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

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

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

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

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

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)

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.

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)

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.