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Monthly Archives: May 2011

New Hobby!

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I have been eyeing this for a while, and have FINALLY made the purchase! Was hesitating because I was afraid that it would be a short-lived interest and that the machine would become a white elephant. After all, the last time that I actually touched a sewing machine was when I was 13 or 14 during home economics lessons! Anyway, I decided to just go ahead and get this, and give myself a chance at trying something new. 🙂

My new toy from walmart!

I was actually inspired by this book (below) that I bought from a bargain books sale, and have been checking out sewing blogs and magazines recently. I’m thinking of making a plastic bag holder for my first project, because it seems to be doable (I think!), and it’s something that we also need for the house. I sure hope I succeed!!

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7th week of cooking

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This week is a short week of cooking because of some lunch/dinner appointments we had, as well as the long weekend! So today wraps up the week’s cooking! Yipee!

Menu of the week included oven baked french fries, scrambled egg with prawn, lemon thyme chicken, baby back ribs, teriyaki cod fish, pineapple tarts, thai-style bean vermicelli, and beef fried noodles.

Oven baked fries, recipe from Comfort Food Diet Cookbook

Scrambled eggs with prawn... trying to finish up the many eggs in my fridge!

Lemon thyme chicken, recipe from Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. It was REALLY sour. In my panic, I just dumped a whole load of sugar to try to counter the sour taste. woops!

Curly's baby back ribs from Costco. Just take out from package and dump into the oven. Awesome!

Teriyaki cod fish

PINEAPPLE TARTS!!!! I think I ate too many in the process of baking them with my friends. And I don't usually love pineapple tarts.

Thai-style bean vermicelli, recipe from Charis. A quick and easy dinner for myself as hubby was on night shift. Anything Asian, spicy and sour never fails to make me happy!

Fried beef noodles. No recipe, just whack. Frying the beef is quite an ordeal. Haha... have to wear rubber gloves and tiptoe at the distance to escape from the flying oil particles!

6th week of cooking

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It’s the 6th week of cooking, and I’m enjoying cooking more and more 🙂 The menu started out Asian (only for 1 day), and quickly became Western for the rest of the week.

Because of my hubby’s greatly ‘Ang Moh’ tastebuds, I bought a new cookbook at a fantastic bargain books sale. The book, Comfort Food Diet Cookbook was only going for $6+, and came with a free one year subscription of the Healthy Cooking magazine. I have tried out a few of the recipes in week 6, and I’m looking forward to trying a couple of the low calorie dessert recipes over the next few weeks. I figure, if I really have to cook Ang Moh food, then I might as well cook the healthier options. The recipes in this book are tasting pretty good so far!

Menu of the week: Lemongrass fish, steamed egg with spicy bean paste, chicken with mushroom sauce, dijon-crusted fish, baked onion rings, baked spicy salmon, and banana bread (cake).

Lemongrass fish

Steamed egg with spicy bean paste sauce

Side note on the steamed egg:

This was a breakthrough in my ‘egg steaming career’ – which consists of a grand total of 2 attempts so far. Haha. Yes, that’s really how little I have ever cooked in my life. I was impressed that the steamed egg came out super smooth with no bubbles or holes whatsoever. This is because I followed the tips from the No More Failed Recipes – All about Steaming recipe book:

1. Add about 2 cups stock/water for 1 cup egg (hubby found it a little too soft although I thought it was ok, so I will have to further play with this ratio)

2. Use high heat only at the beginning of the steaming, for about 3 minutes. Reduce to low heat subsequently. This prevents bubbles, and prevents the egg from becoming tough

3. Strain the beaten egg through a strainer

4. Cover the egg steaming dish with cling wrap/aluminum foil so that it comes out smooth!

Chicken with mushroom sauce - from Comfort Food Diet Cookbook

Dijon-crusted fish - from Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. No frying, all baked... very healthy!

Baked onion rings - from Comfort Food Diet Cookbook

Side note on the baked onion rings:

Somehow, the breadcrumbs mixtures wasn’t sticking to the onion rings very well. I took really long to coat just half an onion’s worth of rings with the breadcrumbs. I got so tired, I was tempted to just throw the rest of the onion away. In the end, I just dumped the rest of the onions into the next dish!

