Category Archives: Cooking at home

All the things we’ve cooked for ourselves at home.

Grumpy = Constipated

Warning:  this post is about poo.

Today I have been the grumpiest bum you will ever find except maybe for Grumpy Cat who looks like this all the time.

grumpy_cat

I guess you know you’ve had a shitty day when you look for a picture of “grumpy” online and find out a cat has celebrity status while nobody knows you even exist.  But then again, how can you look at this face and continue being grumpy?  She is this way so you don’t have to be!

So why was I like this today?

GrumpyTo be honest, it’s because I’ve had a stomach ache for 4 days now.  I’m having trouble going to the loo when I had clean bowel movements 2-3 times a day usually.   I know, too much info but this is very important info to understand the health of a living being.  Just ask dogs, other animals who smell poo and scientists who study stool samples for all sorts of stuff.

So I’ve go shit clogged up my ass.   Quite literally, I’m shitty.

Why?  I have been juicing for 4 days and my body has decided to go on strike.  It’s not happy and now, neither am I.  Last juice fast was the bomb!  We enjoyed it, we felt great.  This time.. I would never recommend it to anyone.  In fairness, they are different juices this time around and this juice fast is shorter than the other one.  Lasting only 5 days.  So after tomorrow, we’ll be back to normal.

It was supposed to recalibrate but I really can’t see recalibration as holding all your shit inside.   I don’t know why the juice fast hasn’t worked like it did last time nor why my body refuses to have a normal bowel movement.

I don’t know if I’ll be better by tomorrow but if not, come Saturday, I am eating all things fibre and saying goodbye to all the shit in my body and my life and at this rate, chances are I am saying sayonara to most of the sugar too.

MrGrumpyI say, bring on the psyllium husk, chia seeds, flaxseeds and bentonite clay.  I’m over this shit.  Give me my superfood smoothie!

PS – you may be wondering why I am sharing such delightful info.  It’s actually supposed to be insightful.  For those of you who can’t see through the shit, here it is clearly – If you’re grumpy, have some fibre. Clear your shit out and I know you’ll see better days.  You’re welcome.

Now excuse me, I have to go to the toilet.

 

 

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Chinese New Year 2016

Happy CNY everyone!  That’d be the first thing to update you with this week.

It’s been a while since my last update because we spent some time in NYC and on coming back had a lot of things to catch up on.  It was a last minute and unexpected trip.  If you asked me a week before, there’s no way I would have been able to tell you that I was going to be in New York but hey, I’ll take it.  Life is good – about bloody time if you ask me!

As for Chinese New Year, we did our traditional thing again this year.  Tony and I are starting our own traditions and this is the 3rd year in a row that we have cooked the same meal for CNY.

It wasn’t exactly the same, we tweak it every year and this year we were very nonchalant about the whole thing to the point where we didn’t start shopping for it until CNY eve.

Yup.  Chinatown was full, Tony was really annoyed and flustered, you couldn’t get through the aisles of any of the Chinese supermarkets and the stress of being bumped every 100th of a second by a person or their basket, pretty much had me feeling like I was about to develop some kind of agoraphobia.  There were a few moments I just wanted to scream but I concentrated on my breathing and managed to keep my cool.

Tony was just grumpy all the way.  He hates it when things are last minute or unplanned, I mean REALLY hates it, add his huffing and puffing to the aggravation of dealing with crowds in tiny confined spaces and having a hard time finding what you want because they’ve sold out of it and I know I was doing pretty well coping with it all!

We were running around looking for all our ingredients and finding that certain shops were just plain sold out of them, one shop had something but didn’t have another.  That meant multiple queues, lost of pushing and shoving but finally we managed to get everything we needed and when we got home with everything, Tony was back to normal again and I could relax.  Thank God for that!

Amazingly, once we had everything, the cooking was smooth, simple and fast.  I was in charge of cooking the chicken – broth, rice, sauce, noodle soup.  Tones was in charge of the fish and 2 different vegetarian dishes.  His stuff was harder – more things to prep and cut whereas all I had to do was boil a chicken but it left me time to go back out to the shops to get some final top up ingredients for his dishes plus a few bags of chips for us to eat while we cooked.

He found better recipes for the vegetarian dishes than the ones we’d been using in the past and so we tried them this year.

Overall, everything actually tasted nice and the best part was that they were distinctly different to each other.

