Monday, February 27, 2012

Some food photos

Chilled symphony of dragonffruit and mangoes frozen, partly thawed and then whizzed in the food processor. I added some softened dates for extra taste and nutrition. Cold Appetiser.

Defrosted some thick vegetarian dhall which I made the other day. I packed them into small plastic bags and thawed them in the morning.

Beef stew, kidney bean salad, just olive oil, lemon, onion, capsicum, salt and pepper. Anything you like and have in your fridge.

Mapo Tofu, one of our favourite dishes. We always ordered medium size Mapo whenever we ate at Muhibbah's. By far the best is found there. Other restaurants do not do it exactly the way we like it. I take the short cut these days by buying the mapo sauce paste from Lee Kum Kee or some other halal brand.

Just brown lots of garlic, add finely chopped or sliced beef or lamb. Stir well and add about 4 teaspoons or more of the hot sauce. Now add in a box of soft tofu, cut up. You can also add some chopped spring onions, some sliced ginger or a little cornflour or tapioca starch flour dissolved in some water for the gravy.The amount is up to us though it can be a little salty if we add too much.

Mealtime can be very quick and simple. We have toast when we have no time to cook rice. Really fast meal.

Shepard or Cottage pie, served separately but in same dish. I put long beans in the rice before cooking it. Trying to have a more nutritional meal. :)
Pine nuts blended roughly with fresh Italian basil leaves and olive oil, cheese. Very filling snack. Toast the pine nuts before using. If we do not have them, try walnuts or almonds with spinach.
A little feta cheese crumbled on top would be tasty.

Tasty Pumpkin Soup - we had to hide the large pot of soup. Sometimes it goes on the table to keep it really hot. The curry was from the shop as I had lunch there

Apple Crumble

Unfortunately we did not get to taste the apple crumble. Made it in a hurry for Doctor M whose son was preparing for his medical exam and was craving for apple crumble. See the greatness of a mother's love? She had to spend time tutoring him so she asked me to cook so that he could have both tution and pie. Masha Allah. No wonder her children are top scorers and pious kids.

Some random food photos from my kitchen

Just a small selection of food photos. What Malaysians like to have for their dinner :) or at least in my humble home, where cooking does not have to be a chore but an interesting and inviting prelude to a nice relaxing meal at the end of the day.

Eat early and stop eating before you are full

Been advised to have dinner before 7 pm so that the food can digest with our activities and not go to bed with a heavy load. Eat only 1/3 full, fill the other 1/3 with water and leave the other 1/3 of our stomach empty. Sounds like very great advice, after all it is the sunnah, the tradition of our beloved Prophet saw. (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him)

Soup saves the day

I try to make soup at least once or twice a week. Normally sufficient for 2 days so that I can just add some vegetables or meat to stretch the meal. I prefer to spend less time in the kitchen. We can be productive without being a slave to the kitchen. Just plan our meals and be adaptable. Use up the favourite leftovers and be creative.

Enjoy Family time at mealtimes

Try not to eat alone. We seldom enjoy our food even if we ate at the finest restaurant. There is so much barakah or blessings when we share our meals. Good to ask someone to our home to share our food. The problem is of course we need to have enough time to cook enough and also give people time to plan their schedule. Not everyone can drop their work and say yes to us.

Be thankful for our nourishment

Let mealtimes be a pleasure, a time to be with family and to get nourishment with thanks to our Creator. Be thankful for our food as our friends and neighbours in other parts of the world are starving and suffering. May Allah SWT protect us and forgive our weaknesses.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quick Delicious Mee Curry

What? This curry is made from a package? Kidding us?

Its true, the tasty bowl of bihun or rice noodle/vermicelli curry in front of each of us happened to come out from a package.

Well not exactly the whole bowl but the spices, onion and chili paste, seasonings are all magically packed by Tean's , a local food company.

I would not say it tasted as fantastic as what mom used to make but it is good enough. Alhamdulillah.

It can be made even better if we took the time to add all the right ingredients like blanched beansprouts, mustard green veggies, dried friend tofu pok, fish paste bean curd sheets, parang fish balls, fresh medium soft bean curds etc. Well, I happened to buy all that specially for my curry.

Forgot to get some mint leaves, limes, kerang or cockles and fresh ripe pineapple.

