Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Exercise isn't Free

But it doesn't have to be expensive either!

Nearly 1 year ago I committed to a 1 year membership with Fitness First in Singapore.  Running has always been great but I felt like I wanted more variety.  I pondered the expense of getting a gym membership and after MONTHS of internal debate I decided to go for it.

Although I enjoy the classes that the gym has to offer and Fitness First is certainly a great gym to be a member of, my weight has not changed ONE BIT since I got that membership.

Now, a small part of me feels OK with that.  After all, my BMI fits into the healthy range and I've successfully run two 1/2 marathons - what do I wanna lose weight for anyways??  But I suppose we all want to get rid of that little extra holiday weight, tone up our arms, firm our abs or whatever it is.

I'm telling you all right now - you do NOT need to pay for a gym membership to stay fit, get fit or lose weight.  You actually don't need many expensive gadgets at all.  Here's a few tips that I've found over the past few years that might be helpful, especially since summer is coming to a close and outdoor activities are starting to dwindle.

Let's face it - the one main expense you do need to fork out some cash for is a GREAT pair of running (or cross training) shoes.  And please, don't go to a place like the Nike store and pick out a pair based on their color.  If you're really serious about running specifically, it would be helpful for you to find a place to get a gait analysis.  This will tell you whether or not you pronate (collapse a bit due to flat-footedness) and is a great way to KNOW for sure that you are buying the right shoe.
Regardless of running or cross training, I think it's worth the extra money to go to a store that employs people who actually know a little something about shoes.  The Sporting Life in Toronto is usually pretty good but I imagine that a lot of independently owned shoe stores are the best.

Cheap cardio equipment isn't really worth the purchase.  I can always tell whether or not I'm using a good quality machine because they are usually quieter and sturdier.  Running, hiking or power walking outside is always the easiest and simplest way to get some free cardio into your day.  As winter approaches, that gets more difficult though.  If I were living in Canada and I wanted some good cheap cardio this is what I'd do: Pool together a group of women (and men) who also want a good workout and shop around for a personal trainer who would be willing to offer some circuit-training style classes.  As I'm a teacher, I'm sure the school gymnasium would be available for this type of purpose.  Although personal trainers charge around $100/hour - if you got a group of 10-15 women that cost would drop dramatically.  Usually the only other cost would be a stretching mat.  A lot of boot-camp classes can be found online as well and operate outdoors or also indoor facilities.  However, those attached to any type of "brand" will inevitably be more expensive.

So I'm sure some of you are thinking - great, but I don't wanna run around my block every single day - that's boring!  Here's a ton of other incredibly inexpensive ideas to help you stay fit on a budget:

Workout Videos: These have changed dramatically since the days of Jane Fonda.  You can buy them on Amazon (who ship for free on orders over $35) usually for around $10.  You can find videos for pretty much ANY exercise: yoga, pilates, abs, muscle toning, zumba, etc.  Here are some of my favorites:

Starring Jillian and past contestants of the show instead of anorexic models.

My most-used workout video - it does it all!!

She's annoying but good.
Yoga: MyYogaOnline is a fantastic site with professional videos that you can stream (or download for $4) and use 24/7.  The fee is about $10 a month or less depending on how long you subscribe.  You can also sign up to receive regular emails that introduce you to yoga, the moves, the philosophies, etc.  It's especially great for beginners.

Well, that's it for now.  As I keep thinking of more ideas I'll make a new post to update you all but in the meantime hopefully some of you are inspired to stay a little more active this winter - and by spring you'll be happy you did!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Presents, Friends, Cake

Although I'm about twenty thousand miles from the nearest maple tree, there are certain times in Singapore when I truly feel at home.  Thanks to so many loving friends, my birthday (last Tuesday) was one of those times.

Justin has been traveling A LOT lately.  Keep in mind, that he normally travels quite a bit - some would say an obscene amount but for several reasons, July and August (and upcoming Sept and Oct) he has been and will be out of the country more than he is in it.  Therefore I didn't really expect, or even want, any big party this year.  I just wanted to spend some quality time with my husband.  Luckily, the weekend before my birthday was a long one and we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday exploring new parts of the city and having a delicious dinner at a new restaurant (more on that later).

