Our Kitchen Our Haven

Drama Queen was helping me chop onions in the kitchen today while I was cleaning the fish and marinating it.  Alycia sauntered into the kitchen…

Alycia – hey Kay Yi, do you want to play badminton downstairs?

Sher – *sniffs sniffs and wipes off tears from her eyes*  I can’t… (sniffs and wipes tears with back of her hand again). I have to cook first.

Upon hearing this, I burst out in a loud guffaw!

Me – HAHAHAHAHAHA! You sound like a crying Cinderella who has to cook and can’t go out to play!!!

Then the three of us chortled while Drama Queen and I  wiped off more tears from our eyes. Gawd, how I hate the deadly sting gas from raw onions. Though I did not chop the onions, the smell and inhalation of it is enough to make my eyes sore and shed buckets of tears. Thankfully, Drama Queen does not mind a wee bit, though she will always be screaming dramatically  “MY EYES, MY EYES, I HAVE TO RUN TO THE BATHROOM!!“. But after washing her eyes, she will gleefully continue chopping the onions and shed more tears. LOL!!

Today Drama Queen helped me to cook rice and sauteed vegetables. Not bad for an 11-year old and she fares a lot better than her 13-year old sister.

I am really blessed to have this ever enthusiastic dramatic side-kick to help me in the kitchen. We look forward to cook dinner each day. It’s the best way for us to bond, though our wires often cross when we are out of the kitchen 😀

Baked Corn Flakes Chicken

Our girls love grilled chicken. I cook it at least once a week, sometimes twice.  My grilled chicken is cooked in a variety of styles – with turmeric powder, teriyaki sauce, honey, lemon grass, lemon juice, curry paste, tomyam paste, black pepper, breaded and much more.  Last week I tried something different with the chicken thighs – I baked them with crushed corn flakes.

Drama Queen was quick to help me crush the corn flakes with a rolling pin.

The chicken thighs were marinated with coriander powder, pepper and soy sauce.

Directions:
Dip chicken thighs with eggs (beaten)
Then coat with crushed corn flakes. In some recipes, the chicken is coated with flour before coating with crushed corn flakes.
Line baking tray with baking paper and oil the paper.
Bake at 150C for 15-20 minutes on each side.

Ready to go into the oven…

I also grilled some fresh Portobello mushrooms with minced garlic and olive oil.

 

Since the oven was hot, I toasted some silvered almonds.

Silvered almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds  and cashew nuts (all lightly toasted) are my favorite low-carb high protein snacks.

 

Bon appetit!

 

Butadon (Pork Bowl Rice)

It’s been a busy 2 days for me.

Two days ago, I discovered that 99% of the photos in  my 3 blogs from the period November 2015 – May 2016 were not loading!  That’s one of the worst nightmares to happen to a blogger. It’s tragic! My blogs mean a lot to me. I started them in 2007 as an online journal and diary on my girls.  I spent all my time since yesterday putting the photos back into each and every post. I am only 90% done with my main blog. I have 2 more blogs to rectify. This is such a waste of my precious time.

In between fixing my blog, I met with a few customers to pass them Izumio and Super Lutein that they ordered from me and explained the products to them.   Also had a lot of work to do on the computer and processing of membership application.  Before I even realize it, it is time to cook dinner already.  Dang it! How I hate cooking when I don’t have the time.

Yet, despite my busyness, I managed to whip up a new dish – Butadon (pork bowl rice).  Also whipped up a sauteed organic French bean with fish paste and julienned carrots.

My pork bowl rice was YUMS!  Almost like the real thing from Japanese restaurants. And the 5% of not tasting identical to the authentic Japanese ones is because I did not use sake, mirin or dashi.  These sauces are all very costly and I don’t use them often.  I replaced sake, mirin and dashi with Teriyaki sauce and organic shoyu.  And cooked it with 3 large big onions, which added so much sweetness and flavor to this dish.  My girls are big fans of onions, garlic and scallions.

I also grilled 4 super huge Portobello with minced garlic. They were so juicy and yums!  Portobello mushrooms are great as meat replacement for vegans.

Ingredients:
Thinly sliced pork or beef – get those thinly sliced meat for steamboat / Korean BBQ
Carrot, julienned thinly
3 large onions
Chopped garlic
Teriyaki sauce
Shoyu sauce
Chopped scallions
1 tablespoon sugar (I used organic brown sugar)

Directions for Butadon:
1) Marinate pork slices with a little corn flour and teriyaki sauce and leave in fridge for a few hours.
2) Heat oil in non-stick pan.
3) Brown the onions and garlic.
4) Brown the pork / beef slices
5) Add julienned carrot
5) Add water, sugar and shoyu and simmer for about 15 mins.
6) Check doneness of meat.
7) Add the chopped scallions.
8) Plate up and enjoy!

