Thursday, December 24, 2015

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas (pick one that you like or pick all, like me;) everyone. Hope your holidays and festive season filled with joy and happiness and plenty of food; your New Year full of inspirations and prosperity. And if you have a feline friend or two or more...enjoy your Catmas everyday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sangria - in the Park or Not

When I think of Sangria, I cannot help also thinking of Lou Reed and his Perfect Day. But I tell you what, you don't have to wait for perfect days- you can have it on any warm days, in the park or not. Sangria is so easy to make, so easy to drink and so very, very easy to get drunk on!

I make my Sangria in a jug - about a litre or so, a little bit at a time and top up as we go. You can also make it in bach in a a punch bowl and that would be beautiful as a centrepiece by itself. It also looks so festive for Christmas or New Year parties.

1 Bottle of red wine, I use New Zealand Merlot
750 mil. of Sprite or 7Up, better from cans than bottles
200 mil Cognac
200 mil Pomegranate Juice or Cranberry Juice
1 cup Strawberries, chopped in chunks
1 cup Cherries, pitted
Ice cubes

Mix everything in a jug or glass bowl. If you make it in a jug, make half portion at a time. Substitute cherries with raspberries or blueberries - or mix them all. Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Surinder's Christmas Shortbread Biscuits

Last week I had a get-together- before -Christmas with my friends, Surinder and Dee. Both of them were my gym instructors at some points and our friendship has grown from then on.

Surrinder gave me these wonderfully yummy shortbread biscuits she baked herself. They were so yummy Bob and I gobbled all of them in 2 days - very festive, I'd say:) She also kindly gave me the recipe - only 3 ingredients.

You'll need:
225 grams of butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 cups plain flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C.

Cream butter and icing together. Stir in flour to form dough and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut with shaped cookie cutters and prick with fork a few times for decoration.

Bake on a baking sheet for about 1 hour. Easy isn't it? Thank you very much, Surinder.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Flag?

Last month we voted by mail our preference for the our new flag referendum should we change the flag in the future. We like Kyle Lockwood's flags but our number one preference is not the above black and blue but red and blue of similar design.

The result published in the New Zealand Herald  is very interesting. Less than half of eligible voters cast their votes and among those, almost 10% is spoiled votes. They said that it might be the result of protest votes - from people who do not want to change and push for status quo. Some friends of mine either did not vote at all or voted tactically for the least preferable designs. They told me over the coffee that they did not agree with the change so they voted for the design they hated. Didn't they know that they might end up with it? One said that several veterans who fought for the present flag are still alive so we should not change it. Of course they are/were our heroes; more so than rugby stars. I told her I begged to differ about the flag. I believe those who have fought, still with us today or not; they have fought under the flag - not for the flag. They have fought for our democracies and our freedoms so that we can vote today whether to change the flag or not to change and that we can agree to disagree.

Whatever they voted for - it's absolutely their freedom of choice and their democratic right to vote. The freedom we sometimes take for granted - the freedom that doesn't come magically by just flying a piece of cloth.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Love Laksa, no worries. It's easy now with store bought paste and you don't have to sweat over that seafood stock any more. I use Asian Gourmet's Singapore Laksa Paste - funny enough, it's made in Thailand.

Just follow the instruction on the packet - you can use either white rice noodles or egg noodles. If you use egg noodles, instant noodles are easy and quick. If you use rice noodles, you need to soak them in warm water for an hour or so. Then cook them in boiling water until soft and cooked through. The direction on the packet tells you to fry the paste with oil - you can add a couple tablespoons of coconut milk  (the fatty bit from the top of the can) as well. Add some vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, bok choy or curly kale, green capsicum - don't stick to just beansprouts. Make sure you carrot and broccoli are cooked through unless you like them crunchy. You can also add some mushrooms but I think mushrooms are too watery and do not enhance the taste of this dish. Don't go overboard with coconut milk either - remember this is a soup not curry, so you have to dilute it to be drinkable or slurpable.

I also use chicken meat as well as prawns in my Laksa - prawns add some seafood-ness to it. Don't forget some boil eggs and chopped spring onion and coriander, Try making it and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Baby Shower and Carrot Cake

 My very good friend, Debbie, is going to be a grandmother and pretty soon - she's due on 27 December. But it can be any day now, really, depending on how soon or how late Baby Maude decides to see the world.

Last Saturday we had a Baby Shower get together at her place. About 20 of us, girls of different age and two little boys; Debbie's friends (who know Charlotte pretty well), Charlotte's friends, Charlotte's friend's mom and Charlotte's friends' kids (2 boys, 1 girl). I know Charlotte since she was a school girl - then she went on to be a journalist. TV presenter and travelled the world over. Now she comes home to stay and raise the kid. Wow...I feel ancient:) 
We had a lot of yummy finger food and drinks and that Sangria. Lovely, lovely Sangria!Someone made this beautiful carrot cake - decorated with a few stems of lavender and it looked and smelled gorgeous. Late on Debbie just add these tiny ducklings on the cake - perfect for the occasion. However, these ducklingss were not edible and many of us has to spit it out on to our serviettes! We had a laugh and the hostess just had to collect her ducklings and hand wash them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Crushed Avocado

Just a simple idea yet very delicious and nutritious - I don't know why people are up in arms about Nigella's Avocado on toast . She just throw several ideas together for breakfast dish and I don't see anything wrong with it. Some people you cannot please - I'd say. Long time ago when she introduced a dish from leftover - and that leftover was peking duck - some people complained that it was too posh. Now it's too simple with avocado!

I am not Nigella Lawson's avid fan but I have time for her. I still make my Rocky Road  using her recipe. My favourite food at my favourite local cafe is Crushed Avocado on Toast> Simplicity yet effective - I can't see anything wrong with it. If you don't like avocado, try tomato salsa instead, If you also don't like tomatoes - well, maybe you shouldn't read food blogs after all:)

Note: Sorry for blogging sporadically - it's getting silly around here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Teeny Tweeny Cat

Hobie: Where's my breakfast? It should have been here before I got up. You've ruined my life!
Mom: Hobie, breakfast is here, darling.
Hobie: I will eat whenever I feel like it. Don't ruin my life.