However, Justin being more of a party lover than myself, he insisted that I invite a few people over for a few drinks and dinner on my birthday.  August is a really busy month for most of our friends and I thought that most wouldn't be able to make it but I was so happy that most of them could - and they really turned my birthday into something special.

It was great to chat with them, get caught up with all the "stuff" we've been up to, vent about "stuff" that is getting on our nerves and generally have a good evening.  I had made a cake from Ms. Lawson's "Nigella Bites" - a super sweet chocolate fudge number - that turned out quite well considering I had over baked it a bit.  No one sang happy birthday, to my satisfaction (probably the worst song on the planet) and it was an early night, also to my satisfaction since my favourite daily activity is sleeping :)

What I was most surprised at were the lovely gifts that I received - I couldn't believe how well my friends know me and what I would enjoy!  My husband had ordered the new Photoshop Elements 10 - which I am SO excited to start using as well as some of my favourite bath products from Lush - I love that we have a bathtub now!

My friend Yada gave me a gorgeous Coach clutch which I adore. I also got a lovely bottle of French wine from my neighbors Tim and Christina which I am looking forward to enjoying with a nice fat steak and some dark chocolate.  But, what is probably most relevant to this blog are the gifts that I received from "the gang" - Nathan, Brigitte, Todd, Ariel, Simon, Dilpa and Ben.  Can you believe it??

I am SO looking forward to selecting a cooking class from this place!  I'm really interested in an Artisan Bread course they have but there are so many others it's hard to choose!  And if that wasn't enough, they also got me this!

I LOVE Macarons and I can't wait to break this out one Sunday afternoon while Justin is traveling.  Thank you so much to all of my dear friends who sacrificed their Tuesday evening to come and keep me company! Obviously, you all are the reason why I feel so at home in this far-away land.  I will never forget you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Foods of NY Tour

Most of you already know that I rang in the 2012 New Year in NYC.  It was my very first time to the city and though it was fabulous, it was also incredibly crowded.  Times Square, Rockefeller Centre - all of it was starting to grate on my claustrophobia.

A somewhat blurry view from the Top of the Rock in December 2011

Don't get me wrong, it was a great trip.  Statue of Liberty, SoHo, Central Park, Broadway.  All of it was pretty amazing. But, I'm very glad that I got the chance to go back in the summer.  Without all the crowds, the city almost felt like a place I could live.  The people are incredibly friendly, the Natural History Museum was incredible and of course, the food was fantastic.

Thanks to a suggestion from my friend Adele, I signed myself up for a food tour with the company Foods of NY. Although they offer several themed tours of various neighborhoods around the city, I decided to take the "Original Greenwich Village" tour and I was not disappointed.  Centered around Bleeker Street, this particular tour specialized in Italian dishes.  I attempted to take as many photos of the restaurants and food however because of the fairly severe rain during the tour I had to eventually put away the camera and drape myself in a plastic rain poncho (yes, I was one of those tourists).

Divine Meatballs at Scali Caffe

I'm sure you're already assuming the food, being from NY and of an Italian theme, was wonderful - and you're right.  Every place had something to teach me and offered me something new (well, except maybe the pizza place).  Some particularly unique dishes that I tried were:

Lavender honey and truffle oil at O&CO

The Zucchini Fritter (2nd from left) was maybe my favourite bite of the day!

Tastes of Sheep, Goat and Cow's cheese was definitely enjoyable - and this place had fantastic t-shirts!  My favourite was the one that said "For a Gouda time call...." haha.

The tour itself was $50 for 8 well-sized tastings (usually far more than just a bite).  Every tourist gets a free bottle of water at the start and an opportunity to purchase a second beverage at a restaurant about half way through the tour.  There were several opportunities for bathroom breaks and the tour guide was absolutely full of knowledge - who lived in certain homes around the area, real estate, and of course, food.

Arancini from Faicco's - a place I would want to do all my meat and cheese shopping!

I went back to O&Co specifically because I loved their Basil infused Olive Oil and knew it would be a great treat back in Singapore.

If you are ever in NYC please take a food tour!  It was such a great way to spend a few hours getting to see a somewhat un-touristy part of the city!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back in Singapore!

