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Cutting the Cheese

Wahahahaha!!! Aaah~ I love my brother. Sorry, little bro, but I just had to share this little scene with everyone…

My brother was watching the television this afternoon after church, and I was cleaning up some mess around the living room. All of a sudden, I heard a LOUD oinky farrrrrt.

Well, it wasn’t me. I glanced at my brother, and he was lying on the couch in an unnaturally rigid position, his eyes glued to the TV screen, pretending as if nothing happened at all.

He was watching the History Channel, so I knew it wasn’t from the TV, unless the channel was featuring the History of Obnoxious Farts. Now, considering how much I burp, I would usually let a fart go unnoticed, but seeing my brother so desperately holding on to his integrity…I started cracking up, and exclaimed, “Oh come on! It’s just the two of us…who else can it be? A ghost?”

My brother started protesting that it wasn’t him, but then gave up and started laughing as well. I’m still chuckling to myself as I’m writing this.

But it got me thinking…why is burping and farting in public such taboo? Isn’t it such a naturally incurring thing? Is there any human being who have never farted or burped in his/her life? Even Obama farts! And I’ll bet so does that famous vampire…what’s his name? Robert Patterson? (Sorry, not a Twilight fan)

But anyway, I digress…On to FOOD.

Today was another quick and simple wrap before heading out to church. I had some shiitake mushrooms needing to be used, so I based my creation around that. Shiitake mushrooms have a rather bold, earthy, Asian flavor, but I didn’t want my wrap to be too Asian. Thankfully, I had other ingredients in my fridge that would go well with shiitake…

Say hello to my friend, the roasted red pepper-artichoke tapenade, adopted from Trader Joe’s. You might remember him from this pasta I made before. I haven’t touched him since, but it was nice to have something ready-made in hand when I was in a rush like today.

Sautéed Shiitake, Goat Cheese, and Tapenade Wrap

1 rosemary wrap
TJ’s roasted red pepper-artichoke tapenade
olive oil
shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
red onion, sliced
orange bell pepper, julienned
fresh dill, chopped
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
lots of fresh goat cheese

Spread as much tapenade as you would like on the wrap. Meanwhile, heat up a pan with some olive oil. When the pan gets hot enough, sauté in the mushrooms, garlic, onions, and bell pepper. When the vegetables get soft and fragrant, sprinkle in the dill, lemon juice, and seasonings. This is how the shiitake stir-fry looks like:

And then, just spread the shiitake mixture onto the wrap, pile on the goat cheese, and wrap it up. I like my wraps toasted, so I heat both sides on a skillet.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure the flavors would work out, but it did! It was absolutely purrr-fect.

I loved the succulent meatiness of the shiitake…didn’t miss the meat at all! It married extremely well with the sweet bell peppers and onions, the tapenade, and the tangy goat cheese.

The last squeeze of lemon juice and the fresh dill really kicked it up a notch. Though, I think this would be 100 points if I had thought of adding a tiny sprinkle of crushed red pepper.

Anyway, guess what today is? The LAST DAY for submissions!!

Please, send them in as soon as possible so I can give your recipes my full attention and contemplation. If you send them in at 12:01 midnight, I guess I will still accept it, because I’m a generous soul and at least you’ve still submitted. So don’t be shy, submit, submit, submit!! I shall announce the winner tomorrow by evening, as well as the next host.

Question of the day: Sorry if this is gross to you, but I’ve got farts in my mind. Have you ever farted in public before? What did you do?

Here’s my fart story: I’m more of a burpy person than a farty person, but I remember once when I was in fifth grade. The kids were all lining up for recess, and I “accidentally” let out the stinkiest fart ever. But I was smart and wicked. I immediately sniffed the air, wrinkled my nose, and said in a loud voice, “Okay, who cut the cheese?” Everybody started blaming each other, and finally, the big sweaty boy beside me ended up getting all the blame. I felt really bad, but promptly forgot about it until I was reminded of it today. Aren’t I just evil?

Time to Get Corny

I really think now is the perfect time to really appreciate seasonal produce…especially with all these fresh produce piling up in your local grocery store! It’s the end of May now, a particularly exciting time for me because each time I visit my supermarket, I find new and fresh produce on sale…makes this cheap Asian girl very very happy!

I visited Whole Foods this morning in search of inspiration for this week’s BSI. I wanted something that was versatile so that it would be open to myriads of different creative ideas, one that is seasonal and tasty, one that wouldn’t be a problem for those on a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free diet. Oh, and it had to be cheap, of course.

I have to admit, my eyes always automatically zooms to any sign that has the “On Sale!” tag on it. My brain has been inherently trained to magically sense the sale items, and my body mechanically starts moving towards that area. It’s a gift, and a curse. Anyway, one particular ingredient that stood out to me.

What’s golden, crunchy, sweet, and delicious, yet horribly neglected, misunderstood, and thrust into the middle of many controversies?

You guessed it. CORN! Yup, this week’s BSI ingredient is CORN.
Here are a few facts on corn:

Corn is the third most important food crop of the world measured by production volume.
In the U.S., corn production measures more than 2 times that of any other crop.
Peak season for corn production is May through September.
Sugar content in corn starts converting into starch as soon as it is picked, so it is always better to consume fresh corn.
It is a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.
It is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium, with small amounts of potassium.
Supports cardiovascular and lung health.
It is good for skin care, boosting nervous system, digestion, and maintaining low cholesterol levels.

And here are the rules:
And to start this off, here are how I used corn for my lunch today:

Corny and Cheesy Bacon Pizza

Base: Corn and cottage cheese blended together with a splash of milk and black pepper
Toppings: Sliced red onion, turkey bacon, green onions, Four-cheese blend, and Parmesan cheese

Corn as a pizza base? Sounds weird, but trust me, it works. Loved the naturally sweet and cheesy base!

The bacon on top works really well with the corn, too.

Visually appealing, too, with the rainbow of colors.

