Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cookie's Boarding Guide

Dear Friends

Since I moved here less than 6 weeks ago, I have received 3 guests staying over at my apartment. Thanks for your companionship and friendship, I love to host you and want my family to enjoy having you around as much you do.

However it is extremely important for me and my family to maintain some sanity as we see our lovely guests come and go. So if your family name is not Tan or Ling, the following house rule will apply. I humbly asked that you agree to the following T&C before you make any application:

  1. Unless you are someone who survive on air and water, pls do not apply if you have a daily budget of £2. While we are not looking for any financial benefits of your stay, we are not quite prepared to finance your holiday (i.e. 3 meals a day+free chauffering+whatever you have in mind).

  2. Though we are not running a B&B (Bed and Breakfast), we are more than happy to have you join us for some home-cooked meals. When you do get invited, you are not expected to bring wine or flowers, but it won't hurt if you offer to wash the dishes after the meal. Even a simple gesture of bringing the empty plates to the basin will be greatly appreciated by all of us at home. We have no maid. Period.

  3. You know, this is a home. Not a hotel. I do not mind staying up a little if you are arriving late. But what would you do if you have a guest who tells u she is arriving at 2am (and still subject to train delay), and it is a weekday night when you and your child need to leave home at 7am.

If you think I am too petty or too mean to make these requests, I will gladly help you to book a hotel. I'll probably lose a friend or a relative, but whatever it takes to keep a sound mind!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicken Balti

Balti is actually the name of the cooking pot and serving dish. It is pretty much a British-style type of curry, meaning it is not spicy at all. Living out of a service apartment, I have the provided-Ikea pot as a substitute.

Instead of gathering all the spices, I used the ready-to-use Balti sauce that I picked up from my favourite supermarket (for only £1). It tastes pretty yummy with a right blend of sourness and slight spice! It is a very appetising dish.

I used chicken wing for the dish but any other meat like lamb or chicken breast works as fine - wing is cheaper, that's all. In my case, it costs about £3 to whip up a hearty and satisfying meal.

Chicken Balti
Feeds 2

8 chicken wings
1 large lime
2 tbsp plain yogurt
sesame oil
1 large yellow onions, chopped

1 night in advance:
Marinate the chicken in the lime zest and juice and yogurt overnight.

To cook:
  1. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or pot and fry the onions until turn translucent.
  2. Toss in the marinated meat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over a moderate heat until cooked through.
  3. Pour in the jar of balti sauce.
  4. Perfect with naan bread, or basmatic rice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ginger Chicken (炒姜鸡)

If you have came to London before you know exactly how costly it is to eat out. However, it is fairly cheap if you can cook your own meals as there's an array of items that you can get cheaply from the supermarket.

Chicken wing is one of those good value; last week when I shopped at Sainsburys - i was surprised to see that the fresh (not frozen) chicken wing goes for just £1.70/kg. By comparison, the chicken breast is exorbitantly priced at £14/kg. I asked around, and found that the British does not like anything that has bone, never mind which taste better. Haha, that explained why even the KFC here has boneless chicken in their menu.

One man's poison is another man's meat, so i gladly buy what the brit doesn't want. The first thing came to mind as I was in the aisle was to cook Mary's Chicken and Ginger Stir-fry which i read from her blog recently.

It reminds me of my mum's 姜葱鸡(chicken with spring onion and ginger). Since the spring onion is quite ex (well, for that matter, all asian veg cost a bomb here), i skipped that, and just make do with the ginger. It is also costly but I reasoned that since it can be kept for at least a week or 2, it makes sense to buy ginger instead of spring onion if i can only choose 1.

The below here is what I did but i believe each of us have our own version.

The portion below feeds 2


8 pc chicken wings
1 yellow onion chopped
10 slices ginger, shredded
cooking oil

2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine (or XO/brandy)

1. Stir fry ginger and onions in 2 tbsp of hot oil till fragrant.
2. Add in chicken pieces and fry for about two minutes.
3. Add in the rest of the marindae + 1 cup of water and let it boil for a while.
4. Cover and turn down fire and let it simmer for about 30min or till gravy thickens. Add salt to taste.
5. Serve hot with white rice and enjoy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Life in London

Life in London is slowly taking shape.

