Tuesday, 30 December 2008


Without fail, I make this cake for Christmas and Diwali….in fact, Mr G and I baked these for our wedding too. It’s a fool proof fruit cake and so easy to make . To those of you who haven’t seen the recipe, I’ve put it up again and FYI, you can click HERE to go to the original post. So here’s my BOILED FRUIT CAKE – AGAIN.

PS: I also made this to give as Christmas presents.


375g packet of mixed fruit*
250g butter*
2 cups sugar*
2 cups water*
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
4 cups flour - sieved
4 large eggs – lightly beaten with a fork
2 tbsp 'mixed spice' (don’t use 'all spice') - click on the link for my post on MIXED SPICE


Put all the * ingredients in a large pot and gently bring to a boil. Mix well and turn off the heat.

Add in baking powder and baking soda. Be careful at this stage as the soda has the tendency to rise very quickly. It looks as if a volcano is erupting! That is why you have to place the ingredients in a large pot to compensate for the soda rising.

Leave mixture overnight (on the kitchen bench and covered) to brew.

Next day, heat oven to 180°c (160°c fan forced oven) and line a large square tin with baking paper. Grease the paper lightly with some butter.

Add flour, eggs and mixed spice to the cooked ingredients. You don’t have to use a mixer, just a wooden spoon. Mix thoroughly.

Bake in oven for around 1 hour and 15 mins (you have to start checking the cake at the 1 hour mark). Around the 40 min mark, put a tin foil on top of the cake to prevent the top from burning and to ensure an evenly cooked cake. Serve warm with custard or by itself with a good cup of coffee or tea.


Mixed spice, also called pudding spice, is a British blend of sweet spices. This spice mixture can be purchased ready-mixed, but some cooks prefer experimenting and emphasizing different flavours and therefore make their own.

It is used in a variety of cakes and puddings, such as fruit cake, gingerbread and Christmas pudding. Buy or make in small quantities as the mixture loses its full rich flavour if stored for long periods of time. Keep in a cool dark place to prolong its shelf life. Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger are the usual blend of spices, but some cooks add a few cardamom and coriander seeds.

The term "mixed spice" has been used for this blend of spices in cookbooks going back as far back as 1828. This date could probably be much earlier.

Do not confuse mixed spice with allspice and if a recipe calls for mixed spice, do not substitute with allspice. The flavours are completely different.

Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, Kurundu, Myrtle pepper, pimento, or newspice, is a spice derived from the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica , a tree native to the West Indies, southern Mexico and Central America. It is available ground or in seed form, and used in a variety of dishes such as pickles, casseroles, cakes and puddings.

The name "allspice" was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of several aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Therefore, ground allspice is not, as some people believe, a mixture of spices. Rather, it is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The fruit is picked when it is green and unripe and traditionally dried in the sun. When dry, the fruits are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns. The whole fruits have a longer shelf life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use.

The leaves of the allspice plant are also used in cooking. For cooking, fresh leaves are used where available. They are similar in texture to bay leaves and are thus infused during cooking and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves, they lose much flavour when dried and stored. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where allspice is a local crop. Allspice can also be found in essential oil form.

Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Caribbean jerk seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute) and in pickling. It is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders. Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine but throughout the world, allspice is commonly used in cakes and puddings. Allspice is also a main flavor used in barbecue sauces.


A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.

- English Proverb

Saturday, 27 December 2008


This is one of the cakes I made for Christmas this year. I found this recipe in the Australian December 2008 edition of Better Homes and Garden. What a delightful cake! Another one of those cakes that turn out better after a day’s ‘resting’. So no matter what you do, don’t let temptation get you. Leave the cake to rest, in an airtight container for a day before cutting it. Of course, make sure that the cake is completely cool before you store it, or else it will ‘sweat’. Serve it as is or warm with butter. Would be lovely too, served with some coulis (click to see my recipe on STRAWBERRY COULIS – just change the strawberries to raspberries).

