Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jade: Bitemyspinach

I am immensely competitive. Not so much with other people...right, who am I kidding..yes, with other people. But certainly not as harshly as I compete with me. Nothing bugs me more than not setting another high score every time I play Fruit Ninja. And I have taken it upon myself to time my morning ward rounds...determined to finish my jobs at least 5 minutes earlier each day..not that there is much point, really..seeing as I had one patient who has now gone home. The things I view as a challenge, though...I worry does my mother when I occasionally let slip what idiocy I indulge in. I'd gone to my usual Malaysian restaurant to pick up some food. The waitress, who was clearly new, asked if I wanted medium spicy noodles. No, very spicy, I said. She looked a little alarmed, 'Miss ah..our spicy wery spicy you know'..I tried not to roll my eyes, reassuring her I could handle it. I got home, had a forkful...and it was unadulterated...physical..pain. Couldn't even swear my tongue was so damn numb. I briefly considered throwing the lot away...and then I remembered the waitress's warning..which in my head just sounded smug now. Could I live with myself if I just surrendered after one bite?...surely not..I popped the carton in the fridge to let the noodles get nice and cold..hoping it would temper the heat. I like to think there is method to my madness. Got out a punnet of strawberries and that was how I spent my saturday night~ alternating excruciating mouthfuls of noodles with bites of strawberries. I finished every last strand of it lips triple their original size...and then I spent most of Sunday on the toilet for my sins...with a self satisfied smile playing on my still engorged lips. Jade-1; smug waitresses-0.
I realize I have a problem, I do.

Spinach soup~ the only thing I could stomach for about a week after..and because I've just watched wicked and fancied something gloriously green

1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 baby potatoes, cubed
2-3 large handfuls spinach
1 bowl vegetable stock
splash white wine
Salt + paprika to taste

1. Melt some butter in a pan, drizzle in some oil so the butter doesn't burn.
2. Sauteed the shallots and garlic until soft and translucent
3. Add potatoes and stock and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
4. Add the spinach and let it wilt
5. Get your stick blender and puree until smooth and silky
6. Stir in some white wine and season to taste

I'm fairly sure it's a lovely soup...I say fairly because I don't think I've quite regained my sense of taste after the assault I launched on my palate.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jade: Bitemypasta #4

Saturday evening, doctor's mess: [I don't know why I was there on my day off...I'm sad that way]

Jade: No...I can't picture myself wanting children
SHO: What is wrong with you, Jade? Even Elton John adopted a kid!
Jade: .....................

As I sat reading the BTS guidelines later that night, I found my mind drifting as I briefly considered the whole idea of motherhood....To play the role of friend, foe, super hero and evil villain all at the same time...and in between all the calamity-saving, triumphant moments and angry tears..the latter of which you can only hope come few and far between... the realization that a lot of what you do is the small stuff...little things that make a noticeable difference when they're not done, but taken for granted when they are...To have to really pay attention because you know that when something's not right, it is not enough to hand out a chocolate bar and pray the problem goes away...because they generally don't..not until you find the cause; To learn to live your life on someone else's terms...while keeping a smile on your face.

It's a bit like being a house officer....for the rest of your life.

Tuna Arrabiata~ thinking makes me hungry

120g spaghetti
2 cloves garlic minced
1 shallot minced
2 anchovy fillets
2 birds eye chillies, chopped
Half a can chopped tomatoes
Splash of white wine
Half a can tuna chunks in sunflower oil, drained [ I don't do flakes...reminds me of catfood]
salt and sugar to taste
Fresh basil

1. Boil the pasta
2. In the meantime, heat up some oil, n gently sauteed garlic, shallots, chillies and anchovies. Crush the anchovies as you go along so they melt into the oil
3. Add the tomatoes, tuna and wine, give it a quick stir and leave to simmer
4. The sauce should be ready by the time the pasta's done. Season to taste and stir in some torn basil
5. Chuck in the pasta and give everything a good toss
6. Curl up with a good book and your bowl of fiery pasta. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a good place to start ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jade: Bitemyputtanesca

It's been a week since I've left home and I have yet to venture out of my room save to go to work...and even that is within the same compound. I have the post-home blues and online shopping with its guarantees of "free delivery whenever you want" is enabling my lack of motivation to do anything that requires more energy than tapping on a keyboard. Sometimes I think all these modern conveniences do nothing but feed laziness and the general moroseness that comes with it. Take away my swivelly chair and I just might have to walk to the bathroom instead of wheeling myself..or knowing me..just go into retention; Take away my card or my internet and I'll actually be forced to get off my arse and rediscover the satisfaction I once got from exploring the aisles of Waitrose. Better yet, tell me Papa John's website is down and I'll have no choice but to cook something...I suppose I could get some Ensures from the wards but that would require me to walk further..

