Wednesday, 30 October 2013


One of the things that I absolutely loved when I visited the States last year (during Fall) were the pumpkins found EVERYWHERE!!! I've always liked pumpkins, but I guess my deep deep love was never truly realised until I was there! I think it was in Salem that I well and truly fell in love with pumpkins. What's not to love? They are bright and cheery, and round and fat like me. I resolved to start a pumpkin patch when I returned to Australia. When in my new house of course. :) I found many kinds that I want to grow (which begs the question, why on EARTH don't people here grow them?)


Cut to the start of October when I decided that in my new house, I'm going to have bright orange pumpkins on my stoop. Yes, I have a stoop! I'm practically Carrie Bradshaw. :) But there were no bright orange pumpkins to be seen. Someone told me a malicious lie that there were some at the farmer's market (and hence farmer's market prices) but, as I said before, it was a malicious lie! And the person who told it to me was promptly told off (turns out I get really grumpy when I have been misled about pumpkins).

Then I saw them at the supermarket, they were Jack-O-Lantern variety ones (and YES, that it the official term in Latin #sarcasm) but they were $3 a kilo!!!! And each one weighs approximately 6-7 kilos. Dude, I'm not spending $20 per pumpkin (and about 8 or 7 pumpkins, which means approximately $140-$160 to decorate my stoop! Sooooo.... I had to find another way.

Went back to the Farmer's market and saw some lovely pumpkins which looked like pumpkins (with the right grooves and not severely deformed as you can get sometimes) and they were even some little ones! The only problem was that they were not bright orange. Anyway,I thought that I was being too pedantic and bought 7, for a whopping total of $9.50.

Put them on my stoop...

Hmmmm... cute, but didn't quite have the impact I wanted. Why aren't pumpkins in Australia bright orange dammit?

Guess what I did next?

PAINTED THEM. Bought some spray paint from the hardware store and went crazy. 

Side note, I just had to answer the telephone for a colleague and the person on the phone from our other office spoke to me like I knew who she was. And it was too rude to ask who it was, so I just hung up and not bothered about it. My rant is, WHY CAN'T YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF ON THE PHONE?? It's really not that hard.

End rant. 

Where was I? Oh yes, pumpkins. 

I think I got a little too excited and sprayed too much on them. So they kinda look too shiny and almost plasticky. 

Next time, I will know to be less heavy handed on the spray paint and lightly spritz. In two years time, this problem will be moot because I will have my pumpkin patch by then.

But in the mean time, who cares! I have brightly painted orange pumpkins on my doorstep and my stoop! YAY!!! 

I must give the stool an honourable mention. Isn't it adorable? I actually bought it from the tip shop for $5! I have weatherproofed it, so it can sit outside in the elements and house seasonal decorations! It's like a Japanese bath stool! 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Ranch salad dressing

Today’s clean eating exercise was a disaster. The people at work had a farewell morning tea for a colleague so of course I had to have a couple of sausage rolls and party pies – total gun to my head. I figured that it would be rude if I didn’t eat anything. BUT I then decided (in an effort to remain below my calorie count) to skip my lunch (seriously, this is growth) and have a salad for dinner instead.

But what sort of salad?

Can I just say, that I abhor eating a salad for dinner. It goes against every fibre of my being. UNLESS it is a meaty salad and has yummy, creamy dressing smothered all over it. Which then begs the question – why bother eating a salad when you are going to douse it with calories? (the answer is,of course, because it is DELICIOUS!!!)

Usually I would go with a chicken Caesar salad. The Cardini’s Caesar is hands down the BEST Caesar salad dressing you can get from the supermarket. But I do have leftover buttermilk that I used to make this dressing here.

Sooooooo… ranch salad it is! I also should mention that I am not a fan of Australian Ranch dressing. I love this country, but there are seriously a few things that I am not a fan of (I will be uploading a list and before angry Australians (if there is such a thing) descend upon me, I will also write a post on how much I love Australia). But maybe because I haven’t had a good one, so if anyone out there (if anyone is reading this at all) has a recommendation, please send it through my way! So I thought that I would make some. A quick scan of google uncovered THOUSANDS (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating) of DIY Ranch dressing recipes. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! (I might get a little too excited when I don’t waste food).

I’ve picked one. This one. I wonder whether I can add blue cheese and make a blue cheese dressing with this? Methinks we can. I wonder then, whether I should have a chopped salad for dinner instead. I do have all the ingredients. But what is the difference really between a ranch salad and a chopped salad? If I put ranch dressing on a chopped salad, would that make it a ranch salad?

