Turkish Delight + friends in motherhood

IMG_3256 (640x427)Enjoying a nourish bowl with a dear friend one afternoon, we spoke about how empty our tanks have become. Being a mother it seems is draining. Friendships are harder to maintain- not because you don’t want to but even typing on whats app seems tiring. Conversations become more curt and straight to the point. Not because we want to come across as snobbish or fussy, but because we have less energy to be tactful or waste time trying to be gentle. 

The make up face. The clean clothes we are wearing. The weary smiles. Sometimes motherhood transform friendships. It is not because we don’t want to, but because in our quietness and straight to the point conversation we know that as long as our kids are happy, no one gets killed and we get coffee… the day is good. Very good. IMG_3259 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’143′]

Travelling with a Toddler + Chinese Almond Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free)

Chinese Almond CookiesDuring my travels, what I missed most was having the familiarity of my kitchen and ingredients that I know can sit well with our values, principles and food philosophy. I do believe in diversity and regardless of where we are at, our body needs a break from the usual routine. Food included.IMG_1165

I was really impressed with how Asher was with food. He ate pretty much anything and embraced the local food delights. From a typical breakfast of Indian Thosai, to different kuehs -he tried it all. He was a little hit and miss with durian. He didn’t love it but neither did he dislike it. I would just have to keep introducing it to him. IMG_0660

Another thing that we were most proud about was how well he behaved on the plane. We did not need to use gadgets-though we brought it and prepared it in advanced. We put together a goody bag of new puzzles, books and drawing materials. We had small little toys still wrapped up for him to open up on the plane. The funny thing was, it was the safety card at our seat that generated the most interest. He was literally studying it on each flight. Otherwise, snacks, conversation about the plane, reading, toys and nap time kept us sane. IMG_0871

We had quite a lot of misses on the toileting side of things on the plane- to be expected. We brought heaps of clothing but on the way back, we conceded defeat and put him in training pants to reduce the pressure on him and us. Lo behold, he went to the loo on the plane when we stopped asking, and kept his pants dry mostly. He asked for the toilet when we landed and that was sufficient till we got home.I don’t blame him. I’m not a fan of air plane loos myself!IMG_0682

Among the few things that Asher pick up during the trip were

  1. Eating ice cream
  2. He tried some juice
  3. Local fruits like Jambu Air, Jackfruit and Dragon fruit
  4. Smother in love from his grandparents
  5. Sharing food! 
  6. Some cookies and chocolate IMG_0572

Thankfully, I have always kept an open mind that Asher will experience the above some time in his life time. Besides, what’s life without chocolate, cookies and ice cream? Now back at home, Asher continued to eat his usual foods without much complains but was excited about some custard and instant blue berry ice cream (Cue: frozen bananas and blueberries). IMG_3044 (640x427)

I created these cookies as an adaptation of the Chinese Almond Cookies that my family loved for many years. The original recipe was almond meal and icing sugar. This version uses honey. The glaze is what made the yellow of the cookie stands out. My grandmother loved this and would have asked me to make it over and over again. If I could turn that time, I would gladly make them daily…just for her..
IMG_3041 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’125′] 

Mango Bread (Paleo, gluten free, dairy free) + Murky Roles

IMG_2866 (640x427)Is being a father/mother = to being a good husband/wife? 

The other day hubby and I had a conversation about roles in parent hood. While it may seem clear cut on what our roles are, it can often be more murky than what it seems. IMG_2869 (427x640)

First up, it does depends on your definition of what a husband or wife should be. For some people, it is about being a partner in life. We uplift each other, we give honest thoughts, we pray. Perhaps we enjoy checking out cafes and coffee. We have heart to heart conversations, have similar thoughts on current affairs. We may share a love for musicals. We do housework together and is there for each other when the going gets tough.We have a good laugh. Most of all we like each other.