So stress free, just add water, seasoning and some chicken pieces. Bring to boil, simmer to cook chicken till tender. Add in one pack freshly squeezed coconut cream. The frozen ones do not taste as good.

Add the bean curd and tofu and cook till soft. Finally just before serving, add the fish balls and tofu.

I blanched some wantan noodles and some bihun. Filled the bowl with noodles, topped with the soup and ingredients and viola! Dinner is served! Sprinkle some fried shallots and some sliced red chilles for extra kick.

One packet rempah/spices makes enough soup for 5 to 6 people. Tean's curry seasoning costs only around RM5 a packet, really value for money and really a time saver.

Latest Drinks Interest

Chilled Liquid Symphony of Fruits

Yes, I had been slicing fresh succulent fruits and freezing them for blending. I am too busy to attempt making some sherbet, trying to make some without egg white or sugar.

The next best delicious alternative is to blend tasty coloured fruits for a very cold fruit symphony.

Today I served blended partially thawed red dragonfruit, little dates, banana and some mango. Just add a few small ice cubes and whizz it up for an instant tasty delight. I sweeten my fruits with presoaked dates, figs or just honey. Molasses sugar is a good alternative.

Sometimes I would only blend mango and some dates. The red dragon fruit makes it rich and attractive. I even threw in an apple the other day, just to use up all the left over fruits. No more wastage from now on. Alhamdulillah. Used to feel guilty for throwing away over ripe fruits because I could not find time to eat them.

Serve it in a tall glass, or ice cream cup with some extra slivers of fruits.

We have it before our meal as a delicious starter. Do not leave it for too long as the enzymes will be destroyed. Other good fruits are kiwi, papaya, stawberries, blue berries, passion fruit and pineapple. So many possibilities. Just do what you like and what is available.

Buy ripe fruits in season, peel, cut and freeze them. Thaw partly to blend as you may overtax your blender. I used a commercial power blender and it whizzes up everything in seconds.

If you serve it in a shallow dish, serve it in different colours, be carefully not to mix them up. It will look like a symphony of different liquid gems rich and inviting - and good enough to eat.

Good as a sauce over vanilla ice cream too. Or maybe use as a base for milk shake or drizzle over a light sponge slice or dilute it as a fruit cordial.

Try it, its healthy and yummy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beef Stew with Salad

What to cook?

I try to alternate the ingredients. Maybe chicken one night and then chicken leftovers the next. I prefer to have bread for lunch. I take the opportunity to eat out if I'm doing errands around lunch time.

Then perhaps some beef or just go vegetarian for 2 days. I also freeze part of my meals so that I can just get something out of the freezer and thaw it for the evening.

If we feel like having something special we eat out. But it is more relaxing to eat at home and we save a lot of time and money. No need to change, to drive , find parking, walk to the shops and be caught in the traffic jam. And we can have better quality of food if we cook our own meals.
No recycled oil, for one thing. Who knows where the oil came from. Do they separate between halal and non halal recycled oil? How do we control this trend?

I bought some lean chuck beef from the supermarket. It looked fairly lean with a little marbling. Costed only RM9.00, more than enough for 2 persons as part of a meal.

Fillet may be alright but it is costly and not necessary unless its for stir fries, like black pepper steak or beef friend with ginger and spring onions.

I do not like solid tough beef which is hard to chew unless its been boiled for a long time. And I do not like to boil meat for over an hour, wasting gas and electricity unnecessarily. I like to save on fuel. It is also toxic to use gas for hours, the air is actually permeated with gas though you would think its being consumed by the fire. Anyway, this is what I did :

Quick and Tasty Beef Stew

Chuck Beef, cut into small cubes

2 medium onions - sliced thickly
1 medium carrot - sliced
2 medium potatoes
1 can of sliced mushrooms(optional)
1 - 2 tsp of tomato paste (or 1 ripe tomato)
1 tsp of L & P Worcesterchire sauce (optional)
enough water to cover the meat and potatoes and onions

Do not add any salt until meat is already tender.

Just bring the water to boil and then lower the heat. Cover the pot and cook
at medium low heat for at least half a hour.

Add in the rest of the carrots and a small celery stalk, sliced (opt)

Do not add the mushrooms until later.

