Friday, February 29, 2008

Peace Award

Maybe I have watched too many reruns and movies about the Woodstock era and dreamt about tie-dye shirts and those wild, psycedelic outfits (yes, I get weird dreams) that they wore in the groovy sixties, but this award does remind me of long haired, bearded, big haired, pleasant dresses, and all the above. Real cool Hippies, and really cool award! Thanks to Singairishgirl for passing this my way. Peace, my friend! I love that peace sign!

Now I am passing this to:
Retro Phihadana

Eggplant Emote

When I saw a display of large, plum, richly colored eggplants at the grocery store for $1 each, I couldn't resist bagging up a few handfuls of this beautiful vegetable. And after sampling some in a quick stir-fry without the salting process, I had the good fortune of finding out that these were not as bitter as previous experiences (maybe because it's a winter crop, or maybe because it's a new hybrid?), and they actually absorb more of the flavors from the sauce because of that. Made a dish with haebee sambal, the other with black bean sauce and the last one as a stir fry with beef and other veggies. These were made on different days, of course.
I used the last of the haebee chili sambal that was made by Ioyces' mom that I brought back from Singapore, so it was a quick easy stir-fry.This was another quick stir-fry using fermented black beans from Hong Kong that were crushed in some chicken broth, oyster sauce, cornstarch and water and added after the eggplant was half-cooked.And I used the remaining ones in a salmon fish curry with long beans, peas, corn, and you guessed it, eggplant. That's enough eggplant to last me for awhile...

For my friend Isa, I have also tried it this way, and this recipe is adapted from Chef Sam Choy.

Spicy Eggplant with Pork
4 Tbs cooking oil
1 clove elephant garlic, crushed
1 inch ginger, crushed
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 chili pepper, seeded
1/2 lb minced pork
5 long eggplants, cut diagonally and
soaked in water (used 2 jumbo ones)
2 red bell peppers
2 stalks green onions, cut into 11/2 inch lengths
2 white onions

2 Tbs shoyu
2 Tbs red miso paste
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs sake or sherry

Heat large pan to medium. Add oil. Fry
garlic, ginger, shallots and chili pepper for 1 minute.

Remove from pan. Reserve oil.

Add minced pork to pan and brown.

Pat dry eggplant; add to cooked minced pork.
Cook covered until eggplant is half done.

Add bell peppers and onions.

Mix sauce ingredients. Pour sauce over
chicken mixture.

Cook over medium heat until liquid
is almost evaporated.

Serve immediately with rice.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nice Award, Friendship Ball Award, and Gifts

Dear Nora B. send this my way (she called me east meets west) awhile back. Thank you Nora B! And Little Corner of Mine reminded me that she send it my way too. Thanks C! And recently I received this nice award again from Aunty Yochana (thanks Aunty Yochana!), and decided to pass this on before I get carried away with life's events again. This award goes to my following lovely blogger friends...
Wandering Chopsticks
Little Corner of Mine(back at you!)
Lily Ng
Rasa Malaysia

Last week, both Aunty Lily and Chawanmushi had kindly pass the friendship ball award to me. Thank you ladies! I am passing on to these other lovely blogger friends...
Big Boy's Oven
Steamy Kitchen
Stream in the Hip Dessert
Wok and Spoon

And this morning I found a wonderful parcel with these two adorable t-shirts in it from a hardworking mom called singairishgirl. We had inevitably missed her princess's birthday party, and she was so nice to send these to us. They even have the kids' names on it. Thank you darling!

And there was also an unexpected gift from gf YG who send these cute ang-pohs with Malaysian Ringitt inside. She said that way we will have to go to visit her in Penang to spend it. LOL!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Night Noodles and Strawberries

I didn't watched much network shows lately as there were not many good shows on these days though I was glad that the writers' strike finally ended. But I had to watch tonight's 80th Academy Awards. OK. So I'm a fan of Oscar night. I don't get to watch movies at the big theatre screen as often as I would like these days, and I'm one of those who wait for the DVD to come out as I rather get a babysitter for a long romantic dinner than a movie date with popcorn.

