13. THE POSITIVITY PROJECT – TAKE THE 21-DAY GRATITUDE CHALLENGE (DAY 5)

Record one thing you’re grateful for (flatmates with the same shoe size, a FaceTime chat with your mum, that free coffee in Pret – it’s all relative) each day for three weeks. Research says it can improve your mood, sleep and energy.

DAY 5 – The Existence of Starbucks

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I am grateful for the existence of Starbucks, because it is what got me drinking coffee in the first place, my first taste, in my mid-teens. It all began with the Iced Coffee Latte. Without Starbucks coffee, I wouldn’t know how I would cope in the mornings. I would not be myself. It has become an addiction streaming in my blood. No other coffee would be like my Starbucks, the way I must have it 🙂

Starbucks, I am grateful for your existence.

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Puiyin’s Thai Green Curry

According to friends, I tend to make the most delicious Thai green curry. Whether it’s true or not, I have no idea. But they have been asking for the recipe. There are a few ways of making the Thai green curry. With the traditional Thai version, bamboo shoot is put in the curry, which gives it a really strong exotic ‘kick’. The ‘kick’ itself is like a marmite thing. Either you like it or you don’t. As for me, I prefer not to have it as the taste and the smell is quite strong. And with other versions, the sauce is thicker, whereas some have a slightly ‘soupier’ texture. It really depends on how you want the curry and what you want in it, so as long as it tastes like Thai green curry. In this post, I will share with you my version of the curry, also known as PY LAB’s Thai Green Curry, or Puiyin’s green curry amongst my friends.

Get ready onion(s), lemongrass, potatoes and chillies. It’s up to you how much of the ingredients mentioned you want to use. Traditionally, potatoes are not used in the green curry. But because I am a potato freak (I love my potatoes), I always use them in the curry. I have more potatoes in the curry than anything else. I’m not sure if lemongrass is used in the traditional green curry, but I love the ‘kick’ it gives, so I tend to put a lot in. Sometimes I like to use Thai basil as well. 15078720_10154038899998202_206636651525844298_n

As far as I know, chicken is the main meat used in the Thai green curry. In Thai restaurants, there are other options such as beef, pork, prawns and vegetables. For me, I always use chicken or king prawns.15134786_10154038905978202_6677827460711957242_n

Chop the ingredients to your size choice and wash them. It’s best not to chop the potatoes too small as they might break up easily during the boiling process later on. And as for the onions, I tend to chop them in big chunks as I don’t want to ‘cry’.  15094413_10154038906638202_6018731592218905806_n

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Make sure you have the coconut powder and Thai green curry paste. It’s up to you which brand you use, but bear in mind sometimes it does make a difference to which brand you use. One time I used African coconut bar and the entire curry turned out funny. It tasted nothing like Thai green curry. I always use the Maggi coconut powder as I like the brand itself. You can also use the coconut milk. But if so, it’s best to use the Thai brands. 15073573_10154038902798202_5967606796669707357_n

It’s best to use a pot to cook the curry.15085494_10154039264518202_1007339773389597103_n

Heat the pot and then add in the oil after it’s hot enough. 15085632_10154038912908202_2389539767607022929_n

Then add in the onions. You can choose to use red or white onions. 15134648_10154038914163202_4974267654206179857_n

After the onions are half cooked, add in the chicken.15192599_10154038915378202_1539537297310981917_n

Cook until the chicken looks cooked enough. 15095455_10154038916783202_3468618695726872139_n

Then add in some hot water. Just add about no more than 3-4 inch of water level. This is because the more water there is, it’ll be harder to get the curry sauce to become creamy, which is the way I like it. But it’s up to you how much water you want to add in. 15078676_10154038918228202_7998432021892127464_n

It’s now time to add in the coconut powder. There are two ways of doing it. You can pour some powder in a bowl and add in hot water and then stir it before pouring it into the pot. This way, you can make the coconut powder (into coconut milk) and determine the texture, whether you want it creamy, soupy etc. But it does take time as you would need to repeat the step a few times. Alternatively, my way is to pour in the coconut powder directly into the pot and I will determine the texture as I go along by adding water if needed. Remember to keep stirring if you are choosing to follow my method.  15135756_10154038919388202_2164422509123153845_n

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Now it’s time to add in the chilli paste. It is not cheating to use the ready-made chilli paste. Most Thai restaurants use the ready-made paste as it would take A LOT of time, work and ingredients to make the paste from scratch. Most of the ingredients must be traditionally Thai-based if you were to make the paste from scratch, and as far as I know, it includes fresh basil, cilantro, and coriander, as well as Thai green chillies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime zest, fish sauce, shrimp paste, cumin and coconut milk. Also, you would need to get the taste and texture of the paste right. So it is not cheating to use the ready-made paste as it saves time. It’s perfectly normal. 15056441_10154038924463202_4236231259649998297_n

How much of the paste you use is up to you. Obviously the more you put in, the more spicier the curry is going to be. The lighter the ‘green’, the milder it is. And the stronger the ‘green’ the spicier it is. Don’t forget to keep stirring as you put in the paste and keep tasting the sauce with a spoon as you go along. 15094870_10154038923163202_8541769207283440889_n

