Daisypath - Vacation

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)

I've been venturing into Japanese food lately.

It's no secret that hubby and I love all things Japanese. We would eat sushi every week if it only weren't so expensive here!

I have a Japanese friend in Stuttgart from whom I picked up some tips for Japanese cooking, but she's more of a cooking-by-feeling person. Without any recipes, I've been too lazy to research for recipes to experiment.

Until now that is! 

I've been getting bored with my daily cooking, so I knew that I needed a breath of fresh air in my kitchen.

Hence, when I saw that the Asian store where I usually go to started to stock up on Japanese condiments, I knew that this was my sign to venture into unknown territory!

I've  been wanting to try out Okonomiyaki for the longest time. It's simply savoury Japanese pancake that one can top with anything one wants.

The basic ingredients for the toppings would be cabbage and pork slices.

The best part about this meal is that you can put a hot plate on the table and do the cooking while talking to your guests. You can make one pancake after the next, without actually leaving your table. That would ensure that your pancakes are always eaten warm and quickly.

I did some research online and came up with my own version of Okonomiyaki. As a disclaimer, I ain't Japanese and neither am I a connoisseur of Japanese food, so feel free to modify the recipe according to your taste!

I still need to work on the aesthetics of my pancake and my pancake flipping skills but other than that, hubby and I loved it so much that we did the same dish again one week later! My boys are still (unfortunately) not too impressed with it, probably because they are not used to the taste of Japanese food... yet.

Having said that, Sammy loves salmon nigiri, but he doesn't like the taste of seaweed whereas Gabriel seems to enjoy salmon maki, together with the seaweed! I'm sure that it is only a question of time before my boys become mini converts too!

The pancake before it was flipped
Ooh la la! The final product!


(Serving size: About 4 huge pancakes. Enough for a family of 4 with 2 guests)

Ingredients for the pancake: -

- 250 grams flour (2 cups)
- 4 eggs
- 666 ml Water ( 2 2/3 cups)
- 2 tsp Dashi powder

Toppings:-

- 1/2 a large Cabbage (chopped)  (I used Spitzkohl) 
- 500 grams Pork Belly (thinly-sliced)
- 12 Shrimps (cut into small pieces)
- 3 fresh Octopus (cut into small pieces) 
- A bunch of Spring Onions (chopped)
- Katsuobushi (Fish flakes)
- Anori (Seaweed either sliced or in powdered form)
- Okonomiyaki Sauce
- Japanese Mayonaise (I used normal Mayo)

1. Mix the ingredients for the pancake. Add cabbage and combine well.

2. Heat some oil in the pan over medium heat. Add some pancake mixture and neaten the edges using a spatula. Put enough batter to hold the pancake together, but not too much such that it takes too long to cook.

3. Place the toppings on the batter. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the pancake layer is done.

4. Flip the pancake carefully. I used a huge flat spoon. Allow the toppings to cook for another 5 minutes or until done.

5. Serve on plate with toppings facing upwards. Spread Okonomiyaki sauce and Mayonaise generously on top. Sprinkle some Katsuobushi and Anori.

Enjoy!

Adapted from recipe here

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dear Sammy - 3 years update


Dear Sammy

You've turned 3 already! I haven't done an update in ages so here goes!

Your biggest milestone is that you've started preschool! You're currently in your 2nd week of preschool and you took to it like a fish to water.

Daddy sends you to preschool around 7.30-8am, while Mummy picks you up around 12.15 - 12.30pm. This routine works very well for us since that means that Gabriel and I can have a leisurely morning together. 

Each time I ask you what you did today at kindergarten, you would give me the same reply, "Fußball" (football). And I would try to engage you in a little conversation about whether you've made any new friends, or whether you like your new teachers and you would only give me monosyllabic answers of "yes" or "no". You're such a typical boy!!!

However, when we are hanging out together in the afternoon with Gabriel, you would chatter with me incessantly. You have a penchant for excavators (or "bagger" as you would say in German) and planes. You would spot a plane immediately in the huge skies and whenever you hear an excavator making a loud noise, you would ask me "hear that?"

Your list of vocabulary and words now is such a far cry compared to when you were two. Back then, Mummy was going crazy that you refused to talk, no matter how much we encouraged or "bribed" you to!

While Mummy is happy that you've officially begun your life as a preschooler, it was hard letting you go! Afterall, you've been my full-time baby for the past 3 years! Mummy has absolutely no regrets waiting out 3 years before enrolling you in school because those 3 years would never come back again!

Having you 24/7, spending every.single.morning.afternoon.and.evening with you. Planning things to do together, lazing on the bed in the mornings, letting you and Gabriel roam in the house with absolutely no agenda, but just enjoying our time together. These are memories that money can never buy. And I would do it again in an instant.

