Friday, 29 May 2009







Tuesday, 26 May 2009


This recipe is from the book “Shiok!” written by Terry Tan and Christopher Tan (I believe they are not related – not that it matters!). Next to my “Singapore Food” book by Wendy Hutton, this is my Malaysian/Singaporean food bible. Every recipe that I have made from this book has turned out perfect. Mind you, I do tend to ‘adjust’ some of the seasonings and spices…..especially when it comes to chillies.

To today’s dish now. The Tans qualify in their book that the dish is very moreish and tastes so much better the next day. I could not agree more. It has to be one of the nicest meat sambals I have tasted.

For those who have religious taboo with pork, I’d suggest you try substituting the meat with either beef or venison.

I have also made this dish using wild boar and I think it is the best meat for this recipe. You can find wild boar, if you are lucky, at the Fyshwick Market in Canberra.


1 ½ kg belly pork – trimmed and cut into big chunks
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 whole lime leaves – shredded (see my GLOSSARY post on KAFFIR LIME)

Spice paste – ground very fine
6 cloves garlic
200g red onions or shallots
8 to 10 candlenuts (see my GLOSSARY post on CANDLENUTS)
2 stalks lemon grass
4 slices galangal
Handful of large dried chillies – deseeded and soaked in hot water until soft
Shrimp paste/belachan – around 1 cm thick and 4 cm square.


Boil about 2 to 3 litres of water in a pot and blanch the meat for 8 mins. Drain well and cut into bite sized cubes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a pot and fry the ground spices until thickened and aromatic (7 to 8 mins).

Add in the pork, sugar, salt (add only a little here, you can add more later) and soy sauce. Mix well and cook on low heat, stirring constantly for 15 mins. Add in a little water if necessary to prevent scorching.

When done, the meat should be tender and coated with a very thick sauce. Check seasoning, mix in the shredded lime leaves and serve with rice.

PS: Goes really well as a filling/spread for sandwiches too. Top with a few slices of cucumber and some fresh red onion rings.


The kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix DC., Rutaceae) is a type of lime native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine but is now grown worldwide as a backyard shrub.

The fruit of the kaffir lime is vibrant green and small (approx. 4 cm wide), rough and bumpy and grows on a very thorny bush with aromatic and distinctively shaped "double" leaves. It is well suited to container growing.

Other names for the Kaffir Lime:

• Burma: shauk-nu, shauk-waing
• Cambodia: krauch soeuch
• China: ning meng ye (Mandarin), fatt-fung-kam (Cantonese),
• Indonesia: jeruk purut, jeruk limo, jeruk sambal
• Laos: makgeehoot
• Malaysia: limau purut
• Philippines: Kubot, per-res (Sagada)
• Reunion Island: combava
• Sri Lanka: kahpiri dehi, odu dehi, kudala-dehi
• Thailand: makrud, som makrud

The rind of the kaffir lime is commonly used in Thai curry paste, adding an aromatic, astringent flavour. Its hourglass-shaped leaves (comprising the leaf blade plus a flattened, leaf-like leaf-stalk or petiole) are also widely used in Thai cuisine (for dishes such as tom yum), and Cambodian cuisine (for the base paste known as "Krueng"), and Lao cuisine. The leaves are also popular in Indonesian, Malaysian and Burmese cooking.

The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen. The juice is generally regarded as too acidic to use in food preparation.

The zest of the fruit is widely used in creole cuisine and to impart flavor to "arranged" rums in the Réunion Island and Madagascar.

Note: You can buy established Kaffir and ordinary lime trees from Bunnings around spring time. I purchased my tree around a year ago for $24.95. You can plant it in pots (which I have) or in the ground. If grown in frost prone areas, the plant will need protection from the frost for a few years until it is very well established.

Source: Wikipedia


The Candlenut (Aleurites moluccanus), is a flowering tree in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, also known as Candleberry, Indian walnut, Varnish tree or Kukui nut tree.

