(Left: Red-wine beef stew; Right:Bak Kut Teh Beef Stew)
In search of the best home-made beef stew, I tried a recipe from a cookbook that used lots of red wine and another, using the bak kut teh packet OCT brought over from Singapore. It's Western beef stew vs the Chinese's. Unfortunately, there was no clear winner. I shall keep trying....
Quiche is another comfort food that OCT and I enjoyed. We restrained ourselves to indulge only in SPECIAL occasions, like friends visit...and emm...like I have to use up the expiring sour cream....
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Friday, January 27, 2006
In an attempt to use up the buttermilk, we had buttermilk mash potaotes for carbohydrate yesterday night. This is my first time using buttermilk with potatoes, so I was plesantly surprised by how well they went together.
I also baked the chicken leg quarters for the second time this week. And used the pancake syrup in place of sugar in the marinate. I guessed my main intention was to use up whatever that's approaching their expiring dates.
Later after dinner, I dragged myself into kitchen for another round of baking. Only to realise that I ran out of eggs! It was too late to go out and replenish, so I could only make and later frezee the dough for oat and cranberries scones. My last attempt to use as much buttermilk as possible. Still, there's half a carton that needed to go into the bin at the end of the day.
Trust me, after using it to make 3 batches of scones, 2 loaves of banana & nut breads and 2-day portion of mashed potatoes, I tried my best.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
(Top left: banana nut bread; top right: pineapple tarts; Bottom left: Chocolate Chunk Scone; Bottom right: more pineapple tarts)
Other than the banana and nut bread that I baked the day before yesterday, the chocolate chunk scone and pineapple tarts were baked just now. Fresh from the oven. Nothing beats freshly baked goods from the oven.
A picture speaks a thousand words. I think I don't have to tell you more..... I shall save my energy for more baking tonight.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Frankly, I am not the neatest person among my friends. Well, come to think of it, not many of my close friends are very neat too...That's not my point anyway. You see, I am living in a one bed-room apartment, with a small kitchen. There really isn't much space to be cleaned afterall. Hence, the only challenge that I encoutered in springcleaning is the food in the fridge.
There's buttermilk, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese that are expiring soon. Not to mention the vegetable and fruit that we overbought on impulse. I am under tremendous pressure to use them up before they expire....Lately, I have discovered the art of freezing baked goods. Scones, muffin, quick bread, muffin can be frozen for a few months in the freezer. Though I am skeptical on the quality of baked goods after freezing, it has nevertheless offered me a possible solution.What a great invention the freezer is! But that leads me to another problem of limited freezer space. Why? because of the four 1.65L Edy's ice cream that we stocked up, and other frozen stuff we bought. It's amazing on how well-stocked our fridge and pantry are compared to our living room that is almost bare of furniture.
This morning, I received an email from my friend GL, who has also done some spring cleaning in her room, and in her heart. After breaking up with her boyfriend of 5 years, she decided to move on with her life, and disposed all the evidents that reminded her of the journey they took together. She threw away all the photos that they had taken together, the photo frames, the letters, the cards, even her own photos while they were still a couple. It must be difficult, to part with 5-years of memory, and more importantly with someone she once so loved, and later betrayed her. I ponder over the email, and think if my friend has really gotten over it and recovered from her pain. I am unsure. But I know time will heal. And I just want to tell her to take her time. For all suffering make us better, and stronger. ( I am sure she knows this by heart, being the most optimistic person among my close-knit friends).
Monday, January 23, 2006
Pineapple tarts has always been one of my favorite Chinese New Year treats. Since I can't get hold of any of these this year, I resort to making it myself. Of course I don't expect to conjure up something that's as good as the Singapore/ Malaysia version, but I know I have to give it a try...
After some careful research on the recipes from the internet (as usual), I started my experiment with some uncertainties at the back of my mind. I have made far too many modification to the recipe that I doubted whether my pineapple tart were edible... Here's how they look:
I found them far from the "melt in the mouth" version, as expected. But for some strange reasons OCT liked them very much and almost finished them on his own, though I only made a few pieces to try out the recipe.
Over the Sunday lunch with our friends, he told them that my pineapple tarts tasted like the Bengawan Solo's. That is a very reputable, or rather the most famous pineapple tarts in Singapore. I almost fell from my chair.... Anyway, I am glad to have a supporter who believe in my potential around...His believe in me made me want to come out with better pineapple tarts! So this will be my project this week, and some other recipes to use up the bananas that OCT liked, and overbought from the grocery shopping yesterday..