Spaghetti puttanesca~salty, spicy and definitely worth a walk to the kitchen.

120g spaghetti/ linguine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thai chilli, thinly sliced [or pepper flakes, I just happened to have fresh chillies]
2 anchovy fillets
200g tomatoes, fresh/canned [ I used cherry tomatoes..but whatever led me to believe I could/would peel the skins of 20 odd cherry tomatoes..we will never know. I lost the will to live after 4, so I say go canned...or get the heaviest tomato you can find]
1/2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Splash of white wine
salt and sugar to taste
torn fresh basil

** It's meant to have olives but I didn't have any...or rather the grocery store didn't deliver them

1. Heat up some oil, I used the oil from the anchovy can. Gently sauteed the garlic, chilli and anchovy fillets until they melt into the oil.
2. Add the tomatoes, mashing them with your wooden spoon as you go along
3. Add the capers, olives and white wine, and let it all simmer on medium heat
4. In the meantime, boil your pasta in salted water
5. The sauce should be fairly thick by the time your pasta is ready. Season to taste and loosen it with some water from the pasta pot if it's too thick.
6. Add the drained pasta, chuck in some torn basil and give it all a good toss
7. Grate some cheese over it and give your fork a good twirl :)

Jade: Bitemysoup #2

I went for dinner with my friends the other day, 2 of the safest people I know when it comes to food~think white meat only, and the same order from the same fish & chips shop every week for the past 15 years. So when fish& chip boy remarked on how boring my choice of appetiser was, I was, I think, completely justified in my indignation. It was cream of white onion soup with beer, beautifully thick and creamy with bits of sweet caramelized onion. But as much as it pains me to admit this, I secretly knew what he meant...because I used to think soup was old people food...watery broth with the wilted remains of something that could've been a carrot once... And then my mum bought a book on chinese double-boiled soups. Soup of the day became double-boiled free-range chicken with aged cucumber and wolfberries...wintermelon with pork ribs and dried scallops...lotus root and soft peanuts with belly pork....all gorgeously clear yet so packed with flavour and depth..My little bowl of soup was no longer something I gulped down at the end of became the star of my meal, something I looked forward to and eventually savoured..sip by sip..

For the record, 'soup is boring' boy~he had garlic bread.

Double-boiled chicken and dried shiitake mushroom soup~ the perfect remedy for homesickness

2 chicken thighs, chopped and trimmed of excess fat
5-6 pieces dried shiitake
small handful wolfberries
small handful dried scallops
2 honey dates
salt to taste

1. Blanch chicken pieces in boiling water and drain. This is meant to yield a clearer soup.
2. Dump everything in the top half of your double boiler and fill with cold water, leaving about a 2 inch margin from the top. There is a reason for using cold water...I just don't know what it is..I do as I'm told.
3. Once the water in the bottom half of the double boiler is boiling, lower the heat, fit the top half over it and let simmer for a few hours. I normally just leave it for the afternoon. Do check in periodically to make sure the bottom pot hasn't dried out.
4. Season to taste and enjoy piping hot.
5. Alternatively, boil some mee sua and have yourself the best bowl of noodle soup you'll ever have.
** If you don't have a double boiler, simmer over very low heat. The pressure cooker for all it's conveniences is not your friend.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ice Room, Port Dickson

We decided to drive down to PD for the day to get away from the city. And my awesome cousin brought us to the PD branch of Ice Room.

An interesting little place that you can spot as soon as you make the turning into PD town. The exterior is decked in a bright neon-ish green that you can spot from a mile away!

Anyhoos! The Ice Room is not like the flurry of fro-yo outlets that has been mushrooming around KL.

It's flavoured shaved ice! But the ice is so smooth that it's almost like ice cream! The toppings are quite basic but adds a variety of texture to your eating experience.

This commentor's favourite is the Black Knight, which is the black sesame snow ice!

Price-wise, Ice Room is very reasonable. Each Snow Series special is still under RM 10.

And they have other things on the menu such as the Durian Tempura - which is also highly recommended!

