Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This one is for grandma.....

I made this last week....it's fried bee hoon with canned stew pork. There are only 3 ingredients in this dish - beehoon, stew pork in a can & beansprouts. It's such a humble dish but it's also one of my MOST FAVORITE food in the world. And it's also the dish that so reminds me of my late grandma. She used to make this (& always accompanied by green bean soup) for lunch sometimes and I remember how I'd gobble up the noodles and then ask for second/third helpings.

Over a skype conversation with my mom earlier this month, I was reminded that it was my grandma's death anniversary. My mom and aunt had gone to the shrine to offer their prayers. Honestly, I can't remember what's the date of my granny's death anniversary and neither can I remember how long ago she had passed on. But I'm not ashamed of that - as I remember her vividly of the times when she was alive.

I remember the time she carried me and ran down from the 12th floor of Eng Cheong towers when my neighbour's apartment was on fire.....the times when we'd pluck beansprouts together.....or waiting for her to buy lunch for me before school (& she always knew exactly what I love to eat i.e. dry fishball noodles with lotsa ketchup, peanut porridge, chicken rice etc).....the wonderful kopi-O that she'd made everyday that she kept in a HUGE flask.....the times when she'd freak out when her huat-kuehs didn't huat.....of how she'd make red eggs for my birthdays.....she used to lock up all her "goodies" in a tiny drawer in the wardrobe and be very secretive when she were to open the drawer.....I can even remember the "squishy" sounds that her rubber slippers made everytime she walked down the corridor! She'd proudly help me pin my PREFECT batch on my school uniform....and everytime there was a party at school, she'd help to pick out a nice cake or some candies to contribute to the party.

And then there was once when I made her teared....I was supposed to be going home for the weekend with my parents....but I told my parents (in front of my granny) that granny would be very lonely if I were to go back home and not stay with her. Somehow, I remember that very vividly even though I must have been very young then. It sounds unbelievable....but I can even remember the times when she rocked me to sleep in the sarong "hammock" when I was still a baby.

There are so many little things that remind me of her. I watched a korean movie a few years back called "The Way Home" and cried buckets 'cos I thought of my granny (she had already died then).

My mom was telling me that maybe they'd choose to be cremated when they've passed on and have their ashes thrown somewhere....into the sea or back into the ground to fertilise the soil. Perhaps she was thinking that it'd be useless to place the ashes in the shrine where nobody would even go to pay their respect. Ultimately, it's their choice really and I'll do whatever I can to fulfil their wishes.....maybe I'm not the sort who'd make prayers and remember death anniversaries....but one thing for sure, I'll always remember everything DEEP IN MY HEART.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Waste NOT! pie.....

There was SO MUCH food leftover from Thanksgiving :O And it gets really tiring to keep eating the same things over and over again for days.

But I refuse to throw away perfectly good food just 'cos we are sick of eating them. If there's one thing I detest, it's wasting food....especially when many out there are starving.

So I decided to make something new out of the "old" food.....and I call it the Waste Not! pie.

For my pie, I'll be using all my leftover ham & turkey (chopped into bits), stuffing, turkey gravy and mashed potatoes. All I needed to add that's "new" is some frozen mixed vegetables and some spices (i.e. curry powder, onion powder, paprika & black pepper).

Mix all the ingredients, except mashed potatoes, together.

At the bottom of my rectangular pyrex dish, I spread out the ingredients evenly. Then, I topped the ingredients with a layer of mashed potatoes. You can add some shredded cheddar cheese on top of the mashed potatoes if you like but I just prefer it plain.

Bake it in the preheated oven at 325F for 50-55min till the top layer is slightly brown.

And then, slice and eat!! It's not only an easy one-dish meal to make and eat...but it's actually quite yummy (you can hardly tell it's made with all the thanksgiving leftovers!) and most importantly, you DO NOT WASTE FOOD!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

There's so much to be thankful for!!!

This Thanksgiving....I would like to give thanks to - our loving families and friends, my wonderful husband and our joyful lives together!

Same like last year, we had a small cosy dinner with our friend TP. She made turkey, stuffings, sweet potato & potato mashes, green bean casserole & creamy small onions!! She's an amazing cook.

I too, made 2 small contributions to our dinner - a chicken roll as appetiser and sticky buns for dessert.

Here I am setting up the table - nothing fancy or chi-chi, just our regular plates/cutleries/glasswares, paper napkins, a bright colored vinyl tablecloth & a bunch of $3.99 fresh alstros. Being thankful doesn't mean being extravagant!

My refrigerator was quite packed with goodies.....so the big growler of beer had to be chilled outdoor on the deck!