When meat is soft it is ready and thicken gravy with
1 tablespoon of flour, mixed in a little water.
Add 1/2 tsp of rock salt, some pepper and some paprika if desired.
Did not even add any spices or herbs. Maybe a bay leaf is good.

Turn up the heat to cook the flour solution. Once its thickened, turn off fire
and its ready!

Serve with salad, soup and bread.
Good with crusty bread or French garlic bread.

Fresh mushrooms can be used instead
This is once dish where you do not have to do any frying. Just put everything
into the cooking pot and cover it. Check on it after half and hour to see
if you need to add any extra water.

Canned Mixed bean salad

For variety and speed, just open a can of kidney beans, a can of garbanzo beans and a can of navy beans. Any mixture is fine. Rinse the beans well and drain.

Place mixed beans in a large bowl. Add some chopped onions, a bit of garlic, chopped chillies and some coriander leaves. Any combination is fine. Squeeze fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Good to serve with some steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets. Make a lemon butter sauce by heating some butter and squeezing some lemon juice over butter, season. Add some cheese to make it a buttery cheezy sauce. Anything goes.

This is not a recipe blog

Yet I blog about cooking and sometimes simple recipes

Many people are so busy daily. I take my own situation as an example. After working or running around doing errands or attending to some other matters, I do not have much time to think about what to prepare for dinner.

I only cook for 2 people. Easy enough. Many sisters have to cook for their whole family, husband and wife, children, maybe kids, or even in laws. Just imagine, having to do marketing and wash, cut, cook and serve 5 to 8 people daily, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week! All year round!

Wow! What a lot of pahala or rewards from Allah SWT. But also what a lot of responsibilities and work! Its fine if we have some time for cooking but working women put in the same hours as the men but they have to come home to serve the family at the end of the day.

Some husbands do help by taking care of the children and maybe help by laying the table or washing the pots, pans and dishes. That is an ideal situation, a dream for some people. More often than not the man comes home tired and just sits in front of the television.

Insha Allah this does not happen in a practising Muslim home. I know many brothers who are knowledgeable and are kind and loving to their wives.

Anyway, I share my recipes in the hope it can ease the work of some sisters who want good food for their family without slaving too much in the kitchen. And without spending too much because we can eat well if we have an idea about planning our meals. Not in a rigid way but be adaptable and use up the leftovers in a creative way. Have fun when we cook.

Some people enjoy learning some new dishes for their family. Every home has its own specialities so it is good to share. We do not lose anything but insha Allah get some good and sincere duaa from our sisters who tell me they enjoy my recipes. Alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sharing Food with Friends

Cooking for Friends

One of life's pleasures, sharing at the dinner table.

Today my friend Farah visited me to return some cooking trays and my heavy European metal 4 tier cake stand. she had kindly kept them for me when I was moving house. Sis Farah always cooked healthy meals for me whenever I visited her. Today I though I should at least make the effort of cooking her a simple healthy lunch.

Winter Melon Soup, My Usual Soup

I already had some left over winter melon soup with dates and wolfberries which was made the day before. It was simmered for a long time and was light but flavourful.

This time I added extra water, some chicken and shredded wood ear fungus. I threw in some fish paste in beancurd skin for variety That was easy. Its also nice with some finely julienned carrot and onions. Just a pinch of salt and pepper to give it some extra flavour. Try to avoid stock cubes unless necessary.

What Soups Do I Like to Make?

Farah asked me what soups do I normally make. Usually the really quick and simple ones that need only simmering, no need to check on them. Like Old Cucumber soup, Lotus root soup, ABC potato chicken soup, Watercress Chicken soup, Mushroom veggie soup, Winter melon soup and Spinach soup. I also like to make Pumpkin Cream soup but its a lot of work peeling the pumpkin. But its economical, makes quite a lot and we enjoy it for 2 days. Best thing is it is really tasty and nutritious! Really satisfying comfort foods.

What are your favourites family dishes? Every family has its own signature dishes. Our best childhood memories always include eating together at the dinner table. Alhamdulilah.

Quick Stir Fry

I then hurriedly cut some fresh mushrooms, capsicums and carrots, onions, cabbage and Japanese green peas and stir fried them with some olive oil , garlic and a dash of sesame oil, pepper and rock salt .