Hobie: Where are those laser points?
Dad: It's not dark yet, sweetie.
Hobie: I wanna play're ruining my life!

Dad: We are running out of cat treats. I've gotta go out and get some (otherwise we'll be in trouble)..

...Half an hour later....

Hobie: Where are my treats?
Dad: Here they are, sweetie.

 ..Gobble, gobble, gobble.....

Dad: You like them, then.
Hobie: Whatever, I'm going to have my beauty nap now. Don't even think about ruining my life!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pizza Sauce:Pasata

You can freeze this homemade Pasata sauce for months (if you haven't eaten it all!) so it's worthwhile to make the whole portion. This recipe is enough for 3 medium pizzas (30 cm).

You'll need:
1 can of chopped Italian tomatoes in juice (400 gr)
1 clove of Garlic
1 tablespoon Sri Racha Chili sauce
1 tablespoon Thai Sweet Chili sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all the ingredients in food processor and blitz until almost smooth. Lumpy bits here and there is OK - pour the content into a thick saucepan. Bring to the boil on medium high heat briefly and reduce the heat. Let it bubble gently for 8-10 minutes. The sauce will thicken up a bit. Remove from heat. Let it cool down before transferring to plastic tubs.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rescued Cat

Hobie has been with us 5 months, about half of her whole life. I cannot help say something rather cliche about adopting a pet - that you cannot change the world but you can change a life - actually we might have changed Hobie's world. I don't know where Hobie was rescued from but by the sound of it - that Melanie could only estimate when Hobie was born, it's quite likely that she came from under someone's house or even in the bush somewhere around here. Melanie, as kind as she is, but with limited space, she has to put her rescued babies in shared crates. Now Hobie has her own home where she only has to share with us and Bonnie.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Butter and Cream Cheese Cake: Summer Variation

I know it's cheating but I can't help it. The weather has been quite warm and we see a lot of strawberries in the green grocers now. I bought 2 punnets a few days ago along with a bag of dried ones. My favourite butter cake is the one with cream cheese instead of milk and I think it will taste quite nice with some strawberries. It looks pretty too with a bit of food colouring and fresh strawberries and cream.

Just use the recipe for basic butter and cream cheese cake here and add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped dried strawberries (add a teaspoon of flour to chopped strawberries to coat so the pieces will not lump together). Drop a few drops of pink or red food colour to give the mixture a pink glow. Serve with whipped cream and fresh strawberries for the afternoon tea.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Time Flies and It's been Six Years

It has been 6 years since we've got this puppy with us. Bonnie (aka Monster) was advertised on TradeMe for $250 for costs of vaccinations and microchipping. We were dogless after the last of our old dogs that we hauled from the street of Bangkok as puppies died of old age. I wanted to have a pet free holidays for a year but Bob did not think so. Actually, Bob had been looking for a new dog since our favourite dog died 2 years earlier. We tried to bring those new dogs and puppies home for a week but the old dogs did not seem to be happy and we had to return them eventually with some heartbreaks along the way because we really, really liked one puppy, a cross between Jack Russell and Shitsu.

Bob looked at this Jack Russell cross puppy ad one day and was sort of fell in love with the photo placed with the ad but we took cautious approach with this one. We arranged to see the puppy one evening. When we arrived, a little dark brown puppy came to greet us at the door. I was not quite sure to start with because she was 5 months old and had not been toilet trained properly. However, when I crouched down to have a look at her, this little Monster jumped up on to my lap and licked my hands. I was sold.

We changed her name from Monster to Bonnie. Bonnie is a cross between Jack Russell and Keeshond, a Dutch Barge Dog. It took only a week to toilet train her and teach her to use dog flap. When we enrolled her into puppy school at the local vet's, she could already sit on command. At the end of the class, she was the only puppy who could roll over when told. Bonnie is clever and learns fast. Initially, we were a bit worried that she would be super energetic with typical Jack Russell temperament but she seems to adopt more of a Keeshond's coolness. She enjoyed obedient and agility classes because she got to meet a lot of people and other dogs, the socialising part rather than the classes themselves. She didn't master the class because she was so easily distracted and she had to re-take Agility 101 before progressing to intermediate level. We stopped taking her to the class when she was about three due to work commitment but Bob still takes her for a walk in the park twice a day and we try to take her places with us (if allowed:) She is very friendly and very happy and we don't have to be worry that she will snap at other dogs or people. A lot of Posties seem to be fond of her.

Although she likes visiting the beaches and running into shallow water, she doesn't like sitting or playing in the paddling pool much. So she's not much of a Keeshond there. After 6 years, she has grown into a handsome (albeit chubby) dog. Nevertheless, she will always be a puppy to us.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pasta with Cherry Tomato Pesto

I tried to make an easy dinner the other day and remembered I had a jar of store bought sun dried tomato pesto in the cupboard so I thought I would have pasta with that pesto as a side for my crumbed chicken. Alas, looking closely at the label, I found that the pesto contained cashew nuts which is a no, no for Bob. Well, I didn't have sun dried tomato on hands so had to resort to half a punnet of cherry tomatoes in the fridge. The result is quite OK so I have to share this recipe with you, especially those of you who cannot tolerate nuts.

For a side dish for 2, you'll need:
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, and extra for frying
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
2 tablespoons grated tasty cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon pine-nuts, toasted
1 1/2 cups cooked spiral pasta (Rotini)
1 teaspoon chopped basil or coriander
Extra grated cheddar

Fry garlic in small amount of oil on medium heat until fragrant then add tomatoes, fry further until soft. Add salt, sugar and tomato sauce. Remove from heat and rest to cool down a wee bit.