After nearly 7 weeks of travel, I've finally returned back to my cozy, quiet condo in Singapore.  I didn't realize how much I would miss this place - the food, the weather and of course, the people.  It's been great catching up with friends and colleagues and finding out about their summer holidays.  I have one friend who traveled through Eastern Europe, another who went diving in the Galapagos and a couple I know got engaged in Barcelona!!

There was so much I did over these few weeks that it is going to take me a few posts to get it all sorted.  The first experience I want to share is from my trip to Laos.  Most people in North America know very little about this place because it has not been a major tourist destination until quite recently.  Being a communist country, Laos has experienced very little Western influence (more on that later).  One thing that Laos has a lot of experience in, however, is cooking.  And yes folks, I took another cooking class.

Chicken-stuffed Lemongrass

And it was awesome.

Various Asian vegetables at the local market we toured

Like, over the top - fantastic.

Rice, steaming in a hand-made basket over a charcoal stove

These were recipes that not only looked amazing and tasted amazing, they were also incredibly easy to make and I truly look forward to trying some of these recipes in my own home.  Obviously I'm not going to be steaming my rice over a charcoal stove (though I kinda wish I could) but I am going to do my very best to replicate these dishes and chow down.  Maybe I'll share.

For anyone thinking of going to Laos I took this cooking course at the Tamarind Restaurant in Luang Prabang.  Below is the recipe for Jeow Mak Keua (Eggplant Dip) that was one of my favourites of the afternoon.  PLEASE give it a try - and don't thank me for the recipe - thank the Tamarind Restaurant!  All I've done is altered the recipe to include ingredients from a western supermarket

Various Eggplants

Jeow Mak Keua
This smoky eggplant dip is usually eaten with sticky rice, dried meat, or raw greens.

1 medium sized eggplant
1 chilli
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped coriander (cilantro)
dash of fish sauce
green part of 1 spring onion, chopped

Prick eggplant and chilli with a knife or fork to let out excess moisture.  Grill eggplant, chilli and garlic over an open flame (I would suggest a BBQ but oven broiler would also be OK).  You can use a wooden skewer to grill the chilli and garlic.  Rotate vegetables and continue grilling until skin is completely blackened.  Allow eggplant to cool and peel the skin off.  Discard skin.

Pound chilli, salt and garlic in a mortar and pestle (there are many other kitchen tools to use if you don't have a M&P, such as a food processor).  Add eggplant and coriander and pound until you get a soft paste.  Add fish sauce and spring onion to your taste.

Mashing the Jeow
Serve with sticky rice, bread or veggies on the side. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I miss Canada!

It's that time of year again.  May.  Mid May to be exact.

The two weeks prior to my report card deadline.
The time of the year when it seems like it always starts raining as soon as I walk outside.
And, of course - moving season.

Can you believe that I have not lived in the same place for more than 2 years since I was 18??  That was almost 10 years ago!  And it always seems like May...dreadful May...is the month for moving.

Moving, and May, make me homesick.  Likely because it is SO close to the time when I get to go back to Canada.  I'll be heading home on July 5 this year, just in time for Kerri and Jos' wedding!  But not in enough time for a lot of other things...

I know, all you Canadian friends and family are screaming at the top of your lungs, "you IDIOT!  Just come home already and stop all these travelling shenanigans!  Who do you think you are?"

People, I know.  Trust me, I know.  Sometimes I can be selfish, forgetful, unreliable, and always, always absent.  Maybe, for some of you, It's not even sometimes.  Maybe it's all of the time.

All I can say is that hopefully the time I am sacrificing now will allow me to have more time to spend with all of you in the future.  And I'm sorry that for some of you, that's not enough.

But don't worry.  Canada will always be my home.  Always and forever.  And right now, there are so many things I am missing....

The Jays: the enjoyment of going to a baseball game with a group of friends is truly unique.  And the baseball is pretty good too.  Hopefully Bautista can pull the team together this year!

This photo has a 50% pregnancy rate now!  Looks like wearing a jays shirt to the game is important!

PaneFresco:  The best bakery I have ever been to.  Whatever their soup of the day is, try it!  And their pizza...and bring some bread home for later because you'll love it...

Lilacs: Is there any better flower on earth?  I think not.

Lululemon: You are always on my to-do list.  I will tear through this shop like it's a boxing day, store-is-closing-tomorrow type of sale.