I used pork belly purchased from De Market Supermarket and asked the pork section assistant to slice them thinly for me.  De Market has a very good choice of fresh pork that are free from growth hormones and antibiotics. I can’t remember the brand name of the pork but I shall let you know in my next post. Yup, the pork is branded and not overly exorbitant.  I always get the guys there to mince or slice my selected meat. I even request them to wash the meat for me before they mince the meat.

This dish is pretty easy to prepare and ain’t very messy to the kitchen. My 3 fussy-pots loved it. Even the one who’s the hardest to please gave it a double thumbs up.  Do give it a try!

 

Crazy Hazy Hot Days Are Back!

The inevitable time of the year is here again, totally unwelcomed.  For the past two days, the familiar acrid smell of haze can be smelled first thing in the morning at 4:45 a.m. when I stepped out of my bedroom.

Thankfully my girls and I have always been pretty OK during the haze period with no respiratory problem, no sore throat and no congested chest and lungs.  Last year’s haze was by far the worst with schools closed several days in a week over a period of 2 months.  Will this year be just as bad? Pray tell!  Let’s hope not, though I sometimes wish that it would be, just so I do not have to rise by 4:45 a.m. each day  to prepare the girls for school 😀

 

 

 

We can’t run away from the haze, unless you migrate to another region unaffected by the haze but we can certainly do something to protect ourselves from the ill effects of the haze.

 

IZUMIO

Ingredients at a Glance

Hydrogen water and carotenoids are antioxidants that can protect our cells from damage from free radicals and environmental pollution.  My family and I have been consuming them since March 2015 and have never looked back since.   You can click on Izumio And Super Lutein on the right side bar of this blog under Categories to read more.

Do email me at shireenyong@gmail.com or call / Whatsapp me at 019 266 4290 to know more with no obligations to purchase anything.

 

Tau Yew Bak (Braised Pork Belly With Soy Sauce)

Ever since the mil went to Hong Kong, I have been spending quite a bit of time cooking.  I cook dinner from Monday through Friday.  On some days, I cook twice a day, like today.  I now have a pot of porridge bubbling in the rice cooker and it will be ready just on time when Drama Queen and Cass come back from school in a bit.  Tonight I will be cooking dinner with 3 dishes – a fried fish, veggie and a braised potato with tomatoes and minced meat.  I wish we could afford to hire a cook so that I don’t have to spend so much time cooking!

Fortunately, I still have Drama Queen to help me. Thank God she loves cooking and baking and does not mind doing laborious stuff like peeling garlic and onions! She even washes the dirty dishes, which is my top most dreaded chore.

Here’s Drama Queen helping to peel garlic for my tau yew bak…

Braised pork belly with soy sauce is one of the easiest dish to whip up that kids and adults will enjoy. Peeling garlic aside, it is an otherwise sweat-free dish to prepare with no oil splatter.  The pork belly can be replaced with chicken drumsticks.  Some people add tofu, puffed tofu and dried mushrooms.

Ingredients:

1  Pork belly
2  Star anise – I used about 10 pieces
3  Some pepper corn – just half a handful or about 1 tablespoon.
4  Garlic – I used 1 whole bulb
5  Soy sauce – I used organic shoyu
6  Dark sauce – I only used a dollop. You can substitute it with blackstrap molasses as it tastes very similar to dark sauce and is a much healthier alternative. I ran out of blackstrap molasses, thus used dark sauce
7  Filtered water
8  1 tablespoon of organic brown sugar
9  Eggs

* adjust the amount of seasoning yourself, that’s what I always do. I never really follow recipes.

Method
Boil water in pot.
Once water boils, put all the ingredients into the pot and simmer in medium heat for about 1.5 hours.
Boil the eggs and peel off shell. Dump eggs into the pot to simmer together.
Plate up and enjoy!

 

 

Easy Double Boiled Kaya Jam

Kaya (meaning rich in Malay) jam is my absolute favorite. My girls’ too. We only like my dad’s homemade pandan kaya and no other. Just like its moniker, kaya is rich in eggs, santan (coconut milk) and sugar. Kaya jams sold commercially are too cloy for our liking as they are all loaded with sugar, preservative and food additives.  Once you’ve tasted homemade kaya, you wouldn’t want to buy store-bought ones.