I'm pretty sure they have a KL/Selangor branch - though I'm not exactly sure where it is. The cousin says its in Bangi, near UKM. Will edit the post if I manage to find an address!

But if you're ever in PD, take a break from the hot sun and the beach and stop by this place. ;)

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jade: Bitemypasta#3

I should be packing, really..I start a 13 hour oncall in about 4 hours...and my flight leaves 3 hours after my shift. My suitcases are somewhere, I'm sure...I just don't know where they are. And in about 10 days, when I'm due to come back here, I will be the exact same picture of procrastination and disorganisation(? is it even a word); but for entirely different reasons. You see, in my head, if I don't acknowledge something, there is a good chance it might not have to happen; so I refuse to think unhappy thoughts...thoughts like me getting on a plane and leaving home, yet again..I dissociate myself from anything remotely related to the notion of leaving...I lock my suitcases away, hide my passport..and I don't pack because in my head, if I don't pack, I don't have to go. Just like how in my head, if I don't send that email ranking my F2 jobs, I won't have to leave Basingstoke. I think we can safely say my head's a pretty twisted place to be...except maybe for 5-year olds who hide their dad's briefcase so he can't go for another long business trip; they get me. Which isn't such a bad thing if you think about it...It all stems from some semblance of hope, however misguided....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jade: Bitemycabbage

I always finish my rice... I try to, anyway. I grew up with my mum telling me: if you leave any rice on in your bowl, you'll end up marrying a pockmarked man. It made me giggle..but deep down, there was always a nagging fear that she might be right. I remember looking at my dad at the dinner table... I used to sneak a sidelong glance at my mother's rice bowl everytime he got a new pimple...and this fear of mine would grow a little bit more. So I made sure I scraped up every last grain of rice..although it did worry me on a few occasions how the bits of meat and fish I chose to leave behind instead would manifest on my future husband's face. And then I got a boyfriend...and another...none of whom, sadly, were blessed with particularly good complexions and realized actually..all my efforts to clear my plate throughout the years hadn't made the blindest bit of difference.

Braised napa cabbage~ perfect with hot, steamed rice

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bacon rasher
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
some woodear fungus, soaked n sliced
mushrooms, sliced
napa cabbage, roughly torn
splash of shaoxing wine
oyster sauce
chicken stock

1. Heat up some oil and sautee garlic
2. Add the chopped up bacon, and let it brown and crisp up
3. Add the mushrooms and cabbage, give it all a quick stir
4. Add the oyster sauce, wine and much you add depends on how much liquid you want
5. Slap a lid on, and leave it to braise on low heat for about half an hour
6. Serve with rice...I would finish the rice...just in case ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jade: Bitemymushrooms

Things that make me happy: staying in on a rainy day with the windows half open..and loving how all the colours outside seem so much brighter after a heavy downpour...Maybe the scientists have it all wrong..maybe instead of boring water vapour, clouds are actually made of sighs...and swallowed sobs..and when it all gets a little too sad, because even fluffy white clouds have their limit, they explode into millions of raindrops..washing away layers of frustration, leaving in their place clarity and fresh perspectives; The smell of nail polish..because it reminds me of the night before chinese new year and my 4-yr old self, perched at the end of my mum's bed, staring wide-eyed as she applies coat after coat of vibrant polish, hoping if I was still enough, she would paint my nails too...but mostly because it reminds me of how once upon a time, I couldn't wait to be all grown up; My dad's tatty old shirt that I'd rescued from the charity pile...with it's yellowed stains from where I've spilt countless cups of tea and the kind of worn softness that you can only get after about the thousandth wash..the same shirt i wore when my cousins and I played dress up..the one I belted with a ribbon because i thought it would look cool as a dress..the one that never fails to make me feel like a kid all over again; Hot mushroom soup made from scratch on a chilly Sunday...oversalted..but comforting nonetheless...because like all the best things in life, it has just the right amount of flaw.

Cream of mushroom soup~ I have a sneaking suspicion my mushrooms had gone bad.....but it baffles me how fungus can sprout fungus...

4-5 large chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
white wine

1. Heat up some olive oil in a saucepan, sauteed the garlic and onion until tender
2. Add the mushrooms and a generous glug of white wine
3. Once the mushrooms have softened, add the stock, milk and bayleaf and simmer gently for about half an hour, lid on
4. I used a stick blender to give the whole mix a good blitz...feel free to use a blender and good luck with the washing up
5. Season to taste....I have learnt less is more when it comes to salt....ladle into a pretty soup bowl and serve with your favourite bread :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mars: Mee Jawa - Curry Laksa

I probably should have snapped a picture before diving into this, but I forgot!

