Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beef Stew with Guinness and Red Wine

Had a bottle a red wine from a CNY gift box, what to do with it? Beef stew came to mind, and the dish was awesome! I remembered Suanie posting something about making beef stew, so I started Googling for her blog post and started reading it. After much anticipation, we went grocery shopping for the ingredients and the outcome was divine~ This recipe is based on Suanie's serving, but I made a slight tweak to it (less Guinness, and added red wine).

We got all the ingredients from Aeon BIG, Tropicana City Mall (formerly known as Carrefour), except for the beef. Seeing that the supermarket didn't have good cuts, I told hubby to swing by Las Vacas Kelana Jaya to see their selection. I had initially thought of using beef brisket, but unfortunately Las Vacas only had frozen briskets and I wasn't keen on using frozen meat for stew. I took a look around and inquired if I could use rump to make stew, and the folks at Las Vacas said yes, rump would make a good stew. So we ended with about 1kg of rump (RM 50/kg). Next time, I'm going to try to hunt for brisket.

Ingredients (3-4 servings)
Beef, cut into bite size
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 carrots, cut to chunky pieces
1 garlic bulb, chopped
2 medium sized potatoes (we used Holland potatoes, russet tends to break down after too long)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 bay leaves
1 tbps dried thyme
1200 ml beef stock (we used Knorr, 2 cubes diluted in warm water)
2 cup red wine 
1 bottle of Guinness, 325ml each

Pat dry the beef and cut them into bite sizes (not too small though, as the meat will shrink during cooking). Heat up a deep pot with the olive oil, until the oil is smoking. Brown the beef cubes on both sides for a couple of minutes, but don't over cook them! Take the beef out and set aside. 

In the same pot, add the onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes. Cook them for about 10 mins. Add the tomato paste, coating the other ingredients evenly. Next, add the browned beef, beef stock, Worchestershire sauce, Guinness, red wine and bay leaves, and stir it a little to blend all that liquid. As you bring to boil, stir the dish occasionally, you will start to see some bubbly reddish stuff appear, scoop those out... you don't wanna eat that.

Ta-daa...!
This is what you will get initially, a deliciously aromatic pot loaded with beefy goodness. At this point, the sauce is pretty diluted and the flavours are all still very watered down. Boil the pot over high heat for about 10 mins, then using medium-high heat, simmer for about 1.5 hours to 2 hours, uncovered. Depending on how much gravy you want, adjust your simmering time accordingly. We simmered ours for 1.5 hours.

Yums!
Be sure to get a French baguette to go with your stew, makes a perfect dish on rainy days especially. This dish taste even better the next day, that's the good thing about stews... Taste better overnight! Next time if my friends organize a pot luck, I know what to make then :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Wreck

Some days my mood is up and down. One hour I'm all normal, the next hour I feel like I'm in the dumpster struggling. These days I don't fight that feeling anymore, I just let them roll until they pass. It's hard though, cos that would mean I would have to put on a face in front of everyone else, while I'm writhing inside trying to fend off the attacks which is making me want to cry.

It's been many months now, yet I still feel very hurt deep down inside. Some days I feel so lonely, because I have no one to talk to. All I can do is try to find that ounce of strength within me to push forward, how ever little that strength may be, it's still a fuel for me to carry on. It's the only thing I can do on days when I feel down, to stay strong and march forward. A big part of me wants to quit everything, but it's this small part of me that's telling me to challenge things, the same small part of me that's keeping me afloat.

Sometimes I try to talk to hubby, but often times I end up staying silent, and just wrap my arms around him. He would usually console me by saying the very same words ("don't think so much"), but to be honest, these days, those words have little effect on me already. I guess men just deal with things on a different level.

I've been needing reassurance from him, that I'm doing alright, and that I'm doing OK. On days like this, I have doubts about everything I'm doing, to the point, I no longer know what to do anymore. I question everything. I'm afraid to have expectations already.

Why should I do this, do that, drink this, drink that? What's the point anymore? What's the point of even trying, when I'm just going to fail again like I did before? Why do I even try? Why do I even bother? What's the worth in doing all those things anymore?