Place tomato mixture in a food processor with pine-nuts and grated cheese. While motor is still running drip 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the mixture. Pour the 'pesto' over cooked pasta and toss well to coat, if you like it a bit sharp, you may add a teaspoon of wine vinegar but this is optional. We like it without any added tang. Add chopped basil/coriander and extra cheese. Serve as a side dish to your meat dish.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Olive Kitteridge

I did not know Frances McDormand until I saw the film Fargo  a few months ago. I though she was wonderful in Fargo but after I have watched Olive Kitteridge, I think she's amazing.

Olive Kitteridge was made into an HBO's 4-pert mini series in 2014 basing on a Pulitzer Prize winner novel of the same name by Elizabeth Strout. The novel itself consists of 13 short stories of Olive Kitteridge over the span of 25 years. The TV 4-parter does not contain all the 13 stories but picks up the main parts to tell Olive's story.

Olive's character is quite complex and Frances McDormand has done a good job playing Olive, as a strict no-nonsense Math teacher, wife and mother. Olive's husband, Henry, was played by Richard Jenkins. I recognise him from Six Feet Under. Bill Murray had a part two in the last 2 episodes (they have to find very good and pretty strong actors to be opposite McDormand, and these two are not at all disappointing) . The story took place in a small seaside town in Maine. It's about people, normal and strange, their families, their interaction & interaction, Olive's up-tightness and  sharp tongue ruffle too many feathers but her well meaning and good heart also touch many lives along the way. The series conclude where and how it should. Strongly recommended!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Simple Chicken (Crock) Pot Roast

I should have done this dish more often as it is easy and yummy, Just put the chicken in the crock pot and forget about it for 4 or 5 hours and have a great meal afterwards. I did this last week - inspired by John Grisham's The Appeal that I'm reading at the moment. I must be a bit hungry when I read to the bit that they went to the Trial Lawyers Convention and ate roast chicken and broccoli, albeit cold in the novel it still sounded quite yummy. So I went out to buy a whole chicken for my roast chicken venture.

For 2, you'll need:

Roast Chicken
1kg whole chicken, giblet removed
Salt & pepper
1 medium onion whole, peeled

Rub the chicken inside out with salt and pepper, pop the onion in the cavity and brown the skin on all sides in a hot pan with a little bit of oil. Place a deep dish upside down in the crock pot (slow cooker), put the chicken on top of the dish and cook on low for 4 or 5 hours ( the cooking time depends on your slow cooker.

When the chicken's done - rest it on a cutting board and cover with foil. Save the cooking juice for gravy but skim the fat off as much as you can.

2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup chicken cooking juice, if the juice is not enough, add water to make up to this
Salt & pepper to taste

Gravy is basically velouté sauce in my book but when I fry flour in butter, I like it to be a bit darker than blonde. Add the juice gradually and keep stirring until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Taste the sauce and add more salt & pepper if needed.

Cut up the chicken and serve with boiled potatoes, carrots and of course, broccoli. Pour gravy on top, eat with or without cranberry jelly.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Nourish is a coffee shop on the ground floor of Ormiston Hospital in Botany. I know this little gem (the coffee shop not the hospital) a few years back when Bob had to undergo the gastroscopy at Ormiston, While waiting for the procedure, I made myself comfortable with a cup of mochaccino and a plate of club sandwich in the coffee shop with my kindle.

The hospital is a private surgery hospital so the place is quite nice and clean. It's more like office building rather than hospital, equipped with a convenient store and a nice coffee shop. That's why I know Nourish. They also cater to the hospital patients so Bob had no complaints when he came to and was fed with nice looking cafe food not just hospital food.

Since then Nourish is my meeting place with a girlfriend who lives in the City but has to come out to Botany for her hair cut every six weeks or so. It's sort of halfway between my home and hers. The interior is white and grey and they always have gorgeous centre-piece flower arrangement in a less-is-more kind of way. The staff is very friendly and welcoming, the food is good and the price is very, very  reasonable. They also do good coffee and it does not take long to get served - that's my kind of place to meet friends and enjoy coffee and food.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Simple Burger

Bob likes homemade burgers and I grudgingly make them from time to time. I try to avoid cooking them when the weather is not good (and we cannot open the doors and windows). Not that I don't like them but because I have to scrub the range hood the next day. Anyway, my burger recipe is very simple (just like Heston Blumethal's:) - you need only salt and pepper for your beef patties (no breadcrumbs, onions or ketchup please!)

For 2 you'll need:
250 gram of prime beef mince
1/8 tablespoon of salt
2 or 3 rounds of freshly ground pepper
A bit of oil for frying
2 good quality rolls (whole meal from Bakers' Delight will be good), toast
Cheese slices
Fresh tomatoes, sliced  (chopped Cherry tomatoes are sweet and yummy)
Mayonnaise (I use Japanese Kewpie)
Caramelised onions (optional)

Add salt and pepper to the mince, use your hand to mix it lightly just to combine. Shape the mince into 2 patties, about 1.5 cm thick. Fry the patties in a hot pan, put 1 teaspoon of oil on the patties instead of in the pan. Fry until nicely brown on both side, flip them often so they don't get burned but cooked through. You can fry onion slices in the same pan to go on top of the patties if you'd like.

Place the patties on the bread, topped with cheese slice(s), tomato slice(s) and a little bit of mayonnaise.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hobie Diary : Diva on her Divan

Time flies - Hobie is now 8 months and has transformed from a cutie kitten into a cutie little queen. She is 3.5 kgs and does not grow as much or as fast as the first few months. She also masters the cat flap and her proud Daddy cannot stop smiling.

She is also obsessed with moths and this summer she is going to have fun. I have seen her hook a blow fly from the air with her claws and played with it until it stopped moving and then ate it. Bonnie is also good at getting these flies if they fly low enough - and she is more clean with the killing.

Hobie is also getting to that tweeny age and sometimes she does not come to bed until late (or early hours in the morning) - just stays outside and parties with moths. Somebody is kind enough to switch on the in-deck lights for her almost every night.