Next up, Mexican-style Corn and Sausage Pizza

Base: TJ’s Habanero-lime salsa and cottage cheese mixed together
Toppings: Corn, Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, Andouille sausage, Four-cheese blend, and Parmesan cheese

Now this time, I used corn on top of pizza. You don’t see this much in America, but it’s a very popular pizza topping in Asia!

Papa Johns and Pizza Hut needs to get some corn onto their pizza, now. It is such an amazingly sweet and crunchy and juicy addition.

And the natural sweetness of the corn works so well with the spicy sausage, and the spicy-sour base of the salsa and cottage cheese.

All right, stop drooling, and don’t feel intimidated by my fantastic corny pizzas (Hee). I’m not gonna be submitting them to my own BSI! And I’m certain and excited that you guys will come up with something much better! So, get your culinary juices flowing!

Because…there are great prizes to be won as well! I picked this up at Korea on my way back to USA. I was saving them for a giveaway, but decided to use them as prizes for BSI instead.

Cute, adorable socks…
And another cute hand-stitched case! (Perfect for cell phones, or cards, coins, etc.)
Be cool…submit a BSI recipe, and you can prance around in cute socks like me!

P.S. Please tune in again tomorrow for another AWESOME announcement…you don’t wanna miss it!!!

My Hair is a Mess

Yes, you heard me right— Praise God, thank the Lord, sing Hallelujah my hair is a mess! Am I crazy, you ask? Well, I’m crazy-ecstatic that I actually have the hair to call my hair a mess!

One of the many unattractive physical repercussions of anorexia (including osteoporosis, sunken dull eyes, dry sallow skin, popping veins, deflated chest, guitar-ribs, multiple organ failures, irregular heartbeat, etc) is hair loss. To me this is one of the worst symptoms, because though I’d always been self-deprecatory towards most of my physical features, I had always been damn proud of my hair. They were long, shiny, soft and straight, and I loved putting them up in different styles with beautiful pins and clasps and barrettes.

But now…four years into this ED, I have lost 70% of my hair, and because of the lack of nutrition, they are no longer straight and vibrant, but frizzy and dull. Simply put, my head is now scarcely covered with wispy fried hair and there are enough patches of bald scalp to make any balding old man feel better about himself. Take that, Hollywood! Glamorous disease, anorexia is not!

But anyway, I was trying to tie the remaining miserable strands of lifeless hair into a ponytail, when no matter how much I tried to smooth my hair down, there were still random tufts of hair sticking out. I zoomed in into the mirror and on a closer look, discovered that they were new tufts of hair!!! WHOOOPPPEEEEEEEEEEE~~~~!!!!

So, yeah, I’ve been pretty much skipping about everywhere announcing the birth of my new hair, and even though there are these random short pieces of hair sticking out of my head like a porcupine, I can’t help grinning idiotically whenever I see them.

But other than just plain vanity, I am super-glad to see my head growing new hair again because it’s solid evidence that I am finally getting the nutrition I need! My body is recovering, it is healing, it is at last renewing itself! HIP HIP HURRAH for recovery! This just invigorates me with fresh motivation and hope!

Heh, sorry for going all excited and hyper about it, but I just wanted to share some good news, and also at the same time reassure all the other ED-recoverers out there that your body will absolutely restore its previous health and beauty as long as you give it the proper treatment it needs. You only get this one body in life, and all responsibility to take good care of it is yours. So keep on pampering it, everyone!

Okay, enough babbling, time for today’s eats.

Met some friends today, and because we liked it so much the last time we went there, we went to Shokudo Japanese Street Food Market again, but this time the one in Raffles City Shopping Centre.

I ordered the omelet again (I know, I know, but why mess with the top customer favorites?), but this time with salmon and onions as the filling:

We sat right below the air-conditioner, so my bonito flakes were actually dancing as I took the photo! Kind of creepy, like they were live dancing creatures or something…

But this was damn good! The best out of all the other omelet fillings I’ve tried. Here’s my ranking so far:

Salmon and Onions
Mushroom and cheese
Asparagus and cheese

I usually hate mayonnaise, but this Japanese mayonnaise they drizzle on top with okonomiyaki sauce is so yummy I could probably just lick it plain…

My friend ordered rosti with sausage and fried egg:

Crunchy, crispy, yet tender and still piping-hot! Here’s another close look into the rosti:

I wish I had the proper equipment to be able to grate my potatoes into those thin long noodles too! Think of all the fun dishes I can create…where can I get this equipment? Gotta put it in my birthday list. Haha!

Upon returning home, I picked up another old favorite:

Perfect starter to a nice afternoon nap!

Right, time for question of the day: Which of your physical features are you most vain/proud of? Why?

Well, that’s it for today, I’m off to have my dinner of Eggplasta Pudding and go obsess over my new hair some more!

Crazy for Carbonara

Some things just go together. In fact, sometimes they complement each other so well, any other addition becomes redundant and excessive. Take a good, crusty bread just baked out of the oven, for example. You’re not going to want to overcrowd its fresh-baked goodness with a whole lots of toppings. No, just good-quality butter, or a hunk of nice artisanal cheese, and you’ve got yourself the perfect combination. Think, also, of cinnamon and brown sugar. Peanut butter and jelly. Butter, sugar, egg, and flour. Garlic, onions, olive oil. And then of course, the classic breakfast combination, bacon and eggs.

You know I love my breakfasty meals. I love them so much that I unconsciously base my meal creations around breakfasty themes, like my Eggplasta Pudding that I have almost every night (It’s that good!). So when I heard of a pasta dish called Pasta alla Carbonara that uses minimal ingredients while spotlighting bacon and eggs, I was hooked.

I’ve never tried Pasta alla Carbonara before. I’ve seen them on menus of restaurants, but never bothered to order them since I never cared much for pasta. But ever since I found out what this pasta dish was, I’d had carbonara on the brain. After enduring several days of little Italian men singing “Carrrrr~bonarrrrrra~” in my brain, I decided to shut them up by trying out this dish.

