Tag Archives: food

Spicy Basil Eggplant Stir Fry

I was eager to make more stuff using the herbs that I’ve been growing since a few weeks ago. I’ve transplanted them into planter boxes and biggerr containers, but they are not looking too good. The basil looked especially yellow and weak. I got worried and went out to buy plant food and I’ve also been bugging Andy to go pick up some compost from the local recycling drop-off, but I don’t I’ll see that bag of compost until the first snowflake hits ground, hrrmmppphh!!

We’re going away to Mexico for 8 days on Monday, so we’ve been trying to use up all the vegetables that’s been sitting in the fridge for a while. This Thai inspired dish is¬†a result of pure creativity, LOL! Use as much garlic and cili padi (bird’s eye chilli) that you want in this dish ūüėõ

Ingredients

  • 2 Asian eggplant, cut to 2 inch long by 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • Handful of curry leaves, removed from stems
  • Garlic, minced
  • Cili padi, minced
  • Vegetable seasoning (e.g. Po Lo Ku brand)
  • Salt
  • White pepper powder
  • Sugar

Method

  1. Heat 5T of oil in a wok. Add minced garlic, cili padi, curry and basil leaves to the oil and fry until fragrant. Becareful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Add eggplant to the wok and cook until translucent and soft. Add more oil if necessary. Eggplants are notorious for soaking up oil, like sponges, but don’t use too much oil because when it’s cooked, it will excrete the oil back out.
  3. Season with vegetable seasoning, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
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Sengkuang with Hoisin Sauce Snack

I’ve mentioned that my parents are visiting from Malaysia. Everytime they come to visit, they are tasked to bring my sister and I suitcases full of Malaysian yummies. This time, there were 4 stuffed suitcases that were filled with food-stuff. One of them was sweet red “taucu” sauce, which is known as Hoisin sauce in Malaysia. This Hoisin (seafood) sauce¬†is¬†not the black type that is¬†popular in US/Canada.¬†See here for the American version. I cannot find the red taucu/hoisin sauce in this part of the world for the life of me!

“Taucu” is a fermented soy bean sauce. I suppose¬†this one that I’ve used is red because of the type of bean used? I find it less salty compared to the brown “taucu” sauce that is usually used to cook fishes and pork. Leave it to the Chinese to come up with¬†a gazillion of soy bean sauces, eh?

This is the ultimate healthy snack for me.¬†It brings back fond memories of my primary school days when we rush out the school compound when the last bell rings¬†to signify that school is out for the day.¬†I believe that right outside each school in Malaysia has several junk food¬†peddlers that tempt every school kid into buying snacks, which drove parents nuts¬†because it would spoil the kid’s¬†appetite for proper meals¬†that are being served at home.¬†Sometimes, there are houses opposite the school that take advantage of¬†school kids too. A few of them had set up tables¬†in front of their houses to sell snacks to children to make a few bucks for the day. I didn’t mind it as a kid, the more choices, the better!

Most of the snacks sold outside the school are wrapped in plastic, but¬†there are some that are not, such as this “sengkuang” snack.¬†It’s not exactly hygenic because the streets are dusty and¬†buses and cars are usually lined up outside of school, waiting for the kids to be released from school. This is probably why the schools stations¬†prefects (school student police, we call ’em bulldogs) outside the school to take down¬†names of students buying “makanan diluar” (outside¬†food). Maybe a few kids of gotten food poisoning from¬†the snacks, but¬†not me ūüėõ Having prefects guarding the school compounds made it even more exciting for us to “curi-curi” (sneak) buy snacks, LOL!

Oh by the way, sengkuang is called jicama or yambean on this side of the world. My parents told me that it was turnip, they LIED to me for 28 years!

Ingredients

  • Jicama, peeled and sliced to about 0.5cm thick
  • Taucu manis (sweet red hoisin sauce)
  • Sugar
  • Ground peanut

Method

  1. Spread taucu manis on one side of the sliced jicama.
  2. Sprinkle sugar and ground peanut on top of the taucu merah. Use more ground peanut for added crunch.
  3. What else, enjoy lah!

The Organic Dilemma

Andy and I would like to buy more organic produce and enviromentally-friendly products but we have to admit that we feel the pinch everytime we check out at the cash register. At the moment, we are at about 70% organic consumers, but sometimes the pricetags are just horrendous for these organic stuff. 

One would think that if it’s a general consensus that organic is better for ALL OF US, then why aren’t the people who make these stuff helping us out by not causing sticker shock everytime we go grocery shopping? These decisions really gnaw at our conscience, because if we spend the extra money to buy organic, then our wallet feels the pinch. Meanwhile if we don’t buy organic, then subconsciously we think that we are poisoning ourselves. Nonetheless, to make it easy on ourselves these days we subscribe to the THINK GLOBAL, BUY LOCAL motto to support another important cause, i.e. to reduce our carbon footprints ūüôā

To illustrate our point, here are two articles that I’d like to share. Much has been written about this on the WWW also.

Sticker Shock in the Organic Aisles

Eating Better than Organic (thanks to Danielle of MapleSyrupandPoutine for sharing this with me)

What about you? How do you deal with this issue (if it is an issue for you)?