The only disappointment was the chicken.  The chicken we found this year was frozen because all the fresh whole chickens were sold out.  It didn’t come out so good because it was disintegrating after only 40 mins of simmering in water so by the time we went to plate it, it was looking pretty manky.  At least the taste was still there – it was yummy!

New this year was the use of mung bean noodles (who knew they even existed!) and fermented bean curd.  I think I’m also finally getting used to the taste of dried oysters.  I tell you, 8 years with Tony and he’s still introducing me to new Chinese foods.  I don’t think I’ll be able to try them all in my lifetime!

Here’s the meal…Joy and Tony's CNY Dinner 2016

And individually, plus the bowls of long soup and chicken rice which are not pictured:

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Why these dishes?  Because each dish is a symbol of something that you would like in your life for the upcoming year.  The ingredients’ names, shape or colour represent various things such as health, wealth and happiness.

Here’s an example.  “Prosperity” in Cantonese is  pronounced “fat choy”.  Black hair moss is called “fat choy”.  So if you want prosperity, you eat black hair moss.

It all seems very superstitious but I have to say, each year we’ve done this, life has actually started to become better.  It could be coincidence but if it works, I’m going to keep doing it.

Believe me, it’s worked well enough that if there were a dish to represent lots of fun and holidays, I would’ve made sure that was part of our meal too!

Anyway, whatever you wish for this year, may it come to you just as easily and effortlessly as it was to cook this meal and should you come across obstacles similar to the crowded supermarkets that don’t have everything you want in stock, may you have the calmness and perseverance to get it ALL.  And, even if things don’t look quite right (like the chicken), may you find that it’s actually still just as delicious.  And lastly, may you continue to explore life, enjoying the familiar and always be discovering something new.

Happy Year of the Monkey 🙂

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year everyone 🙂  How has your first week of the year been?

I feel like I’ve been on the back foot since it started.  I had a to do list that was overflowing and even more things to add to it that by the time we were supposed to go out to celebrate and bring in the New Year, I actually had fallen asleep by 6pm out of exhaustion in trying to get it all done beforehand!

I failed and I’ve spent my first week of the year catching up!!

So, this post is late… Happy New Year! YAY!!  Better late than never I suppose?

And to catch up on things I was supposed to do and didn’t get around to doing until now…. here is our Christmas meal which we ended up cooking over the duration of a week instead of on Christmas day.

Really grateful that we didn’t actually cook it all on the same day!!  It was much better enjoyed and eaten fresh and there was no way we could have eaten it all on the same day, Christmas or not!!

Here it all is…

Crayfish Thermidor on salad
Crayfish Thermidor on salad

 

Confit Duck Leg with Honey Glazed Carrots and Chestnut Brussel Sprouts
Confit Duck Leg with Honey Glazed Carrots and Chestnut Brussel Sprouts

 

Vegan Eggnog
Vegan Eggnog

 

Lobster Thermidor with vegetable stuffing on salad
Lobster Thermidor with vegetable stuffing on salad

 

We also of course had all the leftovers of the Vegducken and chocolate strawberry tart to  enjoy as well.

So the intention actually was to go pescatarian this year instead of going all out with goose and trimmings as we have done in many previous years.

We had all this squid, fish, prawns and scallops ready to be salt and peppered and enjoyed at Christmas but as you can see above, we didn’t end up having them at all!  And we opted to leave those for the new year and eat the duck leg that was in the freezer instead.

That was, after all, the last of all the meat we had in the freezer and this was so we actually welcomed the New Year with no more dead land or air animals left in the fridge or freezer – the first time in years that this has happened!!

You see, when we were at the Dharma workshop in early Dec, Dharma actually said that people’s fridges and freezers were graveyards and so were our stomachs if we chose to eat meat.  That kind of grossed both me and Tony out and we actually didn’t feel good eating meat after that which is why we changed the Christmas menu this year.  Ahhh so easily influenced!! hahaha

Seriously though, we felt better for it.  There was none of that food coma, haziness, dullness (except after the cake…. sugar high and sugar low) and our consciences felt good too 🙂  So it turned out to be a pretty good Christmas!  We enjoyed our meals, we were full and we felt good after it!

Not much to say about New Year’s… I fell asleep at 6pm remember?  I did wake up at 10pm so was up to see the fireworks that the neighbours set off in the common which was nice.  Saw it through the window, all nice and warm inside.  That was it really.

Now just working through that to-do list and making it more manageable.

