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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Homemade Dream Catcher

If you follow my blogs, you would already know that my second born is a right-brained person. She is creative, imaginative, emotional and often random. She is constantly thinking of creating stuff like baking or building something from scratch. She would paste cloth scraps onto an inexpensive note book to beautify it or wrap the book up with black paper and then draw on the black paper using glitter pens. That would be her gift to her friends. She used to learn sewing on her own using cloth scraps.

Last Sunday we attended a friend's daughter's 10th birthday party. I had already bought the girl a gift and hubs roasted a leg of lamb for the party. Yet, Drama Queen wanted to make something special for her friend.  She made a Dream Catcher!

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What is a Dream Catcher?
Dream catchers are arts and crafts of the Native American people. The original web dream catcher of the Ojibwa was intended to teach natural wisdom. Nature is a profound teacher. Dream catchers of twigs, sinew, and feathers have been woven since ancient times by Ojibwa people. They were woven by the grandfathers and grandmothers for newborn children and hung above the cradleboard to give the infants peaceful, beautiful dreams. The night air is filled with dreams. Good dreams are clear and know the way to the dreamer, descending through the feathers. The slightest movement of the feathers indicated the passage of yet another beautiful dream. Bad dreams, however, are confused and confusing. They cannot find their way through the web and are trapped there until the sun rises and evaporates them like the morning dew.

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To make this Dream Catcher, I had spent a considerable amount of time bringing her to many stationery shops to buy the materials, consisting of a large steel ring, feathers, yarn and ornaments. She also recycled some of the bling bling jewelries that she had but never wore them.  She spent a few days making the Dream Catcher.

So, what do you think if Drama Queen were to make Dream Catchers (picture above) to sell at RM35 each? Would you buy it?

We saw some handmade Dream Catchers for sale at a kiosk at Avenue K selling at over RM80 each. This girl with an entrepreneur mind is already making stuff like yarn fluff balls and slime to sell to her friends.

Visiting A Doctor For Headaches

It's normal to have a headache every now and then, especially if you have a stressful job or if you have a lot of stress at home. However, there are times when you want to see a doctor about your headaches after you have tried some of the remedies at home with no relief.

Managing Without Pain Medicine
There are a few things that you can try when it comes to headaches without relying on medication. Try sitting in a dark room as bright lights can sometimes cause a headache to be worse. If possible, lay down on a bed with a cool cloth on the forehead to help relieve the pain from the headache. Instead of sleeping on your days off, keep the same schedule that you have during the week. If you sleep too much, you might find that a headache develops faster than if you were to have a routine with going to bed and getting up in the morning. Examine the diet as there are some foods that can trigger headaches while others relieve the pain. Eat foods that have a high amount of iron and other vitamins while avoiding items that have a lot of sugar.

When To See A Doctor
If you have tried a variety of remedies at home with no luck of relieving the pain from a headache, it might be time to see a headache specialist Houston office to see if there is anything else going on with the body. You want to seek help if there is any kind of confusion or altered speech with the headache. This can sometimes be an indication of a stroke, especially if there is weakness on one side of the body. You also want to seek treatment if there is a high fever or vomiting associated with the headache. Talk to the doctor about the frequency of the headaches or if they are more severe than usual at certain times of the day. Headaches should not prevent you from your daily activities. Your doctor can perform tests that can help to see if there is anything going on inside the brain that would be causing the headaches.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Healthy & Low Calorie Snacks

My latest favorite snacks to quell hunger pangs throughout the day...

Cooked baby beetroot from Love Beets, Australia.   If you love beetroot but hate the peeling part and the red stains on your hands and clothes, you really got to try Love Beets. These tender, naturally sweet and flavorful baby beetroots are so addictive that once you've tried them, you'll love them to bits!! They are free from salt, sugar and preservatives.  I could nosh down 2-3 baby beets at one go.