Then we have definition of what a parent is like. The usual routine, caring for a child, playing. We may think that providing financially is also one of our roles. IMG_2866 (640x427)

Gently, we teased out the differences. Being a mother/father may contribute being a partner in a relationship but it does not define it. I love seeing hubby being a dad. It gives me great joy when I see hubby plays with Asher or teaching him a skill that I did not even think of teaching. I love seeing how Asher looks up to his dad with those eyes that says “daddy is his hero”. It makes me warm and fuzzy. It fills me with love. Yet I also long for those days and luxuries when I have hubby’s undivided attention. Flowers and gifts. Notes in my lunch box and sweet words. Hubby too realises that he misses being the centre of my attention where I am more flexible in my scheduling, more spontaneous in checking out food places and perhaps less snappiness when I’m tired. He misses my messages on why I love him, and why I respect him. He cares for those evenings when we do not have to rushed to finish getting ready for the next day but just enjoy each other’s company. He would like our conversation to be round us and our dreams/goals- and not just be around what we need to do and need each other to do.

Being a parent is hard work. Being in a marriage and a parent = triple the hard work. The unspoken is that it takes a lot of effort to keep a family together. I certainly appreciate having this conversation to keep me in check, but in reflection of our day to day actions as a couple. IMG_2867 (640x427)

This is one of hubby’s favourite breakfast in summer. The sweetness and creaminess of mango means the bread does not need any other sweeter. Asher for some reason does not like mangos. I think it is the texture (I’m sure he will come around though). Sometimes I may not make something (in order to maximise amount of return for the energy output to make it) because Asher doesn’t eat it as much- but this time, it is for hubby because he likes it. 

[yumprint-recipe id=’118′] 

Raw Coconut Chocolate Brownies (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2271 (427x640)So Asher discovered chocolate. 

He whispered “chocolate cake” the other day when I asked what would he like for morning tea. That reply reminded me of why I should not ask him what he wants but just offer him some options instead. IMG_2277 (640x427)

So we made brownies. Raw ones that goes into the food processor and he can eat via the spoonful. I made a version before using coffee but given that coffee is one that we do not want asher to try, we had to sneakily eat it. This one, was adapted so if he has a square, it would be alright. IMG_2273 (640x427)

Interestingly, it only works with coconut milk. I find that almond milk or normal milk just doesn’t give it the right texture. Perhaps coconut milk gives it a creamier taste. I had to freeze half a batch though. For many reasons including portion control and not snacking on a whole heap of them at once. The other, is that I can show Asher an empty box and said “finished” when in actually fact there is half of it left in the freezer for hubby’s snack. (sneaky sneaky!) IMG_2275 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’78’]

Blueberry Coconut Pancakes (Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Nut Free, Dairy Free) + Asher’s list of favourite foods

IMG_2256 (640x427)“What are your favourite foods Asher?”

  • Pancakes
  • Blueberries
  • Nuts (more on that later)
  • Mushrooms
  • Custard
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries 
  • Watermelon
  • PANCAKES

He rattled off a list. 

Hubby was saying that was what Asher said in one of their conversations. I was impressed. Not just that he can remembers all those food items but he was able to understand the question and rattled off foods that he does get excited when they are given to him. IMG_2260 (640x427)

Pancakes are his current thing. We make pancakes mini size. My understanding is that they are similar except pikelets are thicker. Of course since we do not have flour in our pantry, we use coconut flour. After some experimentation, I like this ratio of coconut flour and eggs best. 

For some reason, Asher does not like nut butter. A pity because I LOVE THEM. I think it is the sticky feel that he isn’t a fan of. He has also grown to like nuts which is a big horror to me after reading and knowing that whole nuts are a no no to kids due to it being a possible choking hazard. It reinforces how he copies our eating habits as he knows I always have a small box of nuts in my handbag! IMG_2258 (640x427)

One of my ways of getting some great protein into him is using nut butter in pancakes. In my pantry we have jars of nut butters. Cashew, almond, ABC and dare I saw it… peanut. Yes peanut is a legume and it is not “paleo” but we love it and believe that we can have some of it if it sits ok with us. We do choose a brand without any other ingredients. 

I love these pancakes because I can make a big batch and fridge or freeze them. On my work day mornings, Asher will eat them without a fuss and they are easy to re heat. On some Fridays or Mondays, we make them together. He loves whisking the eggs and seeing me our the batter into the pan. An activity that 1) helps him to learn cooking/measuring/counting, 2) bonding between us, 3) he eats it, 4) less fuss on work mornings! 