Mummy is quite thankful that Gabriel is only 15 months so that means I still have him at home with me for a good 1.5years more! *phew* 

You're completely toilet-trained in the day time. I can't remember when that happened, but it should have been around your 2.5 year mark. We're so proud of you that you hardly have any accidents and you don't need any help going to the toilet anymore! You still use diapers at night but that's all perfectly normal.

Oh you love buttons. You would always race me and Gabriel (in the stroller) to the lift while yelling "Sammy push Sammy push". Poor Gabriel is no match for your speed, but that day will most definitely come when you two "fight" to be the first to get to the buttons!

Whenever you hurt yourself, the first thing you'd want me or Daddy to do is to blow at your finger and pray that God will heal it. I don't even know how you realized that prayer helps to alleviate the pain, but once I forgot to pray for your finger and was about to leave when you reminded me to pray for you!

Our hope and wish for you is that you will know that God is always by your side and He's as close as a prayer away.

We see the hand of God's protection on you. Recently we went to the Oktoberfest in Stuttgart with some friends. Out of the blue, an ambulance drove through the crowd at high speed because of an emergency. I was trying to pay attention to you and your friend when both of you decided to run in separate directions. I couldn't see where your friend was going anymore, so I turned to look for him and in that very second, you disappeared from sight too.

In that spilt second, I realized you actually disappeared in the direction of the siren of the ambulance! My heart almost died before I saw you running back in my direction again. Only God knows how close you actually got to the ambulance but I know for sure that God's hand protected you from harm! And of course I was angry that the ambulance would rush through a crowd full of children to get to an emergency!

You're a true-blue independent soul. You're so confident playing on your own at the playground that you don't even need to be around your friends / me. On one hand, it drives me crazy because that means that you don't care about being lost in a crowd since you never bother to look for your parents but on the other hand, that also means that you're not afraid to be different. To stand alone.

We pray that God will be your rock and you will know that when you stand on God's side, nothing can stand against you. Rest in confidence that God loves you so much and He will always be fighting for you.

You have become such a great eater! 

Gone are the days when I had to crack my brains for recipes to conceal vegetables while trying to make the meal taste non-vegetably! These days, you would ask to eat our salad - complete with fresh leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and even raw carrots. You snack on huge chunky pieces of raw carrots! YAY!

What a huge relief this has been to us! My boy has developed his taste buds for healthy vegetables! As much as you eat much more now, you don't overeat. You would say "Mummy, enough. I'm full." when I try to persuade you to eat more.

Your tactile abilities and motor skills still continue to astound us.

After riding your balancing bike for about a month, you started asking Mummy for a real bike. And judging from how you are able to ride your bike without putting your feet on the ground, Mummy knows that you're all-too-ready for the big boy's bike.




Your favourite phrase these days is "Mummy, I love you!" You say that ALL the time! You would be in the middle of a tantrum and Mummy would be trying everything to get you back on your balancing bike so we can make our way home. You would be all frustrated and sitting on the ground, but instead of engaging in some verbal fight, you would just say "Mummy, I love you!"

And I would say, "Yes, I love you too. But please get back on your bike." And you would cycle for a few more metres before the whole saga started ALL.OVER.AGAIN.

It's hard to be really angry at a kid who keeps telling you he loves you over and over again, isn't it? But trust me, it is possible!

One more thing before I end.

Before we started Kindy, we asked you why are you looking forward to Kindergarten.

You answered, "To read the Bible". 

And there and then, you totally melted our hearts.

You somehow realized that Sunday school is where you go to read the Bible and learn about Jesus. So you figured that Kindergarten is going to be similar to Sunday School - which it is, since this is a Catholic Kindergarten and they do tell you stories about Jesus too.

But your answer totally melted our hearts because we always thought that you enjoyed Sunday School for reasons such that you get to see your friends, or play with the toys etc.

But oh man, you actually enjoy Sunday School to read the Bible.

Such a humbling lesson for me. May the Lord continue to use you to teach me truths about Himself. Simple, enlightening, heart-warming truths.

It's all about God.

We love you son. So so much. Thank you for enriching our lives in ways we never thought was possible before we had you.

Mummy & Daddy

At cuddly and squishy at birth

All cheeky (and still chubby) at his first birthday

Getting his first bike at 2
Looking all grown up at almost 3 years

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sammy's and Gabriel's combined Birthday Party

Sammy turned 3 on the 5th of September! Can't believe that 3 years ago, I was in labour and held my baby in my arms for the very first time! And now my not-so-little boy is going to start preschool in about a week's time! *sob*

Since we didn't have time to have a proper first birthday celebration for Gabriel, we decided to have a combined birthday party at our new place! Their birthdays are about 2 months apart.