Before I embark on my baking adventure, it's the weekly chore day on Monday :(Read more...
Sunday, January 22, 2006
I am determined to give scones a try after reading an article from Fine Cooking about how EASY it is to make fresh, tender and tasty scones. (not to mention that it's much cheaper to make them myself than to buy from the bakery shop.
On the hindsight, I must admit that it was not that difficult, but it was a bit messy, since the dough for scones was very wet, and meant to be that way."Scones benefited from minimal handling" according to my trusted Martha Stewart's baking handbook. In order to achieve that, I had to use my hands instead of mixer to mix the ingredients and freeze to harden before baking them in the oven.
But it's worth the effort, for the scones that came out freshly from the oven smelt heavenly and the texture was soooooo tender and crumbly, which I like. OCT had a "sore throat" and regretted that he could not eat the scone. According to him, the oats in the scone would worsen his pain...What a polite way to turn down his wife. (Actually he does't like oats)...
Friday, January 20, 2006
The spareribs were moist and juicy( maybe because of the fat). Though this was very tasty, it was very fattening at the same time, judging from the oil dripping on the baking tray. We ate this with tomyam eggplant, (which is also very oily) and rice.
What a satisfying meal.... Read more...
Thursday, January 19, 2006
As I beguiled myself with reading, surfing and sometimes doing absolutely nothing, another week has passed. It's already Thursday today!And I hate to think that I have not been doing anything meaningful this week...
On a positive note, I have successfully dragged myself to do some exercise for the past 2 days. Also, I tried out a new recipe yesterday, with success, much to my delight!
It's tomato salmon in foil. Maybe I am not a good photographer, that's why you can't see the salmon. But OCT and I just loved it. The salmon with tomatoes fillings were cooked in a aluminium foil envelope in the oven. The result was very juicy and tasty fish, with the dripping doubled up as soup. A healthy and delicious way to cook salmon. I will try to take better photos next time when I am baking this, not too long to wait, i believe.
Dinner or rather the night, was ended on a sweet note with a cup of Godiva Hot Chocolate. OCT bought me this from Barnes & Nobles yesterday, a book store near his work place. How sweet~ This has given me some motivation to drink milk. (I don't drink milk on its own since three years old).
Monday, January 16, 2006
Finally I confronted my fear for cooking pork tonight, after a few unsuccessful attempts in cooking pork dishes. I almost gave up on pork until we found spareribs on discount during our grocery shopping last weekend. I must give piggy and myself another chance, I mused.
After some careful research on spareribs recipes, I decided on a BBQ spareribs recipe with some improvision. I named it Haiwaiian Pork Spareribs because of the pineapples added.
It was absolutely yummy! OCT's fingers were all stained but he didn't seem to care much about that. He had a satisfied smile on his face while licking his fingers clean. I can visually see his stomach ballooning up...
We had meatloaf for dinner on Thursday and Friday night. It was quite simple to put together, so I decided to give this American adopted Italian dish a go. OCT liked it very much, but I didn't care about it. Surprising it went well with bagel and salad, which I liked. We managed to wash them all down our stomach.
Yesterday, we had Chicken Piccata with stirfry spinach + celery/carrot. Chicken Piccata was a bit like the chinese honey lemon chicken. Except that honey was being replaced by white wine.(lots of it) We started to like the "popeye vege" and decided to incorporate it into our vegetable list. Celery is the only "negative calories" vegetable, according one of my ex-client ( a doctor) and good for those who wants to lose weight.
To keep up with my resolution to bake at least 5 new recipes per month, I baked the pear & walnut muffins and Irish Strawberry & Cream Cheesecake. Both sounded intriguing as I never tried a muffin with pear and walnut in it, neither had I tried cheesecake with Bailey cream in it.
Simply put, I think the muffin's fine...As in they are edible, but not "wow"! I should be more cynical while deciding the "to-bake"recipes from cookbook/website that have rave reviews next time...
Irish Strawberry & Cream Cheesecake is much more spectacular in term of taste and appearance than the muffins. It has a hint of Bailey cream but not too overwhelming.We give some away to friends, in case I can't resist the temptation to finish them myself.
Lately, for some unknown reason I have fell in love with bald trees. I marvelled at their branches which stood fearlessly in the face of great adversity, and cold. I marvelled at their tenacity and perseverance, so boldly in the winter...All the qualities that I lacked beneath the layers of clothes and skin.