For the last part, add in the lemongrass, potatoes and chillies.15037323_10154038929238202_7759132110882359899_n

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Cover the pot with its lid and leave it to boil in medium-low heat for about thirty minutes or so. 13532833_10154038930508202_62908490821058191_n

While you are waiting for the curry to boil, you might want to cook some Jasmine rice to eat with the curry. It is usually best eaten with Thai Jasmine rice, which is my choice. But it’s down to you how you would like it eaten. 15109432_10154038932228202_8465197200346015432_n

Your curry is now ready.15094473_10154038933403202_8626746228534859828_n

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Aroi mak mak!!! (Very delicious in Thai)

Happy Chinese New Year – The story of Nian

Happy Chinese New Year 2015 to all. cny12cny157As many know, Chinese New Year is a time where majority of those of Chinese descendants, come together with their family and friends to celebrate. It is a festive period involving lots of good company, food, money giving, traditional entertainments, and lots of laughter.cny158And of course, we cannot forget about the Chinese rice balls, which is eaten during festive seasons like Chinese New Year, New Year, and for some, during the Christmas season as well. cny153cny154cny152cny155cny156cyn15110996581_10152697485545662_7816092254273855384_nThe colour red have always been a symbolic colour for Chinese New Year. According to an old Chinese myth that I know, there was once a beast with the body of a bull and the head of a lion called, Nian. Every beginning of the year, Nian would come out from the mountains where it was living and terrorize a village. It would eat their crops, and if there were any villagers in the way, it would eat them too. One day, a strange man came to visit the village and told the villagers that the beast can be defeated by loud noises, bright firelights, and the colour red. So the villagers would hang and display bright red lanterns and fire crackers everywhere. In the end, Nian was terrified that it returned to the mountains and was never seen or heard of again. That is why Chinese New Year is filled with loud noises and firecrackers. And in memory of Nian, there is the symbolic and well known lion dance.

There are several versions of the Nian myth, but they are all similar in a way with how it ends.   cny150cny15

Photo credits to Suzanne Yeang and Irene Soo. Thank you, Ladies, for the wonderful photos, as usual. And special thanks to Irene for always taking mouth-watering photos of the rice balls. I know nobody who can make rice balls as perfect as she can. Looking forward for more to come.

Gong Hie Fatt Choi to everybody.

Other posts on past Chinese New Year and rice balls:

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/chinese-new-year-2014/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

 

 

A half tradition, half Filipino style Christmas turkey 2014

Merry Christmas to the year 2014 everybody.

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This year (2014) has been a turbulence year for me and my family. But in the end, we got to where we wanted to be. So joy to the world 🙂 xmas

Also, this year marks the very first time me and my family made turkey dinner all on our own. In the past, we would have turkey made by my in-laws, a whole roast chicken, or in my case, lamb chops.

When my parents were around, we would always have lamb chops instead of turkey during Christmas. I don’t know why, exactly. We were the kind of family who loves lamb chops. But we don’t often have it, because we don’t want to get tired of eating it. During ‘normal’ days, my mom would cook the usual minted grilled lamb chops. But every Christmas, she would cook a giant lamb leg. For only the three of us, it was a lot to eat, and we enjoyed it. It was our family tradition. Then when my mom got sick and had to stay one Christmas in hospital, my dad would keep the tradition going. So he would cook the lamb chops instead. But he wasn’t a very good cook. In fact, he wasn’t a cook at all. However, it was his hard work and attempts that was counted for. Although he did burn the lamb a little, I still enjoyed it. Sadly, the tradition stopped when my parents passed away. That was a long time ago.

Today, my family have our own tradition. Since marrying my Filipino husband, we’ve always had roast chicken or turkey cooked by my in-laws during Christmas. But this year, we moved into our new home, therefore, we have our very own turkey tradition. Our turkey is made half tradition (like the usual tradition) and half Filipino style. What I mean by Filipino style, I mean the way Filipinos grill/cook a whole chicken. And my husband, who is a qualified chef by the way, so don’t worry, is using that technique to cook the turkey. This might be confusing to some, but any Filipinos reading this would know what I mean. And the key to a successful Filipino chicken, or turkey in our case, is lemongrass.

In the end, I loved the tradition-Filipino turkey. But my husband was disappointed, because we didn’t have lemongrass. We spent most of our time shopping for pressies that we left the turkey shopping till last. Big mistake. My husband did try his best, but I could see the disappointment. However, I told him that it is only our first tradition-Filipino turkey. There will be plenty more Christmases to come. So next year, we will be prepared. Sorry I didn’t capture a photo. I will do so next year. And hopefully, my chef will succeed in his new-found turkey recipe. xmas3xmasteddy

Merry Christmas and looking forward to a busy new year.

A Penang Story – Part 1

So it all began with this photo I saw posted by a friend on Facebook.

