Thursday, August 27, 2015

Korean BBQ and the works!

It was a busy busy Sunday. Sure enough we love to make elaborate meals on Sundays because it is our day at home. Not to mention the cooking spree also allows me to pack from leftovers for the week. But this was just different.

We had just redeemed our lucky draw gift from the Family Day weekend. It's a table top BBQ set. And immediately, as weekend approached, hubby was already rubbing his hands for a BBQ meal, a Korean inspired on, that is. What could I say? 

So it started. We got 2 types of pork cuts, one lean, another belly. And I entrusted the Mister with lotsa seasoning condiments. Imagine Indian, oriental and western seasoning. And he went wild! These are what we got.

I can't remember the combinations now, but let me just point to you, the last one, actually has sambal belacan in it!

While hubby worked on the meat marinations, I got into making my kimchi

And some spring onion salad. And some Korean anchovies with sesame seed. Not in pic is the chopped spring onion.

Some fresh lettuce was on standby.

We also got some vegetables like onion, oyster mushroom, red pepper and pineapple. This was getting so Bobby Flay!

And then we got the BBQ out!

And this is how we worked it!

Check out the caramelizings!

Out little ensemble.

I was also forced to pose for this picture.

We grilled and we ate. We ate and we grilled. Repeat this 20 times. Awesome Possum!

At the end of it, we were sweating like in a sauna (like every other cooking session) and this time we did not even feel overly full with all the BBQ meat. Should have a Korean BBQ party soon. 

Lesson of the day, for me at least was caramelised pineapples just rock the taste buds!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Homemade Virgin Coconut Oil

Thanks to the growing cost of living, I have resorted to a lot of DIYs, and luckily, so far it has been pretty successful. My most recent discovery (and possibily most cost saving) and attempt in DIY is making virgin coconut oil (VCO).

Recently I stumbled across a simple method to making cold-pressed VCO in one of Facebook sharing, and I was like 'You can't be serious?'

Doing further discussion with Mr. Google I realised how easy it was to actually make cold pressed VCO. Thanks to recent popularity of VCOs we have all gone out and purchased expensive drops of oil which seems to be a cure and beneficial for almost everything in our daily lived. 

The most shocking discovery as yet is that the complicated sounding cold pressed method just implies to the preparation that does not rise above 49C. 
  1. Although pressing and grinding produces heat through friction, the temperature must not rise above 120°F (49°C) for any oil to be considered cold pressedCold pressed oils are produced at even lower temperatures. Cold pressed oils retain all of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value.
That's it? I had this giant press machine with some features or parameters that extracts the best and most nutritional drops of oil going in my head. I have been so deluded, luckily enough, I know it now. If this is true, then we have so been over-charged for something that is easily made!

After much reading I came down to this Desert Enlightment blog, enlightenment indeed! So simple, so cheap and so preservatives free! And I followed it to the tee.

1) I bought fresh coconut milk. It is strained off the grated coconut meat. Let it rest on the counter top, covered, for 24 hours.

2. Then I moved it into the fridge. And left it for another 24 hours.

3. At the end of the total 48 hours, this is how it turned out.

The coconut milk had separated into a thick layer on top, and water at the bottom. The thick layer on top is the coconut oil that had hardened being chilled.

I was rather confused for the first 30 minutes, and out of curiousity I even tasted both the layers. The hard white layer (which eventually turned out to be the coconut oil) was coconut-y smelling, mild tasting, and melting in my mouth. And the bottom water layer was sour and yucks!

After it struck me that I have just got my own VCO, I was in disbelief for a short while. I finally broke the white solid piece and strained it a while to get any moisture off it. And there is the home made much cheaper VCO!

As this is home made and we did not use any specific method to dry the moisture, it is advisable to store it in the fridge at all times. I am so excited to use this for cooking or even conditioning purposes for hair and skin. Looks like I have just uncovered another money-saving shortcut to making healthy goodies at home and I cannot be more esctatic! And I am definitely ditching store-bought VCO!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chicken Stock Recipe

Remember my picky non-eater?

