Job hunting again.

I’m back on the job hunt market and started applying again. I did before Chinese New Year but it wasn’t very aggressive hunting unlike when we were looking for life insurance quotes in Switzerland. Now that February is almost over – I did promise Nil that I would start looking again after Chinese New Year – it’s time to dust off my resume and start…well, hunting.

While part of me is excited about the prospects of going back to work, a HUGE part of me is, well, feeling quite torn and forlorn about the whole thing.

It’s a hard decision to make; in fact, I am very reluctant to do it but we have to because we need the extra cash and well, Eva is old enough, I figured. Still, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if this is a good idea – to leave her in the care of someone who doesn’t know her very well or could subscribe to different caring methods that I do. Then there are things to plan and worry about like how to continue breastfeeding her while putting her on solids that I’ve cooked and so forth.

It is at times like this that I really wish I was into lotteries and Totos, actually buy them, and then actually win them so that I could spend all my time watching my children grow up before my eyes instead of digesting them through someone else. I guess for some of us, you could say that once you are a SAHM, it’s hard to go back to work again.

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Review: Easiyo Yogurt Maker

Easiyo Yogurt Maker

We consume quite a lot of yoghurt and since Eva started solids, one of the first foods I wanted to introduce to her was yoghurt as Nil and I just simply loveeeee yoghurt to bits, not to mention he wants to be absolutely sure that she grows up exposed to a wide variety of both European and Asian foods/items. The only problem with us loving yoghurt is that it can really put a dent in our pockets. A one kilo tub of good quality creamy yoghurt can hit up to nearly $10 so I started exploring the option of making homemade yoghurt.

I came across the Easiyo Yogurt Maker and decided that it was good value for money as it was simple to use (just three steps), the gadget itself looked simple – nothing fancy like stainless steel drums and so forth – and have starters/cultures available as well. Phoon Huat here in Singapore sells these for $35 and the cultures for $6. I was lucky to have stumbled upon them while they were having a promotion – buy a yoghurt maker and get five culture packs of the same value for free. So I grabbed a pack of Natural, Custard, Mango and two packs of Skimmers (low fat) cultures. All the culture packs include milk solids and live cultures already so all you need to do is just add water. Best part is that each pack makes 1 kg of yoghurt.

The instructions are easy – wash and dry the yoghurt maker (where you’ll be culturing your yoghurt) before use and wipe the yoghurt jar with a damp cloth. In the yoghurt maker, pour in the cultures and add in about 500ml of cool water (refrigerated water is good) before stirring rapidly and well (if you want creamier yoghurt). Once the cultures have dissolved, fill it up to the 1 liter mark and close the maker. Fill the jar with boiling water until the indication point (there is a mechanism inside) and place the maker inside before closing the jar. Put aside for at least 10-12 hours – you can leave it to culture for up to 24 hours and the result will be firm but tangy yoghurt. The shorter it has been culturing, the less firmer and less tangy the yoghurt will be. I like my yoghurt creamy and slightly firm as well as tangy so I let it sit for 12 hours.

After this, you can remove the maker and refrigerate the yoghurt maker but what I did was stir up the yoghurt before refrigeration to help mix the whey (liquid from the culturing process which is high in Vit B and so forth) and yoghurt. The result is as seen in the pic below – slightly liquidy and not quite set. I left the mix to set in the fridge overnight and the result was firm but creamy and yummy yoghurt.

At first, Nil was a bit sceptical about using culture packs but when he tasted the yoghurt after culturing and then again after setting, he was sold on it! His verdict? Yummy! Best part of all is that you don’t need culture packs to make yoghurt. All you need is milk and more yoghurt which I’ll tell one of these days as what yoghurt you use (as a starter) has an impact on the taste as well as the type of milk you use.

Oh, did I mention that Eva loves it as well? 😀

Natural Easiyo Yogurt

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Pan fried tamarind prawns

Pan fried tamarind prawns

Prawns are wonderful. Never mind that they are bottom feeders and people think they are filled with tons of junk. Nil and I simply love prawns – doesn’t matter if they come to us boiled with a slice of lemon or stir fried or in curries. Prawns are yummy!

BUT getting to the flesh can be tedious if you hate peeling prawns to bits. Then there is the preparation – if you want to eat the flesh without having to peel it, you need to shell it before you cook it. They leave a stench on your fingers and anything that comes into contact with it, including my stroller basket. (I wouldn’t and cannot imagine parents with preppy strollers like this Bob stroller putting in prawns in their stroller basket so it must be just me/Nil!). My Swiss-Italian housemate used to think that I was nuts shelling my own prawns back in Australia when you can buy them shelled. They cost more and I was a stingy poker back then when it came to food. Besides, you can do more with unshelled prawns – pan fries, boiled, grilled and so forth instead of the regular add-in-veg or fried rice with shelled ones!

