Browse Month by December 2010
Miscellaneous

5 Things I’ve Learned From Blogging Thus Far

So it is exactly one month and one day since I started blogging. And I have to say, it is a lot harder than it looks. For one thing, I have a keen interest in about a million things that I don’t really know what to focus what to write on. And to make it a chronicle of my life’s stories is simply, well, boring. Who would care to know I stepped in a puddle and ruined my shoes today or that I’ve left my mom’s plants to die and dry from having forgotten to water them while she is away (I hope to miraculously revive them with some plant CPR before she comes back). I’ve spent some time getting to know some very interesting blogs and I love digging through your archives to see the story behind the blog. Because blogging is a journey after all and whether you blog about food, fashion, photography, writing or everything in between, you started somewhere. And because you stuck at it, that somewhere has gotten you here. Which is hopefully where I might get to someday. But so far, blogging has already taught me many things. Not just new skills I’ve set my mind to learn, but many other things about myself and other people too.

#1 Blogging is a long and arduous process
Especially if you’re an impatient impulsive person who wants a million posts in her archives immediately. I blame fast food, the microwave and instant pot noodles for shaping this aspect of my personality. Before I started blogging, I thought it would be a cinch. Then I started to become constantly dissatisfied with the number of posts I had. After writing my first post I thought to myself, “I hate how my post looks so lonely on its own”. But blogs are not written in a day. It is something you keep adding to, hoping what you say is of some puny-tiny-miniscule-blip of an interest to whoever reads it. Having always been an impatient person to get the results I want (I’m not at all impatient with people by the way, just myself), I have started to learn that some things take patience, persistence and perseverance.

#2 You meet some of the loveliest people
This surprised me. A lot. And I truly appreciate all the comments, messages and emails that people have so kindly left me out of the blue. Even if it is in response to a comment I left, I’m glad you took the time to drop by and say hi. I always leave comments on posts that interest me because I like to. Or maybe because I can be a little nosy and feel the need to contribute my two cents. And even if you read my posts but don’t comment and I don’t know who you are (I’d love to get to know you though!), I still think it’s great you care to read what I have to say. You are all simply splendid and I have learned so much from reading your blogs and your helpful comments!

#3 I have a love-hate relationship with my spatula
I’ve learned many things about myself from blogging, even if I never intended to. You discover your own writing style, your own sense of humour (or lack of it), whether you actually like what you like or secretly dislike what you think you like etc.  And I’ve learned that sometimes I really really dislike cooking. And I’m still finding a way for the dishes to wash themselves. Why do I post recipes then? Well a girl’s gotta eat! Plus, I think it’s good to learn how to. And I’d quite like to look back on my first recipes in 10 years and be glad at how far I’ve come. Even if I have to turn 30 along the way. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be awarded a Michelin star someday. See how I like to get ahead of myself?

#4 Mirror, mirror on the wall
We are human, and sometimes we just can’t help but compare ourselves to others. And we want to be better or at least be just as good in comparison. This was the reason it took me SO long to get started. “These people take photos so much better than me, these people have a prettier theme than me, these other people cook better than me, those people are smarter, funnier, intelligenter, fashionable-er etc.” So what more could I offer the world wide web? The more you compare, the more you’ll never get anything done. And the principle remains true even when you’ve started writing. So I’ve learned to just do my thing, even if I’m still floundering along. Like my mom always says, “Never despise a humble beginning”. And look where it got her. Her website is now my culinary Bible.

#5 Does my butt look good in this?
If there is anything most difficult to shop for in this world, it’s jeans. My butt has to look good in it. From every possible angle – left, right, front, back, upside down. I’m sure I’m not the only girl in the world who does this. When I first started writing, I thought I had to write the perfect post like finding the perfect jeans – something to convey a great success and tuck the flaws away, jiggly bits and all. Ain’t gonna happen girlfriend. You can only write what you know, and what I know is that life is not perfect. Unless you were born a chocolate. So I’ve learned that blogging is not about writing only the good things, it’s about keepin’ it real, warts and all. And if your butt doesn’t look good in it, at least no one can see it (unless you post a picture).

Honestly, what a journey. And it’s only been a month! I enjoy it but boy do I still need to get organized with how I post about different topics. It feels erratic to write about anything at anytime, which is kinda what I’m doing right now. If anyone has any tips for this, I hope you let me know. But meanwhile I shall continue writing, and drink Milo while I’m at it because I love it.

Milo

“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.” ~Anthony Robbins

Travel

Malaysia Truly Asia

Because we move a lot and I’ve lived in many places, home has just become wherever we make it. But technically, I was born and raised for many years in Malaysia, and technically, that would be home. Having been away for almost half my life, I have become a tourist visiting my home country. It is a wonderful place and what I miss most is the food (and weather when it’s madly blizzarding here!).