I love to sit down in my favorite couch and admire the beautiful dolled-up people as they paraded onto the red carpet in their best attire, their make-up, the jewellery, and their escorts and I loved the opening monologue and this year that was hosted by one of my favorites, Mr. Jon Stewart.So I made a simple dinner tonight of fried noodles with beef and vegetables and sat down just in time to watch the movie Ratatouille win an oscar. And by the time they flash the recent departed Deborah Kerr (The King and I, and An affair to remember) on the screen, the kids were into these strawberries for dessert.

At the end of the night, the 80th Academy Awards was entertaining with Daniel Day Lewis winning best actor, although I would have liked to see Cate Blanchett win something tonight.

Note: Tried this particular type of noodles for the first time. It's dried, flat, brown noodles made in Hong Kong, and requires soaking in cold water for 2 minutes, draining, and boiling in hot water for 3 mins before stir-frying it. I like the texture, and simply fried them in a little oil and a oyster sauce mixture.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Loaded Chocolate Cake

Since I hung up the phone with gf K who elaborated on her chocolate feast for Valentine's Day, I couldn't resist my unrestrained temptation towards the gratification of chocolate, and decided to bake a large chocolate bundt cake filled with my favorite things. Like Gharardelli chocolate chunks, Reeses peanut butter chips, a little expresso coffee, tangerine zest, hint of Kalula, and a spoonful of creamy peanut butter. That was enough to stop my beating heart for a moment.

Heat oven at 350F.
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan

2 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa
1/4 c instant coffee granules
2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/2 c espresso coffee
1/2 c Kalula liquor
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c peanut butter chips
1/4 c peanut butter
3/4 c chocolate chunks

Put the first 8 ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the next 6 liquid ingredients and mix for 2-3 mins. Stir in peanut butter chips, peanut butter, and chocolate chunks. Pour into a bundt pan and bake for 55 mins to 1 hr. or when wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. If you are craving for more satisfaction, go for the Creamy Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Frosting below!
Use remaining packet of peanut butter chips
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar

Microwave remaining peanut butter chips in microwave safe bowl on medium to medium high heat for about 1 min. Stir. Microwave at 10 to 20 mins interval. Stir til smooth. Beat cream cheese, melted peanut butter chips, vanilla extract and salt with hand-held mixer till light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, you may want to add a tbs of milk.

Recipe adapted from Nestle Toll House.

Note: I added alot more ingredients than was in the recipe and made it into a bundt cake. You can also make in 2 9" cake rounds and bake for 25-30 mins instead.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

15th Day of Chinese New Year

The fifteen days of Chinese New Year had flown by quickly. And today marks the last day of CNY celebration.
As with the first day of Chinese New Year , the last day of CNY also has it's own set of rules to follow. Also known as Chap Goh Mei in Fujian/Hokkien dialect, there are a string of rituals, and all of which are somewhat unfamiliar to me. It is also known as Lantern Festival in China, or otherwise known as the Shuang Yuan Festival. See this article on wikipedia for more information.

However, the most important tradition for me on this day is to sit the family down (not frequent enough) again for another chinese meal. Hubs and I were in traffic and he suggested going to PF Chang's Bistro for that. And who am I to argue with that. After all, it saves me alot of cleaning up, which I gladly not do. He, on the other hand, was very smart with that move, as it ensures that he will not come across any questionable, surprisingly non-american ingredients (like dried shrimp aka haebee) with his dinner since this is an american-style chinese restaurant. Ha!