Merry Christmas 2015

And it’s here.  Can’t believe it.  Christmas 2015 is here.  This is the first Christmas where it hasn’t actually felt like Christmas.

We’re used to it being really hot like you get to go to the beach or…. really cold like it’s so cold you’re happy that the oven is on all day cooking the goose or turkey and roast potatoes full of fat.

Not this year.  Christmas is here and it feels like autumn or spring.  It’s too warm to be cold, it’s too cold to be hot.  Going to the Christmas markets felt like visiting Germany at the Epcot Centre.  It kinda looks like Germany but not really and it doesn’t feel like it AT ALL.

Regardless of how it feels this year, the date is 25th December 2015 which is, officially Christmas 2015 so, MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all!!!

Merry Christmas Card 2015 TJ

This year we decided to change it up.  Rather than going for our regular goose, ham and 3 veg cooked in fat Christmas meal, which we usually eat on Christmas Eve, we opted instead for a Vegducken.

Check it.

Our First Attempt at Vegducken Christmas 2015
Our First Attempt at Vegducken Christmas 2015

Basically it’s vegetable stuffed inside a vegetable stuffed inside a vegetable 🙂  courtesy of the turducken (chicken inside a duck inside a turkey) idea, we got the recipe from epicurious.

YUP we went vegetarian!  It’s shallots stuffed in a courgette stuffed in an aubergine stuffed in a butternut squash, layered with vegetable stuffing in between.  Not quite vegan because of the use of parmesan cheese, egg and butter but very filling.  Tony and I only ate one slice each!!

It was quite the effort but well worth it.  It took us over an hour to prepare and 2 hours to cook in the oven.

We also made roast potatoes on the side and this took us an hour to prepare and 2 hours in the oven as well (over cooked at 2 hours oops).  This was supposed to be vegetarian except that all my research said that doing potatoes like this really needed bacon.  So I added a sprinkling of bacon lardons on there… and well, we realised on eating it that the bacon was totally unnecessary.  We definitely will make this again but will do it without the bacon next time.

Our Christmas Roasted Potatoes
Our Christmas Roasted Potatoes

Just these two dishes alone took enough time for us not to bother with everything else we were going to cook.  We decided to leave the rest to make for Christmas Day.

We did however make a vegan eggnog which seriously is better than regular eggnog.  It’s so creamy and fatty without the dairy or the egg!  Unfortunately, we guzzled it all down before taking a decent picture so I will post a picture of it up with the Christmas Day meal pictures instead.  Tony liked it so much that I think he may just make it regularly throughout the year, just ’cause.  If you ever notice us getting fat, it’s because we’re drinking too much vegan eggnog.

We indulged a little by making a strawberry chocolate tart.  Don’t worry, no baking was involved.  I tried to add extra cream on the top to reduce the sweetness (which is why the colour is the way it is rather than the chocolatey brown which is the layer underneath that cream on the top) but it was still way too sweet for my liking and of course, ended up a little runny because the chocolate to cream ratio was off.  Nevermind.  It still tasted good.  Chocolate and strawberries always taste good and strawberries and cream also taste good.

Christmas Dessert - Strawberry Chocolate Tart
Christmas Dessert – Strawberry Chocolate Tart

It seems like we’re onto some winners for a truly vegetarian and perhaps even vegan Christmas meal next year!

Whatever it is you’re eating and drinking, we hope you are enjoying your Christmas and that you’re getting to spend some time with your loved ones ❤

Happy CNY 2015

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year 2015 – Year of the Goat/Sheep!

Chinese-new-Year-of-the-Goat-in-2015

 

We’ve been making a bit more effort to remind ourselves of our roots by celebrating this festive occasion by cooking a CNY meal.  Just like mince pies, a roast bird and Christmas pudding are all eaten for Christmas dinner, there are specific meals that are eaten for Chinese New Year dinner too.

Since both Tony and I have Chinese blood (I say it like that because although Tony is full Chinese, I am not), we thought it would be good to start our own family tradition where we celebrate our heritage as well as honour the traditions of the countries we grew up and live in.

I didn’t grow up with traditional Chinese meals.  I don’t even think we celebrated Chinese New Year when I was growing up.  If we did, I can’t actually remember how we celebrated.  My dad didn’t do much to enforce his language or culture on us.  So although I look like I’m Chinese, I didn’t actually grow up like one at all.  And of course Tony tends not to remember specifics of things like what he ate growing up for CNY, so to work out what we were supposed to cook and eat as a celebratory meal, I had to do some research on the net!