Comes daytime this little darling needs to have a nap and her favourite spot for her beauty sleep is on the sheepskin that we put on top of the blanket box at the end of the bed. The Diva, indeed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chilli Concarne with White Beans

Long, long time ago when I was young, my mother had to soak (small) kidney beans overnight for this dish. Now we have canned beans - ready to cook, no more soaking. I think canned red beans are still quite firm and a bit chewy. suitable for long cooking. I like white beans (Cannellini), they are a lot softer and quicker to cook. They are also a bit bland so you can be a bit heavy handed with seasoning.

For 2, you'll need:

250 grams Premium Beef Mince
2-3 rashers bacon, chopped
350 gram can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped or minced
1 - 2 tablespoon Marsala or Port
Oil for frying
2-3 tablespoons Sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 oregano
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
Chilli Powder

Mix the dry ingredient from salt down to pepper in a small jar and set aside.

Fry bacon in an iron casserole until crispy, remove from the casserole and drain on paper towel. In the same casserole, fry onion and garlic until fragrant, add mince and brown for a few minutes then add Marsala. Add beans, shopped tomatoes - bring to the boil and place lid on. Decrease the heat to low and let it simmer for half an hour or so.

Add ketchup and dry seasoning and a bit of bacon. Taste and add more salt, chilli powder and sugar if needed. Let it boil for a few minutes and remove from heat. Serve warm garnished with sour cream and crispy bacon and don't forget some garlic bread (and brush your teeth well after eating this:)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jenji Kohan's Weeds

I have heard about Weeds for such a long time but because its half an hour per episode format, I just brushed it off as another sitcom/soapy TV series. We went on to see Breaking Bad and learned that Vince Gilligan sort of mentioned that if he had known about Weeds he would not have gone ahead with Breaking Bad (I'm glad he had not known about it, otherwise we would have missed one of the most brilliant TV series - on par with The Wire and Mad Men, with different flavour, of course).

Back to Weeds - we were sort of interested a bit in Weeds when Vince Gilligan referred to it but not enough to watch it. However, everything changed after we finished watching the 3 seasons of Jenji's Orange is the New Black. Jenji has a very wicked humour and is a brilliant writer. We love OTNB and thought anything created by the same creator could not go wrong so we sat and watched 8 seasons of Weeds, 2 episodes at a time over the past months.

Half an hour format is difficult to cram everything in for an Episode but Jenji carried it out swimmingly. A lot of people might have known what it's all about by the series' name. Yes, it's all about marijuana and Nancy, a widow in an affluent neighbourhood who had to sell it in order to support her family after her husband died unexpectedly at young age. Marijuana trades took her and her young family on a ride of roller coasters of life throughout  8 seasons. Her sons also engaged in criminal activities along the ride from childhood to manhood. We could not expect what would happen next. Jenji also introduced us to two hapless men, one Nancy's pot headed accountant and another her brother in law. One was so unlovable character through and through while another grew on you and you just couldn't help love him too in the end. Several famous guest stars appeared in the series as well, for example Snoop Dogg, Mary-Kate Olsen, Carrie Fisher and Alanis Morissette. I am not Miss Morissette's fan as a musician but I applauded her acting in Season 4 & 5.

Some call it a dark comedy but it's not that dark really, just a bit grey. It's quite hilarious and colourful at times. Season 6 was slow to start with but it picked up towards the end of the season. Breaking Bad is much darker and more violent. A lot of people compare Weeds to Breaking Bad - true, they both are all about so called 'drug' and middle class so called 'criminals' but at the same time they are different. Their screening overlapped at some point  (Weeds 2005-2012 and Breaking Bad 2008-2013) and the creators paid homage to each other. Weeds is much lighter but nonetheless fun - it will not disappoint. Just imagine Jenji Kohan's and Vince Gilligan's collaboration - will be very interesting.

Note: The picture above is from

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Espresso Pannacotta

Again, I have been caught up with work and social things that I did not blog early in the week. It does not mean I didn't have time - I did have some spare time but I just wanted to sit back and not lift my fingers. Apologies for my idleness (does it sound better than laziness?)

My lovely friend in Belgium just sent me her mother's recipe for Sabayon. Very kind of her and I think it might be beyond me at the moment but I will try, I promise.

For the time being, I can just make this quick and easy pudding - not really a last minute dish as it needs to set in the fridge for a couple of hours. If you have an espresso machine at home, use it to brew a shot of espresso. The result is miles better than an instant or a plunger version.

For 2 you'll need:
3/4 cup full cream
1 shot of espresso (about 45 mil)
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons thickened cream or lightly whipped cream
1 teaspoon sweetened condensed milk (optional)

Brew one shot of medium to strong espresso and leave to cool down to touch and transfer to a jug. Sprinkle gelatin powder in the coffee a leave for 10 minutes. Place full cream and sugar in a saucepan and heat up until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour hot cream into the espresso mixture and stir until all gelatin is dissolved. Divide the mixture into 2 moulds. Leave to cool down before refrigerating for a couple of hours.

Serve cold with whipped cream - I add sweetened condensed milk to thickened cream. It reminds me of my Thai Cafe con Leche. Yum, yum in a grown up way.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Udon in Miso Soup

Long, long time ago when I still had to commute to the city - I frequented this little cosy cafe where it served this yummy soup in Winter. It's Gloria's Cafe on Anzac Ave where you ate at the same table as the University students, lecturers, bankers and former All Blacks. I have heard that Gloria's is still there after all these years so they must have done something right!

It might not be the same recipe that I make but the results have not been too bad over the years. It's quick and easy to make.

