Celebrating Chinese

Last year, I bought pussy willow to make the dutch home feel like Chinese New Year. Read > Here

This year, I did the same but more because I’m not gonna be in Singapore for Chinese New year which kinda sadden me, so, I’m gonna celebrate CNY the dutch way. 🙂

You know,  it’s time like this you want to be with your family. Sometimes I wish one can be at two place at the same time or distance be made less noticeable. Anyway, don’t wanna get all emotional here. So,  let me share with you the happy things. 🙂

There are a few things that are mandatory during Chinese New Year.A Sumptuous Reunion Dinner, Pussy Willows, Mandarin Oranges, Bak Kwa (Roasted Pork), Pineapple Tarts & Red Packet! Sadly, there are only a few I manage to achieve in order to make that dutch home looks almost Chinese New Year-Sy.

The easiest to achieve was Mandarin Oranges. The dutchies eats Mandarin as their daily fruit intake. So for that is it not new. The only thing is, the dutch mandarin are way smaller than those we have in Singapore which we import from China mainly. The size is at least double but not at all sweeter. So Dutch Mandarin 1 – 0 Chinese Mandarin.

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Surprisingly since last year, pussy willows are easily available in the Dutch land. And it seems like they sell them during this period of the year. So I went back to the same florist I did last year to buy those pussy willow. They are still pink and pretty like they were. The pussy willows that we have in Singapore which are also imported mainly from China aren’t pink. They have really long stalk, so you will need some muscles to carry them home and a huge vase to place them. So Dutch Willow 1 – 0 Chinese Willow.

What is different this year is, I am here to watch it blossom!

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Bar Kwa (Roasted Pork), Pineapple Tart & Red Packet are those that are not achievable. I realise I wasn’t allow to bring in any meat products while travelling back to Holland so i did not take the risk of smuggling some. I don’t know why I didn’t bring back any pineapple tarts, I’m just stupid. Now I am regretting it like a big time. And the dutchman won’t give me red Packet so I don’t have red packet as well 😦

Nevermind, I get over it. In order to make myself happy, I reckon I must at least have a reunion dinner kind of meal! So I send Jos a text while he is at work that we will have steamboat tonight. To my surprise, he didn’t ask what is that but readily said OK!

The typical kind of reunion dinner in Singapore are; go out to a fancy Chinese restaurant and be ready to spend a lot of money. Because these restaurant worked so that you can have your reunion dinner so naturally, their prices are way above the usual rates. Or, make your poor mother/father/grandparents whipped up a sumptuous feast of at least 6 dishes. These old people are usually really good with CNY food. I don’t know why. My mum is one very good cook but because she is now old, we usually eat out. I miss her cooking, she made delicious curry chicken, Soy Sauce Pork and many more. It’s time like this I miss her even more. Okay not because I’m hungry for food, more because it’s Chinese New Year and we should have reunion dinner together! So, anyway,  I called her just before the new year and we have made a deal that she have to pass down her culinary skills to me!

The other kind of reunion dinner for the not so good cook is to have STEAMBOAT. And that’s clearly why I decided I will make do with Steamboat as a reunion dinner with my white man. All you need is a good soup base and everything else is dependent on what is your favorite. I love prawns, the huge ass ones. On the contrary, Jos hates prawn. So good, I have them all to myself and I bought a lot of it. Some nice cut meat (Chicken, Pork, Beef), some Shitake Mushroom, Some Fishballs (typical steamboat ingredient), Tofu maybe and whole lot of vegetables; bak choy, broccoli if you like and any others. In another words, it’s a steam pot with whatever you want. It’s so easy and it’s really yum! So here are the pictures of the ingredients for our steam-pot.

Did you spot the chinese chop sticks and spoon? I bought them from the chinese supermarket especially for this. I reckon it is important to make it as authentic as possible. 🙂

So that’s how I spend my first Chinese New Year in Holland. Not quite the same but okay.

Mustard at its best! Indeed!

Does anyone of you loves Mustard? Well I don’t. I remember finding it disgusting when someone put this brownish almost green paste on their sausages. And when they offer them to me, I would always reject. Because, in my opinion, Mustard just taste weird. I don’t like mustard on anything I eat as a condiment.

