Day 2 Haze Holiday (19 Sept 2019)

The haze is still chokingly bad today. It looks and smells worse than the day before. Our windows and sliding door are shut all day and it’s terribly hot and stuffy inside, though all three fans are turned on in the living room.  The girls pretty much stayed home all day but I made 5 trips out ~ first to get them lunch, then as Grab driver and brought Alycia to downtown KL for tuition at 3 p.m.,  at 6 p.m. Grab my way back to downtown KL to fetch Alycia home with bumper-to-bumper traffic on both trips, 7:30 p.m. dropped Alycia at the tuition center and 9:30 p.m. to fetch her home.

Thursdays are always a big mad rush for me in the evening. I start to cook at 4:45 p.m. and only have a max of 1 hour for cooking as I have to leave the house at 5:45 p.m. to fetch Alycia back from school/tuition. Thus, Thursday dinner is fixed with either burgers / sandwiches / porridge.  This time I prepped Sanbanto premium black pig pork burger.

I pan-fried the pork burger and made caramelized onion rings using my Philips pressure cooker (Bake mode, chicken).

Burger fillings:
Sanbanto premium pork patties, organic Japanese cucumber, caramelized onion rings, blanched French beans, egg mayo. Also fried an egg in the PPC.

Someone finished the last drop of mayo and left the empty bottle in the fridge again!!!  I was seething as this is happening too frequently. And I know who the culprit is!  So I had make do with Japanese sesame dressing, which still tasted alright on the eggs, though not as good 😡

So happy I could find Ted Boy burger buns from D Market supermarket:

By the time I finished cooking and mopping the kitchen floor, it was already 6 p.m. and I was late! With the horrendous after-work traffic, it would take me at least half an hour to reach downtown KL. With very little time, I cincai assembled the burger, quickly snapped a few pix and left Cass to help me keep all the food and wipe the dining table as the tutor would arrive any time. Cussing and sweating away, I took a quick shower and zoomed off.

There was no time to butter the buns, slice the tomatoes and find the cheese and Cass happily gobbled down the ‘display’ piece.

This is the life of a work-from-home mum.  So you think working in the office is stressful?  At times I wish I was still in my corporate suits, earning a comfy pay check, get bonus, have annual leave and medical leave and outings with my colleagues.

That’s why I dislike Thursdays. But soon the mil will be back and I can’t wait to hand over the spatula and apron back to her 😬

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Pressure Cooker Pan-Fried Steak And Purple Sweet Potato Mash

Pan frying steaks, fish or chops is something that I will avoid like a plague as I hate cleaning up oil splatters. Thus, I leave this task to the mil and we only have fried fish and steaks whenever she’s around.  But ever since mum gave me a Philips Pressure Cooker (PPC), I’ve become more daring in my kitchen pursuit 👩🏻‍🍳

Yesterday I took the courage to pan fry striploin steak in my PPC. The steaks have been sitting in the freezer even before the mil left for New Zealand 2.5 months ago. I’d better cook them before she returns in two weeks’ time or she’ll be shocked to see the steaks still there after 3 months and I know what questions she’ll shoot towards me  🤐

Ok, back to the steaks! I am so pleased that the striploin beef steaks turned out pretty well. They were so good that my 3 persnickety piranha polished them off, though I had to snatch back the medium rare ones from the littlest one to pan-fry them again to make them thoroughly cooked and safer for consumption.

These look medium rare and perfect for my carnivorous hubs who would devour on bloody juicy steaks but he had to work late last night, so the 3 piranhas whacked them after I re-fried them for a couple of minutes more. After Alycia was down with food poisoning last week after eating Korean BBQ meat straight out from the fridge, I am now very wary of undercooked meats.

This is now almost well done, though I still see a tad pink in the middle.

The steaks were cooked on Bake mode (select ‘chops’) on the PPC.

While the steaks were slowly sizzling in the PPC, I had enough time to cut up a whole pomelo!  With a PPC, I don’t have to stand at the stove to watch the fire. I can wash the dishes, wash the veggies and stir-fry them on the gas stove, etc while the meat is in the PPC. The meat hardly gets burnt as the Bake mode will end after 15-20 minutes. So even if you forget about it (but I doubt anyone will be that forgetful 😆) while you’re busy doing something else, you’re pretty safe as the Bake mode will end after the cycle.