It takes a certain kind of skill to pick out fresh prawns from not-so-fresh ones – I’m still working on it although I got most of it down to pat, I think. Choose prawns with a firm texture, hard shell and not slippery. Sometimes I’m too busy thinking about other stuff to buy and get one or two which aren’t fresh but no biggie. Often, they are still edible; they just don’t taste as good as fresh ones – not-so-fresh prawns when cooked are often mushy, and their flesh sort of splits or falls apart easily.

When storing prawns, the old school style has always been to fill a container with some water and sugar, toss the prawns in immediately upon returning home and freeze it. For shelled prawns, sprinkle some sugar over and freeze. Sugar is used to maintain the firmness and enhance the sweetness in the flesh. Both methods have worked well in my favour; I find it great when prices are low and I want to stock up on prawns.

When cooking prawns, look out for the characteristic pink colour throughout the prawn. It should be even – this means even the tail and head has to be pink. Half-cooked prawns can result in you having a rendezvous with the toilet – not recommended at all. Having said that, don’t overcook your prawns – they will end up dry and tough. You want something juicy yet fully cooked.

How to cook whole prawns? Well, there are many ways – with butter, garlic, cereals, on the grill with/without marinate, boiled, curries and flavoured sauces, and Nil’s favourite style – with plenty of tamarind pulp. Note that with this dish, the more “burnt” the prawn is, the better the flavour so don’t worry about having to watch out for your prawn and use plenty of high heat. A non-stick pan will work best in this instance.

Pan fried tamarind prawns

Ingredients

500 gms medium to large prawns
100 gms of tamarind pulp – more if you like it stronger
Light soy sauce
Some water

Method

  1. Remove the sharp bits on the prawns head and tail as well as the whiskers and rinse before marinating the prawns with the tamarind pulp and soy sauce.
  2. Leave to sit in the fridge for at least one hour or more if you want a stronger flavour.
  3. When ready, put a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and wait till the pan is smoking hot before placing the prawns in on one side. Flip over when the flesh is pink and the shell is slightly charred. Remove when both sides are fully cooked and slightly charred. Repeat until all the prawns are cooked.
  4. When the last batch of prawns are ready but still in the pan, pour the marinate into the pan (still on medium-high heat) with the previously cooked prawns.
  5. Add in about 50ml of water and stir until the sauce thickens or is nearly dry, leaving a coat on each prawn. If you like more sauce, then you don’t have to reduce a lot of the sauce. If you don’t like the sauce, then cook it for longer.
  6. When ready, dish and serve warm with some rice or other dishes or eat on its own.
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Dark soy sauce chicken

Dark soy sauce chicken

On lazy days or days when I just have no idea what to cook, I dig out various cuts of chicken and prepare them with just soy sauce and some garlic. My favourites have always been to use the following cuts either mixed in or separately: chicken feet (YUM!), drumnets or wings. Nil doesn’t really fancy the feet so I do those mostly for lunch plus that part is pretty cheap. I often get about 20 or so feet for around SGD2 or less. The outcome is still very yummy!

In fact, you can use just about any cut of meat or type with this dish. Some people make it with pork belly; others with pork ears (YUM as well!) and so forth. I love it with huge amounts of garlic but discovered of lately that the key in the sauce is the quality of the soy sauce used. I tried to cook this dish with a soy sauce that had less salt (and indirectly less flavour) and found it wanting in so many ways.

For the taste, it should be sweet yet tinged with meat flavours; savoury would be the key word we’re looking for. The sauce is fab on its own or with some soft white rice and even noodles or pasta! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lick my fingers and try not to get any sauce while I’m working on some exposed acne treatment systems.

Dark soy sauce chicken

Ingredients

Some chicken pieces
Dark soy sauce
Light soy sauce
Garlic
Water
Sugar

Method

  1. Fill the wok with about 250ml of water or more, depending on the amount of chicken you’re using – just ensure that you cover at least 3/4 of the pile of meat.
  2. Once the water boils, added in some cloves of garlic – how much depends on your tastebuds. Remember to wash them as you’d be using unpeeled garlic.
  3. Allow the water to boil with the garlic for a few minutes before adding in your meat. Turn down the heat to simmer and cover.
  4. Once the meat is cooked, add in a dash of light and dark soya sauce plus sugar. Don’t forget to taste the sauce – it should be savoury, not too salty or sweet.
  5. Remove the wok, turn up the heat slightly so that it’s still simmering but not boiling and stir occasionally to get an even dark colour on the meat. Leave to cook until the sauce is reduced to a few tablespoons or more (how much, again, depends on you).
  6. When ready, dish and serve warm with some rice/noodles/pasta or other dishes.
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Sambal kacang botol with prawns

