Tuesday, 31 March 2009


This is Kylie Kwong’s (a famous Australian Chinese Chef, if you are wondering) recipe. Really yummy and the results are better than any restaurants….where they add tons of onions to make up for the volume whilst having no substance. Not in this instance!

NB: I added chilli flakes to this dish. This is not in Kylie's recipe.


For the marinade:
2 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 garlic cloves - finely diced
½ tsp sesame oil

For the beef:
600g good quality beef - sliced thinly
1 head Chinese cabbage, finely shredded (I did not put any)
2 tsp sea salt
50ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp chilli flakes - optional
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp malt vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
1 small carrot - peeled and finely sliced
1 small red capsicum - finely sliced
1 onion - sliced
1 chilli - sliced (optional)


Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add in the beef and leave to marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.

Put the cabbage (if using) and salt into another bowl and mix well to combine. Leave to stand for 15 minutes then rinse under cold water and drain. Squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a wok until the surface starts to shimmer slightly. Add half of the marinated beef and stir fry for 30 seconds. Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and set to one side.

Add the remaining oil to the wok and cook the remaining beef for 30 seconds before returning the reserved beef to the pan.

Add in the rice wine, hoisin and oyster sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and cook for a further 30 seconds.

Toss in the cabbage, carrot, onions and capsicum and stir-fry for a further one to two minutes. Add in the chilli flakes (optional).

Remove from the heat. Serve hot with rice and sliced chillies (optional).


Saturday, 28 March 2009


It’s as if I am a ‘ketagih’ (Malay word for addict) of steamed cakes now. I think the reason is because it is so fluffy, easy to make and healthier than normal cakes as it uses only a bit of cooking oil, as opposed to butter or margarine.


4 xl eggs – at room temperature
120g castor sugar (you can lessen this to 100g if desired)
2 tsp ovalette (cake emulsifier) (see my GLOSSARY post on OVALETT)
100 soft flour (I used Anchor brand cake and biscuits flour)
2 tsp baking powder
40 ml fresh milk
40 ml cooking oil (I used Sunflower oil)
1.5 tsp pandan paste or 1 tsp green colouring and 1 tsp pandan essence (see my GLOSSARY post on PANDAN)
8 inch round tin and steamer


Lightly grease your tin with cooking oil and assemble your steamer. Cover the lid with a thin cloth.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and set aside.

Beat the sugar, eggs and ovalette until very thick and fluffy. Add in the essence, beat for a minute and then add in the flour mix.

Continue beating until well blended. Turn off your cake mixer. At this stage get your steamer boiling.

Using a spoon, blend in the milk and oil. Mix well. Pour into your prepared tin.

Steam the cake for 30 mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Do not open the lid of the steamer except at the last 2 to 3 mins of steaming, whilst carefully avoiding any water from the lid falling onto the cake. In other words, do not tilt the lid when you remove it from the steamer until it is well away from the cake.

Cool in the tin for ten minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Serve with some freshly grated coconut (optional).

NOTE: Check out also my post on GADGET AND UTENSILS: COCONUT SCRAPER/GRATER on how to obtain freshly grated coconut.


ANITA AND ME is Meera Syal's debut novel, and was first published in 1996. It is a semi-autobiographical novel which won the Betty Trask Award. The story revolves around Meena an Indian Punjabi girl with a funny hair-cut (the "me" of the title) and her relationship with the white Anita as they grow up in the fictional Midlands village of Tollington in the 1970s. The book was also made into a film and Meera Syal wrote and co-produced the movie as well as acting in it (she played the role of Auntie Shaila). (Source: WIKIPEDIA)

Syal has been very successful in the UK and her works have included her second novel, ‘Life isn’t all ha ha hee hee’ (I have read this too), which was made into a miniseries and starred Syal as well. She can also be accredited to the hit TV shows, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and ‘The Kumar’s at No 42’. Her first screenplay, ‘Bhaji by the beach’ was directed by the acclaimed Gurinder Chadha (who made ‘Bend it like Beckham’ and ‘Bride and Prejudice’).

ANITA AND ME captures the trials of Meena (the ‘me’ in the title), a precocious girl growing up in a working class suburb in England. Meena’s parents have emigrated from Punjab and like most new immigrants, are quite insular in their way of life. They get along just fine with the English neighbourhood but are rarely invited or invite the neighbours to their house. Meena on the other hand is caught with a foot in both worlds. She adores the local brat Anita and thought that all her Christmases had come true when she was accepted into Anita’s gang. Anita soon realises that her ‘troubles’ are trivial compared to those of her friends and the sacrifices her parents made in order to have a better life in England. The undercurrents of racism are done just so. They are not glaring and they seem entirely plausible.

My complaints about the book are Syal’s constant need to be witty and the never ending British colloquialism. I actually found that quite exasperating. Also, the stereotyping of the family nucleus – Meena’s family is portrayed as a close knit family whilst the opposite is the case for her Caucasian friend Anita. I guess those undercurrents were probably essential to the plot.