I don’t know, all I know is that it is a whole lotta deliciousness in my mouth!!! :)

Mmmmmmmmm…. I love me some chicken ranch salad!


Monday, 21 October 2013

Roast pork

I know I seem to post a lot of recipes on this blog, and hardly of the other stuff that I said I was going to post, like travel, DIY, etc. I do need to import my travel entries into here, but I don't really have the time with the move, work and study! Oh yes, we are moving! Only to a rental at this stage as we sold our little unit (sob, sob) and need to build our dream house! It is a vacant block in a beautiful suburb in Tasmania, but that is all I will tell you. :)

Of course, I will DEFINITELY be chronicle-ing (is that word) all the trials and tribulations that we will be going through whilst building. Prepare for a whingefest! :)

But onward to today's entry, which is PROBABLY not clean-eating compliant, but it is oh-so-delicious and, when done right, hands-down my favourite roast! Luke and I observe roast night on Sundays quite strictly, and barely a weekend goes by when I do not make a roast at home.


I love it. Crackling is God's single, best creation and it has taken me YEARS to perfect it. I still stuff up and burn the top bits sometimes though, I forget that I need to watch it like a HAWK in the last five minutes (and I will explain why later).

As to the seasoning, I keep it really simple. SALT. That is all I use. Served with beautiful roasted veggies, spuds and apple sauce, this does not need anything else.

So here it is, my roast pork recipe:


Rolled pork shoulder - approx 1.5-2 kilos
Oil (I used canola oil)


Start by unrolling the pork. I try to get the pork to sit as even as possible so that it will roast evenly. Even if it means cutting a bit off the bottom. It's no biggie that that bit gets roasted by itself. A snack midway through the cooking, I say! 

I usually wash my meat. It's my thing, whoever doesn't like it (and there are many out there) can get over it. And I can TELL (prior to cooking) whether the meat has been washed. Just a quick rinse, that's all I'm asking. Then I pat it dry with a paper towel. Make sure that the skin is very VERY dry.

Grab a Stanley knife and make more scores on the rind. There is never enough on there, and a few more extra slashes really make the difference. Just don't get Dexter on it.

Oh, and did I mention to turn on the oven to its fullest temperature? For me, it's 250C. Turn it up up up.

In a baking pan, season the pork. Rub a bit of oil all over the skin and sprinkle more salt. When the oven is piping hot, shove the roast in there for 40 mins (you heard me).

After 40 mins, turn the oven down to 180C and cook for another hour or so. It really depends on how big your roast is. The guide says to cook for 40 mins per kilo, and I usually follow that. But 40 mins on high. I can't stress that enough.

Once the pork is done, I make it extra crackly by turning on the grill. Now, WATCH YOUR PORK!!! It only needs about 5 mins or so, but it goes from zero to BURNT in a matter of seconds! (kinda like popcorn). Once it's where you want it to be, pull out the pork and rest it 10-30 mins. While waiting, I give you permission to pick at the crackling and start nibbling before anyone catches you.



Sausage rolls

I actually wrote this on the weekend, and published it, but the computer at home hates me, so completely stuffed up! Please note that I, in no way, think for once that this is clean eating! :)

We Australians love our sausage rolls (note how I have considered myself as an Australian, even though I bloody hate their stupid marshmallows - take my word for it, it is revolting. Other than that, I love this country). When I first arrived in this country, I didn't understand sausage rolls. Only because I was only exposed to Asian sausage rolls - little frankfurters baked in a soft, sweet, doughy and yummy bun. sefekklwj - oh, sorry, I was wiping my drool off the keyboard.

When I first ate an Australian sausage roll, I'm not going to lie, I thought it was disgusting. Never touched it again. Cut to six years later, when I was working at this telephone company (not mentioning any names), and the job was so awful, I took every opportunity to leave the office. To the cafe next door. Which, as you might have guessed served sausage rolls. I finally succumbed to peer pressure and tried one. And it was heavenly. And the rest, is history! 

Recently, I've taken to making my own sausage rolls. My husband loves homemade sausage rolls, and like the dutiful wife I am, I make it when I can. Store bought puff pastry, and sausage mince, some minced beef and some other yummy surprises, it's not only fun to make, but pretty yummy too! Try it, if you have a moment or two to spare.

