Monday, March 23, 2015

outgoing mail - march part 1

I really enjoy staying at home during weekends, cuts down on shopping lately, i hardly goes cafe hopping, feel like i need to save more money, pretty much because prices of many things has been rising in KL, feel insecure if i overspend. The only expenses are only for food and groceries! (okay, maybe some stationery stuff or a few little sauce dishes >_<)

So last weekend 'stay-at-home' project was to catching up with my letter writing, hobby that doesn't cost so much money, only with my heart! ^^ I always wanted to do more mail art, not like Japan post, the sad things is that Malaysian post has restrictions for letters and packages sent, only standard envelope sizes are accepted.  I am not too sure mail art with odd envelopes gets to reach to the destination or not? 

Let's try it, nothing to lose right?

My mail to Aki-chan
Hokkaido, Japan

My mail to Chui Cheng
Taipei, Taiwan

My mail to Jocelyn
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 My mail to Yen Fong
N.Sembilan, Malaysia

Extra little gift for her new kitchen!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

garden space - saving tips!

Our home garden is small, we only have a small lawn and have to make use of the small space. I enjoy gardening, and love the space-saving garden shelf we had at the porch, and this is how it looks currently! I took this picture yesterday evening when i got home from work, although i feel tiring, somehow i feel recharged when i see the plants growing up healthily.

Every time I turn off the vehicle engine, the first thing i do is to walk near my plants and observe how they are growing, i am always seem so fascinated by the living greens! 

Can you see all the baby seedling at the very first row? They are baby sweet basil & baby broccoli & baby cabbages, they will be ready for harvest after 2.5 more months! I can't wait to see. ^^

 Grow baby, grow! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

organizing a part of my kitchen - open shelving

Kitchen is my favorite and also one of the most important space at home.

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, from cooking daily meals, experimenting with a new recipes or just simply sit and think. Lately, i have been busy organizing my new kitchen, to make my cooking life in the kitchen better, easier & fun, also to create more cooking stories and yummy looking food images, hehe! 

My kitchen is not perfect, not huge, but i love it so much~ we're putting so much love & effort into it! I love reading online article or blog post about kitchen sorting and organizing tips, smart display ideas or practical storage solutions for kitchen. I have always believe no matter what size your kitchen are, it can be beautifully neat, fun & colorful yet organized.

Weekend work, made a trip to ikea earlier and got some airtight glass jars with lid, have been frustrated with all the big and small plastic bag packaging of flour, salt, sugar & spices; it's hard and messy to finding the type of flour i want in the plastic!

I remove all the packaging (almost all come in plastic bags T_T) and pour all sorts of flour and different type of sugar in the jars. Then label all the jars with name and expiration date! Believe me, it makes a huge difference before and after, so easy to get flour i need now, the flour not spreading all over on kitchen counter top or on the floor, and also i know which flour is going to expire soon and when to restock! Wohoo! 

I think i need more jars, tee hee hee!

Monday, March 16, 2015

homemade shrimp cakes

Shrimp or prawn has always been one of my favorite seafood! I pretty much love everything cooked & made with shrimp. For example, dim sum made with shrimp, chinese-style steamed shrimp (especially steamed drunken shrimps / 醉虾), stir fried shrimp and veggies, spicy shrimp pasta, garlic baked shrimp, bla bla bla...many more!

Pan-fried shrimp cakes is of course in my favourite list! Here i share the simple recipe with you.

• 300 g medium shrimps (i took about 8 shrimps out then coarsely chop, the other are finely chopped)
• few slice of ginger (scrape away the skin, finely chopped)
• 1 spring onion (finely chopped)
• 3-4 shallots (I love the sweetness of shallot, finely chopped)
• 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
• 5tbsp vegetable oil (i'm using sunflower with canola oil)

*(for another great option - we love adding in chopped carrots, water chestnuts; to give a bit more texture & crunchiness to the shrimp patties!)

• 1 egg white
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 1 tsp chicken powder
• 1 tsp corn starch
• 1/2 tsp sugar
• 1/2 tsp salt
• a pinch of pepper
• 1 tsp shao xing wine  

*(you can substitute with rice wine, i just simply love shaoxing wine, its more fragrant!)

1. First, remove and discard the vein; wash and drain the shrimps and pat them dry with paper towels. 
2. Then lay the shrimp on a flat surface or chopping board, by using a slightly heavy knife, hit the shrimp's flesh until it lies flat and finely chopped it. (remember to take out 8 shrimps to coarsely chopped)

3. In a large bowl, mix together coarsely & finely chopped shrimp, minced ginger, spring onion, shallots, garlic and all the seasonings.
4. Combine all the ingredients well by stirring clockwise or anti clockwise, then marinate & chill until firm in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

5. Here comes my favorite part! Heat up 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan (best to use non-stick pan) over medium-high heat.
6. Working in batches, fry the patties until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to the pan if needed, 3 to 4 minutes each side, total about 6 minutes.

