happy year of the rooster!

Usually I’d be having a regular work day over Lunar New Year, but this year it falls on a Saturday! So I thought I’d celebrate by trying out a rice cooker turnip cake recipe :D

I remember my Hakka grandmother making lots and lots of turnip cakes in preparation for new year. Turnip cake is also Mike’s favourite at dim sum. So even though I’m not so good with cooking, I thought I’d give it a try. And it actually turned out quite well, and tasted like turnip cake! The recipe I found is all in Chinese, but if you can’t read Chinese but are interested in making turnip cake with a rice cooker, here’s what I did :D 

The main ingredients are: (they can usually be purchased at Asian grocery stores)

400g daikon radish (I don’t have a scale so I don’t know how much I used for sure, but used one average size daikon radish)
80g Chinese sausage (I used one)
80g preserved meat (?) (not sure what it is in English, didn’t use)
3 shiitake mushrooms (soaked for a few hours to rehydrate)
1 tbsp dried shrimps (soaked for a few hours to rehydrate. I probably used 3 tbsp, as pictured. Didn’t measure. 1 tbsp of shrimps just seems too few. I like shrimps.)
1 cup of rice flour (I used about 1/4 cup more because it looked like I had more daikon than called for)
1 cup of water (I used about 1/4 cup more, and used the liquid created from shredding the daikon, as well as the soaking water from the mushrooms, for flavour) 
I also used a small amount of cilantro, chopped

Seasoning for the daikon:
1 tsp chicken instant stock mix
1/8 tsp sugar (didn’t measure, used a pinch)
1/8 tsp salt (same as above)
a bit of white pepper

Seasoning for mushrooms/shrimps/sausage:
1/8 tsp soy sauce (a few drops)
1/8 tsp sugar (a pinch)
1/8 tsp rice wine (didn’t use, because I don’t have rice wine)

1) Chop mushrooms into thin strips. Roughly chop shrimps.

2) Chop Chinese sausage into small bits

3) Mix mushrooms, shrimps and sausage together with seasoning (the soy sauce, sugar and rice wine)

4) Heat wok (I used a frying pan because I don’t have a wok), quick fry mushrooms, shrimps and sausage with 1 tbsp of oil. Put in a dish and set aside.

5) Peel and shred daikon. Drain and save the liquid in a bowl, add water (I use the water from the mushroom soak, filtered with a coffee filter) to make 1 cup. In a bowl mix this liquid with rice flour. Set aside.

6) Heat wok (I used a large frying pan), quick fry the shredded daikon with the daikon seasoning and 1/2 tbsp of oil. Turn down heat and cover, cook for a few minutes until soft. Mix in the mushrooms/shrimps/sausage and cilantro. Turn off heat. Mix in the rice flower mixture quickly.

7) Grease rice cooker, pour mixture into rice cooker. Cook in rice cooker on white rice setting.

It looked like I had enough to make 2 cakes so I made an extra small one on the steaming rack in the rice cooker, on a greased tin plate. When the rice cooker finished cooking for the first time, the small turnip cake didn’t look cooked, and I wasn’t sure about the larger one in the rice cooker, so I cooked it again on the “quick steam” setting. After that the large one looked done (has a slight translucent quality), but the top one still looked uncooked (opaque like rice pudding), so I steamed it the old school way, until it looked cooked.

Here’s the large one cooked in the rice cooker. I’m quite proud of how it turned out! :D

The large one is for a family gathering tomorrow. The small one we cut up, pan fried and ate :)

It’s stickier than it’s supposed to, I think I used too much daikon, and didn’t drain it enough (I think one is supposed to press the shredded daikon to get all the liquid out). But it tasted like turnip cake! Which is a Chinese New Year miracle given my culinary skills, or our rice cooker is magical :D

May the new year bring you good health, much success and lots of happiness!

holiday crafting

After making gifts for months before Christmas I finally had some time to make the things I wanted for myself! :D 

I lost my gloves on my first day off for the holidays. It was like the 10th pair I’ve lost. I buy the fleece ones from the dollar store and they’re the best — they’re warm and the youth size fits me perfectly. But I guess because they’re so easy to replace, I keep losing them! And most of the time I don’t even know how or where! So I thought if I were to knit myself a pair of mittens, I’d be more careful with them. 

I’ve always wanted to try the Ancient Stitch Mittens by Purl Soho, the stitch pattern is just so beautiful. But the thumb part is knitted in the round with DPNs. Not that I haven’t done that before, but I’d much rather knitting with 2 needles, and I didn’t really want to get a new set of short DPNs just for this. So I made up a way to knit them flat.

This isn’t a great photo, but you can see that I’ve knitted the mittens in 3 parts — back, thumb, and palm, then joined them together. Maybe I’ll write another post explaining how I did that in case others are interested. And yes, I was also visiting with some old friends during the holidays :) Mike found his copy of Bunnicula while going through some old stuff at his parents’. 