Here's RG popping open the chilled beer......

What can be better than having lots of yummy foods & chilled beer in the company of my darling and a good old friend?!!!!

My super sticky buns......my very first attempt and quite a success if I may shamelessly say. Eventhough we were stuffed after all the food.....everyone still had 2 big buns each (effortlessly)!!!

Here's my chicken roll appetiser......

Many people were asking me how I achieved the "wreath" look for the roll....well, it isn't as hard as it looks......here's a pictorial "HOW TO".....

It'd be a nice looking dish for Christmas. With a little imagination....you could further decorate the "wreath" with some fresh parsley or halved cherry tomatoes/cranberries. You could also place a dip/sauce in the middle or perhaps some chips/cheesesticks to accompany the roll.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PETIT fours....BIG hearts

My landlord and his wife surprised us with a big box of petit fours for Thanksgiving. So absolutely sweet of them don't ya think?....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Easy baked rice....

It was one of those nights....when I wanted a nice homecooked meal for RG and myself without having to slave in the kitchen for hours. And it was also one of those nights when there was no meats or fresh vegetables in the fridge.

However, there was some cold leftover rice from the day before....and I thought "BAKED RICE!".

So from the pantry, I grabbed a can of chicken breast meat (I always keep a few cans to make chicken salad sandwiches. You can even use canned tuna/luncheon meat) and also a can of cream of chicken soup (use low sodium/low fat for a healthier version). I wanted to add some veg to the baked rice and since I didn't have any fresh greens....I had to make do with frozen mixed vegetables which I always keep at least a bag in my freezer compartment. Out came my panko bread crumbs from the pantry too so that I can get a crumbily top on my baked rice. I also needed some milk (you can substitute with water/stock) and some parmesan & cheddar cheese (you can do without them or use sandwich cheese slices). Of course, I also needed the leftover rice (or you can use cooked pasta/noodles/ravioli/mashed potatoes).

I didn't add salt/pepper 'cos I knew the canned soup would be quite salty already. But I did use my "spice staples" - curry, italian seasoning & cayenne for some fragrance and heat. You can use whatever spices that work for you.

I promise that this is super easy to make.

First, I mixed the canned chicken meat (drained of fluid), thawed mixed vegetables (2 cups) and the leftover rice (3 cups) together. Then I added the spices (no measurements, sorry, I go with my mood!).
Finally, add in the soup and some milk (1/2 cup, more if necessary) and stir till well mixed.
Pour the rice mixture into a casserole dish.
Place the casserole dish in a preheated oven at 400F for 20-25min.

After 20-25min, remove the casserole dish from the oven and spread the cheeses and bread crumbs over the top....and pop it back into the oven for approx 5-10min till the crumbs turn golden brown (don't let them burn!).
There you have it. Yummy baked rice with few easy ingredients and even fewer steps! Anybody can make this.

It's simple and quite tasty. Try it when you are having one of those lazy nights like I often do :)

Food obsession....

My food obsession comes in the form of containers, pouches, bags, clothings, art pieces....

I'd gladly buy Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup if I could afford it.....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bunny plushie....

I was at Jo-ann over the weekend and the fleece fabrics were on sale at half-price!

While we don't really use fleece in SG 'cos of the heat....over here in New England, fleece is like the ULTIMATE comfort fabric to snuggle in when winter comes. The moment temperatures start to drop, I'd be all decked out in my fleece sweater, fleece pants and fleece socks! So when I think fleece, I think - soft, warm & snuggily.

So I grabbed 2.5 yards of thick fleece in 2 different designs..for just under USD10. I had in mind to make some fleece cushions/cushion covers...they'd be oh nice to hug while watching TV on the couch.

Back home, as I was preparing to start sewing the cushions....I thought why not make the cushions look cute instead of the usual boring squares?

So I sketched out a simple bunny shape on brown paper, cut it out with a pair of scissors and then used it as a pattern to cut my fleece fabric. I didn't want to be bothered with using embellishments for the eyes....so I cut out 2 circles using the other fabric and just machine-stitched the circles onto the body as "eyes". Ohhhhhh, I decided to add some lashes too as the bunny is going to be a "she"....heh heh

Here's my small bunny cushion....warm, cute, soft and cuddly....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

London - WHAT WE ATE (& DRANK!)

Like many Singaporeans who love to photograph their food.....how can we not do the same for the yummy food we had in London?! We didn't manage to photograph every single meal that we had though....either due to us being too hungry and gobbled all the food before remembering our "task" or there were too little light at some of the places where we ate at (some restaurants were seriously dark - I kid you not!).

