shirleysmario

generally exciting in chelli's wonderland

Welcoming Easter…AGAIN?! 2015…oooh :-|

Time flies so fast! WHY OH WHY?????

This time around we are welcoming Easter again! As usual Fasting and Abstinence. Our household just do the usual less eating on Wed (we skip breakfast or dinner) and no meat day every Friday. It is good in a sense as both me and my husband are trying to loose weight so we use this special occasion to ACTUALLY loose weight 😀

Easter 2015 itself will be around the first week of April which is awesome! That means we get to celebrate our kiddo’s birthday coincide in April too. Last year it was hard to book the church hall as it coincided with Easter 2014.

But this year we decided not to organise any party instead we feel like some lavish lunch at fancy restaurant. Well to make up for last year’s birthday too.

Anyway, budget is another headache too with the rising of living cost in Western Australia…not to mention that we also plan to make one big purchase within this year. So I cross all of my fingers and see what the economic and this crazy world brings.

xoxo

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Outback Splash Water Park in Bullsbrook WA (not recommended)

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The day…

…when you feel really sad seeing your junior upset

…when you feel hopeless seeing your junior upset

It hurts so bad…

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Pre, Christmas, Boxing Day, and Post

Let me start by wishing you all Merry Christmas! May God gives you more strength to go through 2015 which I am sure would be even more tougher than 2014.

This year’s Christmas we don’t go overseas and don’t really do much apart from food, catching up, and more food. We have been so busy with life and apart from Advent we sort of forgetting the fact that Christmas was approaching fast like super fast Japanese train. M set up Christmas Tree only probably a week before Christmas and while lots of parents forming snake queue at shopping centres throughout Perth for their children to have a memento with random guy who dressed up as Santa Claus…I chose not to join the bandwagon. Firstly to start with, to imagine my handsome tot son sitting on some random guy’s lap and being touched…possibly indecently…is already frightened me. Call me paranoia but in today’s world pedophile poses as anything even Santa Claus! Secondly, I don’t feel right to impose the idea of celebrating Christmas by looking forward for Santa Claus coming to town with bunch of presents to my son. Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who was born in a manger with lots of hays, sheep’s’ poo odor most probably and only known by 3 wise men, a young shepperd and angels…that’s about it. No party. So I don’t feel right to expose my tot with that sort of consumerism Santa Claus-y culture. Maybe when he is big enough to understand I will explain about this whole Santa Claus thingies. We decided to cross out Santa Claus and start introducing this whole Christmas celebration with something simple; family values.

We caught up with few friends pre-Christmas and some are friends we have not seen for quite sometimes. It’s good to know they still remember us and knowing they are still alive 🙂 You know you get friends who don’t genuinely care about you. They are passive friends who unless you initiated to invite them to catch up, they won’t contact you whatsoever. That sort of friends who redefined the word “stranger” with “friend”. Funny world…or shall I say, sad society.

Still have to sort out Kindy enrolment for my little tot which I narrowed down to 2-3 private schools out of a long list. Trying to get childcare sorted too; tossing between one near where we live and another one near our workplace. So that alone kept me busy during pre-Christmas.

On Christmas Day we spent in M’s parents place (my in-laws). They made traditional Srilankan food and I brought some sweets I bought from nearby deli. Lots of wishes came through our mobiles via messages and calls. No big celebration just family. In the afternoon M attempted on making roast pork which was epic fail. Well after marinated for sometimes and cooked for 3 hours, somehow the flavor did not absorb well by the meat. So flavorsome on the meat underneath the skin but that’s about it. At night we had a night drive to the beach which ended up with our tot fell asleep in the car.

Boxing Day we spent outside…again as a family 🙂 Considering the weather was pretty warm so going out was a definite option. M does throw surprise pressie from time to time and he did get me a beautiful blue Leona Edmiston dress this time. I adore Leona’s dresses so beautiful fits-in right on Australian women’s body and awesome patterns!

Then post Christmas and Boxing day we had such a relaxing days. I went out for a cuppa with friend leaving M and my little tot at home. It was good to have some selfish time for just me. I got carried away with time until my friend reminded it’s time for us to make a move…we, mothers, cannot trust our husband alone with our little tots too long at home hahaha Lunch, again, M spoilt me by making me a pork curry lunch….yummy! This time he redeemed himself, the pork curry was delicious!

