Friday, July 29, 2011

now i know why man created disposable plates and cutlery

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do you know how fast the sink fills up with dirty dishes, used cookware and many other things that need to be washed within a days time before they stink up your kitchen? every time i finish washing the stuff in the full sink after lunch, i sigh a little with relief and relish the squeaky clean-ness... for about 2 hours max. Cos then the process starts again when dinner time rolls around!

a little bit of observed wisdom for you: if there are things in the sink, and you don't wash them today, they are going to grow. and by tomorrow, you'll have a landslide of dishes. you may even break some.

i really hate washing dishes. if there's one thing i would like for my birthday, Christmas, anytime?! it would be a dishwasher (be it a person or a machine =) but til then, happy cleaning to me. it sucks that my hands don't even crack from constant dish washing or just general washing. you'd think they would, then i can kesian myself a bit (haha) and put it off til later. but i don't. so i just keep going. i think it's a strange side effect from having to put moisturiser on my eczema, it keeps my hands moisturised so i can wash dishes just fine -.-

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursdays Recipes: Tea cakes & how to vary

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I've learnt that the basic ingredients and method of preparations essentially are the same, and i've tried three variations with much success.

Lemon Drizzle Cake (from BBCgoodfoods)
225g unsalted butter (one stick is usually about 227g, i like SCS), 225g caster sugar, 4 eggs, zest of one lemon, 225g self raising flour. For the drizzle: Juice of one lemon, 85g caster sugar (the drizzle is optional, some people find its too much lemon, but i like it. Just mix together the juice and sugar then pour over the cake, hot out of the oven.)

Banana Cake
225g unsalted butter, 140g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 3 large ripe bananas (mashed), 50g raisins (optional), 150ml milk/buttermilk/cream (i just use whipping cream or milk if i'm lazy. Buttermilk can be very expensive but if you want, just mix one cup milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice and let stand for 5mins), 170g self raising flour, 50g nuts (optional, any nuts you like, pecan, walnuts, etc)

Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Icing 
225g unsalted butter, 140g caster sugar, 2 eggs, zest of 1 orange and juice, 170g self raising flour, 50g raisins, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp mixed spice, 140g carrots (grated). Cream Cheese Frosting: 100g unsalted butter, 300g cream cheese, 100g caster sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract (Beat the butter til soft, then mix everything else in)

So from this you can see that basically you need butter, caster sugar, eggs, self raising flour, and whatever flavour you like (i put it under zest and spices). If you have additional things like carrots and bananas, then lessen/half the amount of sugar, flour and eggs. This way, i think you can modify the recipe to whatever you want!

Preheat oven to 180C.
1. Beat together butter and sugar. (Make sure the butter is melted/defrosted, hard butter is harder to beat)
2. Add eggs, one at a time.
3. Sift in flour.
4. Add zest and spices (this includes whatever else you want to put in, fruit or vege, raisins, nuts, spices)
5. Line a baking tin with baking paper/Butter up the walls of a baking tin and spoon the mixture in.
6. Bake for 45-50 mins (or until a skewer poked into the center comes out clean, which means no cake parts stuck to it)
7. The end! Or if you have a topping, then this is the moment to spoon it over the cake.

These cakes should probably keep for a couple of days. It can also be wrapped in two layers of aluminium foil and frozen, will keep maybe for a week or two this way. If you want, you can substitute the butter with vegetable oil (1/3 cup should do) but i think you'd need to add an additional egg if you do that.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recipe: Nasi Lemak

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Here's a recipe i tried yesterday, reasonably easy, adapted from a few recipes i saw online. I'm probably gonna put more recipes on my blog as and when i try new ones and figure out easy ways to cook so that those who need to know these things (like i did) don't have to search high and low for explanations for so many things. I'm taking a lesson from Julia Child's cookbook, to be detailed enough so that you know what to expect.

You can keep the sambal in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. A few tips i learnt recently, is that cucumber always goes bad quickly, so don't put it in the fridge with any other food in the same container and hard boiled eggs can keep in the fridge for 1-2 days too. Another thing is, it may be easier to prepare the sambal the night before you want to eat it the next day for lunch or dinner, cos it took me a little less than an hour to prepare it (but that's just me, i'm a little slow in the kitchen).

