I love you with…

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.

Pablo Neruda

5 Reasons Why I Love Jillian Michaels

1. She used to be severely overweight as a teenager and managed to lose the weight through karate. I’m not kidding. Google confirmed it. I always loved her for being the hard-ass on The Biggest Loser, but this made me respect her even more because she’s been there. She lost all that weight and went on to make a stellar career for herself in fitness. Plus, she really is just being honest on TBL. Hard truths make for good inspiration, baby, hard truths.
(Source: HuffPost)

2. She has the same insecure, nail-biting moments of doom on the weighing scale that we all have (though her weight is actually a pleasing number to her, unlike most of us who are borderline-unhealthy).
Watch here when she took her weight on the Dr Oz Show at about 6:41.

3. She’s a mum! She has two adorable toddlers, one adopted and one with her partner. It’s great for such a wonderfully strong and successful woman also has a great domestic life of her choosing. +1 for feminism!

4. She seems like a really, genuinely nice person who wants to help people lose weight. I know, I know, it’s just a persona, right? But given her personal experiences, I don’t think so. I tend to believe it when she tells me “You can hold it for just a little while more!” in her workout videos – and I do. Motivation, people. She’s the queen (of being freaking scary).

5. I love her workout videos, especially Yoga Meltdown. As Jillian repeats constantly throughout the two levels of videos, it’s not about perfecting yoga poses; it’s so much more. It’s hybrid yoga. It’s new, it’s fresh. It’s designed to sculpt your body, burn fat, and tone your muscles! I’ve started doing it this week, alternating between the levels one and two videos (level two is for when I feel especially lethargic), and it’s been great. The DVD cover claims to help lose “up to 5 pounds a week” (about 2.25kg cos’ I can’t think in American) so hopefully I start showing some results *.*

Yoga Meltdown DVD Case

Ban Mian (Handmade noodles in soup)

Argh! Being a uni student means less time in the kitchen! Hence, despite the title sounding so lovely and achievement unlocked-ish, I had no time to actually make the noodles. Just the broth. Which, if you think about it, is important.

Broth is lovely. Broth is as comforting to me as chocolate. Especially since I’m currently living in Melbourne, which is usually cold (for me), broth makes my world go round on the coldest nights. In my parents’ house back in Singapore, we have chicken/pork broth (honestly, no one calls it broth) soup three to five times a week. It’s lovely. I love it. My absolute favourite is pork kiam chai soup (salted vegetable). It is amazeballs. (I Googled ‘kiam chai in melbourne’ and the first result was ‘Dr Kiam Chai’. Can’t make this stuff up.) Fun fact about kiam chai: in Singlish, it can also mean ‘messy’ or ‘crumpled’. For example, ‘Why your papers so kiam chai one?’ And no, the ‘one’ is not meant to be counted. It’ s just…a Singlish addemdum to punctuate sentences, like ‘lah’ or ‘lor’.

And that’s all for our Singlish lesson of the day!

On with the cooking!

Ban Mian Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 cup x Ikan bilis (anchovies)
2L x Water
3 cloves x Garlic
1 cup x Chicken stock
Light soy sauce (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

Crush the cloves of garlic and fry them lightly in oil with the ikan bilis (until slightly aromatic). You should fry it in the pot you’re going to use for the soup. Once you’re done frying them, pour the water and chicken stock into the pot. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for just over an hour.

While that’s happening, you can start on the minced pork! Didn’t I mention? Ban Mian usually comes with pork balls or minced pork. Aw heck, just throw the two together and make minced pork balls.

Minced pork balls
Ingredients:
300g x Minced pork
2 tbsp x Light soy sauce
A dash of sesame oil
1 tbsp x Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp x Corn flour

Marinate your pork in the aforementioned condiments while your soup simmers. Mix it well, especially the flour, so you don’t have weird lumps!

About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, get some sort of strainer and pick out the sediment floating around your pot. Yup, throw them away. The garlic and the ikan bilis. You should be left with a clear pot of simmering soup.

Finally, take a teaspoonful of the marinated pork at a time and roll it up into a sphere, then plop the minced pork balls into the soup. Watch out for splashing. Just sayin’, it happens.

After the pork balls are all in, let the soup simmer for another half hour before serving.

Of course, you need to boil whatever noodles you’d like in another pot. Remember, don’t overcook and rinse with cold water immediately to stop the cooking process. Unless you prefer soggy noodles.

This soup goes well with rice too!

And tadahhh!

Enjoy! ❤

P.S. I added a teaspoon of chilli oil (available at an Asian grocer near you) for that added zing!

Why this Singaporean hates ‘Singapore noodles’

It’s not because it’s ‘just noodles’ when you’re in Singapore. I once met a woman who, when she found out I was Singaporean, starting exclaiming that she absolutely loved Singapore Noodles. I wanted to give her a whole list of noodles I could think of that tastes way better than that curry powder vermicelli someone named after Singapore. Char kway teow, Hokkien mee, bak chor mee, ban mian… It isn’t all from Singapore, but they’re staples at hawker centres.