Here’s what I found food-wise:  Everything eaten on CNY is in some shape or form (whether by pronunciation of the dish / ingredient or by look) represents wealth (money, gold, abundance, prosperity), strong family ties, happy marriage, long life and luck (fortune).  Now you know what Chinese people value in life!

So we decided to cook the following for CNY dinner:

Noodles for long life, usually for birthdays but we thought why not have something for long life on New Years too?

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Underneath these mushrooms is actually “black hair moss” which in Chinese sounds like “fat choy” meaning prosperity and also part of the greeting you say to people on CNY, “Kung Hei Fat Choy”.

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This is crispy pork belly, not a CNY dish but we cooked it because we had friends over and thought that if they didn’t like other things, at least they’d have something to eat!

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Whole chicken.  Although disturbing to some, I actually found preparing this chicken (there were still a few feathers on it I had to pluck and nibs I had to remove from the skin) preferable to getting them from the supermarket without head or feet.  It made me recognise the entire bird, it had a face and as a result gave me a greater appreciation for the life that was given for us to have this meal.  This is actually an old chicken – one that has had its life and as such, like any old animal, it’s skinnier (less fat and meat than any other chicken we’ve ever had) and the meat is tougher. You buy them whole from Chinatown.  Serving a whole chicken represents togetherness/wholeness/completeness (in marriage, family, relationships).

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The other two dishes were Whole Fish (the Chinese word for fish is “yu” which sounds like the word for surplus (giving the meaning that you will always have more than enough).  Again the fish is served whole just like the chicken to symbolise completeness.

Lastly, we have the vegetarian dish Jai which is traditionally served on CNY.  It has in it bean curd which symbolises happiness.

 

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It’s a lot of work, just like Christmas dinner is a lot of work but I like this meal because each dish actually means something more than just food.  It celebrates and keeps us mindful of all areas of life that are important.

We’ve learned that the word “wealthy” comes from the idea of “well being”.  To be wealthy is to have well being – health, happiness, contentment, completeness and fulfillment in all areas of your life.  Abundance allows you to give and share with others freely because there’s always more than enough for everyone.

So with that, happy CNY 2015 to you all.  Wishing you wealth and abundance in all areas of your lives 🙂

Baked Camembert

And now for something not so dramatic.  (Unless you’ve got it in your head that we are completely vegan and strict about it then “OMG we ate cheese” could be the drama of all dramas!  Bless us, oh vegan virgins, for we have sinned.)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog on food and that’s because we  have been doing the whole juicing and vegan challenge thing (and all the juices look the same… boring!) but at least a month has passed since then so we’ve started to sneak in some not so vegan, not quite juice, meals!  Oh wouldn’t our foodie friends and family  be so proud!

We do like cheese and after one of our 3.5 hours of yoga the other week, Tony started chanting “I need my carbs, I need my carbs, I need more calories, I need my carbs….”   So to satiate his cravings, we bought and ate bread and cheese.

We didn’t buy the normal sized ones though, we bought mini sized versions of the regulars and shared them between us.

Our regulars are:  Camembert, Brie, Cheddar and Stilton.

This time, we bought Camembert (made in France), Brie (made in France) and Feta (made in Greece) 🙂

I didn’t put the country names to specify the origin of the type of cheese.  The thing with Europe is that you can actually choose British Brie (Brie made in the UK) vs French Brie (Brie made in France).  So, we chose cheeses that were actually made in the countries who invented those cheeses for authenticity 🙂

We had no idea what not eating cheese for a long time would do.  We thought we wouldn’t like them much but totally the opposite happened.  We consumed all 3 cheeses in one day and an entire loaf of sourdough bread plus 2 petite baguettes too.

Strangely, our bodies were able to cope with and digest all the bread and cheese much more easily than before and it didn’t affect our practice the next day either!

I didn’t take a picture of the feta which we ate with olives and cucumbers because we were so hungry that we ate it all before I remembered to.

The Brie we just ate with slices of sourdough loaf.

The Camembert however was baked and it was delicious!

