have no way of finding out but I still tweet the link  of a new post to my blog.

4. QPC comment: Check! I do read many of the great posts that give me great advic. I use catchy titles and I write regular, twice a week. I also guest post on other blogs if invited.

5. QPC comment:  I love sharing because sharing gives me joy. If what I shared gives joy to my readers and something I write inspires them, that is my reward. So yes, of course, what I share is always free.

6. QPC comment: I love to meet my blogger friends if I have a chance. I love making new friends. I just made another new friend, Luan Ee.

7. QPC comment: Pictures speak a thousand words so I share pictures and videos in my blog. I think it is more interesting than just words.

8. QPC comment: I believe in RSS subscription too.

9. QPC comment: I agree that it is good to build a "community" but I did not intentionally do that.  I just took an approach of just being myself and being sincere. After all, at the time I thought the only readers would be my Quay Lo and a few close friends and family. I always try to make sure that I let my friends and family know I appreciate their love and support.

10. QPC comment: QPC is a personal blog and does not directly sell anything so this tip does not apply to me (thank goodness). Each of you, and your friendship, is payment enough for me. LOL, you are payment in full many times over.

My new friend, Luan Ee bought me lunch at Food for Thought in the Bontanic Gardens. The place was simple but cosy. The food there were delicious.

We had a long chat and I got to know a great story behind the big change in Luan Ee's life. If you want to know more, hop over to her blog. You might be inspired by her story to take that frightening BIG step that you have been procrastining, which, could change your life. Before that, you might want to check out the recipe for an easy to make but "to die for" and addictive homemade snack. I wanted make some of these for Luan Ee but I was very tired the day before I left for Singapore so I did not get to it. Luan Ee, see first eat later. I promise to bring some for you when I see you again next time. 

Pecan Brittle

Using Pre-mix
Get this magic mix called Bienetta. A packet of 600 gms cost RM25.00 (I think). I got mine from Pastry Pro.

150 gm Bienetta
150 gm broken pecan

Mix above items thoroughly and spread thin layer (about 3 to 4 cm) on the parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degress C for 13 minutes of till it is golden brown.

From Scratch:
3 egg whites
1/4 cup or 32gm (all purpose) flour
1/3 cup or 67m sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 cup or 85gm broken pecans

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius (350 Fahrenheit). Spread the above mixture thinly (about 3 - 4 cm) across parchment paper.

Bake on mid shelf for 16 minutes. The sides usually turn brown first. Cover the sides with aluminium foil, close the oven door and turn off the heat. Just leave the pecan brittle in the oven. Alternatively, you can break off the brown edges or cover it with strips of aluminum paper (shiny side out) and put the rest back into the oven, turn off the oven heat, and leave the pecan brittle in the oven.

The brittle should break easily. If not, it is not dry enough. Cut the brittle while it is still hot.

Note: This taste better than the almond crisps that I have made earlier. The only set back is, pecan is very expensive here in KL. Looks like I can only make this for special occasion.