For 2 you'll need:
250 grams Udon noodles (it comes in vacuum pack of 500 grams from Countdown - if it's too difficult to find, no worries, just use 2 packs of instant yellow noodles, cooked and drained), soaked in boiling water for a few minutes until soft and drained
200 grams Chicken, cooked and shredded
4 pieces of Fried Tofu Triangles, each cut in 4
3 sachets of Instant Miso soup Paste
1 litre Chicken Stock
1/2 Red Capsicum, sliced
1 Carrot, sliced
1 cup of chopped Greens; bok choi, kale, spinach
1 Spring Onion, chopped - for garnish

Add stock into a cast iron casserole and bring to the boil - add chicken and carrot. When the carrot is soft, add the greens. Add miso soup paste, stir well then add tofu and udon or cooked yellow noodles. Add more water and Kikkoman sauce if needed. Divide into the bowls and garnish with chopped spring onion. Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Patricia Barber

Patricia Barber  is one of my favourite artists. Her voice is beautiful and powerful. Our audio system seems to produce a good live music- like environment so when we play her tracks, we could hear her singing as if in the same room – just like spending a Monday night with her at the Green Mill. Not that we have been at the Green Mill but it is a wishful thinking:)

I love her rendition of Autumn Leaves and Norwegian Wood. I hope that one day she will have a gig downunder so we can see her live (without having to travel to America). She might not be as well known and world famous as Diana Krall but her jazz style is second to none. When I bought her CDs for my brother as his Birthday present, I was a bit surprised that he actually knew of her as her CDs were used as part of test tracks for one audio equipment dealer in a prominent audio show in Bangkok. And I can understand why.

She has a unique voice but you need a reasonable good system to enjoy some of her tracks as they can produce too many sibilants. Luckily, our line of work has something to do with audio equipment and our system needs to be reasonable at times to try it out. Her CDs and downloads are available from Amazon and 


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Buttercup in Coconut Milk

This is one of typical Thai puddings. It is to be eaten warm (not hot) or at room temperature (which is quite warm in Thailand). Some will claim that it tastes a bit like salted caramel - maybe it is but Thais have been putting salt in their puddings way back when long before salted caramel is fashionable as it is now.

For 2, you'll need:

150 grams buttercup, skin partially peeled and cut into small pieces
1  cup coconut cream
1/4 cup water
60 grams palm sugar, chopped
1/8- 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place coconut cream, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan and put on the stove, using medium low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and add buttercup pieces. Cook further for a few minutes until the buttercup is cooked. Easy as!

Note:any pumpkin will do, but buttercup will hold against heat much better and do not disintegrate into mash.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Let there be Light

We are getting into Spring and the transition produces weird weather. Sometimes you have four seasons in one day. The temperatures are also fluctuating and sunny mornings will see the animals clutter at sunny spots around the house.

Bonnie seems to resign to the fact Hobie is now part of the family and that she has to share some space with the cat. They arrange themselves quite well around us, even on the bed. Apart from a bit of kerfuffles the first few weeks, they are now quite in tune with each other. They even gang up on the laser point together - but have not managed to catch one yet!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tamarind Eggs

This Thai old fashioned dish is not very common these days but it has been Bob's favourite.

4 Hard-boiled eggs
Oil for shallow frying
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Tamarind extract (available from Asian Groceries)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Crispy Fried Red Onion (available from Asian Groceries)

Shallow fry the whole eggs on medium heat until golden brown on all sides. Set aside and leave to cool down a bit.

In a saucepan place sugar, water, and salt together. Stir and put to the boil on medium high heat until it it starts to colour. Remove the saucepan from heat and add Tamarind extract - you might not need all 4 tablespoons but some would prefer more so adjust it to your own taste. Put the saucepan back on the stove and let it boil further until it is thickened.

Cut the eggs into halves and pour the Tamarind sauce over them, sprinkle with crispy fried onion and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature with rice and green stir fry.

Note: In Thailand we call these eggs - son-in-law's eggs. It has been told that one day the son in law asked the mother in law what she was cooking for dinner in demanding tone - the grumpy mother in law then quickly replied 'I am going to cook your nuts (eggs in Thai slang) in Tamarind Sauce'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hobie's Diary: 28 Weeks and still Growing

We weighed Hobie last week and the reading was 3.2 kgs. so she will be quite a cuddly size when fully grown. We will have to watch her weight when she's fully grown. We don't want her to get too fat.

Hobie is not a brave cat but she extends her exploring bit by bit everyday. We can let her out through the back door and get her in the front door so it's good that she knows the lay of the land around her own home. She likes going out at night when the weather is good and sometimes Bob has to get her back in with the laser pointer.

She also does almost of her 'businesses' outside but we still keep her litter tray in the bathroom for when it's wet and cold outside. I add a little bit of lavender scented clay into the tray and mix it with her usual litter and it works well as long as I don't touch it with my bare hands. Hobie does not have any problem with it. One thing we are trying to teach her is getting in and out through the dog door/cat flap but she does not get it yet. I told Bob she's a bit dumb but the smitten cat's Dad said she was too young to process the learning. Bob keeps trying to teach her ....he might be successful one day and I don't have to be her doorman. One sure thing she learns well is how to be veryyy cute - she can get away with almost anything!

Update: Just to defy my post, Hobie has managed to go out through the cat flap several times - but it's only one way. She hasn't yet tried to come in through the flap on her own.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cream Cheese and Butter Cake

With zest of our homegrown lime - this cake smells so delicious even before the pan hits the oven.

For 22 cm ring pan, you'll need:
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
110 grams butter
80 grams cream cheese
180 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lime (or lemon or orange)

Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius

Grease ring pan or bundt pan well

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside. Beat butter and cream cheese together at medium speed until combined and pale - add sugar and beat further on. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat until combined at each addition. Add vanilla and lime zest - then lower the speed and add flour. Mix well and transfer the cake mixture to the pan. Tap the side a few times to get rid of excess air bubbles. Bake for 45 minutes - if the top starts to get too dark - cover loosely with foil.

When the cake is done - rest for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve with sour cream or whip cream and lime zest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

St Mark's

This post is not much about St Mark's apart from the fact that the eye hospital we went to a fortnight ago is on St Mark's Road just opposite this beautiful Anglican church.

Bob had a cataract surgery last month - we had to get up early and traveled to Auckland Eye Hospital. The pre-op prep took two hours (including waiting time) but the surgery itself took only 15 minutes. The operation was scheduled sooner than we thought because the specialist would be overseas in September and because cataract in younger people could progress quite quickly so it should be dealt with sooner rather than later. The modern cataract surgery seems to be very easy - the patients do not need to stay overnight. After local anesthetic is given, the old cloudy lens will be broken down by ultrasound through a tiny incision at the border of the cornea and suctioned out. The new lens (synthetic, of course) will be then inserted and implanted. Then, voila - it's done.

