Jitterbuggin’ (Chocolate chip banana “bug” muffins)

3 10 2013

Everybody seems to have a favourite recipe for banana bread. It’s certainly handy in households like ours that just can’t eat bananas fast enough. You know what I’m talking about — the freezer is your best friend and you always have about a half-dozen blackened bananas wedged in between your ice cream and frozen peas.

Not being fond of bananas, I’m not actually a huge fan of banana bread or muffins. But you can only throw away so much food without feeling like a total wastrel. The solution? Chocolate chips and fun shapes — both ingredients for a delicious, moist treat that kids and adults alike will enjoy.


The result of an impromptu girls’ night of baking and It’s A Wonderful Life (and, of course, too many frozen bananas in the freezer), along with the sudden inspiration to use a Nordic Ware Backyard Bugs pan we had received as a wedding present, this recipe  Read the rest of this entry »


Red (cabbage) alert

25 11 2011

I had such ambitions, I did, of posting up every single new recipe I’ve tried and doing a blog post on all my holiday meals. Unfortunately, I haven’t been satisfied with the results, so for now, I’ll have to settle for a quick hit on the product of a recent lingering desire to do something with red cabbage.

A quick preamble: The Husband and I love The Clocktower on Bank Street, especially as we have some sweet Entertainment Book coupons for the place. The Clocktower has the best specials in town: the first time we went there, we had these amazingly huge and surprisingly inexpensive swordfish steaks.

My red cabbage obsession stemmed from the second or third time we went, both getting specials yet again. The funny thing is, it wasn’t even the main dish – it was accompanying a perfectly delicious main of corned beef, I believe. But the braised red cabbage on the side was a revelation. Read the rest of this entry »

Up in your grill (Spinach bread grilled cheese)

28 09 2011

Being from Malaysia, there’s a lot of stuff I know about food. Malaysians are obsessed with food; ask any of my relatives a simple question like “What’s in this?” and be prepared to listen to a sonnet about the art of food preparation. (My husband still chuckles about the time my Uncle Tony rhapsodized about how the different durian breeds are akin to the many pungent varieties of cheese.)

When I came to North America, though, I found out there were a few things I still had to learn. This post is about two of those things, married together in one afternoon when The Husband and I were having trouble coming up with something to eat for lunch.

Grilled cheese on spinach bread

I would have tried to take more and better pictures of these, but The Husband was hungry.

One of the things this Malaysian girl learned about is that a grilled cheese sandwich is NOT “two slices of bread put into a toaster oven, face up with cheese slices on them, and then slapped together.” No joke, this is what I did while I was growing up. Still awesome, especially when the cheese bubbles up, browns and crisps, revealing a totally different flavour, but definitely not the same thing.

Second, I learned how to make bread. More specifically, how to make Emeril Lagasse’s spinach bread, since I’ve never tried making any other kind.  Read the rest of this entry »


18 08 2009

Stock image taken from i.ehow.comBeen meaning to post up this article on the top hot chocolate spots in Ottawa that I originally wrote a while ago for a local home & living magazine. It wasn’t published, and very unfortunately, a daily paper came out with a very similar article just before the issue in which this piece would have appeared. The joys of writing about a very small, specific sample of food & beverage places for a bimonthly publication =)

Now, I know it’s summer, and if you’re in Ottawa and a pansy like me, one of the most hellishly humid summers you’ve had the displeasure of perspiring in. So I’m guessing perhaps a hot drink isn’t on your mind right now. That’s OK. For future reference or something, maybe.

Anyway, I give you, in no particular order, five of my favourite places to grab one of the snowy season’s most beloved beverages. Read the rest of this entry »

Fresh starts & food in film

14 08 2009

I’ve fought the idea of blogging for a very long time, for very many reasons. First off, I figured I’d never keep it up, considering the trail of unfinished projects I’ve left behind me — an abandoned Flixster account here, countless photos yet to be uploaded to Facebook because I’ve “still got to Photoshop them,” an online portfolio that still needs to be updated with my latest articles — er, on second thought, maybe this isn’t a good idea…

I also harbour no delusions that I’ll have people hanging on to my every, undoubtedly banal, word. Being a writer by profession, I’m also often unenthusiastic about the prospect of spending my non-work hours essentially doing work. But I’ve been wanting for some time to put some thoughts down about the great food I’ve eaten (especially those holes-in-the-wall hidden away in my adopted home of Ottawa, which is not known for its grand cuisine), the thought-provoking films I’ve watched, and some of the trials and triumphs I’ve had in faith, running, and life in general. And hey, maybe I’m also a little bit vain and would like to know if other people out there feel the same way about something once I’ve taken the time to sort out my rambling thoughts.