The striplion steaks were marinated with salt, black pepper and Lea & Perrin sauce.

I also made a mash composed of organic purple sweet potatoes, organic orange sweet potatoes, US potatoes and organic cauliflower.

And blanched some organic broccoli and cauliflower in the same pot of water that I used to boil the potatoes.

I was worried that the 3 picky girls wouldn’t accept something so healthy with cauliflower and purple sweet potato in their mash but surprise surprise, they loved it!

Ingredients for healthy mash (just nice for 3 very hungry teens and 1 small eater adult):
3 purple sweet potato
2 orange sweet potato
3 US potato
2 handfuls of cauliflower
2 tablespoon of organic butter, melted in the microwave
1 tablespoon of salt
1 or 2 tablespoon of black pepper
2-3 tablespoon of fresh milk

Directions:
1. Cut the different types of potatoes into chunks
2. Dump the potatoes, sweet potatoes and cauliflower into a pot of boiling water with salt and boil till soft. Remove from water.
3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the boiled potatoes and cauliflower.
3. Separate the potatoes and cauliflower into two batches and blitz for about half a minute in the blender. Add in milk and melted butter and blitz together.
4. You can eat warm or chilled in the fridge.

How I LOVE the color of Barney in my mash💜.   Have I mentioned that when Alycia was a toddler, she was besotted with Barney?  Till today, more than a decade later, hubs and I still remember the lyrics of Barney’s “I love you, you love me” rhyme❤️

I thought that there will be leftover of mash as it was a very big portion and I was unsure if the fussy girls would accept mash in purplish hue but it’s a hit. I’ll definitely make this again!

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It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

It’s been two weeks since my littlest one woke up and got disconnected from me and angry with me with no particular reason on the first day of school after the third term school holidays. Thank God she’s almost back to her usual self, though I wouldn’t say that her usual self was how she used to be.  I still haven’t accepted the fact that my baby girl is now growing up and she’s no longer a baby; she doesn’t want to be treated like one and I have to treat her like a big girl.  It’s been one hell of a difficult two weeks, having to deal with her cantankerous and grouchy behavior and non-verbal communication with me.  💔 But I just knew that it would soon pass and yes it did.

I used to have a very hard time dealing with Sherilyn too when she was at that age. This is just part of growing up. Growing pains for both the child and parent.  But I finally see her smile and talk to me again.🧡

Some disrespect is a normal part of teenage growth and development, though not all tweens and teenagers are rude or disrespectful.  This is partly because our child is learning to express and test out her own independent ideas, so there will be times when you disagree. Developing independence is a key part of growing up and a good sign that she’s trying to take more responsibility. But she’s also still learning about how to handle disagreement and differing opinions appropriately.

A teenage’s moods can change quickly. Because of how teenage brains develop, our child isn’t always able to handle her changing feelings and reactions to everyday or unexpected things. And this can sometimes lead to over-sensitivity, which can lead in turn to grumpiness or rudeness.  So I just have to accept all the crap of black sullen face, rudeness and disrespect from Cass as part of her growing up.

Over the past one week, this tween of mine seemed to be a tad scattered brain.  On Monday, she had a hard time waking up and woke up 5 minutes late; her transporter left our condo. I had to bring Cass to a half-way meetup point for her to get up the van. The next day, she lost her new eye glasses in school. The following day, she lost her mechanical pencil in school. Other days, she forgot to ask me for pocket money and forgot to eat the bun that I’ve packed for her in her lunch box. She felt bad over losing her glasses and all the inconveniences that she’s caused me with her lackadaisical attitude.  She’s been searching for her glasses in school for the past two days and she finally found it today!  It’s inside a glass display outside the office and she needs to see the assistant principal to claim it back next week.

Sherilyn told me that Cass could be influenced by the character of Elizabeth Allen of The Naughtiest Girl (by Enid Blyton) as this is one the latest books that she’s been reading.  Perhaps?  Cass used to be so obsessed with Harry Potter that almost everything that she said had a little bit of Harry Potter influence in it and she’s still very much obsessed with Harry Potter. She’s still very much influenced by Enid Blyton’s tea time, heavy supper, casserole and pumpkin pasties and often asks me for these English things  😆

I can’t agree more with the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. In my case, it’s more of taking half my life to raise three children. Why is it so hard to raise children? I must equip myself with more parenting strategies to bust away bad attitude and bring lasting closeness and understanding with my girls.