While I was writing a guest post for my mom’s blog, I found some books I wrote and illustrated from when I was 6 years-old. And then I spotted this.

The Things About Malaysia Book

The Things About Malaysia! Just for fun, we’ll travel back in time and start with an introduction from 6 year-old Sharon. Prepare to be amazed.

Story Page

Yeah, ok. I was neither a literary genius nor a promising artist. I like how I contradicted myself there. Trees will be green forever, not yellow. Then the trees were green and yellow. I got one thing right though, the weather is warm and the sun is blazing all year round. And I sure could use some of that heat right now. Not just heat, I would love a flaming inferno.

Because there is far too much to write about Malaysia in one single post, I will just talk about the two must-haves.

Coconut and Durian.

But first. The coconut.

The Coconut

The weather is unbearably hot and humid and there’s nothing like a good coconut or two (or 50 more) to feel cool and refreshed. And yes, no need for a glass, we drink straight from the fruit. We used to have a coconut tree in our backyard and I loved trying to climb the tree to pluck them. Even though I only got about a foot off the ground. I always wished I could be a like a monkey and climb it easily. Of course, my parents’ story is that I already was a monkey. Don’t listen to them.

Now for, the durian.

The Durian

The King of Fruits, the best tasting fruit ever, and yet some people hate it. Fair enough, it is very much a love-hate thing. Some find the smell overpowering but I love it. If you’ve never tried it, then you really must. The smell does stay on your fingers (if you eat it by hand, which you should because it’s fun that way) and it stays for a while even when you try to wash it off with soap and water. A secret tip, wash your hands with water running from the skin and the smell will go completely. Weird eh?

We even have durian donut, which is the weirdest donut flavour I have ever come across.

Durian Donut

And I don’t need to tell you, it was good.

People like to ask me how the national anthem goes. Please don’t. I may feel compelled to sing it for you. And then you’ll want to throw fruit at me and never come back!

Food

Healthy Homemade Christmas Tree Noodles

Hello and welcome to my first post in a series of Apron Wisdom, where I will be trying out recipes from all the wonderful food bloggers I have come to know and, quite frankly, cook better than me. What better way to learn to cook?!

It just so happens that I also came across the Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night Challenge posted by Denise from Quickies on the Dinner Table and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! The challenge is to prepare a noodle dish with an interesting twist that is creative, delicious sounding and out-of-the-box. And the prize is Denise’s amazing cookbook!

Quickies Cookbook

I love “out-of-the-box” challenges so I came up with a few ideas and decided to go with a Christmas Tree plan. Taking my mom’s original plain homemade hand-pulled noodles recipe, I added my own twist and made it with a sauce that I’ve completely made up myself. And since my mom is away, I torpedoed her kitchen for this endeavour because she has the equipment that I don’t. I made a huge mess – don’t tell her. Visit her blog for more food recipes at www.keeplearningkeepsmiling.com.

Ingredients

Noodles:
2C plain flour
3/4C water (I replaced this with freshly squeezed spinach juice)
1/2 t salt

Sauce:
1 tbsp Kikoman soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Method

  1. Mix the salt and spinach juice first. Place flour in a bowl and slowly stir in spinach juice while mixing with a chopstick.

    Mixing Spinach Juice and Flour
  2. Once it starts clumping together, use your hands to mix and knead well.
  3. Once it becomes dough, cover it and leave for an hour or so (and clean up the mess you’ve made thus far). Or, you can make different dough shapes.

    Kneading Dough
  4. Come back to it and knead some more. Sorry about this, but I really couldn’t help myself.

    Knead Dough Again
  5. To make the noodle strips, roll out a flat piece of dough and cut strips using a knife. I didn’t read my mom’s recipe properly so I didn’t oil the dough and it made it much more difficult to make! I also thought the strips had to be super tiny so it took me a longggg time to do this. Please check her post for the proper method!! And, uh, you also probably shouldn’t cut the dough directly on your counter top!

    Cutting Noodle Strips
  6. Boil the strips in a pot of water. You can tell it’s cooked when it floats to the top. Don’t leave it floating for too long because it’ll sink again and the noodles will be very soggy and turns a dirty green colour. I know this because it happened with my first batch and I had to throw it away!
  7. Take out the cooked noodles and leave in a bowl with a tiny bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking too much. I loved how the colour turned out! I was pleasantly surprised.

    Cooked Noodles
  8. Mix the ingredients for the sauce and toss the noodles in it so it’s fully coated.
  9. Place the noodles on a plate in such a way that you make a little tree shape. I tried to stuff it in a cone but it just collapsed into a pile of noodles. I also tried wrapping the noodles around a cone shape but it didn’t work. So this was the best way.
  10. Use a few pieces of white noodles to wrap around the tree.
  11. You can cut out a star and stick it to a toothpick to put on top of the tree. I used a heart shape with the number 14 because that’s the closing date of the competition!
  12. Serve with salad and small tomatoes on the side.