Take note that it is a very ‘heavy’ cake (as it does not have baking powder in it) but it does rise considerably. Make sure you use a 6 to 8 cup capacity tin to bake this cake. A fancy tin would look lovely.


Liberal amounts of melted butter for greasing your tin. No need to flour the tin.
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of cold water – I used the cold water setting on my tap (Note, we get very cold water in our taps in Canberra, even during summer. No such thing as a cold shower here – you’d freeze to death!)
4 cups plain flour – make sure you tap the cup just once to ‘settle’ the flour and hence to give you the correct amounts. Any more taps and you will have too much flour.
1 tsp cream of tartar
250 g butter – softened (around 20 to 30 sec in the microwave for solid butter – you don’t want it runny, just soft)
1 ½ cups caster sugar (use same principle as the flour – tap once to ‘settle’ the amounts)
4 eggs – bring to room temperature if you have them refrigerated.
300 g frozen raspberries, partially thawed (I brought them out of the freezer when I was ready to start making the cake)
Icing sugar – to dust


Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 6 cup fancy ring cake tin with butter.

Combine the bicarbonate and water in a jug. Set aside. Sift the flour and cream of tartar together in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat sugar and butter in an electric mixer until light and creamy. Note: about 6 mins on setting 5 using a Kenwood mixer. Add in the eggs, one at a time (I gave it 1 minute between each egg I added to the bowl and 2 mins after the last addition).

Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a metal spoon to stir, add in the flour and water mixture. Note: I added half the flour and water, mixed the batter gently (as you would to make muffins) and repeated the process with the second half of the flour and water.

Add in the raspberry, mix well and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Note: it took exactly 1 hour 15 mins for the cake to cook.

Stand the cake, still in its tin, on a wire rack, for 15 mins before turning out to cool on the rack again. Put cake on a plate and dust with icing sugar (use a small sieve filled with icing sugar and gently cover the cake with it) before serving.


“No man is worth your tears,
but once you find one that is,
he won't make you cry”.

~ Unknown author

Thursday, 25 December 2008



I am sure you have all heard those corny "waiter there's a fly in my soup" jokes. No? Well, here's a few and I must warn you, they are quite lame. Here goes:

"Waiter, waiter, there is a fly in my soup?"
"Don't worry sir, that spider on your bread will soon get him!"


"Waiter, there is a fly in my soup!"
"Yes sir, he's committed insecticide!"


"Waiter, there's a fly in my soup!"
"Its OK sir, there's no extra charge!"

Well, have you heard this joke, "Doctor, there's a fly in my ear". No? Well I don't blame you... cos it's not a joke!

Of all the things to happen on Christmas day, my son had a fly commit 'harakiri' in his ear. The poor boy! He complained that he thought a fly had gone into his ear but we gathered that the fly had just buzzed past him. However, to be on the safe side, we did check his ear but we could not 'see' anything in it. But an hour or so later, my poor son starting crying in pain and I knew something was wrong. Thank god for the emergency clinic and true enough, there was a fly in his ear and it was still ALIVE! By the time we got to see the doctor, the fly would have been in his ear for over 3 hours! The poor munchkin. No wonder he kept crying and saying that something was pricking him like a needle in his ear!

Well, so much for a quiet christmas at the G household! Regardless, I am thankful that the emergency was easily solved and not life threatening. The doctor did however say if the fly was in for much longer, it could have caused some harm in his ear.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all you unsung heroes, who in the course of duty, sacrifice your time with your own families to help others. So, to all of you in the medical, law enforcement, public safety and defence forces, my gratitute.

Mind you, looking back now, it is quite amusing. Who would have thought that a fly could lodge in one's ear? Apparently, they do!!!!


Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...

