Soup here I come!

What do you do with leftover bones?

Of lately, I have begun to keep chicken carcasses for one thing – making awesomely good stock/soup!

We usually buy roast chicken from the market on Thursdays (it’s my day off cooking – heheheh) and then freeze the carcass. Yesterday, while doing some minor grocery shopping, I saw that fresh chicken was on sale at the nearby supermarket (can you beat €2 for a whole chicken?). So one went into the freezer and the other? Well, I made steamed chicken rice. Hehehe.

Now what did I do with the carcass? As you can see above, it’s in a pot of water with some onions, celery and Chinese cabbage. Should make great soup for tomorrow noodle dish!

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Eggless Savoury Cake

Eggless Savoury Cake

I was in the mood for a savoury cake and spent quite a bit of time hunting for an eggless recipe that didn’t seem to be too much trouble. Plus I did have like 1 kg of sheep fromage blanc (it’s like greek yogurt) to use up. I bought the stuff because smallish tests revealed that Noah didn’t react to sheep’s or goat’s milk. Still, I’d like to be sure (today would be the day, I guess).

The result is a filling, flavourful savoury cake that makes for a change during lunch/dinner. No rice, bread or noodles! The cake is a little on the moist side but I reckon that’s normal considering the lack of eggs in the mix and the use of corn starch. I winged the liquid portion because I was pressed for time and didn’t want to spend time washing measuring jugs, etc. Nonetheless, it came out quite yummy! Even Eva gave her thumbs up by finishing a thick slice of the stuff for lunch. Maybe it’s because of the smoked pork belly in the cake. Kakakaka.

Eggless Savoury Cake
Adapted from the recipe here

Ingredients

150 gms all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp corn starch mixed with 6 tbsp water
80 ml vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
150 ml fromage blanc (you can use milk or yogurt)
150 gms smoked pork belly (you can use ham) – roughly cubed
1 red capsicum – roughly cubed
1 cup button mushrooms – sliced
Salt & pepper OR herbs to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. In a pan, saute the ham, capsicum and mushrooms OR the vegetables of your choice for five minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper OR herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc. When ready, leave in the pan to cool.
  3. Put flour, baking powder, corn starch liquid and vegetable oil into a bowl and mix well by hand before adding the fromage blanc/milk/yogurt. Mix in well and incorporate the vegetables.
  4. Pour into your pan of choice and bake for 45 minutes until fully cooked. The cake will be a bit moist and slightly dense in the centre. Serve warm on its own or with a serving of salad and other side dishes.

SUBSTITUTION OPTIONS:
If you’re allergic to any animal milk, you can use coconut cream, rice cream or even tofu. You can opt for a wholegrain version by using 50-50 mix of wholegrain flour with regular white flour (100% wholegrain makes for a very dry bread, IMHO). For gluten-free options, consider buckwheat flour.

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Tangy Fruit Enzyme – Part I

Tangy Fruit Enzyme

(Ignore the date. Being a SAHM and suffering from lack of sleep means that I can’t remember dates anymore and I thought today was Sunday. Eeks.)

While the fruit enzyme craze has been going on for quite a while back in Malaysia and Singapore, here, well, I doubt anyone has heard of fermenting fruit this way. Making vinegars, wine, yes but fruit enzymes, hmmm. Or maybe I just don’t know of anyone who makes this.

I read that the benefits range from detoxification of the body to maintaining overall health, particular with the digestive tract. Since eczema – in Noah’s case – stems from food allergies, I thought I’d give this a try since probiotics worked pretty well so far, especially since the folks over at the Facebook eczema support group has been recommending it. They also make for great gourmet gifts like homemade jam or homemade wine.

I must admit that I was skeptical at first but these days, I’m willing to try just about anything NATURAL. At least it beats having to use steroid creams on Noah.

Based on one afternoon of digesting recipes online, I decided to take the plunge and jump onto the bandwagon. The organic store was fresh out of local strawberries so I settled for imported kiwis and oranges, and apricots from Provence region. Since some of the recipes called for honey or brown sugar, I thought I’d do a mix of both. I forked out a little bit more for lavender honey, coconut/palm sugar and acacia honey – all organically sourced.

Putting these together was quite relaxing – chopping up fruit, arranging it, tossing sugar and honey on the top and I did it all while Nil was minding Noah. (After one week of babywearing him to bed at night, I need a break!) I’ll have to wait about two to three weeks before I can harvest this. In the meantime, I’m hoping that I won’t have to deal with any mold or spoilage!!!!

NOTE: This recipe is split into two parts – preparation and then fermentation & harvesting.

Tangy Fruit Enzyme – Part I
Inspired by fruit enzymes recipes online (too many to link up)

Ingredients

4 oranges
4 kiwis
7 small apricots
2 lemons
3 tbsp acacia honey
2 tbsp lavender honey
Approx 1/2 cup palm sugar
Approx 2/3 cup brown sugar

Method

  1. Wash all fruits and air dry them. Do the same with utensils – chopping board, knife, peeler and spoons – and container of choice (I used a hermetic glass jar).
  2. Before you start, make sure that EVERYTHING is dry. Any amount of water or grease, however, little can lead to spoilage.
  3. Chop all fruits and immediately place them in the jar. Since we’re working in layers, I chopped up two oranges first, then three apricots, then two kiwis before ending with the lemon. How your fruits look doesn’t matter. It can be in medium-sized cube or thin/thick slices.
  4. Drizzle the lavender honey over the fruits and sprinkle half of the brown and palm sugar. Make sure that the sugar covers the top of the fruits.
  5. Repeat the above steps with the remaining fruits, ending with the lemon before drizzling the acacia honey and the rest of the sugar.
  6. Place a cling film over the opening of the jar before sealing it. Put aside in a dark and cool place to ferment.

