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In the past week

I have done some cooking in the last week, but didn’t take photos of them all. Either because I am still trying to convince myself I need a DSLR camera or was too hungry or a combination of the two reasons.

This is going to be a long post as there are several things to update here, so let’s get it rolling.

On cooking and cookbooks:

Tried another recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s The Land of Plenty – Hot Sour Soup. This is probably one of Sichuan best famed export. Ask anyone and they would tell you they have either tasted it or heard of it or, better yet, know how to make it. I love hot sour soup, by itself or as the soup base for noodles. Hers was easy to prepare, but somehow it didn't taste like the ones I usually have from restuarants. I served my soup with thick Shanghainese noodles. Well, I just bought a Chinese cooking magazine entitled "Ser-Xiang-Wei" and it has a recipe for this too and it was from one of the chef from a local restaurant. Probably I will make that and then compare the difference.

Together with Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan cooking book I had gotten from the library, I managed to lay my hands on Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen. If he had intended to project himself as the Jamie Oliver of U.S., I’d say that he did a fine job with this book. The tone was causal and the recipes look easy enough to follow. For someone who doesn’t usually read any books from cover to cover (except friction books, of course), when flipping the pages, I noticed that under each recipe title there would be 2 cute looking signs and beside it would be a time. It doesn’t take one to read cookbooks to presume that it would be the time taken to prep/cook the food. But guess what? It actually denotes the time taken from shopping bag to food actually being ready for the table. And most of his recipes, the time stated is usually an hour and the half. This is really a good thing when I think about it, because this means that I could have real wholesome stylish food in the same amount of time I’d usually take to prepare my normal meals. No extra time slaving away in the kitchen, but be able to eat gourmet food! How’s that?

From his book, I made Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins. If you didn’t already know, pork and apples are marriage made in heaven. They just taste so wonderful together. His recipe calls for brining the chops for 2 hours, something that I normally won’t even think about doing. Don’t you usually marinate chops prior to cooking? Sounds quirky but the chops were definitely tasty! By the way, his definition of thick pork chops refers to chops that weighs a pound each!

Apart from trying these two books, I also tried Betty Saw’s The Best Chinese Cooking cookbook. Hubby had bought this book (together with Betty Saw’s Kitchen Secrets, Yay!!) for me a couple of weeks ago, but it sat pretty on our dining table while I was sick. Finally, made Braised Pork with Beancurd and Eggs (more locally known as Lor Bak). We added beancurd sticks (tau kee or foo-chok) too as I know Hubby would go crazy about it. Her dish really tasted homey and was much lighter than my previous attempt of my-all-time-favourite Mrs Leong's recipe.

Moving on further, was Betty Saw’s Kitchen Secrets. I love this series of books from her. I think all in, she published 4 books which were all very useful and informative. I tried her Vegetarian Vegetable Curry. It was wonderful except it calls for too much lemon grass (5 stalks!!), in my opinion. I have been hoping to learn how to make those curries (vegetable, pork, fish, beef, etc) served by those cai-fan stalls. So it’s one down and many more to go.

On surfing others’ blogs:

Although I didn’t blog for a week, I was still reading other people’s blogs. Here are some blogs/posts which I think was interesting.

I love eating pies and have been thinking of making pies for the longest time. Much longer than making cakes, actually. But I had always held back. Why? Cos I was afraid of making those mistakes that so many cookbooks highlighted. Pie-making really seems perilous to me. Samantha of "slouching towards ganache" wrote about how she intends to overcome this fear in her post entitled Making Pie. I can't agree more. One learns to cook through cooking! With more practice, like everything else, it will get better.

Came across this blog from Epicurious entitle Real Thai. It has many wonderful pictures of Thai food. Maybe I should go Thai too in my kitchen soon.

Other miscellaneous tidbits:

Back to Betty Saw, I bought her Cookies Galore at the bazaar at Great World City for a paltry S$9.90 (retailing at Kino for $18.90). Happy, happy! Also bought Cooking with Chinese Herbs from Terry Tan for S$9.90 too. Bazaar ends 13 June.

In conjunction with the Great Singapore Sale, Meyer is offering the KitchenAid stand mixer which I ranted and raved about for the price of $679 only (with an additional mixing bowl thrown in!). Oh, if only I have enough counter space for it!

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