Friday, March 30, 2007

Snow White

This bloom is from a plant bought here. It is blooming again after being dormant.
The other white water lily plant from Bangkok is now dormant. However, both plants are different the thai specie blooms later in the day and has a sweet scent.

Caught the Fish Stealer

white-throated kingfisher This is one of the culprits that have been hunting in my containers. This white-throated kingfisher was sitting on the ledge outside my second floor home office. I caught him with the camera without spooking him by poking the camera out of the window to shoot him. Not long after, he dove down towards one of my water lily containers and must have taken a fish for his meal.
It is part of the charm living just on the edge of a nature reserve what you have in your garden becomes part of the food chain. So what if I have to replenish the containers with fresh fish stock ever so often. It keeps the kingfishers happy and fed. They reward me with their song.
This is also the largest of the kingfisher species. I've only seen blue-eared kingfisher once but only because it had crashed into the glass panel and died. It had iridescent colors but we could not do anything for it.

Water Hyacinth in Bloom

water hyacinthMy natural mozzie controls were dying in my water lily containers and in the pond. The man who sells me fishes at the market recommended that I buy some water hyacinth to fix the problem. A dollar got me two plants which multiplied in no time.
In the natural habitat, water hyacinths are an invasive species but surprise of surprises these plants actually bloom. On an erect stalk were 4 delicate attractive flowers in lilac color to my delight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Updating a Traditional Peranakan Dish

ayam buah keluakAyam Buah Keluak is a well known Peranakan dish, the traditional recipe calls for pork ribs and/or minced pork in addition to chicken (ayam). I usually leave out the pork as it becomes too heavy meat wise.
Preparation of this dish is usually labor intensive especially with the buak keluak seeds. Each seed had to be cracked and the flesh extracted for blending before it is stuffed back into the shell again. These days I just buy the buah keluak flesh from KK market (aka Zhujiao Centre or Tekka Market) mince it up and blend with fish paste and some mince meat and make buah keluak meatballs. Here's where you can find the best recipe Makansutra.
If you are interested to learn more about buah keluak, which is highly poisonous. The raw seeds have to be boiled first and then buried in ash for 40 days before they are edible.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dunk, Cunk, Chomp n Swig


Fresh Yu Tiao (dough sticks) with Vietnamese styled coffee (how to brew). The little coffee pot was a gift from Leah, my american pastry chef guest. My coffee grounds are from Aik Cheong in Malacca, they roast the best coffee beans. If you want a good strong cuppa with a kick in the mornings this is the brand. Starbucks is bland compared to local coffee. I only added three teaspoons of condensed milk so that the layer of milk will be visible. The rest of the process is to take a warm crispy yu tiao and dunk it into the coffee and munch away. Taking swigs of the thick sweet coffee in between.

Dragon Fruit - Cacti fruit that you can eat

Most of us would have seen a dragon fruit in the supermarket or being sold as cut fruits but how many of us know that it is the fruit of a cactus plant. I only discovered this, when I visited Vietnam and went on a Mekong delta tour to an orchard.
Recently, I've been seeing these ruby red beauties in the market and I've been wanting to buy one to photograph as I thought it would make a good subject matter.
Today, I bought one from my regular fruit seller at the fresh produce market and it did indeed prove to be a worthy photographic subject.
From what I've been reading on the internet while writing this entry, is one can grow these cacti from seeds. So I'm going try and see if I can grow them.
Yet another project.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sticky rice with coconut egg jam topping

This was my first attempt at making this nonya cake as I wanted to see if I could master the art. All it took was half a kilo of glutinous rice at $0.70, 500 ml of coconut milk at $1.50, a tray of 10 eggs at $1.65, banana leaves at $0.20 a piece, sugar and pandan leaves. However, this cock-eyed cook misread the amount of water in the recipe and used a different kaya topping. Resulting in the sticky rice being a little hard and my kaya topping too thin. However, it passed the taste test.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

IHOPPING no more

What does flour, eggs, sugar, buttermilk and vanila extract all add up to? Fluffy golden pancakes.
I use to have to go all the way to the US and literally spend each morning at IHOP for pancakes because I love freshly made pancakes.
I didn't want stuff out of a box though, so I set out to find a recipe that I could say...."Yup, I've got a keeper here." Found it two years ago at Williams-Sonoma and I am now making my pancakes from scratch. Depending on what fresh ingredients are available they evolve.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lushious Laksa Lemak

I made laksa lemak for Sunday lunch.
Laksa lemak is a rich, rich, rich one dish meal which is yummy but forget about counting your calories to enjoy it.
My version is sinful. The ingredients in my dish included - sambal to make the laksa gravy, dried shrimps, fresh shrimps, chicken breast meat, fish cake, blood cockles, eggs, rice noodles, bean sprouts, coconut milk, evaporated milk, yong tau foo and last but not the least daun kesom from my herb garden. Meal went down very well and I had no leftovers.
I found frozen blood cockles in Vegas imported from Vietnam. I've adapted this method to store my live buys -freeze them live.

Putu Mayam a disappearing snack

This is a childhood favorite but these days it is rather hard to come by. I found this Chinese kueh stall that sells it but it's not as good as it's factory produced. Putu Mayam used to be sold by Indian hawkers on bicycles. They have all but disappeared when street hawkers were settled into hawker centers.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Heliconia - Peek-A-Boo

It's only been a month and they are ready to bloom. I collected this heliconia specimen on 20 Feb, when I was showing an American friend around. We chanced upon it at an old bungalow that was under reconstruction. I immediately pulled the car over and asked an Indian worker to get me a plant.
He climbed up the steep slope and promptly plucked a bloom and was ready to hand it to me. :-)
It took a whole lot of gesticulation, more explaining in very simple English and help from other workers at the worksite before he finally understood what I wanted.

Heady Scents

These are the blooms that add scent amongst the heliconia and canna blooms in the garden. Jasmine (single and dual petal); Sui Mei; Dwarf Ylang Ylang



Thursday, March 15, 2007

Green curry chicken with pea eggplants

I made Thai Green Chicken Curry with chicken, green curry paste, pea eggplant, bamboo shoots, coconut milk, palm sugar, fish sauce and thai basil.
I harvested the Thai pea egglplants (Puangyok) off the plant before cooking up the curry. The pea eggplants are tiny round green eggplants that grow in clusters similar to cherry tomatoes. They are harvested when they are light green in color.
These eggplants become bitter and tough when they are over ripe. If you choose to grow a plant, note that they grow best in the ground and also beware of thorns thes plants have nasty ones.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Banana cake

I was given more bananas than I could consume, so I turned the extras into banana cakes. I use plural as the recipe that I was trying said to bake two cakes which were to be assembled into a two-layer cake covered with a cream cheese topping. I preferred mine without frosting (also didn't have cream cheese in the fridge) so I used loave tins instead. I threw in vanilla yoghurt instead of butter milk as I didn't want another open pack of something sitting in my fridge.
They turned up moist and fragrant and the cakes disappeared fast once they were slice up and served warm.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Orchid - Brassolaeliocattleya Chian Tzy Lass


I just acquired this plant today and I hope it will be as free flowering as my other orchids have been.
What I love about this plant is the scented flowers.
There is another pot that I may want to go back to acquire, which has a lovely orangy yellow blooms.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Herbaliscious

These are some of the herbs that grown in my back herb patch.

Basil - Holy

Basil – Thai/Sweet

Basil - Lemon

Bay Laurel

Curry Leaves

Daun Kesom

Lavendar

Lemongrass

Mint

Rosemary