OCT and I talked about depression. I can't remember how we started this conversation.He said it's common here in US during winter, when people can't go out from their home, and everything seems gloomy. I suggested that the depressed people should be given chocolate, reiterating the benefits of eating chocolate eg antioxidant protection, and most importantly the feel good factor, as mentioned by Dr Sarah Brewer:
"Eating chocolate makes you feel good. It increases brain levels of several chemicals, including mood-altering PEA (phenylethylamine, related to amphetamine), which produces a mild, confidence-instilling buzz. Chocolate also contains tryptophan - a chemical converted to serotonin in the brain to lift mood and increase euphoria - and theobromine, a stimulant that peps you up. Chocolate is also virtually unique in that it melts in the mouth at body temperature, producing a silky, luscious sensation that adds to its appeal and, according to psychologists, is one of the main reasons why chocolate proves so addictive."
We are not sure if chocolate was part of the regimens for treating depression, but I would certainly include chocolate in many of my recipes in an effort to combat depression (though I don't even have the slightest sign of depression).
As I ponder on this, I did a quick check on my chocolate stock at home, and this is what I found. And this is just PART of my full stock not to mention that it's growing every week!
After half of the winter has passed, it finally snowed last Friday, never mind that it only lasted a few hours and the snow accumulated was not really enough to do anything "interesting" (like making snowman or snow angel..)Below was pic taken from my window last friday: Compare this with the sight of my first snow in St Louis:
I think you know what I mean by "not enough snow to do anything interesting".... On Saturday, we went for a walk around the neighbourhood in the morning, and also for me to practise my photographic skill. OCT was quite stressed when he saw me bringing the camera. Because that would mean a highly disruptive walk.(I can stand at one place and take photos at different angles, and get really grumpy if the pics didn't turn out as I wish). It was a quiet Saturday, sunny but cold, brrr.......
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Another good news that I received today is my favorite singer Emil Chow has just completed his latest album, after 2 years since his last album.Yes, I have been a big fan of him since young. (Though some friends think that his time has long pasted)
I got the information from Wakin.com. It's a cool site that plays his songs while you surf. He mentioned about his struggle for the past 2 years trying to rush his album, and also some of his thoughts in this site. A must visit for other fellow Wakin fans! This is really good news to me. I have been wondering what has happened to him after his concert tour with Jonathan Lee.... At least now that I know he has completed his album, it should hit the record rack soon. This year definitely.
Time flies when I am happy, and it's time to prepare dinner again.....
This is the parcel that I have been waiting for a long time, too long....since ST sent it out mid Dec. This must be the best day I have had since coming to St Louis. I received the parcel from the postman, who appeared to be the nicest person i have ever met in St Louis.
The phone rang before I managed to open the card. It was OCT, asking if I have received the parcel yet. He sounded more excited than I did and asked what's in the parcel.
"I don't know yet" I said.
"open it now la~" He urged.
"I will, after I hang up" I replied.
My eyes were all teary, and started to cry quite uncontrollably... Don't ask me why, because one should know: receiving a gift or even just a card from a dear friend is just the most moving thing that can happen to one, especially in a foreign land.
Thanks ST! What else can I say? For everything and every moment that you were there for me when I needed a friend by my side. Thanks for being such a supportive and accommodating friend all these years. For being there during my first breakup, my ups and downs, and the countless adventures we had together. For the April Fool we spent in Bangkok, Harbour Bridge we conquered, the afternoon in Darling Harbour, the most hilarous memory of "Better Man" in Rudy's Audi, the endless buffets, the $7/8 orange juice at One Fullerton Bar ( outrageously expensive to us back then) just to name a few.....
Life is so different and difficult, I must admit, without you...Read more...
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
After a sumptuous 3-dishes meal for dinner yesterday, we were left with lots leftover which was tantamount to another 2 meals...This left me no choice but to eat the leftover tonight. Still, I insisted on having some creativity with my meal, so here's what i did.
I stirfried the leftover macaroni with my favorite home-made phad thai sauce (which is basically fish sauce + tamarind+ sugar + chilli), and microwaved the frozen cod-fish to go with the cabbage and eggplants from last night's dinner.
You see, I love to cook, but sometime dealing with the enormous amount of leftover could be painful...But now that the fridge is clear from leftover, I can think of something new for dinner tomorrow!
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I still wasn't in the mood for cooking or baking today. Maybe it's the relentless rain, or just plain laziness. But dinner is my responsibility, and I don't have that much house chores to do, so I can't use that as an excuse for no time to make dinner, As dinner time approached,I decided to prepare some simple stirfry dishes that included belanchan eggplants, bacon cabbage and mum-style prawn for dinner.