I also added cuffs so they’d tuck in better inside my coat’s sleeve cuffs. I was quite happy with the finished mittens! But they turned out really huge on me, and I’ve used 6 mm needles instead of the 8 or 9 mm needles that the pattern called for. My dad ended up taking them because they fit him :D

I was determined to give the pattern another try, this time using a lighter yarn and even smaller needles. I used a skein of hand dyed wool that’s slightly heavier than the regular worsted, and used 5.5 mm needles for the mittens and 4.5 mm for the cuffs. And they fit much better! :D

Here’s a better picture of them.

Another project I wanted to make was the polka dot hat. I used the Loving Hat pattern by the Garter Stitch Witch, but knitted it flat of course. It is a bit of a hassle to knit this flat because on the purl side I had to carry the white yarn all the way across. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so stubborn about knitting everything flat… but anyway, the fair isle knitting made the hat extra thick!

My mom wanted the same hat, and because this one ended up being too big for me, I gave her this hat, and made some modifications to make a smaller hat for myself, with wider spacing between polka dots.

For the new year Mike and I decided to make some soup jars for the pantry, since we so often come home from work in the evening with no idea what to make. We used this recipe from She Uncovered

Added a bay leaf because it’s pretty :D

More projects to come, keeping hands busy and mind happy with more knitting and crochet! :D Have a good weekend everyone!


to health!

I’m battling a cold as I write this. I rarely get sick so this feels particularly sad :’( but maybe this is the body’s way of telling me that it needs to come first sometimes.

Anyway. I was talking with a friend about breakfast habits one day, and I told her that I often can’t stomach more than a frozen waffle or a piece of buttered toast in the morning, and end up feeling extremely hungry by 10am. She shared about her new found excitement for overnight oats and gave me some ingredients to try. I don’t like the texture of oatmeal very much but I thought it was an intriguing idea (soak overnight? No cooking? No baking? You can add all kinds of fruit and toppings? Like a sundae?), so I did give it a try.

And it’s the best thing ever! :D

overnight oats

There are a lot of recipes for overnight oats (like this list!). I think it’s something that you can just put whatever you want in it and it would taste pretty good. I generally use 1/3 cup oats (old fashion, not quick), 1/3 cup milk, some kind of fruit, and 1 tablespoon of this Qia cereal mix (it was on sale at the supermarket and has chia seeds, hemp seeds, buckwheat, almonds and cranberries in it. I thought it was a more sensible purchase than buying full bags of chia seeds and hemp seeds when I was just trying things out). Here are some combinations of ingredients I’ve tried:

Clockwise from top left:
Apple, cinnamon and honey
*Delux!* Strawberry/peach/mango frozen fruit mix, strawberry yogurt and vanilla soy milk
To celebrate Year of the Monkey — peanut butter, banana and honey
Humble blueberry and honey

Nothing fancy, but super filling! Now I start feeling hungry at noon instead of 10am! :D

I don’t have it every day, but have been making it for both Mike and me especially when we anticipate a busy day ahead. I find it less mushy than oatmeal. Cold oatmeal somehow tastes a lot better to me than hot oatmeal. And I like having fruit in it. And it’s so simple to put together the night before, saves a bunch of time in the morning!

Seeing that it is Chinese New Year tomorrow, here’s wishing everyone a year of good health and happiness!


hot cocoa, on a stick! :D

Last year I helped a friend make these as wedding favours. I thought it’s the most brilliant thing! And very cute-looking with the marshmallow on top. So when Mike and I were thinking about small gifts that we can make a lot of at once for our coworkers, we decided to give this a try again.

We followed the recipe from Dessert Design Life. There are many hot cocoa on a stick recipes out there, but I chose this one because it’s got some pretty good tips about the ingredients and methods that seem to be helpful for people who don’t bake or make desserts much, like me.

It’s actually REALLY easy to make. It doesn’t even involve turning the stove on (we melted the chocolate in the microwave, but one could use a double boiler).

We crushed up some candy cane in the Magic Bullet (sifted out the fine powder), and sprinkled some in the bottom of the ice tray before piping in the chocolate.

After the chocolate was melted, we mixed in cocoa powder and icing sugar, and piped them into an ice tray with a cut-up zip-lock bag. We added a marshmallow on top and put in a stick (bamboo skewers from the dollar store).

Here they are, setting in the ice tray. (with our festive table cloth in the background :D)

Photo 2015-12-14, 1 19 17 PM

We put them in the fridge for about half an hour, and voilà! We were worried that they might be more difficult to de-mold with the candy cane bits in the bottom, but they popped out like ice.

Photo 2015-12-14, 4 25 48 PM

I brushed a very small amount water on top of the marshmallows and sprinkled more candy cane bits on top.

Mike made the stylish tags :D And we just put them in clear sandwich bags and tied them up with yarn :)

Photo 2015-12-14, 6 16 37 PM

We made about 50 sticks in a day, and it was a lot of fun :D

After giving them away last week we had just two sticks left over. Which means we can celebrate the beginning of winter with a cup of hot cocoa together :D Happy winter solstice!