Unfortunately, I am very much broke, especially after that Penang trip. But I was pretty sure this would be an easy dish to create at home. I mean, come on, the key ingredients are bacon and eggs! I looked up on recipes for Carbonara online, and was glad to find out I was right. This dish was freaking easy to make.

Now, you know I can never resist tweaking a recipe to my own tastes and preferences. All the recipes call for long thin noodles like spaghetti, but I decided to try a different route and substitute some kind of grain. I wanted something distinctive and chewy, something that did not stick together in lumps or become nushy, something that held its shape well. I chose pearled barley.

So here’s my version of carbonara, Barley alla Carbonara:

Cook 1/3 cup pearled barley in salted water at a 1:3 ratio until desired doneness.

Meanwhile, cook some minced garlic and a small finely chopped onion until soft, then add about 2 tablespoons of chopped bacon (I used a fatty back bacon) and fry until fragrant.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons yogurt/ sour cream/ whipping cream (I used yogurt), an egg, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.

Toss the barley into the bacon mixture, stir to mix.

Turn off heat, then stir in the egg mixture and mix to coat each grain.

Add more cheese on top, and sprinkle on some chopped spring onion or some kind of herbs for color and extra flavor!

And here’s the result:

Okay, I have no idea how a real Carbonara is supposed to taste like, but oh my freaking god it was freaking good! You might be a bit wary about using raw eggs, but the heat from the barley cooks up the egg mixture ever so slightly to form this really creamy and flavorful binder.

How can just the simple combination of bacon and eggs be so…intricately and elaborately delicious? The smoky, salty background of the bacon was so subtle, yet so striking.

I loved the each individual grain of barley! Can you believe this is the first time I’ve tried cooking barley? What took me so long to discover the joy of barley? I remember my mother once saying that poor farmers in Korea used to eat barley all the time because they couldn’t afford white rice, but if this is the poor man’s grain, poverty sure sounds darn tasty to me!

Each bite sent me moaning with ecstasy. I was like Romeo, serenading and wooing my sweet Juliet. Like Casanova, I have fallen head over heels in love with this simple dish, and I wanted to compose love songs and poems about the great Carbonara.

I plowed my way through this little mountain of scrumptiousness with luscious enjoyment, loving all the textures of crunch from the crisp bacon, creaminess from the eggs, and chew from the barley. I felt quite heartsick by the last bite…

But like Casanova, I got over my lovesickness pretty quickly come dinner time…

Monte Cristo sandwich again! What can I say? If Casanova is an womanizer, I’m a food-izer. Go
d made everything taste so good!

So that’s my little food romance I had today. I hope you guys have some great foodie flings this weekend as well! Now, I bid you farewell with the usual question of the day: What are some of your favorite classic food combos?

Alone and OK

I love cooking for myself. Given the choice between dining out at a restaurant and cooking my own meal at home, I would prefer the home-cooked meal, even if someone else was willing to pay for my meal out. And it is not because of ED, I swear.

I just love the whole process of cooking, especially when I try out a new recipe or create my own dishes. I love the hands-on chopping and mixing and stirring, love choosing each ingredient with care and attention, being aware of each components that make up the overall taste of the dish. I adore the innovation and novelty of trying out a fresh new recipe, love adding my own little twist and trademarks; I treasure the experience of tasting the finished product with both apprehension and excitement, and thoroughly relieve the pride and accomplishment I feel with each success. Even if I failed, I end up learning something new. Actually, the way I look at it, the more disastrous the result, the more interesting a story to tell in the end.

But a lot of people shy away from cooking, especially if they are cooking for themselves. And truthfully, I do understand why they avoid it. Cooking for one is not that easy or cheap, as most produce don’t come in single-servings, or if they do, they usually cost a lot more. In addition, most recipes available out there comes in servings of four to six. Nobody likes to live on leftovers for four to six consecutive days. You could always scale down the recipe, of course, but cooking just a single serving worth of beans or rice, and turning on the whole oven just to bake a single potato or a small slab of tofu seems like an awful waste of energy and electrical costs.

So how do I do it? You might have noticed that I always cook for myself, and that I usually always have something different each day. My meals are rarely based on boxed, frozen, or microwaveable products, but are always made from scratch with fresh ingredients. Because I am an incredibly generous and kind person, let me just share a few of my tips based on my own experience:

Well, first of all, become best buddies with your freezer and toaster oven. When you buy meat or fish, portion them out into single servings and then freeze them, where they can keep for months. The toaster oven is a big help when you want to bake something small like a potato but don’t wanna waste energy by turning on a whole oven.

Also, when it comes to fresh produce, try to limit yourself. Don’t buy whole caskets of veggies and fruits, where they will inevitably sit for days in your fridge, wilting and molding. I’m lucky in that I live a stone’s throw away from the supermarket, so I can just hop over to buy fresh produce everyday.

Try different grains and beans. Buy them in bulk by weight, since they are cheaper that way, and you can choose your own measurements. Cook up several servings at once, and store the leftovers in the fridge. They make excellent base for new recipes and creations.

Get ingredients that are versatile, like potatoes, eggs, and cheese. Things that you can buy in bulk, but won’t have trouble using them up or having to eat the same dish everyday, because they are flexible enough to be used in myriads of different dishes.

Case in point: Today’s lunch was a whole new dish made out of leftovers. It took barely any brain energy nor time to whip it up. In fact, it was totally last minute, because I had been expecting to have lunch out with friends, but at the last minute they had to hurry to church to deal with some issues. By then it was already past 2pm, and my stomach was growling. I didn’t have time to wait for a potato to bake, or dream up of a complicated new dish. I just wanted something fast, ready, and simple.