I would never have think differently about Mustard if I’ve never been living in the Netherlands. Once when we were having lunch with Nelly & Jan, everyone ordered Mustard Soup but I went for the Mushroom soup. Well, just to be safe, since Mustard doesn’t sound or taste good to me. Okay, I can be boring with food like that. Anyway, in another occasion, when Jos had Mustard Soup & I had Mushroom soup yet again, I decided to take the challenge and sip a spoonful of that yucky green-paste condiment that I dislike. And to my surprise, it was nothing but YUM! I love it so so much that everywhere I go from now, I would be looking out for Mustard Soup (In Dutch: Mosterd Soep)

Today, I was bored. As usual. I decide maybe I should check out the recipe for Mustard Soup, maybe I can surprise Jos when he comes home to a home-cook mustard soup? Maybe, maybe… only maybe. Anyway, I type Mustard Soup Recipe on Google and I must say there are just so many recipes online and they all varies. Some are much more complicated while others are easy and straight forward.

Anyway, I decide I am going to try this one :

Mosterdsoep

3 tablespoons butter
6 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cups (1 liter) stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 tablespoons of mustard (zaanse mosterd)
1/2 cup Cream
1 Leek

Optional: Bacon & white wine & chervil

Simply because this have less than 10 items to purchase and the process seems really easy. For the record, I am a super lousy cook. If you like the same recipe.. Here is the link.

The good news is… I realise we have Zaanse Mosterd in the cupboard!!! I wouldn’t even take a second look on this bottle. Looks muddy and strange. It must have lying there for months? Look!!

It must be a sign right? That I have to try making mustard soup all on my own!! But wait…

The bad news is….. I think this bottle of Mustard is expired… look:

Do you also think it’s expired? I think it must have been lying there for years!?

So, I have expired mustard in my cupboard, that means I have to go buy a new bottle. But I want the same mustard from Zaanse since it is suppose to be popularly good.

I have heard a lot about how tasty the Italian Cuisine, French Cuisine even Thai Cuisine or Chinese Cuisine are, but Dutch Cuisine…. not so much. It is kind of sad because I think there are some really nice dishes that these dutchies make. Once I was really addicted to their Pea Soup. It was so good until we start making Pea Soup ourselves. Not that the result was bad, it was still tasty. But the ingredient used to make pea soup is super rich with so much bacon. I feel sick eating so much bacon. because I don’t like to imagine the amount of oily fats I’ve intake in one bowl of soup. As such, from then on… I moved on from Pea Soup (In Dutch : Erwtensoep). But still, everyone should try the Pea Soup, one of the best from the Dutchie Land.

So much for soup today, I shall run to AH now and see if they sell the same Mustard I’m looking for. And if I do find them,, I might make some soup tonight, only maybe… 🙂

Ciao!

Our Sweet Adventures

I have promise to post pictures of the cakes we made! So here they are

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This is the cheese cakes.. It’s loaded with 500gram of white chocolate and 300gram of mascarpone cheese some butter, a lot more sugar plus a lot of love making it 🙂

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This one is loaded with 1.5 jar of strawberry jam and a whole lot of sugar!

So that one dinner at Nelly’s birthday ended with a Sugar Bomb!

I had a lot of fun baking them with Jos. I’ve never baked a cake and succeed. So here we are not two but three cakes in a week!

Before the weekend, we were requested to bake the same strawberry cake for Jonus (a little boy birthday). It’s a birthday request right? So how can we reject?! I don’t have a picture of that last cake to proof it but we did 🙂

Besides the sweets load, my dearest prepare a very nice weekend meal just for me! You will drool seeing this :

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So yes, that’s so much for a weekend full of indulgence ! Anyone baked 3 cakes in a week?! Tell me! 🙂

My Surprise Trip

As the title has reveal, it is no surprise that the beloved boyfriend decided to give me a surprise by booking us a trip to Prague! Of which, I am very surprised! Jos had picked Prague because I’ve been asking to visit a few many places and Prague was kinda top in my list. So you can all imagine how much happiness I felt just hearing “we are going to Prague” from him!

He had booked the weekend before Queen’s Day so that we only need to take 2 days off from work and spend a good 4 days in Prague. And coincidentally, Transavia has an early morning departure and a late night return. So that makes it a good 5 days! Check out Transavia.com or download their application on your iPhone so you won’t miss any special offers they might have!

Taking off with Transavia!