This experience has left me so broken, I feel like I can't be mended anymore. It feels like my scars are visible to everyone who sees me. And I will have to carry this feeling for the rest of my life. I'm such a wreck.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kompassion by myElephant @ Damansara Kim

Hubby was hinting over the weekend that he wanted to bring me to some new food outlet, and judging from his cheeky demeanour which sometimes makes me smile (cos he's as much a foodie a I am, maybe more, heh!), he was just as excited about the place as I was anticipating it. The only hint I got from him was that the location was in Damansara Kim

Now I'm pretty familiar with that area, having worked from one of the terrace houses where Integricity was based, and I don't recall seeing a new restaurant there the last time I passed by. So imagine my surprise when we drove past and I spotted this new Thai fusion place, right next to the mini mart.

Kompassion by myElephant, is a new player in town, serving up fusion Thai dishes, and they serves pork. Hubby got the know about this place through a friend who had recommended the place to him. Flipping through the menu, their servings do sound pretty fusion, a mix of Japanese, Korean, even Italian influence. I then discovered online that the chef is a Thai national, chef Nikom "Kom" Uatthong.

Pork satay, yums! RM 17.90++
For starters, I wanted to try their pork satay (couldn't resist, it's pork!). Five delicious marinated sticks, the sweet tangy flavour is sweet temptation to the palette, and even the dipping sauce is enticing.


Smoked salmon salad with eggplant and capsicum, RM 18.90++
This is one salad with a twist. It has slices of smoked salmon, eggplant and capsicum, sprinkled with kuaci and pumpkin seeds. The overall flavour of the salad was pretty heavy and spicy, and if you're just eating this alone, the taste can get pretty heavy on the palette.


Green curry with roasted pork belly, RM 35++
The star of the afternoon had to be this dish, green curry with roasted pork belly. I enjoyed the creamy texture of the curry, and if I were to compare it with the one from myElephant, I would pick this one because it's less oily, yet still full of flavour. Generous portions of pork was also a welcoming sight, be sure to order rice (fragrant rice per pax RM 3.50++) if you're planning to order this dish.

If you're planning to check this place out for dinner, I was told it's best to make reservations as it's been quite a hit with foodies. Also, it's best to go with a group of friends to split the cost, as the price factor is a bit on the higher side. For the 3 dishes and rice we had, our bill was close to RM 90. I'm also guessing they might start planning to dish out set lunches to attract the lunch crowd, must like their sister establishment myElephant is offering.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kindersoaps

Like most folks out there, I've been using body shower gels for the longest time. And I was a long time user of Dettol shower gels too. I wasn't a fan of soaps because when I was much much younger, I remember my late grandmother bathing me in soaps like Lux and Palmolive, and the scent was so strong, I started disliking it. Plus the soaps were drying my skin, made me detest the idea of soaps even more. And I've always somehow felt that soaps couldn't clean enough (a perception probably).

My husband on the other hand, only uses soap in his showers. He has always use the soap, and will always only use the soap.

When a friend of mine started her new venture into making natural soaps using the cold press method, and I caught wind of it, and naturally I wanted to try her product and at the same time, give her some support. And since she had a soap sampler set at RM 20 for 3 bars of soap (about 30g each), I figured I'll try it out and decide for myself if I like her products or not. Plus I had confident in her products because she went into the business of making soap when her daughter was born and suffered from eczema, and being a concerned mother, she was trying to find an all-natural skincare solution for her precious one. You get where the story is headed :) If you want to know more about Kindersoaps, click here.

After the sampler pack, well, I started purchasing more soaps from Kindersoaps. I not only love the scent, which smells heavenly and makes me relax, the soap doesn't leave my skin dry like other brands of soap. Plus because the ingredients are all natural, I can also use it to wash my face, and not have that tight feeling after. My favourite bar of soap from them right now, is called Dreamtime. Free from all the unnecessary ingredients, kinks, fake scents, preservatives etc... Just good ol'natural ingredients and essential oils. What's good for baby is good for you too, right?

Kindersoap soap bars, some of my personal favourites.
If you're around Jaya 33 area, pop by their store and check out their products. They also have several stockists around the country where you can find their products.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bad Boy Cooks @ Oasis Plaza, Ara Damansara

Oasis Plaza was one place that could use a lot of promotion and publicity, being a new area for mixed development. It was a Saturday when we decided to drop by and hang around the place, also to check out what sort of eateries are there in this area.

