Monday, September 08, 2014

Wan ton soup - revisited




I made Wan Ton soup today. It was a spur of the moment thing since I was already out and about and I didn't have the kids with me. It's hubby last day of leave and I used this opportunity to get myself a pedicure while I still can. Finally the first time I have nice toes and summer is almost over!

I managed to make a run to the Asian store and decided to try and make Wan Ton soup. I must admit that I haven't been very successful in making these dumplings because I always found the dumplings tasted bland. And I could never get my soup to taste authentic.

As a result, hubby never developed a liking for this soup dish and he preferred to have his dumplings fried - doh!

This time though, it was a HUGE success! I decided to make my own chicken soup from scratch and use the chicken broth to cook the dumplings and Chinese vegetables.

Hubby is finally a convert for Wan Ton soup! In fact he liked it so much, he said I can cook this anytime and he doesn't need anything else except the Wan Ton soup and Char Siew barbecued pork. 

I found that the noodles need improvement though! I think I'm going to ask my cousin in Singapore, whose father is an owner of a Wan Ton noodle store in People's Park what their secret recipe is! 



My recipe for chicken stock:-

- 1 whole Chicken
- 1 Onion, quartered
- 1 Tomato, quartered
- Handful of dried Scallops

1. Boil some water in a pot big enough to fit the chicken. Do NOT add too much water. You would rather have less stock and a stronger taste.

2. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and lower the chicken into the water.

3. Add onion, tomato and dried scallops. Leave the stock to simmer over low to medium heat for about an hour. The longer the better.

4. Remove the chicken from the stock, sieve the stock and its ready to use.

Note: I chose to make my own chicken soup because I wasn't happy with the mushroom soup stock from the original recipe. 

Wan Ton recipe:- 

To make the dumplings, I followed the recipe from RasaMalaysia here. They tasted SUPERB! 

Gravy for noodles:- 

As I mentioned, I'm not satisfied with the taste of the gravy for the noodles. So I can't really recommend using the same recipe for the noodles. If you have any good recipes, please share!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The LBD - Little Blue Dress

In the fitting room

I recently bought a little blue dress. 

I had 2 weddings to attend and I desperately needed something I could fit into without looking like a dumpling! After 2 pregnancies, my figure has unfortunately gotten wider at the hips and waist. I'm still hoping when I (eventually) sign up for gym membership, I might be able to shed a few more pounds!

Since the kids came along, I've hardly had the time to shop for myself because it ain't fun to squeeze into a fitting room with a double stroller! In my desperation to get a formal dress before the weddings, I even tried online shopping but it turned out to be a disaster. I sent all 5 outfits back because they were either too big, too small, too long or too short. 

My in-laws came by one day to hang out with the kids and I'm proud to say that I managed to snag this beautiful blue dress in 40 minutes! I just headed for one shop that specialised in evening wear, got myself 5 outfits to try on and this was it!

Of course the only thing I didn't count on was that the dress isn't very children-friendly. And by that, I mean the plunging V-neck neckline which is no match for a toddler's constant pulling and tugging. I had to constantly pull up my dress! At my friends' suggestion, I'm going to attempt to hand-sew part of the neckline to make it more wearer-friendly.

This was also the first wedding which we actually knew the parents more than the bridal couple! I jokingly told the mother of the bride that either we're getting old or she's still very young! I'm hoping for the latter!

It was a very sweet wedding. The funny thing is that the groom happened to be an ex-student of mine when I was still teaching English and he remembered me as one of his teachers! (Talk about trying to keep a positive reputation because what goes around comes around!)

The weather was bright and sunny when the ceremony ended, but it took a turn for the worse and started to pour. Really pour. Everybody started scrambling for shelter but because the church was one of those old European churches, there wasn't any sheltered porch outside the church building and neither was there any room indoors to hang around in.

It was quite an eventful wedding with showers of blessings! May the Lord continue to guide and bless your union as you begin your life adventure as husband and wife, Mr and Mrs J!

