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Archive for October, 2010

Scratching my head

So here’s the thing. I have a dinner party to host next week, and I have been scratching my head for the past two weeks trying to come up with a menu that would suit EVERYONE. I will be having about 15 guests over, and the thing that makes it so darn difficult is the fact that everyone here is so “diverse”. Case in point, I have some guests who:

One guest does not eat meat

One guest does not eat pork

One guest is allergic to yeast

Many guests aren’t quite open to Asian food

I will be inviting our neighbour (not the nasty one, but the nice couple with the cute little girl) who has had us over for dinner ages ago. They not-so-subtly hinted that they do not take any spice. At all.

On top of that, we don’t have the most extensive set of dinnerware, enough for 15 people, so it’s gonna be plastic plates all the way. Which also means I cannot make nice fancy desserts in individual glasses.

As of now, here’s the tentative menu:

1. Fried rice

2. Deviled eggs

3. Indian styled tuna cutlets

4. Chicken curry (this was specifically requested by a Japanese family)

5. Twice baked potatoes with anchovy, Parmesan and rosemary

6. Tomato + basil + mozzarella skewers

7. Walnut + rocket (arugula) + gorgonzola cheese crostini

8. Pie tee (tentative)

9. Apple tart – dessert.

I want to have some Asian elements in them, hence the fried rice, tuna cutlets, chicken curry (well, this one was requested of me) and pie tee (Malaysian Nyonya). At the same time, for those who don’t want/like Asian, there’s the potatoes, tomato+basil skewers and crostini.

As for the pie tee, I’ve read that it’s a lot of work, so I’m gonna do a trial run before the dinner on the 6th, and if it goes well, then pie tee will be on the menu, else I may omit it altogether.

What do you think of the menu? Too much? Too little? Too Asian? Boring? I absolutely adore cooking, but it’s always trying to figure out WHAT to cook thats the biggest headache. I would love to hear your input on my menu, do drop me a comment and let me know what you think! Thanks folks.

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Blessed

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel really blessed? I had one of those days yesterday. I had a marvellous cappuccino with some new friends, and as we sat in the sun, with the chilly air on our faces, sipping the most amazing cappuccino that somehow, only Italy manages to produce, I thanked God.

How many times have we complained and wished for the unending material goods that always appeal to that greedy side of ours? If I have an apartment, I wished I had a big house with a garden instead. I may wear a pair of jeans in size S, but when I see tall, gorgeous women sashaying in their stilettos, I wished I were size XS and perhaps 15cm taller. I have a head full of thick black hair, but when I see women with cascading, silky hair, I wished I had less of a bush on my head and more of a styled, fresh-from-the-salon mane. I may not be working, and when I see women in their smart power suits, looking all corporate, I wished I had a (glamorous) job.

And then I turn on the news and see children starving. I watch Slumdog Millionaire and I thank God I have a roof over my head, nevermind a house with a garden. I see medical programs where people need organ transplants, where little people afflicted with dwarfism have a 25% chance of having an unviable pregnancy, and I feel ashamed for wanting to be a size XS, for wanting to be taller. I go on to Facebook to see many of my friends lamenting over work stress, bosses from hell, and I feel guilty for not appreciating what I have; a husband who provides and enables us to live on one income.

I must say I still wish for a head full of cascading, glossy, manageable hair 😛

Living here for the past 2 years has made me appreciate everything on a greater scale. Funnily enough, it was in Malaysia when I had the spending power to purchase shoes, clothes, makeup. It was in Malaysia that I lived more extravagantly, dining out all the time, going to the movies, painting the town red with close friends.