Something that I learned from parenting sites:

Teenage girls are developing their identity and opinions. And part of that is disagreeing with and pushing back against what they perceive as parental control. Difficult teenage daughters aren’t being difficult out of spite. Rather, they are acting under the influence of intense biological shifts. 

Practice unconditional love. Therefore, parents should never withdraw or withhold their love based on a difficult behavior. Teen girls need to know that their parents will be there for them no matter what.

Thus, despite all that’s been going on, I still tell Cass – I love you, take good care and God bless you on most mornings before she gets into the school van.


Something that I cooked on a busy weekday this week – fried meehoon with homemade fish balls, cabbage, carrots, loads of scallions and garlic and spring onion from my balcony.  I roped in Cass to roll the fish balls and blanch them and she enjoyed the cooking session with me very much as she got to pop the fish balls into her mouth before her sisters did ❤️


A song for all parents to their precious little ones by Michael Bublé – Forever Now

 

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Retail Therapy Hump Day

Wednesday is the only day in a school-going week that Sherilyn is free to go to the mall with me in the morning. There’s no tuition in the morning and no librarian duty in school that requires her to be in school in the morning. We normally have our one-on-one mother daughter shopping trip and nice lunch at the mall every alternate week on a Wednesday, before I drop her off in school.  She gets to share a regular cup of Tealife with me, sans the boba and sans any sugar. We normally order classic roasted milk tea with glass jelly with zero sugar.

Today I gave Sherilyn the liberty to choose what she wants to eat and she chose Fish Bowl, the Hawaiian-style poke bowl.  To me, poke bowl is like Japanese + Hawaiian style ‘chap fan’ (aka Malaysian economy rice/dishes).  But to the Gen Y and Z youths, it’s all the rage and style.  Basically, poke bowl is composed of a protein (optional), greens, seeds, condiments and sauce atop white rice/ brown rice / quinoa / greens.  It’s the Gen Y and Gen Z’s version of ‘chap fan’, served aesthetically in a nice bowl at an air-conditioned mall vs ‘chap fan’ served in plastic plates in a kopitiam 😁  Anyone can prep their own poke bowl at home, really – just assemble your fish or chicken along with vegetables aesthetically atop rice  😆

For dinner, I cooked a one-pot dish ~ chicken stew and blanched broccoli.

Chicken, organic purple sweet potatoes, organic orange sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, organic leek, organic tomatoes, loads of big onions and small onions, bay leaves, thyme, Italian herbs, black pepper, organic soy sauce and salt to taste.  How I love the kaleidoscope of colours in this dish and the broth imparted from all these ingredients is just so flavorful and sweet!

Happy hump day peeps! It’s time for me to resume my Ahmad duties and my duty only ends at 9:45 p.m. tonight  😴

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Baking Queen Bakes Pies

Sherilyn played ‘masak-masak’ again yesterday.  This time she baked an assortment of pies. Actually she made the dough a week ago and kept it in the fridge, waiting to find a day that she’d be free to make the pies. She’d also cooked the salted caramel sauce,  sliced the apples and marinated them with cinnamon but after several days in the fridge, they turned bad and I discarded the apples. Yesterday she prepped the apples all over again. What a waste of money!

I’ve invested quite a bit of money for all her ‘masak-masak’ ventures in the kitchen. And I think it’s money well invested. Now she can cook and bake for the whole family.  Who knows, she’ll even be a cafe owner or a restaurateur one day, eh?  😁


As you can see, the each pie spot a different design on top. This girl had a fun time designing the pie tops and creating fillings for them. Some turned out looking professionally executed while some of the pies look a tad distorted 😆 Whatever the design, the pies tasted superb, like they were produced by some upscale cafes.

Sherilyn puts in so much time, patience and care into all her baking projects.  During Sherilyn’s younger days, I suspected that she may have ADHD as she was hyperactive, mischievous and couldn’t sit still and focus in her studies. Baking and dancing have quelled my fears. She can spend hours on end doing things that she loves.

 

From top clockwise: blueberry pies (filling is made with fresh blueberries and lemon juice), pies with no filling for Cass and me coz we love plain pie crusts, apple pies, pesto cauliflower and pesto tomato pies.

