Posts by zaianne

Butter Prawn

This year has proved to be a year of friendship and food. I can’t even keep track of how many food gatherings we’ve had in the past 6 months alone. Not that I am complaining. In fact I am ecstatic. It’s been great being able to chill and hang out and have good food with some like-minded Malaysians.

Speaking of Malaysians, this past month my mom and I decided to invite a few friends over to share more Malaysian food. We had recently found some Hard Tail Scad fish at this new Asian grocery store in Elgin, and the fact I haven’t had that particular fish in over 10 years…it seemed appropriate to share it with my fellow Malaysians. For someone who loves seafood as much as I do…living in the midwest is hard.

That being said though, this post isn’t about that fish dish but about the dish my mom asked me to make. Butter Prawns. Butter Prawns is probably one of my favorites dishes growing up in Malaysia. We would often order it when we visited the Chinese Muslim Seafood Restaurants there. It is a quintessential Malaysian dish where Malay, Indian, and Chinese ingredients ignite to bring out the best flavors of the crustacean. Plump prawns are fried till a gilded hue is achieved then copiously coated with a soul-warming concoction of melted butter, garlic, curry leaves, and chilies.

Although what makes this dish absolutely amazing is not the prawns, but the yummy egg floss that accompanies the protein. The egg floss is buttery, crispy, spicy and a touch salty, and those flavor combination is what makes your senses come alive. I don’t make butter prawns often, but it’s always a treat when I do. Making it is as much fun as eating it, and since a couple of people asked for the recipe, I thought I’d share it here.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb medium sized prawns with shell on
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot – sliced thinly
  • 4-5 bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • Evaporated milk
  • Canola oil for frying

Preparation

  1. Clean and pat dry the prawns in paper towel. Season them with a bit of salt and pepper.
  2. To fry the prawns: Heat up the wok with a bit of vegetable oil. Pan fried the prawns until it turns pink. Remove and drain the oil on paper towel.
  3. To cook egg floss: Heat up wok. Melt 3 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Carefully drizzle in the beaten egg yolks into the hot oil in a thin stream. When the eggs hit the oil stir it around so they don’t clump up together. Continue to stir until the egg floss is golden brown. Remove the floss and drain them on paper towel
  4. Remove any access oil from the wok and wipe it clean. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Stir fry finely chopped garlic, shallots, bird’s eyes chilies and curry leaves, until fragrant. Add in evaporated milk and continue to stir until the milk bubble and reduce.
  5. Add in the prawns and give it a good stir to coat the sauce. Pour in soy sauce. Season with salt ,sugar and white pepper. Cook for another minute.
  6. Top with with egg floss, sprinkle in sugar, salt and pepper. Toss it really well. Dish out and serve immediately.

Bouillabaisse

It’s that time of year again. When the days get shorter and it gets so cold out that all you really want to do is stay cuddled up under the covers and not go anywhere.

It’s also the time of year where I tend to cook more. Mostly soup/stew dishes. So keeping with that tradition. I made my 1st fall season soup a couple of weeks ago. The French Provençal seafood stew; Bouillabaisse.

It’s fairly certain that whoever cooked the first bouillabaisse did so in a big pot over a hot fire—hence its name, which derives from the words bouillir, to boil, and abaisser, to lower. All authentic bouillabaisse recipes call for the ingredients to be brought to a quick and rapid boil (a “true tempest of fire”, as one recipe puts it). This causes the oil, stock, and fish gelatin in the pot to emulsify into a rich, satisfying broth.

This classic Provençal seafood starts with good olive oil, onions, garlic and is loaded with clams, lobster, mussels and fish in a broth delicately flavored with fennel, tomatoes, saffron, and a bouquet garni. Other potential ingredients include leeks, potatoes, orange peel, etc.  “There are no real rules to this dish except to use what’s fresh,”

In the spirit of the humble Mediterranean fisherman, I recommend using whatever seafood is available where you live. Typically bouillabaisse has two or three kinds of fish, and various shellfish (clams, mussels, shrimp, crabs, languistines, etc.). I ended up using squid, bay mussels, little neck clams, lobster tail, shrimp, cod, and mahi mahi It’s what’s available here in the good old midwest, so that’s what ought to go into the bouillabaisse. You should use whatever you can find.