Our air shipment has approved. We are all adjusted to the timezone, no more waking up at 3am. We are all starting to love the nice cool summer. We are even getting used to paying £12 for a plate of fried rice!!! I still remember when we first went to the supermarket, J and I couldn't stop our exclamations over the prices here!

Now, we've stop the mental currency convertion, and that kindda help us get by with little less stress. So much about climatisation!!!

Amidst the high cost of living here, we still managed to find some good buys. Like the pair of Clarks that I pick up last weekend. My cheapest Clarks, ever!

When it comes to sightseeing in a new city, 1 cost saving tip thing I learnt from my mum is to just board a bus, and let the bus take it anywhere. Alight when you feel like it, and continue the journey as you wish.

It is certainly far cheaper than taking the tourist bus tour. I paid £1.20 (with oyster card, a stored-value travel card in London or £2 if paying cash) per trip. If i had gone with the guided Big Bus Tour, I would be £26 poorer!

There are quite a few really impressive buildings that we came by:

Big Ben

Can't remember the name. Anyone?

Natural History Museum

Of course, there's also House of Parliament which is such an imposing architect.

My work place is just next to London Eye, I took this pix on a quiet cloudy morning before the tourists flock here:

J also start to try his hand at cooking. This is the first meal he has made in his life. It's instant noodle cooked, drained and served with fried egg and fried sausage.

Sheen was astonished that dad can cook, and gave him 2 thumbs up! Way to go, J!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Green's Chocolate Cupcake

I baked these chocolate cupcake just before I left my matrimonial home.

After the packer's left, I found this box of Cake Mix which i deliberately kept with me. And I really wanted to bake it. Shoud be easy with cake mix, I thought. So I started to organise the stuff I need:

eggs - checked
corn oil - checked
mixing bowl - shipped.
muffin pan - shipped

Instead of the mixing bowl, I found a relatively big soup bowl. Not quite big as the mixing bowl should be, but I will make do.

Muffin pan. Just use the paper pleated cupcake case lah. Haha, no luck it is also shipped. After rummaging thru what's left behind are stuff that needs to be thrown or given away, I found a pack of silicon cases sitting neat and proper in a box! :-)

Happiness is when you get to bake at the end of a hard day work!

PS: I used nutelle for the frosting on top.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

So Long, Finally...

July was a terrible month.

I had been living like a nomad in the last month. I moved from 1 place to another every week. To be precise, 6 moves in 4 weeks!

From my apartment, to my in-laws place, to the Grand Hyatt, to London. Even within short period of arriving London, I am currently living in the 3rd apartment.

It started from early July when my stuff needs to be shipped - the packer came in, and within haf a day, everything in the apartment is gone. It was in a rather unliveable state (except I manage to squeeze in 1 bake ... haha, i will come to that later).

So we moved to my inlaw's place as a transition before we move to London. Sheen had a few crumpy days with granny's place, so we decide to move into the hotel.

Lucky for us we had a nice 2 bed-room suite in Grand Hyatt that was right for my family. There's even space for my sister's family to have a staycation!!! I love every bit about the place, location, interior, facilities etc, only it was time to get to the airport.

When we arrived at London, we head straight to a hotel cos the serviced apartment which we wanted was not available yet. The problem with visitng London in summer is that the time is so right that you have to compete with a million others for everything. That includes accomodation. The suite is not avail, so it was another few days of camping in a tiny hotel room with 9 strewed luggages!

Finally we got the apartment we wanted.

This time round, we happily settle in the nice and cosy place. Also, there's enough room for my friend who will come visiting soon. Soon we discovered the internet in that apartment was not working, plus the washer which we have specifically requested for was conspiciously missing. After discussing with J, we decided it is time to move again.

We have equaly challenge with the current place - there's not a single powerpoint in the 2nd bedroom. I do not know how anyone can live with this! Haha, but we concluded that in London, dun expect 十全十美, so unit 110 is our home until our sea shipment arrives in a month's time when we have to move again!

Till then, I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything turns out well for us in the next couple weeks!