I looked into my fridge, and saw that I had leftover barley, black beans, and roasted winter squash. Perfect! Below is the “recipe,” and I have divided them into different components which you can follow to create your own signature dish:

Basic “Mix-it-up” Bowl recipe

The base: 1 cup cooked pearl barley (other suggestions: rice, bulgur, wheat berries, couscous, etc.)

The mix-ins: 1/4 cup black beans and 1/2 cup chopped roasted winter squash (other suggestions: any other type of beans, lentils, root vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips)

The dressing: splash of soy sauce and maple syrup (other suggestions: BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, pasta sauce, Italian dressing, blah blah whatever fits your fancy)

The topping: big spoonful of desiccated coconut and chopped spring onion (other suggestions: any kind of crushed nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, dried fruits, egg, cheese, the sky’s the limit!)

DIRECTIONS: Heat up some oil in a skillet over medium heat, stir in minced garlic and chopped onions until soft and fragrant. Toss in your base and mix-in ingredients, stir to mix. Splash in the dressing and mix to coat. Dish the mixture out into a bowl and sprinkle with your desired topping.

This was my version of a “Mix-it-up” bowl:

Beans-and-Squash Barley Pilaf with Coconut

So freaking fast and easy, and I got to use up three of my leftovers! All I needed to do was choose the dressing and topping and chop up some garlic and onions. Now that’s what I call smart, efficient, economical, and practical!

Not to mention utterly delicious. Can you believe the colors and textures of this amazing bowl of leftovers?

The taste was really complex and interesting: the savory Asian flavor from the soy sauce, the subtle sweetness from the maple syrup, and the unique tropical taste from the coconut all combined together in one freaking scrumptious bowl.

I really love this “recipe,” because there are so many different dishes I can create with this one recipe! My head is already churning with all sorts of ideas…I can guarantee you there’s gonna be more of these “Mix-it-up” bowls in
the future!

So, have I convinced anyone yet? There shouldn’t be any more excuses not to cook for oneself! Okay, I admit it, sometimes it doesn’t work, like with big batches of soup or baked goods or casseroles, but then…that’s when you’ve gotta share! In cases when I have to cook up a huge batch, I just set aside my own portion and then share the rest with my friends. Trust me, you gain a lot of popularity this way. Tee hee!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Do you cook for yourself often? Any tips or advice you’d like to share on cooking for yourself? And also, please share some of your ideas based on this “Mix-it-up” recipe! What are some of the creations you’d like to try?

Oh, and heads up: I’ve been invited as a guest blogger to write an article on an eating disorder blog! The article is not up yet, but will probably be posted sometime on Monday. I’ll let you know, but in the meantime please check out her eating disorder blog! It has a lot of great information on eating disorders, as well as her own personal story. I love that she’s trying to bring more awareness to eating disorders, since this disease is so prevalent yet so misunderstood.

Happy Yet Broke

Sorry I haven’t been able to post yesterday…I’ve been busy with my brand new MacBook! I’ve been wanting a MacBook for the longest time, after hearing about how MacBook is so much more convenient and user-friendly than PC, and especially since my laptop’s hard disk was going haywire these days. It just so happened that Singapore was holding a huge IT expo last week, where many technological gadgets were on sale with great promotional bundles!

Anyway, I finally got the MacBook I always wanted, except I was forced to get the better (and more expensive) version! When I reached there the model I wanted was all sold out, and there was only one model left, and it was the new 2.4 GHz aluminum MacBook. I took it as God’s sign that He wanted me to splurge a little bit more on the better one…because I’m just that precious to Him. So, I obeyed His obvious will. Who am I to ignore Divine wishes? Everyone, say hello to my new shiny friend!

Anyway, so far I’m really liking the Mac, though I’m still trying to get used to switching from PC. The only thing the Mac lacks, though, is Windows Live Writer! It’s such a pain to blog without this blogging software, and I can’t believe Apple is superior to PC in all areas except being blogger-friendly! It’s so messed up. Any Mac-users out there know of any good blogging software compatible to Mac? Please help! I need my blogging tools! Right now, I’m still using my old PC right now to blog 🙁

Anyway, now that I have my shiny new MacBook in front of me (which I can’t help smiling and fondling it with adoration all the time), I am seriously broke. Like, SGD$2,700 (US$1763) broke. How fitting that I’ve been writing about economical eating in the last few posts. Now I’ve got to take my own advice. So be ready to see a lot more “Mix-it-up” bowls and many more variations of barley, beans, pumpkin, etc.

I had another “Mix-it-up” bowl yesterday for lunch. Same steps as the day before, just a slight change in the components to create this:

Cheesy BBQ Pilaf

The base: 1 cup cooked pearl barley

The mix-ins: 1/4 cup black beans and 1/2 cup chopped roasted winter squash

The dressing: homemade BBQ sauce (a mixture of my homemade ketchup, soy sauce, fish sauce, maple syrup, black pepper)

The topping: tablespoonfuls of red and white cheddar cheese, green onion, soft-boiled egg

This bowl was freaking amazing, even better than the one I had before. I loved the sweet and bold kick of the homemade BBQ sauce, and how the runny yolk of the egg soaked into each grain!

And oh, the cheese! I just plopped them on top of the fresh-out-of-the-skillet ingredients, and they slowly melted by itself into ultra-gooeyness…

Heh heh, I couldn’t resist taking tons of pictures, even though I was drooling from all the wonderful smells…

I had dinner out with last night, as we were going to the IT expo together afterward. And guess what? I was the one to suggest dining out together myself. I even surprised myself, because I normally shy away from social and public dining, but I suddenly was just in the mood to really challenge myself that day.

They asked me where I wanted to dine, but I relegated the choice to them as I did not want to give ED any chance to worm his way into my decision. Truthfully, I was afraid I might chicken out and choose someplace familiar and safe.

We ended up going to out neighborhood Kopitiam (outdoor food stalls prevalent in Singapore and Malaysia), and chose this place called Piccolo, which sells pasta and pizza. I have a feeling they purposely chose this place because they knew I did not really care for Chinese food.