Ingredients

  • Good olive oil, as needed
  • 4 to 8 thick slices good bread
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium new potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron, optional
  • bay leaves
  • 3 cups lobster stock
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes, with their juice (canned are O.K.)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds chopped boneless fish and shellfish, preferably a variety
  • 8 littleneck clams
  • 8 mussels
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 15 squids
  • 1 pound cod fish, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound mahi-mahi, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 main lobster tail (remove shell and cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • Chopped fennel fronds, for garnish
  • Chopped basil or parsley, for garnish
  • Rouille, optional

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees; brush bread liberally with olive oil, and bake on a sheet, turning once, until golden and crisp. Set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil or enough olive oil to make a thick layer (don’t skimp) on the bottom of a Dutch oven, deep skillet or shallow pot. Cook onion, garlic, celery, carrot, potato, fennel, cayenne pepper and saffron until glossy (translucent), about 5 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a moderate boil; add the bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables are tender, and the broth is thick and stewy rather than soupy, about 20 minutes. Season to taste; it should be so delicious that you don’t even care whether you add fish. Discard the bay leaves.
  3. Lower heat to a simmer, and, as you add fish, adjust heat so that the liquid continues to bubble gently. Add fish in order of how long they will take to cook. Cod, mahi-mahi and squid are fish that might require more than a few minutes, so add them first. About five minutes later add clams, lobster meat and mussels, holding back any fish that has been cooked or will cook in a flash. When mollusks open, add remaining fish and scallops.
  4. Taste and adjust season. Garnish and serve with croutons and rouille, if you’re using.

Tip

  • To make rouille, add 1/2 cup finely minced roasted, peeled and seeded red bell pepper, 2 cloves finely minced garlic and cayenne to taste to either homemade or store-bought mayonnaise.

My Mom and Me

I’ve always felt like my mom and I have had a complicated sort of relationship. I am the only girl in the family. The middle child. Grew up with brothers, no sisters. So my only constant female companion has always been my mom. That being said I don’t think we are as close as people seem to think we are. Don’t get me wrong. I love her. I love her so much, and I probably wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have her but I’ve always felt like I was never good enough for her. Pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, fashionable enough, etc2. It didn’t help I had a cousin who was all those things and more. When I was younger I really resented her, my cousin; but as I grew older I realized it wasn’t her fault. She worked hard to be who she is, and I am sure she has her own set of issues. But yeah…the feeling of not being enough for my mom has never gone away. I am constantly trying to get her approval. Maybe it’s an Asian thing, or maybe it’s because yeah I am the only girl? I don’t know.

Anyway, since my dad passed away, my mom has been living with us. Actually, she’s been living with us for awhile before that. She’s been helping with the kids. Has it been easy? Definitely not, there have been good days and bad days. Most days it’s actually nice having her around, the kids love her. I like having someone to rant to about work and what not. So it feels a little off that she is not in her room right now, watching one of her Turkish dramas. She’s actually on her way home to Malaysia. Which is good. We as a family needed some time to be just us for awhile, and she needed a break too. It won’t be for that long. She’ll be back in September, but yeah sitting here and knowing that her room is empty right now makes me sad. No matter how hard sometimes it can be living with her, she’s my mom, and the only mom I got, and I love her.

Valentines Day Gift Guide

Valentines Day is almost upon us!

Where did the time go? I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through February!

I know some people are funny about Valentine’s day. They say it’s commercial & silly, and it’s not a real holiday, and to some extent it is… but it’s also a chance to show the people you care about the most, that you appreciate them. We’re all busy and it can be tricky to always make someone feel cherished & valued – to show them how much you appreciate them. So what better day than this is one silly day in our calendar to do just that. A reminder in the year to tell those you love just how much they mean to us. To remind them of their worth and thank them for being around.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel about Valentine’s Day, or how to celebrate, just do whatever feels good. And just in case you feel in the giving mood, here are a few of my suggestions.

Whether you’re shopping for him, her, your kids, your parents, or yourself (self-love counts too), just remember it’s the thought that counts and if you’ve found a partner who treats every day as Valentine’s Day then count your lucky stars and be sure to return the favour.

1. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Eau de Parfum – À La Rose An unapologetically feminine scent celebrating Marie Antoinette’s love of the rose

2. Crosley Cruiser Deluxe Suitcase Turntable For the vintage vinyl fan, treat your Valentine to a suitcase-inspired record player.

3. Love Poems Book Band Set A great and literary gift, perfect for Vday!

4. Shinola – The Runwell 47MM Classic timepiece for him

5. His & Hers Binge Watching Survival Kit Namasté on the couch all weekend long

6. Vermeil – Prosecco Rose Two-Wick Candle Floral aroma is perfect for creating a delightful setting in any interior

7. Hey Handsome Brass Collar Stays For the luxury world traveler.

Rails Taylor Stripe Hearts Shirt8. What fashionista doesn’t love a new top, especially one from her partner that’s doused in mini hearts!

