Thursday, April 30, 2015

outgoing mail april

Some of my outgoing mail this month. Not very productive, but snail mail meant to be 'slow' right? >_<  I am a bit slow because i took quite some time on each letter. To collect & gather bits and pieces, little things they {my penpals} might like // then packing and decorating {the most fun parts} // re-read the letter again and slowly response {writing} the letter. 

Like now, i am browsing & pinning some pretty snailmail ideas on pinterest, cool way to decorate an envelope, how others making mail art, collage, doodling...etc.

 My mail to Beverly
North Yorkshire, UK

My mail to Rikke
Have a great long weekend friends!

april happy mail!

It's my favorite post again to share all the {love} happy mail that i received this month! It's May 1st tomorrow, which means holiday for all the the workers! Yays, i have more time to cook, to finish some garden works {brought back few pots of new plants for the garden and some seeds to sow} & also few letter to finish!

Nao chan sent me a chubby yellow parcel with her cute handwriting, also the pretty little Japanese postage stamps!

The back of the envelope are very cute too, i just have to take a picture of it.
Keep DRY!! Thank you postman!!

Knew that i love cooking, nao chan sent me a pack of Shiraishi Umen noodles, famous in miyagi prefecture (where she lives)! It taste nearly like ramen, very delicious! She even hand illustrated the cooking instructions too, so sweet! I will try to cook again and take a picture of it to share here. And also she sent me pack of matcha chocolate, so good~ to keep the chocolate fresh, i kept the leftover in an airtight container and store them in the fridge! miam miam!

Shiraishi umen: are noodles that don't use any oil. They are made only from wheat flour and salt water in Shiraishi city, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Mail from sweet Sylvie
The parcel already look very cute outside right? sky blue envelope with star print, cute decor and Belgium postage stamps!

Sylvie surprised me with an adorable cooking utensil - Wooden spoon/spatula with heart from Hema, this would really cheer up my kitchen and it won't scratch my non-stick pan, very useful!

 Next, mail from my green thumb friend Claudia, she always sent me her mail in a shallow mailer box. I knew it was her goodie parcel immediately when i saw the shallow box, it's like her signature! ^^

Claudia has a crafty hands, she's selling some very beautiful art prints, postcards of her illustration on etsy shop! She is very good in crocheting too, I'm so happy that she sent me a rubber carving block & made me a crochet doilies, i think i'm gonna use it as a mug rug i guess! I will think of her when ever i make a cup of tea or coffee.

We always exchange seeds, this time she sent me a pack of physalis seeds that i couldn't really get it over here.

 Pretty salmon pink envelope from Rikke.

This would be the 2nd mail from her after 1.5 years! Something happened and I am really glad that she manage to find time to start writing again! I just want to say thanks for sending me letter again and me, your friends & family will always be here to support you!


I recently discovered a very interesting, or i should say it's a very cool webpage about snailmail - Mysterious letters and can't stop browsing and looking on each every letter they sent! 

Mysterious Letters is a collaboration between artists Lenka Clayton and Michael Crowe who sent a personal, handwritten letter to everyone in the world! 

From the info, so far they have written over 2,700 different letters to the residents of Cushendall, a small Northern Irish seaside town, the inhabitants of Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, everyone on a long street through St. Gallen, Switzerland, a suburb of Cologne, Germany, two streets in Paris France, and many, many people in Tilburg, Netherlands.

And they have successfully raised $3,956 USD on Kickstarter to help bring the project to life again! They are even on BBC Newsline too! 

 I want to read all the letters.
Since the artists are aim to write a personal, hand-written letter to every household in the world, so i'm here waiting~ can't wait to receive mine one day! Maybe send me some seeds please >_<
I think the idea {the letter} will definitely put a smile on everyone's face.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

i am home again!

We celebrated my nephew's first birthday last weekend back in my hometown! Always feels so good to be back home, it is always fun to get together, lots of laughs and good food.

My 'smiles-all-the-time' super duper adorable little nephew has turned 1 year old last Saturday, we got him his first car! Hehe, the kids ride-on BMW and 2 pairs of cute baby sneakers and socks as he begin to learn to walk now! 

Let me share with you all the love i have got from home.

 Look at this handsome boy on his first-ever bmw, how cool!

I love love love this beautiful photo! (em, please ignore my mom behind trying to hang all our freshly washed laundry)
His smile and facial expression, and also every of his cute gestures just melted my heart.
He's really a little angel, keep the happy spirit floating around our house always!

