Homemade Pulut Tai Tai with Two Ingredients From My Garden!

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Here’s a delicacy I have been dying to make for the longest time.  It’s called pulut tai tai, and it is one of the prettiest looking nyonya kueh you’ll ever see.  It’s one of my husband’s favorites too!  Made from glutinous rice, pulut tai tai has a gorgeous blue and white marbled effect that’s very eye-catching.  The blue coloring is not obtained from regular food coloring, by the way.  It’s obtained from the butterfly pea flower (clitoria ternatea), so you can quell all worries about ingesting artificial food coloring, because this is as natural as it gets! :)

There are many methods to achieve the marbled blue and white effect, and some even just do away with the effect and make a dish entirely of blue glutinous rice.  It doesn’t affect the taste of the pulut tai tai of course.  I chose what I felt is the simplest way to get this marble effect.

My maiden attempt making this traditional delicacy was made all the more sweeter because I used two ingredients from my young (edible) garden: Screwpine leaves (or pandan leaves) and butterfly pea flowers. :)

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Board Games Certainly Don’t Make Me Bored!

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Today, I’m going to tell you why I love board games.  Yes, you read right…I love board games.

What’s not to love?  It’s interesting, stimulating, sometimes mind boggling and some even create an opportunity for exercising those weary limbs.  Think Twister, and you’ll know what I mean.

Over the years, I have had my fair share of board games.  I guess it started with those sets that were named Compendium of 20 Games or 30 Games.  Back then, we had Ludo, Checkers, Solitaire, Snakes & Ladders (there’s a game called Chutes and Ladders now instead of this, because snakes are evil!!), Backgammon, Chinese Checkers…wow, it was hours and hours of entertainment, and need I say…without the existence of any electronic tablet!

With time the conventional board game had evolved many times over.  Some had makeovers and were upgraded to magnetic type of games for ease of use, and there were many other games that were invented.  One of my childhood favorites is Cluedo, which I am pleased to note, still exists to this day.

We have collected many a board game to suit every level of play.  From Candyland to Monopoly, Risk and Scrabble, every one has a story to tell.  We even have Lego versions of some board games like our Lego Chess set, which my son absolutely loves.

So why do I love board games?

1. Communication

Board games encourage communication and interaction with real people.  We are not held down by electronic devices when we play board games and we are not restricted by “no battery” problems.  Kids who play board games often learn essential skills like taking turns, and losing gracefully, to name a few.

2. Homeschooling Tool

For those who homeschool, educational board games can be used as a tool for learning.  Well actually, if we think about it, all board games have some form of learning lesson to be taught.

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My kids were thrilled when we received a pleasant surprise from the good folks at Applecrumby & Fish a couple of weeks back.  Their mom was also happy to note that it was an excellent educational game from Learning Resources called Cooking Up Sentences.  Thank you so much!!

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This is a great example of an intriguing and interesting game where kids can play AND learn at the same time.  The goal of the game is to teach kids correct sentence formation as well as the different parts of speech, like the noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective and conjunction, among others.  They do this by moving their game pieces on the board and collecting the relevant parts of speech cards for a particular “recipe”.

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The fun part is when funny and strange sentences are formed, but it’s all part of the game.  Of course, the whole family can play together too, and that’s where my next point comes in.

3. Builds Camaraderie

Whether playing a board game with family or friends, we cannot deny that it brings people closer together.  There’s something about competing and trying to win that brings out the best in people, I’d like to think.

Plus, we’ve all heard the saying that a family that plays together, stays together.  That can’t be far from the truth.

4. Bang for the Buck

Board games never go out of style.  If maintained properly, and kept in order, they can be played over and over again, without the risk of going out-of-date.  They don’t need upgrades and expensive overhauls, which is why getting a board game is a great investment…and it doesn’t even cost that much to begin with!  All we need with a board game is a proper storage space (which I think we desperately need).

5. Great Gift

Board Games make great gifts.  They are timeless, for one, because if you really take care of them, they last ages.  Also, because most, if not all, board games are packed neatly in boxes, it makes it super easy to wrap as a gift.

Perfect as a Christmas, birthday or anytime-at-all gift!

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Do you have a favorite board game?  Do you still play board games or do you prefer to just exercise your fingers?

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Grandmother Bread: My Current Go-to Homemade Bread

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There’s a reason why I have not been posting about my bread-making escapades of late.  I started out making and perfecting that loaf of bread with the milk loaf, and ever since, I had been using that.  Hence, no reason posting the same recipe over and over again, right?

I did make variations on the milk loaf sometimes, for instance with the whole wheat bread and the honey/maple oatmeal bread, but the main recipe remained the same for the most part.

However, in the recent months, I wanted to bake bread which was dairy-free.  My littlest one is currently in the process of trying new foods, and since I want to avoid the risk of allergens, I searched for a good bread recipe that was dairy-free AND tasty to boot.