9. The New York Times: 36 Hours USA & Canada For the travel obsessed!

10. Sugarfina – Sugar Lips These gummies are gelatin-free, perfect for vegans and vegetarians.

11. Canada Goose Merino Wool Fleece-Lined Beanie Cold Februarys naturally call for red fleece-lined headgear

12. Roses are Red Gift Set Gift this to someone sweet who means a lot to you.

13. Women’s Fox Fuzzy Babba A reminder of just how foxy your S.O. is

14. r]Retractable charging cord – Heart to Heart So your S.O will never be out of power

15. Beautiful Bouquet You can never go wrong with flowers

16. Aerin – Lilac Path Light, springy and beautifully feminine

17. You Dirty Dog Men’s Premium Grooming Set For him to pamper himself

18. “Love” from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle A cute special gift for your child.

19. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant gratification

20. Baubelbar Tassel Fringe Earrings Affordable and trendy

21. Chocolate Gift Box “Game ControllerFor the little gamer in your life.

22. Lavender + Wood Face and Body Oil Floral, dewy forest, herbal, uplifting, soothing.

23. aHead Wireless Headphones A great gift for anyone

24. Herbivore – Pink Cloud With a name like Pink Cloud, you know she’ll fall head over heels for this V-day beauty gift.

25. Furla – Elisir Mini Crossbody BagThe fashionista’s most wanted

26. Fresh – Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 For kissable lips

27. SHY BY SE – Amour Pendant Necklace A simple reminder to show how special she is

28. Kocostar – Lip MaskKiss dry, chapped lips goodbye

29. Charlotte Tilbury Trio Lipsticks Fit For the Queen in your life

30. The Little Book of Life Hacks By Yumi Sakugawa A cute little read

31. Everlane – The Day Heel You can never go wrong with comfy heels

32. Vifa – Helsinki Speaker Beautiful speakers you can carry around like a purse

33. MEMEBOX – I Dew Care Disco Kitten Mask It’s all about the pampering

34. Nintendo Switch Console A gift to share!

35. Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Heart Casserole Cook a Vday meal in a new pot

36. I Love You Dad And Here’s WhyThe perfect thoughtful gift for Dad to show much you care

37. Clarisonic® Men’s Alpha FIT Brush Help him have clean clear skin

38. Books with Style Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook For badass women in the kitchen

39. Adina Reyter 14k Gold Single Diamond Stud Earrings Make any women’s day with these classic style earrings

40. Céline CL 41446/S – Grey/Pink Gorgeous new shades for your gorgeous S.O

Busy weekend

This weekend has just been a very busy one. From Friday night, seafood buffet with some visiting Malaysians, hospital, and clinic visits for Flu Shots for everyone (except me) to spending the night in the city…I’m about ready to start another weekend! I really can’t believe it’s Sunday night already. I am so exhausted. Honestly, it’s probably because I am not 100% recovered from my Flu. I didn’t actually go see a doctor when I got sick. I mostly just self-medicated and laid in bed, but when we took Liam to check out why he was vomiting the past couple of days and also give him his flu shot his doctor was convinced what I had was the flu. The doctor at the clinic where Tom and Eli got their flu shot was also saying I had the flu and refused to give me a shot. Apparently, I should come back in a week or 2 to get one. She wanted to make sure I was fully recovered before anything was administered to me.

Anyway, we are still not sure why Liam had that vomiting spell. Doctors think it was probably a one-day viral thing that passed. I am thinking it could be that or that he needs glasses. I have yet to find a suitable time to take him in to get his eyes checked. But yeah, at least we got everyone their shots! Tom and I (mostly me) have already decided we need to actually pencil in flu shot appointments on our calendars for the next flu season. I am definitely not going to go through this again.

In other news. The boys did enjoy their night at the hotel and with their friend Alex. They didn’t really get to do much, but they loved just hanging out at the hotel and enjoying each other’s company, and I thought that was nice.

Cold & Flu Season

This winter has probably been the worst flu season ever. I can’t even keep track of how many times my kids and I have gotten sick. Yesterday was the worse for me. It felt like I was run over a truck. I literally couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t talk, or swallow. My throat hurts, my head hurts, everything just aches. I feel slightly better today, but not by very much. I still have a hard time trying to swallow anything. Sore throats are the worse. Like stuffy noses and coughs are annoying, but sore throats for me are always the thing that makes me like totally give up…like I can pretty much soldier on if I have a slight fever and stuffy nose. I can still work, and take care of my family etc, but when I have a sore throat…that’s when my body basically shuts down. It’s like nope…nope…you’re not working today, nope…none of that taking care of the kids, nope…what are you thinking…there’s no cooking and cleaning for you.