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Mac And Pesto With Baked Salmon

On the day we returned to KL from Ipoh, we were too lazy to get out of the house for dinner. The mil wasn’t in the mood to cook as well after all the unpacking and rearrangement. So the alternative in-house chef volunteered to cook Western food and I left the masak-masak task to her. Sherilyn takes every opportunity to play masak-masak to perfect her culinary skill.  Most times the food tastes so good, sometimes even artisanal, that cooking seems like a total child’s play to her.

Here’s what the chef dished out:


Macaroni with homemade pesto (which Sherilyn made a week earlier), baked salmon with lemon seasoned with dried herbs and grilled tomatoes.

Her two sisters were totally awed with the dish and gave a 5-star rating for the presentation and taste!

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46th Birthday

After I touched the 4 series, I often lose track of my age!  I often have to use my birth year to calculate my age in the current year 🤫 🤭 I wonder whether I’ll still remember my age when I touch the 6, 7 and 8 series.  Do you face the same issue as me?

The original plan for my special day was to go to My Town Shopping Center – a movie for the girls and retail therapy for myself. But late yesterday evening, I received a bunch of writing assignments from my online boss 🤑  So I had to cancel my plan and have been cooped up at home and  writing all day since last night.  But no complaints from me and the girls.  Work comes first. Entertainment has no deadline.  While my fingers were glued to the keyboard, the girls had their fingers glued to their devices. This is what happens when I am busy with work – the girls morph into dopamine-frazzled zombies!

It’s a quiet day at home today. Alycia has gone to her friend’s house to work on a school project and the mil has gone out with her visiting daughter from Hong Kong. I feel no pressure at all rushing off my assignments as I have no driver duty to do, no errands to run and no need to cook today.  I needn’t even have to drive out to buy lunch as Sherilyn settled all my meals!

She cooked broccoli + scallion omelette and sauteed organic mixed fresh mushrooms with butter and cajun. Both dishes were yums and right up my alley!

For dessert, she made salted caramel apple crumble for the birthday mum, with no specific recipe. She assembled the dessert with leftover whipping cream that she used for my birthday cake and the salted caramel apples were for her oats this morning. She whacked several pieces of plain crackers to use as the crumble.

Yesterday Sherilyn whomped up a mango cake for me, in under two hours.

Fresh mangoes were used to decorate the cake into the shape of a yellow rose. The cream is made from fresh whipping cream and matcha powder.

Dinner will be at Stone Nine by Jiro Shabu again, a place that I’ve fallen in love with after our first dining experience last weekend.

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Chicken Pongteh Cooked In Philips Pressure Cooker

We had a belated CNY gathering with our usual group of Ipoh friends at Overseas Restaurant @ Jalan Imbi yesterday as we could not find the right timing to have one during CNY. As usual, we chatted about everything under the sun but guess what the hottest topic was?  College and university for our kids!

It wasn’t too long ago when we were all holding our little babies and all we talked about back then was everything about our babies. That was 16 years ago and I can still remember vividly when our friend had her first baby and she and her hubby brought their baby out in a baby carrier when the baby was just a month old. I even remember where we had our dinner that night.  Now, we are talking about finding for the right college and university for our eldest.  And whether we should all do a colonoscopy together and ask the doctor for a group discount! 🤩 🤔

Ok, back to foodie talk!

The next few homecooked dishes posts that you’ll see will be my last few as the mil will be back from Hong Kong today! So glad that I can pass the spatula back to her 😆 though the kids mentioned that they will miss my cooking. They miss grandma’s cooking too. There are some dishes that I can never seem to cook just like hers. She cooks the tastiest fried rice, fried noodles and fried fish. Till today, I can still not pan fry a fish nicely.  She puts in a lot of effort, time and perfection into each and every of her dish while for me, I always find short cuts and rush off the cooking for all of my dishes before school and tuition runs in the evening.

I have not cooked Chicken Pongteh for almost a year and that’s how long the mil had not gone overseas. I almost forgot about this dish until I stumbled upon it while I was watching some cooking channels on You Tube.  I used to cook this dish with the wok and it’s a pretty simple and straightforward dish. You can use any part of the chicken but for best results, use drumsticks.

With a pressure cooker, it is even easier to cook this dish. First, the oil does not splatter out onto the kitchen counter top when the chicken is being seared in the pressure cooker, unlike the conventional wok.  Second, when the chicken is being seared, I can do other stuff like prep other dishes or wash the dirty dishes. Third, the meat of the chicken is tender and juicy. Lastly, it is easy to wash the pressure cooker pot, which is light and does not stick.