As a whole, I did enjoy the book.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


One of my favourite cooking shows is the Hairy Bikers. It has two misfits, Simon King and David Myers, who travel all around the world on their motorbikes, learning the culture and cooking the cuisine of the countries they visit. This is one of the dishes they made on their journey to Transylvania – yes, it does exist and it is the birth place of ‘Vlad the Impaler’ aka ‘Dracula’.

Don’t be put off with the look of the dish. The dollops of cream added to the meal at the end makes it look as if it has curdled. The proof of this dish is in the taste, not the pictures. Try it, you won’t be disappointed....it is DELICIOS!!!


1 large chicken, jointed
2 tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
1 onion - chopped
2-3 cloves garlic - chopped
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp hot paprika (this is not hot chilli powder)
1 tbsp flour
285ml chicken stock
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 red capsicums - de-seeded and cut into 1cm strips
4 large ripe tomatoes - roughly chopped
250ml oz sour cream


Rub the chicken pieces with salt. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan and brown the chicken all over for a few minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set to one side.

To the same pan, add the onions and garlic and sweat for about five minutes. Add the sweet and hot paprika, then the flour, and stir until combined - take care not to burn it.

Add the stock and stir. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, adding a bit more stock if the mixtures seems too dry.

Add half of the chopped parsley and bring to the boil. Add the red capsicum strips, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and simmer gently for about one hour.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the sour cream and the remaining parsley. Check the seasoning and serve with hot crusty bread.

Hairy Bikers Si King and Dave Myers


A lady walks into Tiffany's. She browses around, spots a beautiful bracelet and walks over to inspect it. As she bends over to look more closely, she inadvertently breaks wind.

Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone has noticed her little accident and prays that a sales person doesn't pop up right now.

As she turns around, her worst nightmare materialises in the form of a salesman standing right behind her.

Cool as a cucumber and displaying complete professionalism, the salesman greets the lady with, 'Good day, Madam. How may we help you today?'

Very uncomfortably, but hoping that the salesman may just not have been there at the time of her little 'accident', she asks, 'Sir, what is the price of this lovely bracelet?'

He answers, 'Madam, if you farted just looking at it, you're going to shit yourself when I tell you the price.'

Monday, 23 March 2009


BARFI or Indian Fudge is a popular Indian sweet and is served during festive seasons such as Diwali or to ‘sweeten’ the mouth on happy events such as marriages, engagements, births or for any auspicious or joyous occasions. There are many different flavourings and pistachio is one of the nicer and more expensive versions.

It is not hard to make BARFI but mind you, you need lots of arm muscles as you have to constantly stir the mixture. Don’t attempt to make this if you can’t give it your full attention. You can get around 18 large or 36 small squares with this measurement.


2 litres fresh full cream milk – the creamier the better
1¼ cups sugar
1 tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
1 cup raw blanced pistachio – ground fine
1 cup raw blanched pistachio nuts - chopped fine
1 cup slived almonds


Combine milk, sugar, ghee and cardamom in a pot, preferably non-stick. Bring the milk to a rolling boil over moderate heat and continue to cook it, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for about 45 minutes, or until the milk has reduced to a thick bubbling creamy mass, about half its original volume. Add the powdered pistachios.

Continue to reduce the fudge, stirring continuously with gently rhythmic strokes for a further 10 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a thick paste.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook the fudge, stirring and scraping with the wooden spoon for further 20 minutes or until the mixture becomes a thick dry lump. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for one minute.

Transfer the fudge to a shallow, buttered tray. Press down the fudge using a banana leaf or aluminium foil until smooth. Evenly spread the chopped pistachios and the slivered almonds. Allow the fudge to cool for an hour.

Cut the fudge into pieces with a sharp, buttered knife. You may need to wipe the knife clean after each cut. Serve with a cup of “garam garam masala chai” ….. hot, hot spiced tea. Too good!!!

Note: Normally a layer of edible silver foil is transferred onto the BARFI. I personally dislike it as it reacts with my sensitive teeth.


After 2 years of selfless service, a man realized that he has not been promoted, no transfer, no salary increment and no commendation. So he decided to talk to his HR Manager.

His manager looked at him, smiled and asked him to sit down saying, "My friend you have not worked here for even a single day." The man was surprised to hear this, but the manager went on to explain…..Here’s the conversation between them.

Manager: How many days are there in a year?
Man: 365 days and sometimes 366.

Manager: How many hours make up a day?
Man: 24 Hours.

Manager: How long do you work in a day?
Man: 10am to 6pm, that’s 8 hours a day.

Manager: So, what fraction of the day do you work in hours?
Man: He did some arithmetic and said 8/24 i.e 1/3 (one third).

Manager: This is nice of you! What is 1/3rd of 366 days?
Man: 122 (1/3 x 366=122 in days).

Manager: Do you come to work on weekends?
Man: No sir.

Manager: How many days are there in a year that are weekends?
Man: Eh….52 Saturdays and hmm….52 Sundays equals to 104 days.

Manager: Thanks for that. If you remove 104 days from 122 days. How many days do you now have?
Man: 18 days.