Yeah, it always starts with an itchy throat…if I am lucky my body fights it off before it gets worse, but when it can’t and I get that sudden swollen pain in the back of my throat…it takes my body a matter of minutes to just shut down…completely. That is what happened yesterday, I mean I felt the itchy throat on Thursday, which worried me. So right before bed, I reminded myself to take some Advil. Then Friday morning came along and I could feel it. I tend to WFH on Fridays, but we always have morning meetings, and I could feel my throat just getting worse and worse by the minute. By noon…my body was done for. I couldn’t even keep my head up. I was having fever chills and aches all over. I was loading up on meds, but it didn’t feel like anything was working. So I basically locked myself in my bedroom (I really didn’t want anyone else to get sick) and laid in bed all day. Thank god for Tom. He was amazing. He came home and helped with giving the kids dinner and taking care of them for the night. The kids are with him right now too, as he is doing the weekly grocery shopping I usually do on Saturdays.

Anyway, hopefully, this doesn’t last too long. I still have a ton of work I need to finish and catch up on before Monday!

Another Week, Another Day…Another Jerk

So as the title suggests, today hasn’t actually been the best day. I work in tech, and as many of you know the tech industry is probably one of the worse places for women. No not because women can’t cut it. Far from that. It’s because men…unfortunately can be first class a*holes in the industry.

It’s like no matter how hard you work, how smart you are, how capable…men will ALWAYS find a way to bring you down. Of course, as we all have recently learned. It’s not just the tech industry that this problem persists; this type of behavior runs rampant across ALL industries. Which is sad. I mean it’s more than just sad, it’s just unbelievable. My husband, sometimes…doesn’t get it. He says he doesn’t understand because he tries very hard not to be one of those a*holes, (and I can vouch for that. He also comes from a family with a ton of aunts; strong-minded single ladies…so yeah, lots of female influence growing up.) so sometimes when I am ranting to him about my work-day, about how, I had worked hard on a project, and instead of getting proper and constructive feedback…I get “looks cute and girly”. He can’t really believe it. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t get how anyone could say an organized color coded, well thought through flow/sitemap which mind you…did not have pictures of kittens or any pink in it…could be “cute and girly”? Coz seriously if I wasn’t under NDA and could post an image of the flow, you guys would see it’s really just a normal looking flow diagram.

What is worse about the situation, is that I actually got confirmation that when that statement was passed…tech a*hole didn’t even really look at it. And I mean really look at it, look at the content. He just gave it a passing glance…and gave me that statement..why? Coz I’m a girl…so it’s just girly? It can’t possibly correct! Honestly, I think he was pissed, that it looked better than anything he could have done.

My husband said he doesn’t understand men like that…so he can’t relate, he said…it’s not part of his everyday life, meaning he tries hard not to treat women like that. Which is great. Unfortunately…it’s part of MY everyday life…because I am a woman and not all men are like my husband. So I always have to remind myself, that I am good at what I do…and any man that tries to make me believe otherwise can go suck it.

Happy New Year!

New Year…New blog…lol yeah I tend to do this almost every year. Spend a ridiculous amount of time designing, and creating a blog…write one measly post and like stop. And as I mentioned on my Instagram, I am not one for resolutions, so there is really no point in actually saying…

“This year will be different. This year I intend to write every day or every week at least.”

Coz I know the minute, I resolve to do that…is the same minute I will break it. So instead, I’ll say…I’ll write when I can. Which probably won’t be too often. I have 2 kids now and a full-time job and if we’re being completely honest…there’s also stuff like smartphones, Netflix, and Facebook, and Instagram. Which didn’t really exist when I was in college (okay, fine Facebook existed when I was getting my Masters, but none of the others did) and had all the time in the world to just write down random thoughts, without being completely distracted by these other time-sucking stuff that is conveniently in my pocket or somewhere near me. So yeah no promises this will actually go anywhere.

Although this year I do want to try to live life…happier. You know, not to worry too much about stuff, to have more fun. Be okay when my plans fall apart. To laugh and enjoy more of my everyday life, to keep my standards high but my level of self-acceptance higher. To set small (tiny) realistic goals but be open to change. With that said, having a place where I can just jot down how I am feeling or any other random thoughts will help with that. I know it did when I was younger.

So here’s to the New Year! May 2018 be beautiful, blissful, and incredibly magical for everyone.