Canada Day: I will be too late this year!  Someone please have a Keiths, a stack of ribs, a shot of maple syrup and a sparkler for me!

Not to mention this....

And this...

And this...

Happy May 2-4 everyone!  Hope you take the time to enjoy something truly Canadian!  What did I do on my last May 2-4 in Canada?  Oh, a little bit of this...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Extremely Loud...

...and Incredibly Close.

What a weird book.  The premise seemed so interesting - young boy mourning his father's death (during 9/11) by going on an adventure throughout New York City.  However, there was also a lot of post-modern artsy business going on in this book too.  At one point, while reading beside Justin, he looked over and practically yelled at me "Did you do THAT to your BOOK?"  There were pages upon pages of text underlined and circled in red.  The reason why Justin was so shocked was because of how careful I am with my books.  I don't even like lending my books to him as he will inevitably break the spine and dog-ear all the pages.

That was just one of the unusual absurdities in this book that you will need to interpret for yourself as you read it. If you choose to.

I'll still watch the movie but only because Tom Hanks is involved with it - don't say I didn't warn you.  Keep in mind that the cover of this book makes no sense as the boy will only wear white.

By the way, what the heck happened to my blogger interface??  Why can't programs just stay the same forever?!  I hate change...

Monday, April 2, 2012


Happy Easter!

I'm on Spring Break and finally have some time to blog before I head off on my vacation to Bali!  I am really looking forward to a few days in the rice fields with nothing to do but read, eat, and occasionally dip in the pool.

But until Wednesday, I have a lot of catching up to do, in all areas of my life.  I'm in the midst of an online workshop for my job which I need to get cracking on, I have been way too lazy with my workouts lately, and I haven't really done any experimenting in the kitchen.

But I have cooked up some winners - you should try them too!

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
This is kind of like the peanut, coconut, spicy version of the stuff your mom used to serve to you when you had the sniffles.  It's not too spicy, takes about 20 minutes to make, and you can honestly add in whatever veggies you have on hand.  I added onions, celery and mushrooms rather than let them go to waste in my fridge.

Flaky Crescent Rolls
These are the homemade version of Pillsbury crescent rolls.  They take forever to make, so it is kind of a project but they are soft and pillowy.  I made them a while ago and put a bunch in the freezer so I didn't have to feel obligated to eat them all at once (though with some salted butter, that's exactly what I wanted to do!)

Snickerdoodle Blondies
I made these for my class for winning sports day at school.  They are so moist and are definitely comfort food.  Perfect for when you're craving something other than chocolate.  Cinnamon sugar is a close second.

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies
This recipe turned out great just the way it was but I kinda want to play around with it in the future.  Though they tasted great, I was secretly hoping that they would taste like the coconut squares you get at M&M Meat Shops - those are amazing!  These didn't quite get there but they are a great easy dessert.

If you're looking for something to whip up this weekend, any of these would be great options.  Other than the rolls, they're easy and require few unusual ingredients.  For the squares, you probably already have everything you need in your pantry now.

Pasta recipe coming up tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This past trip to Cambodia was my second time to this country.  The more I learn about this nation, the more fascinated I become.

From a tourists' perspective, Siem Reap is a great little town to visit.  The hotels are so cheap - you can usually get a great room in a boutique hotel with a pool for about 40-50 USD.  The town is quite small so it is easy to get around by Tuk-Tuk and there are tons of great restaurants.  Although some of Cambodian cuisine is quite unique, it does remind me of a mix of Thai and Vietnamese at times.  Mango salad and fresh spring rolls are common and their curry - Amok is sweet as opposed to spicy.  They also serve lots of BBQ meats and make some great soups as well!

Of course, the main reason everyone comes to Siem Reap is for the temples.  Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are monumental.  They are so large and complex with every stone face intricately carved with floral designs or hindu figures.  The people in this country are always so friendly and happy however it is still a poverty stricken place.  Don't be surprised to see children at the temples all day long selling postcards and young girls at the bars selling roses and bracelets.  While most of Asia's touristy places have become quite expensive, at most Cambodian bars you can usually get a beer for 1 USD and dinner likely won't cost you more than five bucks.

But we weren't in Cambodia to be strictly tourists.