It was then that I found the recipe for Grandmother Bread.  With many recipes, I have had to try several times before I got the texture right, but with this Grandmother Bread recipe, it was spot on from the very first time.

With only 5 simple ingredients, it is no wonder that the author of that site called this Grandmother Bread “deliciously simple and simply delicious”.  It uses no eggs, no milk and no oil, and I always like to knead 2 loaves’ worth of dough.  I would then bake one loaf and store the other half of the dough in the fridge in a large bowl covered with cling wrap.  The portion in the fridge keeps for 2-3 days, after which I would take it out, let it proof and the shape it into the loaf pan and bake it.  Saves me a whole lot of time!

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The Sunflower Beauty Oil That Wowed Me Over

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When I think of sunflower oil, I think of big beautiful cheerful-looking yellow flowers beaming in the sunlight.  And yes, sometimes I think of the oil some people use for cooking too.  Heh.

Who would have thought that sunflower oil would also have such a tremendously positive effect on skin?!  So when this bottle of Human Nature Sunflower Beauty Oil arrived on my desk, I was pretty excited about trying it out.  Human Nature products are products that contain NO harmful chemicals, are social enterprise, fair trade, environmentally friendly, and pocket friendly.  Over in Malaysia, The Human Nature range of products are exclusively marketed and distributed by Down to Earth.  

I learnt that the Human Nature Sunflower Beauty Oil is their #1 bestseller and boasts 17 beauty miracles in just that one bottle!  It is made from 100% pure premium cosmetic grade sunflower oil, so please bear in mind that this is NOT the same as the oil we use for cooking, yeah?

My first favorable impression of this miracle oil is that its ingredient list only had ONE item: premium cosmetic grade Helianthus annuus (sunflower) oil.  That’s good for me, because I am allergic to a host of stuff, and the less things a product contains, the better.  It helps too, if I am able to pronounce the ingredients in that particular product.

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Homemade Kaya: I Did It the 10-Minute Way!

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While I was growing up in Ipoh, I remember sometimes waking up to the smell of kaya cooking away.  When my grandma visited us, she would sometimes whip up her homemade kaya using the charcoal stove, and since my room was just next to the space where the charcoal stove was, I got first hand smells!

Kaya is the well-loved name given to a sweet coconut egg jam.  In Malay, the word “kaya” means “rich”, and aptly so, because this coconut egg jam is a rich, creamy and thick favorite to be eaten with bread, pastries and traditional cakes/”kuih”.

I’ve tinkered with the idea of making my own kaya but I learnt that most recipes require continuous stirring at the stove for about 2 hours!  I don’t have that sort of time!

So when I stumbled on this fabulous 10-minute kaya recipe, I knew I just had to try it!  Plus, this blogger shared part of her name with me too…so that must be a sign!

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The 10-minute kaya recipe called for ONLY egg yolks and replacing some of the white sugar with palm sugar (gula melaka).  You could also use molasses, I’d reckon.

If you’re skeptical as to whether this recipe works, trust me it does!  I was very pleased with the results, because not only did it churn out some kickass kaya, it was also kaya that my 19-month old baby could eat because it did not contain egg whites!

So if you’re like me who loves kaya, but don’t have the time (and patience) to stir the pot of kaya over the stove, then this is for you.  Pssst…this also saves gas, since we only use 10 minutes of gas! Now….let’s see when I can find some time to make those kaya puffs! :)

I prefer kaya that is not-too-smooth and with a slightly “curdled” consistency.  I find the “curdled” consistency more authentic and less “processed”.  I also prefer the caramelized type of kaya as opposed to the greener “more pandan” variety.

10-Minute Kaya (Coconut Egg Jam) (from Kitchen Tigress)
(Yields: 1 cup kaya)

Ingredients:

  • 45 g sugar
  • 45 g palm sugar
  • 200 ml undiluted fresh coconut milk
  • 4 young, light green pandan leaves (screwpine leaves), wash and cut 5 cm long
  • 4 egg yolks

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Directions:

  1. Cook sugar, palm sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves over medium heat, stirring constantly, till just starting to simmer gently. Turn off heat.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whip the egg yolks.
  3. Then, pour half of the coconut milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while stirring the mixture at the same time.
  4. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the remaining coconut milk mixture at one go.
  5. Over medium heat, cook the combined mixture till slightly thickened.  Stir constantly.
  6. Reduce heat to low. Continue stirring till mixture is thick enough to coat sides of pot thickly.
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  7. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
  8. Discard pandan leaves.  Transfer to a bowl or bottle. Leave till completely cool.  (I boiled an unused jam jar to sterilize it, then I cooled it down and poured the kaya into it)
  9. Cover and refrigerate. May be stored up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want a softer, squidgy consistency.

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