Its origin is difficult to establish but it thrives in the tropics. It grows to a height of 15 to 25 metres with wide spreading branches. It produces round, 4 to 6 centimetres nuts, with hard seeds that are high in oil content. Therefore, the seeds have been used as candles throughout the ages and hence its common name - candlenut.

The nut is often used in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine and usually ground with other spices and cooked. It is called kemiri in Indonesian or buah keras in Malay.

Macadamia nuts are sometimes substituted for candlenuts when they are not available, as they have a similarly high oil content and texture when pounded. The flavour, however, is quite different, as the candlenut is much more bitter. Candlenuts are mildly toxic in its raw form and therefore should always be consumed cooked.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, 25 May 2009


The Silent Generation are people born before 1946.

The Baby Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1959.

Generation X are people born between 1960 and 1979.

Generation Y are people born between 1980 and 1995.

Why do we call the last one generation Y?

I did not know, but a cartoonist explains it eloquently below... So, I learned something new today!

Have a great day!

PS: The secret to happiness is a good sense of humour and a bad memory.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I can’t believe that it has been one year today since I started blogging…..and with a total of 477 posts and 222 different recipes!!! Did I really cook and eat all these different foods? My oh my, I must have. I can’t believe it.

This reminds me of a question a friend once asked me - whether I live to eat or eat to live. My answer….both. I enjoy food and take pride in eating and cooking good food. Imagine how boring life would be without different cuisines. It would be like eating only vanilla ice cream – no chocolate, butterscotch, strawberry etc flavoured ice creams. How palate less. But that does not mean that there can’t be ‘vanilla ice cream’ days? Or even ‘Maggi 2 minute noodle’ or ‘toast and cuppa soup’ days. There has been many a time where I have been guilty of serving or eating this for dinner. But what I don’t think I could survive with is a food roster – Monday is pasta night, Tuesday is bangers and mash, ham steaks for Wednesdays etc, etc. And then there’s those who would only eat the same food. I knew someone that cooked only lentils and chicken curry day in and day out (but had the audacity to complain about the food that they ate elsewhere – Go figure!). It’s bad enough having other aspects of our life regimented without having food and meals succumb to the same fate!!

And, I don’t believe in being a food snob – one that would not experiment or eat food of different cuisines. But what annoys me the most when it comes to food are those who either salt and pepper, or pour tomato sauce or chilli sauce all over their food even before tasting. This to me is the biggest insult ever… the food and the cook.

I do however draw the line on eating certain meats and animal parts – this is a personal thing but I don’t begrudge or go all ‘icky’ if someone liked chicken feet or ate beef or lamb liver, ox tail, crumbed brains etc. My parents enjoy chicken feet, Mr G loves his lamb fry and bacon and my S-I-L loves crumbed brains but I don’t carry on and on just because they do. Eating chicken feet does not make one less sophisticated or barbaric….and neither does eating caviar make you cultured….yes, people pay top dollar for caviar….even though all they are eating is fish roe (fish eggs and sperm). And then, there are those who enjoy a snail or two when most of us consider it to be a garden pest! The adage, ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ fits very well here.

Having gone on my high horse on the topic of food, I would also like to acknowledge that it is estimated that 36 million people die of hunger and malnutrition, with 6 million of those being children (source: Wikipedia). So remember, the next time you throw or waste food, there would be 36 million people happy to receive those scraps. Therefore, waste not, want not.

Now back to my blog…..Pity I fell short of the 500 posts mark. Maybe this is something I should aspire to for my second birthday :P

Anyway, thank you so much to all my friends and blogging mates…..without your support, I would not have started and continued to blog… have definitely made it an enjoyable year. So, here’s to the next 12 months……Cheers. myspace graphic comments

Monday, 18 May 2009


Something quick I whipped up in the kitchen. You can add more vegetables such as peas, baby corn or mushrooms if you like.