~Norman Wesley Brooks

Wishing you all a very

from all of us at


Hugs and Kisses from VG and Family

And remember to keep your Christmas-heart open
all the year round!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Talk about divine, which this shortbread truly is. Another recipe that I found in a magazine but I changed the name as I thought this name to be more appropriate for the shortbread. The use of rosewater in this recipe really makes it taste like Turkish Delight; without the same amount of calories, I think. But it’s Christmas, so who needs to count the calories! Save that for your new year’s resolution (and mine – so need to lose weight)

BTW, I had to make these twice because the first batch did not even see it to Christmas. It was half gone the day I baked them!!! So here it is, my TURKISH DELIGHT SHORTBREAD.


180 g unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rosewater (NOT Rose essence) - see glossary post on ROSE WATER
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup corn flour
Extra plain flour - for kneading
Pure sifted icing sugar – to dust


Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and rosewater with electric beaters until very light and creamy.

Using a wooden spoon to combine, add in the flours.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently with your finger tips. Form a flat disc, in the shape and size of a bread and butter plate, cover completely with baking paper (in on other words, wrap as you would a parcel) and refrigerate for 20 mins or until firm.

Roll out dough between two sheets of baking paper to 2 to 3 mm thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes in the dough and carefully place them on the paper lined baking tray and bake for 10 to 12 mins until golden. Stand on wire racks until cookies are cold and then dust them with icing sugar. Store (if you actually have any left) in airtight containers.

PS: You could also make holes in your cookies and hang them on your Christmas tree for Christmas day. Use Christmassy cookie cutter shapes instead and make holes using the bottom end of a thin chopstick. When cool, thread some cotton or ribbon through the holes, dust with icing sugar and decorate your tree.


Rose water is the aqueous remnants of the distillation of rose petals. Rose water was first produced by Muslim chemists in the medieval Islamic world through the distillation of roses, for use in the drinking and perfumery industries. Crushed rose petals are steam distilled, which then produces the essential rose oil and the rose water. Rose water is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.

Rose water has a very distinctive flavour and is used heavily in South Asian, West Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine—especially in sweets. For example, rose water gives loukoumia (Turkish Delight) and gulab jamuns their distinctive flavours. In Iran it is also added to tea, ice cream, cookies and other sweets in small quantities, and in the Arab world and India it is used to flavour milk and dairy-based dishes such as rice pudding. In Malaysia and Singapore, rose water is mixed with milk, sugar and pink food colouring to make a sweet drink called air bandung. In Western Europe, rose water is sometimes used to flavour both marzipan and a shell-shaped French cake known as madeleine. Rose water is frequently used as replacement for red wine and other alcohols in cooking by Muslim chefs.

A rose water ointment is occasionally used as an emollient, and rose water is sometimes used in cosmetics such as cold creams. Zamzam water, used to clean the Kaaba, a holy shrine of Islam located in Mecca, includes rose water as a component. Rose water is used in some Hindu rituals as well.

Rose water and rose essence are different, but related flavourings. Rose essence is a much more concentrated form of rose water and is quite strong. If you don’t have rose water handy, a rough conversion is 5ml of rose essence is equivalent to 15ml of rose water.


Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died!

- Erma Bombeck

Sunday, 21 December 2008


Whenever I want to get my ‘fix’ of Malay style cooking, I always visit my good friend Sis Ummi’s blog for inspiration. She is such a good cook and the best thing is, her food is not ‘pretentious’. In other words, good home style Malay cooking. Thank you Sis Ummi, for all your yummy recipes and for making me the ‘best mum’ coz my kids are always happy with the food that I cook (although I do get some whinging when I ‘accidently’ make some dishes ‘too’ hot – there’s only so much compromise I will make with chilli, wink* wink*).

Anyway, back to today’s post, which I have adapted from Ummi’s blog. I really don’t know if it has an anglicised name so I have given the direct translation here although technically, it should read ‘Meat Cooked Black and Sweet ’. However, it just does not sound right in English!

I have also changed some of the measurements and given my interpretation as to the amounts of some of the spices that are used as they were not given. Above all, don’t be put off by the colour of this dish. Yes, it is very dark and may not look very appetising (unless you have eaten this before and know that the colour is synonymous with the dish). This is because the main ingredient is thick sweet sauce which is very ‘black’ (hence the name). It however tastes divine. So thank you Ummi , and now I present to you, DARK AND SWEET BEEF.