OCT was impressed that I can conjure up a meal within an hour, and as usual he devoured them, and ate 2 big plates of rice. That helped to uplift my spirit, seeing the smile of satisfaction on his face.
After dinner, we went to the library and Straub's (a supermarket near our place) for a walk. I am finally in the mood to bake again, and is actually baking oatmeal raisin bar cookies now. This is in my "this week to-bake list" inspired by my friend bp. She baked us some of these for Christmas and it was so good that I ended up finished them by myself...
Here's my oatmeal raisin bar cookies:
It's healthy and tastes nice, but I think it maybe too healthy for OCT's taste now.
Monday, January 09, 2006
After realizing how unhealthy our daily meals are, I opted for a healthier pasta for dinner tonight. I kind of like spinach cooked in this way, rather than simply sautee with oil and garlic( or chinese stir-fry style). I also like spinach in quiche.
"Although it will not produce the magical effects that Popeye enjoyed, spinach is defintely packed with lots of goodness, like carotenoids, vitamin K, folate (folic acid), magnesium, manganese, and contain more protein than most vegetable. To get the full benefits of this leafy vegetable, eat it cooked, as cooking makes the antioxidant carotenoid responsible for much of spinach's nutritional potency easier for the body to absorb." This is what is quoted in one of the online resources. Ok, I think I shall eat more spinach from now on....
Though I intended it to be a healthy meal, OCT ended up eating somemore Pringles potato chips, homemake chocolate chips cookies and planter's peanut after the pasta... Maybe he isn't aware that he has slowly adapted to my not-so-healthy meals. Hence when the meal gets too "healthy", he feels something is amiss, and balances off with other "unhealthy" food. Not my fault, I have tried my best.....
Beef stew with rice was all we had for dinner last night. I was having a bad headache and really had no mood to experiment with new dishes. Hence I took out the beef stew meat that we bought Saturday,(which we had not put in the freezer) to prepare this.
Though it's a simple dish, Chintong and I devoured it. I added some red wine to the beef stew too, without Chintong knowing ( he hated dishes with alcohol/wine). Ironically, wine has been sneaked into most of our daily dishes, and he seems to be enjoying what he's eating! And whenever his cooking doesn't turn out to be as nice as mine, he would humbly ask for my enlightenment. Oh, I am more than pleased to share my secret with him: "just add some wine!"
Friday, January 06, 2006
My Irish coffee, that is. Strong, fresh brew espresso with nothing but Bailey Irish cream. Recently however, i refrain myself from adding as much Irish cream as I usually do, fearing the amount of calories for one, and that it may not be enough to sustain me till spring. Though the amount used in my daily coffee dose is negligible (in my opinion), OCT has reproached me on my daily consumption and habitually dependence on caffeine and alcohol...Hmm....ok, i exaggerated a bit. Indeed, he gave me a lecture on importance of not building tolerance or dependence on the objects in issue.
In short, that's why I cut down on the irish cream in my cup. While sipping my Irish coffee, i wonder what has shaped individual's preference when it comes to the degree of bitterness/sweetness in their coffees. Adolescents prefer calories loaded, frappuccino, topped with whipped cream. Twenty/ thirty something prefers barely half-filled cappuccino. Mature generation likes it the way it is. Black.Or kopi-O. Why? I ponder.
Is it because we prefer everything sugar-coated while we were young, that's why we went for frappuccino?We grasped the sophisticated yet brutal facts on human nature after stepping into the complicated working world, and started to appreciate cappuccinos? Finally after a few more decades, we need something stronger, more stimulating to keep us going, despite our circumstances and also to remind us that our life is not too bitter after all, compared to the black coffee?
Actually I like my coffee to be bitter than sweeter, so that when everything goes wrong, i can still remind myself that, afterall, my life is sweeter, not bitter than I think. Having said all these, I will still sprinkle a little bit of sugar in my coffee, so that I remember "every cloud has a silver lining". Hope and kindness still exist.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Chicken Cordon Bleu is basically ham and swiss cheese wrapped with chicken breast and coated with breadcrumb. With all these ingredients, how could a dish tastes wrong? This is my favorite chicken dish for now. Chintong's eyes lit up after his first bite and wondered how I put all this together. This is the greatest, immediate and tangible satisfaction that good food gives me.
This is our dinner for tonight and chintong's lunch for tomorrow. Hmm....In fact, I have baked too many that this will be our dinner for tomorrow too :)