The mom of the bride whom I'm close to

Sammy posing in front of the bridal car


That intense stare

The happy couple cutting their wedding cake

Mother of the bride with her trusty iPhone

Gabriel charming the ladies

The guests brought a potluck of savoury finger food and sweet treats

All home-made with love!
The cake pops were AMAZING! Another item on my "to-try" list!

With the happy couple. The Tews family was colour-coordinated!




Sammy is definitely a carbon copy of his Dad

The dress works when I don't have to carry my kid

But it gets tricky when I have a baby on me!

Nothing like having a kid to bring down the glam factor by a few notches!

Finally managed to get a solo shot of myself with my LBD

The day Sammy did a "runaway bride" rendition

I have 2 boys.

So while I might have dreams of having a little girl and dressing her up, the closest I get to do that with a boy is with a tuxedo. 

We were invited to a friend's wedding. She used to be one of our cell members while we were still leading a youth cell. Since she moved away to study medicine, we have had minimal contact but whenever we met up, it was as if she never left.

Before our big move, we got in contact because she was interested in some of our old furniture for her new apartment. We had intended to go for her wedding sans kids because it was in a city an hour's drive away and our kids are still too young to be out at a wedding for the entire day.

Hence, when she casually asked if I was interested for Sammy to be her ring-bearer, I was pleasantly surprised but couldn't give her a definite answer at first. I was so looking forward to having a couple date day but yet I knew that this would be a superb and rare opportunity for Sammy to have his first experience as a page boy, since most of our friends are married already.

Couple time or a chance for my baby to walk down an aisle looking all James Bond-like?

The latter won.

I then spent over 2 hours(!!!) searching for a good tuxedo offer online. It's ridiculous how much time was needed because there aren't many options for little boys' tuxedos and those I saw at first were so tacky, fit only for a Halloween party.

Hence, when I stumbled upon this website I knew that my search was over.  I got the "James Bond" outfit in slim fit. It costs only 45€ including shipping costs from the UK but I only paid 30€ because I had a 15€ discount for using Paypal. How cool is that?

When it arrived at my doorstep, I couldn't wait to try it on Sammy. I think I was even more excited than Sammy was.

 How cool is that? It even had its own case! 


Hey you! Do you wanna be my date tonight?

The tuxedo was a.m.a.z.i.n.g! It fit him like glove! It was exactly how I had pictured a tux on my little boy would look like. Sammy was so excited at being dressed up that he wanted to look at the mirror immediately. He kept saying "Sammy looks nice!" And the "best" part? He refused to take it off!

Needless to say, I started prepping him for the upcoming wedding. I told him that he would have to carry a ring pillow to the front of an aisle. We even practised it at home with a mini pillow. He seemed confident enough. Or so I thought.

Saturday came. We delivered Gabriel to his grandparents and made the hour's journey to Mannheim where the wedding was held. The sun was shining and it was a gorgeous day! A truly answered prayer because the days preceeding that was gloomy and rainy.

There was no wedding rehearsal so I wasn't entirely sure about the order of ceremony. The first thing that caught me off guard was that Sammy wasn't going to walk the aisle with the other flower girls and little boys. Unlike the usual weddings that I'm used to in Singapore, there was no wedding procession nor bridesmaids. It was only the bride with her father.

Sammy was supposed to bring the ring pillow smack in the middle of the ceremony when all eyes were on him.

I guess I should have backed off and called it quits back then. There was no way my 3-year old would be able to walk down an aisle, all alone and out of the blue.

Still, I kept to my guns and decided to just try it out. How bad can it get right?

He gingerly took a few steps with me nudging him. But then he suddenly turned around carrying the ring pillow with him. I tried to get him to turn back again, but he threw the ring pillow on the floor and bawled.

Everything else after that was a blur. All I remember was that I picked up the ring pillow and realised to my horror that the wedding bands were gone. A lady in the congregation passed me the bands which had rolled onto the floor and I had to be the impromptu ring-bearer, in my uncomfortably high heels and all.