Overall this year I think I am more relaxed than ever. I feel good and recharged ending my 2014 with a number of life-challenges or I shall say surprises towards the end. One surprise led to another and another…and open to more life-opportunities. I suppose God works in a very mysterious way and I am looking forward to what HE prepared for me in 2015.

Not much of cooking and baking happening at my household this time so there will be no food posting or picture to drool on for a while.

I hope you are all ending the year with happy, peaceful and good notes. Have a safe and awesome New Year 2015.

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First Week of Advent

Helo December…yes today is December 1 of 2014!

How time flies super super fast, it almost does not exist! I am approaching the end of my second parental leave and soon will have to go back to work again in 2015. I will have to go back to my stressful job, lots of meeting and negotiation, analysing, manipulating and modelling some data & reports, and some corporate politic. I am not sure if I am ready for that after spending 2 years as stay-home mum and homemaker which surprisingly I enjoy it as much as working in a hectic corporate world. I suppose my career is something I enjoy as much as being a full time mom.

My household is celebrating Christmas and excited to enter the first week of advent. We decided not to put up a Christmas tree this year. The reason why is because we have a super active toddler whose curiosity can definitely kill two or three cats at once. So to avoid any unnecessary risk like being electrocuted for one, fallen under the tree, choked by the tinsel, or any glass decorations broken into pieces, we decided to wait until our little cheeky monkey becomes 3 years old. Fair enough!

However even without Christmas tree we are in the spirit of Advent this week. Already planned a Christmas day with family and Christmas sock for our little one. Most people are busy with their Christmas present list, this year we decided to start a family tradition of our own which is giving away. I think it would be challenging especially because we live in a society where people are being encouraged to  be “Keeping up with the Joneses”; consumerism and materialism. The fact that majority of the people we know do measure life with material and money. Loose translation of  “Keeping up with the Joneses” phrase by Wikipedia:

Keeping up with the Joneses” is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.

In the end of the day…I am just happy to celebrate what I have been given and received.
Have a wonderful Advent celebration, folks!

Always remember that how big/deep problem/trouble you think you are in, there will always someone else in this world who is in much deeper and bigger problem than you. So be grateful on the life you have . Sometimes it can be suck but try to enjoy the ride.

x-o-x-o

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My Sponge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries

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It is no longer secret that I have crushed on the Cake Boss Reality Show. I have been watching it through DVD I borrowed from the library. Cake Boss a.k.a. Bartholomew a.k.a Buddy Valastro is a well-known and well-respected baker who own a bakery chain in the USA, author of a number of books, a bakeware’s household and a person behind the success of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. He is a success story of a person who inherit his passion from helping his father at a very young age to the internationally renowned baker. His story is pretty much similar to Jamie Oliver, the internationally renowned British Chef and one of the richest under 40-list. Both are Gen-X who also inherit their passion by helping their father in the kitchen / bakery at the very young age. Alright I think I ramble too much now…

So one occasion I tried to make his sponge cake with chocolate butter cream. Unfortunately I drowned myself in time having fun baking this little beauty. I really enjoyed following the recipe on the book pictured above, it was easy to understand and comes with explanation, tips and tricks. The taste was delicious too and still light even when I skip 1 ingredient which I forgot now. Obviously my icing skill is still basic although I started to play around with fondant but I love putting fresh fruits on my cake.

Well practise makes perfect! I will continue practise my baking skill and posting if there is any disaster along the way…or success 🙂

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Bakso Malang

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There are so many kind of traditional food in Indonesia. The choice is endless and if you love travelling as well as culinary explorer then I would recommend Indonesia. It is an archipelago country consists of a number of islands. Each island has a number of provinces and each province has cities and towns. Each of those tiny areas has their own unique food and taste. Let say Java Island has few provinces under it and East Java is one of them. East Java itself has its own capital and cities. Each area, sometimes even within one city, has its own unique flavour. One of my colleagues took 2 years off to just explore some parts of Indonesia which I thought pretty amazing.