We had a nice simple lunch with parboiled rice. Alhamdulillah! All Praise to God for His blessings.

Icy Cold Blended Fruit Drink

She was in a hurry and I forgot to make some ice blended mango and red dragon fruit juice. Can be sweetened with sweet fruits or honey. Molasses sugar is also an alternative or gula melaka or palm sugar. Its really refreshing when ice cold though its actually not too healthy to swallow icy cold drinks. That may solidify all the oils and fats lurking in our bodies. Hot green , flower or herbal would be better but sometimes the afternoons are so very warm.

Our Favourite Mapo Tofu for Dinner Last Night

These days I always make double boxes of soft tofu. Its too much trouble cooking just one tofu and sometimes its not enough if we did not have an extra meat dish. I do add some chopped chicken or lamb when I brown the garlic. For convenience, I simply buy some mapo tofu chilli paste from the shops. Just add extra seasonings to suit our taste. We can also make our own.

We love the dish but the sodium content is quite high. We need to drink more water and reduce our salt intake the next few days. At least remember to use sea, rock or mountain salt. No processed table salt for us.

Pan Fried Chicken Fillet

I also made some pan fried chicken fillet, cut in cubes. That way it will cook more evenly. Its great for eating with rice and veggies or diced and mixed into fried rice or even served on skewers with cucumber, pineapple, tomato and soft fruits like mango and orange. Fusion fruity chicken sticks. MMmm can make that for my next dinner party.

Dinner Tonight

Tonight Sara wanted to visit me unexpectedly. I asked her to join us for dinner as it was near maghrib already. Just simple food as usual. Even more simple as I was out half the day doing some errands and came home in the jam around 5.30 p.m. Already drizzling and I was feeling so sleepy as I had another late night.

Store Roasted Chicken

It would have been just store bought roast chicken with fresh salad and bread from the supermarket.. Sometimes the chicken can be so juicy and tender. Other times they are hard and dry like leather. I bought lemon and herb chicken but actually there was no taste of lemon or herb at all.

I thought of serving it with mayonnaise, bread and kidney bean salad. I was still sleepy but now that I invited a guest, I had to make a bit more effort.

Egg Drop Soup

Made egg drop veggie soup. That was nice and hot. Also whipped up some lemon honey olive oil dressing for the salad and kidney beans. Its some kind of vinaigrette but I did not add any mustard. Ran out of it and I do not use it often. Trying to be frugal. Even veggies are getting so costly!

Mustard Chicken Wings

Actually deep fried marinated chicken wings with mustard, salt, pepper and some soy sauce can be quite delicious. Learnt it from my friend whose mother used to operate a Szechuan Restaurant. No chicken wings so did not cook any. I am also too lazy to deep fry food. Have to clean up the place after that. Too messy and not so healthy but tasty. Most of us however do enjoy some fried food.

Durian Cake Dessert

Served some store bought durian cake. It was quite tender but I am more used to home baking. Maybe that would be my next cake as a treat when I have time to bake it. Durian cake is rather fussy to make, having to remove the durian flesh from the seeds and also to whip the dairy cream to make the filling. Farah was just mentioning about learning how to make choux pastry and cream puffs with durian cream filling. Yummm but so sinfully rich and decadent. Quickly... gimme some already!!!

Belgian and German Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chips

I served some chocolates of the healthy kind. 53% cocoa butter chocolate chips and some dark chocolate discs. These are not confectionery and do not contain milk or additives. Only pure cocoa butter which is highly anti oxidant and good for skin and nutritious and delicious. Also less sugar so insha Allah healthier to eat and enjoy.l They come in 200gm packs for only RM18 to RM20.

Quite delectable and I am already addicted to them. Will try to upload some photos. Waiting for my son to transfer the photos from the camera. He is asleep already.

I still feel so fresh, must have been the new coffee I bought today. White coffee. Must try to sleep.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shepard's Pie in a hurry

Feel like having pie.

Buy the freshly ground beef or lamb as there will be less fat and gristle. When we opt for the frozen rolls that are less than half the cost, we get half the quality. I do use the frozen stuff once a while when there is nothing available but best to choose good mince as we do not know what is minced together with the beef.