Serves 3
Sambal Ikan Bilis
1 medium red onion, 1 loose cup ikan bilis, 1 clove garlic, 4 shallots, 10 dried chillies, 1 tsp belacan, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1 cup water plus tamarind pulp (about two heaped tsp or pulp the size of a ping pong ball)

1. Rinse the ikan bilis and dry with paper towels. Fry til golden in 1 tbsp oil. Set aside on paper towels.
2. Blend belacan, shallots, garlic & dried chilli. (If you prefer less spicy sambal, deseed the chillies first, but i like it fine spicy). You might need to be patient with your blender and check occasionally to make sure everything's mixed up into a fine paste.
3. Slice red onion into rings.
4. Heat oil (med-hi) and fry blended paste til fragrant. (1min)
5. Add onion rings and ikan bilis and stir well. You may need to loosen up your onion rings.
6. Add tamarind juice, salt & sugar, stir well.
7. Simmer on low heat til the sambal is thickened to your liking. (5-10 mins)

Coconut rice
2 cups rice, 3 pandan leaves, 2-4 small slices of ginger, 1 packet of coconut milk (200ml), 1 cup water.
1. Wash rice as per normal.
2. Add all ingredients into the rice cooker and set to cook. (Depending on whether you like your rice wetter or dryer you can adjust how much water to put in. I put in slightly less than 1 cup of water, but i think 1 cup would have been fine)
3. When it's done, it may look like it's still slightly wet on top, but not to worry, just stir well and it should be fine.

I served this with hard boiled eggs (done the night before also) and fried fish (just kembong covered with salt and fried in hot oil the day of), and just chopped up the cucumbers just before serving.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What's on the menu today and how to help your husband

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That's the question i ask myself (and get asked of) every day. Difficult to answer. Sometimes i run late, and end up buying food. Sometimes i decide to do something, then decide it's too hard (and i'm too tired) so i go back to my old reliable recipes (you know, like pasta... and pasta...). So i never quite know what's on the menu today. Sometimes you get lucky in my kitchen, if its a good day, you may get a whole dinner AND some cupcakes or dessert. As time goes by, your repertoire grows, so the 'old reliable recipes' gets updated with new old reliables, which then kinda causes you to forget what the old ones were, so you kinda go back and forth re-learning the old things (if you're forgetful like me).

Anyway, on a different but related topic, i learnt recently that being a wife does not equal housework or cooking or whatever. Ultimately that's not what being a wife is. Cos different people do different things, some wives have people to do that for them, some wives share the duties, some wives do it all themselves. But what they all have in common is that they're a helping partner to their husband. So it kinda becomes subjective, cos what a wife really is, is a woman who's fit to help him (in whatever way he needs to be helped). Maybe that means your husband needs you to help out with managing the household, maybe that means he doesn't. Maybe that means you need to be keeping up to date with whatever he's reading, so that he can bounce ideas off you and through discussion, may be able to get a better grasp of whatever he's trying to learn or understand. Maybe that means you need to work, maybe he doesn't need you to work, it's quite dependent on each situation.

So for me to have gone into marriage, imagining myself to be only the one kind of wife, is a real mistake. And one way that wives can avoid that is perhaps to ask your husbands how they need to be helped, and not rely on your own idea of how to help your husband. Studying our husbands is a difficult thing, men being the clams that they are (requiring some digging to get to the guts). But it's a worthwhile form of study (Adrianology, if you would call it)... On a funnier note, can you imagine if studying your husband was a professional course? You would have a Bachelor's degree of Adrianology! Doesn't sound right if you swap it with Married's Degree of Adrianology. Or how about Masters in Adrianology! Haha, now that's one i can't use.

Hmm, i think the roast chicken is burning...

Monday, July 11, 2011

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This is my Father's world,
O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems o so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father's world,
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King, let the heavens ring,
God reigns - let the earth be glad.

This is my Father's world,
a wanderer I may roam.
Whatever my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Taken from a hymn, for these times.