While the anesthetist was working on Bob, I went out for coffee and cake at the coffee shop on Remuera Road (they don't have a Cafe at the hospital, only the self service espresso machine - and the coffee was good). A sweet receptionist told me to walk through St. Mark's Church to Remuera Road as it's shorter and more pleasant. She was absolutely right - the Church ground is nicely kept and welcoming. By the time I came back to the waiting room, I learnt that Bob had already come to a while ago and the nurse tried to fetch me twice. Who would think that the operation would be that quick - it took me longer to get my mocha and Friands from the not-so-busy Cafe Brioche and consume them in a lady-like manner!

Bob could even drive the next day after the surgeon had cleared him of any present complications so he asked if he could drive back home. He said he was a better driver than a passenger and I absolutely agreed.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Asian Style Beignets (ปาท่องโก๋-ish)

In Thailand we have eaten the Chinese beignets for ages and surprisingly they have not strayed too faraway from the Chinese ones, apart from shapes, maybe. We have them with savoury things like rice porridge and soft boiled eggs and we have them with sweet things like condensed milk and soft tofu in ginger syrup. Street vendors would have their big wok out in the mornings and fry these crispy beignets to the breakfast crowd.

I have tried making these away from home and they are not too bad. I do not have ammonia carbonate so I omit it in my recipe which is not a bad thing because ammonia carbonate tends to give a strong smell. It doesn't matter that my Chinese beignets will not be extra crispy.

You will need:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon canola oil plus a lot more for deep frying

Add sugar and yeast to warm water - add 1 tablespoon of oil, mix well and leave in warm place for 5 minutes or until frothy. In a food processor,place flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together and pulse to combine. While the motor is running, add yeast mixture and process until it the dough forms into a soft ball. Remove the dough and place into a well oiled bowl, put cling wrap over the bowl and leave to rise in the dark warm place (I rest mine in the oven) for 2 hours.

Knock the dough down and roll on the floured surface, roll to about 1 cm thick. The dough will be wet-ish so you need a bit of dusting flour. Cut the dough into strips with pizza cutter - about 1 x 7 cm. Rest for another five minutes and then deep fry them on medium high heat until golden. Drain on absorbent paper. It's best to serve them warm but you can also keep then in the freezer and re-heat in the oven.

You can also stick two strips of dough together in the middle before frying as they do in Thailand - just use a bit of water as a glue. I am not very good at this:)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mexican Style Fried Rice

My apologies for posting sporadically - I have been snowed under recently with work. My posting will be pathetic like this for a wee while so please bear with me.

1 stick Chorizo, cubed
1 Frankfurter, cubed
1/2 cooked chicken meat (leftover roast or BBQ will be ideal), cubed
3 cups cooked rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup mixed frozen carrots, corn and peas
A bit of coriander leaves to garnish
oil for frying
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Sri Racha chilli sauce (optional)

Seasoning Mix: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional) and  a sprinkle of white sugar - mix all this in a jar, you might not need all of it, just test the food as you cook.

We start with egg crepe - add a bit of salt and pepper in beaten eggs. In a wok on medium high heat, wipe with a little bit of oil and add the egg mixture, swirl the wok around so that the egg covers the surface. When the edge starts to come away, roll gentle with spatula from one end to another. Remove from heat and rest until cool enough to handle, slice thinly and set aside.

In the same wok, add more oil and fry onion and garlic until fragrant. Add meat and fry further until heated through, then add vegetables (it helps if you warm the veges in microwave first). Fry for a few minutes. Add rice, sauces and seasoning mix. Break lumps of rice gently as you turn the mixture. Add a bit more oil if needed. Add sliced egg crepe, reserve some for garnish. Serve warm. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Creamy Corn & Chicken Pie

1 can Cream Style Corn (try to use one with lower sugar & salt contents)
400 gr. Chicken tights, skinless, boneless, cubed
2 cups Greens (I used Spinach & Kale), chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
Salt & Pepper
50 gr. Grated Cheddar
2 sheets Ready Rolled Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
Oil for frying

Season chicken with salt & pepper and brown in a pan on medium high heat - set aside.

In the same pan. add a little bit more oil and fry onion briefly, add spinach and kale and fry further for a minute or two. Remove from heat.

Mix fried vegetable, chicken and a cream style corn together - leave to cool completely.

Grease pie tin (I use 20 cm round spring form tin) and line the bottom with baking paper. Place the the first sheet of pastry in the bottom of the tin and work to the side about 3-4 cm high. Cut the excess and patch carefully, fill with chicken and corn mixture and cover with the second pastry sheet. Crimp the edge tightly and prick with fork in 3-4 places. Brush with egg. Chill the pie for at least 15 minutes.

Baked in pre-heated oven (200 degrees C) for 45 minutes - cover with a piece of foil if top of the pie gets too brown after half an hour. Rest the pie for 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hobie's Diary: Copy Cat

Hobie has settled in nicely into her new family aka us including Bonnie. We are glad the animals get along well. Hobie adores Bonnie, if cats can feel such thing, that is. The kitty wants to be with Bonnie, not all the time of course but often enough that Bonnie gets grumpy with her, especially in bed. Do they speak the same language? I don't know - but I think they communicate with each other somehow. The cat learns from the dog and oftentimes copies what the dog does around the house.

Our neighbours' cats sometimes stray into our backyard. Yesterday there was one big gray fluffy cat from two doors away sitting on the grass looking into our kitchen - Hobie was behind the glass door and looked a bit disturbed. Bonnie saw the big cat and ran out to chase him away. Hobie now looks up to Bonnie even more - she's her heroine, she chases the intruder
I'm sure Hobie likes us as well but I have a feeling she likes Bonnie more than anyone else (apart from herself, of course). But the relationships among us are good.