1 kg diced beef (rump, skirt or chuck)
½ cup sweet soy sauce – I used the Indonesian brand ‘ABC Kecap Manis’
¼ cup light soy sauce
4 tbsp of wet ground chilli paste – deseed and soak a large handful of dried chillies in hot water. Drain and grind the chillie in a food processor, with minimal water, to make a thick paste.
Veg oil for cooking

A – Ingredients to be dried pan fried until aromatic, using low heat and then ground to a powder
3 tbsp fennel seeds
3 tbsp cumin seeds

B – Ingredients to be ground together into a fine paste in a food processor
½ a large head of garlic
4 medium red onions
Thumb size fresh ginger

C – Misc ingredients
3 large whole star anise (left intact in the ‘flower’ shape)
2 large cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cardamom pods
3 to 4 dried tamarind pieces (asam keping/gelugur)


Put the beef in a pot with both lots of soy sauce and simmer the beef until it is nearly cooked. If required, add (very) minimal water during this process to ensure that the meat is submerged in liquid.

Drain the meat but make sure you KEEP the STOCK. You need this liquid to continue the cooking process.

Now, add a third of the A and B ingredients to the ‘drained’ cooked beef. Mix well and leave to marinade for 5 to 10 mins.

Heat oil in a pot and shallow fry the ‘marinated’ beef. All we want to do here is seal the meat so 2 mins would suffice. Drain the meat into a bowl.

Using the same pot, add oil if required, and add the remainder of the A and B ingredients and the chilli paste and fry until the oil seeps through. Add a few of tbsp of the ‘stock’ during this process and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. If the paste gets dry, add more stock. We want this paste to really cook well.

Add in the meat, the remainder of the stock and all of the C ingredients. Add more of the sweet soy sauce if the dish is not ‘dark’. Cook until the ‘gravy’ is quite thick and the meat is very tender. Lift and serve hot with rice. Delicious!

PS: I know that there is quite a process associated with this dish but t really isn’t difficult to make. As with everything in life, ‘no pain, no gain’ and in the end, the effort is worth it!


Like tofu, soy sauce is made from soy beans. While the Europeans only discovered the soybean plant in the early eighteenth century, the Chinese were relying on it as a food source at least 5,000 years ago. Nutritionally, soy beans provide a healthy and inexpensive source of protein - two pounds of soy flour contains approximately the same amount of protein as five pounds of meat.

Soy sauce is derived from the fermentation of soy beans, roasted grain, water and salt. Soy sauce was invented in China, where it has been used as a condiment for close to 2,500 years. It has various forms and it is widely used in East and South East Asian cuisines.

It is important to note that despite its rather similar appearances, soy sauces produced in different cultures and regions are very different in taste, consistency, fragrance and saltiness. As such, it may not be appropriate to substitute soy sauces of one culture or region for another.

Examples of different soya sauce:

1) Indonesian Kecap Manis - a thick and sweet soy sauce that is nearly as thick as molasses. Apart from the normal ingredients in soy sauce, it has a generous addition of palm sugar. The term ‘kecap’ is used to identify all ‘fermented’ sauces. The same term is used in Malaysia by the Malays but it is spelt ‘kicap’.

2) In Singapore and Malaysia, the Chinese there refer to soy sauce as dòuyóu (anglicised as ‘toyu’); dark soy sauce is called jiàngyóu and light soy sauce is jiàngqīng. Malaysia, which has cultural links with Indonesia, uses the word 'kicap' for soy sauce. The Malaysian equivalent to the Indonesian kecap manis is the thick caramel soy sauce.

3) The two basic types of soy sauce used in Chinese cooking are light and dark. Dark soy is aged much longer than light soy, giving it a brownish-black color and much thicker texture. As its name suggests, light soy has a lighter colour, plus a saltier flavour. It is used more in cooking, as the rather pungent odour and darker colour of dark soy sauce can ruin the taste or appearance of a dish. (Dark soy is used in red-cooked dishes and is good for marinating meat). There is also mushroom flavoured soy sauce.