 

 

You can find tons of recipe on this dish from the internet. I like to go to You Tube as it’s always easier to remember the steps if you watch a video of the cooking.

You just need basic ingredients like tau cheong / taucu (fermented soy beans), dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Gula Melaka (palm sugar), potato, mushrooms, carrots, garlic and shallots. For me, I used organic miso, organic dark soy sauce, organic shoyu, organic Javanese coconut sugar and palm sugar syrup.

Total time needed on the pressure cooker is around 10-15 minutes  for searing the drumsticks and another 10 minutes for cooking under pressure.

Juicy seared chicken drumsticks with a quick braise, smothered in the most incredible Gula Melaka and miso / taucu sauce that go really well rice or noodles, this is a brilliant back pocket recipe for busy week nights!

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Healthy Meals In A Jiffy

Monday’s dinner was just pork jerky on toast as I was too pressed for time to cook a proper meal. Hubs brought me to Mid Valley Megamall in the afternoon to send my Osim uJolly portable massage chair for repair but I ended up trading in my faulty massager and bought a new one!  When I got home, it was already 4-ish p.m. and with so little time to cook, I toasted the CNY leftover pork jerky sitting in the fridge and toasted some sourdough cheese bread that I bought from Hogan Bakery @ Mid Valley.  Also fried some eggs to go with the open sandwich.

Crispy sourdough cheese toast for the girls…

and flour-free super low-carb organic lettuce wrap for me, washed down with a glass of refreshing lemon + grapefruit juice with raw organic honey…

The girls and I don’t really fancy Chinese pork jerky as we find them too salty, oily and sweet.  Before toasting the pork jerky in the oven, I delegated to Alycia the task of rinsing the pork jerky with water and patting them dry with kitchen towels  😆  Each year, our CNY pork jerky slices sit in the fridge for weeks and months and I always have to find ways to eat them.  Sometimes I add the pork jerky into fried rice and stir fried vegetables, after rinsing them and cutting off all the burnt parts.

Here’s another one-pot dish and with this, you don’t need anything else besides your rice or noodles! It has lots of gravy that goes so well with your noodles or rice. It’s healthy too with protein and fiber. Cook it with celery or vegetables that you like.

Cashew Chicken:

I served the dish with par-boiled rice for the 2 older girls and organic spinach ramen with organic dark soy sauce for Cass.

 

Stir-fried Cashew Chicken is very easy to make and also very forgiving (especially if you use chicken thigh).

Mix the sauce, use a bit to marinate the chicken just for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables (celery/ capsicum / broccoli), hang the laundry and reply some emails 😊

When you’re ready to cook, have everything ready to go because it takes less than 10 minutes!

Sauté garlic and onion (1-2 mins), cook chicken and celery (3-5 mins), add sauce, simmer 1 minute until thickens, serve over rice or noodles.

Ingredients

SAUCE

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce , all purpose or light 
  • 3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or Mirin
  • 2 or 3 tbsp oyster sauce 
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Dash of white pepper

STIR FRY

  • 500g / 1 lb chicken thigh , skinless boneless, cut into 2.5cm/1″ pieces 
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 onion , chopped into 1.75 cm / 3/4″ pieces(yellow, brown or white)
  • 1 celery / bell pepper , chopped into 2 cm / 0.8″ pieces
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup roasted cashews

Instructions

  • Sauce: Mix cornflour and soy sauce until there are no lumps. Then add remaining Sauce ingredients and mix.
  • Marinate: Transfer 2 tbsp Sauce to chicken, mix to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes+.
  • Cook: Heat oil over high heat in a wok or heavy based skillet. Add the garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add celery / capsicum and cook for 2-3 minutes or till your desired softness.
  • Add Sauce and water. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until Sauce thickens.
  • Stir through cashews, remove from stove. Serve with rice or noodles.

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Dinner Cooked In Under An Hour

Maria, my part time maid gave me an eleventh hour no-show notice again. She was supposed to come to our house at 5 p.m. but at 4:30 p.m.,  she Whatsapped me to inform that she’s not coming as she felt dizzy.  She’s currently 3 months pregnant but still insisted on working for us.  I understand that she needs the money to pay for her monthly pre-natal check-up at a private clinic in the neighborhood. Can’t blame her, yet I get a tad pissed off that she is giving me too many last-minute notices lately.