In case you are wondering, no, he did not change for the better. He just remained himself. Picky. Fussy. Non-eater. As far as he is concerned, he is a vegetarian because he does not take egg, chicken or any fish. Little does he know I am always sneaking something in his food. It is either eggs in his fried rice/noodles, or chicken stock in his gravies, pasta, and soup.

My most favourite sneak-in is the chicken stock. Also known as the bone broth. Broth (or technically, stock) is a mineral rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices. Adding some apple cider vinegar (ACV) ensures that minerals will be pulled out of the bones and into the stock. 

Chicken stock is generally good for bone and tooth health, as well as being health-boosting. Sure chicken stock is now easily available at supermarkets, however like anything processed and sold over the counter, it is never 100% free of preservatives. And once you see how simple it is to make at home, it just does not make sense to spend on buying it. And it is almost effortless too.

I get the carcass from the fresh market and I usually use slow cooker to cook it over low settings for up to 18 hours. I usually do 3 carcass with 3 litres of water and some ACV. You can do up to 36 hours for the best, thick and flavourful broth. For extra flavour and aroma I usually put in some celery, carrot, bay leaves, star aniseed and cinnamon stick. However there are times when I just want milder tasting so I skip the spices. 

That's it, just leave it in the slow cooker and forget about it for those hours, go to sleep, go about your chores... except you cannot completely forget about it because by then your kitchen will be full of the stock aroma. And it just gets stronger and stronger as it cooks.

After 18 hours I would turn the off the power and let it cool down to room temperature before I pack in to separate containers to be frozen. I simply take it out whenever needed. You don't need to thaw it much because as it is being used in cooking, it does naturally melt on its own as you simmer it in soup/stew/gravies.

Chicken stock makes a great base for dishes with gravy. Gravies are a must in our household as Jeev loves rice and gravy, so we get chicken stock gravy for him. Sometimes I even cook the rice in chicken stock, what better way to sneak it in for everyone at home?

You can find further information on the goodnes of bone broth at the Wellness Mama site, and tell me if you are not convinced already!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grilled Chicken In Creamy Cilantro Lemon Sauce

I have been inspired with this recipe skillet chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce I found on Sally's Baking Addiction. The creamy cilantro is very very tempting, however I did not have an oven-proof skillet. Then it hit me, why not use the Happy Call Pan for all searing and grilling?

So it was time to clean the dust off the HCP, ok not really, but I have not used it for something new for a while now, so it felt like I have missed my HCP for a long long time. Then the excitement began. And this happened.

I replaced lime with lemon since I only had the latter. And also I put in extra vegetables like leek and mushroom into the gravy, because I love the garlicky aroma of the leek and well mushrooms go well with cream any time. And oh, the cooking cream was substituted with regular full cream milk. 

You Need:
1 onion - chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic - chopped fine
2 tbsp cilantro - chopped fine
some leek - chopped
shitake mushroom - chopped
chilli flakes
paprika powder
1 cup chicken stock
2 splashes of milk
juice of a quarter lemon
2 pcs of chicken breast marinated with salt/pepper
some butter

Method:1) Heat up the HCP. Put some butter and start searing the chicken breasts. Each side for about 6-7 minutes. Take it off the HCP and set aside.

2) Heat up some butter in the HCP and sautee onion, garlic, half of the cilantro, leek and shitake mushroom till aromatic. You can also add the paprika powder and chilli flakes. 

3) Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and let it simmer for 5 mins. You can also add the milk or cooking cream and let it simmer and reduce for 8-10 minutes.
4) You can now add in the chicken, and lock the HCP cover. Let it cook for 8 minutes on each side with the cover locked.
5) Sprinkle the balance chopped cilantro and serve hot with the creamy sauce!
It really is very simple and fast to cook this using the HCP, in fact works faster than baking in the oven because it takes time to pre-heat as well. Thanks to the creamy sauce the chicken breast is unsually juicy and flavourful, something that is very rare when grilling chicken breasts on their own.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Club Med Cherating July 2015

Our most celebrated and awesome vacation ever. Club Med Cherating!