Hummingbird Cake

Last week, I made this cake for my final Wilton Fondant and Gum Paste class. Here is the recipe as promised, with a few minor modifications. This cake smells heavenly while cooking in the oven (from the bananas), and texture-wise, I’ve been told that it’s similar to carrot cake. Manipulating the cream cheese frosting isn’t as easy as using buttercream. It was actually quite messy because it was drooping everywhere. But this worked out well for my unpretentious “baby shower-like” cake. I am planning to make this cake for my mom on Mother’s Day ūüôā

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped firm ripe banana

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together into mixing bowl several times.
  2. Add eggs and oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moistened.
  3. Stir in vanilla, pineapple and 1 cup pecans. Stir in the bananas.
  4. Spoon the batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
  5. *Bake for 25 to 30 minutes,or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. (see note)
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. Cream Cheese Frosting:
    Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.
  8. *Frost the tops of all 3 layers, stack and then frost sides. Sprinkle top evenly with the 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans. (see note)

Source

Notes:

  • I baked the cake in a 8″X8″X2″ square pan in 2 separate batches. Each batch was about half the batter and it took¬†close to 45 minutes to be done. The batter was still able to rise after it sat¬†on the counter for 45 minutes (phew!!).
  • I then used a cake level to cut¬†each of the layers to two, making it a 4 layer cake. BIG MISTAKE! there was so much stuff in the cake that it¬†made a huge mess when I tried to cut the cake. Next time, I’ll just get another pan.
  • Use Wilton’s cake lifter to stack the cakes on top of each other so that the layers do not crumble in half in front of your eyes. THIS IS A HEAVY CAKE.
  • Because¬†this was a decorated cake, I did not sprinkle the pecans on top per the instructions. ¬†
  • Again, THIS IS A HEAVY CAKE! One layer of cake cardboard cake board was not able to hold the weight of this cake without caving in down the center. Use something sturdier than a piece of cardboard, or simply get 2 layers of cardboard.
  • The cream cheese frosting gets messy and droopy as you work with them. Putting them back into the fridge seems to help solidify the frosting.

Herbed Butter

I wrote earlier about planting my own herbs and I was able to harvest them very soon after I brought them home from the market. I have transplanted them into bigger pots so that they can get bigger for me. I was pondering about what to do with the variety of herbs that I have and I read about making herb infused oils and butter. So… that’s what I did! And what a great payoff it has been already. Today, I used the herbed butter and basil to make bruschetta for dinner. It was the best bruschetta I’ve ever had or made myself.

Here are the herbs that I have planted so far, including basil that is not in the picture:

I found that there was no great way to store these herbs for an extended period of time, which is why I’ve decided to chop them up and mix them with some butter. I suppose you could chop them up, mix it with some olive oil and freeze them in ice cube containers, but I like butter more than olive oil anyday, LOL!

All you need is to have sticks of butter at room temperature and some herbs. You could use a single type of herb per stick, two types, or like me, I used everything except for chocolate mint.

The ratio of herbs to butter is 1 tablespoon to 1 stick of butter (equivalent to 1/4 pound or 1/2 cup). A little more herbs won’t hurt I suppose.

The chocolate mint is mixed with the butter on its own because that’s a dessert type of herb. I think it will go over excellent on toasted waffles or pancakes, YUM!

Simply mix chopped herbs and soft butter in a bowl and then roll them up in strips of wax paper to store. Secure the wax paper by twisting the ends of the butter log. Place the butter log in the freezer to solidify prior to using if desired.

There are plenty of resources online on making herbed butter and oils, but don’t let the instructions scare you. Just let your imagination run with herbs!

Herbed Butter Bruschetta

I have to say, this is the best bruschetta I’ve ever had, or made myself. I’m so glad that we’ve started planting our own herbs and this simple appetizer was using the herbed butter that I made myself using the first harvest of the herbs. I’ll write about making herbed butter in another post. This makes planting your own food so rewarding!

This recipe yields 6 pieces of bruschetta.

Ingredients

  • 1 small French baguette, cut to 6 slices at an angle
  • 6 garlic cloves, one clove per slice of bread
  • Herbed butter
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced to about 1cm square
  • 1/2 cup red onions, diced
  • 2 pieces basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • Black pepper, freshly cracked
  • 1 small lemon, juiced

Method

  1. Roast whole garlic cloves in the oven at 400F degree for 15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Remove from oven, peel the skins off and mash garlic in a small bowl.
  2. Spread mashed garlic generously over sliced baguette. Top baguette with a sliver of herbed butter. Broil in the oven at high until edges start to brown, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, onions, basil with olive oil, salt, freshly cracked black pepper and lemon juice.
  4. Spoon tomato mixture on broiled baguette pieces. Best served with good red wine ūüôā

Being a vegetarian can help save our world!

With this being a vegetarian food blog, I ought to share this with my readers.

“Your beef patty is actually worse on the environment then your neighbours SUV. According to a 2006 United Nation‚Äôs Food and Agriculture Organization report, almost 18% of the earth‚Äôs greenhouse gas emissions comes from the international meat industry.

The main reason? Poop. Dirty, nasty poop. And farts. Cow farts, that is. Nitrous Oxide is released from a cow’s poop while methane is released with its flatulence. Methane has 23 times the effect on the environment that carbon has, while nitrous oxide is 296 times greater. Yikes!

As of 2001 (yes i know thats 7 years ago) the cattle, sheep and goat population was 3.3 billion and the numbers were rising fast.

According to researchers at the University of Chicago, by simply becoming a vegetarian or vegan, you could dramatically reduce your carbon footprint by almost one and a half tonnes.

According to Canwest News Service ‚Äúa meat-based diet requires seven times more land than a plant-based diet. Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world.‚ÄĚ

Source