One of Indonesian traditional food I like called Bakso Malang. Free translation of the word Bakso is Meatball but I don’t really settle with that. Meatball and Bakso are two different kind of food. Bakso is bakso to me. It is made out of pork, chicken, prawn, cuttlefish, fish or beef. While meatball is made out of beef and that’s it! Bakso has two different textures, soft / smooth or rough round but sometimes also comes in a square shape. It’s chewy but taste nice and normally eaten / served with either chicken or beef stock. It is hard to find Bakso Malang in Perth as not many Authentic Indonesian Restaurant although every single Indonesian Restaurant in Perth would claim themselves as “Authentic”. Recently I went to Batavia Corner and intrigue to try their Bakso Malang. When my meal served it was not as I expected. It was not even close to the original Bakso Malang I ate in Malang (small town approximately 3 hour drive from Surabaya, with traffic jam). However the meal is delicious especially the stock, it was super tasty! I also ordered rice cubes or Lontong to go with. I love their Bakso Goreng, it was crunchy and chewy on the inside. I thought only their Bakso Goreng that is actually much more delicious than the one I ate in Indonesia. Unfortunately I forgot to take picture of it. I was simply hungry and can’t wait to demolish them all.

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Bolu Kukus Pondan

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Making traditional food is quite a challenge especially the one from Asian countries. However if you really learn the recipe not much of a process just bit and pieces of uncommon ingredients only known by local people. One of my craving this week is Bolu Kukus, a traditional Indonesian cake. My mom brought me this pre-mixed cake packet produced by one of food companies from Indonesia called Pondan. They give clear step-by-step instruction on the back of the box in which you only need eggs, water, butter/margarine and cocoa powder (I used Dutch cocoa powder as I like the bitterness of it). It says if you have the mould then use the mould otherwise any normal cake pan. In this case I used my colourful soufflé bowls.

Here are the results:

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Review:

Not bad for pre-mixed packet. Instruction is easy to follow and product was delicious.
I thought that was even tastier than the one I usually get from the shop.
Lighter and moist.

8 out of 10.

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Hoppers make my tummy hop hop hop…

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I am sure if you type “Hoppers Sri Lankan food on Google you will get a list of recipes, blogs and images of Hoopers. I am a long-time fan of this particular traditional food of Sri Lanka. First time was introduced by M. When we were dating long time ago, most of the times he would ramble about Sri Lankan traditional food and one in particular was Hopper. He told me varieties of, the taste, what condiment to go with to how to eat it. As a food lover and passionate about food myself, I would then ask as many questions I could to learn and find out what is all the fuzz about. One day, after we are married, M took me and my parents for a dinner to a Sri Lankan restaurant owned by someone he knew. The restaurant called “Banana Leaf” in Leederville and every certain day of the week they have got someone specifically cooked all kind of Hoppers. It turned out that M also knew this someone too! What a small world indeed as later on we discovered that this person is also a parishioner in our church. That day my food affair with Hopper was bloomed.

Unfortunately a couple years after, the Banana Leaf was closed down and this Uncle Curly, the famous Hooper maker‘s nickname due to his famous afro curly hair, has no longer have fixed spot to sell Hopper. He is now making Hopper to order or as catering to party, event or food fest/bazaar. I did not get to eat it again since until recently we caught up with Uncle Curly again and were invited to have dinner at his house. I did mention how I missed his Hopper and good thing he said that he would gladly make as many Hopper I could eat. So we went over his house for dinner and welcomed with the warm hospitality. We get to enjoy homemade food while listened to inspiring and yet funny stories plus good conversation. Chicken Curry, Onion Sambol (hot and mild) and two varieties of Hoopers were served with cold beer for M and just water for me. After main meal, they served Toffee Caramel Sweets and Wattalappam, both are traditional Sri Lankan Desserts. The Hopper is to die for especially the one with egg in the middle. I ate like I have never eaten for a month! Yep it was a little bit embarrassing but I use “breastfeeding” as my excuse and the fact that I was really hungry at the time after breastfed my bub…so I was forgiven I guess. I did not dare to touch the hot Onion Sambol but spooned the mild one to my plate. Together with the egg hopper they make a wonderful couple! Yuuummmm…..

After main meal I got my hand on the Toffee Caramel as recommended by M. It looks hard at first but my first bite was unexpected. It was soft, melted in my mouth and out of my surprise, the sweetness was not as much as I expected. It was in perfect balance. The Wattalappam was awesome too, made out of jaggery / brown sugar and I could definitely taste the spice in there. Only if I was in the restaurant then I would order for another round.

As we eat, Uncle and his wife shared their life stories which mostly inspiring and motivational including his 5-years stint owning the only authentic Sri Lankan restaurant in Perth. I did pose a question as how come there are so many Indian restaurants but none Sri Lankan one. The argument was that Sri Lankan food does not suit commercial production as it cannot be prepared a day or two days before while with Indian food you can. The curry paste for Sri Lankan food is also demanding to be made fresh, otherwise would be tasteless.