Anyway, this being Singapore and a Kopitiam, nary a dieter’s entree like salad in sight! I was actually relieved because that meant I had to choose something outside my comfort zone. No, really. I don’t know what was going on with me yesterday; I was in such a gung-ho spirit to fight ED. Hey, I’m not complaining. ED, bring it on!

Thus, to spit on ED’s face, this is what I ordered:
Crepes stuffed with chicken-spinach filling in creamy cheese sauce

Aren’t they cute delicious-looking things? I loved how they formed them into three little towers of cones.

The filling was a mixture of ground chicken, spinach, and mushrooms. The sauce around it was very rich and creamy, cheesy from the melted cheese inside and tangy from the tomato sauce. Very, very tasty, except it was not really a crepe, those liars. The wrapping was not your basic crepe, but really more like pasta. I think they used lasagna noodles. Oh well, it was still very good.

I actually finished them all! Even the cream sauce! I moped every bit of the uber-fattening cream sauce up with my refined white pasta. I even stole bites out of their dishes.

Ordered the Spaghetti di Mussels:

This was just okay. I don’t really like mussels and clams so much. They’re stinky and slimy. Anybody agree?
She ordered the Salmon-baked cheesy rice:
This was a dish of seasoned white rice, topped with chunks of pink salmon and finished off with lots of mozzarella cheese and baked till golden-brown. Very yummy, but I found it a bit too greasy…I wouldn’t be able to finish it, and neither did she.

After dinner we marched off to get us some great bargains at the IT expo, where I got my beautiful, shiny MacBook. It came with a great promotional bundle: Microsoft Office:Mac, keyboard cover, laptop case, notebook cooler pad, and a mouse. I totally burned a hole in my credit card last night, but I take this as my reward for being victorious against ED that night!

Following my own advice in economical eating, I cooked up a big batch of black beans this morning. I have another tip on leftovers: you can always use them up to create innovative omelets!

But! Today’s omelet was ultra-special…I decided that even if I’m going to have simple dishes, I’m going to jazz it up as much as I can! So I made a soufflé omelet with vegetarian curry-filling:

I separated two eggs, and whipped the egg whites until they formed firm, opaque peaks:

I whisked the egg yolks together with a tablespoon of water, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then folded them into the egg white cloud:

Then I just heated and oiled a skillet over medium-heat, and spread the puffy egg mixture over. Meanwhile, I made the curry filling, following the same recipe which I used to make the chicken-tomato curry, except I
substituted black beans, roasted eggplant, and pumpkin for the chicken. Oh, and a squirt of maple syrup at the end, just for fun. When the bottom of the omelet was done, I scooped in the filling over half the omelet, added 2 tablespoonfuls of cucumber-garlic cheese spread, and folded the other half over. Ladies and gentlemen, please applaud Soufflé-Omelet with Vegetarian Curry-Filling:
Isn’t this amazing? This was humongous, and I couldn’t believe I got so much out of only two eggs! All that air beaten into the egg whites really maximized its volume.

This method of omelet really kicked it up several notches. The egg is so incredibly fluffy and fat and thick and delicate! It was like eating protein pancakes!
The filling was awesome, too. Both sweet and spicy, with the added cool tang from the cheese.
A very odd and intricate combination of flavors and textures indeed, but the result was just phenomenal. I’ll definitely be trying another variation of this souffle-omelet sometime…Maybe a sweet version?

Hee hee hee! I’m just so giddy with excitement and pleasure over my new MacBook! This has been a good day. I spent the entire afternoon hunched over my new notebook, getting Mac tutorials online and just touching, touching, touching my lovely Macbook! Okay, how many times have I repeated that word “Macbook” in this entire post? No wonder the logo is an apple. This notebooks is like my Eve’s apple, beckoning and seducing me with its smooth, sleek screen and shiny finish…

Okay, sorry, I’ll stop. Another reason I’m so hyper right now is because I finally got my eating disorder series article posted at Not Another Omnivore’s blog! Please, check it out and let me know what you think! I’m very curious about your opinions and feedbacks.

Oh, and today’s question of the day has nothing to do with food: Mac or PC? For me, if Mac had its version of Windows Live Writer to rival PC, it would be just perfect.

Sushi Pizza

Yay, it’s back!

I couldn’t wait for more than a day before having another taste of my pilaf-pizza. But this time I decided to adhere to my Asian roots and go all non-traditional on today’s pilaf-pizza.

My favorite Asian cuisine is Japanese, so that’s the route I chose. Besides, I had all the necessary ingredients already available, so today’s pilaf-pizza was just brainstormed out of the several ingredients that I wanted to use: nori, wasabi, dried pork floss.

Sounds like sushi to you, doesn’t it? That’s why I’m calling this the “Deconstructed-Sushi” pilaf-pizza. Who says pizza has to have tomato sauce and cheese? If you go to other countries, you’ll find that every country has their own individual version of pizza. Really, pizza is a dish that has so much potential for creativity and uniqueness.

“Deconstructed-Sushi” pilaf-pizza

Let’s start with the base, which I prepared the same way as yesterday:

Base ingredients:

1 cup cooked pearled barley
2 tablespoons black beans
1/4 cup mashed roasted pumpkin
1 large egg white
salt and pepper

Just mix everything up, flatten it out onto a well-greased pan, and pop it into a 450 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until dry and crispy on the edges.

Topping ingredients:

creamy wasabi sauce (recipe follows)
fried egg
one sheet toasted nori, cut into strips
1 tablespoon dried pork floss

Creamy Wasabi sauce:

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1~2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 tsp lime juice
salt and pepper

To make creamy wasabi sauce, just mix all the above ingredients together.

Once the pilaf-pizza was done and sort of cooled, I slathered on the creamy wasabi sauce, then layered on strips of nori, placed a fried egg on top, and sprinkled on even more random pieces of nori and the pork floss.