This particular one has a hint of curry in it. I might have gotten carried away and bought a kilo's worth of Malaysian curry powder, and I'm trying to use it in as many things as I can! So if you're wondering why on earth did I flavour my sausage rolls with curry, that's why. That doesn't mean that you can't omit this in the recipe.

Sausage rolls

500 gms of beef mince
125gm of sausage mince (one quarter of the sausage mince loaf which I get from Woolies - I then portion them all out and freeze separately)
Half a zucchini, grated (sometimes I use grated carrots too, but didn't have any at hand. And I had four zucchinis... which turns out, you can use for alot of things... but there is a future post on that)
Quarter cup of couscous (yes, you read that right, but if you didn't have any on hand, you could substitute with breadcrumbs)
2 tbs curry powder
Salt to season
Store bought puff pastry
Sesame seeds
1 egg - lightly beaten


If your pastry is in the freezer, time to defrost.
Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Put mince, sausage, zucchini, couscous, curry powder and salt into mixing bowl and roll up your sleeves. 
Time to get messy! Mix all ingredients until well-combined. And I'm talking until it looks like a big mushy mess. Squish it between your fingers, and just have fun with it!
Set aside.
Cut your pastry sheet into two. Make a delicious meat log with the mixture and place in the middle of the cut pastry sheet. 

Fold the pastry over so that you have a meat and pastry log.

Cut into 6.

Apply eggwash to each.

Sprinkle some sesame seeds.

Bake for 20 mins at 180C then turn up to 200C for an additional 10 mins!
Serve with some good ole tomato sauce and enjoy!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Groceries for the week

I'm hesitant to say that we are trying out "clean eating". As I understand it, "clean eating" involves cutting out refined sugars, more fruit and veggies and no processed foods. I'd like to move to that, but with a couple of cheat days in between ( I am Asian after all, and would die die die without my white rice and noodles).

Groceries for today:

And after a couple of hours, this is what I got:

Oh, hang on, that can't be the right photo. I forgot to include all my zucchini dishes (and yes, you read that right!)... so updated photo:

What is all this, you ask me? Well, I'll tell you! I have (and recipes to come):

  • fajita chicken and capsicum (I intend to make this into a salad with this guacamole dressing);

  • Thai-inspired chicken and prawn cakes similar to what I made the last time (here) - only this time, I used the green curry paste, instead of red. Served with a fresh salad and this dressing, I KNOW it's going to work a treat;

  • Italian-inspired minced beef and vegetables with brown rice - I'm weaning us to eat more brown rice, and I believe "weaning" means to drown in sauce :);

  • Beef mince in tomato, ready for the freezer. I like making this mince, because I can then custom it to my taste on the day, depending on what I feel like. If I felt like some chili con carne, I would include some chili powder and cumin and kidney/pinto beans. If I felt like bolognese, then I would add red wine and Italian herbs... the possibilities are endless! And easy! :)

  • And I'm not sure if you can see in the background, but I have some steamed salty chicken. In my favourite steamer in the world.
I finally feel like I'm organised for the week! Happy Sunday! :)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Brown Rice

In the effort to eat healthier, I thought that I should cook some brown rice. Being Asian, I grew up with rice and noodles, so even though I love my protein, being on a low carb diet was a serious struggle for me.

I don't just want to lose weight for the sake of losing weight. I want to do it healthy and develop healthy eating habits. And I just don't think a low carb, and extremely high in protein diet is healthy, OR sustainable.

But I digress.

What I'm really trying to say is that I've decided to start cooking brown rice. I remember Mom making it for me once, and it was delicious. So I woke up in the morning and soaked a cup of brown rice, ready for cooking tonight. Then I cooked with. 1.5 cups (the grains expanded) of brown rice with 0.5 cups of white rice (had to wean Luke and I into eating the stuff) and into the microwave it went (and yes, I'm a lazy Asian so I cook rice with the microwave). 

Only, it wasn't as tasty as I remembered. I think I might have stuffed up. Or maybe Mom put more white rice than she told me... sounds like something she would do. :) I still love her, the cheeky monkey.

But serve it with a saucy dish... it wasn't half bad!

From my old blog: Chicken Stew like my Mom used to make! (probably without the brown rice)

Enjoy! xoxo

Chicken stew

When I was younger, I used to love my mother's chicken stew. It had everything good and comforting in it - chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots and champignon mushrooms. I should emphasise that this is not your regular stew. This is chinese stew. A stew that you would eat with rice on a scorchng hot day. It's not comfoort food. It's just plain yummy.