A friend who worked in a famous fast food chain while in Australia said the burgers were advertised as 100 percent beef. Yeah, 100 percent beef plus a lot of fillers like stuff you cannot imagine. They are not lying, just not telling you everything.

Quick and Simple Mince Beef

I decided to cook some simple minced beef with lots of onions and a bit of garlic. Just brown it and add the mince. Add a little grated ginger (I bought a bottle of minced ginger and keep it in the fridge). Add some finely diced potatoes, green peas and throw in some frozen mixed veggies if you like.

If mince is too fatty, brown the meat and pour out some of the fats. Then cook with olive oil. That way I get my ration of olive oil and less fats.

Careful to Check the Ingredients

Remember its fine to add L & P Worcestershire sauce but do not use HP Sauce or Tabasco. Jakim announced that they are not halal.

And be careful what you are served in some steak houses and food court stalls as many are still using HP sauce and Tabasco as condiment and marinades. They even put the world halal on the bottle but it also states a dubious ingredient.

The same goes for cheese. Many people think its fine to eat cheese as its made from milk.
Be sure to check the ingredients as some parmesan cheese and hard cheeses are made with rennet, from the stomach lining of the goat or cow etc. If the animal is not halal, the rennet is not halal. Some supermarkets mix all the cheeses and confuse the customers.

The same for Japanese food. Some staff tell us their restaurants use unagi or eel that has been marinated with sake or other ingredients. We do not know what some of them put in the rice or miso soup. Some hotel coffeehouses use liquor in the black forest cakes, tiramisu, fruit cakes etc. Just make sure the food is safe.


I did not have bay leaf but just added some pepper. Fresh ground black pepper would be nice too. A pinch of chilli powder or some cumin or fennel is ok if you like it to be more like keema. Add water and let everything simmer to soften. When ready, thicken it with some flour or cornstarch. The flavour should come from the meat itself.

For a more Chinese variation, skip the spices and add a little quality soya and oyster sauce. Anything you fancy actually so long you do not mix too many flavours together.

Mashed Potatoes

After that I boiled around 5 potatoes, drained and let it cool till warm enough to hold. This is the best time to peel as the skin will fall of, paper thin, leaving some nutrients behind. Make sure you cut away the green toxic areas.

Mash the potatoes while warm and season with lots of pepper, some a tablespoon or two of butter and around half to a cup of fresh milk. Do not pour in the whole lot, just add and mix till its the right consistency. You can use a little olive oil instead of butter and omit the milk. Or mix in some cheese while it is warm.

Either cover the mince completely with the mashed potatoes and grate some cheese over it or leave it separate. Grill the cheese to make it look more delicious.


Will post photo later. As you noticed, our very plain and simple photos take only 5 minutes to shoot as we are always in a hurry to have dinner and I will tell my son "Oh, how about take a photo of the food?". He has to get the camera and shoot before the food gets cold.... And we are too lazy to use nice crockery or cutlery as its just 2 of us unless we have guests. We do use our Nyonya ware daily but its a little painful when I happen to see a small chip on a bowl. The dinner plates are too heavy and we have to spend more time taking care during washing up.

Serving Pots and Pans

You will be amazed to know the number of people who serve their soups and curries in their large cooking pots. We only get that privilege to find out if we are treated as a family member and they let us see how they live. I appreciate that.

My friends also get the pots and pans treatment once a while. Smile. One reason is we want the food to be kept piping hot and also we know everyone is going to have seconds. Also of course, less dishes and bowls to wash and clean up. Lazy lazy....

Chye Choi Vegetarian Dish a Must for CNY

Tomorrow I plan to cook some melon squash and chicken soup, some Chinese vegetarian dish with wood ears fungus, soohun, bean curd, mushrooms, veggies, tauchu and fermented bean curd. This needs to be simmered for a long time.

Missing Mom's Great Cooking

I was missing my mom's cooking this new year. She used to prepare and cook for 3 days for the reunion dinner. Then we would have to eat all the balance for the next two days. Usually we did not mind as she would cook all the delicacies and special treats for cny.

Allah please bless Sis and her family

A dear revert sister invited us for a home cooked lunch and I of course could not resist that. Alhamdulillah! Her mom cooked us some splendid dishes and that was really a satisfying treat. May Allah bless and reward her. I managed to get my chye choi , curry, lotus soup and soya fried sengkuang this year after all.