I have to say, this was very, very interesting. In a good way, I mean.
The pork floss might seem like a random addition to you, but it was a nice crispy and savory addition, and there are some sushi’s I’ve seen that are topped with these dried shredded pork.

Definitely doesn’t cry out “pizza” but quite delicious in its own way.
The creamy wasabi sauce was a bull’s eye hit. It livened up the whole dish.

I overcooked the egg a bit though, so it wasn’t as runny as I wanted it to be. But I guess the flowing yolk and the wasabi sauce would have been a strange mix, so it all ended up well.

You might have noticed the short short post (well for me anyway) but I’m really busy these days getting ready for a BIG DINNER on Friday! I’m inviting my whole church youth group over this Friday for a last dinner together before I leave Singapore, and it’s gonna be a group of at least twelve!

I’ll definitely be taking pictures that day, but here’s a teaser menu for that day:

Crudites or salad
Potato cake
Tomato-pork curry
Cheese-baked pumpkin Mac & Cheese
Banana chocolate chip cake

I think that should be enough for twelve…don’t you?

All of them are dishes I’ve made before (the omu-pilaf and the cheese-baked pumpkin mac & cheese are from my own creations) except the potato cake. I’m quite excited about this savory potato cake. I won’t tell you about it just yet, but you’ll see it Friday!

I did not want to make a banana cake, because it’s just so…boring. But my friends insisted. I’ve already made banana cake for them twice, but apparently they can’t get enough of it! What’s the matter with them? There is nothing special to that banana cake, either, just your regular banana bread recipe with some chocolate chips mixed in. Big whoop. I tried to offer something else, like a frozen banana cream cake, but…nope. Banana cake it is. Sigh.

Alright, gotta go start prepping. Ta-ta!

Question of the day: What are some classic “boring” desserts that you love and would prefer over an exotic luscious one any day?

Waiting for the Big Event

Yup, that’s what I did all day on Friday before the Big Event. I twiddled my thumbs, watched the clock tick each second by, dozed off a bit, then twiddled my thumbs again. I totally got over-dexterous on Thursday with the preparations, leaving me with barely anything to do on the actual day to the big dinner.

Let’s recap: I have eight items on the menu for the dinner:

I baked the banana chocolate-chip cake on Wednesday, and made the Potato cake, tomato-pork curry, meatloaf, and the frozen mango cream cake on Thursday. That left me with just the vegetables, the omu-pilaf, and the cheese-baked pumpkin mac & cheese to do on Friday, plus reheating the dishes I’d made beforehand.

I finished everything I needed to do for Friday in just about 2 hours, and was left with practically nothing to do but watch the time go by for the rest of the day! I guess my planning for the pre-preparations were a little off. Oh well, I’ll learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, as promised, the pictures from my farewell dinner organized by yours truly…

First off there’s the nice little carrot and celery sticks which nobody really touched except for me…
And then the big-ass omu-pilaf drew a lot of exclamations…

My friends were all bowled over by the fact that I used barley instead of rice. It was like they’ve never seen barley before!

And then of course the baked potato cake which I featured on the previous post…

It was incredible. Very very cheesy and flavorful, dense and creamy in the mouth, an ultra-rich version of mashed potatoes. I definitely recommend this!

And then the tomato-pork curry…

This wasn’t as special as the omu-pilaf or potato cake as they’ve all seen curry before, but still was popular in its own familiar way…

The meatloaf, which was my own personal favorite…

I slathered extra ketchup on top to keep it moist and to create a nice thick, sticky glaze. Awesome!

And my amazing Cheese-baked pumpkin mac & cheese!

I didn’t have macaroni so I used penne pasta. Everyone loved this a lot, because you don’t find much mac & cheese in Singapore.
Here’s the banana chocolate chip cake that I am so sick of baking but did so under the insist of my dear friends…

Honestly, do you see anything special about this cake? It’s so boring! But is was devoured in a blink of an eye. I guess my friends are simple creatures.

And…the grand finale, frozen mango cream cake!

The crust is an almond-sugar cookie, with pureed mango, orange juice, and ong>freshly whipped cream filling, and I topped this with fresh grated coconut.

And what do you know? My friends raved about this as well. But half of them still preferred the plain old banana cake! What’s wrong with them?

All in all it was an awesome dinner. For the first 10 minutes it was total silence as everyone just dived into the food and chewed and chewed like it was their last meal! And then it started getting really noisy, as all fourteen dinner guests began praising and complimenting the food, and asking me how I made them. I forgot the rules of a good chef and foolishly divulged all my secrets. What can I say? I’m a sucker for compliments.

I definitely broke the bank on this dinner! The frozen mango cream cake itself cost about $20 to make! But every penny I spent, every last drop of energy I used for this dinner was well worth it and more as I watched the happy faces of my friends, and the way they mopped up every last bit of morsel, licked their fingers, and sat back with a groan of satisfaction.

Oh, and another reward I got for making this dinner? My youth group leader did a special prayer just for me! And my friends also gave me a present: a cool sweatshirt that they searched high and low over all of Singapore for, looking for something that is “thick�? enough. That’s not easy, considering that Singapore stays well around 90 degrees all year round! Hee hee. And what’s more, they also helped with cleaning up! They washed up the dishes, wiped the tables, vacuumed the floor, and took home all the leftovers. They were the world’s greatest and sweetest guests ever! I felt very much appreciated and loved.

That said, the next week will be a bit of a battle for me, because I’ll be having quite a lot of farewell dinners and will be eating out a lot more than usual! But I think my sadness for leaving overtakes my fear and anxiety of the food…For once, being sad is working for my favor…

Question of the day: Do you have your own specialty dish that is famous among your family and friends? And do you ever share your secret recipes with others?

I have quite a lot of “specialty dishes?, but I’m famous for incorporating pumpkin into practically everything. My friends tearfully told me during dinner that each time they see a pumpkin, they’ll think of me! Ha ha!