Healthy Homemade Christmas Tree Noodles

This was the first, and probably the last, time I ever made noodles. Cutting and cooking the strips of noodles took me three hours last night and I only finished making the tree itself at about 11:30 pm. Add two hours before that for making the dough and all in all, it took me more than five hours in total! My mom makes this in about 20 minutes. I obviously took longer making the strips because didn’t follow her method, so if you want to make your own noodles, definitely follow her way!

Making noodles was perhaps far too ambitious and I might do it again, but not for a very long while. By the end of it, I wish I had little elves to help me clean up! The noodles tasted really good, and I had it with some chicken on the side. So healthy! And I should emphasize that there is NO ARTIFICIAL COLOURING in this. It is simply spinach juice.

I can’t wait to see what other people have created! It’s all so exciting!

Photography

Winter Showcase

It’s still freezing cold here that talking about more snow is the last thing you want to do. Until you see some pretty amazing photos that make you think “Gasp, wowww”. So I am showcasing yet another person’s work that I’m rather jealous of. His name is Ta-Wing Poon and all the photos shown here are his.

Now I am a huge Canon lover. In fact, all the cameras I have ever owned (both film and digital) are made by Canon. Ta-Wing here uses the Nikon D90. This makes us sworn enemies and we will never get along. But in the interest of art and photography, I shall put our differences aside. For now.

First up, we’ll start with some seemingly lost and wandering sheep.

Sheep

Then a gorgeous river dotted with ice.

Icy River

Now for my favourite. Killer icicles. I like the composition in this one.

Killer Icicles

And finally, the photographer himself. The photo is taken by Hao Chen, whom I have previously showcased.

Taekwondo Kick

That is one mighty high Taekwondo kick. I think I’m going to keep all comments about Nikon to myself now.

Now for the Photographer’s Snippet. A chance to delve into how their mind works in creating great photos.

“I care too much about the technical details such as the exposure, ISO and shutter speed. After I have these settings in place, I think about the composition. As much as possible, I follow the Rule of Thirds. I took up photography almost two years ago because I wanted to be able to use a DSLR well to photograph my kids when they are born. And of course, I think the Nikon D90 is a great camera.” ~Ta-Wing Poon

If you just read that and thought ‘Whaaaaat?’, don’t worry you’re not the only one. All the talk about apertures, ISO, shutter speed etc. may be mind-blowing at first but it’s not as complicated as it sounds. I will hopefully write about that some other time. Though it does make sense to get the technical side out of the way to then focus on the creative.

But for now, I leave you with this wonderful winter showcase by Ta-Wing Poon.

Food

The Best Wonton

So remember how I had leftover turkey mince after making Stuffed Peppers? Well, here’s what else you can use it for. I make this all the time because it’s fast and easy (and I can be a little lazy to cook sometimes). Wonton on its own normally comes with soup in Malaysia. If it’s dry wonton, it would come with noodles. But this recipe is a little something I’ve concocted myself to have dry wonton on its own. I’m such a rebel, going against the norm.

For your ease, I’m going to post the turkey mince ingredients here again and all you do is mix it all up in a bowl. But visit my other post for the details.

Ingredients (for one portion)

Wonton pastry
1 tsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp Oyster sauce
1 tsp Kikoman soy sauce
Water
Chilli oil (optional)

Turkey mince:
450g turkey mince
1 grated carrot
1 diced onion
Diced spring onion
6 tbsp Kikoman soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
Dash of white ground pepper

Method

  1. Place a little bowl of water with the mince and wonton pastry.

    Wonton Ingredients
  2. Take a piece of the wonton pastry and put a teaspoon-sized amount of mince in the middle. Use your finger to wet two edges of the pastry like so.

    Making the Wonton
  3. Fold one corner of the pastry to its diagonally opposite corner to make triangles. Make sure the meat is well sealed. I made 16 pieces.

    Triangle Wontons
  4. Put some water to boil. Boil the wontons. You can tell its cooked when they all start floating to the top. Once it does, let it boil for another two minutes or so to make sure it’s done.

    Boiling Wontons
  5. Scoop the wonton out into a bowl. Add the sweet chilli sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce and chilli oil if you like it spicy. Garnish with some chopped spring onions and enjoy!

The Best Wonton

Easy right?

A little helpful tip: Try not to be greedy (like me) and stuff the wonton with too much meat because it won’t seal as well. And it will all fall apart when you’re boiling them.

Any suggestions for improvements, let me know!