My colleague and friend Yada was born in Cambodia just before the Khmer Rouge took over the country and started to round up the population into agricultural work camps.  The Khmer Rouge, led by the dictator Pol Pot was attempting to transition the country into communism without all the "unnecessary intermediary steps".  Intellectuals were rounded up and eliminated and the "lucky" ones were placed into work camps.

Yada's family was able to escape through the jungle into Thailand and then immigrated to the United States.  During this time, somewhere close to 2 million people killed in just four short years.

Since the elimination of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has struggled to raise their quality of life and although there have been  many improvements, many people in the country live off of less than 1 USD per day.  Many women end up in the sex trade, sometimes unwillingly.  Many children cannot be adequately cared for and are left in orphanages.

Yada has created the Ymak Path Project - not an official charity but a way to raise some money to help a small orphanage outside of Siem Reap.  She visits Cambodia and this Orphanage a few times a year and I was so happy to be able to go with her to visit for a second time.

Exploring the wet market - stay away from the meat section!
Our school brought in used clothing and toys for the kids and we also visited the wet market to get some food for them as well.  It didn't really take up a lot of our time but it felt so meaningful to actually GO to the orphanage, talk to the kids, play some games and see what their daily life is like.  Although many of them are energetic and love to play, you can see some loneliness and sadness in their eyes.  Older brothers clutch to younger siblings protectively and some of the kids would hang back and simply watch the activities.

It is so incredibly difficult to wonder or imagine what life is like in this type of environment.  It truly makes me aware that I am one of the luckiest people on earth - to not only have been raised with loving parents and a healthy environment but I was also educated, went to university and have all the freedoms imaginable.  Although it felt great to help out this orphanage, the sad truth is that most of these children will not be formally educated.  Many will end up working in dangerous, unskilled jobs and suffer from illness.
Playing the old favourite "grab the leaf"
Such a weird - but amazing feeling was when I was sitting in the shade of a tuk-tuk.  I was reviewing the pictures that I had taken on my trip and a young girl of about 4 climbed onto the seat and cuddled right up to me.  She wanted to see the pictures.  We went through them all and she named all of her friends for me.  She smiled, and laughed.

And then we had to leave.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I can't believe that it's March and how long it's been since I made my last post!!

Am I getting sick of blogging? No.  But, for many reasons, I needed a break.

Over the past few weeks I have tried to conquer a few items on my Bucket List.  Including a lentil dish, pavlova, lamb shank and a beautifully decorated cake - but they all flopped.

My red lentils were mushy and tasteless.

My pavlova was raw and deflated.

My lamb was fatty and tough.

My cake was never even made since I went to 3 different stores and failed to find frosting - can you believe it?!  This is the kind of mayhem I have to deal with in Asia.  I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Jessica, you call your self a baker and you didn't MAKE your OWN frosting?"  That is correct.  First of all, Betty Crocker frosting is delicious and I'll eat it with a spoon if you give me one.  Second, I was making this cake at a friend's house who had no baking supplies so I couldn't make it from scratch.

I have a tendency to remove myself from situations that I'm not doing well at since I don't want to feel like a failure...anyone else feel that way??  As such, I've still been baking and cooking, but nothing new and nothing too adventurous.

So yeah, lots of flops in the Kitchen.  I did make a batch of Zucchini muffins and Banana Squares - but they're old news and not my recipes anyways.

What have I succeeded at in the past 6 or so weeks???

I read The Hunger Games Trilogy.  And it changed my life.

If you are wondering what book to read next - PLEASE get yourself a copy of this book.  It is super easy to read, action packed and the ending of the series will take your breath away.  I stayed up until 12:30 on a Tuesday night to finish the third book and then cried myself to sleep (partly because of the ending and partly because the series was over and I think I'll never get to read anything so fabulous ever again).

I also made some pretty amazing flaky crescent rolls (also another Jenna masterpiece) which were buttery and so reminiscent of the Pillsbury rolls we used to eat as kids.

I've also been to Cambodia, have been steadily preparing for SOMEONE's 30th birthday, coaching basketball and of course, marking tons of Humanities projects.

Stay tuned...more to come!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Long Weekend

Chinese New Year in Koh Samui was great.

But I think I equally enjoyed the last four days I've had around the house.  Although I slept through TWO hot yoga sessions I did manage to get some good exercise in and make some food.