* I forgot to take pictures for the frying process/stage, as i was too excited to see & taste the final outcome, very sorry ~ will try to take all the process picture next time. Hehe...

et voilà, ready to eat! Have a great start of the week, happy monday friends!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

packed lunch to work

hello thursday!

I brought delicious homemade lunch to office today. Always love bringing homemade lunches to work, as i don't really like to eat out, and food around my work place are usually expensive (mostly are the cafeteria type restaurants), unhealthy and not so yummy.

Woke up early in the morning, while cooking chinese style congee (rice is boiled in lots of water), i reheated some leftover fried egg with preserved radish & stir fried pickled mustard with hard bean curd from yesterday dinner. 

Although it's simple, but i really enjoy my homemade lunch. Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

jan & feb happy mail!

Hi, as many of you may already know i love cooking, but letter writing / snail mail is another big hobby of mine! Since i have my own blog now, beside cooking & recipes, i think wanted to share some beautiful snail mail i received from my sweet pen friends, it may gives you some inspiration on writing and decorating your next letter.

As time goes by, i met many great snail-mailer from around the world, and some we have been writing to each other for years. And it has become a major part of my life now, so I'm going to start documenting my snail mail letters from now on! I take Claudia's snail mail post as reference, i will collect, shoot & post the snail mail picture on monthly basis.

Chui Cheng's happy mail

CC's sweetest cooking theme mail from Taiwan, she knows me too well! I love everything in the parcel, especially the ceramic spatula & postcard set from my favorite Taiwanese illustrator milly/米力, couldn't be more happier! Thank you so much CC!

Yen Fong's happy mail

Can you see those handwritten message in the bubbles, awww... aren't they cute? Happy mail from yen fong, you can't imagine how much she love stationery & everything paper!
she's the key person behind tabiyo shop!

Giova's happy mail

 Another beautiful mail from Giova - a great crafter currently living in Amsterdam. Do check out her cute blog for craft inspirations & ideas!
I love the recipe cards Giova. Yes, they were perfect for me! 
Thank you so much.

Yumi-chan's happy mail

This was one of the super lovely & colorful package from Yumi-chan! A kawaii lady who studied traditional Japanese dress/clothing - kimono (very cool), and she's also a french learner,
always dreamed of one day i can speak in french! 
hehe... je t'aime yumi-chan!  

Yumi-chan's happy mail 2

Another mail from yumi-chan in February.
Arigato for everything you have sent, i cherish every bits & pieces! 
The 'everyday tea bags' are really refreshing, my melody japan postcard are the cutest!
Your unique handwriting are so beautiful, so neat!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

sweet cabbage soup for lunch

The weather has been really warm lately, its good to have something very light for lunch. I cooked up a pot of cabbage soup with anchovies base stock, and add on mom's homemade meat & shrimp balls. Yum, comfort and ease under the hot-weather. 

• 1/4 sweet cabbage (roughly chopped) *bought a large cabbage this time, so i only put 1/4 of it.
dried anchovies (handful)
• 8 pcs red dates / jujube (red dates make soup sweeter, you can put in more if you like)
• 10-12 meatballs
• 2 cups water

*another option is to add in an bigger chunk scrambled egg, this taste good too!

• pinch of salt & white pepper

1. In a pot, add water bring it to a boil then add dried anchovies, red dates and cover in low heat, let it simmer about 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, add in sweet cabbage, simmer another 15 minutes (until cabbage is soft & tender).
3. Finally, add meatballs then seasoning, and simmer for 5 minutes, serve hot! 

a type of beautiful herb

Last weekend, i went shopping for plants for my garden in selangor green lane located at sg.buloh, which has many huge nurseries situated along that road. It's a super great place for plant lovers, you can stop, take a deep breath and smell in the floral wonderland. Plant nurseries there filled with a huge variety of ornamental plants, fruit trees, different type of succulents.
I wanted to grow more herbs to use in cooking, there are few types of herbs in my garden right now, like sweet basil, thai basil, curry tree, mint & pandanus.

At first, i am planning to get a pot of rosemary plant. But then I stumbled upon another cute pot of herb, with very broad, thick, succulent-like, oval shape leaves with nice aroma. It smells like oregano. Yes and it goes by the name of 'cuban oregano'. How about trying a new recipe for grilled cuban oregano chicken next? Sounds like a brilliant idea doesn't it?

Look at my tiny sweet basil seedlings, aren't they lovely! 💕

Thursday, March 5, 2015

happy lantern festival!

Happy chap goh meh! chap goh meh - 15th night / 15th day of the first month in lunar new year calendar and also it signifies the first full moon of the lunar new year! 