Things will get worse in the following months to come when her pregnancy progresses. She will most likely stop working all together, which is comprehensible and expected. So I better start getting used to not having her coming for at least half a year. Somehow, none of the replacement part-time maids that I’ve had can keep up with Maria’s level of cleanliness, thoroughness, attitude and her good work ethics.

With the boneless chicken thighs already marinated in the fridge, I still went ahead to cook dinner but I shelved my plan to cook two other dishes. I quickly thawed a piece of homemade skin-less ‘lap cheong’ aka Chinese sausage (which is reserved for emergencies like this), dumped it into the pot of rice to cook and cranked up the oven to grill the chicken.  I had no time to stir-fry vegetables as I had back-to-back school + tuition + Muay Thai class runs to do till 9:30 p.m. that night.

Here’s my super quick dinner:

Grilled Chinese five-spice powder chicken glazed with coconut nectar syrup (low in GI) with homemade Chinese sausage; chilled organic cucumber and organic red bell pepper. So simple yet yummy.  So glad that I’ve finally trained Cass to eat bell peppers. She never liked them, still doesn’t like them and I told her that she could only eat the chicken IF she eats the bell pepper – two rings of it and she did 🤗

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Chinese New Year 2019

Happy Oink Oink Year to all my dear readers! 🐷🐷

We just got back from Ipoh today after spending 4 glorious days celebrating the Lunar New Year with family members.  Traffic was rather smooth when we returned to Ipoh on Sunday (eve of CNY eve) and unbelievably smooth when we returned to KL today. We left Ipoh at 9 a.m. and reached KL in under 2 hours, inclusive of one toilet stop. Praise Lord for no reverse exodus gridlock on the highway!

We took hundreds of photos while we were in Ipoh. I’ll let the photos do the talking!

Kids and I tried the egg-balancing act on Li Chun day (eve of CNY) but only Cass got one egg standing. No luck for me this time. The year old twinsies were pretty cooperative with instructions to them not to touch the eggs; they sat patiently and curiously to watch us girls balance the eggs.

Papa whomped up a storm for us on the eve of CNY with a nine course dinner.  I felt so much love and warmth having all my family members seated on the dining table savouring papa’s yummy home-cooked dishes.


Steamed cod fish, stir-fried ‘siew yoke’ with soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine, the Yong family’s special Hakka stuffed dried oysters with fish paste and minced meat with ‘fatt choy’ and braised fish maw with abalone.


Blanched lettuce with fried garlic, steamed chicken, braised arrowroot with ‘siew yoke’ and dad’s yummy dipping sauce for the steamed chicken.


Steamed  homemade Chinese case-less sausage (made by  my aunt) and waxed meat, blue pea Basmati rice, braised pork belly with yam and David Beckham’s Haig Club whisky. Dessert was cherries.


Mum received a set of plates as housewarming gift from one of her friends when she moved in to our very first family house in Moonlight Park, Ipoh but she only unboxed the set of plates and used it for the first time almost 48 years later! And the plates are still in pristine condition!

On the first day of CNY, we had to wake up early to prepare ourselves to reach the Yap’s family house to receive the Lion Dance troupe at 9 a.m.

Lunch was vegetarian.

The girls with their aunt W (hubby’s cousin) who is the same age as Alycia.

When we got home to my parents, we had another round of camwhoring and ang pow giving ceremony with my parents and brothers.

My super duper adorable twin nephew and niece.

For the first time in their lives, the girls and their cousin had the chance to play with firecrackers at their grandparents’ home. They cavorted on the road and squawked each time a firecracker was lighted.   Living in a condo, the 4 city girls hardly ever have the chance to play with firecrackers.  I grew up playing with firecrackers every CNY and even dared to light up those long red blasting Chinese firecrackers.

After warming up, Cass finally had the courage to light up the rocket firecrackers.


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FriYAY, 31 January 2019

After dropping off Sherilyn in school at 7:30 a.m. today, I went to tapau my favorite ‘yong liu’ from the roadside ‘chee cheong fun’ stall.  Sherilyn is representing her school in athletics and needs daily training.  I love it whenever she has to be in school early in the morning.