4) Japanese soy sauce or shō-yu, is traditionally divided into 5 main categories depending on differences in their ingredients and method of production. Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient and this tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts. They also have an alcoholic sherry-like flavour. Not all soy sauces are interchangeable. Tamari, a soy sauce unique to Japan is darker in appearance and richer in flavour. It contains little or no wheat; wheat-free tamari is popular among people eating a wheat free diet. It is the "original" Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is the closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari, as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures.

5) Vietnamese soy sauce is called xì dầu, nước tương, or sometimes simply tương. Again, its taste is quite distinctive. If a recipe does call for tương, do try to find it. If not, substitute with light soy sauce.


Before god, we are all equally wise -
and equally foolish.

Albert Einstein

Friday, 19 December 2008


Imagine my astonishment when I was contacted by ‘All Recipes Australia/New Zealand’ to write a feature story for their blog site. I didn’t think that my humble blog merited the attention of the publishers (who also publish ‘Notebook Magazine’, a successful lifestyle magazine in Australia) but obviously it had.

After much deliberation and contemplation, I decided to write about the spice trade and one of my favourite spices, chillies. So, if you are interested in reading my article, please click on All Recipes Blog. Whilst you are there, don't forget to check out their great recipe site. And do let me know what you think about my article!

Thursday, 18 December 2008


It's a romantic full moon, when Pedro said, "Hey, Mamacita, let's do Weeweechu."

“Oh no, not now, let's look at the moon!" said Rosita.

“Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I do Weeweechu. I love you and it's the perfect time," Pedro begged.

"But I wanna just hold your hand and watch the moon." replied Rosita.

“Please, corazoncita, just once, do Weeweechu with me."

Rosita looked at Pedro and said, "OK, one time, we'll do Weeweechu."

Pedro grabbed his guitar and they both sang.....

"Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year."

And we too, at the G Household, ‘WEECHU’ a very MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR …… muah*muah*muah*!

PS: And you thought it was going to be a raunchy joke, didn't you??

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


This is a favourite snack for many Malaysians for afternoon tea – yes, Malaysians have a tendency to eat very sweet snacks, deep fried fruit (such as bananas or jack fruit) or sweet potatoes or spicy food for mornos (Aussie for morning tea) or afternoon tea. In fact, in Malaysia, any food is a goer at anytime! There are no set culinary rules.

Now, there are different versions of making this fritter. Some people like to top the batter with just a prawn and then fry it. I however, like to mix the prawns in the batter with the BEAN SPROUTS and CHINESE CHIVES (click on the ingredients for explanation). I know versions where no chives or sprouts are used. In the end, it is actually up to you what you want to put in your batter, as long as you get the consistency of the batter right and you use the basic ingredients. For Indian readers, this dish is the Malaysian equivalent to the PAKORA.

In addition to this, there are also the different ways you may serve this dish. Some like to eat it with chilli sauce, or a mixture of chilli and tomato sauce (try this, it’s quite nice) or with satay sauce. Again, it is your prerogative. Without further ado, this is how I make my PRAWN FRITTERS.

Ingredients – serves 6 to 8

3 cups plain flour
½ cup rice flour (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tsp paprika powder or to taste (optional)
1 egg beaten lightly with 1 cup of water

Large handful of medium peeled cooked prawns
½ a bunch of Chinese chives – cut into 3 cm pieces (see my post on CHINESE CHIVES)
Large handful of bean sprouts (see my post on BEAN SPROUTS)
1 to 2 large onions – diced fine
2 red chillies – quartered and diced fine

Oil for deep frying


Combine all the batter ingredients, except for the egg and water mixture, in a large bowl. Add in the diced onions and chillies and mix well.

Next, gradually add in the egg and water mixture and mix into a batter. Add in more water gradually, making sure that the batter isn’t runny.