Stephan carried the startled poor boy out of the chapel. You can guess what's going to be the talk of the wedding for many years to come!

We still managed to have some couple time though. We decided to bring Sammy to his grandparents after the wedding ceremony since the journey was only 40 mins to their house instead of the 1 hour to our place. Hubby and I had a lovely time together, being able to enjoy the wedding dinner and actually being able to talk to other couples without having to keep an eye on the little ones.

 My charming little kiddo

Looking all cool and self-composed (note: the chapel was still empty)


Our little family sans Gabriel

Finally managed to squeeze a smile out of the little man
Still all smiles

The beautiful ring pillow before Sammy decided to throw it on the floor

Looking pensive at the ring pillow
You can tell he was nervous

Sammy took this shot! I like it cos it shows you how everybody really dresses up at weddings here

That my mentor! The mother of the bride

The very gorgeous bride and her Dad!

Love the details of the dress


Exchanging their vows - seconds before the big ring pillow episode

Love how well-lit the church was

A little girl with lips as blue as her eyes

All DIY table deco

That had a beauty-kisses-frog-who-turns-into-a-prince wedding theme
My personalized napkin

I had so much time to even play with my camera setting!
Me and hubby at our first wedding dinner without kids

Yup! I told him to do that!


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Easy Mediterranean rice


This is my latest invention.

It was one of those days when I felt mega uninspired about what to cook and I didn't have enough food in my fridge.

I would so have loved to go to Burger King / Macdonalds and get the whole lunch thing over and done with. BUT being a Mum to two young boys, I simply couldn't feed them junk food and hope that they would not be hungry. Sammy has a love-hate relationship with his cheeseburger and while Gabriel likes french fries, I find it hard to justify french fries as a proper meal.

So whether I liked to or not, I had to cook.

Don't you hate those moments?

Well, so I did the next best thing I could do. I ransacked my fridge and freezer for whatever remnants of food I could find.

I found frozen prawns, frozen green beans, mozarella cheese and a couple of fresh tomatoes.

Usually I would cook pasta with tomatoes, but how could I possibly put green beans into my pasta? I'm sure my boys wouldn't have minded, but my hubby would have slaughtered me. Hah.

I decided to cook some rice and see where my creative juices took me. And oh boy! Was I even impressed with my own cooking! It was so easy to cook this meal - just one pan and I fried everything together. And because I didn't follow any recipe (I only seasoned it with salt and pepper), that really brought out the natural flavors of the shrimps, tomatoes and beans! The boys ate everything up such that we hardly had any leftovers.

It's one of those meals that you feel you can give yourself a pat on the back. Enough greens in a one-pot dish and yet tasty enough for your hubby to eat. Yeah, my hubby is the barometer of taste in the family because if he could have it his way, he wouldn't necessarily need any vegetables in his meals.

I'm no professional mediterranean chef, but this tasted mediterranean enough for me. It's like Italian fried rice. 

Ingredients:-

- 2 cups rice
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 3 Tomatoes, diced
- Handful of beans
- 250 grams Shrimps
- 1 packet Mozarella cheese, diced
- Handful of Basil leaves, chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1 large Onion, chopped

1. Cook the rice. While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients

2. Fry garlic and onion in olive oil until fragrant.

3. Add in the tomatoes and fry until the water almost evaporates.

4. Add in the chopped beans followed by the shrimps.

5. When the shrimps are almost done, add in the rice and mix well.

6. Season it with salt and pepper.

7. Before serving, garnish it with basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. The heat from the rice would melt the mozzarella cheese.

8. Serve warm.

Chef's notes:

- You can add whatever leftover vegetables you have in your fridge. But fresh tomatoes are of essence here, because you want the tomato juice to coat the rice.

- If you have more time, it would be better to cook the rice in advance and allow the rice to cool down before frying it. That way the rice grains remain intact while frying.