Back home, I had a relaxing breakfast with absolutely NO ONE rushing me to hurry for my next driver duty. I needn’t stuff the food into my mouth hurriedly and gulp tea to swallow down food lodged in my throat. I could even read the newspapers  leisurely. I haven’t had such a long and relaxing brekkie for SO long and gosh, I am so at peace!!  Gawd, I need this more often!

Stuffed brinjal, winged beans, long beans and bitter gourd and fried fish cake with sweet bean sauce and lots of sesame seeds. My absolute favorite!

After a peaceful brekkie, I popped into my usual nail shop to get my long overdue foot spa and pedicure done, with no one to rush me to hurry up for school run. PEACE!

I cooked Asian Beef Bowl for dinner for the first time and it’s a big hit with everyone!  I followed the recipe from Nagi, my favorite Japanese food blogger from Australia and tweaked it.

 

Also grilled a tray of five-spice chicken drummets and drumsticks for my carnivorous girls.

This Asian Beef Bowl is a brilliant back pocket recipe for busy nights. It’s so easy to cook and takes under an hour including preparation.

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Simple & Wholesome Dishes For Busy Moms

For the past one week, I’ve been sitting in front of my computer typing away from morning till night with short breaks in between to cook and chauffeur the girls. Since early last week, I’ve churned out over 30 articles, most of which must be submitted to the advertiser within 24 hours. On some days, I have to dish out 5 articles in a day on topics that I have no frigging knowledge on like motorbikes, hybrid bikes or truck claws and snow chains  😂  That’s when I have to do a little research and reading. I told the girls that this feels like doing a short thesis  😄 I love it that after I’ve submitted a post, I gain new knowledge as well.

My brain is half fried. I’m burnt out to a crisp and stressed out. But it’s good stress and I’m not complaining. It’s God’s blessings. I am very thankful that I am still able to earn in USD during such times when the global economy is bleak. This is the eleventh year that I’m still blessed with something that I love to do. I love it that at the end of each month, I multiply my earnings by four when I convert the earnings from USD to RM!  Praise God.  The earnings are not a lot but enough for me to buy what I want every month and keep some for savings. And no, I don’t mean Chanel bags and pink diamonds ok.

OK, back to kitchen talk!  Thankfully I now have a Philips Pressure Cooker (PPC) to help lessen my burden and cut cooking time.

Lunch on one of the week days last week ~ minced pork porridge with cabbage, dried oysters, carrots and sweet corns, seasoned with scallions, seasoned Korean seaweed and my favorite Marmite:

Porridge was cooked in our jar rice cooker.

That same night, I cooked braised chicken in soy sauce and Chinese spices in the PPC:

Sauteed organic cabbage with garlic, a dash of English curry powder and eggs:

I love it that while the chicken drumsticks are cooking in the PPC, I can stir-fry the cabbage in the wok on the stove.  More time is saved.

The girls loved the braised chicken drumsticks!

I cooked enough chicken so that Cass could have it for lunch the next day. I just needed to blanch some organic spinach ramen to go with the braised chicken:

Fruits for Cass. Despite having so much to do, for a moment, my hands felt itchy and I started to carve out flowers from the kiwi fruits 😁

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My First Dish Cooked With The Philips Pressure Cooker

The very first time  I used my new Philips Pressure Cooker (PPC) was last week. I was a nervous wreck as I was worried that I would cause an ‘explosion’ and scar my pretty face (ahem!) if I release the pressure regulator at the wrong time.  I have heard of horror stories on  ‘explosion’ while cooking with the PPC.  Well, accidents do happen.  Even with the German made very very expensive TMX, freak accidents happened too.

Throughout cooking this dish, I had to video call mum on Whatsapp to ask her for instructions, HA HA HA.  Don’t laugh ok.  I can’t afford to be hospitalized. The mil is overseas, hubs is super busy with pre-CNY functions and if I am injured, no one will care for the girls.  Ok, I know I sound a tad exaggerated here.  I just can’t be dysfunctional. Period.

Anyway, back to the dish, which is Taiwanese Lu Rou Fan.  After a nerve-racking half an hour, the dish turned out superb!  My persnickety girls with an ‘atas’ tastebud just like their dad had only praises and commented that it tasted like the ones sold at restaurants!  What a consolation after going through a nail-biting moment in the kitchen 🤭


Sauteing the pork, shallots and garlic in the PPC under Bake mode.