For me, the highlight of the dinner was their chopsticks. I loved that it's tappered on both ends and it makes it such a hygenic way to serve others at the table with the opposite end of that which goes into one's mouth. And the dishes were geared towards Hub's tastebuds. Isn't it so practical to have double-ended chopsticks so that one could serve other's at the table without passing on the germs. I think my friend Ioyces would love these! But when I asked our non-attentive waiter where I could find these chopsticks, he never got back to me when he said he would. Was I surprised? For starters, we had their fried green beans that had a panko batter to it. The beans were ok, but the sauce was great. I think they used sambal olek and mayo in the sauce.
This is a bowl of egg drop soup that serves 6. The kids and Hubs loved it and it was almost gone when the other dishes arrived.
I loved this dish of garlic buttered grilled butterfly shrimp with noodles, and it was served piping, steaming hot on the plate which helped.
This dish is called Moo Shu Gai Pan, and was notably the kids' favorite.
Hubs favorite and it's their Orange Peel Chicken with tons of garlic.

We came home for dessert and had tang yuen, the traditional sweet desserts soup for this day. I made mine in a slow cooker with red beans and longans, and one again the kids helped with rolling the tang yuens.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Breakfast with a soupy twist

While jet-lagged and flipping channels in the wee hours of the night in Singapore, I chanced upon this recipe by Violet Oon.Red Dates and Peanuts Breakfast Soup
Serves 2 - Violet Oon's recipe

1/2 cup raw peeled peanuts (see ** below)
12 pieces dried Chinese red dates
1/2 of a large piece of dried sweet bean curd skin
1 egg white
4 cups water
2 pandan leaves
2 tbsp honey

I did everything this morning, although you can start this dish the night before and microwave to heat up the broth or drink it cold for breakfast.

Begin by boiling the water, pandan leaves, prepared peanuts, washed red dates, and snow fungus for 45 mins. to an hour. Break up the dried sweet bean curd skin into large pieces and add to the peanut and red date broth and bring to the boil. Streak in the white of 1 egg, add honey to taste and serve. According to chinese, red dates are good for those with poor appetite or fatigue.

**Soak the peanuts in hot water for about 2 hours. You can cook this dish the night before. Boil 2 cups of water, drain the peanuts and add to the water with the pandan leaves.

Note: I substituted the dried sweet bean curd with dried white fungus (sheut yee), and omitted the egg white in one bowl, while adding it to the latter.

Tried it this morning, and it's definitely a different twist to my usual toast and cereal. The aroma of the red dates and pandan leaves cooking in this soup perfumed the air, although the peanuts could use a little longer cooking in the first cooking process to be softer. But it's good. This is a light, textured, norishing soup in the morning, and a very warm and mildly sweet one since I tried it hot out of the stovepot. Think I'll increase another tbsp of honey to suit my taste next time. I preferred it without the egg white, although adding that does increase the nutrition level to this breakfast soup.

If you prefer not to eat the soft peanuts, sweet dates or the crunchy mild-flavored sheut yee, you can simply drink the brothy soup. A healthy start to another day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's all Fun and Games until...

Little ones wanted small tiny cookies to go with their tea party, and so we took out some butter, flour, sugar and eggs, threw them into the mixer, then into a piping bag, and this is the result from half of a butter cookie recipe...The first batch was stars, followed by another baking tray of swirls. Then mommy had to play with the rest of the cookie dough, and this resulted.OK. What happened was my hands were tired from squeezing the piping bag with a little star tip, so I thought I'd make a little mouse. But what emerged from the oven was floppy ears, and a big fat mouse with a blury 2008 on it's back. LOL!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Almond Puff Sticks

The kids had their valentine shirts over their turtle-necks today, and I made them a valentine morning snack of almond puff sticks using puff pastry, sugar and slivered almonds.
The puff pastry was sliced with a pizza roller with ease, baked for a couple of minutes, and cooled to room temperature.
Hubs enjoyed a bunch of them too before he headed out to work this morning, so these almond puff sticks went fast. And I'm glad to report that I'm catching up on blogging as this is my forth and last post for today!