Lately, I’ve been working on this nice knitted lace top (it’s a free Ravelry download! :D).

Photo 2015-04-25, 8 49 59 AM

I got this yarn last year to make the Convergence top. I was using a bit of a heavier yarn than called for, so I increased the hook size to 4mm instead of 3.75mm, expecting that the entire top will turn out a bit larger, which would be fine for me, because I like loose fitting tops in the summer, and the measurements for size small really looks rather small even for me… but for some reasons it turned out narrower than the given measurements, and wayyy longer. So I took it apart. And I’m now working on this knitted top. I think the lace panels go well with the variegated yarn :) Will definitely show you when I’m done!

Lately I have also been enjoying some konbu cha in the evening :D

Photo 2015-04-23, 9 39 31 PM

Not to be confused with kombucha, which is the sweetened fermented tea. Konbu cha is kelp tea. My friend, who is Japanese, gifted it to me last week when we ran into each other at a workshop :D It tastes like seaweed salad in a cup, and to me it tastes more like broth than tea, but I love it! I love kelp. I will have to get more of it at Asian grocery stores.

Lately I have also been working on a couple of Etsy orders, one of which is the tiny yeti pin. Here he is, all ready for his journey to a good home :D

Photo 2015-04-19, 12 26 18 PM



Hope you are having a good week!


hagelslag :D

Sprinkles are one of Mike’s very favourite things.

One day he came across this video about breakfasts from different parts of the world, and when it got to the part about the Netherlands, he thought, “I’ve got to get some of that!”

So with a little research he found out that hagelslag is sold at Dutch Dreams, our local ice cream shop (and favourite place in the summer :D).

They came in a variety pack with (very cute) small boxes that looked like mini cereal boxes.


So we got our toasts buttered and ready. Mike tried the regular chocolate one.

milk chocolate

And I tried the fruit variety, vruchtenhagel, which I think means “fruit hail”.

fruit hail
It turned out to be a bit sweeter than I would like, but I do enjoy how, unlike the sprinkles we get on cupcakes and such, these melt in the mouth! Combined with the buttery bread it reminds me of the dessert buns (i.e. pineapple buns or custard buns) at the Chinese bakery.

I think my favourite is the chocolate shavings variety.

shaved milk chocolate

Hope your week is filled with small things that make you smile :)




summer parties

tea party 1

Last weekend my friends and I decided to have a tea party. My friends are very good at baking but I can’t bake for beans, so I thought I’d make tea party sandwiches. These open-face ones were inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest. 


tea party 3

I thought lining them up on a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it would look nice. From left: cream cheese/cucumber, cream cheese/smoked salmon, avocado/mayonnaise, cream cheese/cucumber/smoked salmon.


tea party 2

Check out our spread! Cupcakes, shortbread, macarons, berries, oh my! We had an excellent afternoon catching up and eating lots of sweets :D I love tea parties.

And this weekend Mike and I went to a wedding. I had hoped to wear the cardigan from Amy’s crochet-along, and it was perfect for the cooler temperature in the evening. I even found a nice teal dress to go with it :D

CAL cardigan

Mike lent me one of his tie clips for the front closure (the piece of driftwood I was using in my previous photos was drawing too much attention to itself, I thought). It actually worked really well :D

Have an excellent Monday, everyone!


another day at the farmers market


This time I got some black cherry tomatoes, pattypan squash, and some kale. I’ve never had any of those before. The friendly farmers gave me samples of the tomatoes and squash. They were very sweet.

Here’s what we did with the cherry tomatoes and squash — a summer salad with just some salt, pepper and sesame oil.


I sautéed half the kale, but found it a bit too chewy. So I thought I’d try to make kale chips with the rest of them. I’ve always been intrigued by them!

I followed this recipe. It’s really rather simple. Didn’t even have to turn them over half way through baking. Came out nice and crisp!

kale chips 2

Mike and I devoured the entire bowl in one evening.

kale chips 1

And this is the drawing of the week. Treasures from the earth.

treasures from the earth

May your week be filled with simple joys and treasures!


monster pops

monster pop 1

 Was wondering what to do with leftover coconut milk that we bought to make curry with, then I came across this post on how to make fruity striped ice cubes!

We happened to have a can of frozen mango juice as well, it was perfect :D 

Aren’t these monster pop molds just awesome? Mike bought them last summer :D It looks like the monsters have glowing brains under the kitchen light…

monster pop 2

 I added sugar to the coconut milk before pouring it into the mold, but I thought it tasted a bit bitter after it was frozen… does coconut milk taste bitter? Or did we leave it in the fridge for too long and it went bad…? Neither Mike and I felt unwell after eating two each, though. Hmm…

It’s going to hit 30℃ tomorrow — here comes summer!

Have a beautiful rest of the week!


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