I didn’t have the heart to elaborate. The truth will set you free…if it doesn’t boggle your mind first.

You might say that I’m being prissy or snobbish about a dish. That it’s just the name of a dish and it doesn’t matter what it’s called. To quote the Bard, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, yes? No disrespect, Will, but no. I mean, it’s like calling New York Cheesecake ‘Arctic Cheesecake’. It’s exactly like the whole French fries not being from France fiasco (Google tells me they originated in Belgium)!

We do have oily, stir-fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli) in Singapore. It’s called Xin Zhou Mi Fen (I’m really not able to translate this one, guys). Xin Zhou Mi Fen is sold in hawker centres everywhere, and it looks like this. Yummy, if you can stomach the oil! But it has none of that curry powder jazz that gives ‘Singapore Noodles’ its ‘unique’ flavour in countries like Australia or the US. Now, I shall take to Wikipedia for some answers on the origins of Singapore Noodles:

The dish appears on the menu of almost all Chinese-style (mainly Cantonese-style) eateries in Hong Kong,[1] and is also very popular in EnglishAustralianCanadian and American Chinese cuisine. However, it is not a dish that is generally recognised in Singapore itself.

Wow. W-o-w. Doesn’t that say a lot?

From The Travelling Hungryboy“Singapore noodles” in Singapore?

“How ironic it is when one of the only places to get “authentic” Singapore Noodles is in the US rather than Singapore. I guess I can’t blame folks back home who find it a bit weird when I spend 16 hours to fly across the Pacific Ocean and request a plate of Singapore Noodles from a Chinese restaurant there.”

This is one of many people who believe that Singapore noodles were created in Singapore, and are disappointed when they get to Singapore and realise that it’s practically nonexistent. But, guys! You shouldn’t be disappointed, because Singapore Noodles aren’t representative of Singaporean food!

Okay, so I’m going to make Singapore Noodles – the way I know it to be, not the curry powder version.

Ingredients:

However much bee hoon (rice vermicelli) you want
2-3 eggs
Carrots
A handful of dried shrimp
2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms
Hot water
Chicken breast (optional, feel free to use whatever meat you like)
2 cloves of garlic

First up, you need to grab the dried shrimp and mushrooms and soak them in hot water for about 20 minutes.

You can add just a teaspoon of dark soy sauce and stir it into the water, so the dried stuff soaks up the flavour of the sauce.

While it’s soaking, take out your carrots and peel them, then slice them into strips. Once that’s done, beat the eggs, adding a little light soy sauce and pepper for extra taste.

Okay! Now for the bee hoon.

For those of you who haven’t cooked this noodle before, basically all you have to do is soak it in wam water (~10mins) or scald it in a pot of boiling water. It’s really quick and easy! Some people like it stringier and not so soft, so all you have to do for that is to soak it for a shorter period of time. Once it’s soft enough, rinse it with cold water (to stop the cooking process), drain and set aside.

And the frying begins…

Sometimes, your best friends in the kitchen are canned and delicious. Or at least a perfectly satisfactory substitute. I buy canned, minced garlic from the supermarket for the days where I don’t have enough time to chop five cloves of garlic, or I’m just feeling lazy. Really helpful! The only problem I have with this is that it has a small amount of water (to keep it fresh, I’m guessing?) that reacts with the oil in my pan. You know what that means.

I was a little sceptical of minced garlic like this, but it honestly tastes fine! I would recommend it for busy housewives and lazy students.

Heat up some vegetable oil in a large pan/wok and dump about a teaspoon of garlic in (or more, if you like that garlicky taste).

Fry the eggs, scrambling it into pieces as you go. Then dump in the mushrooms, carrots and diced meat. Brown the meat before adding the mushroom-shrimp soaking water.

Finally, put the bee hoon into the pan. I made the mistake of swirling it around too much – just a reminder, it breaks easily.

I’d say you should mix it so the bee hoon is coloured by the soaking water mixture, so that the bee hoon absorbs all the flavours as equally as possible. It’s probably easiest to cook this dish with a pair of tongs, by the way, cos’ spatulas obviously have no grip.

Fry it until all the liquid is absorbed.

And serve!

Okay, I have to come clean. I forgot to snap a picture of it before I started eating. I was ravenous! I’d skipped lunch, man, don’t blame me!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best way to make truly authentic ‘Singapore Noodles’.

‘Till next time! ❤

To market, to market, to market we go!

I’m about half a year away from graduating and moving back to Singapore, and I’m enjoying as much of Australia as I can (although I’m majorly excited about heading back home again).

So what’s one thing I’ll definitely miss about living in Melbourne?

Grocery shopping at South Melbourne Market!

I absolutely love this place. It’s airy so it doesn’t smell bad (like Queen Vic Market). It’s not packed with tourists who have just heard so much about this place! It sells everything from chocolates to clothes, from raw meat to raw fruits.