Once sauteing is done, press STEW (20 minutes),  and SEAL the pressure regulator.


Once STEW cycle is done, add in the eggs and press WARM, then let the pressure release automatically.

The meat is super tender and juicy! What I love about pressure cooking is that meat will always turn out tender despite a short cooking time.

Basically the ingredients needed are pork belly, soy sauce and dark soy sauce (key ingredients and I use organic ones), rice wine, oyster sauce (optional) fried shallots (fried separately), five spice powder, chopped garlic and shallots and sugar. I only use organic and non-GMO soy sauce and dark soy sauce.

There are plenty of recipes for Lu Rou Fan on the internet and You Tube which you can Google for. I followed a few and then tweaked mine.

This dish is a stunning show stopper yet easy to cook with basic ingredients from the kitchen. Kids and adults alike will surely love it.

Happy trying!

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Thursday, 10 January 2019

The mil left for her 1.5 months long vacation in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan yesterday.  Her departure means lesser time for myself and more hectic days ahead for me as I will have to be in charge of  cooking the children’s meals.  For those who read my blogs long enough, you would have read umpteen times on how I lamented that cooking is like a chore to me.  It’s a chore as I have too much on my plate, from being the driver to the tutor, the financial controller, the PA to the hubs and mil, the cook, the wife and the mother on top of having to work from home.  This year I have more trips to make daily chauffeuring the girls around for tuition and activities.  Give me a live-in maid, bring on the cooking! I don’t mind cooking (sometimes love it too) but I find all the prep and washing up too time consuming. We do not have a dishwasher at home simply because we cannot possibly find any space in our tiny kitchen that can fit in one, unless we put it outside our unit!

Here’s my first  homecooked dinner for the year. I always start off with the easiest to cook, which is a one tray baked dish and the girls love this sort of dish to bits.

Baked chicken, potatoes, garlic and onions; blanched broccoli and braised arrowroot pork (leftover from yesterday dinner). No rice for dinner and everyone was so happy.  When the mil is around, rice is a must on the dining table every evening.

Wait till the cooking momentum swings smoothly and I’ll venture on to more exciting dishes!

 

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Potato And Cabbage Salad

Cass and I worked on this little project in the kitchen on our Sunday evening yesterday while Alycia and Sherilyn continued shopping with their grandma at Mid Valley Megamall.

In the car, on our way back from Mid Valley, Cass and I were discussing what to have for dinner. We could not settle on anything that’s healthy (not salty, not oily, no MSG) that’s restaurant / store bought. So I suggested homemade Japanese potato salad, which is Cass’ favorite salad but I had a condition ~ she had to help prep the dish.  Cass was more than eager to help!

What’s needed (makes 3 servings):
2 large USA potatoes
One large handful of organic cabbage, thinly cut. Lazy me used a pair of kitchen knife to cut.
5-6 small onions, chopped
1 organic cucumber, cubed
1/2 a carrot (optional), cubed
2 hard-boiled eggs, mashed
Sweet corn kernels

Seasoning:
Black pepper
Salt
Japanese mayo

Method:
~ Cut potatoes into 3-4 wedges.
~ Boil until soft.
~ Mash the potatoes with a fork but not until smooth like mashed potatoes. Leave some bitey chunks unmashed.
~  Season with salt, pepper and Japanese mayo. I did not have enough mayo and used Uncle Jeff’s Creamy Parmesan Caesar Dressing (from the Beerenberg family farm in Australia). This salad dressing is my favorite.
~  Add in all other ingredients and mix well

Cass did most of the work from peeling to chopping, mashing to seasoning.

The remaining plate of cabbage is all mine. I love raw cabbage with Uncle Jeff’s salad dressing.

How to remove hard-boiled egg shell effortlessly

Cass wanted to try out this kitchen hack that she watched from You Tube to see if it really works.  It requires putting a little water in a bottle together with the hard-boiled egg and then shake the bottle vigorously. Remove the egg from the bottle and zap off the egg shell effortlessly in just one peel. It worked!

This salad is so good I can eat it everyday. It tastes even better the next day. For those on a diet, you can add more cabbage and eggs and reduce the potatoes. It’s a pretty complete meal too with carbs, protein, fiber, iron and vitamins!

No. of times viewed = 4

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