Sambal kacang botol with prawns

Kacang botol or more uncommonly known as winged bean (its English known counterpart here is “four angle bean”) is one of my favourite vegetable and is often used in stir fries with plenty of chilli but is more commonly used in Malay cuisine as an ulam or Malay salad where raw vegetables, chosen for their medicinal (and nutritional) properties, are eaten with sambal belacan. It is high in Vitamin A, C and several others, and is often cooked in the same way as other leafy greens. Great for when you’re on a diet – no need to resort to things like phentermine!

One of the more popular ways of cooking this is with sambal and prawns although I too like it with some garlic and dried prawns. The key to yummy sambal-based dishes is not to overdose with the salt, keep the “meat” (prawns, fish, etc) fresh and add in a pinch (or two) of sugar – at least that’s how I prefer my sambal dishes. And oh, not too much on the oil either.

Sambal kacang botol with prawns

Ingredients

A good amount of winged beans
200 gms of fresh prawns – shelled save the tail
Sambal belachan*
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
Oil – for stir frying

Method

  1. Wash the beans and slice them diagonally before putting them aside.
  2. Heat up your wok to medium-high heat and add some oil before tossing in the sambal. Fry them until fragrant.
  3. Add in the fresh prawns and stir fry until the prawns turn pink. Then toss in the vegetable and add in a few tablespoons of water if necessary. Cover the wok for about one minute
  4. Remove the wok and stir fry. Season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste. You’ll know the vegetables are cooked when they are bright green. Dish and serve warm with some rice and other dishes.

* For the recipe for sambal belachan, please refer to this link.

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So boy-like!

So boy-like!

“Is your baby a boy?”
“Ohno, it’s a girl.”
(short pause)
“Ohhhhhh…so pretty!”

The above conversation often takes place when people catch a glimpse of Eva, be it at the bus station, on the bus or MRT. Most of the time, they get her sex wrong – especially a few weeks back when her hair was much shorter; well, it’s still short compared to before I shaved her!

I love how perplexed or confused some people get when they see Eva, especially when she’s decked out in a blue mesh top and diapers that are in blue. It allows me to challenge the status quo for a few seconds. After all, do baby boys have to dress only in blue and baby girls in pink? Nah, I believe that Eva looks just fab in blue – handsome would be the work – and a boy would too (look fab) in pink.

Then there is this other conversation that always occurs.

“How old ar? Three months?
“Ohno, nearly seven months already!”
“HAR? So small…but hai, girl never mind la. More girly!”

Heh.

I have a funny feeling that if Eva was bigger, they would comment on it as well. Sometimes I get the feeling that a good mother would pump their babies full with weight gain supplements or more milk in order to get them to be ultra big and chubbs. Me? Nah, I’m just your regular mum who is relying on her breastmilk to do the “dirty” job.

Just goes to show that you can’t please everyone! And for good reason too!

🙂

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Every day dishes…

I’ve been toying around with adding a new foodie category but wonder if it’s a good idea since I’m not really a food blogger per se – not to mention sometimes it gets too dark in the evenings to get a good shot of the dish without resorting to heavy edits. Then there is the matter of how we are all so hungry that by the time we do have the time to take a pic, all the food is already gone.

Anyway, every day dishes are simple fares that are both healthy and easy on the wallet not to mention quick to cook up – all of which are important if you’re busy with work or juggling a ton of assignments like checking out hgh supplements as well as a baby on the side. The dishes I’ve previously cooked up are more suited for the weekend or on days where you have plenty of time to spare but a downside with every day dishes is that they can be repetative. It just means I have to be more creative, that’s all.

Hm, so for posterity’s sake, I guess I’ll just go ahead and create the category. Makes for easier organization too, no?

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ARGH!

Time to trash those weight loss products aside (was never on them actually) and replace them with good exercise habits!

Can you believe it? Despite BFing around the clock and dropping one pant size, a break from my yoga classes plus all those CNY goodies have resulted in a slight peak on the weighing scale! How utterly annoying! Just when I thought I was going to dip below 60 kg! And it’s not just me but it’s also affecting Nil as well. We definitely need to pump up on our exercise regime.

Am thinking of swapping my evening walks for a jog-brisk walk session instead since Eva likes speed. I swear, sometimes I suspect she’s going to grow up into a biker chick! Will start later this evening if it doesn’t rain and proceed onto yoga later in the evening when she’s asleep. I know that sun salutation would be just great and it’s about time I brought home my yoga classes.

Hai.

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