500g chicken breast fillets – sliced into bite sized pieces
1 large onion thickly sliced or 2 spring onions cut into 3 cm lengths or both (see my GLOSSARY post on ONION)
2 cloves garlic
Thumb sized finger – sliced fine
2 carrots – sliced thinly
Thai style light soy sauce
2 tsp Thai style fish sauce
3 to 4 fresh (quartered) or dried chillies (torn into two)*
Salt and pepper
Egg white from one egg – lightly beaten
2 tsp corn flour


Lightly season the chicken with freshly cracked pepper, ½ tsp salt, add in the egg white and corn flour and coat well. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok and fry the chicken in batches until golden. Lift and set aside.

In the same wok, fry the garlic, ginger and chillies for 30 secs and add in the carrots. Cook for about 1 to 2 minute.

Add in the chicken and coat with a few splashes of soy sauce (about 1 to 2 tbsp). Add in the fish sauce, mix well and cook until the carrots are done. Add in the onions/spring onions before lifting, mix well and turn off heat. Serve hot with rice, accompanied with a vegetable dish.

*Note: You may omit the chillies to make a milder dish.


ONION is a term used for the many plants in the Allium genus (part of the lily family). It is one of the oldest vegetables known to humankind. It is strong yet sweet and don't just add flavour but also richness and complexity to dishes. ONIONS are found in a large number of recipes and preparations spanning almost the totality of the world's cultures.

It is thought that bulbs from the ONION family have been used as a food source for millennia. In Bronze Age settlements, traces of onion remains were found alongside fig and date stones dating back to 5000 BC. However, it is not clear if these were cultivated ONIONS.

The Ancient Egyptians worshipped it, believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. ONIONS were even used in Egyptian burials as evidenced by ONION traces being found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV. They believed that, if buried with the dead, the strong scent of onions would bring breath back to the dead.

In ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of ONIONS because it was believed that it would lighten the balance of blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with ONIONS to firm up their muscles. In the Middle Ages, ONIONS were such an important food that people would pay their rent with ONIONS and even give them as gifts. Doctors were known to prescribe ONIONS to facilitate bowel movements and erection, and also to relieve headaches, coughs, snakebites and hair loss. The ONION was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his 1492 expedition to Hispaniola. ONIONS were also prescribed by doctors in the early 1500s to help with infertility in women and even to dogs and cattle and many other household pets. However, recent evidence has shown that dogs, cats, and other animals should not be given ONIONS in any form, due to toxicity during digestion.

The characteristic appearance of the ONION is well known, but there are many variations of colour, shape and size. The colour varies from white to red to purple, the shape from spherical to almost conical, and the diameter at the largest point from 10mm (1/2in) to 8cm (3in) or 'more. ONIONS should be firm, though not rock hard. The papery skin should be tight over the surface of the bulb. Spring onions, or scallions, are immature plants where the bulb has not completely formed. They may be cylindrical, the green stem shading into the white bulblet, which may be almost spherical.

ONIONS are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, powdered, chopped, and dehydrated forms. ONIONS can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of food including cooked foods and fresh salads and as a spicy garnish. They are rarely eaten on their own but usually act as accompaniment to the main course. Depending on the variety, an ONION can be sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent or mild and sweet.

ONION’S antiseptic properties as a juice or paste have been used for wound healing, skin complaints (acne), insect bites, hemorrhoids, boils, toothache, earache and respiratory complaints. The raw juice is diuretic and the whole ONION is an appetite stimulant and digestant. It has been used as a vermifuge. It is believed to stimulate the liver and is beneficial to the heart and nervous system.

We tend to tear when peeling or slicing ONIONS because of the release of sulphenic acid in ONIONS which are produced by the reaction of the enzyme alliinase on an amino acid. These substances are normally in separate cells in the ONION’S tissues, but when the ONION is cut and bruised, the cells rupture and the reaction takes place. Sulphenic acids are unstable and spontaneously rearrange into a volatile gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. The gas diffuses through the air and eventually reaches the eye, where it binds to sensory neurons, creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears to dilute and flush out the irritant. Cooking has the opposite effect, preventing the enzymatic action and thus, a milder and less pungent flavour is produced. To prevent the eyes from watering, peel ONIONS under cold water or put them in the freezer for ten minutes before chopping.