Budgeting for a Feast

The Chinese spend a lot on seafood and delicacies like abalone, fish, prawns, herbs and special ingredients. As food prices increased through the years, we learnt to reduce our spending by choosing wisely. We started buying and freezing the seafood a few weeks before prices shoot up just before the festival. Such a silly and treacherous tradition to fleece the people.

I plan to throw in more Chinese shitake mushroom, fresh mushrooms and maybe some red dates. Add the soohun later or it will expand and become too soft. We can also deep fry the soohun and sprinkle it over the chye choi before serving. Served with chili and a bit of belacan and onions, fried to a fragrant paste.

Chye Choi is the traditional Chinese New Year vegetarian dish that almost every Chinese home will cook for new year morning. Just be careful to check the ingredients for the red fermented bean curd aka nam yee as some have wine inside.

Traditional CNY Lunch at Grandparents' Home

Every year since we were children the cook in my late grandparents's home always served chye choi with fried ground nuts as well. Hot rice, steamed chicken, fried sengkuang with cuttlefish strips, lettuce sometimes fresh popia, Loh Hon Chye and lotus root soup with red beans.

My mom would cook and bring large prawns, cooked in dark soya sauce or har lok, with some spring onions and lots of garlic, slight caramelised. She would also bring her Nyonya chicken curry and loh hon chye as well as cold jelly chicken in soya and sometimes our other left over dishes to share with my uncles and aunts. Always a warm and happy time, ang pows being exchanged and our course we collected a lot until we got married.

No Brandies or Beer in our Family

I think many Chinese homes would be serving a similar menu simultaneously.We were not a drinking or gambling family. There were some bottles of VSOP and stuff like that in one of the long glass cabinets. They were usually gifts from visitors etc and nobody cared to drink any.

In every of our family homes we only served soft drinks, black local coffee and Chinese tea. We used to enjoy talking and catching up and just lazing around eating kua chi, oranges, prawn crackers and groundnuts. Munching all the way...Its strange that many peo0ple expect Chinese to gamble and enjoy all the vices during festivals. Not true at all!

I will probably write more about CNY celebrations later on. This entry is too long already. Smile.

I miss my grandparents. Without them the family became sort of disintegrated. All the uncles and aunties and their families stopped seeing each other. There was no more family ancestral home to visit, no elderly folks to pay respect to.

Miss them much... my kindly grandpa and my very patient and kind grandmother. Also my step grandmother who passed away earlier on. She treated us well when we were kids. (Yes, they all lived under the same roof. Must have been very challenging for everyone.) I may share something about them one day...And the cook from China named Ah Ngan (Silver) and housekeeper Mary Henrietta.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Do Men have to Dress Decently too?

What Image do we want to project?

Look pleasant and dignified. Look elegant and look smart. Enjoy what we wear and be confident that it reflects the right image of a Muslim. Its much better than to wear some unsuitable outfit that seems to be calling everyone to look at the wearer in a negative manner. This applies to our brothers as well.

Men take care of your own families first

Some men like to comment on how women dress. Please let the womenfolk handle that. Brothers better look at their own families and advise their children . They can advise their brothers who dress indecently in shorts. Look at those who go to work in tight shirts tucked into tight trousers. Not a very decent sight , especially for the overweight. Men and women need to dress modestly. That would be beautiful. Why not give lectures and write more pamphlets about how men should behave and dress?

Men need to be modest too

There are many men still wearing shorts that are similar to underwear and they run around playing football or badminton. Look at our body builders and swimmers. They do not cover their aurah but looks like its alright for men to go around half naked. If we love our brothers, then please advise and help them obey Allah SWT. Is that acceptable as Muslims?

It is not about finding fault or blaming others. It is about helping each other to behave in a way that pleases Allah SWT. Isn't pleasing Allah a good thing?

It benefits everyone, so be happy to be reminded or corrected. Just take care not to do it harshly or humiliate someone. That is not the Muslim intention. Our Prophet Muhammad saw was best in speech so let us follow his sunnah. Do it with the right intention, always wanting to please Allah SWT. Alhamdulillah.