Upon our arrival, while waiting for our booking details, we saw this sign, how politely durians are not allowed, yet explained in detail on its nature & popularity.

Once settling our luggages in our room, we went for a quick meal at the noodle bar. My, oh my, to our surprise there was a tap (pardon my lack for better word) for draught beer, 'heavenly' as said by my significant half. And so it officially began.

We immediately got the kids changed and playing at the pool.

And got our respective drinks.

The practice of drinking cocktails continued for the next 4 days. Non stop. It was more worth drinking cocktails than water here. True Story.

Margaritas for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. And supper if you may. In fact you could request for any combination of drinks at the bar. Imagination is your limit.

Kids joined the mini club for 4-7 year olds. Sanju had his first ever adventure of  trapeze jump. And how!

While Jeev preferred to hang-out with the folks (yup, thats us) at the bar.

And hey before I forget, yes there is loads and loads of food that even foodies like us did not get to taste every bite of. By 3rd day we were so turned off buy the breads/desserts aroma.. it is that awesome!

And please do not take my pictures for it, they totally do not do justice cos I felt so weird taking pics of the restaurant.. there is so much more to see and eat!

Every night there was entertainment and performance. There would be music and dance till 12am, its just we with kids did not stay out so late because lets face it, the kids (and us parents too) get so darn tired by end of the day.

On our last night there, the Mini Club kids did a performance and Sanju participated in it.

See the boy with moustache? He enjoyed the club so much that every morning he would get up and nag me till I dropped him at the club house. It is definitely one of the highlights of Club Med as a family holiday destination.

That night, it rained heavily, right after the performance, it was some experience for us, as well as sentiment revoking. Yes, we are so Bollywood like that!

This is the theatre where the performance is every night.

The kids pool is so huge, kids have the most fun!

The village is built on stilts, and nature is preserved below it. As you walk to and fro your room everyday, it is not uncommon to see animals like lizards, squirrels, monkeys and lovely birds roaming about, totally oblivious to human activities. 

The beach is clean and lovely. You can also walk or take the tram to the other beach which is better for family to play and enjoy. So much to do, see and eat, it is a complete holiday for a family with kids especially. We are hoping that Jeev would enjoy the club the next time we go Club Med. Oh yes, there is definitely going to be a next time!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mini Me Turns F-O-U-R

Our journey together has certainly been one of a kind. At first I was so overwhelmed with having a 19 month old and a newborn to care for. On top of that the newborn was such a high needs baby who cried and cried for don't know what reason. Nothing much seemed to soothe him except breastfeeding. Then breastfeeding became a problem that he got over clingy. It took me a while to find a teeny space in me to love him unconditionally, and what has it become now! Forever the baby!

And I am not just saying that but he does still smell/behave/look like a baby. I think it is the youngest child syndrome!

As you can see the big bro was eager beaver to blow the candles. He was rather upset when everyone wished Jeev so I  made sure he got his birthday wishes too. Alas, he blew the candles the first time round, and we let Jeev have his turn the second time round!

A little more about Jeev, he has a special fashion sense, especially at bedtime.

He confides in his big bro when mummy gets upset with him. Especially at dinner table.

And he loves reading (flipping through) books. Even when he is drinking his milk. True story.

He loves cycling on his tricycle. He has a troop of cyclists who escorts him on the road.

His favourite animal is a tiger. Even if it means just a statue.

He loves wearing the same clothes as his brother.

He is very supportive of his brothers activities. See him making a heart shape with the taekwando suit belt. Who would have thought?

He prefers to hang out at the bar with Appa than join the kids' club. More on that next time.

And as far as toys are concerned, little imitation legos keep him (and Sanju) super-duper-uber-happy!

Happy 4th Birthday the not-so-little-baby!


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