Other Names

French: oignon
German: Zwiebel
Italian: cipolla
Spanish: cebolla
Arabic: basal
Chinese: choong
Hindi: pe(e)az, piaz, pyaz
Indonesian/Malay: bawang merah, daun bawang (spring onion)
Japanese: naganegi (spring onion), negi, nira (chive), rakkyo (Chinese onion), tamanegi
Tamil: vungium, vunguim
Thai: hua horm, ton horm (spring onion)

Source: Wikipedia and The Epicentre

Friday, 15 May 2009


Trust me, once you have eaten a roast cooked on heat beads or coals, any other roast would not taste the same again. I admit there is a bit more preparation involved in getting the oven ready to fire and you may be exposed to the elements being outside to cook the roast…… but the end results are so much more satisfying.

Note: This was cooked on a Weber® Compact Kettle BBQ. You can get the Weber® Compact Kettle BBQ which uses heat beads or charcoal for around $199. It comes with a 5 Year Limited Warranty.

Ingredients – serves 6

1 large (1.5kg) fresh chicken (free range chicken would be better)
1 whole garlic bulb (use Australian or French grown garlic if possible – it tastes so much nicer) – cut into wedges (see my GLOSSARY post on GARLIC)
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Olive oil
6 to 8 potatoes - peeled and halved
1 bunch baby carrots/1/2 kg carrots – tops removed (if using normal carrots, quartered)
6 small/medium brown onions (optional) – peeled and left whole
1 quantity of BREAD CRUMB STUFFING (click on link)


Prepare your Weber® Kettle BBQ according to instructions.
Trim the chicken of any excess fat, tuck wings tips under chicken.

Carefully lift the skin from under the breast area and put dollops of butter under the skin. You may omit this step if you want to cut down on fat.

Now rub the chicken cavity with some olive oil and pepper and stuff with the BREAD CRUMB STUFFING (see recipe HERE). Secure with the cavity with toothpick.

Rub the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil. Make slits all the chicken and insert the garlic cloves.

Bind the legs with kitchen string and tuck the wings into the leg joints to secure.

Using a fork, lightly make some grooves on the potatoes. Lightly rub with olive oil and salt and place in a.

Place the baby carrots (and onions) in another disposable aluminium roasting pan and drizzle some olive oil over. Set aside.

Carefully place the potatoes in the bottom middle part of the BBQ, next to the coals. Put the wire rack in place.

Place the chicken, breast side up, in the middle of the BBQ rack, directly above the potatoes and NOT above the coals. Cook for approximately 1h 20m to 1h 30m or until juices run clear.

After about 45 mins of cooking, place the carrots next to the potatoes. Continue roasting.

When the chicken is done, remove the chicken from the BBQ, cover with foil and keep warm in a low preheated oven. Lift the BBQ wire rack and carefully remove the potatoes and carrots. Replace the rack and put the potatoes and carrots on the wire rack to brown off the vegetables, if it isn’t already cooked. Roast until done.

During this time, make your GRAVY and CHEESE SAUCE and prepare other vegetables you may want to accompany your roast such as cauliflower or peas.

To serve, remove the stuffing from the chicken cavity, carve the chicken, and arrange on plates with the roasted vegetables and bits of stuffing and serve with GRAVY and CHEESE SAUCE.


Excellent for stuffing chickens and turkeys….also for rolled meats. You can use fresh sage and thyme in place of the mixed herbs.


1 ½ cups bread crumbs
2 to 3 tbsp butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 tsp dried or fresh mixed herbs
100 g fresh mushrooms (optional)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Melt butter in a frying pan and cook the onion until soft. Add in the garlic and mushrooms if using. Cook until the mushrooms are reduced and fold in the bread crumbs and mixed herbs.

Season with salt and pepper. Lift and set aside to cool before using it to stuff your poultry or rolled meats.


