Friday, April 30, 2010

Tesco Wins The 5-Bam Award

Most women I know like shopping at malls for clothes, shoes, handbags and other branded goods. Me? Yawn. Give me groceries and Tesco any day. Fresh fruits, vegetables, drinks, poultry, meat, seafood, cat food, toiletries top my list the way an LV handbag never would. A Tang's loyalty card is wasted on me, but I cherish my Tesco Clubcard the way I would my credit card. Hubby thinks I'm strange that way....but hey, James Dean royal rebel, remember?

I have a rabid obsession with Tesco. I know there's Carrefour and Giant as well, but after all my years of analysing all 3 hypermarkets' price pattern, Tesco has remained a firm favourite. In general,  Carrefour has the cheapest eggs and dairy products, but they stop being competitive in the fresh produce section (especially the greens). Tesco offers the best price and quality when it comes to fruits and especially vegetables. What I like most is that Tesco regularly clears its stock (I think on a daily basis) by putting their old stock in the "Reduced for Clearance" section....where one can often find gems that are still in perfectly good condition. The other hypermarkets do not regularly practice this, which makes me kinda wonder what they do with their old stock (throw?). Of the 3, Giant is the most general. Of course, once in a while, each chain will have promotions for certain items that are the lowest of the low in terms of pricing, but I'm talking overall price, freshness, ambiance and quality comparison here. Tesco wins.

Sign me up as a Tesco life member. Truly. I monitor weekly prices of goods/food/whatever and hubby takes me to Tesco for me to destress after a long week's battle. I literally decompress at Tesco....walking into Tesco's beckoning doors is a weekly ritual and an experience that to me, is akin to a kid walking into Disneyland. The weight lifts off my shoulders, the mood lightens, the excitement builds. It never gets old. I am Tesco's biggest fan. If I didn't work where I'm working now, I'd probably be working for Tesco as their Chief of Procurement (ahhh what a dream)....LOL!

I trawl Tesco's website at the end of every week, to get the latest promos to feed my "aunty" instincts. ( I do not understand why Giant and Carrefour do not religiously update their websites on a weekly basis - such a waste of a perfectly good advertising resource!). I wish that Tesco would send their weekly fliers to my residence, unfortunately they don't. So website it is, and the weekly newspaper adverts of course. Last Friday, the website advertised  frozen pizza at RM6.90/box...usual price is probably around RM10.00 I'm guessing (well Jaya Jusco sells their pizza at RM10.00/box, same size). Had to buy! Had to buy!

So I drove to the nearest Tesco after work and had a good old time examining all the latest products. They were introducing a new line of in-house brands (apart from the existing Tesco Choice and Tesco Value), and many of the goods and food items were being sold at introductory prices.  

Finally got to the frozen foods aisles, and found that they had many varieties of Tesco Choice pizza going for RM6.90. There was Hawaiian Chicken, and some other chicken-related flavours. I took a box of Four Cheese Pizza (350g) and put it in my cart.

I took 4 boxes of Beef Pepperoni Pizza (RM6.90 for 400g), and into my cart they went.

This was how the Four Cheese Pizza turned out, after we added even more cheese (mozarella, parmesan, cheddar) and ham toppings at home!

In my opinion, the Beef Pepperoni Pizza tasted better than the Four Cheese Pizza because it had more tomato gravy on it. No regrets here! Great value for money.

So yeah, Tesco is my fix. And I was overjoyed when I recently found out that they were in the midst of building a Tesco in Old Klang Road (diagonally opposite the main wet market).....oh so near to our crib. Construction is underway and it is scheduled to be completed in 2011, by which then it will take us all of 5 minutes to drive to Tesco. Yay! Tesco rules! 

The Vienna Almonds Experiment

As I wrote previously, we fell in love with Vienna Almonds from The Nut Shop. Last weekend, we finally summoned up the courage to caramelize sugar for the first time, in an attempt at making our own Vienna Almonds.

We used a mixture of brown and red sugar. Besides the sugar, here were our other key ingredients : 1 pack of raw almonds (I left the other pack untouched, just in case we messed up) and 1 vanilla bean. I think RM29.90/kg for almonds was reasonable, but then again I'm no expert at prices of baking goods. We bought a whole pack of vanilla beans from Bali some time back....can't remember the price but it was definitely alot cheaper than in Malaysia, since they actually grow vanilla in Indonesia.
We toasted the almonds....
...and caramelized the brown and red sugar together with a split vanilla pod and some butter.