Chinese Pretzels and Chinese Cartoon on Nickelodeon

I had some time in between the kids' nap last week, and decided to try out this Chinese pretzels recipe I noticed in Alex Goh's baking book. The dough was simple with few ingredients consisting of all purpose flour, sugar, egg and butter, and it need to rest for half an hour before rolling it out. This is the point when the kids woke up from their nap, and everything went downhill from there. I quickly rolled out the dough and twisted them.Then after I gave the kids their snacks of string cheese and fruit, I returned to deep fry these.The end result. Since it was my first try, I figured out that the dough should be roller thinner the next time, and to never take on a project during the kids' naps. Hubs liked it, and the kids polished up most of it that day. In fact, I only have about 5 pieces left when I took this picture. The recipe only made about 30 pieces this time around. Will try making this again when I have more time in my hands.

And while I'm on the subject of Chinese, the new series of "NI-HAO, Kai Lan" on Nickelodeon premiered last week, and has been very entertaining for the kids. It's a little like Dora, except Kai Lan (pronounced Kai Lian, not like that vegetable) teaches kids words in Mandarin instead. It's perfect for preschoolers, and I can see my little ones picking up Mandarin words for up, down, red, green and that's only in 2 episodes. It also reinforces the little amount of Mandarin I try to teach them at home. Kudos to Nickelodeon for adding Kai Lan!This picture was captured from my television last week, when Ni hao, Kai Lan show started on Chinese New Year. A very auspicious day, don't you think?

Valentine Treats for Toddlers

Registration have started, and I am crossing my fingers that I get the days I need for next school year at the school of my choice, and while I'm thinking for preschool, I decided to make some valentine treats for lots of little ones. Made 16 of these using just one mold as I couldn't get to the craft store last weekend, and wrapped each up individually for little hands.These pink and white candy flowers were very easy after attending Gina's class where I gathered a few tips and tricks on melting the candy disc. They are a little sweet, so I added some rice crispies in them. And I did a short cut by just using 2 colors instead of the many colors done in class. Bought the white candy disc, melted it in the microwave and added pink color to half of it for the two colors.

And since I'm on the subject of Valentine treats, here's wishing all a Happy Valentine's Day today!

Food in Penang

Penang Laksa at the coffee shop by the wet market in town, the "End-of-the-world" seafood place past the Mutiara Resort in Teluk Bahang where the Sunflower bakery's situated, true road-side hawkers along Gurney Drive, food at Island Plaza and Gurney Plaza, and the wonderful indian food at Butterworth were some of my many favorite places to eat and explore. I thoroughly enjoyed Penang food when I lived there, and had some great memories and friends in that Malaysian town. Although I didn't have much time for Penang on my last visit, I was contacted by a nice blogger, Sue at Dining who has a neat site on food places in Penang. Click on her name to go over to her site, or find her on the right column under Fabulous Sites. I am taking notes of the cool places that I want to visit on my next trip there. Thanks Sue! The above picture was taken from one of Penang's tourism sites.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Northern Indian Feast in 2 Continents

This is a restaurant that Hubs always frequent whenever he visits Singapore, and it's a Northern Indian Restaurant called Shahi Maharani (thanks to Cooking Ninja for helping me remember the full name of that restaurant cause all I remembered was something Maharani), and situated in Raffles City on the 3rd level. So, when he was in that city for a couple of days to aid in the transportation of our kids and I back to winterland, I had to treat him to this place for dinner on our last night in Singapore.
He had his usual of Tandoori Chicken (which he placed another order after enjoying the first), Korma Shrimp, Basmati Rice and loads of Cheese Naan, Garlic Naan and Plain Naan. The kids loved the Basmati rice and I enjoyed my Vindaloo lamb.