Allium sativum L., commonly known as GARLIC, is a species in the onion family Alliaceae. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, and chive. GARLIC has been used throughout recorded history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It has a pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens with cooking. A bulb of GARLIC, the most commonly used part of the plant, is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Single clove GARLIC (also called Pearl garlic or Solo garlic) also exists; it originates in the Yunnan province of China. The leaves, stems, and flowers (bulbils) on the head are also edible and are most often consumed while immature and still tender.

The word GARLIC comes from Old English garleac, meaning "spear leek." Dating back over 6,000 years, it is said to be native to Central Asia. GARLIC has been cultivated for so long that it is impossible to determine precisely its place of origin.

GARLIC is recorded in Egypt from the earliest times and was eaten by the builders of the Pyramids. Egyptians worshipped GARLIC and placed clay models of GARLIC bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen. GARLIC was so highly-prized then that it was even used as currency! According to an Arab legend, GARLIC grew from the Devil's footprint as he left Eden. Folklore holds that GARLIC repelled vampires, protected against the Evil Eye, and warded off jealous nymphs said to terrorize pregnant women and engaged maidens. The most famous of all GARLIC folklore is its association with vampires, popularised in the West by Bram Stoker in the classic gothic novel Dracula.

GARLIC is grown globally, but China is by far the largest producer of GARLIC, with approximately 10.5 billion kilograms (23 billion pounds) annually, accounting for over 77 per cent of world output. India (4.1 per cent) and South Korea (2 per cent) follow, with Russia (1.6 per cent) in fourth place and the United States in fifth place (1.4 per cent). This leaves 16 per cent of global GARLIC production in countries that each produces less than 2 per cent of global output.

Culinary uses and storage

GARLIC is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. It is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including eastern Asia, south Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. The flavour varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato or ginger.

When buying GARLIC, make sure the heads are dry with plenty of paper covering. If you can see green shoots then the GARLIC is probably too old or wasn't dried properly. GARLIC that is too old will crumple under the slightest pressure from the fingers. It is traditionally hung; soft neck varieties are often braided in strands, called "plaits" or grappes. Keep heads of GARLIC in a cool dry atmosphere, to keep it dormant (so that it does not sprout). Processed GARLIC must be kept in airtight containers.

Other Names

German: Knoblauch
Italian: aglio, capo d'aglio (clove)
Spanish: ajo
Arabic: toom
Burmese: chyet-thon-phew
Chinese: suen tau
Hindi/Punjabi: lassan, lassoon, lusson
Indonesian/Malay: bawang puteh or bawang putih
Japanese: ninniku

Source: Wikipedia, About.Com and The Epicentre

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Source: NY Times

When people heard about the Swine Flu outbreak, everybody wants to wear a mask.

At present, it is estimated that nearly 33 million* people are living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 2 million* people die from the disease each year…. yet still people don’t want to wear a condom or practice safe sex. Go figure!!!

* Source: ADVERT

Source: The Glory Net

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


This is the cake from my daughter's birthday. I got the recipe from Exclusively Food and it has got to be one of the best WHITE CHOCOLATE MUD CAKE I have tasted. I iced it with a SOUR CREAM AND WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE and used Wilton™ ready made chocolate paste to make some zigzag patterns on the top to give the cake a nice contrast.

Ingredients – Makes an 18 - 20 in round/square cake

300g Cadbury Dream™ white chocolate
200g butter
250ml milk
165g castor sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (see my GLOSSARY post on VANILLA)
2 large eggs (60g eggs used) – lightly beaten
100g self raising flour
150g plain flour


Preheat oven to 160°C (145°C if using a fan forced oven).

Grease the cake tin and line the sides and base with baking paper.

Place chocolate, butter, milk and sugar in a large saucepan and stir consistently over low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted. Allow mixture to cool at room temperature for about 15 mins.

Add the vanilla and eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.

Sift the flours together in a large bowl. Add a 1/3 of the choc mixture to flours and stir until a smooth paste forms. Repeat with another 1/3 of the mixture, mix well and add the remaining 1/3. This gradual addition prevents lumps from forming.

Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1h 10m to 1h 20m. When the cake is ready, a sharp fine bladed knife inserted into the centre of the cake should come out without any batter stuck to it. Allow to cool for at least 6 hours before icing with either a SOUR CREAM AND WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE or WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTER ICING.

Note: This cake makes a great dessert to top off a great dinner party. Serve with good quality coffee.


The sour cream in this ganache cuts down on the white chocolate ‘overload’.


200g Cadbury Dream™ white chocolate
90g sour cream


Melt the white chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and quickly stir in the sour cream.

Use immediately or if the ganache is slightly runny, leave at room temperature for a few minutes to thicken it before spreading it on your cake.

Note: I used Wilton™ ready made chocolate paste to make some zigzag patterns on the top. This gives the cake a nice contrast.


Covers a 20 cm square or round cake.


125g butter – brought to room temperature
125g Cadbury Dream™ white chocolate – melted
¾ cup icing sugar


Melt the chocolate in a microwave proof glass bowl in short bust of 20 secs in the microwave until completely melted. Make sure that you do not overcook the chocolate. You want it melted, not piping hot. Alternatively, melt it in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally.

Cream together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy and gradually add in the melted chocolate.

Spread the icing over the cake and allow to set in the fridge before serving.


VANILLA is the genus name of a group of tropical vines that are in the orchid family and native to the Americas. It is the only orchid plant that bears edible fruit among its 35,000 species.

VANILLA is the second most expensive spice after saffron, due the extensive labor required to grow the seed pods used in its manufacture. When the plant matures at three years, it flowers for just one day. In that time, it must be hand-pollinated. The plant will not bloom for another year. When the bean is removed nine months later, it must then undergo several months of drying and fermenting. Regardless of its high cost, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture and aroma therapy.

The word VANILLA comes from the Spanish ‘vainilla’ and refers to the shape of the plant’s seedpods. The seedpods have been used for flavouring food for hundreds of years. It is believed that the Totonaca people of Mexico were the first cultivators of VANILLA, during the Mesoamerican period. According to Totonac mythology, the tropical orchid was born when Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover. The lovers were captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of the tropical orchid grew. They believed this exotic fruit had been bestowed upon them by the Gods and continue to cultivate VANILLA today.

When the Aztecs conquered the Totonacs, and the conquerors soon developed a taste for the VANILLA bean. They named the bean "tlilxochitl", or "black flower", after the mature bean, which shrivels and turns black shortly after it is picked. After they were subjected to the Aztecs, the Totonacs paid their tribute by sending VANILLA beans to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan.

In the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors under Cortez, watched Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs, pulverize VANILLA beans, combine them with chocolate and serve it as a drink in golden goblets to his most honoured guests. The Spanish caught on quickly and by the middle of the 15th century, were importing it to Europe to use as a flavour in the manufacture of chocolate.

There are currently three major cultivars of VANILLA grown globally, all derived from a species originally found in Mesoamerica, including parts of modern day Mexico. The various subspecies are:

 Vanilla planifolia (syn. V. fragrans), grown on Madagascar, Réunion and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean;

 V. tahitensis, grown in the South Pacific; and V. pompona, found in the West Indies, Central and South America; and

 V. planifolia variety, the majority of the variety produced and more commonly known as "Madagascar-Bourbon" vanilla, which is produced in a small region of the East African nation of Madagascar and in Indonesia.

Today, VANILLA beans grow within 20 degrees north and south of the Equator in the tropical regions of the world.

Madagascar and Indonesia grow the majority of the world’s VANILLA beans. Other countries around the Pacific Rim which grow and supply VANILLA to the world include Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, Philippines, Fiji, Tonga, India, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

VANILLA is available in a variety of forms:

 Vanilla beans (pods): Depending on origination, pods will range in length from 6 to 12 inches. Some are slender; others are thick. They will generally be dark in colour. Taste among species is different, although Madagascar and Mexico beans are very similar.