Remember, the ingredients need to be able to ‘stick’ together. Add in the chives, bean sprouts and prawns. Leave to rest for 15 mins. Note: If your batter is too runny, just add in tbsps of flour to get the desired consistency.

Heat oil in a wok until hot but not too hot – you don’t want the outside to cook whilst the inside is still raw. Also, if the oil is not hot enough, the batter will ‘soak’ in too much oil and your fritters will be too oily.

Using the tips of your fingers and thumb, drop in dollops of the batter into the oil. Make sure you don’t put in too many dollops as you will need some space in your wok to stir the fritters and so that the fritters do not to stick to each other. Cook until golden brown, lift with a sieve or tongs, onto a plate lined with plenty of paper towels. Repeat the process until the batter is finished. Serve hot with either chilli sauce, tomato sauce (this is how my kids eat this – the wimps) or with satay sauce. Viola!

PS: Here you go Teena, now you can make this at home!


When I mention bean sprouts in my recipes, I am usually referring to MUNG BEAN sprouts (see explanation below). They are usually sold simply as ‘bean sprouts’ and are known as ‘dòu yá’ in Chinese and ‘taugeh’ in Malay/Indonesian.

In most parts of Asia, bean sprouts are stir fried as a vegetable accompaniment to a meal, usually with ingredients such as garlic, ginger, spring onions, or pieces of salted dried fish to add flavour. Uncooked bean sprouts and/or cellophane noodles (see explanation below) are used in filling for Vietnamese spring rolls, as well as a garnish for phở (noodles in broth). They are a major ingredient in a variety of Malaysian and Peranakan cuisine including Char Kuey Teow, Hokkien mee and Prawn Fritters.

Sprouts are reputed to help your digestion, immune system and improve your general wellbeing and health. Sprouted seeds are little powerhouses of vitamins packed with the live enzymes that make digesting them easy. They are alkaline so particularly help someone who is too acidic in their body or toxic e.g. a person who feels rough from eating too much junk food.Bean sprouts use to attract a bit of prejudice – in the west, it is thought that only hippies and vegetarians eat them – no disrespect meant here. In Malaysia, it is considered poor man’s food – a veg that you cook when you can’t afford the more expensive vegetables because the price of bean sprouts is dirt cheap there. You can buy a kilo of sprouts for half the price you pay here for a 250 g packet here! Go figure.

However now, it is categorised as a ‘super food’ and part of a healthy living regime. So if you have not tried sprouts before, I hope that after reading this, you will. Check out my easy stir fried bean sprouts (click on the recipe) and don’t forget to include it the next time you stir fry some noodles or fried rice.

If you want to grow your own bean sprouts, here is how you do it:

Soak 2 tablespoons of mung beans in water overnight in a larger jar. Rinse.

Cover the opening of the jar with a clear nylon stocking and secure with a rubber band.

Leave it in a sunny (not hot) position for four to five hours and then transfer the jar to a dark place.

Rinse the seed well with water each morning and afternoon for 2—5 days and repeat the preceeding process .

Sprouts are ready to eat with the sprouts are twice or thrice as long as the original seed. You may choose to let them grow longer.

Cover the lid of the jar and place in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days.

Mung bean is also known as green bean or moong bean. It is a seed that is native to India. The split bean is known as moong dhal, which is green with the husk, and yellow when de-husked. The bean is popular in Indian cuisine and is usually used to make a sweet dessert in Malaysia.

Mung bean starch, which is extracted from ground mung beans, is used to make transparent cellophane noodles (also known as bean thread noodles, bean threads, glass noodles, fen si, tung hoon, miến, bún tàu, or bún tào). Cellophane noodles become soft and slippery when they are soaked in hot water. I also use them to make VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS.


Love me when I least deserve it,
Because that's when I really need it.