Killing 4 birds with one batch of pancakes. IMG_2259 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’77’]

Lemon Pistachio Cakes (Gluten Free, Nut Free, Clean eating, Paleo) + Life as a working mum

IMG_2250 (640x427)My mind ticks and turns. I have this list of things running in my head all the time. 

Having said that, working 3 days seem to be working for us. We dropped some other commitments and I find that the “long weekend” I have with Asher is working. How do I know?

  • We are starting to get into the groove of weekend bulk cutting/cooking
  • I’m falling into the routine of when to do certain household chores like clothes folding and general cleaning
  • I can focus and work those 3 days, yet feel that I have time with AsherIMG_2249 (640x427)

Of course there are weeks where it feels a little more tiring than usual. Hubby commented that he notices that by Thursday, I look shattered. I may look that way but it is also a sense of relieve that I get to spend that wonderful full day with Asher on Friday. We have pj mornings where we stay in doors, get some household chores completed but we would also draw/paint or create something in the kitchen. Sometimes I would make pancakes which apparently is his favourite food at the moment! IMG_2252 (427x640)

These lemon pistachio cakes were created during one of those friday mornings. Since I love cooking and baking, I can’t help but want to involve Asher in it. Sometimes he is very enthusiastic and wants to beat the eggs up or fold in ingredients. Other times he can be curious and want to know what each item is. There are also times where he prefer to do his own thing and leave me to my own devices. 

I used almond milk but feel free to use usual milk or a water down version of coconut milk if you like. I love pistachios. In chinese they are known as “Happy Fruit”. They are pretty expensive though and I use it sparingly. IMG_2251 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’76’]

Paprika Pulled Beef (Gluten free, clean eating, paleo) + Other advantages of bulk cooking

IMG_2239 (640x427)How many times can you “pull” a meat? Many I think! I spotted this gorgeous looking chunk of brisket at the butcher and could not resist myself. It was like the meat was calling for me. I wondered- would it be rendang? or perhaps pulled beef. Hubby pipped up that we have not tried making pulled beef before and the challenge came on! 

Many recipes out there called for the beef to be smothered with bbq sauce. We do not like those sauces as it often has fillers and plenty of sugar in it. Instead we marinated the beef with paprika and made sure the sauce was filled with fresh tomatoes and garlic. I did use some bacon to add flavour. The cinnamon may appear odd but it adds to the sauce for sure. IMG_2240 (640x427)

 The 1+ kg brisket was enough to feed 5 meals. Three dinners and two lunches. It was awesome. Why? It saves time, electricity from cooking and that means when I’m tired, I know there is some pretty lovely tender pulled beef waiting in the fridge for us. Bulk cooking, I realised, provide other benefits too. We do less washing in the week, and the kitchen remains cleanly for longer. That means we can spend post dinner time doing more fun things like reading stories and having a longer bath time. IMG_2241 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’75’]

Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Paleo, Clean Eating)

Carrot and Cauliflower SoupOne of the things I do when I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed is to de clutter and clean. It is almost like I feel calmer through the process but by knowing that the house is cleaner and toys has its place. On the other side of the coin, wanting to clean and organise is something I’m trying to not stress about because I would much rather play with trains, run around or do colouring with Asher. 

It’s the same with cooking and baking. The irony of life is that I love to create things in the kitchen. I like that when we put different ingredients together, they turn into something edible, smells lovely and warms our tummies up. As life takes over, I find myself “over thinking” meals, feeling hurried while I cook or that I have not baked for a while. Hubby starts frowning when I said “oh! Here’s 20 minutes! Let me whip something up in the kitchen for yours and Asher’s breakfast”. He was seeing signs that I’m doing that for the sake of doing rather than actually enjoying the process. IMG_2172 (640x427)

It’s one of those little life long lessons that I’m learning this year. Enjoying the process. I accept that there will be days or weeks where cooking or baking is part of what I do as life. The enjoyment bit comes after all the chores are completed and kitchen bench is wiped clean. Then there are more special times when an idea arrive for how I can put ingredients together to create something and I excitedly venture to the kitchen to see if it works together. 

