Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stir-fry Noddle in a Jiff

Home cookign can't get any easier than this - I pick up these 3 items from Waitrose for £2.50, and had them cooked within 15min.

All i need to do is to heat up a wok, add 1 tsp of oil to fried the veg for 5min, then add sauce and noodle and dry until they are heated thru.

They have quite a wide choices - you just choose 1 from each category
  • noodle :egg, sweet chilli, beehoon
  • stir fry sauce :black bean, sze chuan, sweet and sour, chinese style
  • vegetables: mushrooms, chinese veg, etc
I have to say that they taste great too: the noodle still have some bite, and the sauce is neither too salty or taste artifical. The best part is that it has lots of vege, I love the fibre!!!

Jason thinks this is a great idea... and I suspect I am going to have to content with the similar noodle in days to come. Agh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Italian Herb and Sundried Tomato Breadmix

I pick up this pack of breadmix from Sainsburys in a whim. I remember previously bought something similar from Singapore for triple the price!

It is convenient if you are living in temporary accomodation like me.... without the usual baking stuff.

The pack come in 500gram bags and almost contain every thing you need. I simply added olive oil and water then knead by hand... just follow the instructions on the back and you can't go wrong.... or so I thought.

First the instruction say rub oil with mix until it "resembles fine bread crumbs", - well, I am sure i measured the amount of oil correctly but I never get to that stage. In any case, i am skeptical about the purpose of this step. In the science of bread making - the oil will coat prohibit the formation of the glutten. I dun recall having adding oil as the first step in making bread back at home but who cares, i continue with step 2 even though is it far from fine bread crumbs.

Next, the instruction says to knead for 10min. Ok fine. Then cover and wait for 1 hour. I do not know if they mean 1 hour for the 16C weather in London - my bread didn't rise sufficiently until 3 hours later. Even then, I had to place the dough next to the electric heater.

Once it is proofed, I briefly knead againm and leave the dough to rise AGAIN for another 30 minutes!!!! Nope, 90min to be exact.

By the time, the bread is baked, I was dead tiring. Fortunately the effort was worth it - the bread is light and soft. It is deliciously tasty with the bits sun dried tomato and flavour of olive oil.

The only problem is that the loaf doesn’t keep fresh for long. 24hour is the max. After that the bread is dense and heavy like Lady Gaga's makeup!

Until my shipment of all the baking equipments arrive, I will stick to the Tesco 95 pence loave which is fresh, soft, and effortless!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eating at Home

Despite the high cost of living in London, there's actually things that we cheaper than we have back home. Like flowers - these are sold like groceries in the supermarket... each bunch cost about £3-6, depending on the variety.

I was so happy to receive them from my little Sheen - of course he does not have the financial means to buy the flowers, but he was the one pick it out and told daddy to pay when both of them were making their way home after his school.

The little one tried to surprise me when i came home from work... blindfolded me before leading me to the kitchen where the flowers where "hidden".

That's not the point of this post, but these are little pleasures in life that make parenting a sweet journey!

After dinner last evening, we strolled to the nearby supermarket, and saw this Tesco Finest* Meal Deal for Two which only cost us £10. Pretty good deal - we can pick 1 Main, 1 Side, 1 Dessert & 1 Drink and the drink includes wine :-)

May I present the dinner menu:

That's what we have:

The portion may not look big, but it is really substantial - we didn't manage to finish our plate, and so the dessert was kept as snack for Sheen's school next day!

The food is fresh, and honestly, as good as what we get from some restaurants. I got everything heated and served on the table within 20min!

This is going to be a perfect choice for us as the dusk getting earlier and temperature dips faster than you say cold. Like the squirrel stocking up the accorns for winter, I see us stocking up these ready meals hahaha!

Why am I here?

This pix was taken in summer. Sheen was begging not to walk anymore... cos his feet couldn't take it anymore.

When chatting with my colleague this morning, I suddenly recall this interesting conversation with Sheen when we first arrived -

Boy: why do we need to walk so much? can we take our car?

Ma: this is london, our car is in Singapore.

Boy: then why do we come here?

Yes, sometimes ma also wonder
why we leave our nice new car in SG while we have to depend on the unreliable tube here.
We left our spacious apartment behind to live in this tiny flat.
I ditch my nice and cosy office to be in a workstation.
J put his cushy well paid job on hold to be full time father.
i can go on and on... but what purpose will it serve?

I know I will probably be stoned to death by the English if they see how much all the complaints i have. To many colleagues, £2300-a-week prestigous address (never mind how small) & £22K international school is big deal.

But there must something more than that facade.

OK there is probably a couple good reason to come in the first place. I should go back to jog my memories of the initial dreams of coming here, and continue to chase that dream.

It hurts to think about what we are losing out in our home country but hurt only last as long as we allow them to. If you continue to drag the home cultue around, you cannot enjoy the new experience, like toilet paper stuck to the shoes, or so a wise man said!

For now I have to help myself to get out of that tailspin, and get my family to enjoy the ride with our spirit of adventure!

PS: do drop me a note or 2 if you have anymore wise advice!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Pie

I have been thinking hard about the fate of my this little space since arriving in London. To some, moving to London may seem like a glamourous exciting time, but for us, settling in a new city has been a challenging task.

Those who have been to UK will know how (in)efficient this place is. Initially we thought its just us moaning meaninglessly. But after meeting up like-mind expats community in London, I realise this is just some reality that we have to learn to cope.

Other than issues we need to overcome in the process of relocations, we are so excited about the country that we had all our weekends and hols all planned; On days I am working, I am busy chatting with the UK folks to find out good places to visit and eat. On days I am not working, my family and I are so busy exploring the city, inside and outside London.
As a result i have a longer "to-visit" list than "to bake" list.

To be honest, i barely cooking or baking these days. If not for the extra apples that we have hand picked from the fruit farm , i doubt i ever get down to have my first bake in London!

Just had to bake this cos i wrongly got the bramley apple (which is not very good for eating) - it tast very "green".

Fortunately it couldn't be any easier to make - I used the ready filo pastry (pix below) from Waitrose. Btw, my current apartment is just above Waitrose, so I have to ditch my fav Sainsbury for now!

There are other types of pastry like puff or shortcrust pastry which are more common, but according to the website, filo pastry is healthier with less fat/butter being used.

Recipe adapted from here.

Makes 1 6" pies

2 eating or cooking apples, (I used bramley) - removed skin and core.
4 sheet of filo pastry, thaw if necessary
55g butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

  2. Core and slice apples

  3. Melt butter and brush the tins or moulds. .

  4. To make each pie, brush 4 of the cut pieces of filo with melted low-fat spread. Press the first sheet into the base of the tin, then arrange 3 more sheets on top, at slightly different angles, so that you get points of pastry around the edge of the pie. Alternatively, trim or fold in the sides.

  5. Arrange the apple slices in each pie and crimp the edges of the pastry to cup the fruit.
    Mix together 2 tbsp low-sugar apricot jam with 1 tbsp unsweetened orange juice until you have a smooth syrup, then brush this over the fruit. ( i skipped this step as i am not keen to buy a jar of jam just to use few tsp but if you have it gives the pie a shinier look)

  6. Sprinkle some slivers of almond for texture.

  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.