It was such a lovely celebration. We only invited very close friends, such that Sammy knew the names of everybody there by heart. I didn't want a massive party because when kids are involved, the noise barometer goes through the roof. Even then, with about 11 kids and their parents, it was no walk in the park either. But it was fun madness though!

Hubby took the week off since we didn't have any major holiday this year and he still has quite a bit of outstanding leave. And since he was off, we managed to hold the party on Sammy's actual birthday itself (a Friday).

And hear this.

Hubby baked ALL the cakes that day! Seriously. He singlehandedly baked the chocolate fudge birthday cake as well as the lemon cupcakes with icing.

All I had to do was to give him the recipes (which I had previously tried and tested of course) and leave him to it! He followed the instructions down to the T and everything was perfect!

I must say that he did inherit his father's baking genes. My father-in-law was a trained confectioner before he enlisted into the navy in his younger days.

This party was also the first children's party which we had a craft activity. We had a "Safari" animal theme with decorations that we ordered online.

I debated about doing a craft but I think one year of going to an International English playgroup with weekly crafting has somewhat shifted my idea of what a children's party is supposed to be like. I used to be adverse to the idea of making something that most probably would end up in the trash anyways. BUT I realized that being a SAHM, it's nice to have some keepsakes to remember the days by.

My weekly routine is just that. Routine. A routine I like and enjoy though, don't get me wrong. But the one thing that separates one Monday from the next is the craft that I do together with my son and they get hung on the wall as a remembrance.

So that's how I came up with the idea of doing a lion mask with the kids. It was quite a hit with the kids, albeit a bit chaotic when all the kids tried to get their hands on the same glue / paper / scissors.... you get the idea.

Oh, we had GORGEOUS weather too! Our guests could sit on our balcony and we did craft on the balcony table. My mom-in-law mentioned that every year without fail, we would have lovely weather on Sammy's birthday. And it's true!

We had very rainy and gloomy weather the whole week (no kidding) and I did pray for good weather for the birthday but to be honest, I prayed with pessimisstic optimistism. So when the sun came out nice and strong AND warm on that Friday, I couldn't believe that God really answered my prayer! Amen!

Happy birthday my little man! We are so proud of you! May you continue to grow in love, wisdom and sweetness of spirit. We love you so much. 

(Reminder to self: to do a Dear Sammy update soon!)



 The sign that greeted our visitors. That's the mask that I did on my own.

Icing the "expanded" cupcakes

Our living / dining room


Our safari-theme decoration with mini confetti shaped as trees. Gabe was trying to eat those trees!

Sushi (Maki) that took me about 2 hours to make on the day itself. Everyone loved it! So it was worth the effort.

Got this idea from a friend. Lemon-infused water.

Hanging animal deco


More hanging animals. You can tell our dining table lamp is not there yet.

Goodie bags which we unfortunately forgot to give most of our guests!

Very simple and quick ham-and-cheese-pastry

Finally managed to use our balcony furniture again!

Our successful lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting

Our re-invented cupcakes that overflowed because yours truly filled too much batter into the cupcake tins!

Food glorious food!

Some of Sammy's closest friends - Missing you Coralie, Lucas and Ryan!



 Some of our lovely guests!

Love the faraway look in his eyes

A sign of days to come??? LOL!

Argh girls! Why can't they just leave me alone?

CRAFT time! Even Gabe wanted in on the action!

Helping Sam with his craft

Deep in concentration


Everyone hard at work

Sammy sticking the lion's mane

Typical moment in my life. Trying to help Sammy while carrying Gabriel.

Typical moment of a mom's life: Helping to finish her kid's craft


Trying to look cool for the camera. Repeat: "Trying"
The (only) chilled people at the party. Why? One has no kids yet and the others have an infant
The happy birthday boy


Can you believe Daddy baked this cake? It reads "SAM" and "GABE".

Best family portrait we could get before the cake was cut



 Unpacking their presents


That's Sammy's present from us - a balancing bike. He's sooo good at it (and I'm not bragging here), he got the hang of it on the day itself and after 3 days, Stephan and I wonder if we should have gotten him a proper bike instead!

We are the lions.....

....now hear us ROAR!!!!

The masks turned out not too bad right?
Sammy demostrating how to pump a water pump

Lovely friends made from our English playgroup, missing you Cassie and Allison!

What are we gonna do Mum, now that the party is over?

Aftermath of a party. It was sooo fun though!

Thanks so much all of you who came (and didn't manage to come) and showered us with such thoughtful gifts! We love and appreciate every single one of you! We had such a memorable party. It felt soooo good creating new memories in our new place! Here's to many more to come!

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