Thursday I tried Zumba for the first time.  For those of you who don't know, Zumba is an aerobic dance class with mostly latin-inspired music.  For me, it's a chance to flail my arms around like a lunatic and burn a few calories.  I didn't like it as much as Body Jam, but it was still fun.

Both Saturday and Sunday Justin and I got some good long walks in.  Saturday we left from the condo and walked along the Park Connector until we got into the city and then picked up groceries.  I wasn't wearing my Garmin watch but we estimate that we cleared around 8k's.  Sunday we headed to MacRitchie Reservoir and power-walked our way through about 9 or 10 k's.  I was wearing the Garmin that time but I didn't charge it and it died around the 7k mark.  I'm really not very reliable.

In terms of recipes...well I made a good attempt, at least.  And I even tried to cross a few things off my bucket list but since I wrote "something good with lentils" I can't cross it off, because I was not happy with the outcome.  They were watery and bland.  Fortunately Jenna at EatLiveRun  has a fantastic looking stew involving red lentils so I'll try that for round two.  I love this girl's website - if you need a new recipe - check her out!!

I also attempted to cook some VERY expensive lamb shanks from the Swiss Butchery.  I don't know what happened but the meat was not satisfactory.  There was tons of fat running through it which made it hard to both cut and eat.  I think I needed to keep it in the oven for longer but who knows.  I will consult some friends down under to see if they can help me next time!

I did manage to make a great pizza on Friday night.  The crust came out very crispy considering I don't have a pizza stone.  I also baked some super easy chocolate chip muffins.  You can find the recipe here and they turned out very good.  Luckily I made a half-batch because there is only one left!!

'Twas a great week off of work - here's hoping for good things to come in February!!  With Houseguests, Waitangi Day, Valentine's Day, and other great reasons for good food I'm sure I'll have lots to share!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thai Cooking Class!

In Asia we all just celebrated the Chinese New Year holiday - bring on the year of the Dragon!!!  How cool would it be to be born in that year huh?  I, on the other hand, was born in the year of the Rat...far less impressive.

Anyways, Justin and I spent the last 5 days in Thailand - Koh Samui to be exact.  Our good friend Ben was celebrating his 30th there and a bunch of us decided to join him.  5 days of partying, tanning, swimming, snorkeling (have I made you jealous yet??) and it was time to get back home.

One of the highlights of our trip though, was when Justin and I took a Thai cooking class.  We've taken one before in Chiang Mai last Christmas - and to be honest I think that one was better.  For anyone headed that way, it was called the Thai Farms Cookery Class and it was fabulous.  The one we just took in Samui - pretty much the only one on the island, was slightly different, but the food was equally delicious.  Here's just a glance at some of the fresh and exciting ingredients that we not only used but learned a lot about as well.

We ended the class by eating our Massaman Curry, Spicy Prawn Salad and Fried Spring Rolls along with the other classmates and a few Chang beers.  We were absolutely starving and the food didn't disappoint!

The positives of taking this class are that you get to learn a lot about the ingredients that go into the food.  They are some great recipes that would definitely impress guests and you can meet some really fun people as well.  Both the cooking classes that I attended give out copies of the recipes for you to take home and there is always more than enough food.  Justin and I are both big eaters and I don't think we ate even half of our food - great leftovers for later though!

Although some Thai recipes are incredibly easy, some are difficult, require a lot of preparation and great timing.  I would definitely recommend anyone try spring rolls, chicken cashew-nut (or any other type of stirfry) and Mango Sticky Rice - all of these are easy recipes that even a beginner cook could make as long as he/she had good instructions.  Thai curries are also easy to make - but the paste requires A LOT of ingredients, some that would be particularly difficult to find in North America.  I have used store-bought curry pastes in the past and though it might take a few tries to get a proper balance of paste to coconut milk, I find they are a great alternative to making your own.