Manager: The Company gives you 2 weeks sick leave every year. Now remove that 14 days from the 18 days left. How many days do you have remaining?
Man: Err…4 days.

Manager: Do you work on Labour Day?
Man: No sir….

Manager: Do you come to work on Australia Day?
Man: No …..

Manager: So how many days are left?
Man: 2 days sss...ir.

Manager: Do you come to work on New Years Day?
Man: No sir.

Manager: So how many days are left now?
Man: 1 day sir!

Manager: Do you work on Christmas Day?
Man: Nooo….

Manager: So how many days are left?
Man: Err…..None Sir…..

Manager: So, what are you claiming????

HR= HIGH RISK ……not Human Resources.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Delicious served warm with soup or a salad as a meal during cooler days or as an alternative to the sandwich for lunch. If you think Muffin Break™ sells passable HAM AND CHEESE MUFFINS, wait till you try this! You’ll be spoit forever….


3 spring onions – finely chopped
1 tsp oil
300g self raising flour
75g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of dry mustard (I used Keen’s)
Freshly ground black pepper
175g normal or smoked ham – chopped
125g grated Cheddar, Tasty or Gruyere cheese
2 eggs
250ml milk
125g butter – melted and cooled


Preheat oven to 210°C. Brush a 12 hole muffin tray with melted butter or oil.

Fry the spring onions in the oi for 2 to 3 mins or until soft. Set aside to cool.

Sift flours with salt and mustard in a large glass bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the cheese, ham and spring onions. Mix well. Make a well in the centre.

Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and add to the ‘well’ along with the butter. Stir with a metal spoonuntil just combined. Do not overmix – the mixture should be lumpy.

Spoon the mixture equally into the muffin tray. Bake for 20 mins (I baked this in my National conventional microwave oven and it took exactly 20 mins) or until a skewer when inserted in the middle of the muffin, comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the pan for 5 mins before inverting to a wire rack to cool further.

Serve warm with butter.


'Stewardesses' is the longest word typed with only the left hand.

And 'lollipop' is the longest word typed with your right hand. (Bet you tried this out mentally, didn't you?)

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'. Are you doubting this???

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

The sentence: 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog' uses every letter of the alphabet. (Now, you KNOW you're going to try this out for accuracy, aren’t you?)

The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes). (Yep, I knew you were going to 'do' this one.)

There are only four words in the English language which end in 'dous': tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. (You're not possibly doubting this, are you?)

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: 'abstemious' and 'facetious.' (Yes, admit it, you are going to say, a e i o u)

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.(All you typists are going to test this out)

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds - Some days that's about what my memory span is.

A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years - I know some people that have this for longer…..

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

And tea is related to the camellias!

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. (I know some people like that also…..Actually I know A LOT of people like this!)

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner QE 2 moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

AND Now you know more than you did before!!

Friday, 20 March 2009


Nothing seems to pleasure my senses at the moment….but it is to be expected with my illness. However, thank god for small miracles, which in this instance, is this LONGAN drink. It is easy to make, refreshing and full of vitamin C. And the sugar helps to sustain your energy too when you are feeling weak. You can get dried LONGAN from most Oriental grocers in Canberra.


1 packet dried LONGAN (see my GLOSSARY post on LONGAN)
Sugar to taste (I used normal Palm (pale variety) and white sugar) – see my GLOSSARY post on PALM SUGAR)
Few slices of fresh ginger (optional)
1.5 to 2 litres water


Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a pot. Add in the longan (and ginger) and simmer gently until the dried longan has re-hydrated.

Check the sweetness and leave to cool before refrigerating.

NOTE: Dried Longan has a distinctive taste and differs from fresh or tinned LONGAN (see my GLOSSARY post on LONGAN).


The LONGAN (literally translated as "dragon eye") is a tropical fruit tree – its origin is still disputed but it is said to originate either in southern China or in the area between India and Burma. It is also called guiyuan in Chinese, lengkeng in Indonesia, and mata kucing (literally "cat's eye") in Malaysia. The LONGAN is closely related to the lychee and is similar in growth and fruiting habit. Thailand, China and Taiwan are the main centres of commercial production.

The LONGAN ("dragon eyes") is so named because of the fruit's resemblance to an eyeball when it is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris). The seed is small, round and hard.

The fruit is edible, and is often used in East Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, sometimes canned with syrup. Canned LONGANS are very nice (in fact I prefer this to the fresh fruit) and the taste is considered better than canned lychees (I concur). The seeds of fresh LONGAN can be boiled and eaten, with a distinctive nutty flavor.

Dried LONGANS are often used in Chinese cuisine and Chinese sweet dessert soups and drinks. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, it is believed to have an effect on relaxation. In contrast with the fresh fruit, which is juicy and white, the flesh of dried LONGANS is dark brown to almost black. In Chinese medicine the LONGAN, much like the lychee, is considered a "warm" fruit.


The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue ~ Michael Combs

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face ~ Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself ~ Peter Dorsett

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person ~ Andy Rooney

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog ~ Franklin P. Jones

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money ~ Joe Weinstein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man ~ Mark Twain

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole ~ Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them ~ Phil Pastoret