Friday, November 29, 2013

Rest & Ponder

Maybe this girl is thinking we should take her on the road again to one of the wine regions in this (old) mag (and Mum, while you are at it, don’t you think you should buy a new issue of Wine Country?)

When she was young we took her to Hawkes Bay with us to stay at a friend's in Napier and she was so good. She got along well with our friend's old dog. She rejuvenated him and added a few more months to his life. We are planning to take another road trip up north next year and thinking it might be fun to take her along. There are a lot of pet friendly accommodations around New Zealand – it is good like that here - so people can travel with their pets. She is well trained so it will not be a problem. She will love it I can imagine.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Beef Mince Kebabs and Roti with Mint Yogurt Sauce

Kebabs are supposed to go with Pita bread but you can also have a mixture of Middle-Eastern and Indian – depending on what you have in your fridge really. I do not have Pita bread at hands so I use roti instead and the end result is not too bad.

Yogurt Mint Sauce

200 mil Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 spring onion, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander leaves
½ green chilli, seeds removed
4-5 mint leaves, shredded

Blitz everything together and refrigerate.


350 grams beef mince
1 green chilli, seeds removed (leave some for a bit of a kick) and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Salt to taste

Add all the ingredients to the beef in a bowl, mix everything with your hands and divide into 4 portions. Form each portion  into sausage shape – drizzle with a bit of oil and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Cook beef kebabs in a thick skillet until brown on all sides and cooked through. Serve hot with salad, roti or warm Pita bread and mint yogurt sauce.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Japanese Teapot and Pu-er Tea

This one has also taken with Light Painting technique. I bought this Japanese teapot (well, it’s made in Japan although it looks more like Chinese teapot to me) from on-line auction for a song. Bob just polished the handle so it looks pretty again.

Bob has become a tea connoisseur of sort- he knows his Pu-er, shall we say. When he makes his tea, it’s a kind of little tea ceremony with timer to time the steeping. In the above photo, it also shows a bit of his favourite ‘Bingcha’ or tea disc as the tea leaves comes compressed in a round flat disc and you have to break and loosen the amount that you need to brew. Some come in bowl shape (Tuocha), some in mushroom shape (Jincha), or brick (Zhuancha) and so on. When I was young, tea leaves came in tins and small packets. I had never known until recently that tea leaves could be compressed in different shapes and sizes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tongue Wagging

The weather is a lot warmer now and the critters love to sun themselves in the back yard. Pipi like her spot on the bed of bark along the fence (when I re-barked this border the other day, I had to remove her twice).

It’s funny they roll their tongues out at the same time. Maybe they are trying to savour the sun or disinfect their tongues.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

You can use any recipe really – to suit your taste. My recipe is pretty basic and Bob likes it this way so I stick to it:

65 grams butter
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup milk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line cupcake tin with cupcake cases. This recipe makes about 10.

Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg and beat well then add vanilla. Add sifted flour alternately with milk – mix well after each addition – starting with flour and ending with flour. It will take 3 additions for flour and two for milk.

Divide the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes.

Leave to cool completely before adding the frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting
½ White Chocolate Buttons or Chocolate Melts
¼ cup cream

Heat the cream in the jug in microwave on high for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove the jus from the microwave and add chocolate buttons. Stir to combine. It will take a while before chocolate melts completely. Be patient!

If the cream boiled, rest it a bit first so we don’t scorch the chocolate. Leave to cool a little and rest in the fridge for 40 minutes to an hour. Beat the white chocolate until fluffy.  Use piping bag to pipe the frosting onto the cakes or just use spatula. The recipe for frosting should be enough for 10 cupcakes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Light Painted Flowers

This bunch of flowers was given to me as a thank you gift from our neighbours for feeding their beloved cat when they were away a couple of weeks ago. It was photographed (by Bob, who else!) using Light Painting technique.  It looks more like a still-life painting – quite Baroque- esque, I think.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I’m the (baby) Walrus

Bonnie is breathing in sunshine in the park. If we taped her ears back she would look like a baby walrus, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tracey’s Thai Style Coconut Rice

This is another recipe from Tracey. This coconut rice is very addictive even for carb averters – so please make sure you cook enough for everybody.

“Easy Coconut Rice (made in a Rice Cooker)
Makes 4 servings

2 cups Thai Jasmine-scented white rice
1 cup coconut milk (not lite)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a rice cooker and set to cook.