The flying time was a mere 1 hour and 5 mins from Rotterdam The Hague Airport to Prague. Because we only carry hand luggage, we could walk in and out of the airport quite fuss free! That must be the beauty of travelling light only until you realise you run out of clothes to wear and need to buy new ones! (Commonly my excuse 🙂 )

We stayed at Best Western Hotel in the central of Prague where every where is within walking distances, that is if you think 10-15km is walking distance. For me and Jos, we travel by feet whenever possible because that is when we see whole lot more than being in a tram or metro. By feet, we walked to and across the Charles Bridge, take a drink, and at some point, we pass by John Lennon Wall and then walk on to the bottom of Pethrin hill, took the tram ride up the hill and walk back down hill and back to the Bridge, walk around the square and back to the hotel and fall flat on our face back at the hotel room. Despite the painful feet… it was fun 🙂

Here are some of the pictures I took of our trip, the pictures definitely doesn’t bring up the actual beauty of the place but this is like the best I can do with an iPhone! 🙂

The first enchanting view of Prague was of course the Charles Bridge. At every corner of the bridge, you will be able to enjoy the breath-taking view of Prague. Jos would always point out to me and say, “oh, and there is the Pethrin Hill” and “Look there is where we were yesterday at the other side of the hill.”  Charles Bridge although really crowded, I have no problem standing there the whole day just enjoying the view and the vibrant within. It was really beautiful.

The first time I came across the John Lennon Wall, there was no one in sight. I wasn’t sure if we were lucky but it was a Friday and we had the wall all to ourselves! I didn’t knew it was John Lennon Wall until later but WOW, it’s such beautiful piece of wall art!

John Lennon Wall

At the bottom of the Pethrin hill stands the statues of the Memorial of the Victims of Communism. I was trying to take a picture of it but there was a group of man crowding around it for a very long time…. so below is a picture from WIKI! You will see the statue starts with a full human body and ends with almost nothing at the back.

I didn’t have a good picture of this so I took this from wiki! 🙂

Pethrin Hill is oh so enchanting. Another place I can stay for a very long time and not feel bored. Even though there is nothing much you can do, but the smell of spring, the serenity of the environment and the soft green grass just makes you stay. Although the tram ride up is always full but when you are up there, you can easily find a quiet spot where you can have some quiet time from the crowd. We lied down on the soft grass like everyone else did for a good hour ! Sun shining but so relaxing and nice!

That’s me on the grass… do you also feel the softness of the grass?

At the top of the Pethrin hill stands a Look-Out Tower resembling the Eiffel Tower in Paris but much smaller. So I call it MINI Eiffel.

Mini Eiffel @ Pethrin Hill, Prague

The Tram coming up the hill.

Full of beautiful White Trees!

View from Pethrin Hill

Charles Bridge @ Sundown…

Old Town Square

Another place not to be missed is the Prague Castle, in czech, they call it Prazsky Hrad. A castle with a Cathedral within. The Cathedral is huge standing right after the entrance of the Castle, beautifully sculptured. Oh and its called St Vitus Cathedral. 🙂

Arriving @ Prague Castle with style! 😀

In Prague, there is no fear of connectivity. Prague must be one of the only European Union Country that has free WIFI at almost every restaurant and shopping mall. I love them for being so generous with their WIFI, although some restaurant protech them with password, but as long as you eat in the restaurant, they will reveal the password without you even asking! Too Cool.

Besides the free wifi, there were tons of food choices. Other than Czech Cuisine, there are also wide range of other choices, Japanese, Chinese, Thai & Indian food are commonly found. We didn’t try the Japanese or Chinese but their Indian food is really good!

The typical Czech Cuisine are the Duck & the Beef Goulash. I’d tried the Duck and Jos tried the Beef  Goulash on our first night there. We both agree, although the meat was okay but the potato dumpling looks and taste weird.

1/4 Dutck with Red Cabbage & Potato Dumpling.

Beef Goulash

We did have so much fun while in Prague and I’m already missing the fun. Now, I don’t want to be abrupt but this post will get too lengthy for reading pleasure. So I will stop here. Please come back and read the next episode title “A SURPRISE IN A SURPRISE!”

Signing off with Love, J

One Man’s Meat is another Man’s Poison.

So I’m back again in the lowlands. I’ve spend a great short week back in Singapore enjoying the glorious food and magnificent company of my family and friends.