Notes:
Sri Lankan cuisine has influences from colonial powers, foreign traders and the Kerala region of India. Key ingredients are rice, coconut and especially spices, reflecting the island’s history as a spice producer and trading post over several centuries. (source: Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_cuisine)

WatalappamWiki Watalappam (also called Watalappan or Vatlappam) is a coconut custard pudding made of coconut milk or condensed milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, eggs, and various spices, including cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. This dessert is very popular among the Tamil Muslims in Tamil Nadu in South India and in Sri Lanka; especially amongst ethnic Moors and Malays. It is believed to be of Malay origin and it gained popularity in the 1900s. This dessert is a must for most religious festival days and other social functions and celebrations. (source: Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watalappam)

Hoppers (appa): (source: Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appam)
HoppersWiki

= Plain hoppers (Vella Appam)
bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour. They derive their shape from the small Appachatti in which they are cooked. They are fairly neutral in taste and mostly served with some spicy condiment or curry. These hoppers are made from a batter using rice, yeast, salt and a little sugar. After the mixture has stood for a couple of hours, it can be fried in the appachatti with a little oil. In south-central Kerala, it is mostly served with Kadala (Chickpea) curry mutton or vegetable stew or egg roast.

= Kallappam
Another form of Appam, where “Kallu” (Malayalam/Tamil) means toddy is added to the fresh batter to kick start the fermentation.

= Egg hoppers
the same as plain hoppers, but an egg is broken into the pancake as it cooks

= Milk hoppers (Palappam)
have a spoonful of thick coconut milk/coconut cream added to the doughy centre. When cooked, the centre is firm to the touch but remains soft inside and is sweeter as a result of the coconut milk.

= Honey hoppers
crispy pancakes cooked with a generous amount of palm treacle. Some people also like to add some jaggery just before serving to make it extra sweet.

= String hopper (Noolputtu)
Or Idiyappam is made from rice noodles curled into flat spirals. It is served for breakfast with a thin fish or chicken curry, containing only one or two pieces of meat, a dhal (lentil) dish, and a spicy sambol or fresh chutney. String hoppers are made from steamed rice flour made into a dough with water and a little salt, and forced through a mould similar to those used for pasta to make the strings. They are cooked by steaming. These hoppers can be bought ready-made. The Indian and Sri Lankan population eats String Hoppers for breakfast or dinner. There are many variations to this, depending on the type of flour used etc. This simple dish can be adapted into other foods such as String Hopper Biriyani, by adding scrambled eggs or vegetables. Another example is located in Kerala, ‘Idiyappam’ Paaya(Goat Leg Soup made using Coconut).

= Pesaha appam
(also called INRI appam or indri appam is made by Nasrani Christians in Kerala during (Passover). This type of appam is dipped in syrup or Pesaha Pal (Passover Coconut Milk) before being served.

= Acchappam
A deep fried rose cookie made with rice. A signature Syrian Christian food as per K.T.Achaya

= Neyyappam
which owes its origins to Kerala. This is made with rice flour, jaggery, clarified butter.

= Unni appam
is a variation in which mashed plantain is added to the batter. The batter made out of rice flour, jaggery and plantain is poured into a vessel called Appakarai / Appakaram, which has ghee heated to a high temperature. The appams take the shape of small cups, and are fried until deep brown. Both neyyappam and unni appam are eaten as snacks. This is festive sweet, made on Gokulashtami – the birthday of Hindu deity, Krishna. It is also a common prasadam in Kerala temples.Also a signature Syrian Christian food as per K.T.Achaya.

= Vattayappam
is made from rice flour, sugar, and coconut. The dish is made by steam-cooking the batter, and is very similar to the Bánh bò from Vietnam.

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Beef Rendang from the packet

SpicyRendang2_JPGI am pretty lazy when it comes to cooking Beef Rendang. Mainly because the preparation to  cooking time is so time consuming, at least 1 hour or so. However because Beef Rendang is such a favorite in my household so I cook it occasionally using a pre-packed Rendang paste. Yes it is cheating but consider the limited time I have and the pre-packed paste does not taste so bad anyway then why not. I used imported paste from Indonesia to get the authenticity taste bit, it called Bamboe. There is another brand called Indofood which I find it tasty as well. Both are pretty cheap and easy to get it from any Asian deli throughout Perth.

I do like to serve it with something healthy. This one I served it with Basmati steamed rice and blanched English spinach. M loves it and as usual he always goes for second.

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