- Swedish Proverb

Monday, 15 December 2008


It's funny how you take certain things for granted. When I was growing up and living in Malaysia, there were certain drinks that I used to love – soya milk, grass jelly, chrysanthemum, longan and barley. However, when I came to Australia, I soon found out the hard way that all the things I took for granted whilst growing up, I had to learn to make.

One such thing is this refreshing barley drink. It’s not hard to make, in fact so easy that I am ashamed to actually put this post up. But if you were anything like me and have never had to make something before because the need never arose, (as you can actually buy a big glass of this drink for 50 Malaysian cents…..yes you heard right), then I am sure you will find this post useful. Also, for all of you who thought that barley is only used to make soup or beer, think again. Try this refreshing drink and you will never see barley in the same light again. Also, my friend Hong K in KL assures me that it is good if you have congestion. Drink it cold in summer or warm in winter. Enjoy your REFRESHING BARLEY DRINK.

Ingredients (makes 1.5 to 2 litres)

150 g white pearl barley
2 litres of water
Sugar - to taste
Lemon (optional) – to taste


Boil the barley in 2 litres of water until it has split (around 30 mins). Keep topping up the water to ensure that you will have around 2 litres of drink.

Strain the drink into a jug. You may add about a third of the barley grains back into the jug if you like (this is not necessary – you may choose to discard the barley). Add sugar and lemon to taste. Serve warm or cold.


Monet: Water Garden and the Japanese Footbridge (1900)

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year –
it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.
~ Author Unknown

Sunday, 14 December 2008


Each flower is a soul opening out to nature!
~ Gerald De Nerval


One of the easiest and most common house plants is the Spathiphyllum. Often known only by its common name of Peace Lily, there are many cultivars of Spathiphyllum which are essentially quite similar. Some claim to have larger leaves, glossier leaves, longer lasting leaves, better flowers and other attributes, but apart from one that produces a green flower and another that has variegated leaves, they all produce white flowers.

Spathiphyllum is a native of South America and the Indo-Malaysian archipelago. It's a member of the Araceae or arum Family, which also includes Anthurium and Philodendron.

Quick reference guide:

 Spathiphyllum is ideal for the darker spots in the house, as its light requirements are quite low. In fact, do not put this plant in full sunlight - it won't like it!

 Most indoor plants are killed by either too much water, too little water or too much fertiliser and Spathiphyllum is no different. Only water plants when they are drying out. The best method for testing if your indoor plant needs water is to stick your finger in the soil to check!

 Do not allow the potting media to totally dry out as this can quickly cause plant wilting and death. However, my Spathiphyllum was able to bounce back from being totally wilted and near-death. What I did was simply stand the pot in a container of water, halfway to the pot.

 Its fertiliser requirements are quite low. Weakened solutions of liquid fertiliser (follow the instructions for indoor plants) can be applied a couple of times per year when it is actively growing.

 Regular spraying of foliage with a mist of water will keep the humidity a bit higher around the plant, which is important in the dry conditions of air conditioned environments. Old, dead leaves should be removed.

 Spathiphyllum is an excellent toxin remover in the house and office. Simply place desktop sized Spathiphyllum near computers, to help clean up those volatile chemicals.

 Spathiphyllum is mildly toxic to humans and animals when ingested. So don't eat it, no matter how hungry you are!!!

Friday, 12 December 2008


Congratulations to my new friend Ms Hema of Adlak Kitchen on hitting her 100th post and also for passing me her 'BEST BLOGGER FRIENDS AWARD'. Well done and thank you very much Hema. I wish you all the best my friend.


A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pyjamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.

The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pyjamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.

He looked at her bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?'

She again smiled and answered, 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me sarcastically what in the world I do all day?'

'Yes,' was his incredulous reply.

She answered, 'Well, today, I didn't do it.'

PS: And that’s only the housework! Add to the list: in-house nursing facilities, counsellor, cook, chauffeuring duties (taking the kids to school, sports and parties), food and clothes shopper, tutor, tailor, dog groomer, gardener, plumber, electrician etc …… and some of us work full time too. Ask a man to undertake all these duties!!!!!