Stop Talking to Me!

It’s sure been a battlefield the last couple of days! I had to eat out both lunch and dinner yesterday, and I had lunch out again today. Tomorrow I’ll be eating out for dinner also, and again on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

I’m not going to lie. There has been two clear forces battling within me. There is my ED, going ballistic about all the unknown calories that I’m ingesting, and then there’s my conscience, berating me for all my stupid fears and anxieties.

My ED side is malicious and sneaky and bitter, trying to entice me to resort to his manipulating ways and deceits, encouraging me to order the “safest” item on the menu, coaxing me to eat as little as possible. Meanwhile, my conscience is snotty, critical, and judgmental, telling myself I am stupid and selfish and weak for having such struggles in the same place.

I hate either sides. I hate how both of these two battling voices in me make me feel guilty, weak, frustrated, and hopeless.

I have never been too comfortable with eating out, because obviously the food will be richer, and ED freaks out over not being able to know the exact nutritional information in each bite that I put into my mouth. Anorexia, as I once mentioned, is really all about control, about following my own (but really ED’s) set of rigid rules and calculated numbers, and being faced with a dish prepared by somebody else freaks the hell out of me. Who knows how much freaking oil or butter the cook ladled in there? Who knows what other sort of sneaky, disgusting, high-caloric and super-unhealthy things they slipped into even a simple thing like a baked potato? Nothing can be trusted, nothing is safe.

I can deal with eating once in a while, but eating out consecutively, most of the time with me having no idea exactly where we will be dining and what the menu will be like…that requires a ton more concentrated effort and motivation and fighting spirit.

The thing is, I can always take the easy way out. I remember when I used to only order salads. Dressing on the side, no croutons, no cheese, no meat, actually, why not just bring a mega bowl lettuce and tomatoes, thank you very much. Man, I’m really splurging today, aren’t I?

At times when I was really forced to eat something I did not want, I would resort to even more desperate, shameful attempts like hiding my food in my napkin, pretending to chew my food then spitting it out secretly, and yes, at times even rushing to the bathroom to puke anything I could out.

But I’m no longer at that stage, thankfully. I’m at a weird conundrum, actually. I’m at the point where I desperately want to get well, yet I’m still deathly scared of the process, the necessary steps I have to make in order to recover. I try my best to order something that will be challenging, but not that scary enough to send me into an anxiety spasm.

That’s where the battle between my conscience and my ED comes in. One says, “You’re actually going to eat that you crazy fat hippopotamus? Have you forgotten you are anorexic? ANOREXIC?! ANOREXIC!!” The other says, “That’s the best you can do, you stupid cowardly rat? Do you still want to be anorexic? ANOREXIC? ANOREXIC?!!”

Please…just shut the hell up. ED, I’m not anorexic anymore, and you’re the one who has no place in my heard. Now shoo, I have better things to worry about. Conscience, you need to tone down and give me some space, girl! I’m trying my best, and constant self-criticism won’t help the least bit.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a bit about what was going through my very messed up head during these last three meals that I had recently.

For lunch yesterday, I went to Eatzi Gourmet, a family-style steakhouse and bistro. They wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant at first, but I begged them to reconsider because I detest Chinese food and I’m still not comfortable with eating foods I truly find unappealing.

I order the set lunch, which included soup of the day, main entree, dessert, and coffee.

The soup of the day was cream of mushroom soup and garlic bread:

It was very rich and creamy and the mushroom taste shined through. I could only manage half of it though, as I did not want to fill up on soup before I got to the main course, which was…

New Zealand sirloin steak in brown sauce cooked medium-rare, with french fries and cooked vegetables

I was disappointed that it came with french fries, because deep-fried foods is not something I am ready to handle yet. Especially when my friends’ executive set lunch came with this!

A loaded baked potato! Topped with loads of sour cream, fried bacon bits, and chopped spring onions! Thankfully, she did not like her potato, so I switched my french fries for her lovely loaded baked potato.

The steak was really juicy and tender, though a bit more cooked than I would have liked. I ate almost all of my steak, plus a few bites of a NY steak and a rib-eye steak. I didn’t touch the vegetables, because I knew they would fill me up too much.

We were all stuffed by the time coffee and dessert were served, which was a good thing, because dessert was horrendous.

Horrendously sweet, that is. I don’t even know what this is supposed to be. Some sort of coffee cream cake? All I could taste was the sugar! Blech! The bottom yellow cake layer was okay, though, so I just ate that part. She didn’t even touch hers, she only ate the cake part like me, while she ate all of his and stole a few bites off hers. And I thought females liked desserts more than males!

For dinner I met up with a church friend. After discussing some options, we decided to dine at Swensen’s, a family restaurant known for its ice-cream.

I ordered the Chicken Ratatouille:

Baked chicken roll topped with tangy tomato sauce, with authentic French ratatouille and roast potatoes.

I have no idea what that green thing in my chicken is. Anyone familiar with French cuisine who knows what it is? It tasted like some kind of meat, but I couldn’t detect what kind of meat. It almost tasted sort of like…offal…especially since the French loves their sweetbreads and such! But it was actually pretty good, and I polished off all of it.

And the ratatouille…Oh my God, it was freaking amazing!!! That was the first time I tried it, though I’ve been wondering what it tasted like ever since I watched the movie Ratatouille (one of my favorite movies, by the way). It was definitely really oily though, but its incredible taste made me forget about the amount of fat in it.

The potatoes were quite nice, it was creamy in the inside yet crispy on the outside.

Vivien ordered the Beef Rouladen:

German recipe of stuffed beef rolls braised in herb sauce, accompanied with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

I had half of one of her beef rolls, and unfortunately found it rather tough and stringy, though the sauce was quite superb. And of course sauerkraut is always awesome! The mashed potatoes were a little too creamy and buttery for my liking, though.

Our dishes also came with the soup of the day:

Creamy corn soup. It was quite good, but only because it was laden with MSG. I could tell right away this came from a package or box or something. I had half of it.