 I made some of "my signature" (food to be proud of) osmanthus jellies and took home for mom, grandma and my partner's parents. They loved it.

Granny's homegrown jackfruit! There was a big jackfruit tree just outside my granny's house.
I remember when we were just a child, my uncle would ask one of us to climb the tree (not very high) and pick some of those large jackfruits. 
I miss my childhood very much, nothing beats childhood memories.

Jackfruit is very sweet, delicious also rich in fiber & minerals; but its difficult to cut open and to eat it.
Jackfruit is very resinous, and the sticky latex/substance is very hard to remove.
Guess I'm just a glutton for food. I managed to cut, trimmed and removed those sticky fibrous strands and finally retrieve all the yummy fruit pods with my bare hands very patiently. Yohoo!

  We happened to pass by Ipoh (capital city of Perak state) to buy some nice foods home!
How can we miss the best chicken rice in town? (Lou Wong Bean Sprouts Chicken)
A must try chicken rice and the best blanched bean sprouts drizzle with the combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, & shallot oil. oh mama mia!

There are many many old bakeries in old town of Ipoh. We went to an old bakery (not so commercialized, not much reno & decor) for these freshly baked egg tarts with piping hot wobbly custard! Oh~ these are really good!

Kompyang is a biscuit popular in my hometown, its like our comfort food! Its made with lard, onions, salt and flour, some with meats, some sweet & soft inside! Best eaten while still hot, but we usually buy more and reheat them with oven.

Mom gave me 2 pineapple crowns, they can be placed directly into the ground and yes! i can actually start growing my own pineapple!
From the info, pineapples don’t really have usable seeds, so pineapple plants start from the pineapple itself, it usually propagate from the crown.

Beside food shots, I love taking pictures of plants too! Here are some veggies & edible plants that my parents are growing.

top left - winter melon
top right - calamansi 
bottom left - curious cat that hovering around daily
bottom right - daun kaduk / wild betel leaf / piper sarmentosum 
*(they are widely used throughout SE Asia as a herb in Asian cooking or eaten raw)

My mom usually used them to make otak-otak (fish custard/ dumplings wrapped in banana leaves), or nyonya perut ikan (fermented fish stomach with herbs & vegetable curry). Original recipe are using fermented fish stomach, but my mom substitute it with small prawns and blood cockles.
I know 'fermented fish stomach' sounds a bit weird or scary for you, but trust me~ they taste really good in this nyonya recipe. ^_^

Thursday, April 23, 2015

calamari with thai green curry sauce


I guess this was a perfect meal for a gloomy, rainy day! Nothing better than a meal containing a little spiciness in a cold cold evening. Heavy traffic due to the rains yesterday and I reached home pretty late. Spent 1.5 hours in the car was really frustrated sometimes, but i try to elevate my mood by thinking what's for dinner tonight, or listening to the funny talk show broadcasts every evening, or watching what others are doing in the middle of a traffic jam! >_<

I don't really have a recipe for this, i mean the ingredients in exact portions. But I'm trying to provide the ingredients used & measurement of seasonings. ***Again, the seasonings are all approximately measured, please adjust according to your own taste. I'm added whatever veggies i think its suitable, of course it must be your favorite one. I've been cooking eggplant like crazy lately, even my soul mate asked me about - "umm, felt like we have been eating a lot of eggplant lately?"

Mmmm! who cares? hehe, I'm the heaf chef at home, keep continue seeking to new eggplant dishes!

how beautiful all of those eggplants are!


• Calamari (1 large-sized or 2 medium-sized)
• 2 Egg plant (medium-sized)
• 8-10 long beans (cut into 3 inches in length)
• 1 onion (sliced or diced)
• green curry paste (you may either make the paste from scratch or get store-bought one)
* (the green curry paste i used was from my brother, its made by a chef who works in a thai restaurant, quality assured! ^^)
• 200 ml coconut milk  
• 150ml water 
• 1 tsp fish sauce
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• salt & sugar to taste

egg plants sizzling in the hot oil!