The outer stalls are mostly organic, so they can be slightly more pricey. Personally, I would love to buy organic stuff all the time, but let’s be honest. It’s not exactly within a student’s budget.

You know how I’m always talking about Asian grocers ’round every corner? Here’s the one at the market:

It’s supremely well stocked. All brands and kinds of soy sauce, oil, instant packets of sauces, soup bases, noodles (dried and raw), spices, etc.

But my favourite stop on our usual route is this fruits & veg place:

Everyone’s really friendly there – and helpful. There comes a time when you will get lost trying to find a particular elusive veggie or fruit, also because there are racks and racks of them that your head starts to spin with all the colours and price tags. It helps if you keep general tabs on how much everything is.

Take my mangoes, for example. This week, they were three buckaroos. If they’re four bucks next week, I’m probably not going to buy them then. It’s the same with meat (and poultry). Very important if you don’t want to feel ripped off when you walk past another stall and realise that it’s two dollars cheaper there!

We all have our favourite stalls at the market. This stall, to me, always has the best and freshest looking/tasting fruits and veggies. Makes me happy. Energised. It’s the apple of my eye. Small seeds of life. Stop and smell the fruits. I could go on and on. It’s a ripe category.

Aaaaaand I was pleasantly surprised to see that mangoes are finally in season. My favourite fruit in the whole world. Just slice ’em up and give me a whole bowlful.

I was seriously tempted to buy, like, a barrelful. But. Y’know. Transport problems. And cost. So I left the mangoes for next week and bought a kilo of grapes instead. Yeah, I never understand moderation when it comes to juicy fruits…

One important thing about marketing: I always buy meats last. I mean, I really don’t want to walk around with a bag full of minced pork and sliced beef (or whatever you’re getting).

Right across from Tony’s is this chicken stall. We usually get a medium-sized chicken for about $10 and ask them to slice it up for us. That’s another thing – the chicken gets kinda heavy, so it’s a pain to lug it around the market.

And finally…the best coffee in Melbourne.

WHAT! NO! DID I! DID I JUST!

Okay. I know that it’s a big deal to call it ‘the best coffee’. Especially in Melbourne, where great coffee runs through this city’s veins as much as the graffiti art lines the grimy backstreets.

But seriously. I love the coffee at Padre. Sorry for the crappy photo (it defo deserves much more credit than that, maybe a light shining down from the heavens) but I was too daaaayum happy to be holding that cup of hot cappuccino with just the right amount of foam. Oh, if only I could get a cuppa right now. Mmm. Yeah, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a caffeine junkie. So many vices, so little time.

And it’s right across from this chocolate shop called Melt that has the thickest, most luscious hot chocolate I’ve ever had. They also sell all sorts of chocolate that would make great gifts. But if you pass by, please do your taste buds a favour and sneak some hot chocolate! It’s amazing, anyone who likes chocolate even a teensy bit would like it. I try my best not to look in when we pass by so temptation doesn’t take over my mind and zombify me with chocolate (chocolatify) every week.

Marketing is great, guys, and I’m definitely going to miss South Melb Market once I fly back for good. The markets in Singapore have less…appeal, I guess. For one thing, older people patronise it. And they’re called wet markets. They really do live up to that name. Much cheaper, though.

So anyway. Everyone should at least walk through South Melbourne Market if they’re ever in the area.

‘Till next time! ❤

Just a note on cheesecakes

So I made cheesecake yesterday. Good ol’ creamy cheesecake with a wholemeal cookie base. Just that…I haven’t made cheesecake before. And I didn’t put enough butter into the cookie mix for the base. I thought I’d be try to make it slightly healthier (and therefore less of a guilty pleasure) and only used about…one teaspoon of butter. Mixed into four Belvita biscuits.

These biscuits are the yummiest breakfast snack, by the way.

So anyway, back to my creamy cheesecake with the crumbly base. D’you know what happens when a cookie base doesn’t have enough butter? I didn’t think about it. I was watching re-runs of How I Met Your Mother while mixing my life away. I know, I had such a happening spring break.

What happens to a cookie mix when it doesn’t have enough butter to hold it together? It crumbles. Annoyingly. Frustratingly.

Looks like cutting down on butter doesn’t help anyone. It’s either healthy or delicious, and I’m afraid I’d choose delicious – gun to my head, hand on heart.

Well, I’d still say it was a successful cheesecake (it tastes like heaven, melts on your tongue and all).

…And that’s why about half of it is already gone. In my defence, it’s a small cake pan. Oh, another thing – you should definitely use a springform cake pan. Had no idea that was what it was called, but basically it’s the kind with a removable base.

 

Aaaaaand the final product.

 

This was just a fun, weekend cake bake! Took me about 30minutes to prep, baked it for 45minutes, then left it in the oven with the door open to cool for about an hour before plopping it in the fridge overnight.

Worth it.