Boiled chickpeas. The chickpeas are boiled for over 2 hours in water, home-grown curry leaves, a mixture of curry powder, ground cumin powder and pink Himalayan rock salt.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Simple Poached Chicken

I have always been in awe each time this grandma who is an awesome home cook from a daily homecooked meal closed group on Facebook dishes up steamed chicken. Her steamed chicken always appears perfect from color to doneness to how the chicken is chopped meticulously.  One day, I asked her what her secret was and she told me that she poached the chicken, not steamed. She poached the whole chicken for 10 minutes, turn off the flame and let the chicken sit in the pot of hot water for another 10 minutes.  The chicken is then removed from the pot and chopped.

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This week I tried cooking poached chicken using my own method. I used only chicken drumsticks and ribs.  I have never chopped a whole chicken in my entire life, can you beat that?  And I don't think I can ever bring myself to chopping a whole chicken, especially raw ones.  Each time I cut meat, my imagination runs wild! haha!

Ingredients needed for the poaching liquid:
1.  Carrots - diced
2.  Big onions - diced
3. Tomatoes - diced
4.  Celery, potatoes and whatever vegetables / herbs that you fancy

First I boiled the carrots, big onions and tomatoes in a wok for about half an hour. While the vegetables are boiling in the wok, I cleaned the chicken drumsticks, ribs and washed vegetables.

You can flavor the poaching liquid with whatever aromatics, herbs and vegetables you have on hand.  The poached liquid can then be drank as soup. My poaching liquid is ABC soup which turned out to be really sweet, rich and yummy as I didn't use a lot of water like I would when boiling ABC soup.

When the carrots turn soft, put the chicken into the wok / pot. Set your timer to 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, turn off the fire. Let the chicken sit in the poaching liquid for another 10 minutes.

I removed the ribs first as and then turn the fire on again with the drumsticks still inside the wok as the inner part of the flesh looked red. I poached the drumsticks for another 5 minutes and removed immediately from the wok.

Pan fry some garlic and drizzle the garlic and oil on the chicken.  Flavor with organic shoyu, chopped scallions and sesame seed oil (optional).

The result of my poached chicken was excellent!  The girls loved it very much. For someone who does not like steamed chicken, I loved my poached chicken!

I'll definitely be cooking this again very soon.

Our dinner that evening -
Poached chicken and onion omelette.

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ABC soup and sauteed organic vegetables with minced garlic.
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Our juicy, smooth and aromatic poached chicken. So delish!!

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Poached chicken can be your pick-me-up dish on busy week nights.  You can add lots of vegetables into the poaching liquid and have a rich chicken broth with vegetables as sides.   This won't take you more than an hour to prepare :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Alycia's Second Tennis Lesson

Alycia is LOVING her tennis lessons!   Today she attended her 2nd lesson and she's really getting a hang of it. A stranger watching her play would never have guessed that today is only her 2nd lesson as she was hitting more balls than missing them.

Hubs already has a tennis racket, so we'll only need to get one more for Alycia and Drama Queen to practise during the month-long school holiday which starts at the end of this week.

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After tennis practise with the coach, she had to do some zig zag running exercises.

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While Alycia attended tennis lesson, Drama Queen jogged at the tracks while Cass helped to pick up balls - helpful as ever this girl :)

Despite having to put up with a kitchen and bedrooms that are a tad squeezy, I have no complaints living in a condo. We get to enjoy the pool, tennis court, running tracks, gym, function room, BBQ pit and most importantly 24 hours security.  If I have the wherewithal to buy a property, I would still stick to a condo with full facilities.

Pretty Prom Dresses At Affordable Prices

Prom nights are important and special because they are the best night of high school. They are the night that every teenage student looks forward to. Every girl wants to look her best that night in her killer prom dress and princessy hair-do.

www.dressfashion.co.uk carry a wide selection of glamarous, unique and affordable wedding, prom and event dresses. Do check these dresses out if you are hunting for one now.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Baking & Craft Saturday - 19 Nov 2016

One likes art and craft and the other likes baking and cooking.  Now that exams for this year are over, Cass and Drama Queen have started to indulge in their hobbies.

