Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Homemade Vegan Dragon fruit ice cream

After my successful attempt at making homemade yogurt-dragon fruit ice cream, I attempted to make one without any milk but with the same creamy texture. So this recipe is good for vegans as it uses coconut cream from coconut milk. Hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.
Although it is a much healthier version than your store-bought ice creams, bare in mind it still has fat and sugar in it. So treat it as you would any other dessert and eat it sparingly.


250 gm coconut milk (santan)
1 large dragon fruit (frozen)
1/2 pineapple (frozen)
1/4 sugar (add more if you like your ice cream sweet)
Some ice cubes


Put your coconut milk in the refrigerator and use only the cream (the part which floats on top of the milk) - don't discard the watery part, as this would be good for your smoothie.
Put the coconut cream, fruit and sugar in a blender and blend till it is smooth. Add more sugar if you like your ice cream sweet.

Put into a cake tin and chill in freezer for 1 - 2 hours. Take it out and run a fork through it well. Back in freezer another hour and repeat churning process.

It would take about 4 - 5 hours before you can enjoy this creamy and smooth ice cream but it is worth the wait. Seriously!

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pretty in Pink homemade ice cream

Refeshing ice cream
What do you do when you have a big tub of yogurt and ripe dragon fruit?
You turn into a smoothie of course!

But since it was a rather hot day and I was running out of ideas for dessert, I decided to make ice cream.

1/2 dragon fruit
1 tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 - 2 cups Greek yogurt or any thick yogurt will do

1/4 cup maple syrup or any sweetener you prefer.


Semi freeze the yogurt (almost frozen like but you can still cut it with a spoon)
Blend fruits, lemon juice and yogurt. Add water if it's too thick to blend.
Freeze it for an hour or more (depending on how fast liquid freezes in your freezer). Remove and run a fork in your almost frozen ice cream. Add maple syrup and mix well. Put it back into the freezer and let it set for another hour or more and churn it once more. Then let it set for 3-6 hours more in your freezer.

Frozen yogurt and dragon fruit

When ready to serve, remove from freezer and let it sit in a bucket of water for 5 minutes or you can let it sit on your counter top, to allow it to soften a little so you can scoop it out easily.

I made mine in individual jars. It was much easier to churn this way and I could customise each jar according to what my kids wanted in it - one hates maple syrup while the other hates honey (sweetener). It also reduced time taken for the ice cream to freeze in each jar.

Smoothie before going into freezer.

The little one who could not wait for it to turn into ice cream

My eldest child who loves McDonald's vanilla ice cream said my homemade dragon fruit ice cream tasted better because it did not have a milky after taste and there was no need to wash it down with water.

Watch out for my next dragon fruit ice cream recipe which taste as good as this but is milk-free;

Vegan dragon fruit ice cream
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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lessons from your loved ones

We all know death is inevitable but I cannot decide which is more painful, losing someone suddenly or watch them suffer as their life slips away. Hear these words that come from someone very dear to me and how his perspective on life has changed since his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

"When you remember someone you love from your lifetime of memories, when you try to extract your lasting impressions of that someone from your memories, quite often these memories tend to be selective of the best. The best of that loved one.

Memories of my mother, from the days of my youth, to the days of my children's youth, have always been of her smiling, of her laughing, of her shrill nasal voice from the kitchen.

She wasn't a saint, to be honest. Like everyone else, she had her flaws. Her penchant of saving every cent, be it using recycled water from the washing machine to clean the porch, to forcing us to eat every morsel of food in appreciation of it. These were my niggling irritants. Like an itch that would last a minute, no more.

She would complain of people who didn't really live the life she was living. And I would listen, with thoughts of football or whatever else swirling around my head at the same time.

But I hold on more to the memories of her smiling, of her laughing, of her teaching me to be an honest man. Nothing to do with religion, but more to be what humanity expects me to be. To be more humane.

My memories tell me she had inner strength, of a will to endure and come out of any emotional battles stronger than before.

Still smiling, still laughing.

Even in the early days of her chemotherapy, she would lament a bit but steadfastly tell us that if she had to endure she would. Her husband demands that she fight it and she wholeheartedly agrees with him. Very much like the past 50 years of their entwined years together.

When the news came that the cancer had spread, suggesting that she needed another 6 months of chemotherapy, there was genuine fear, not of the disease, but of the effects of the therapy itself. She hated vomiting. But she hated being invalid even more. She hated not being able to work as she had worked so ever tirelessly for her husband and children for 5 decades now.