Since my parents won’t be coming to visit us any time soon as they will be on a cruise from Taiwan to Japan next month, I figured I better get my arse moving and make some kaya for us until we get my dad’s pandan kaya supply in a few months’ time.  Alycia is gaga over kaya toast. She can eat it every single day and even orders it when we are at our regular coffee shop. She loves those kaya on white toast sold at Chinese coffee shops, which I don’t fancy coz white bread has almost zero nutrients. And have you seen how much margarine they slab on the toast? Gawd, I can almost feel my arteries clog looking at the amount of margarine.

So yesterday I bought a small packet of fresh santan from my regular fruits and meat supplier on van. Unplanned. I bought it since he had one last packet left (he does not always sell santan) and I thought that if I had no time to make kaya, I’ll just drink it neat!  I love santan and all the edible parts of the coconut.

When Drama Queen was back from school, after lunch and after her shower, we only had 45 minutes to spare before the Mandarin tutor arrived. She volunteered to cook the kaya. I said NO but she kept assuring me that we would have enough time. She always has a positive mindset.

It’s very easy to make smooth and creamy kaya IF only you know the tricks. Also get ready to have a good workout on your hands as you will be standing at the stove stirring continuously.

For the basic kaya, all you need are eggs, fresh santan (coconut milk) and sugar. You can add pandan juice if you wish. As we only had 45 minutes to do and did it in such a rush, I could only use pandan leaves, knotted and thrown into the pot with the 3 ingredients.  My dad uses fresh pandan juice. There are recipes for pumpkin kaya, taro kaya, caramel kaya and much more.

Measurement – same volume for all 3 items but you can reduce the sugar. For eg, if you have 200ml of santan, your eggs and sugar have to be 200ml too. But the sugar can be reduced. We always reduce our sugar.

For my kaya yesterday, I used 1 small packet of santan (1 coconut), 4 eggs and about 3-4 tablespoons of organic brown sugar. Mix all the ingredients well with a whisk in a pot or bowl.

Whilst waiting for the water to boil in the wok, I cooked the mixture in a  smaller pot at medium – high heat on the stove.  Then transferred the smaller pot into the wok when the water started to boil.  Then I left the stirring to Drama Queen, UNSUPERVISED for about 20 minutes while I attended to Cass who was in the bathroom.

Below – initially the mixture still looked smooth and nice until….

 

When I came back to the kitchen about 20 minutes later, I was shocked to see what the kaya had turned into!! FUDGE!! It had turned into kaya omelette!  Steamed kaya with minced meat! Such was the consistency. I was so disappointed. I couldn’t blame it all on Drama Queen as I had not given her specific instruction on how high / low the flame should be. She could have turned the flame to the highest point when she saw that the mixture wasn’t thickening like it should. But I wasn’t there to supervise her. My bad.

Lesson learnt –  never ever attempt to cook anything when in a rush and leave it to an 11-year old to help you take charge.

Drama Queen remarked dramatically when she saw the ‘kaya omelette’ —“Our kaya is an EPIC FAILURE!!”  

I almost wanted to bin the kaya but after calling my mum to discuss on the ways to save the kaya, we came up with the idea of blending it.   Thank God for the blender, the kaya went through an aesthetic transformation and came out beautifully, as if it were cooked by a pro kaya maker!

With just a few pulses in the blender, my pandan kaya had a major transformation. It tastes heavenly, smooth and so full bodied.

In under 45 minutes, we managed to make one bottle of yummy pandan kaya. I am glad that Drama Queen persuaded me to make the kaya despite having so little time on hand, helped to cook it and I took the effort to salvage it.  We will definitely be churning out more pandan kaya soon!

 

Breakfast – 10 August 2016

Avocados are back in season and we are having them everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 😀

From RM15 for an avo just about 1.5 months ago, the price has now dropped to RM5 each for New Zealand avos.  I stock up on our avos twice a week. I buy green, hard and unripened ones and they ripen really quickly when I place them together with other fruits like bananas and oranges in room temperature.  If only avos are more affordable here, we could then eat them all year round. When we were in New Zealand two Decembers ago, avos were sold cheaply everywhere. At the weekend farmers’ market, avos were sold at NZ$1 each and I remember buying a big bag full of them, only to have them all polished off in just a few days.

Since we have a few ripen avos today, the girls had avo on toast this morning.  Alycia mashed up the avo and spread them like butter on her crispy wholewheat toast while Drama Queen had thinly sliced avo on her toast.  Cass had avo wedges minus the toast.

Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.  Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium, and are low in saturated fat.

Avocados are good for your heart, help to lower your cholesterol and are loaded with fiber.  The fat in avocados can help you absorb nutrients from plant foods while the power antioxidants in avocados help to protect your eyes.  Avocados may help prevent cancer too, just to name a few.