On Thursday evening, I brought Cass to the stationery shop to get art supplies for her to make burger pinatas with tutorial from US You Tuber Rachel Fong.  She spent the entire Thursday evening making burger pinatas.

Yesterday the magic clay that I ordered from my supplier arrived. Cass was delighted. Even I could not help burying my fingers into the super soft magic clay to sculpture something funny!

Cass spent her Saturday today sculpturing emojis and social media icons after practising the piano.

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If you have an art and craft fan like Cass, you can get the magic clay from my online store too. Just give me a tinkle at shireenyong@gmail.com OK! :)

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While Cass kept herself busy with clay sculpturing, Drama Queen spent a couple of hours in the kitchen baking a gluten-free cake, using the remaining gluten-free flour that we bought to make my mum a cake for her 70th birthday two months ago.

Picture below shows her heating up some chocolate chips in the microwave oven to make chocolate sauce to drizzle on her cake.
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While I was in piano class with Cass, Drama Queen Whatsapp-ed me the picture of her cake and asked me if it looked ok and I said it looked awesome!

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This girl's got so much talent in the kitchen yet she tells me that her ambition is not to be a baker or chef but something else.   Err... an architect or interior designer.

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And this sugar-reduced gluten-free cake with chocolate sauce, fresh orange slices and kiwi slices is just fantastic. Soon, she'll be able to sell her bakes too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Supermoon 2016 - 14 Nov 2016

It was another cool, breezy and cloudy night on the night that Supermoon 2016 was set to make its appearance.  In fact, it was slightly hazy, bummer!!

I cooked an early dinner so that we could have the time to wait to catch a glimpse of the super-sized moon. Cass waited at the window  the moment the skies turned dark.  Half an hour gone but there was still no sight of the moon.  Finally at around 7:45pm, the moon started to come out from its veil but it was super shy and with a fleeting appearance of less than half an hour, it went back to hide inside the clouds... and didn't come out again. That's from our side of the world.

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Though supermoon made a fleeting appearance, it wasn't that big from our end.  In fact, on random nights, we had sighted the moon even bigger and brighter.

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Cass was really disappointed that she didn't get to see what she had expected to see, which was a humongous and orangy supermoon, like the ones below:

On October 16 the supermoon glowed bright over the United States. This red moon hung over Washington D.C. on Sunday (pictured over Washington, D.C. on Sunday)

Supermoon 2016

I was pretty disappointed too. I thought I would get to watch a gigantic orangy ball glowing in stellar but sigh..

But know what? This morning I saw the supermoon during my pre-dawn morning walk cum run!  It was big (albeit not as big as the two images above) and yellowish but it didn't stay long before it went hiding again beneath the clouds.  It showed its face to me as if to assuage my wish to catch a glimpse of it :D

Monday, November 14, 2016

Eve Of Supermoon - 13 Nov 2016

Brunch on our Sunday was dim sum at Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant @ Bukit Bintang, KL. It was our first time there and the food was good - slightly cheaper than Han Room and quality of food is almost comparable with Han Room.  I didn't snap pictures of the dim sum as we ordered almost the same stuff at each dim sum meal and I think you'll get bored looking at the same pictures, right?

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Mango coconut pudding at the foreground and Hong Kong 'lai char' at the background.

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We had a pretty late dinner at around 8pm as we were all still very cloy from a heavy brunch. Back home, the girls walloped all the cakes that the hubs bought from Isetan the previous night.  We had takeout fried rice from Grand Harbour for dinner.

Last night the weather was pretty cooling @ 26 degrees C. In fact the weather has been quite chilly and breezy the past week.  Cass was all excited when she saw the preliminary sighting of the Supermoon!  The moon last night was bigger and brighter than usual as it begins to make its appearance today (14 Nov 2016) as the Supermoon of 2016.