On this day, families gather to make and eat glutinous rice balls in sweet soup aka "tang yuan" 元宵/湯圓. We are living apart from our family, about 4 hours driving distance from hometown; so i will have to make 'tang yuan' on my own. But that's okay, as long as we continue the family tradition, keep it in mind.  

While for my version, i came up with a bit of twist; made my rice dough by mixing glutinous rice flour with pandan extract (from crushed pandan leaves). I grow a lot of pandan leave (screwpine) in the front yard, meaning that i have a lot of pandan to cook with! Always like experimenting them in food or dessert making.

Next, the sweet soup cooked with red dates, dried longan pulps, osmanthus flowers & rock sugar. I love osmanthus flower, it has a sweet and strong fragrance. And this tiny yellow-gold flower made the sweet soup looks & taste delightful!

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, prosperous and blessed year of the Sheep!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

mid-week healthy meal

I love simple mid week dinner, especially in one-dish / one-pot meal! We had thai style steamed fish in garlic lime sauce / 泰式青柠蒸鱼 for our dinner last night! I brought up many fresh ingredients from hometown last weekend, mom gave me a lot of seafood, few container of fresh shrimps, various type of fish, homemade meatballs for soup! We couldn't finish all at one time, therefore we have to freeze them to keep it longer.
The recipe are absolutely easy, and best paired with jasmine rice! I can eat up 2 bowls of rice just with this dish.

• whole fish (here i used 白曹鱼/ not sure if its called 'chinese herring')
• 2 tbsp fish Sauce
• 5 tbsp lime juice
• 1 tbsp granulated sugar
• 6-8 cloves / 3 tbsp of garlic (chopped)
• 1 tbsp / 5 red thai chilli peppers (chopped)
• 2 kaffir lime leaves (chopped)
• 2 stalks of cilantro / spring onion (chopped, for garnish)
• 3 stalks of lemongrass (botton white part only)

* I have always loved steamed fish with soft / silken tofu, so i add in some sliced soft tofu underneath the fish, let the soft tofu soak up all the nice broth! Yummy.

*1. In a bowl mix chopped garlic, chili peppers, lime juice, fish sauce & sugar. remember always taste to adjust seasoning - the taste should be a balance of sweet, spicy, salty and sour. Set aside.
2. Put lemongrass stalks into cavity of the fish.
3. Place the clean fish in a dish, then topped with *mixture sauce. Over high heat on steam for 10-15 minutes. (depend on the size of the fish)
4. When its done, carefully remove fish from steamer; sprinkle with chopped cilantro/spring onion, then serve immediately.

Monday, March 2, 2015

my all time comfort food : prawn, egg & chives dumplings

Hello there!
Time has passed surprisingly quickly, can't believe chinese new year will be over soon. Do you celebrate chap goh meh/15th night/lantern festival. I have made some prawn, egg & chives dumplings before chinese new year holiday, wanted to share the recipe for so long, couldn't find time to update last week. Here i am again~
I love 餃子 / dumplings, all kind of chinese dumplings that filled with ground meat/prawn (especially, i just love shrimps) or just simply vegetarian dumplings (no matter its steamed, boiled or pan fried).

Starting by making dumpling wrappers from scratch. I love homemade wrappers, it taste so so much better than the store bought version. Also, it's easy and fun, just a little time consuming. ^_^

• 200g all purpose flour
• 100 ml lukewarm water  
* (adjust the flour or water, according to need to get the correct consistency)
• 1/3 teaspoon salt

1. Sift all purpose flour & salt.
2. Add water little by little along into the dry ingredients, using a spatula to mix the mixture, until it forms a dough. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough feels elastic and smooth.
3. Shape the dough in loaf, rest the dough at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, cover dough with damp cloth. Meanwhile, we can prepare the dumpling filling.

Ingredients for filling:
  • bundle of fresh chinese chive
  • 250g fresh prawn
  • 3 free-range eggs (lightly beaten, pan fry & 'scrambled' the eggs)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp chicken stock
  • 1tsp white pepper powder
  • 1tsp sesame oil 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 stalks of scallion/ few slices of ginger (chopped)
1. Slowly add all the ingredients while swirling the spoon in one direction until evenly. Add the seasonings and mix for one more minute. Set the filling aside.
2. To fold the dumplings, fist lay a dumpling wrapper flat on palm. Then spoon about 1 tbsp of dumpling filling and place in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your fingertip in water and wet the entire edge of the wrapper. Folding up the dumpling filling and making sure that everything is sealed in nice and tight to create a half moon.
3. Place the dumplings in a deep pot of boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes. (you can either steam, pan fry or boiling)


Oh yes, last but not least! Dipping sauce is very important for dumplings.

type A:
• 1 tbsp black/white vinegar
• 1 tsp soy sauce
• rayu - a type of chili oil / sesame oil

 type B:
• fresh chilli (thinly chopped)
• scallion (finely chopped)
• 1-2 tbsp soy sauce