As for moi, I had half an avo, a blood red orange, a slice of wholewheat toast with dad’s homemade pandan kaya and chia seeds, a handful of coconut coated almonds and boiled curried chick peas. And not forgetting my Izumio hydrogen water to give me all the energy I need for another busy day while detoxifying my body.

 

 

Random Conversation With Cass

Yesterday Cass informed me of her class and standard position for the second term exam.  Though the position dropped 3 notches down, she is still within top 10 in class and in the whole standard of about 300 Year 2 pupils in her school.

Next came the request for reward!

Cass – mummy, remember you promised me that you will buy me more Shopkins if my standard position is within 15? 

Me – Yes I do but you can only claim it when we go shopping ok? And why do you still need Shopkins? You hardly look at them after buying them!

Cass – because I want to collect all of ’em!  

Me – *rolled my eyes*  Your daddy and I are not so rich to buy you the entire collection of Shopkins remember that ok?

At night, she made an about-turn in her claim for reward!

Cass – mummy, I think I want to change my mind. Would you promise me if I asked you for something else instead?

Me – WHAT? Something more expensive? I am really broke la!

Cass – can you promise me that you will live until 100 years old please? Then I don’t want my Shopkins.

Awwwwwww, that was so so so sweet of my baby girl… but I told her that this wish of hers is beyond my control. She will have to ask Jesus for this wish.

Cass at 8 years 8 months

Sunday Meals – 7 August 2016

Our Sunday lunch was at our favorite neighborhood Japanese restaurant.  We had a meat intense lunch and was so stuffed that even the foodie hubs  didn’t suggest the usual post lunch gourmet cakes and coffee. Yippee!!

 

Below – I love this spider sushi, composed of fried soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts, flying fish roe and mayonnaise rolled inside nori and sushi rice.

Besides the above dishes, the gourmand hubs also ordered an assortment of raw sushi and beef teppan (not in picture).

Since we were still so cloy in the evening,  we dropped our initial plan of having dinner at our favorite ‘tai chow‘ restaurant.  Instead, the girls suggested a meat-free dinner of sandwiches.   They were in the mood to help out in the kitchen, woohooo!  This gave me more time to do my things while they played masak-masak in the kitchen!

The tai siew che Alycia helped to slice Mozzarella cheese for the cheese on toast.

Drama Queen helped to prepare the salad. I buy only organic veggies so that even if the girls don’t wash their veggies thoroughly, it is still safe to eat them raw.

Cass helped to grate the block of cheese for our aglio olio spaghetti tomorrow (Monday).

The girls then fixed their own sandwiches, which is totally meat-free. I’m glad that they love lots and lots of raw veggies on their toasted wholewheat bread.

Below – the tai siew che‘s sandwich…

 

Below – Cass fixing her own sandwich…

Below – Drama Queen’s sandwich…

Drama Queen is on a salad craze now. She even prepared salad for her recess in school the next day.  The Hello Kitty lunch box is to store the grated cheese and roasted almonds.  What a super healthy snack for recess. Thumbs up to Drama Queen. My health freak choice of food has definitely rubbed off on her! 😉

Tom Yam Fish & Grilled Boxing Chicken

Dinner on a hectic Wednesday yesterday…

1  Tomyam pomfret fish with lots of brinjal, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli.  I used half a packet of Mak Nyonya Tomyam paste.

2  Blanched organic broccoli.

 

The reddish tomyam paste looks and tastes really fiery.  I sauteed the paste with some oil and garlic. You can add onions and lemon grass if you wish. Then added water and simmer the vegetables with the paste. After tasting how sour it was, I added about 1.5 teaspoon of organic raw sugar and added more water to it.  After a 20-minute simmer, I added the 3 pieces of pomfret fish and continued simmering for another 10 minutes. Each spoonful sent mouthwatering hot and sour fireworks in the mouth. The flavor is pretty close to what we’d find at a Thai eatery.  With half a packet of paste left, I’m  considering cooking tomyam noodles with it.

 

 

I also grilled some boxing chicken. I marinated the chicken with lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon, coriander powder, turmeric powder and soy sauce. Grilled for 15 minutes on each side at 140 Celsius and added organic honey just before turning off the heat.  Honey tends to burn meat very quickly in the oven, so it’s best to  baste meat with honey when meat is already cooked.

I saved a portion for next day lunch for Drama Queen and Cass.

Today, I popped the boxing chicken + rice into the microwave and walah… the girls had a hot and yummy home-cooked meal in a jiffy!  Also sliced a red capsicum, cucumber and avocado.

Smoothie of the day for today is orange + apple + pineapple + chia seeds + fresh coconut water.