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I'm going  to cook some simple dishes for an early dinner tonight and get ready to gaze out at the sky to wait for the Supermoon to appear.

According to the National Space Agency (Angkasa), the supermoon will happen at 7.24pm and become full at 9.54pm. The agency’s head of space science research unit said it can be viewed from 7.24pm until dusk the next day from any place with good visibility of the sky.  The supermoon can be seen from everywhere, weather permitting.

So get ready everyone to catch a glimpse of the supermoon!  If you miss this one, you'll have to wait for another 18 years..

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Baby Girl

I got a shock when Cass told me how she earned a few Ringgit in school on Friday.
She was playing with her classmates and then one of her classmates offered to pay her 50 sen for a massage. After trying her skillful massage, this classmate paid her another 50 sen for a second round of massage. And then other classmates wanted her massage service too! I told her that she better stop offering such services in school lest I get calls from irate parents! :D

Can't believe that my sweetie-pie is going to Primary 3 in just 6 weeks!  In this picture below, she was about 17 months old. We were in Penang for a post-surgery scan and check-up at GMC. How time flies. My baby girl is not so babyish anymore. I miss her chubbiness and her sleeping under my armpit for the first 3 years of her life. She was exclusively breastfed. My boobies gave her so much comfort and relief from all the pain that she had to go through. Glad those days are behind her now. But I miss my baby girl so much when she was just a naive little bub who sticks to me like a leech 😊

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Easy To Cook Chicken Curry - Way Chicken Curry Paste

I have found a brand of ready-to-use curry paste that tastes superior. Best of all, the spiciness level is just right for us, which is not too spicy yet bursting with flavors.

The range of curry paste from WaySauce.com are free from chemical additives and preservatives. Only natural ingredients are used and carefully sourced from reliable producers. This results in amazingly authentic flavours from all their various products.  So far we have tried the chicken curry sauce and tomyam sauce. Both are excellent and I managed to dish out really delish chicken curry and tomyam noodles.  If my super persnickety foodie  hubs said the food is good, it really is GOOD!

Chicken curry cooked using Way chicken curry paste. I  added kafir lime leaves, garlic, onion and evaporated milk.  The taste is superb and comparable with stall-bought chicken curry... ahem!

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I can't wait to cook this dish again. This time, I think I have to use 2 whole chicks and 2 sachets of Way chicken curry paste since 1 chicken is never enough for my 3 piranha-like hungry daughters and a carnivorous hubster :D

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Passion Fruit Agar-Agar & Coconut Pudding By The Kids

Cass brought some agar-agar (jelly) back from school on Children's Day last Friday.  I think one of her classmates' mum made the agar-agar. It was plain with pink colouring. nothing fancy but the girls had a tug of war over the miserable piece of agar-agar!  To quell the tug of war, I promised them that I would get them ingredients to make agar-agar the next day (Saturday) and they would have to help in the prep.

They couldn't wait for Saturday to come!  They love their masak-masak sessions in the kitchen.

I bought the traditional agar-agar strips (only costs RM3+ a packet), a can of evaporated milk, fresh coconut water, a box of grape juice with aloe vera bits and passion fruits to make two types of agar-agar.

The passion fruit jelly was prepped using only 3 ingredients:
1) 1 packet of agar-agar
2) 2 passion fuits
3) 1 box of Marigold grape juice with chewy aloe vera bits

We used the passion fruit shells as cups for the jelly and the rest of the mixture was poured onto a cake tin.

Directions for passion fruit jelly:

1) Heat up the box of grape juice in a pot. You can use whatever juice you fancy. Best to use freshly pressed/squeezed juice if you have the time. (you will see directions on the amount of liquid to use from the packet of the agar-agar). Use more water if you prefer the jelly to be jiggly and soft.
2) Once the juice boils, cut the agar-agar strips into smaller strips directly into the pot of juice.
3) Stir until all agar-agar has dissolved.
4) Pour mixture onto pan. You can use the shell of orange or passion fruit as 'cup'.
5) Scoop out the passion fruit seeds from the shell and mix them into the jelly mixture.
6) Set aside to cool down.  Put it under the fan to cool faster as you would be dang impatient for the jelly to coagulate to taste it. We even tried the jelly when it was still slightly warm but firmed up - too impatient to wait for hours for it to cool in the fridge :D
7) Chill the jelly in the fridge once the mixture has cooled.  We put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to speed things up, hahaha!!