We also had a cup of Lipton tea:
Lunch today was with her at Cedele, a bakery and deli. I was the one who suggested this place because I was craving sandwiches for some reason.

And I think I spiked my craving for sandwiches even more, because mine was freaking delicious!

Smoked turkey with cranberry sauce and brie cheese in Wholemeal Linseed Loaf.

Holy…freaking…good!!! One slice of bread was slathered with spicy mustard and mayonnaise, the other with a thick slab of brie, and they sandwich a luscious layer of thick cranberry sauce and smoked turkey slices and crispy lettuce and fresh tomatoes in the middle.

At the first bite, I was so disappointed that the bread was so hard and dry! But after a while, the bread soaked up all the acidic-sweetness from the cranberry, the smoky juices of the turkey, and the pungent, rich fat from the brie…

The cranberry sauce was tangy with whole bits of cranberries in it, and not at all saccharine. The turkey was smoked to perfection, so flavorful and yummy! And oh my gosh the brie!! My only response to it is groans of ecstasy.

As you can see, I’ve definitely been indulging a bit more. The food is richer than my normal fare, and most of them I have never tried before. I’ve walked this battle path, and I will be walking several more for this week. I think it got easier and easier for each meal. The voices are still loud in my head, but that doesn’t mean my actions towards recovery have been seriously disrupted.

It’s emotionally and mentally draining to have these struggles battling within me all the time (before, during, and after meals, so pretty much the whole day) but I can feel myself getting stronger and braver at each step, in each bite, with each satisfied burp. I think this is another necessary and beneficial training process towards recovery, and I shall do my best.

Plus, I’ll never ever forgive myself if I ruined all my last moments with my precious friends worrying about the little additional weight that I desperately need to gain anyway!

Question of the day: How often do you dine out? Do you check up on menus beforehand? Do you get nervous when you don’t know what restaurant you’ll be dining in beforehand?

Having a good laugh

I have had the best time yesterday night with my friend. It was awesome in so many ways. First of all, she got a pay raise, so she treated! Second of all, she chose to dine in our favorite place, Out of the Pan! But best of all, we had so much fun!

We chatted and laughed at everything. Don’t you love doing that with your friends? Being in such an euphoric high of camaraderie and jovial mood that you laugh and crack jokes about the stupidest and most random things? I thought I almost cracked a rib, and food flew out of my mouth a few times.

One thing I regained back during my time here in Singapore is my ability to relax, enjoy social activities, and just…laugh. Oh, to laugh freely and naturally! I missed that carefree burst of cackles, spilling out from deep within me with no restrictions or awkwardness. After not being able to have a real laugh for so many years, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and delicious it felt to be able to do such a simple, basic thing. To all of you who laugh on a regular basis, take a second to relive the moment, and give thanks for it, because there truly is nothing as sweet and pleasant as a good, jolly laugh.

Tra la la~

Oh, yeah, on to food.

I know many of your are rolling your eyes at our choice of venue at Out of the Pan again, but I swear I tried to suggest other venues to her! But she really craved Out of the Pan (who can blame her?) and since she was treating, I was in no position to oppose her wishes. 😉

This time, I ordered the Tandoori Chicken in whole wheat crepe:

Chicken marinated in spices and baked in tandoori oven with cucumber in mint chutney

I’d actually debated getting the Norwegian Salmon again for its wonderful creamy pistachio cheese, but I’m so glad decided to order something different because this was freaking awesome!!

The chicken was so nicely marinated with all sorts of lovely spices, and was so tender and flavorful!

And the mint chutney with cucumber…Obviously, I would love it because it’s this brilliant green, but it was such an interesting and complex chutney. It was both spicy and bold yet refreshing and cool at once, and complemented perfectly with the tandoori chicken.

She, however, was not so lucky with her choice of Honey Soy Chicken in sundried tomato crepe:

Grilled honey soy chicken with sauteed organic leeks in garlic shoyu

Truthfully, I didn’t think it was that bad when I tasted it, but she complained that it tasted weird, as in, too Asian. I guess the combination of crepe and strong Asian flavors just did not match.

It looks pretty good, though, doesn’t it? I thought the filling would actually be delicious with Shanghai pancakes, or on top of fragrant jasmine rice.

While she was complaining about how strange it tasted, she shoveled it down and was done before I was halfway through mine. Ha ha!

We also ordered a side dish of tortilla chips and guacamole:

They were terrible. I thought the guacamole was way too sweet. I think they added honey or something in there, but the sweetness was just overbearing for me! She liked it, though she couldn’t finish it.

Today is a “relax” day. As in, no eating out, because I have discipleship training meeting at church tonight. After all the extravagant, interesting eats I’ve had, I was actually craving something really simple for lunch today. Which was a good thing because since I’m leaving on Sunday, I can’t buy any more groceries and really needed to clear out whatever’s left in the fridge.

I decided on a simple cheese-omelete sandwich:

Two whole wheat bread, slathered with blackcurrant jam, encasing a 2-egg omelet with huge handfuls of Parmesan cheese and chopped red onions, a small sliced tomato.

Well, okay, maybe it’s not that simple. The blackcurrant jam might seem like a strange addition, but it’s gave a very pleasant fruity bursts of sweetness to the sandwich.
And do you see that glob of melted gooey cheese in the egg? Yum!

After eating this I still felt a bit empty, so I ate some roasted pumpkin (or winter squash) as well:

So today is a simple simple day, but sometimes simplicity can be so comforting and enjoyable! I hope all of you have a great day, enjoying all your simple pleasures of life!

Question of the day: What are some really simple things in life that make you happy?

For me: Curling up in my bed with a good book, sipping on a fresh-brewed cup of coffee in the morning, taking a walk by myself in the breeze, my daily poop exactly between 12-2 pm, hugging a loved one, crunching on ice during a hot day, a brief stretch before bed.