- We didn't have time for the previous step, so I fried the rice over very high heat. That way I limited the cooking time and the rice still remained intact.

- The final product tasted a lot like mediterranean baked rice without the additional baking time. Win!

(Disclaimer: We do go to fast food sometimes when we're in a time crunch. Everything in moderation yo.)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fried Carrot (radish) Cake - Singapore

My perennial all-time favourite breakfast food

I know my blog posts have been sparse. Do bear with me. I'm trying to blog more now that we're into our 6th week of being in our new abode.

Cooking with our new induction stove has been ...hmm.... a learning curve. Who would have thought right?

The induction stove heats up so quickly that garlic gets burnt really fast! I've had to discard garlic which I had painstakingly chopped because it charred in seconds after being thrown into the pan. I'm even unable to allow sauce to simmer without keeping an eye on it because the bottom of the pan burns so quickly!

For this reason, while I'm experimenting with the different levels of heat on my stove, I'm usually unwilling to cook fancy meals. The good thing is that there is a timer function for each individual hob so I no longer have to rely on a manual timer.

Still, after 5 weeks of eating quick meals I was starting to crave for real Singaporean meals. Facebook ain't the best place for a Singaporean living overseas, with the avalanche of food shots inundating my news feed. I have even blocked certain pages simply because I couldn't tolerate the whole seeing-but-not-eating feeling.

We finally made it down to the asian store recently and I stocked up on my necessities. One of the things I'd buy is rice flour because that's exactly what I need for my all-time favourite - Chai Tao Kway, or rather fried carrot cake done the Singaporean way.

I'm proud to say that Sammy loves it and he keeps telling me "Nice. Sammy likes it!" Gabriel is still not entirely convinced at its taste, but he's currently in a phase when he's simply not eating well and drooling a lot. His nights have been very tough too cos he would scream for no reason. We're hoping that it's just a phase of teething and that things would soothe itself out.

It was sooo good satisfying my craving. I had this with some sambal chilli.

If you're interested, this is my photo documentary of how I made the cake. The original recipe is here and I've adapted it for myself here.

Ingredients:

- 1 radish, grated (about 500 grams)
- 250 grams water
- 200 grams rice flour
- 1/4 tsp salt

1.  Puree the radish with a bit of water in a puree machine / babycook. Drain.

2. Mix the above ingredients and steam it over high heat for about 40 mins or until you get a smooth cake.

3. Allow the cake to cool before cutting it into small pieces to fry.


Ingredients:

- 5 cloves Garlic (chopped) 
- 2 tbsp Chai Por (preserved radish. Soak in water for 5 mins and drain)
- 3 Eggs, beaten
- Fish sauce to taste
- Tai Hwa sweet black sauce (I import mine directly from Singapore)
- Spring Onions (chopped)

3. Heat up some oil in a wok. Fry the carrot cake until crisp and a bit browned.

4. Add Chai por and chopped garlic. Add more oil if it gets too dry.

5. Add fish sauce to season.

6. Pour beaten egg over fried carrot cake. Allow egg to cook for a bit before flipping it over.

7. Add spring onions and fry. (I like my spring onions cooked)

8. Add sweet black sauce and coat. I add mine generously because I like my carrot cake sweet. You can omit this step if you prefer the white version.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A shout out from our new place!

My dear hubby managed to get our internet working today so I'm finally back in the land of the living..... kidding!

It was actually quite cleansing for us to live without WiFi for the past 3 weeks. I could still access the internet from my iPhone but seriously, with that mini screen, I wouldn't go past Facebooking and checking my Emails and Whatsapp.

It feels soooo good being able to type on the keyboard of my pink laptop again! .. Yeah I do have a pink laptop. Baby pink actually!