To many people, Chinese New Year  are about visiting relatives (some they don’t even see for years), collecting “ANG PAO” (Red Packet with money in it) from the elderly and married ones. So if you don’t want to be throwing money, refrain from getting married! I find it annoying when people stay unmarried like forever and still collecting Red Packets without shame. Last but not the least, people indulging themselves in gambling (Mahjong & Poker Cards) their wealth away.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I’ve lost it. I do none of those during the period I was back for the season. I dislike visiting extended relatives that I hardly speak to for like forever. I know this sounds rude but why would I want to see someone that doesn’t know or care about my well being for the whole freaking year and only come together on a random Chinese new year to ask questions on your personal life? I prefer to spend time with my immediate family and close friends who cares about me every day of my life. So yes, visiting distant relatives feels fake to me. I’ve never like gambling so Chinese New Year shouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to gamble.  I don’t want to feel like I’ve lost my roots but somehow, Chinese New Year seems to have lost it’s meaning.

Collecting Red Packets!

No, this is not a rant post. I have to say, one thing I really love about Chinese New Year are the goodies I cannot stop eating. Although these goodies can now be found like any time of the year, eating them during Chinese New Year feels better. The truth is being in the Netherlands and not being able to enjoy all the food I love from Singapore has always been a pain for me. So, the Pineapple Tarts, the Bak Kwa (BBQ Pork), the Egg Rolls adds to the numbers that shows on my weighing scale just a minute ago. But no, I’m not telling you my weight.

Pineapple Tarts

Naturally, having tried, tested and tasted all the goodies, I want the Dutchman to also enjoy what I truly enjoy. I’ve tried to enjoy the boring Dutch Food, so I reckon he should enjoy the interesting Asian food without too much trying right?

So, the Roasted Pork and Pineapple tarts flew with me, like over 6500 miles… only to face a Dutchman sniffing them and says “Ewww” without even trying. Because I have too much pride about the food I like, I’ve insisted that he has to try ! Well, he did and give me a wrinkly facial expression. How bad can these food be? Really? For the record, I wasn’t trying to poison you… 🙂

I refuse to tag this under Ranting… because This is still not a rant post!! 😀

Bak Kwa – Source from Bee Cheng Hiang

Berenboot is Beary Nice

Hello World! I’ve been lagging on blogging, I know. But I only realize it when my all-time loyal stalker aka my boyfriend  nagged at me for not blogging. “Shame on you, Jess” exact word he used. If you are also a blogger, you will understand, blogging uses much brain juice and because I’ve used up all my brain juice on my new job by the time I’m home, my brain have already been sponge dried so where do I get more of those juice? Right? Agree… thanks! 🙂

Anyway, I decide I should blog about a Bear we both adopted for a good cause, his name was Kika, but being his adopted parent, we can change his name of course. But he do not have a name yet because, well he is only adopted last night, so give us some time, we will come out with something nice.

The Adopted Bear - Kika

The story of how Kika was being adopted went like this……

Long long Not so long long time ago, in a far far not so far away land, a dragon and his piggy decided to visit a Bear Restaurant for some Bear Meat in a small town – Dordrecht. The name of this restaurant is Berenboot. Beren in Dutch means Bears and Boot means Boat, so it really means BearsBoat. Piggy being Dutch Language illiterate, she enter the restaurant without having an idea what it means or what to expect and Dragon didn’t care to translate.

Upon entering the restaurant, Piggy instantly felt the warmth (of course due to the cold wind outside, anywhere else would be warm) and coziness of the restaurant. The tiredness of a hard day work was instantly forgotten. She was beaming with smiles.

A Beary Nice Restaurant.. have you already spot the many bears hanging around?

A very friendly Bear-waiter waiter ushered them to a very nice cozy, 2 seater corner. Alittle cramp but meant to be – “Cozy” so they lived with it. The moment they took their seats, Piggy was instantly checking out the many bears surrounding her. She started putting them in her strange gadget called – a Camera…

Very Beary Bears... you have to agree, they are too cute.

There is even one that was punished and was hung on the wall!

Bear nesting?

Look at the one on the left... he is leaning so close squashing the little one for a nice photo shoot.

And after all the “going gaga” over the bears, Dragon & Piggy checked out the menu to decide what they should have for dinner. The set dinner menu comes with a starter, a main dish and dessert all for EUR19.50. As piggy was really hungry, she decided to have the set menu, she chose to have Hot Wings as starter (because she loves chicken), Baked Fish as main dish and the Chocolate Trio for dessert. For Dragon, he chose to have the Unlimited Servings of Spare Ribs for EUR13.50 because that is the most popular dish in the restaurant.