Once your rice cooker switches to "warm" mode, allow another 10 minutes
for rice to finish steaming.

Gently fluff with chopsticks before serving.”

If you have pandan leaves at hand, throw in  a piece or 2 (about 10 cm long) in with the rice – and a tablespoon of sugar in the coconut milk (dissolve the sugar in coconut milk first before adding to the rice) will not hurt either.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jasmine Tea & Rum Raisin Chocolate

Bob has grown very fond of Chinese tea lately – his favourite is Pu-er. We call it Po-leh (which is Cantonese for Pu-er) in Thailand. I don’t drink Chinese tea that much here – in Thailand we drink Chinese tea with Chinese food and sometimes with sweet treats like sesame crisps or candied cool melon pieces. For anytime tea, my mother drinks bael tea – which is made from dried bael fruits. I like Pu-er but only after eating rich food as it’s too strong for my taste to be an any time, everyday tea. They say Pu-er is quite good for ‘washing away’ excess fat of food consumed and that’s why we have this kind of tea with meals. Anyway, I’m not a tea connoisseur – so I could not possibly comment.

Bob is kind to buy a bag of loose Chinese Jasmine Tea for me. It’s not very strong and quite aromatic. It’s refreshing to drink a cup or two in the afternoon – especially with a row of rum-raisin dark chocolate.

Friday, November 8, 2013

RIP Tyler

I fed this cat the last two weekends while her humans were away. She lived next door but I didn't see her that often. The old lady was approaching 20 so she preferred peaceful and quiet indoor life.

Tyler must have been super cute and very pretty when she was young. At the ripe old age, she was still in good condition and pretty. The first time I fed her she was quite tentative but from the second time onwards she was her own self and was very vocal and demanding. I think she might have known I am a sucker when it comes to tabby cats.

I fed her for the last time on Sunday morning and she ate her breakfast with gusto. I learned from her mommy that she went downhill very quickly on Monday with kidney failure. She has gone to kitty heaven on Tuesday surrounded by her beloved humans. I am glad I got to know her. Rest in peace, Tyler.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crock Pot Dinner - Spareribs Asian Style

On one of our visits to Paris ages ago, my friends took us to Hawai, the Vietnamese Restaurant on avenue d'Ivry. At Hawai, we gobbled the yummiest grilled spareribs and Pho soup size of a swimming pool. For years I have tried to replicate their spareribs but never been successful. The closest thing is this recipe - cannot compete with Hawai's of course but better than nothing.

You will need:
1 kg pork spareribs, cut into 10-12 cm pieces
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon minced ginger, fresh is best
Zest of 1 small orange
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
1 Tablespoons sweet dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Hoisin or 2 Tablespoons Tomato Sauce
1 Teaspoon honey + 1 extra teaspoon for basting
A dash or two Sri Racha Chilli Sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon dry sherry

Place sparerib pieces in a thickish plastic bag (you use 3 layers of freezer bags).Mix the rest of ingredients except spareribs together in a jug and pour over. Massage the sauce into the ribs and marinate for a couple of hours at least (but overnight is best)..

Place the ribs in the slow cooker with the marinate – spare 2 teaspoons for basting and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

When the ribs are done and tender – place them on the baking sheet in single layer. Mix reserved marinate sauce with a teaspoon of honey and a bit of sesame oil. Baste the ribs with this mixture and put them under the grill until nicely brown.

Serve warm with stir fried vegetable and rice.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another Post Halloween Post

This one must be the prettiest costume in the area – the little guy behind this cutie looks scary, don’t you think? Halloween was lively this year – we had about 30 kids knocking on our door. It made up for just 4 or 5 last year I suppose. And they made a very good effort on the costumes as well.

And it’s also my darling Poppy’s first Halloween (Poppy is my neighbour’s granddaughter, remember when she’s so little here?) Here she's accompanied by little Batman.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Edible Halloween Headgear

Bonnie dresses up for Holloween. She doesn’t like this around her face much but she doesn’t mind eating it.

All in all, she loves Halloweens (apart from the headgears) because she has these little humans knocking on her door and she gets to lick them all.

Some people here frown at me. “Oh, it’s American thing”, they say. Yes, people, so are iPads and iPhones! The kids around where we live are accompanied by the grownups – so as long as it’s safe and fun – it’s fine by me.