I read the paper today about the senior doctor asking the Asian interns whether they eat dogs. Being Asian, this particular culinary subject has been suggested to me a few times over decades I have been in this country. don't eat them but I admit I snort our dog and cat very often especially on their yummy tummies, less so when they are a bit smelly.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Karaage Chicken

Karaage Chicken was one of the dishes we loved when we were at the Sheraton in Samoa. I have made this several times at home. Last time a couple of weeks ago I used potato flour instead of corn flour and it was more crispy. If possible, do use potato flour in this recipe. Corn flour will be ok-ish but not as good.

400 grams Chicken Tights, chopped to bite size
3 tablespoons Japanese Soy Sauce (I prefer Kikkoman)
1 tablespoon Sake
1 tablespoon Mirin
Sea Salt
1 clove of Garlic, finely chopped
1 slice of Root Ginger, finely chopped
3-4 tablespoons Potato Flour for dredging
1 tablespoon Chopped Spring Onion, only green bits
Oil for deep frying

In a jug, mix soy sauce, sake, garlic and ginger together then pour the mixture over the chicken, marinate for a few hours.

Heat oil in a wok over medium high heat, when the oil is hot, dredge the chicken pieces in potato flour and deep fry in batches. Drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and spring onion before serving with rice and stir fried vegetables.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hobie's Diary: First Step to the Outside World

Hobie is growing steadily and her face is more rounded. The vet was right when she said that we would have to give the cat a grown-up version of flea treatment next time round.

Last week we let her venture outside for the first time - the first day Bob carried her onto the deck but she was not that happy and just ran back inside the house when he put her down. The next day, we all went out to the deck and just left the door open - sure enough, the cat followed. However, she stayed close to the door. She seemed more relaxed if Bonnie was also around outside.

Since then whenever the weather is good enough we leave the door open wide enough so Hobie could go out and come back in as she wished (the dog/cat flap will be a bit too complicated to drive at the mo). She's got more and more confidence each day. However, I have to say that she is quite a homey cat and doesn't want to stay outside on her own for too long. We have been tapping her food bowl with spoon at every mealtime so she associates the noise with food and so far Bob had to use this trick only once when he accidentally shut the door on her thinking she's inside. Sure enough, when she heard the tapping noise she emerged from under the deck and ran back in. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups Self Raising Flour
1 cup Caster Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
100 grams Butter, softened
1/2 cup Milk
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Coffee (I used Espresso freshly brewed from the machine)
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
A pinch of salt

Pre heat the oven at 160  degrees C

Grease ring pan and set aside.

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at medium high speed until well combined and pale in colour. Transfer the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Rest the cake in the pan for about 5-10 minutes before transferring to the wire rack to cool down completely.

You can have the cake with chocolate ganache or with whipped cream and golden syrup or fruit sauce. The un-iced cake can freeze well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fargo: The Movie

If you are a fan of neo-noir comedy films or series like Breaking Bad you will like Fargo (both movie & TV Series). This film is nearly 20 years old and if you are watching or thinking of watching the series - it's best to also watch the film to get the background and links between the stories in the movie and the series. 

Although the title is Fargo - a lot of things did not happen there. It is written, edited, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It earned a couple Academy Awards, one of them Best Leading Actress for Frances McDormand (she's married to Joel Coen), It's basically a murder story that was supposed to be simple but not simple. One mistake (due to incompetency and sheer madness) leads to another and another. It's hilarious and a quite sad at the same time. And Steve Buscemi was so young! Despite the fact it's about murders, the cinematography is beautiful.

The TV series of the same name pays a lot of homage to the original film - but is set 10 years later and the first season was screened last year in the US with the Coen brothers as Executive Producers. Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton acted superbly, especially Thornton. I'm not a fan of his but in the series he's just wonderful. Bob Odenkirk is also good and so different from the role of slick criminal lawyer he played in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. It's still a murder story but a different one with more characters, more murderers (criminal minded and not) and of course, more dead bodies.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hot Smoked Salmon Quiche

For a 20 cm Quiche, you'll need:
1 cup Chopped Broccoli Florets
2 cups Chopped Spinach
1/2 Onion, Chopped (or Chopped Leek - only white part, about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon Butter
200 grams Hot Smoked Salmon, broken into chunks, skin removed
1/2 cup Grated Cheddar
1/2 cup Cream
3 large Eggs (or 4 if small)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoon of finely chopped spring onion and coriander
A few scratches of lime zest

1 and 1/4 sheets of frozen Short Pastry

Pre heat the oven to 210 degrees C

Grease a flan tin (I use 20 cm Spring Form) and line with thawed pastry, work gently to the side. Trim the excess and patch up the side to about 3-4 cm high. Prick the pastry with fork several times and put the whole pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Cover base with baking paper and weight down with pie weight of clean garden pebbles and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the weight and paper and brush the base with beaten egg and bake for 4 or 5 minutes further until lightly golden brown. Set aside and reduce the oven to 180 degrees C.

On medium high heat, fry onion with butter until soft. add chopped vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes to get red of excess water. Season with salt and pepper - do't be too heavy handed - salmon is star of the show and smoked salmon normally comes seasoned. Line the case with vegetables and hot smoked salmon pieces. In a jug, beat the eggs, add cream and cheddar. Pour the mixture into the case. Sprinkle the quiche with lime zest, chopped coriander and spring onion and a few rounds of freshly milled black pepper. Bake for 40 minutes.

When the quiche is cooked, rest to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to the plate. Serve warm or cold with Tomato Salsa.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reflection of My Life: Living with Kitten

The first day we brought Hobie home, life has not been the same for our dog, Bonnie. True, she has been living with cats for most of her life, but they were older cats that did not want anything to do with her. Bonnie tried to make friend with Pipi but she was not interested. Spike was even worse- he's almost a recluse.

But, Hobie - man, is a totally different story. She's a live wire kitten and she definitely is interested in Bonnie. She adores Bonnie and often follows her around. The dog was not quite sure how to handle this little meow to start with.