The Dinner Set Menu

Dragon's Meal - The Juicy Spare Ribs

Piggy's Meal - Baked Fish

Sorry, no pictures of the Hot Wings because they were both famished by the time the hot wings came and it looks insanely delicious. Was all gone by the time Piggy took out the photo taking gadget.

And here comes piggy’s dessert….

The bear-shaped sauce plate

Ooops, sorry that isn’t the dessert.. but isn’t it cute? Everything has to do with Bear here. You will agree when you see the dessert.

This is the dessert. Insanely tasty Brownies with whipped cream...

If you didn't spot the Bear Shaped Chocolate that came with it... here it is.

The restaurant even has suger, wet-tissues and cookies packed with it’s beary signature! Now watch…

Suiker = Sugar

Cookies! Well, eaten before the camera came into actions... by Dragon of course

Wet Tissues

The overall experience was a very good one. Piggy didn’t like the baked fish very much though, so she had to share some of Dragon’s meal, the Spare Ribs also because it’s too good not to eat them. Because of it’s unlimited servings,  they both had enough to eat.
At the end of the dinner while waiting to pay. Dragon was speaking with the Bear Waiter for abit in Dutch of which Piggy didn’t understand. Next Piggy received Kika Bear from Dragon. While Piggy thought it was a free gift for eating this much, it was really a gesture from the Dragon and also to support the Children Cancer Foundation. 🙂
Berenboots is located all over Netherlands. If you like to also have a beary good time in a Beary Restaurant, maybe for a good cause to also adopt a bear, visit http://www.beren.nl. Veel Plezier!
Kisses with Lots of Love from
Jess the Piggy

Stamp the Pot with all your might!

I’ve only landed in the lowlands for exactly a week now but there is so many things happening. I’m little overwhelmed but am handling it quite well. A lot of tears because I’m missing home very much. I’m really glad I had Jos who has been so patient with me. Living with my emotional mood swing everyday must be a horrible experience for him.

Anyway, back to the many happenings. Being a Singaporean, the food I ate or love to eat are very different from what the dutch dishes are. I like western food, steak, pasta, hamburger etc but no, don’t like them on a daily basis. So getting use to eating what the dutch would eat naturally become a challenge for me.

I remember Jos made me a Winter dish in November last year, he proudly calls it “boerenkool met worst”. I love this dish very much even though I’m not a big fan for Carbohydrates. So being back in the Netherlands, all I can remember was to eat the same dish since I remember enjoying them enough to remember the name of the dish.

A Stamper

This time, I made it together with Jos although not “met worst” which means “with Sausage” but it’s still good.

I realise, the process of making this dish is simple and fast, all you need is a Stamper, put all ingredients together and mash it with all your might! Thereafter, flavored it with salt and pepper.

I wonder if this stamper is created because of the dutch habit to smashed their food with ease… because I’ve never come across a stamper in our Asian kitchen. On the flip side, this stamper does make it a lot easier to mash the ingredient up but it didn’t say you should be gentle with it. Jos had to repeatly remind me to press the stamper to the bottom of the pot!

Well, the first thing we did was to put bacon to cook in a saucepan until crispy as seen below. While cooking the bacon, we can start boiling potatoes (skin shaved) and 2 eggs (in dutch : Eieren) in a big pot. While cooking and boiling, we chopped up the endive. And then, we make a cup of coffee and return to the couch and relax while waiting.

Randomly, we checked on the bacon, making sure it does not burnt and the potatoes to check it’s softness.

After all that, the hard work begins. Drained the potatoes, remove the eggs and peel the shell. Put the endive and the crispy bacon into the same pot we use to boil the potatoes and begin smashing with all my might.

Anyway, let me now allow the picture to speak it’s thousand word on how this dish is being cooked. 🙂

First thing First - Cook the Bacon with a pan.

Boiling the main ingredients - Potatoes and Eggs

Next you chopped up the Endive!

After everything is cooked.. the bacon, potatoes & eggs (remove shell please..) put them altogether in the same pot.

Stamper is ready to mash them up.

Without the Human... it is not possible of course. 🙂

Finally, the result after much hard work with the Stamper 🙂

This may not be very professionally presented but the taste of it might be nicer than you thought. I had TWO servings of this! So it must be good. If you care for a fuss free and quick fix to your dinner, I believe this could be it and it don’t have to be winter to enjoy a meal like this.