After we came back to winterville, Hubs mentioned that he would like northern indian food for dinner, so I bought some pappadum, made some Vindaloo beef. Used this recipe,changed the meat to beef and added carrots and peas. Also cooked it on the stove top instead of crockpot. Served with non-spicy korma chicken, samosas, and coconut basmati rice. It sure did spice up a cold, chilly night!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

East Point Singapore

I didn't even know about East Point till my friend brought us there, and the kids had a blast. I was reminded that this place used to be where the chalets were, and it has a mega indoor gym for kids, resturants, and more kids stuff. I have a great time at the Thai restaurant over there, but the most memorable item for me was the olive rice and the red ruby. Maybe because the rest of the pictures were blury. ha!This claypot olive rice was very good, although you can't really see the rice below all the toppings.
The tung hoon was a little salty, pandan chicken was juicy, and my favorite is the red ruby above.
Then we went to the huge kid's gym where it was around S$8 per child for an hour's play. They all have to be shoeless, and socks required. The kids went for the ball pit for toddlers, and they were the only ones there for 10 mins.
They loved the car ride, and did that for 3 rounds.
And their favorite was the merry-go-round where they went on for 6 times. I could'nt see straight afterwards!

Monsoon rain at Singapore Zoo

For some Chinese, having rain or water also means having more money, hence most Chinese businesses have a water feature by the door of their business or home to welcome the water element and increase their money luck. That's what I learn from a good friend many moons ago. So if that's the case, I must be a billionaire, cause it rained everyday when we were in Singapore, and of course that faithful day when we were at the award-winning Singapore Zoo. To our surprise, the zoo was crowed with lots of kids that day too. Must be the school holidays. Bought some ponchos for the girls, but that didn't help much. We were soaked, but none of us seemed to mind it. The orang utans were the only ones who's smart enough to seek shelter from the rain. The other animals who seemed to enjoyed the rain were the rhinos, hippos, zebras, gibbons, tigers and lions, including a pair of stunning white tigers that had their front paws crossed and were posing majestically next to each other in the rain and suddenly became very attentive to us when they eyed my little ones squeaking in delight "White Tiger!" That's when I got hold of my kids' hands, gradually backed away from the empty viewing area, and decided it was time to get out of the rain and head to drier indoors, like that beautiful cool, marbled floors of mega shopping centers.

Didn't take much on food pics as we stopped at a KFC for lunch, much to the delight of the kids.

Another friend brought us to the Zoo again (must be because of my kids mentioning zoo a zillion times when we were there), and it was a nice hot day that time. Thanks Jessie and Ivy for spending the whole day with us, Jessie for the KFC treat that time, and Ivy for more pretty umbrellas for the kids, and both for watching the kids while I ran over to Taka for an errand while you babysat the kids during their nap.

Also, thank you gf Anne for driving us to the zoo, Ikea, East Point, and everywhere in Singapore in the midst of traffic and rain, and sharing your time with us. And not forgetting your lovely Jay for entertaining us with his quick wit and boyish charm! Also for introducing me to Hakka Yong tau foo at Thompson Road. I didn't get good pictures of the food, but this is the picture of the stall front.She also brought us to the Selatar Reservior area to watch the monkeys.

Working on misc

Being a mom, I sometimes forget the most basic things. Like getting my legs in shape before venturing into the cold, windy, cold, numbing, cold, freezing slopes up in the mountains for skiing with the kids. Not to mention the snow-plowing (muscle-breaking, bending at the knees with the skis touching each other in the front, i.e. going slow on the slopes) one has to endure behind the little kids and hoping, no praying that I don't fall again for the 1000th time. And without a doubt, the pain and aches that follow. So I'm doing the neccessary exercies to try and combat that for the coming weeks of skiing. I love the view of white wonderland, the crisp, thin air that makes me appreciate sea-level even more, and my 2-piece ski-suit that allows me to go the bathroom easier than the old 1 piece suits of yester-year. Little things that count.
Sorry I haven't been posting much food lately, but the photos are sitting quietly in their room awaiting words to connect them to you. And I hope to get them soon. Why? Cause I have been busy investigating preschool options for next school year. It seem that some schools are set on seperating my kids into different classrooms, and as their mom, my heart and intuition tell me otherwise. So I am going to find further options about this matter. I am also looking into summer activities for the little ones, and it's tiring looking at so many options. Not forgetting that it's taxing on the pocketbook too. My dear gf K was right when she said it's cheaper having dogs. But I think kids are adorable too! Most days, they are.