However, one morning while they were basking in the sun in the living room, Hobie went a step too far and played with Bonnie's tail with a bit of claws and the dog snapped and growled. Hobie seemed to get the message, she stopped but didn't run away. Since then, Bonnie has been much happier and still is - she can tell Hobie off from time to time and their relationship improves (or at least on Bonnie's side).
We also indulged Bonnie more than we should have with guilt treats here and there the first few weeks we've got Hobie and when we took her to the vet we were told that Bonnie was a little bit too chubby. So we are putting her on diet again. As the dog and the kitten get along quite well we do not have to worry. Bonnie has confidence in dealing with Hobie to the relief of the parents!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Salted Coconut Cream Caramel

This pudding sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 2 days. It is good on cake, oat porridge and baked bananas (I made the baked bananas with this sauce last Saturday as an easy pudding for friends, they polished their plates and didn't complain. Since they are foodies, I take the empty plate as a compliment, he,he..)

You'll need:
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Sugar
100 mil Coconut Cream (not Milk)
2 tablespoons Cream
A big pinch of salt

Place sugar, butter and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil without stirring. Swirl the saucepan from time to time and let the mixture change colour into golden brown (about 10-12 minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully add coconut  cream and cream. Keep stirring and return the saucepan to the heat - simmer gently for 5 more minutes until the sauce thickened. Remove from heat - serve warm with baked bananas (whole bananas baked in 180 degrees C oven for 15 minutes) and whipped cream and toast pine nuts.

This portion will make about a cup of sauce.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hobie's Diary: 17-18 Weeks

The first week that Hobie has been with us, she still ate all her food in one sitting. But after awhile she seems to realise that there are no other cats to nick her food so she starts grazing and each meal extends to a couple of hours. We initially fed her in the shower compartment and left the gap between the door just big enough for her to get in and out (and that Bonnie would not take the advantage of the situation). She used to put one paw on her bowl as if to protect it but not any more.

I tried to change her food from Whiskas to Excellence and did it gradually but the regime did not seem to agree with her - she had upset tummy, she vomited and was off food for a couple of days. I almost cried and was much worried as having no experience in raising kitten - and she was only a tiny meow! And there is so much information on the Internet about food and kittens and sickness. Bob said moving house and changing food at the same time might be a bit too much for her and we should keep her on Whiskas (that she used to be fed at her foster home) until she's a bit older to give her some time to settle in.

We bought her a small cat tree to start with and kept her in the bathroom downstairs with the door closed for a couple of days. On the third day we left the door opened from time to time but keep it closed at night for her own safety. By the end of the first week, the door would be closed only at night while she slept. We gave her Pipi's old bed with sheepskin lining and hot water bottle to keep her warm and the heated towel rail switched on at all time.

By the end of the second week Hobie started roaming freely in our house. We also bought her a bigger and taller cat tree as she has shown many characteristics of a tree cat. We put this in the living room and she has never gone back to the bathroom to sleep or take a nap since. Instead, she just comes upstairs on her own accord to sleep with us and Bonnie. She dines and lounges on her new cat tree, She still goes into the bathroom for the litter tray (thanks to Franklin Cat Rescue for toilet training her well). At this time, her litter tray has been upgraded to the normal size not a kitty size any more - she is getting longer and heavier. She also gets on well with Bonnie and has developed some sisterly bonding. She's a smart cat she figures it should be safe to be wherever Bonnie is so she often sticks close to Bonnie apart from when it's her meal time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Baked Chicken

The seasoning mix for this baked chicken dish is similar to Cajun seasoning mix with a little bit of Oriental twist - the idea that I steal from Alison Holst's.

For 2 you will need:
Cajun Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Salt (or Chicken Stock Powder)
2 tsps Paprika
¼ tsp Chilli powder (hot)
¼ tsp Dried Oregano
Pinch of sugar
Black pepper
1 tsp Curry Powder - you can cut down on Chilli Powder if you don't like it too spicy
2 tsps Flour

4 pieces of Chicken thighs, boneless with excess skin and fat trimmed
2 tbsps Butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C

Mix the dry ingredient into a shaker. Brush non-stick baking tray with a little bit of oil and line it with chicken skin-side down. Brush the chicken pieces with melted butter, shake the seasoning on to the chicken evenly. Turn the chicken and do the same on the skin side. Baked for 35-40 minutes, turning half way through.

Serve warm with roast vegetables - I shake the seasoning on my vegetables too. You can also make gravy from the chicken juice in the baking pan and add some more stock.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Samoa - Finale (For Now)

Now that the All Blacks have been in Samoa for the test match with Manu Samoa - it might be an inspiration for many people to visit this small island country. When we were there in May, Samoans were all excited about this match. Although they lost the game, I do not think they care much. They would be happy enough that the All Blacks were there. They might not win the battle but they'll win the hearts of many, many visitors.

One of the best charms of Samoa is its people. The first day that we explored Apia, we were neutral about the place. We could not help compare it to Denarau in Fiji but it is not a fair comparison. Denarua is manufactured and equipped with 4 star plus resorts and facilities. It is almost a gated tourist community, safe, plush, and convenient.

Although many things are not that neat and might be a bit broken here and there in Samoa: roads are not all paved, small garages run out of petrol or only the door on the passenger side on rental cars can be open, the whole place still cruises along with a smile. And Samoa has definitely grown on us. When we dined in Samoa, quite often there would be locals seated at several tables around us - no tension and most seemed to be happy. Locals are willing to help if you need help or get lost, sometimes with machete in their hands but it means they just stop working to come to see you to offer assistant.
Every village seems to have at least one church. Some are more opulent than others. These villages seem to give the villagers a sense of community and togetherness, a place where they belong and have activities together. Kids play volleyball and rugby in the same field most afternoons.They go to church together on Sundays in their best whites. They feast together in the communal hall. The guy at AquaSamoa  where we frequented and took the Hobie cat out a few times while staying at the Sheraton told us that Samoans are happy people and we couldn't agree more.