  1. Deep fry egg plant & long beans for 10-15 seconds or until it looks slightly golden, drain well. 
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the calamari tubes from one side until they become flat. Then score the calamari in a diagonal pattern and cut into pieces. They called this calamari/squid flower carving. When it cooked, the calamari will roll up and the cross hatching texture will catch and hold the sauces together. What a brilliant method!
  3. Bring the water to boil in a small sauce pan, add calamari to scald for 1-2 minutes. Until just opaque, drain in a colander and immediately transfer to a bowl.
  4. Heat up a pan with some oil, sauté the green curry paste until fragrant. Add chopped or sliced onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender.
  5. Turn heat to high and put in calamari flower & fried vegetables, toss around until everything is dry and fragrant. Adding water to create more sauces.
  6. Add the seasonings and coconut milk. *Remember, always taste your food before serving.
  7. Finally step, toss well to combine and dish up. 
It's a dried version of calamari green curry. 
Ready to serve with white rice!

The leftovers were for lunch the next day!

Watched another great Italian movie last weekend, love it so so much! I think you will like it too.
I have also learned a Italian word through this movie -
 domani =  tomorrow

Synopsis from a movie webpage:
When Jan (Christian Ulmen) proposes to his German-Italian girlfriend, Sara (Mina Tander), their small private wedding ceremony is hijacked by Sara's overbearing father and moved to her hometown in Italy. With Jan's up-tight German family in tow, there is an almighty clash of cultures as the two families set about celebrating their children's union in very different ways.

There are 2 english title translated from the original Italian title.
Maria, He Doesn't Like It / Wedding Fever in Campobello

Sneak peak on the trailer here!

Monday, April 20, 2015

haemul pajeon

Have a bunch of fresh spring onion, shrimps and soy bean paste in the fridge, so i made a basic korean pancake for lunch over the busy weekend. 'Haemul pajeon' is a savoury seafood and spring onion pancake. Its very easy to made, taste very yummy and only a few simple ingredients needed. Try it!

Ingredients you already have in the fridge & kitchen!

• A bunch of spring onion / about 8-10 stalks (cut it into 4-5 inches length)
• 100g medium shrimps / about 6-8 pcs (cleaned and deveined)
• 1 free range egg (beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside)
• 70g flour
• 125 ml cold water
• 1 tsp soy bean paste (as a substitute for both salt or soy sauce)
• 1 tsp sugar
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Dipping Sauce:
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tbsp vinegar
• 1 tsp sugar /honey
• 1/4 chopped onion
• 1/2 chopped green or red chili peppers
•1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

Trying to show the steps, but it wasn't easy to take photo while you are busy during cooking, the food sizzling and oil splashing! Really have to shoot it quick before the food over cook. Haha, but its a great experience.

1. Clean, wash, and drain a handful of spring onions.
2. Combine flour, soy bean paste & sugar in a medium bowl ready to make batter. Start by adding a small amount of cold water and add more as needed to achieve a batter consistency, then whisk until combined.
3. Heat up a non-stick pan, add about 2 tbs vegetable oil; then spread out the spring onion on the bottom of the pan.
4. Drizzle the batter over the green onion evenly, and add the shrimps on top of the batter, so it can stick on the batter, and lightly pour the beaten egg.
5. Then cook until edges begin to turn golden, then turn over with spatula and cook until other side is golden, about 2-3 minutes each side. Pressing down the pancake with spatula occasionally.
6. Cook a few more minutes until the bottom of the pancake turns crispy and golden brown again, and flip it or turn it over.
7. Once you see pancake is crispy and golden brown both side, they are ready to transfer to a cutting board or plates
8. Serve hot with sauce.

The pancake wasn't looked very good, doesn't hold the shape i wanted, but they still taste very good. The taste is even more enhanced when you dip the the sauce. Yummy!
Love the mild flavor of pan fried spring onions in the pancake & the crunchy shrimps.

Have a great start to the week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

some really nice souvenirs

I think it was the traveling season last month, brother went on a work trip to Nepal and my partner's family traveled to Taiwan! They bought some really wonderful souvenirs from their trip, too beautiful not to share/post. Haha.

 Mt. Everest postage stamp from Nepal, brother knows me very well.

Followed by notebook made using 'lokta' paper, lokta paper an eco-friendly handmade paper that made from bark of Daphne plant. This Nepalese paper renowned for its durability, resistance to tearing humidity.

He also got me a box of Nepali Masala Chai (Nepali Spiced Tea), the tea leaves are packed in a wooden tea box, now that's eco friendly.
 Yays! Can't wait to make some Nepali Spiced Milk Tea! 

Postcard and keychain - a 'must have' souvenirs.