* To be continued

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Quick cook!

Simple chicken-pepper wrap

Being alone with two kids means finding a way to prepare meals quickly and without fuss, preferably in under 30 minutes! In between making sure that Eva isn’t up to her nonsense, looking at reviews on term life insurance without medical examination, Noah fussing in the bouncer and well, trying to make sure that we still eat well and healthily, I came up with a simple chicken-pepper wrap.

No real recipe here – just stir fry cubes of chicken fillet with onions and red bell peppers together with garlic powder. Finish off with chopped spring onions and serve up in a wrap! Not my finest but hey, no complaints from Eva and well, it gets the job done. Hehehe.

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Pinterest!

It took me a while but I’m finally on Pinterest!

But there is not much in there…not yet anyway and no thanks to my home Boss (read: my son) who has been quite sticky and refusing to go to bed on his own. I have two boards so far – just on soaps and baked goods.

I am also seeing a ton of other inspiring photos on packaging, soaps, baked goods and well, just about everything and anything under the sun! Even music! Pianos, cellos, guitars…

Makes me miss having an instrument lying around…

Me on Pinterest!

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Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake

Surprisingly fluffy, this cake was quick to whip up – I did it in 10 minutes after a quick search on the Internet and in between hunting around for some flexible tubing (don’t ask) – and it uses just about everything I had in my pantry. The original recipe called for vegetable oil but I decided to use the organic sunflower oil. It has a certain flavour of its own. Either that or it has gone rancid on me without me knowing. Hahaha.

Still, it makes for a good cake, especially when drizzled…or rather swimming in plenty of lemon glaze. I love the moist fluffy inside with the crunch on the skin, sides and tops. On hindsight, thirty minutes at 200°C is too much. I’d probably bake it for 20-25 minutes instead.

I also added some dessicated coconut to cut back on the flavour of the oil. There is something about eggs that makes baked goods taste ultra rich and yummy. Without it, baked desserts are definitely not the same but you can get a little bit more flavour by adding in things like nuts and dried fruit. If I do make this again, I’ll be adding coconut directly into the batter and spread it around instead of just the top portion.

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake
From The Ethical Chef’s Vegan Lemon Cake recipe here

Ingredients

275 gms self-raising flour
100 gms brown sugar
60 gms castor sugar
100 ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
170 ml cold water
1 tsp baking powder
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
A handful of dessicated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Put flour, baking powder, sugar and zest into a bowl and mix well before adding the oil, juice and the water.
  3. Mix thoroughly by hand – there is no need for an electric mixer – to make sure all is combined well.
  4. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes until fully cooked. For an added tang, drizzle the top of the cake (once it has cooled) with a simple lemon glaze made with lemon juice and caster sugar.

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake: The ultra fluffy texture

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How do you find time…

…to squeeze in blogging reviews, cooking, cleaning, hobbies, soapmaking and well, handling a cranky baby whom I swear has been replaced by baby gremlins?

(This take on gremlins is basically from soap – soap gremlins is something we used to describe soaps that don’t turn out quite well, are fugly or just simply weird-looking.)

Not that my son is weird looking or fugly. It’s just that he’s cranky all the time. I don’t know for sure if it’s the teething or the eczema although I must say that the eczema is starting to clear s.l.o.w.l.y.

*sigh*

Baby gremlins, PLEASE bring my mild mannered, sleep-in-his-crib son back!

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Did you know…

…that we finally paid off my delivery bill?

I didn’t really share this here but my delivery – unlike when I had Eva in Switzerland – was not covered. It took us more than six months of emails, phone calls and visits to try and get things clarified, etc, but in the end, the Government decided that I would not be covered…just because Nil was a few hours short of the required number of working hours.

Usually, a delivery bill would be covered under social security – so long as there is a working adult in the family. There is no need for any sort of insurance, not even general liability insurance. If you’ve just arrived in the country, you need to have a certain number of hours under your belt before you can qualify for any coverage. Unfortunately for us, Noah decided to show up early. Hence the big slap on our wrists/hands/bank account/how ever you want to look at it. If he had waited a week, it wouldn’t be a problem but noooo, he decided that coming into the world when he wanted to and with a bang is a must!

To make things even more insulting, when we showed up at the hospital with a big fat cheque, we were told that they don’t issue receipts. The deduction that shows up on the bank statement is proof enough, says the guy at the counter. Should have seen Nil’s face when he said that. What the heck? I give you a cheque of that amount and I don’t even get a printout stating that you’ve got my money????!!!??? Heh.

All I could remember saying to him when we left was “Welcome to France”.

O’well, at least we won’t get hounded for this any more. Still, it means that the option of purchasing a house here in France will have to wait a few more months. After this dent, our bank account needs some time to recover.

So yeah…

Welcome to France.

=.=

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