I live much more simply now. We don’t eat out so often, save for the occasional pizza and Mc’Donalds. I don’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothes. And now, painting the town red, to ME, means an extra glass of wine. At home 😛

But I’m happy. Happier than I have ever been. 🙂

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I have never intended for this humble little blog of mine to be a food blog, but it seems to be veering towards being a food blog, simply because I love tinkering about in my kitchen. I do have a social life too, believe me 😉

A few weeks back, the hubs and I joined a few other friends for a day trip to nearby Parma. It’s not exactly the place one goes to for sightseeing, but the original plan had been to visit a ham factory and the ham museum followed by a barbeque. We only managed to go to the ham museum which was quite a letdown really. They had some ancient tools on display, a video presentation and not much else. I was actually looking forward to sampling some ham, which I was told could be done. But they didn’t have any of that when we were there. There wasn’t even a rudimentary step-by-step process to show how ham is made. One would think that something as basic as that would be available at a ham museum. It was quite blah so I didn’t bother taking pictures.

We drove to a ham factory next but woe is me, the queue was incredibly long, and there were loads of tourists buses too, and we were in the queue for about 10 minutes before we left, because the queue was moving so slowly we figured it would take at least an hour (if not more) for us to get in. I would definitely want to visit it if another opportunity arises. One cannot be living in Emilia Romagna without knowing/seeing how Parma ham, Parmigiano (Parmesan) cheese and balsamic vinegar is made 😉

We drove quite a bit before arriving at this secluded but  beautiful spot for our barbeque.

The water was incredibly clear and though it looked really calm, as they say, still waters run deep, and quite deep it was indeed. The hubs and the friends tried to swim in it, but were quite overwhelmed by the current.

Yours truly is not a fan of cold water, and thus I sat at the edge of river with only my feet in the water 😉 I also must confess that I can’t swim to save my life. How embarassing 😛

L setting the table, P and A in an embrace, PJ tending to the barbeque and the hubs lazing as usual taking in the sun.

 

The hubs (in yellow) ever ready to tuck in.  His hands say it all.

After a hearty meal, we lounged for a bit, the rest went for a swim while I sat in the beach chair and napped under the sun with the cool breeze on my face. Pure bliss I tell you. Pure bliss.

We made our way to Bardi Castle, about 15 minutes from our Secret Spot By The River. After the disappointing ham musuem, the castle was much better.

Beautiful view from the top of the castle. From the top of the castle, I could see the village and I saw a farmer walking a huge dog. I was quite amazed by it’s sheer size. After I squinted a little, turns out he was walking a black horse >___<

This was quite ingenious I thought. This was the primitive version of a refrigerator. The room was called the Ice Room. It was where the folks living in the castle would store their foodstuff. There was something about the positioning of the castle and the room which led to low pressure, and snow that would fall into this room would remain as ice for the rest of the year, preserving the foodstuff throughout the year. If I remember correctly that is. 😛

The pictures below were taken in the torture rooms.

 

 

With contraptions like those, I would be the most loyal, law abiding citizen ever 😛

After the castle, we had coffee/hot chocolate/beer before leaving for home. I may be quite an introvert, but sometimes, these trips are best done with friends. I wonder where we should go next. I’ve been bugging the hubs to go see how balsamic vinegar is made. I should start digging up more info but instead, I’ve been quite obssesed googling for cooking/baking classes for when I go back to Malaysia for my long awaited holiday 😛

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Say hello to my new best friend Lola. She’s the reason I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for quite a bit now. Isn’t she absolutely beautiful?

Lola is a 90th Anniversary Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer. The first time I saw this particular Candy Apple Red KitchenAid was in John Lewis, Cardiff. I fell in love with it instantly. I had always wanted an Imperial Red mixer, but this one in Candy Apple Red just took my breath away. It has this sheen to it that makes it different from the Imperial Red.

I found a good deal online, and after literally years of contemplating, I bought it. Or rather, the hubs bought it for me 😀 I have since effortlessly made some cakes with it, and oooohhh my, the KitchenAid really makes it effortless, as it works like a dream. I made a looooovely marble bundt cake with it, and although the hubs was away travelling, and I was alone at home, I baked, and since the recipe yields a lot (one bundt tin and one loaf tin), I had to eat it all by myself! And I didn’t get tired of it! Of course I kept it in the fridge and ate a slice 2-3 slices a day. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve been working out for at least 40 minutes 3-4 times a week to burn off all that extra calories I’ve been ingesting. I haven’t broken the scales yet.

Go on and admire my KitchenAid won’t you? 😉

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