 Pure vanilla extract (or essence): This naturally extracted product is also aged for maximum flavour. Bean quality may vary. Extract also may contain alcohol per food standards regulations in countries of sale.

 Vanilla paste: Contains no alcohol, easy to dissolve, and has the same strong flavour as extract.

 Vanilla powder: Quick-dissolving with no sugars or alcohols.

 Vanilla flavoring: A combination of natural and synthetic ingredients.

 Imitation vanilla: Contains additives and synthetic, rather than true vanilla. This is not altogether inferior and many cooks prefer it. Usually used in place of vanilla essences and extracts that contains alcohol due to religious reasons.

Source: Wikipedia, Vanilla Plantation, Wise Geek and Big Oven.

Monday, 11 May 2009


Thank you so much Inahar (check the post HERE) for the cards....sorry I did not have the time yesterday to post it up, but here it is. Once again. thanks.

I would like to share these cards with all the cool mums out there. Please do accept them and paste them on your blog.

Cheers, VG.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.

~ George Cooper

Happy mother's day to all the great mothers in the world (mine included). Did you get something special? Well, I did....and I ain't sharing....Bwah..ha!ha!

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Thank you so much Hazila of My Small Kitchen for presenting me with the Neno award…..muah!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


A favourite with the Portuguese descendants in Malaysia and supposedly of Portuguese origin…. but the array of spices such as lemon grass, garlic and lime leaves makes this statement questionable. Anyway, it is quite easy to make and very, very nice. I added extra water to the dish, to make some gravy - the kids tend to complain when there is not enough liquid to moisten their rice. The measurements I have put here is for the original recipe though; so not much ‘gravy’ will be available. Adjust to taste.


6 large chicken thighs or 4 breast – sliced or cubed
½ tsp shrimp paste/belachan (see my GLOSSARY post on SHRIMP PASTE)
1 tbsp palm sugar or Gula Melaka (see my GLOSSARY post on GULA MELAKA)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp Kecap Manis or Caramel Soy Sauce (see my GLOSSARY post on SOY SAUCES)
2 tbsp oil
1 onion – halved and sliced thickly
2 large red chillies – sliced at an angle
3 cloves garlic – sliced thinly at an angle
2 stalks lemon grass - sliced thinly at an angle (white bits only)(see my GLOSSARY post on LEMON GRASS)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime
Salt to taste


Mash/crumble the palm sugar into a powder (I used a mortar and pestle) and mash with the shrimp paste. Mix with the water and kecap manis until smooth. Use this to marinade the chicken, at room temperature for 15 to 30 mins.

Heat oil in a wok (over high heat) and fry the onions, chillies, garlic and lemon grass vigorously until just softened and fragrant (1 to 2 mins).

Add in the chicken and cook for 3 to 4 mins until the chicken is done. Add a few tbsp of water if you want some gravy.

Add in the lime juice and salt, check the seasoning and serve hot with rice and a side dish of salad such as my SPICY VINEGAR CUCUMBER SALAD.


A simple salad that accompanies most Malay, Peranakan and Indian (in Malaysia, anyway) meals. Make a few hours before serving so the chillies and vinegar are infused into the cucumber. Always serve cold.


2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup hot boiled water
2 to 3 tbsp white vinegar
3 to 4 shallots – finely sliced (quarter and finely sliced red onions if you can’t find shallots or if they are too expensive – they can get up to $15.00 a kg here!)
1 large red chilli – deseed and sliced (I used 2 medium cayenne chillies but I left the seeds in for a bit of oomph!)
1 to 2 cucumbers – peeled, seeds removed, quartered and sliced thickly


Dissolve the salt and sugar in the hot water. Add in the vinegar.

Place all other ingredients in a glass serving bowl. Toss well to evenly distribute.

Pour the sugar/salt/vinegar mixture over the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve (preferably for an hour or two).

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Sing a song of Birthdays
Full of fun and cheer
And may you keep on having them
For many a happy year!

Happy birthday to my darling daughter.