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The coconut pudding / jelly was also prepped using only 3 ingredients:
1)  Fresh coconut water (1200ml)
2)  1 can of evaporated milk (200ml)
3  1 packet of agar-agar strips

Directions for coconut pudding / jelly:
1) Heat up the coconut water in a pot, cut the agar-agar strips into smaller strips and dissolve them in the coconut water. Stir frequently.  If you have the time, make sure you burst any bubble formed on the mixture. Ours had bubbles on the mixture surface as I was in a rush to finish off the jelly as Cass had piano lesson to attend.

2) Once all the agar-agar strips have dissolved, add in the can of evaporated milk.
Note: the agar-agar was a tad firm and very milky.  It would taste better if I  use 1300ml of fresh coconut water and only 100ml of evaporated milk in future.  As the texture is firm and milky, it tasted pretty much like a pudding.  The girls didn't quite like it but I was in love with it -- it contains both my favorite ingredients, so how could I not heart it? :D

3) Cut up strips of coconut flesh (optional but highly recommended) and add into the jelly mixture.

4) Pour mixture onto pan or jelly molds.

5) Set aside to cool down.  Put it under the fan to cool faster as you would be dang impatient for the jelly to coagulate to taste it.

6) Chill the jelly in the fridge once the mixture has cooled.

To suit the girls' taste bud, I may even omit the evaporated milk in future. Instead I will get the coconut seller to give me some coconut meat/flesh, which I will cut into strips and add into the jelly. This would taste exactly like the coconut jelly dessert from Han Room, which is our all-time favorite dessert. This will be the girls' next masak-masak project in the kitchen soon - coconut jelly ala Han Room.

Passion fruit jelly in passion fruit cup - so refreshing and yummy!

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Jagged and uneven cut agar-agar, evidence of child's play in the kitchen.  Nonetheless we enjoyed the fruits of our labor, in which case wasn't really laborious and even kids can prep with adult's supervision :)

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Our Saturday Breakfast Chow Down

Today hubs and Alycia joined Cass and I for breakfast at our usual Saturday coffee shop after dropping off Drama Queen at the tuition center.  Alycia does not need to attend school on Saturdays anymore for the rest of the school days for this year,  YAY!!!

With hubs around, there is always PLENTY of scrumptious food on the table.  And this is why I need to force myself to run or swim every morning.

I ordered bitter gourd noodles sans the noodles but with minced pork, vegetables, lots of bitter gourd and an egg. Today the egg looked really  'plasticky' and I was feeling really skeptical on the genuinity of the egg!  I should have snapped a picture of the egg.  Was it real chicken egg or was it fake egg from China?! Eewwwwww!!  If the stall owner knew about the eggs and served them to us, I hope he knows what he's doing. Karma bites back like a bitch I tell you.

The big princess ordered 3 sets of coffee shop style Chinese white bread toast with kaya. This girl eats toasted bread every morning yet she never gets sick of them!

And the carnivorous hubs ordered chicken, char siew and siew yoke PLUS a big plate of wantan mee with beef brisket!

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We had breakfast with Alan Yun, our celebrity cum entrepreneur long-time friend (blurred image of him in the background).

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After breakfast, we did grocery shopping. Back home, I supervised the girls in the kitchen. They made passion fruit agar-agar and coconut pudding for the first time :)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Glamorous Wedding & Prom Dresses

One of the best places on the internet to get elegant and affordable prom dresses and event dresses is at www.dressfashion.co.uk

www.dressfashion.co.uk carry a wide selection of glitzy and affordable wedding, prom and event dresses.