Well, as I grew older and learned to cook, I would say that this dish should probably be called braised chicken. However, I will follow in my mother's footsteps and call this a chicken stew.

At the end of 2010, I took Mom to visit Nicole and Elizah in one of my favourite capital cities in Australia - Canberra (ok, I know I'm weird - lay off me! I like the Can!) Deb helped dogsit and as a thank you, I cooked a few meals for her - one of which was this chicken stew of mom's. She was watching, so there was a lot of pressure. My proudest (and funniest) moment was when she tasted the stew, turned to me and said "Can I have the recipe?" 

Deb later on told me that she loved loved loved it as well, and I thought that I should make that for dinner tonight. Unfortunately, I fell asleep on the couch and did not have time to cook the stew for as long as I liked. So I thought maybe I should attempt a quick version of the stew, so here it is:

400g of chicken thighs (free range if possible)
1 onion (cut into wedges)
2 carrots ( cut into chunks)
Two cloves of garlic - chopped
Oyster Sauce (about three table spoons)
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
Three shakes of sugar
A dash of white pepper
About half cup of white wine (whatever's left in the fridge)
Enough water to coover the chicken

1. Cooking oil in the pot, and fry the garlic and onion until the onions are transluscent.
2. Add the chicken and continue frying.
3. Add the rest of ingredients and simmer until the liquid is reduced (in this case, if you are making a QUICK chicken stew, add less liquid and simmer until thickened slightly).

Monday, 14 October 2013

Easy Microwave Popcorn

I love popcorn. Except when it tastes like cardboard. I also don't like those overly sugared ones or the ones that are so buttery, they leave an unpleasant oily, waxy taste on my tongue. I'm not fussy at all, huh? ;)

So I make my own! Popping corn in the microwave oven is the easiest thing. My favourite- 1 TBS melted butter, 1.5 TBS icing sugar, mix them together in a large, glass, microwaveable bowl. Add approx 1/3 cup of corn kernels and mix thoroughly. Ensure that the popcorn is a single layer (or as close to one as possible) and cover with a microwaveable cover (one with the vents). Set on HIGH for four minutes, but stand and listen to the corn popping. When the corn pops are less than a couple per second, it's time to stop it. Remember that it is always better to underpop your corn than to burn the whole thing!!

The beauty about this recipe is that you could add more butter or more sugar to suit your taste! Try it, and start a popcorn revolution! xoxo

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Happy Monday!

Good morning all- how are we this morning? Some lovely Monday wisdom I saw on a friend's facebook page! Not exactly sure where she got it from, so whoever wrote it... thanks!

Happy Monday! xoxo

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Copy cat Panda express orange chicken

I think it needs to be said that trashy Chinese in Australia and trashy Chinese in the USA are world's apart. In my opinion, trashy Chinese in Australia (which I do feel like eating sometimes) involve greasy balls of batter, with tiny pieces of meat in them, thin slices of meat "stir-fried" (but really braised) in thick, goopy sauce. Just makes the cut of being "edible".

And before anyone says, oh Chinese in Melbourne and Sydney are awesome, I would like to say - I do not refute that. Melbourne and Sydney have splendid Chinese establishments and delicious chinese BBQ houses. So does Hobart (not the BBQ house bit, but Chinese establishment). But I mean TRASHY - cheap, nasty and fast.

I thought that trashy Chinese in the States would be the same, but I felt like I needed to try it. We were in Vegas (post to come) and we wandered up to the food court and lo and behold, staring straight at us, was none other than Panda Express. I was excited to try their orange chicken and their beef and broccoli. It was delicious and miles ahead of Australian trashy Chinese! Unfortunately, that was the ONLY time we had the opportunity to eat it, so when I got home to Australia, I was still dreaming of this orange deliciousness!

Have I mentioned that Google is my best friend? A quick scan of Google brought me to this page and while I can't remember enough of Panda Express' orange chicken to know if this is comparable, I still think it's pretty delicious!