Anyway, here are some of our more memorable meals or meals that we actually took photographs of......

There was this cafe called Mimos just a stone's throw from our apartment. It served the heartiest English breakfast and brewed one of the best coffees that I've ever had! We ate there or packed sandwiches from there countless times during our trip. And the prices were very reasonable. A full english breakfast like that was only less than GBP4. It was the ultimate CHEAP & GOOD eating place.

I'm gonna skip the "main courses" and move right to desserts....'cos me being the one with the sweet tooth. There were so much yummilicious desserts to choose from.....dieters keep away!

Crepes were commonly seen at the markets.....these ones were with generous servings of NUTELLA....*screams*

And then there were ice-creams/gelatos of ALL SORTS! Now if heaven is a place on earth as Belinda Carlisle had sang it.....she might've meant the food hall at Harrods. RG took a long while to decide on the ice-cream flavors....'cos there were just too many options.

Our "little" ice-cream treat at Morelli's made quite a dent in our pockets for a price of almost GBP45. It was a nice experience....but we probably won't be doing it again anytime soon! I think in terms of taste, I can get the same satisfaction from my USD5 for 2 big tubs of Eddy's mango ice-cream! oops.....

The dessert that we saw the most.....CUPCAKES!!! Those little cute cakes were like unstoppable wild mushrooms....springing up on us everywhere we went.

These ones were from Hummingbird - a popular bakery in London. There was a super long queue at the bakery at Portobello Market. We got the famous red velvet one, choco-chip and also a savory one. My frank opinion......the cupcakes with their frostings....TOO SWEET for my liking. The only one that I liked was the savory one.

Someone recommended that we drop by Caffe Concerto for English tea.....and we did. However, 'cos we were there shortly after our late lunch.....we did not go for the English tea set which consisted of sandwiches, scones, tarts and teas (all that for GBP25 for 2 persons!!). Instead, we ordered a slice of cake each - strawberry for me & rich choco mousse for RG. yumz......

And of course, how could we not have some english pies! The pies were really good comfort food and warmed us up nicely (it was rainy/cold when we were in London...bleah!).

Thinking that we might miss Asian food (haha!).....a friend brought us to Four Seasons at Bayswater where they claimed to make the "best roast duck in the world" (quoted from a newspaper article at the shop front). Funny thing was.....there were SO MANY Singaporeans at the restaurant....it sure felt like a little Singapore right there. I had roast duck with char siew while RG had roast duck with roast pork. Ok......it was nice but definitely NOT the best in the world! But if I were living in London and miss having roast duck rice or other asian dishes....the restaurant would be a good place to go to.

Now....for the main courses.....we ate mostly western/english-style food i.e. burgers, chicken/fish/steak with mash etc. Nothing too exciting or creative......maybe 'cos we weren't exactly planning to splurge on food.

Knowing that we both like jap food a lot, a friend brought us to Cafe Japan at Golders Green for lunch. The set lunches were very reasonably priced and the servings were huge (as you can see!).

For the budget conscious travellers (like us!)....the english pubs are great places to find some cheap eats....especially for lunch. The following photos show the regular pub grubs.....most were at very affordable prices (usually between GBP5-10 per person for the entire meal - sometimes even with the beer thrown in!). Don't expect great food qualities for that kind of prices though. If you are eating just to fill your hungry stomachs....then pub grub is a good option.

Of course.....the other option for the budget-conscious is fast-food. You'll find your regular BK, Macs, KFC in London. The prices comparable to SG or the states.

The "local" fast food.....take-away fish and chips for less than GBP3. Who says London has the best fish-&-chips.....obviously an urban legend. The best fish-&-chips are here in Boston and Cape Cod!!! :P

There's also Japanese fast food......although nothing that really looked authentically japanese!

Many of the markets had street-side food stalls selling all sorts of food.....

I was buying some "samosas" with lentil fillings.......

The food would get plopped into little aluminium containers like this....not a huge portion of the "very questionable" curries or chinese food for GBP5-6. And the tastes.....usually quite lousy! Good only if you are in a rush and really can't find anything else to eat.

And when it comes to fluid fuels.......we had loads of coffees......

Mimos' coffees were so good that I always went for seconds.....

But our chosen poison.......ciders and beers......LOTS!!! Ok......alcohol was really inexpensive (relatively speaking - compared to SG)......so no harm drinking MORE....hee hee

You realise how beers always taste oh-so-good when you are drinking with your loved ones and friends......really, how often do we drink beers when we are alone???

As some wise man at Doom Bar said (& written)........

.....something for you to think about!