The piazza was actually a pretty cool place to hang out (except for the afternoon sun), complete with water features, walkways and individual buildings for F&B outlets. I think if more promo were done to push the location, this place can be quite a hit with the surrounding neighourhood. 

Bad Boy's interior.
We decided to walk into Bad Boy Cooks as it was still early and there's no lunch crowd. The interior reminded me of an American diner, doesn't it? Plenty of room to move around, and waiters were attentive, maybe because we were the first and only customer that morning.



Looking at the menu and pricing, prices were reasonable, with burgers starting from RM 9++. And if you add RM 1, you get a drink.

Two peppercorn pasta with beef bacon add-on.
Give their pasta a miss, lacking in presentation and the add-on was rather miserable. The pasta was tasty, a little salty after a few helpings I felt. The portion was pretty small too, so much so hubby ordered another burger just to fill his tummy.

BB Bessie burger.
 Now this burger was pretty tasty. Grilled beef patty topped with cheese and caramelized onions, it was pretty hearty for me. And the fries were piping hot! How does this beef burger fair against say, Ben's General Food Store beef burger? Not a very fair comparison, Ben's burger was actually a lot tastier, and their pricing factor is higher as well. For RM 9++, this BB Bessie burger was pretty alright in my books. At least I don't have to wait a whole hour for my burger.

If you're feeling adventurous, they have a double patty burger too.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ben's General Foodstore @ BSC

This is a long overdue post!

We made a trip to Bangsar Shopping Complex many moons ago, and discovered that Ben's had outlet in the mall. Being curious, we decided to step right in to grab some lunch.

If you ran out of topics to have a conversation, have no fear. Here at Ben's, they actually created topics cards which you can pick and select, minimizing the awkward silent moments! Being rather playful, hubby and I scanned through some of the options and found some of the topics quite interesting and engaging. Don't knock it till you try it!

Soft shell crab pasta with curry leaves.
I had their creamy soft shell crab pasta, with an oriental twist to it. Served with one whole soft shell crab, garnished with curry leaves, the sauce was creamy and had a slight spiciness to it, leaving you wanting more. The soft shell crab was delectable, and even though it was deep fried, it's still moist. OK I admit, deep fried stuff are not so good for you :P

Beef burger.
Hubby opted for their beef burger, which turned out pretty nicely. Caramelized onions, cheese, a thick beef patty full of flavour and spices, topped with a sesame bun, and served with a side of salad with home made dressing, it was the perfect burger for a weekend.


Friday, April 12, 2013

The Day For Malaysians To Decide

A decisive day for all Malaysians. Come out and exercise your vote, every vote counts, every vote matters. This is Malaysia, this is our home. We decide its outcome, we decide its fate. See you then!

Image taken from https://www.facebook.com/BFMradio

Friday, April 5, 2013

Love Thyself

It's been close to seven months now since the incident. Having been through the ups and downs and the emotional roller coaster ride, the psychological trauma, what seemed like a physical punishment at that point of time, slipping into a depressing state, reaching out and getting help to get out of the depressing state, to starting a new job in the new year as part of the healing process... I still get days when I feel crappy about myself.

And today was one of those days.

There are days when I feel no matter how much effort I've put into things, no matter how hard I've tried, things are not going to work out. Sometimes I really question every single effort and contribution I've made, questioning the significance of things. There are days I feel so low about myself, wishing the world would just gobble me up whole. And when I do have such days, I just allow myself to have a good cry, and let the feeling runs its course. I'm not going to fight that feeling anymore, preferring to just let it run its course until it hits the final line, and then all is well again.

Most will never know nor understand the psychological effect the incident had on me over the last few months. Spending the last few months of 2012 in a lot of emotional and mental agony isn't something I want to go through ever again. I've been spending some time to love myself again, to tell myself that I'm still worth every bit of good I'm doing, and reminding to always treat myself well.

It's having these quiet moment to myself that gives me the chance to look around me, to be aware of my surroundings, and to find comfort in things that are familiar to me. Things may not have worked out well initially, but all is not lost. I just need to remind myself time and again, to love thyself.

You would have been due this week.
You would have been four this year.
You would have been four and a half this year.