A-line V-neck Chiffon Tulle Sweep Train with Beading Boutique Backless Prom Dresses

V-neck Red Chiffon Sweep Train Beading Open Back Prom Dresses

Princess V-neck Tulle Floor-length with Beading Exclusive Prom Dresses

Discounted A-line Sweetheart Chiffon Sweep Train with Beading Royal Blue Prom Dresses

Modest Princess V-neck Tulle Court Train Appliques Lace Burgundy Prom Dresses

A-line V-neck Chiffon Sweep Train Sequins Lace-up Perfect Prom Dresses

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Down Memory Lane

My mum Whatsapp-ed me this picture of her taken with the girls about 5 years ago.  Alycia was 8, Drama Queen was 6 and Cass was 3.  Love this picture so much of all the people whom I love the most in the whole wide world :)

This picture is now set as lock screen picture on my desktop computer. If only I could teleport myself back in time to relive just one of those days. I miss the girls when they were at that age where they were  still cute as little puppies and ever so cuddly, where they have not learned to retaliate and answer back rudely.

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Well perhaps I'll be saying the same thing 5 years down the road when the girls turn 18, 16 and 13 (OMG, all teenagers by then!).  I would probably be missing them at their age now.  Sometimes I wish they were all grown up and working so that I have no more stress of caring for young and growing kids and on some days I wish they were little helpless babies again. Ask any parents and you will get the same sentiments of stress - financial, emotional and physical stress of raising kids.

This is the ebb and flow of life - there are highs and lows. There is bitter and sweet, gloomy and sunshine days and it's all part of the package of life.  If it were peaches, sunshine and roses all the time, I guess we’d probably get bored or even worried of life being too perfect.  Agree?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Compilation Of Easy Home Cooked Dinner Ideas

These are some of the dishes that I rolled out on super busy days.  On these days, I just didn't feel like stepping into the kitchen.  But when the clock showed 6:30 pm already, I would get myself in a tizz. With super fast moving hands and legs working at full steam, I almost never disappoint the girls and even the fussy King of the house with my creations, ha ha ha!

Cooking indeed needs practice. No wonder the mil can easily wok up a feast fit for 20 people in under 2 hours with decades of cooking for a big troupe. The Yaps are from a HUGE family living in a big bungalow in Ipoh.  Practice makes perfect.

Dinner For Busy Evening #1:

1. Free-range chicken stew with celery, carrots, tomatoes, dried flower mushrooms, baby peas, loads of onions and garlic, bay leaves (I LOVE bay leaves. They add SO MUCH flavor to a dish) seasoned with organic shoyu, Lea & Perrin sauce, ground black pepper and organic brown sugar.   Basil leaves for decor are from our little garden.
2.  Sauteed organic 'por choy'

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Dinner For Busy Evening #2

Soupy meehoon and dark sauce sesame oil meehoon.  Soup was boiled using anchovies, garlic, fish bones, carrots and tomatoes.  Pork balls, homemade fish paste, squid rings and organic veggies were blanched with the soup just before serving.

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Dinner For Busy Evening #3

1.  Colorful and healthy fried rice with parboiled low GI rice, loads of garlic, onions, eggs, grated carrot, sweet corn kernels, baby garden peas and kafir lime leaves. Seasoned with organic shoyu and pepper.
2.  Taiwanese style chives with minced pork, garlic and shredded carrot.

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Dinner For Busy Evening #4

1.  Stir-fried brinjal with organic 'lai park' veggie, organic miso, minced pork, tomatoes, scallions and kafir lime leaves.

2.  Steamed minced pork with eggs, salted egg and organic wood fungus strips.

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My budget for each dinner costs no more than RM40 (sometimes RM50) for 3 big-eater growing girls and 2 adults.  If the hubs doesn't come back for dinner, the portion will be saved for lunch for Cass and me the next day.