So if you're craving Thai after reading this post, go out and buy yourself some new ingredients - grab one of those dusty cookbooks on your shelf or check the web - and experiment in the kitchen!!  Here's my super-easy Green Curry Recipe if you wanna try one.  It will take you less than 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Speedy Green Curry (for two)

1 packet of Green Curry Paste (about two tablespoons)
200 mL coconut milk
200 mL water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into bite sized cubes
An assortment of veggies - simple can be red onion and green pepper but it would be great if you could replace the pepper with some long bean
Thai basil

Pour coconut milk, water and paste into a large wok and bring to a boil.  Add diced chicken and poach in the curry.  Keep the curry boiling steadily as the chicken cooks, about 8-10 minutes.  Add chopped veggies and basil and boil for another 3-5 minutes - until they have reached desired tenderness (veggies will continue to cook after removed from heat so under-done is best).  Top 2 large scoops of the curry onto a bed of rice and devour!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Recipe Bucket List

The other day I was once again perusing/scanning/creeping around the world of food blogs for inspiration.  Then I came across this blog - which I have read before but I most certainly did not see the author's genius "top 100" list of recipes she desires to bake.

Can you say "Eureka" when it isn't really your own idea??

This works out perfectly for me.  I'm constantly reading food blogs, magazines, cook books and whatever else I can get my hands on.  I'm always seeing great recipe ideas that I'd love to try (to either duplicate or re-create) but I always put the book/magazine nicely back on the shelf and completely forget about those recipes.

So after a bit of research, reflection, and surveying, here's my preliminary list - one that I will hopefully keep adding to as I find more inspiring ideas.


a beautifully decorated cake
upside down cake
the perfect cupcake
Mint Slice
Black Forest Cake

Yorkshire pudding (with holes!)

Crispy Calzones

Home made pasta noodles
butternut squash gnocchi

Spicy Mango Salsa

Chicken Rice
Tom Yum Soup
Wonton Soup

Jalapeno Poppers

Beef Bourguignon
Roast Turkey, Stuffed

Home made Granola
Satisfying Lentils
Steamed Chicken in Banana Leaf
Something delicious with Quinoa
Minestrone Soup

Grapefruit Margaritas

Something with Figs

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Terry Fox Run

Last Sunday was the annual Singapore Terry Fox run.  It's organized by some of Justin's colleagues so it's an easy way to get anther competition into my running routine.  Knowing that this run was coming up motivated me to run more frequently and push myself harder than I have in a while.

It was a really fun run without a whole lot of hoopla and best of all it raised money for a great cause.  I sometimes wonder if Terry is able to get a glimpse of what he created during his short life.

I finished the run in 57 minutes flat - not my best but not my worst either.  It has given me a good benchmark for the year.  I've already said to Justin that we will run another 10k in a month in the hopes of reducing our times.  There's a vertical run (10k plus stair climb up a skyscraper) at the end of Feb that I'm pretty sure I'll enter.

Lesson learned: if you feel yourself slipping in your exercise routine - sign up for something competitive.  This doesn't have to be a run - it could be a sport, a mountain climb, a swim - anything!  I find once you shell out a bit of money and tell some friends - your ego and your wallet will keep you training regularly!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

I love roasted garlic.

Sometimes, I just wanna take one of those little brown cloves and pop it into my mouth, just to see what it would taste like.

I don't really like cauliflower.  Which is why adding roasted garlic to it is such a great idea.

Let's face it.  It's the new year and we're all on a bit of a health kick.  Soup can be a great part of that because it is low in calories, full of veggies, and keeps you full and satisfied.

I still want a chocolate brownie covered in caramel sauce.  And a lemon cupcake.  But hey, roasted garlic isn't bad for second place!

Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

1kg cauliflower
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp each of dried basil, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes
1 bulb garlic
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
2 cups water
1 cup skim milk
1 tbsp cornstarch

Cut cauliflower into florets.  Toss in a large bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and all spices.  Lay evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 200 degrees C.  Cut the top off of one bulb of garlic and drizzle a second tbsp of olive oil over the top.  Wrap in tinfoil and toss into the oven with the cauliflower.  Roast for 30-40 mins, until the cauliflower is nice and brown.  You may want to leave the garlic in for an extra 10-15 mins.

Meanwhile, dice onion and celery and saute in a large pot for 5-7 minutes.  Add bay leaves, garlic, broth and water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower and continue to boil for another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and blend soup until creamy.

In a small pot, add milk and cornstarch.  Heat and stir for a few minutes until the cornstarch is thoroughly mixed into the milk.  Do not let milk boil.  Gently stir into your soup.

Garnish with a bit of cheese, fresh parsley, or if you're feeling naughty, some bacon.