Once the sugar was caramelized, we chucked the whole load of toasted almonds into the mixture and stirred till they became all sticky and gooey. Then, we laid out the almonds on baking paper to crystalize. End result : almonds that tasted like toffee. It didn't quite turn out like the Vienna Almonds from The Nut Shop, as the caramelized sugar coating the almonds tasted grainy rather than smooth. Hmmmmm....still wondering how/where we messed up.....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homemade Roast Chicken with Baby Potatoes, Carrots and Onions in Creamy Gravy

Chicken was going cheap at Tesco last Friday (RM3.99/kg), so I bought an entire chook for only RM6.90. I decided on the spot not to have the butcher cut it up into pieces since it was a nice, plump, symmetrical chicken.

We marinated the chicken overnight with lots of herbs and spices : salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf, chicken stock powder, ginger powder, lots of fresh garlic and butter (stuffed under the skin and in the chicken cavity), and a whole orange up its behind. We were judicious with the western herbs as hubby does not quite fancy their strong taste (I call it the Christmas tree taste). Together with a bunch of baby potatoes, cut carrots and onions, we roasted the chicken in the oven at 250 degree Celcius, covered in foil for about 1 and 1/2 hours, before putting it in the broiler to brown. It's important to cook the chicken slowly in the oven, covered in foil so that it becomes really tender and yet still remaining juicy inside. Uncover the foil only when it is cooked and you're ready to brown it. We transferred the cooked chook from the oven into a broiler to brown the skin.   

For the gravy, we kinda cheated and used the Lobos Chicken Gravy Mix that we bought from Thailand. It's creamy and very umami-ish, similar to the sauce you get on KFC's mashed potatoes.

We took the roasted vegetables and stir fried them with the Lobos Chicken Gravy Mix and added evaporated milk to make it thicker.

Our roasted chicken dinner with an orangey twang. The entire roast chicken lasted us 2 meals. Delish!

Another Bimbo Alert

This company seems to be coming up with a series of bimbo adverts in The Star. Here's another one I spotted from the same company.

The usual bimbo with the big boobs peddling her wares.

This time the "read sad story" was about Lynn Cheng who had male (so-called) "friends" sexually harass her about her less-than-endowed chest and how she felt inferior and embarrased by her natural state and decided to jack up her breasts from size A to size B. (Way to go, Lynn! - I bet that solved your self-esteem issues overnight!). Women like these should just grow some brains instead of boobs. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bimbo Alert

As far as bimbotic adverts go, this one takes the cake. I was flipping through the pages of The Star this Tuesday (13th April 2010) when I chanced upon this advert somewhere in the Metro pages. Staring at me was a bimbotic spokeswoman smiling vacuously and proudly displaying her "assets" as if she were nothing but a walking piece of billboard for breasts. Any woman with an IQ shallow enough to agree to being a spokesperson for such a tacky, trashy and tasteless advert....must surely not be doing herself many favours in the brains department huh?   

Check out the "real sad story" that bears testimony to some women's unfathomable imbecility...

You know what's "real sad" about Janet Lim? That she allowed her breasts be the sum of her entire self worth, self-esteem and confidence. That she could only feel "complete" with 2 newly-enhanced pieces of lipid-filled flesh protruding out of her chest. Pathetic. She needed a therapist more than she needed new breasts. Personally, if anyone had the audacity to comment about my physique (washboard?), I'd like to see him in court with a sexual harassment lawsuit up his behind. Unlike Janet Lim, I would not bend over backwards and spend money to jack up my boobs just to stimulate the excitement of some crude, sociopathic trash. Probably the same kind of trash who wolf-whistles and makes those disgusting sucking noises at women walking by.

It irritates me to no end that society (and yes that includes women too!) places so much premium on women's looks and mammary glands! Enough already with all this push-up bra cleavage nonsense! Women (except maybe for the occasional bimbo) are sentient, intelligent human beings with talents and abilities not even remotely related to how we look. A woman is not the sum of 2 breasts on legs for men/women to ogle at! Get that through to your thick, bimbotic skulls, Janet Lim and Ms Spokeswoman Bimbo of the Year!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chok Dee Thai Restaurant, Jalan Burma, Penang

On February 14th 2010, we celebrated hubby's grandma's 96th birthday at Chok Dee Thai Restaurant in Penang. It was also Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year, so this restaurant had its CNY Set Menu for 6 persons at RM198.00 + 10% Service Charge (rice and beverage not included).