I could see the changes slowly creeping in. The smiles became more infrequent. The laugh, no more, not even forced. I had reasoned that her hatred to being so utterly tired all the time was finally getting to her. Being sick and weak a day can drive me mad, she was already in her fifth month.

"Why am I still so weak?" she would ask me, her eyes begging me to say something that can make her herself again, just enough to walk down to the kitchen and stand there for hours preparing the food her grandchildren loved so much.

Her physical appearances improved as the days go by after her last injections. Her lips became pink, her hair growing longer and soft. But internally, the depression due to her being so weak for so long took a stronger hold on her heart.

My memories tell me that her old normal self would've snapped out of it, would've gotten tired of being tired, would've thrown caution to the wind and just forced herself to be her old self. It wouldn't be shocking if she braved herself to suffer in silence, still smiling and still laughing. She had that strong an inner strength. Depression was alien to her throughout my life. At least that's what my memories tell me.

She would repeat every so often to the younger me, "Happiness is a choice. You can choose to not sulk anymore and just carry on, you know?", sometimes even trying to force that upon the spoilt brat that I was.

I wasn't entirely shocked when my father blamed the chemo therapy for the emotional and mental changes she was displaying. "That's not really Mom saying all that, is it?".

Happiness wasn't a choice anymore. She has no control of making that choice anymore. Chemotherapy had fried that circuitry in her that allows her to make that choice.

I still believe she'll snap out of it. Sooner or later. My memories tell me so.

But she has taught me another lesson, hopefully it will be part of my memories in the future.
The lesson to not take for granted the ability to choose for happiness. You can choose for happiness, so long as you have the ability to choose. But that ability can't be taken for granted because circuitry can be fried very easily.
I pray that this lesson stays with me from now because I might need it to snap out of depression should it happen as it happened to my mother."

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Recipe: Steam, flip, blend and serve (Baby Food - Philips)

I am usually very sceptical when it comes to buying stuff which is age specific unless it is absolutely necessary, like a baby car seat but even that, I bought a convertible car seat because it can be used from birth up to 4 years old. Prior to a purchase, I would meticulously go over its pros and cons, read many reviews and have a debate with my husband.  Call me frugal and I wont deny it because I was brought up to appreciate ‘little is enough’. That was my family motto when dealing with food, clothes and everything else.

My dad had a hobby, he kept live stocks and planted fruit trees in our backyard. We pretty much had a self sustaining life (relying on our own grown food) which is considered a feat nowadays. He taught us to take only what we can consume and food wastage was unheard of in my house.

Despite owning a simple kitchen with only a couple of kitchen appliances - rice cooker and a blender, my mom made us wonderful food.

I feel like a millionaire when I compare my kitchen with the kitchen I grew up in. But each item was bought after weeks of deliberation and justification of its use, how long it would serve me and the with return of investment calculated! I am proud to say, almost all of what I have, has been fully utilised with exception of one - food processor but even that is going to be put to good use now that I have to start making my own butter.

When I first heard about Avent combined steamer and blender, I wasn't entirely sold. My initial thoughts were "What will I do with it after my baby graduates to adult food?" This is the kind of age specific products I am sceptical about.

Putting it to the test

Luckily for me, Philips sent me a demo Avent combined steamer and blender for review purposes. It came with a heavy promise of serving up nutritious food in a fraction of time and effort, anywhere and anytime as opposed to making it the traditional way - steaming/boiling on stove top and transferring it to a blender.
I agreed to take the challenge because the timing was impeccable. I was due for an annual camp with my whole family and cooking for a baby/toddler when you away at a camp can get a bit tricky. So I packed this little gadget which surprisingly didin’t take much space and only weighed 2kgs.

Before leaving for camp, I made a big batch of baby food from home so I would not have to worry about my baby’s food on our first day at camp. We were quite lucky this time because there were a big number of young participants at the camp and we were assigned a big room with many power points. Like minded mummies brought their own small kitchen appliances such as rice cooker and slow cooker to the camp too. Although daily food was served so but it was not suitable for babies and young toddler. Especially mine, who cannot handle spice.

Avent combined steamer and blender was an instant hit amongst the mummies at the camp, especially those with younger babies. It was truly a godsend as it only took a couple of powerful blending cycles to turn the steamed food into a smooth puree. Plus it was being blended in its own jar! All I had to do was flip it over once the vegetables were steamed and turn the knob to blender. This really impressed most mummies, especially those who hate washing up!

We made many types of baby food and Vegetable Medley seemed to be the most favoured by most of the babies and mummies at the camp. This recipe was taken from the recipe booklet which comes with this steamer and blender.