Souvenirs from Taiwan.
Washi tapes, tapes and tapes! They knew I've been doing some craft and letter writing.
The family planned a trip to a lavender farm and got me a very aromatherapy lavender sachet!
I have placed the sachet near my pillow, they said this will help me sleep better. (i don't really have sleeping problems, but the little bag smells really good!)

Last but not least, super adorable souvenirs from Japan.
My lovely boss went to Japan last month end for sakura. End of march to early may is sakura season, the best time to see cherry blossom in Japan.

She got me the cutest stationery ever! She told me that :" When i saw this scissor, i think about you! I think you have told me that you are collecting scissors, so i got you this!" 
Aww... she is such a nice person, sweetest boss i have ever met!
And yes, I am a scissor collector, specially old cast-iron or brass handle or whole brass hand-forged-type of well made utility scissors/tailor scissors. 
Look, how beautiful are these?
My collection is growing, i will share with you someday!

Have a happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 13, 2015

earl grey chiffon cake

Oh, hello monday!

Lately, I've been baking quite a lot, especially chiffon cakes! My first attempt was making the pandan flavor chiffon, as i have had a few huge stand of pandan growing in the garden! There's a lot of pandanto cook with. If you need some, come and take it! The first cake turned out pretty well outside, but slightly dense inside. Although its not perfect, not as good as my mom; but i am very happy for the first outcome. I think I just may have to make more of this!

I have a particular obsession for food flatlays!

Therefore~ i keep on practicing, almost 3 times a week! Hehe, I usually bake it at night and then leave it in the oven till the next morning for our breakfast. I would really love to practice more and to master it, i will never get tired of it! Practice makes perfect right? ^^

Mom taught me her chiffon recipe via phone that day, i listened carefully, and wrote the recipe down because i don't want to mess it up. I can't believe I'm finally sharing recipes on my own blog, and here you go, my mom's chiffon cake recipe. There's a ton of recipes and ideas online too, you may try google and compare which recipe works best for you.

The most beautiful 'sun-flower' in the world!

This is what the pastry chef called 'stiff-peak stage'.


Egg White batter:

• 5 egg yolks
• 50g granulated sugar
• 5 tbsp of vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp earl grey tea concentrate (you may also use 1 earl grey tea bag to create the tea concentrate)
*(steep/infuse one teabag or 2 tbsp tea leaves in half a cup of boiling water for 4 minutes)
• 1 tbsp earl grey tea leaves (you can either use tea bags, or blend the rough tea leaves using mixer)
• 100g low protein flour / cake flour
• 1 tsp of baking powder 
* (i only used 1/2 as i don't really like the soapy & bitter taste of baking powder)
1 tsp of vanilla essence / 1/2 vanilla bean (optional, you can skip this!)

Egg White batter:
• 5 egg whites
• 100g granulated sugar (you can reduce the sugar)
• 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

The batter is ready to go!

  1. First, preheat oven to 150C for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and add 50g granulated sugar gradually, beaten until the mixture is pale yellow and slightly thickens. About 5 minutes. 
  3. Add in, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil and continue to beat till well incorporated. 
  4. Then add in the 'cooled' tea concentrate and continue to mix well and then add in tea leaf grains into the mixture, stir well.
  5. Last, sift in the flour and baking powder, then mix well till no visible lumps.
  6. Next, this would be my favorite part! Beat egg white with an mixer on high speed. Add cream of tartar when it starts becoming foamy. Continue beating for 1 min. Add remaining sugar in at least 3 separate batches and continue beating until stiff peaks forms. whole process take about 3 mins, don't under-beat or over-beat it. Tricky? That's why i have been practicing~ haha >_<
  7. Then fold the mixtures together immediately. But first, fold in 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture thoroughly. Then only you pour the mixture to the remaining egg yolk batter and fold in 'gently' till incorporated.
  8. Pour batter into chiffon pan. Bake for 40-50 mins.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and invert it on top of a bottle, and wait until it is cooled fully.
  10. Run a sharp knife along the edges to remove the cake from pan. 

 Fresh from the oven, the cake made the kitchen and every corner of my house smell so good!

I have been trying and researching the best way to unmold the cake nicely, as the cake has a fragile structure, so have to handle with care.
The very fluffy soft & light earl grey chiffon cake is ready to serve!  
Don't forget to make a cup of tea, enjoy!