It's a cosy little restaurant on Jalan Burma, same side of the road as, and not too far from, Heritage Hotel.
There were 5 of us consuming a set meal meant for 6, the portions were indeed generous. We started with the Seafood Tom Yam Soup, which the waiter efficiently divvied up between the 5 of us. They were pretty generous with the prawns. This was good although it could have benefitted from a more sour and lemongrassy tang.

The appetizer was fish/prawn cakes. These were pretty darn good, with a lot of fish sauce tastiness. I liked how the chilli dipping sauce complemented the savoury cakes.
The stir fried Thai style mixed vegetables was a simple dish, but very tasty and teeming with scallops.

This was my favourite dish of the night, stir fried chilli paste squid with salted duck eggs. Pieces of salted duck egg yolk were crumbled all over this dish....almost like a treasure we were all looking forward to finding in each spoonful of squid.  

Another hit was the Thai style lemon steamed fish. Loved the sour, sweet and spicy gravy on this dish. In fact we loved this gravy more than we did the Tom Yam, and ended up drinking this gravy like a soup!

So engrossed was I in the dining experience that I actually forgot to take a photo of the last dish, Thai Curry Paste Prawns with glass noodles. It was a big serving of wok fried large prawns and noodles in gravy that tasted like Chickadees (really!). Very addictively good! Too bad I don't have the photographic evidence here.

The meal, with rice and drinks, came up to RM246.30 for the 5 of us. Slightly pricey, but it was Chinese New Year + Valentine's Day after all.  

Address: 231-D Jalan Burma,
10350 Penang.
Tel: 04-2291492

4-bams for a terrific meal in cosy ambiance.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pizza Weekend And "Lipodermophobia"

Hubby fancies himself a baker. Myself, not so much. Not unlike Mr Adrian Monk and his phobia for dirt, my personal nemesis is oil (lipodermophobia?). Dirt and dust do not annoy me that much......but oh! the feel of oil on my skin just plain drives me nuts...the idea of sticking my hands into buttery dough makes me want to run for the disinfectant and dettol my entire arm. Yes, oil is my weakness. I am OCD about keeping utensils, appliances, tables and countertops (and myself, of course!) free of all traces of oil. I have a cupboard full of detergents, all manner of cleaning agents and toiletries, so as to be able to liberally use them in my perpetual war against lipids.

Hubby does not always understand this, and I've often found him guilty of "transference" my CSI zoom-into-the-micro-details-camera mode, I've often spotted him either dripping oil down the sides of containers/bowls which then pools on the table/drips on the floor........or he opens the fridge door with oily hands in which case the oil transfers to my hands the next time I open the fridge door and I'd have to disinfect the fridge handle and my hands. Yes, to me, oil is like an "infection" to be tracked down and contained.

And so I don't bake. And when I cook, it involves a whole lot of hand-washing for every spatter of oil that gets on my hands/arms. No COR (cooking oil residue) please!

So I left hubby in the kitchen to do the baking, kneading and spreading of shortening all over the kitchen counter in relative peace. At the back of my mind, I knew that this day would end with a thorough disinfecting of the entire kitchen counter. But, before that, a scrumptious meal!
From the pizza flour, hubby made the yeasty dough peppered with oregano flakes.

We added grilled capsicum and fresh tomatoes.
For meat, we liked the smoked beef sausages from Jaya Jusco, and also some chicken meatloaf and pork bacon.
Some fresh brown mushrooms and a sprinkling of onions for a more piquant pizza.

We went crazy on the cheese, 3 types : Smoked BBQ Cheddar, Mozarella and Parmesan. This brand of Parmesan cheese (Millel) did not smell pungent like the Parmesan we've smelled/tasted in the past. I was at first hesitant to purchase it, but since it was a bargain at Tesco (RM16.00 instead of its usual RM31.00 - just because the Parmesan block was a bit cracked), we decided to give it a try. No smell of vomitus, thank god! It was surprisingly pretty good!

We enjoyed the fruits of hubby's labour (I helped with the assembly of the pizza!)......two very cheesy, smoky and meaty pizzas. Absolutely delicious! Excellent!

If hubby can bake, so can you (but not I)!