Vegetable medley

The recipe

120gm cauliflower
100gm sweet potato
145gm apple

The method

Chop all ingredients and put in the jar.

Add water as stated on the machine and let it steam.

Once done just flip it over and blend immediately. There is no need to wait for the vegetables to cool down a little like its usually done when I used to cook on stove top.
Walla! Baby puree is ready in less than 20 minutes and that my friends is inclusive of peeling, chopping and cleaning. As I waited for the baby puree to cool down a little, I managed to clean my kitchen counter and get ready to tackle the next big challenge, feeding my toddler.

We had a smooth puree for the younger babies and a little chunkier for some toddlers.

The leftover were immediately packed and refrigerated for later use.

So one week of camp with my toddler was a wonderful experience because I did not rely on instant cereal or store bought jar baby food thanks to Avent combined steamer and blender which provided me with freshly made baby food anytime, anywhere all with a turn of a knob.

It even passes the age specific factor which I mentioned at the opening of the post and stay tuned for my next story on Avent combined steamer and blender.

Some product details
  • safety lock system for lid and bowl
  • 70cm cord length
  • can hold up to 800gm solid / 450ml liquid
  • uses BPA free* material
  • RM459
  • comes with a recipe booklet which features 12 easy to follow recipes shown in picture diagrams


Disclosure : I did not receive any compensation writing this review. I did receive a demo Avent steamer and blender from Philips (which has been returned) to help me share my experience using it and all opinions are mine alone. This article was featured in Babytalk magazine (August 2014 issue)

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Friday, 1 August 2014

Satiny smooth Kaya (Coconut jam)

Whenever I am given a choice between American breakfast, Indian breakfast or Kopitiam (Chinese coffee shop), I would most often pick Kopitiam. Perhaps it reminds of my childhood - I was the dutiful daughter who would volunteer every time my mom needed a loaf of bread from the nearest Kopitiam. I would rush over to the Kopitiam and before I could place my order, the owner would have already began slicing a loaf for me. Sometimes he would offer to spread the crust with generous amount of kaya. That's how apparent my love for this custardy and velvety coconut jam was. Nothing else made me happier than chewing on the hard crust as I walked back home. 

There were no supermarkets nor Sundry stores that sold jam, butter or maple syrup in my neighbourhood then. Most of us grew up with local food. In my house it was either paratha, biskut tawar (cream crackers, though there was hardly any cream in it) or roti kaya (toast with margarine and kaya) and hot milky cha (tea).

Kaya was available every where. Every coffee shop carried their own store-made kaya. Amazingly it would taste the same in every shop as though it was supplied by one particular maker. But it was very hard to find anyone selling homemade kaya. The Kopitiam kept their supply for in-house patrons. 
Kaya & butter toast.

But it is different now and you can easily get Kaya. It's available in most bakeries but it does not taste anything like the Kaya I used to get. According to mom-in-law, these store bought Kaya has too much corn flour in them to give it some bulk. The only ingredients that are suppose to go into it are eggs, sugar, pandan leaf (optional) and santan (coconut mik), anything else is for a profit.


Basic ingredients to make a decent jar of Kaya

200 ml santan (coconut milk)
110 gm. sugar
2 large eggs (50gm each)
50 gm. sugar (for caramel)
1 fresh pandan leaf


Get your steamer ready (let the water heat up)

Beat eggs well and sieve into a stainless steel bowl.
Sieved eggs with 110gm sugar

Add sugar and mix well. Then add santan and transfer this bowl into the steamer, stirring the mixture over low heat. Keep doing this for 10 minutes. When the mixture starts thickening, throw in the pandan leaf.

In another pot, caramelise 50gm. sugar on low heat. Once sugar has caramelised (takes about 5-10 minutes), slowly and carefully pour it into the egg mixture, stirring at all times. Keep doing this (on low heat) until it has combined well.  

Cover the kaya and let it steam for about ten minutes. Stir after every five minutes. It will take on a darker shade and that's when its ready. Remove from heat and cover with a cloth for half hour or until it has completely cooled down. Don't use a plate or any cover that will prevent vapour/steam from escaping - this to avoid water from dripping back into the kaya.

The perfect shade for Kaya

Once it has cooled, transfer to a tight sealed jar and refrigerate. It can be kept for 2 weeks, that's if it can last that long. Mine usually finishes up in the first week because my kids use it on toast, cracker, pancake, steamed glutinous rice (pulut) and recently on lemang (a delicatessen available only during the month after Ramadan).
It's just like Marmite, you love it or hate it.
Freshly made Kaya ready to be stored in the refrigerator

A day old kaya, still smooth and luscious

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