We are in our new apartment now! It's super new and nice! I got meself a terrific, gorgeous, spacious open-styled kitchen, we got a new sofa and even a TV! We have lived without a TV since we got married actually! It just appeared to be a very natural decision because I was living without a TV in Singapore anyways and when I first relocated to Germany, I understood zilch on German TV. I still don't think I'd understand 100% on German TV, but I think I should understand enough.

We're both still not in the habit of watching TV and to be honest, I wouldn't even know when I could get the time to watch TV! We're going to use the TV to watch DVDs and our episodes for now. :)

Everything still feels very new for me. I had to get accustomed to taking the subway to town and be downtown in 20 mins! It's such a treat for us, because in the past, I would have to give myself 1 hour (!!!) to get from home to town by car! These days, Sammy would ask me, "Mummy, take train today?" in the mornings because he's absolutely mesmerized by the locomotive!

Even the route from  home to town is so scenic! The train goes through this elevated region, so one is treated to a bird's eye view of Stuttgart and its SO.VERY.PRETTY! I do feel like a tourist in my city again!

Our apartment is actually warm! Of course we haven't turned on the heater since its summer but the weather has been quite ridiculous lately. It's humid, warm AND cold at the same time! Today, it was 22 degrees and I went out with a sun dress. BUT when the sun stopped shining, it was actually chilly! When I wore my denim jacket, it became too warm! Crazy.

I digress. I'm just so happy that even with mild summer / temperature, I can walk around bare-footed in my home and my kids can run around bare-footed. In our old place, I would always have to make sure that their feet are covered because the floor was always cold. Gabriel is happily crawling around without any footwear. Sammy is still wearing his house shoes because that boy loves his shoes. I'm serious. He wears his shoes first thing in the morning.

Time seemed to have flown by since my last entry. Other than the obvious reason that I haven't been able to blog because of lack of internet, we've been so busy with the affairs of the house that there's been little time for leisure! Having a new place is somewhat like having a newborn baby! - BUT more expensive! Haha. Newborns are cheaper in comparison - at least for the first few months.

We've spent all our weekends in furniture malls trying to get miscellaneous things and we are still not done. Naked light bulbs hang all around our place, our kitchen is still lacking a few things, we need drapes to cover our French-styled ceiling-to-floor glass windows etc.

I must say that the lack of privacy was something I had to get used to. Our glass windows are not entirely see-through since they are tinted like a car window. But since I have no idea how "far" a person can see through the windows, I'm always trying to scramble from one wall to the next, especially when I just come out of the bathroom. At night with the lights on, our apartment is completely see-through.

It's been an adventure even driving around out new place. We've gone to Ikea and a nearby shopping centre. The first time I tried to drive out of Ikea, I took the same amount of time to get out of that area as I did to actually drive home! I wasn't familiar with the streets and my navigation system does not tell me when to change lane so that I can make a turning on time. Hence, I was turning around in so many circles, it wasn't even funny anymore!

Alrighty, I think I shall save some things to write about for the next time! No photos of our new place yet! It's still not "tidy" enough for photos that are Internet-worthy. But I shall treat you to a photobomb of our little ones.... for those of you faithful enough to read until here!

Last few photos in our old place:

Sammy wasn't actually strangling Gabriel even though it TOTALLY looks like it!

Can you tell they are brothers?

Looking all innocent on our old balcony


At an outdoor gathering one day after the big move. We were knackered!
Here's how you drink out of a glass

Where's all that water?



Maybe I'll try it upside-down instead!

Nah, I think I prefer my water bottle!

Finally one decent shot of my baby!


 Sitting straight like a big boss!


 Playing with the bottle cap

No baby, you don't put the cap in your mouth!

Yeeeah! That's what I call a good stretch!

Oh Dad, that tickles!

I think that's what you call a hairstyle that is in desperate need of a haircut!

On our new balcony!

 Testing out our balcony

Our building looks exactly like the building in the background

Yeah Ma! I think I'll take the balcony. It's nice enough!

Sam trying out Dad's shaving cream

Happy with the results!

Hey Ma! Look at my white fingers!

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