I figured I’d give it a bit of a shot after seeing 2.5 of my passions (food, film, and writing, sort of) combined in Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia (more about that below). All throughout I was thinking of how I should really get off my butt and write instead of just talking about it all the time, much like Julie Powell did. And then I thought of the title and had a bit of a giggle and got more excited about the whole project. I probably thought more about the title of the blog than about the actual writing, to be honest, but just so many things begin with the letter “F,” aside from the obvious.

Anyway, here I am. I guess I’ll start with a review of Julie & Julia, my first in almost a year.

♥♥♥ 1/2

Critics have widely documented Julie & Julia‘s flaws: Julie Powell’s narcissism, in particular, makes the character largely unlikable, and even her own admission of being a bitch — in the type of martini-doused kvetching-to-my-best-girlfriend scene that seems to be coded into any movie about modern-day New York City — isn’t convincing. It’s telling that someone as lovable and radiant as Amy Adams isn’t able to illuminate Powell’s character, although there’s no doubt she tries. I will say that a scene where Powell lies weeping in a childish tantrum on her back on the kitchen floor after ruining another dish is pretty funny, as is another one where her eyes well up with tears as she hears another sob story on the phone at her insurance job, both done with great comic timing and feeling. Elsewhere, however, Powell’s blathering about how it’s as if Julia watches over her and how much her blog readers need her makes her a turnoff, and you marvel at the patience of her loving husband, Eric, played in an inoffensive, but largely forgettable manner by Chris Messina.

An aside: is it realistic that Eric and Julie don’t gain any weight after eating more than one butter-loaded French meal a day for an entire month? I mean, she mentions that she’s gotten fat but it really doesn’t look it.

At the same time, I wouldn’t rave about Meryl Streep’s performance as much as the critics have. I doubt there has been a more celebrated actor than Streep, and admittedly, she’s deserving of it. My brief remembrances of Julia Child’s cooking show seem to affirm the fact that Streep has got Child’s melodious tones down pat, and she perfectly embodies the joie de vivre of a women who is well-loved, well-fed and living in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. She is indeed a joy to watch on the screen, and every time I see Meryl Streep I think of how increasingly lovely she is as she ages. As well, Stanley Tucci is a great foil as Paul Child, even if I was a bit giggly at the idea of their romance.

Still, I just can’t get past the fact that it’s Meryl Streep on the screen, with her funny way of touching her face and throat as she talks, not Julia Child. No doubt, Streep deserves her due, but almost every time I see her on screen I see a caricature, which was the way I felt when I watched Doubt earlier this year (although, surprisingly, not when I saw her in The Devil Wears Prada, in which I thought she was an evil, gorgeous goddess).

Anyway! After all that, Julie & Julia is really quite a confection of a film, and I found myself rooting for the protagonists’ culinary triumphs and salivating at the sight of a buttery, sizzling sole meunière or a simmering boeuf bourguignon. The fact that I recently read a wonderful New York Times article about the amount of work that goes into styling the food for a film such as this probably influenced my admiration for the look of the movie, as did my obsession with gastronomic pleasures that goes way back to when I used to go to cocktail parties with my dad as a kid and write childish restaurant reviews for his magazine. But ultimately, it’s a film about triumph over dreariness and boredom, ignorance (both on the part of the principal of the Cordon Bleu school where Julia Child studied and in terms of Julie Powell not knowing how to bone a duck or what an egg tasted like), and heck, it’s about food! I know people who love watching Wendy’s commercials about the Baconator, for goodness’s sake, and I myself love poring over the M&M’s catalogue — I call it food porn — devouring descriptions about butterflied garlic shrimp and looking at every shot of the food. An entire film about one of the most highly regarded cuisines in the world can hardly be less fascinating.

Definitely not a perfect film, but an enjoyable and inspirational one nonetheless.

So here we go. This post only took me something like three days to write, so I fear for the rest of the blog. But it’s a start, isn’t it?

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