The recipe book’s steps were to first dip into egg substitute (I just used beaten egg), then into the bread crumb mixture. Saw another recipe on allrecipes that says to dip into flour, then egg-flour batter, then bread crumbs. This sounds like it makes more sense. I think I’ll try this method of coating onion rings the next time, but will still try to bake it.

Asparagus with onions and mushrooms... This is where the rest of the onion went!

Spicy baked salmon

Side note on the spicy baked salmon:

Recipe from Big Oven. I didn’t have paprika, so I just added a little more cayenne pepper. The combination of spices was nice,  just that 30 min in the oven was too long, so it was a little dry. My salmon fillet was probably a little thinner so I should have cut down on the baking time.

Banana bread (cake) in the making

Freshly out from the oven! Love the aroma of the banana bread 🙂

Banana bread (cake) waiting to be sampled

Side note on the banana bread:

Recipe from Allrecipes. It was pretty nice, not too sweet! Being one of my first cakes ever, I was quite clueless about following the simplest of instructions… e.g. I wasn’t even sure of the basics of when to use the mixer, and when not to. So what I have learnt by consulting other wives is that I shouldn’t use the mixer when I’m mixing in the mashed bananas if I want to have banana bits. For this attempt, I actually used the mixer when mixing the mashed bananas just to be safe, so when eating this cake, I could taste the flavour of the banana, but not actually see or feel chunks of it.

Recent craze.. a smoothie a day for the both of us... With all sorts of different fruits!

Shoshone Falls

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Our 7th May Saturday excursion was to the Shoshone Falls. The experience starts from the drive, because of the interesting scenery along the highway. Also, because of the high elevation here, the clouds feel really close to us. A very therapeutic way to start the day 🙂

Trees for sale on the right

Every turn brings a different view

We were literally gushing at the view every few minutes!

The clouds felt so close to us

It was a generally rainy day, as you can see from the pictures of the clouds. Thank God that it wasn’t raining during the window of time when we were at the Shoshone Falls and the Dierkes Lake.

The Shoshone Falls is 212 Feet high, and is 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls. It is also sometimes called the “Niagara of the West”. This period is one of the best times to go, according to some reviews on Trip Advisor, as the water is diverted for irrigation in later months, leading to a smaller volume of water flow at the falls.

Here is a video and some pictures of the beautiful falls. It was really quite breathtaking. Unfortunately my photography skills really don’t do much justice to the view!

Niagara of the West!

Dierkes Lake - you can actually swim here, but it was too cold that day

Embracing seasons & seeing the Lord with me

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It’s funny how human beings are not easily satisfied, always thinking that the grass is greener on the other side, always wishing that the grass on the other side would be theirs so that they will be happy. This ‘other side’ could be the past, someone else’s life, or a perceived better future (e.g. a change of job, a marriage, a change of house, a big bonus, etc).

This is a big lesson I’m learning. Before I came here, and had to work back in SG, I often lamented about how tiring it was to work, how I always had to stay up rushing deadlines and all. And I was really looking forward to stopping work and leading a ‘tai tai’ life. But alas, when I came here, I lamented about having to do housework and cook everyday, about not being with my family and friends, about not being able to attend my beloved church back home! How much of a complainer can one be!! haha

Until one day… I was talking to someone dear to me about her life. She has so much going on in her life, so much more to deal with, and possibly so much more to complain about than I do. But she yet she lives such a fruitful life, doing so much in her personal, work,  family and church life. And I thought to myself… why is there no complaining from her, but instead, why is she leading an even more meaningful life, unstoppable by life’s challenges? Then she said this phrase which struck me real hard, and it made me totally change my mindset and attitude. She said, ‘I have to be accountable to what God has called me to…. embrace [this season of your life] fully, and you will find joy and meaning’.