But I do strongly suggest ordering this with a cold green tea!

The broth is thick and just enough flavour for everything. The tofu soaks up the soup and the flavours that when you bite into it, it flows out and fills your mouth with a barrage of flavours!

And at RM7.90, I do think its totally worth it. Do ask for extra tofu! (^_^)"

They have breakfast sets that I'm dying to try but normally do not have time for!

Mee Jawa
A1-G2-09 Solaris Dutamas
Kuala Lumpur

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jade: Bitemymuffin #2

I think having to wake up early in the middle of winter is one of the more depressing things in life. In the interest of political correctness, I am fully aware it's not famine or the apartheid..but try..just try and imagine that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your alarm rings at stupid o'clock..when all you want to do is stay within the warm embrace of your duvet because you know the minute you fling those covers aside, nothing will protect you from that first shock of cold; and then you look out the window and all you see is will still be dark when you're finally ready to leave the house...and however hopeful you try to be, you know deep down, any sign of the sun would have long gone by the time you leave work.. I really should get my vitamin D levels checked.

But on some sick level, I enjoy getting ready for work, winter or not. I love the ritualistic feel of my little routine...that precious hour of me time before I have to face the respiratory triage list. It's a sort of quiet satisfaction...shaping my eyebrows..which the lady at the Shu Uemura counter pointed out in cantonese-accented english: " is quite cham ( read: tragic) hor, miss" ; blending sandy golds and deep mochas...gently smudging my favourite liner...slow, therapeutic strokes of the mascara wand, making sure each lash has the right amount of curl. And then there's my closet, brimming with promise..a new dress perhaps? or my favourite skirt...better yet, a forgotten top hidden so far back it's as good as new. I'm a lucky girl, really.

Breakfast muffins

I can't for the life of me remember the recipe or if I even had one. It was one of those Sunday mornings where I'd woken up early out of habit, a bit unsure of what to do with myself because there's no ward round to be done..eventually deciding muffins would be perfect with my morning cuppa. I do remember replacing some of the butter with cream cheese...yoghurt..a pinch of caramel coffee..some chopped up pecans, chocolate chunks..and at some point, when it was far too late, realizing the pecans should've gone on top of the muffins.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jade: Bitemycroissant

I used to believe in new year resolutions. The whole notion of making list after list of promises to make the new year better than the last. And then I grew up...and it struck me how futile the whole exercise was. To spend all that time setting new rules for yourself, fully knowing what they say about rules and how they are meant to be broken....beating yourself up when you cave and eat that second slice of cake on the 2nd day of the new year......and then trying your damnest to justify that moment of weakness..convincing yourself it somehow doesn't count. So I shan't make any this year...I shall instead figure out what I don't want in 2011, because I don't want this year to slip by like so many others have...because I don't want to live this year on fast get where I want to get but have absolutely no recollection of how or why I ended up there...because I don't want to sit in bed on new year's eve thinking "why didn't I..."

I've missed writing...and as much as I love my job, I really don't want to be defined by how much I know about DMARDs or how many lumbar punctures I've done...So here's to a year of chinese calligraphy, traditional chinese instruments, pole dancing lessons and as much food as you and I can eat.

Caramel croissant pudding ~ adapted from Nigella

2 stale croissants [ i've tried it with pain au chocolat, equally gorgeous]
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup cream
1/2 tbsp rum
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

~I'm not a huge custard fan, original recipe calls for double the custard...but that to me just spells soggy bread

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Tear croissants up roughly and arrange in a little pie tin or a small baking dish
3. Pour sugar and water into a saucepan and let it caramelize over medium low heat. Swirl it gently, but don't stir..the sugar will crystallize. Should take about 3-5 minutes to turn a beautiful amber
4. Take the pan off the heat, and pour in the cream, rum and milk
5. Whisk in the beaten egg and pour the mixture over your torn up croissants
6. Nigella says to steep for 10 minutes, but i usually just let it sit while i'm doing the washing up which takes all of 5 minutes. Read above re: aversion to soggy bread
7. Bake for 20 minutes, drizzle some cream over it and have yourself a very happy new year :)