Not a new year’s resolution

We are now a few weeks away from 2013 and I can’t believe how this year have turned out to be. I feel that the days and months have passed by so quickly right before my eyes. Where have the days gone by? What have I done this year? Nothing much really, but I have some important realisations. With the new year waving around the corner, I feel the need for a change in lifestyle. I’ve had so many excesses this year that I need to kick out things that don’t matter out of my life to make room for the things that really do. Anyways, these thoughts lead me to this dream of mine borne out of a chance encounter with a person who’s living happily a life of less.

I have a confession to make…

ampalaya in augustI have this dream of living sustainably by growing my own food in my own backyard and committing to a sustainable lifestyle. While it is a simple principle, it requires a complete overhaul of the way we live our life now. That means giving up, if not downsizing, on a lot of “nice” things that we are used to, doing stuff ourselves (hey, I like DIYs!) and re-thinking some of our personal values. Yes, one part of that shift in lifestyle is to save money but a large part is really being able to live simply and to be content with less.

So now I’ve began growing my own food on a small scale. A lot of people I know found this laughable because we live in an apartment. Not a problem, I told them. I planted vegetables on pots. While they scoff at the idea, I am happy to say that it was a good move and we are already enjoying the vegetables– err, the fruits of our labour.

ampalaya veggies apad wordless wednesday bitter gourd

Since my husband and I are saving money for that small-to-medium piece of property somewhere where we’ll retire as farmers, we’ve started making small changes in our shopping and eating out habits. Last year, we started going local, buying our food from the local markets and pledged to eat real and home-cooked meals and minimize, if not, totally avoid, more processed stuff. This year we are looking at dining out less frequently (unless invited). As for our possessions, we’ll we do not have much as per western standards but we have lots of old clothes that we (I, particularly, accumulated over the past decade of stay here in Cambodia) that we could do away with. I’ve already contacted a friend working for a local NGO to donate our clothings.

How’s that for a start? I might sound like rambling here but I’d like to think that I am on the right track. More vegetables will be added to my garden this year. I’m considering purchasing heirloom tomatoes seeds and assorted herbs via etsy.

Food Trip Friday 099: Secret Recipe’s Grilled Black Pepper Chicken

PinayWife and I met up last Thursday for a morning of coffee and chitchat (Brown Coffee) and a bit of pampering (Soben Spa). It’s been ages since I had a massage and my back really needed a good kneading so I was really looking forward to this day out.

We opted for a traditional Khmer massage. Because of Soben’s early-bird promo, the one hour and half massage costs only a little over the regular price of a one-hour massage. Woot-woot 🙂 When we got out of spa, it was already half past noon and, although very much refreshed and satisfied from the soothing massage, we were already hungry.

Secret Recipe is becoming my favourite go-to for quick, no fuss lunch. So we chose to go to Secret Recipe at Sovanna Mall. This time around, I excitedly ordered pepper chicken and enjoyed my meal tremendously.

Lip-smacking grilled chicken smothered with black pepper sauce and served with rice and salad.

Oh, some more pepper sauce. Please.
My husband always tell me that the taste of the meat is lost when it’s smothered with sauce. But that’s me, I love it when my steak is drowned in sauce, lol. And I like the really thick sauce.

So anyways, the spiciness of the the black pepper sets off once the sauce hits your mouth! It is not so overpowering (considering my grilled chicken was deluged with sauce) but you feel the kick right away. Makes me wonder if they used Kampot pepper on this one. The side salad, on the other hand, was great, too, even if the serving was too little. The lettuce was crispy and the mayo-ketchup dressing was just right. My only concern was that the rice serving was tiny – the size of a five year old’s fist – but that’s alright, I’m kind of on a controlled diet these days. (You could tell I’m a voracious rice eater!)

I’m on a sugar diet these days so, for dessert, we only ordered a slice of choco-cheesecake that we shared between us. It was heavenly! So the it’s not all hype – the choco-cheesecake was, by far, the best one I had in the Penh. Besides that, there’s nothing like sharing a slice of cheesecake with a girlfriend!

Food Trip Friday 098: Sfiha

The other night my husband and I found ourselves without dinner again. There are stuff inside the fridge but, you know, it’s one of those nights when I just could not be bothered to cook. I hope I don’t look like a bad wife at all. I had a cold and a splitting headache, a little compassion here, please.

So yeah, we ordered pizza for delivery. Again. But different this time. It was pizza with exotic middle-eastern spices… they’re called sfiha.

Sfiha, the Lebanese pizza, from Le Cedre Restaurant in Phnom Penh.

They are delicious, exotic pizzas that are made from minced moutton and mixed with various heavenly spices. They look like open-faced minced pies on soft dough (crispy on the sides) but, according to Le Cedre’s menu, they’re actually pizza that are traditionally eaten in Lebanon and other Arab countries.

I’m not a fan of lamb meat at all but this one I’m happy to make an exception as this dish is a tummy-pleaser! I googled for recipes and I’m pleased to know that it’s not that difficult to make. I think I know now what I will try to do in my kitchen next time.