Epilogue: And then there was the kitchen clean-up.

4-bams for hubby!

Eating At Home

Sunday night's grub was simple and somewhat traditional....but oh so satiating!

We had bean sauce tofu  with fresh brown button mushrooms which hubby cooked beautifully without breaking up the soft, delicate tofu too much. We topped it with a generous sprinkle of scallions.
We had some ladies fingers left in the fridge so a simple stir fry using the savoury Maxchup stir-fry sauce (yellow bottle)  we bought from Thailand was really the simplest thing to do.
I recently bought a whole bag of turmeric roots from Tesco at reduced price (RM1.50 for 656g!) and was trying to figure out how to use them. Maybe I'll plant a few turmeric roots and see if they grow. In the kitchen, however, we decided to try our hand at cooking Nyonya Acar Fish using senangin fish, following one of the Nyonya recipe books that I've religiously collected. This sweet and sour (and mildly spicy since we took the liberty of  adding bird's eye chillies)  dish is a hit....fried fish bathed in a vinegary oil infused with a strong aroma of turmeric, garlic and ginger! Yummy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Me 1, Rat 0

Today I ended a mammal's life.....I've been putting this off for as long as I could, opting instead to try out more humane preventive measures, but in the end, it had to be done. The rat was putting a screeching halt to all my gardening newly-sprouted chilli plants were all consumed by the ravenous little critter.....the tender shoots of baby kangkung.........all gnawed without the slightest inhibition. Garlic didn't work, sulphur powder failed to deter visits, lemongrass spray failed. So last night, I set up a glue trap (a wooden plank with industrial-strength glue, bought from a hypermarket somewhere), with jicama (sengkuang) and honeydew as bait. This morning, the gullible rat was all stuck to the plank, it looked like it had been roiling around in the glue. Its grey fur was all gooey and wet with glue. It was not a pretty sight.

It was still struggling when I found it gripped in the jaws of glue this morning. Still valiantly attempting to escape. Suffice to say, I had to put it to sleep through a concoction of noxious gases made from household cleaning agents. Again, it was not a pretty sight.

Hubby had the unenviable task of getting rid of the body......after much hemming and hawing, and feet dragging, he finally lifted and chucked the entire mess into the bin. He is squeamish that way. I hope the little cretin does not have any relatives, I certainly do not look forward to repeating this rodent homicide. For now, may my kangkung grow abundantly and may Stuart Little RIP (I hope!).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mea Culpa for the long absence

Ok folks, I have been offline for a loooong while. I was transitioning to my new role, work-wise, way back in Q3 2009, and becoming a manager whilst juggling 3 roles was an intense baptism of something had to give. Anyway, things are still abit mad, but have settled down just a tad, and while I may not be as prolific as in the past, I will nonetheless endeavour to post the occasional scribble.

This started out as a food blog, but I think restricting myself to writing merely on gastronomic delights and foodie adventures kinda cramps my style. So I've decided to start writing about anything that happens to saunter by and grab me by the eyeballs, yeah including things that pique me.

I'd have to warn you though, I am a largely non-conformist individual, always a rebel (Yay James Dean!), and proudly feminist (Go Gloria Steinem!), so you are bound to see streaks (make that large swaths!) of these characteristics in my pen-ladyship. Forewarned is forearmed! Grit your teeth and proceed.

Hubby and I have recently developed an addiction for Vienna Almonds, courtesy of Chocolatesuze's family who came down from the Oz recently (yes for her wedding dinner!). Apparently, this is a best-seller at The Nut Shop in Sydney. These gorgeous babies are toasted, honey-sweet, caramelised heaven with a buttery vanilla hint. Absolutely the best nuts I've ever had, that's for sure (And I'm not even a lover of nuts, so that's pretty telling.) We had 2 packs of 200g each, and both packs have been polished off faster than you can say "Nuts!" Since we can't get these in Malaysia (at least, not that I know of), we've gotta figure out a means of making them ourselves. Or at least attempt to.

Vienna Almonds, picture courtesy of The Nut Shop

Hubby and I are all ambitious this weekend, with plans for a big pizza cookout (made from scratch) and maybe even a little bit of experimentation at making our own batch of Vienna Almonds. I googled and found a recipe for Vienna Almonds here. Let's see how it goes. Be sure to keep ya'll posted if anything remotely resembling food results from our grand plans!