So I woke up, and realised that in every season of life, there are MANY things to thank God for, and MANY ways in which God is blessing me. There’s so much to experience, so much to learn, so much to receive, and so much to give in this life, each and every day. Since that day, about 2-3 weeks ago, I have really felt so much happier, so much more fulfilled, looking forward to enjoying the presence of Jesus each day, and every joy/adventure each day would bring. Even in the cooking and cleaning, He is with me. When I enjoy the little things and interests He has put me in my life, like playing the piano, taking care of my plants, baking, etc, He is with me, smiling on me, loving me. He guides my every step, interaction, and puts people in my life for us to be mutual blessings to each other.

May we always enjoy the now in our lives, and not miss out on the everyday blessings the Lord has for us 🙂

5th Week of cooking

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The 5th week of cooking. Beginning to find it fun trying out all the recipes. Was a little more Asian with the menu, after the previous week of burger overload!!!

Menu of the week included homemade noodles, kecap manis chicken, teriyaki chicken pasta, and some zi char favourites – cereal prawns (mai pian xia) and stir-fried beef with ginger and spring onion (yang cong nu rou).

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Just a short side-track on my favourite Hakka food:

Before I came to the US, I finally got down to learning my family’s 2 Hakka favourites – Yong Tau Fu and Homemade Noodles. We eat these dishes every Chinese New Year, and we always rave about it to our friends. My da sao says she finally understands why we keep raving about them after her first CNY eating the food. So the thing is, I have been saying every year that I want to learn these dishes from my aunt to carry on the Hakka tradition, and I only finally got down to it this year after I stopped working.

Making these 2 time consuming dishes make me feel like a real Hakka woman (although it doesn’t make me more of a Hakka woman than I already am). And I am really proud of my Hakka heritage, because I am very proud to be my dad’s daughter, and also because he tells me how tough and admirable Hakka women are. I also very much like how my dad was brought up and his family values and all. So yes, this is the special place that these dishes have in my heart.

I haven’t gotten down to making the Yong Tau Fu yet, because I can’t seem to get all the ingredients here, so I am figuring out what substitutes I will use. Hubby is already asking me when I am going to make it again.

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Ok, back to the food pictures for the week:

Noodle machine which I bought together with my da sao at Ang Mo Kio after our noodle lesson with my aunt

Noodles were frozen for storage

Almost in true Hakka style, except that there was no bean sprouts and chye sim. We used to eat these homemade noodles every Chinese New Year. My whole family LOVES it. Unfortunately, my version still tastes far from the ones my aunt makes. I will keep trying!

My mum used to cook this for us. Nostalgia 🙂

Kecap manis chicken. Got the recipe from one of my friends here. I was supposed to use ginger garlic paste, but I tried to grind my own instead, and my food processor broke down halfway. So it tasted a little too garlic-ey with the big chunks of garlic...

Cereal prawns, zi char style! Got this recipe from a cookbook that my mother-in-law gave to me. I used quaker oats, which I figure is not quite right because it doesn't taste like the ones at the zi char stalls. It was also a little too oily and salty. Will try this again with the minor tweaks.

Teriyaki chicken pasta. Finally found the sake for making the teriyaki sauce at the petrol kiosk. I found it too salty, but hubby found it just nice. Recipe from Rasa Malaysia.

Spring onion beef, recipe from the same zi char recipe book from my mother-in-law. This was pretty yummy!

Beef stew. I wasn't very successful. Was too watery, and tasted like something was missing. Maybe I didn't put enough butter. I will try again with the new recipe which Joycelyn sent me!

Girly buys that make me happy

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I have been guilty of spending some money on non-essentials for the kitchen just because they are pretty and make me happy. And they make me that much more excited about the everyday routine of cooking. I guess that it’s money well spent!

Presenting my girly buys…

  1. Paula Dean Recipe box ($5)… I have to admit that I never knew recipe boxes existed! I must be quite ‘swa ku’
  2. Paula Dean Recipe cards ($1 for a pack of 20)… Trying to write nicely on them cos they are so pretty.
  3. ‘Born to shop, forced to cook’ apron ($8)… I actually already had an apron, but just couldn’t resist getting this one.
  4. Paula Dean ‘Cooking makes you good lookin’ spoon holder ($2)