 

Food Trip Friday 096: Secret Recipe’s Curry Mee

I’ve always been a laksa lover and I had been craving for it recenlty. When a friend suggested we do lunch at Secret Recipe, I immediately said yes to finally satiate my craving.

Mmmmmmm. The best curry mee ever! Curry mee is one of the iconic hawker’s food in Malaysia and Singapore.

Yes, this Malaysian-grown franchise has already entered the Kingdom of Cambodia earlier this year and opened not one but two branches in the capital alone. One is situated in the busy Monivong Boulevard where my friend took me. Inside was so cozy and pleasantly cool, a welcome refuge from the searing heat outside.

As a lover of anything noodles, my order, of course, had to be curry mee and it came in a large bowl with an okay serving of sambal on the side. Curry mee is just  basically spicy curry noodles but the sauce — the sauce was creamy and oh-so-tasty. The curry spices weren’t overpowering either so it’s all good. As you can see in the picture above, it’s not all sauce – you can see the ingredients – fish cake, tofu, and clams – weren’t swimming in the sauce.

For sure I’ll be coming back to try out the other dishes in their menu.

 

Home made tea recipes

As a passionate cook like me, you are sure to love whipping up your favorite meals or treats for your family and friends. Every cook has their own signature dish or speciality, whether it’s baking delicious batches of brownies, or sizzling a steak to perfection, but not many people know how to make tasty and fragrant herbal teas off the top of their heads.

Making tea may not require a lot of complicated cooking skills, but it does require knowing your spices and herbs well in order to brew up something brilliant. Not only do these beverages make a nice change from sipping on English Breakfast Tea while you play at FoxyBingo.com and watch TV, but they also make a great drink to offer at dinner parties or even afternoon teas. Below are a couple of interesting tea recipes you might be keen to try.

Chai tea

You will need:

2 cups of water

4 black tea bags

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick

5 whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 pinch ground nutmeg

2 cups milk

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring the water to boiling point before adding in the tea, honey and vanilla. Next, season the tea with the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. Allow the tea to simmer for 5 minutes before pouring in the milk to make the tea creamy. Remove from the heat and drain to get rid of any leaves. Serve hot and enjoy!

I love spiced chai with just the right amount of cinnamon. I make them myself.

Hot Cranberry tea

You will need:

4 cups of water

12 ounces of cranberries

2 cups white sugar

2 oranges, juiced

2 lemons, juiced

12 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:

In a saucepan, mix together the water and the cranberries and bring it to the boil. After simmering for half an hour, add in the sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Leave the tea to simmer for another half and hour before straining. Pour into mugs and enjoy.

Food Flash: Deep-fried small shrimps

I was browsing Khmer Author Chanbo Keo’s Facebook page and came across this mouth-watering snack food. I remember, when I was still working in the early to mid-2000s, my officemates would go in every room in the office to collect money to buy our afternoon snack.  We always have delicious snack every day and the choices varied from day to day.

But this is what I love the most – deep-fried shrimps with crunchy cucumber and sweet-sour Khmer sauce.

A yummy afternoon snack for office-dwellers like us.

This yummy snack is sometimes served with Khmer mint leaves but most of the time it is served with cucumber. Aside from the sweet-and-sour sauce, there is also a lime-pepper-and-salt dipping which I prefer over the former. It is an oily snack, but I tell yah, it’s finger-lickin’ gooooooood!

Now I can help but crave for some…  This savoury snack never fails to get my appetite going.

Food Trip Friday 093: Cheese sticks and lasagna

This is the first time that we didn’t order pizza for delivery when we called up the Pizza Company and, as always, the delivery was less than the 30mins. promised time and the food, piping hot!

 

Bacon and Cheese Twist.

Meat Lasagna. I love the burnt parts 🙂

Yes, they’re greasy and laced with cholesterol guaranteed to clog your heart. But they’re oh-so-yummy and we could not resist.

Homesteading idea: Honey-lemon-and-ginger tea

From the Homesteading/Survivalism Facebook page, here’s a remedy – a kind of “tea” – for that winter sore throat.

Winter sore throat tea, by Homesteading/Survivalism. Yum.

How to make:

In a jar, combine lemon slices, organic honey and sliced ginger. Close jar and put it in the fridge, it will form into a “jelly”. To serve: Spoon jelly into mug and pour boiling water over it. Store in fridge 2-3 months.

We may not have winter in my side of the planet but this tea sure looks (and tastes) great. You can never go wrong with honey and lemon. And with the ginger,  you can say bye-bye to your sore throat as soon as you finish a mug in one swig.  So to my friends out there in cold countries, this one’s for you.

I am a huge fan of the Homesteading/Survivalism site and I “liked” their Facebook Page so in order not to miss  regular ideas and inspirations they share for sustainable and self-sufficient living. I believe in living off the grid and off the fat of the land. I may sound dreamy and romanticize it a bit but I know it requires a lot of hard work and major adjustment in lifestyle and mindset. I like the idea of growing my own food, make my own stuff. Well, there is no better time to begin living like this but now.  We are slowly easing our way into this lifestyle.