Baked Camembert

Here’s how you make one yourself:

  • Cut the Camembert in half and put the rind sides back into their original wooden container (lid and base) or onto an oven proof serving dish.
  • Turn the oven on to about 200’C
  • Put the Camembert onto the middle rack of the oven.  You can leave it just like that or you can sprinkle some pine nuts, thyme, cracked pepper, a little bit of salt or rosemary on top
  • Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and pine nuts are toasted.  The camembert will hold its shape and the melted cheese will stay put inside the rind so just check the colour of the pine nuts (slightly golden) and notice the consistency of the cheese change to runny/melted and then pull it out of the oven.
  • Stir in some cranberry jelly (or honey or dried fruit if you want some sweetness) being careful not to spill the cheese over the rind.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and serve with some crusty bread for dunking.

On one of my visits to Paris, I ordered a Camembert (my very first) not realising they were going to give me the ENTIRE THING for entree.  Considering it was entree I just assumed that it would be a small piece with bread….   I was so full I could barely eat my main.  My friend told me she was surprised I ordered it because usually it’s something you order to share between 4 people….  She thought I was hungry, not realising I was simply ignorant about French food.

It’s like the time I visited my first Japanese restaurant and almost ate an entire spoonful of wasabi but that’s another story!

We hope you enjoy your Camembert 🙂

2014 The First Quarter

“Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”  ~Anthony Robbins

It’s coming to April, a quarter of the year 2014 has passed.

From the beginning of the year up to now, I am flabbergasted with what we’ve done because in all honesty, usually I only aim to achieve one thing a month and then don’t get it done!

This year I decided to focus primarily on health.  This is my number one value for without your health, you cannot achieve anything else.   What we’ve achieved just by focussing on improving our mobility, brain power and energy levels has been more than I could have expected:

Yoga

  • completed 1 x 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge eachBYCJTshirts(including 2 x double classes (Joy) and…)
  • completed 1 x triple (3 classes in one day) Joy
  • completed 3 x  Advanced Classes each
  • Overall improvement in flexibility and strength plus a bonus weight loss on my part, of 3 kg and zero colds and flu and healthy immune systems for both of us
  • We both have done our very first unassisted headstands (against a wall) and unassisted hand stands (also against a wall).  Most people do handstands as children but us, nope, we had to wait until today to do our very first hand stands!

Nutrition / Diet

  • 1 x 7 day juice fast completed each
  • 1 x 40 Day Raw and Vegan Challenge still on the go
  • Discovery and use of superfoods (maca, cacao, spirulina, wheatgrass etc) implemented into daily consumption.
  • Lost a tooth due to gum problems but new toothbrush and cleaning regime (with 8 different brushes) for healthier gums implemented and being maintained (Joy).
    Dental Hygiene Routine incl 8 different brushes, floss, mouth wash and gel.  Oh what fun!
    Dental Hygiene Routine incl 8 different brushes, floss, mouth wash and gel. Oh what fun!

    You can see other posts about my gum problems but pleased to say that after my second visit to the gum specialist, she reported that my gums were improving VERY well.  Phew!

Learning

  • Sprouting.  Tony and I wanted to start growing our own fruit and vegetables and learn how to be more self sustaining.  We don’t have a balcony or a yard, only the mantelpiece above the fireplace but  we were not going to let this be an excuse for NOT starting our vegetable garden.  So we bought a sprouter and seeds and have started growing our own sprouts!  We’re learning about how long things take to grow and when to harvest for eating and what different sprouting plants look and taste like!
Growing our first sprouts
Growing our first sprouts
Sprouts Day 1
Sprouts Day 2
Sprouts Day 4-5 ready to eat!

 

  • Re-growing food scraps.  I read that you could regrow your food scraps.   So, we’re doing that and our mantelpiece is now filled with celery, spring onions, basil, parsley, bok choy and even a Chinese cabbage all growing from the scraps we were going to throw away!!  Our goal of having our own vegetable garden is coming true on our mantelpiece in our flat!! 🙂
Chinese Cabbage scraps planted in a pot on the mantlepiece
Chinese Cabbage scraps planted in a pot
  • Making our own milk, butter and cheese without a cow.  We have experimented making hemp milk, soy milk, hazelnut milk and almond milk and now we are just perfecting ratios of seed/bean/nut to water.  We use these milks for our morning smoothies 🙂  Tony has also made peanut butter and cashew butter (YUM) for the first time in Feb,
    Homemade Cashew Butter
    Homemade Cashew Butter

    we just need a better food processor and to work out what to eat the butter with (rather than eating it by the spoonful)!  In March, he made his first nut cheese using cashews!  He also has made coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut butter 🙂  We so love our juicer!