Huge thanks to my mom, love her so much! I still love to cook & bake her recipes that I grew up eating. But sometime, i like to be more adventurous in the kitchen by trying recipes that I source online. Happy Baking!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

plants in my garden lately

This is how things are going in my garden, malaysia has been having a bit of a rainy season lately!
everything looks green, fresh and lively after the rains!

My sweet basil plants grow faster, thicker & fuller now! Currently browsing on recipes using fresh basil! In my to-cook list - thai basil chicken, pad ka-prao (spicy stir fry minced pork with basil), spicy egg plant with sweet basil and many more.

Say hello to my favourite plant - hydrangea, it has the most beautiful flower. I have about 6 pots of hydrangeas at home. Dad gave me few pots when i moved in to my new home, then i propagate some new babies from the cuttings/stems.

My hydrangea have just recovered, they almost died during my chinese new year holiday last 2 months. As we went home for about 2 weeks, no one is helping us to water the plants, and the weather has been so warm, not rain fall in that period. I came home and saw my 'dried up' hydrangeas,  it makes me so sad to see them like this. Then i trim all the dried leaves, add more soil and feed them with organic fertilizer. And now, this is how they look like! Yays ~

Recently, i have been in love with camellia japonica type of flower i discovered from the photo which my brother sent me while he was traveling in Nepal last 2 weeks, it has an amazingly beautiful flower. Looking for the seed and grow my own camellia!

 The start of boll development, but lots of ants like to hide and lay eggs underneath the leaves.

The mature cotton boll waiting for the harvest.

Broccoli seedling, will need to switch to a bigger pot or growing on the ground.

My first experiments with propagation, and this is the result! Can't believe it grow from a
teeny tiny baby.

I have a little happy garden, how about yours?

Little Forest: Summer & Autumn 

Watched this fantastic movie yesterday night, and I am so so so in love with it.
Have a look on the movie webpage or fb page, or the movie trailer!
It was a culinary & lifestyle movie, starred by Ai Hashimoto.
Story about a girl - Ichiko who live a simpler life, living in the days of self-sufficiency, among nature and harvest follow the seasons and eating foods she makes from seasonal ingredients.

Can't wait to watch the 2nd part - Little Forest: Winter & Spring
Here's a sneak peek on 2nd part!

  * Movie posters / image sources from asianwiki

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

stir fried leeks with roasted pork belly

Hello mid week!
Let me share a simple & easy recipe of  'stir fried leeks with roasted pork' with you today. The recipe is perfect if you've got some roasted pork leftover, you can turn them to another super yummy dish. Actually there are so many different ways to prepare them (i mean the left over roasted pork or pork belly), we especially love the combination of leeks & roasted pork belly! 

I love cooking with leeks, they have a sweet, delicate oniony, garlicky flavor! (but some people may not like the smell). I brought back these roasted pork belly from hometown, it was meant for food offering for qing ming festival last weekend. Mom packed in a container and freeze them for me. Although its not as fresh as early day, but still taste good. 

So I went to the wet market and get some fresh leeks yesterday evening, and et voila! easily turn them into a delicious delicacy. Can you imagine the fragrant and taste of the stir-fry-until-very-tender-and-lightly-browned leeks & flavorful saltiness of the roasted pork slices?

• Leeks 4 - 5 stalks (rinsed and sliced diagonal)
* remember to rinse carefully under running water as there may have a lot of dirt can hide in between the layers.
• 150 - 200g roasted pork belly (sliced into bite size)
• 5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
• 1 tbsp oyster sauce
• 1 tbsp soy sauce 
• 1 tsp dark soy sauce (to provide color & richer sauce)
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine (optional)
• 50 ml water (add more gradually if you want more sauce)
• 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
*the seasonings are all approximately measured, please adjust according to your own taste.

1. Heat up oil in wok, dry-fry roasted pork belly, the oil will be released.
2. Top up a tablespoon of vegetable oil,  sauté the chopped garlic until fragrant.
3. Add the white portion of leeks first and stir fry for about a minute over high heat. (as the white part is harder root base and requires more time to cook)
4. Add seasoning followed by 50 ml water, stir well and bring the sauce to boil. Close lid and let it continue to cook, open and check to ensure the sauce does not dry out. Add more water gradually (not too much) and cook until the leeks are softened and tendered.
5. Drizzle cooking wine along the side of wok at the end, mix well again. Then turn off the stove and dish out.

Dinner is served, best paired with steamed rice.

I hope you will try it out soon, believe me it's really delicious. Hehe! have a lovely day.