Lastly, my spell check have not working, and I'm apologizing in advance if there's any spelling errors in my posts. Should do this when I'm more awake, but there's a problem with timing too.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I received this heart-warming, heart-stopping red, red award from Little Corner of Mine (thank you SO much sweetie!) while I was away, and am pleased to accept it now, and pass it onwards.....This blog has been awarded The Spreader of Love Award created by The Love Blog, for an outstanding demonstration of blogging love.

Now, I would like to spread the love by forwarding this award to my fellow blogging friends:

Grandmother's Stories
Aunty Yochana
Steamy Kitchen

Wok and Spoon

Dear lovely, loving friends, it's your turn to spread the love around!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tagged, Before I was a Mom

I got tagged by that sexy mom Janice Ng. So here it goes.

This is what she wrote:
The rule to the e-mail (?) was that, once you have been hit, you have to hit 5 pretty Moms, including the one who thought of you today & sent it to you. The idea is that if you get hit again, You will know you are really pretty!

So I thought lets just turn this into a tag instead. But that “hit” part won’t work very well in a tag. So instead of giving a “hit” to the one who tag you, you add your name at the bottom of the tagged persons list, and without bumping the person at the top or bumping anyone off and let the list grow.
Hit 5 pretty moms on your list to let them know they are pretty!

So, I guess it's what you'd like to share about how life was before you became a mom. I just did the same amount on the list as Janice, and I increased the amount of pretty moms likewise. Have fun ladies!

Before I was a mum;
I dreamt of having twins. Seriously!

Before I was a mum;
Cooked up a storm and threw parties every weekend in the summer.

Before I was a mum;
I traveled around the world, slept late and my dogs slept on my bed.

Before I was a mum;
I didn't know how tough being a MOM would be!

Before I was a mum;
I didn't think it was possible to love anyone/anything so intensely that my heart aches.

Before I was a mum,
I didn't know that I would appreciate Mothers so much till I became one.

The first chain of tag:
1. Lovelymummy
2. Pek Imm
3. Momisodes
4. Ling that’s me
5. Janicepa
6. AnnieQ
7. Allthingspurple
8. Montessorimum
9. clumsy mommy
10. Sandra
11. KittyCat
12. VivianZ
13. Sweetpea
14. Sasha
15. Giddy Tiger
16. Wen
17. Jo-N
18. Janice Ng
19. BlurTing
19. ViEmwk

I would like to tag the following pretty moms :

Singairishgirl, Little Corner of Mine, Cooking Momster, Beau Lotus, Judy, and Alice

Gong Xi Fatt Chai!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year! Three of my lovely cousins showered the kids with chinese theme clothes this year, and this outfit was from their aunty J. Thanks J! And not forgetting to thank Singairishgirl for lovely Christmas outfits too!

This is the year of the RAT, but when I was in Singapore, I noticed most places called it the year of the MOUSE, so maybe it's a good year for the family and I to visit Mickey and Minnie this year? :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Reunion Dinner

For this year reunion dinner, I decided to pull out the electric steamboat and griddle thing I bought from Ranch 99 many moons ago, and later realized that it didn't fit into into my bag for the flight home from San Jose. So I had my gf Kat send it to me by UPS. I am thinking of her today as I use this gadget again. This simple steamboat feast had the neccessary 'san choy', shrimp, scallops, lump crab meat, beef, pork, chicken meatballs (inside the soup), fish, abalone mushrooms, and an array of veggies.Also had a pan-seared salmon steak for the kids as it's their favorite fish. The glass noodles went it last to soak up the high-protein delicious stock. Cheers!