My recipe for a delicious, easy, orange chicken! (Adapted from here):

Orange Chicken - copycat Panda Express

For frying:

  • enough oil for a deep fry
  • chicken thigh fillets cut in strips (about 500g for four people)
  • cornflour (enough to coat the chicken)
  • a touch of salt and pepper to season
For the sauce (I've doubled the sauce - any extras can be refrigerated and used another time)
  • 3 TBS of light soy sauce
  • 1 cup of sugar (I know, heaps!!! but it balances out with the vinegar)
  • a bit less than 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 3 TBS (or more if you prefer) of orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • cornflour mixed with cold water (to thicken the sauce)
Heat the oil.
Season chicken and add enough cornflour to coat the chicken. It may turn out gloopy, but that's ok.
When the oil is hot enough, deep fry the chicken in batches.
While the chicken is frying, add all the ingredients for the sauce (except the cornflour) in a bowl and mix together.
When you are frying the last batch of chicken (I usually put the cooked chicken in a low oven to keep warm and crispy), heat up a frying pan or wok and put the sauce in. Once all the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to bubble, add the cornflour mixture to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is of the right consistency, dunk all the fried chicken in and coat with sauce.
Serve immediately with rice. :)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Mount Wellington from my guest room window

I am slowly moving some bits of my old blog "A rolling stone" to this one. It's essentially the same, but I like this blog name better! It also gives me a chance to edit my previous stuff!

Anyway, this is a picture I took from my guest room window on a lovely winter's day. It has been a fairly mild winter (much to my annoyance) but here's hoping it will be uber (yes, I'm missing an umlaut) cold next winter!

Thanksgiving invitation

I don't think it's any secret that I love celebrating any holiday. And that I love the United States. And pumpkins. And cooking. And turkey.

I could go on.

I used to have people over on the first weekend of December for turkey and put up the Christmas tree together. But things and friendship groups change, but now I'm resurrecting the tradition!

This year, we will be moved into our new house, so there will be plenty of room for some turkey, drinks, laughter and fun... I can't wait! Of course, I will put together a list on how to prepare a stress-free Thanksgiving feast, timelines and even what to do with the leftovers!

Stay tuned!


PS. You may notice that this dinner will take place on Saturday, AFTER Thanksgiving, but it's not a holiday here in Australia, and while I can do many things, cooking and serving a Thanksgiving feast after a full day of work is not one of them.

Isn't the invitation beautiful? Many thanks to these guys for the tree illustration!

Thai-inspired chicken and prawn cake

Look at my pretty speckled pan... isn't it lovely! Will rave about this later! 

I know, it sounds weird. And a little disgusting. But rest assured... it was delicious!!

For my Malaysian feast on the weekend, I bought some prawns for a noodle stir fry, but I didn't use it all. And they were on the verge of going bad in the fridge. Which reminds me of that story of the woman whose husband cheated on her... (have you heard this one?) but I digress.

So I've been planning on mincing my own meat for a while, and what better time to experiment than now. Popped some chicken thigh fillets into the food processor with the prawns together with some soy sauce and fish sauce. I thought about putting in some cornflour following what my mother used to do... but I thought better of it.

But surely to make it more "Thai", it would need more than that? I went through my pantry and found a packet of red curry paste. And green curry paste, and come Malaysian vegetarian curry paste... and hold on a second... some Malaysian chicken curry paste AND some jarred butter chicken from Pataks. What the hell am I doing with so many different curry pastes? Oh well, better start using them! Grabbed a packet of the red curry past and put half of the packet into the mixture and ground well. And... may have put some cornflour after all!

I was pretty happy with the end-product, but in the future, I might have used a touch of sugar and maybe some acid. And what is annoying is that I have both kaffir lime leaves and fresh limes in my fridge! Oh well, there is always a next time! I have included that hit of acid in my recipe below... enjoy!

Thai Prawn and Chicken cakes
Makes about 6 little patties
Calories per patty: Approx 58 calories

  • 250 grams of chicken thigh fillets (thereabouts)
  • 100 grams of prawns
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • a couple of dashes of fish sauce
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • a couple of kaffir lime leaves, cut finely
  • half a packet of Mae Ploy red curry paste (approximately 25 grams)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cornflour

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and grind until all ingredients are mixed together.
Wet your hands and shape the mixture into little patties.
Pan-fry until cooked through.

(This was quite healthy for me as I have a wonderful non-stick pan, so I pan fried it without any oil... of course I will be raving about my pan another day!)

I would serve it with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce (I really love iceberg lettuce), and cucumbers (don't even GET me started on cucumbers... I just love them, they are ridunkulous). I don't think it really needs a dressing, but if you are so inclined, this dressing  I found at Closet Cooking looks delicious and I think it would be perfect for the salad!