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To most of you, this might seem like an ordinary photo. But for me, it’s so much more. It reminds me of my other home, Penang, in Malaysia. The photo is recent, and the location of where it was taken was at a famous shopping mall nearby where I used to live when I was residing in Penang. It was where I used to go almost everyday to have my meals, meet up with friends, and do my shopping. It’s been 11 years since I was last there. When I saw this photo, I immediately became homesick. It sure hit me hard.

There are 13 states and 3 federal territories in Malaysia. But out of them, Penang is the most different state. The people, the community, the lifestyle, the environment, is somehow different from the other states/territories. If you live in one state and then move to Penang, you will automatically feel the difference. A good difference. After being magnetized by the photo, I decided that I wanted to share with you my tour of Penang via my personal thoughts, views, knowledge, and experience, with also the help of some of my Penang friends with the visuals. Instead of presenting everything in one post, I am going to divide them into categories. My tour will include some of my favourite local food where you can’t find ANYWHERE else in the world, famous streets, art, stories and gossips (both local and personal), a haunted hill and war museum, and a history of an Englishman.

Enough said. Let the tour begin.

Malaysia is a multicultural country. There is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, and Eurasian. Therefore, the food in Malaysia is also multicultural. Some have a combination of Malay and Chinese, while others may have a combination of Chinese and Portuguese. But in the end, no matter how many cultures there are, in food and people, it all comes together as one, Malaysia.

msia24The Penang flag.

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I lived in one of those tall condominiums by the seafront back when I was residing in Penang from the beginning of 2003 till end of that year.

msia6msia20komtar Penang’s iconic tall building.

What I miss the most is the food. Sure, there are Malaysian restaurants around the world. But it is never the same as home. I’ve tried many Malaysian dishes in London (where I am living), and the food never tastes the same. The food isn’t bad either, but it just doesn’t taste like home. It’s not as authentic, even though they say it is. In some restaurants, they even have the names of the food wrong. I don’t know how I’ve survived 11 years of no home food. I’ve even tried cooking some of the dishes, but they just don’t taste the same. I guess I just have to wait for some of my Malaysian friends to come and visit so that they can teach me the authentic way. Below are some of the food that are so authentic that it’s hard to find anywhere else in the world except for home.

msia12Char Kuey Teow, a noodle dish cooked in light and dark soy sauce, with egg and seafood.

msia11Noodle dish with meat or seafood dumplings. Most Malaysians like to have their dishes with iced/hot tea or coffee with milk.

msia22msia8Noodle dish in soup. This is an extremely rare dish to find in any western countries. The closest I’ll ever get to tasting the real deal is a pot noodle version from London Chinatown 😦msia14A typical noodle cafe. msia15A noodle stand.

msia7Not just is this dish rare to find in western countries, but so is the fish. I call this fish the white fish.

msia13When I saw this photo while looking through a friend’s Facebook album, I almost cried. This is my all time favourite Malaysian dessert. It is made out of rice flour and thick coconut milk. It is layered, and I have a way of eating it. I don’t like eating it as it is, or taking a bite off it. There has only been ONE way I would eat it, and that is by layers. I would gently peel off each layer and eat it. I don’t know why. It’s the only way I will eat it. There’s no other way. Every time I see this dessert, I would immediately think of my childhood. msia17Another all time favourite. Biscuit with dried coloured icing on top.

msia16Of course, how can I forget about the rice balls.

My other posts on rice balls:

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/tag/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/chinese-rice-balls/

msia1A typical Malaysian breakfast. It is a very simple dish. Bread with butter and sugar spread on top. Bread can be toasted or not, up to you. I prefer it toasted.

msia3Roti Canai, flat bread with spicy sauce.

msia21Traditional prawn curry in deliciously thick sauce. My goodness.

msia23A typical stall selling traditional desserts.

msia10Durians, also known as the smelly fruit to some. Like marmite, either you like it or you don’t. msia5Inside the durian. It does leave a strong odor on your hands afterwards. They are very expensive here in London Chinatown. Crazy expensive.

msia9Chinese buns. It is usually used for celebrations or prayers.

That’s it for the first part. To be continued.

A huge thank you to Irene Soo and Suzanne Yeang for the wonderful photos.

Chinese New Year 2014

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It is Chinese New Year 2014, the year of the horse. Many Chinese, including those of other nationalities from around the world, will be celebrating the lively, colourful, and joyous festival. It is also the time to be with family and friends. Where I am, in London-town, every year, the festival is celebrated in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, London’s famous landmarks. Roads between Chinatown and Trafalgar Square will be closed for Chinese entertainment to take place, such as parades, acrobatics, traditional dance, singing, martial arts, Chinese celebrities appearances, and not to forget the dragon/lion dance.

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Chinese New Year delicacies. cyn5  cyn2 cyn3

My favourite part of Chinese New Year is eating the Chinese rice balls. Here’s the link as a reminder for those who have forgotten about Chinese rice balls https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/ 

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

My best friend’s mother in Malaysia recently entered a rice ball competition where she had to be creative with using rice balls in the form of art.1491268_428654217262698_1698682218_o

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I would like to thank Irene Soo and Chunkha Phen for the photos.

Happy Chinese New Year to my dearest fellow bloggers 🙂