I mentioned batch up cooking before and that soups is one of my favourite things to do. There is just something magical about the warmth of a bowl of soup. Maybe it is my Cantonese heritage where soups is just what we have-though probably more as a supplement than a whole meal. Or that I know I can have all the nutrients in a bowl- protein, carbohydrates and heaps of vegetables. IMG_2171 (640x427)

This soup is so simple that I wasn’t even going to take a photo of it or record what I did. I just don’t photograph or ladle soups neatly! Then my dearest hubby ladled it up ever so perfectly and even top it with crispy chorizo with precision. I was so impressed that it didn’t looked the usual hurried way that I do it usually. 

And so here it is. My Carrot and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chorizo. (officially making it the 4 C soup!)

[yumprint-recipe id=’68’]

Macadamia Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies + What introverts need…

IMG_2054 (427x640)There is something about morsels of cookies that make people happy. Crisp, slightly sweet with a crunch. It goes with tea and coffee or for Asher, a warm cup of milk. Asher has mastered the art of dunking too! 

H-A-P-P-Y. That emotion that most people are pursuing. 

Most people are guided by their emotions. Their behaviour follows what they feel. Feeling sad might mean a day in bed. Feeling happy to some people would mean they might schedule in an extra night out.  

Often though, our actions determine how we feel as well. What is more complicated, is how our belief system shape the way we think about situations and response to them. IMG_2040 (640x427)

As life gets into its daily grind, everything seems overwhelming. Then I read this article, and somehow it clicks. I’m not a social psychologist, but I do take an interest in how systems affect our thoughts, behaviours and emotions. I believe that we are responsible for decisions we make and the domino effects around us. 

Is this an admission that I’m an introvert? I do not once think I am an extrovert or even categorise myself in those terms. There will be situations where I’m more expressive, while mostly, I really just like a coffee with a friend or two. I like attending parties, but I would prefer to have a cheese board or a small dinner party. I love surprises but would like an intimate personalise surprise than a big bash. IMG_2055 (427x640)

When I feel unhappy, it is easy to play the blame game. Truth is, I have probably over commit. The weeks leading up to Asher’s birthday have been fun and enjoyable. However, over the past 10 months or so, I think I over thought what I can do. Suddenly, I feel stressed and anxious. 

There have been quite a few changes in our household lately. There was around two months where we were aware there would be changes but not knowing what was stressful itself. Then my beloved gym was closing, and while we are still working out together, it is a huge sense of loss. Then we have my in laws visiting, Asher’s birthday to organise and a few other events to coordinate. My brain was screaming “too much” 

So I think I might re treat to my little shell for a while. Focus on what I usually do to function best. Quiet time. And heaps of cooking and baking. Deep breathing. Most of all, dunking my cookie into a hot cup of tea/coffee. IMG_2040 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’61’]

Apple Cinnamon Cookies (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free) + Asher’s favourite games and toys

IMG_1983 (427x640)Rain rain go away. Come again another day… Asher wants to go out and play! 

The lovely thing about having a toddler is the amount of play we get into. Everything can turn into a game. It has been such a long time since I did this, but I want to document the kind of games Asher has been into lately. I’m still not sure how it happens but he is 2 as of Friday *insert horror face* I’m a mum of a little man! 

IMG_1981 (640x427)

– Books. I think I have a book worm as a son. He loves books. ANY books. Especially books featuring vehicles. Trains, buses, cars, fire engines. He loves classics too. Like “Spot”, “We are going on a bear hunt”, “10 little fingers and toes” and more recently “the hungry caterpillar”.

-Trains. Yep. He loves Thomas. I’m in two minds about introducing too much Thomas to him. My thoughts are that kids should be expose to as many variety of the same item although I know that is rather hardRight now, he thinks Thomas is one of the trains. He still adores his other train books and will play with any trains. 

– Play shopping! Cash register and fake food

– Play cooking. Sizzling with his pan. As we cooked him some mushrooms or eggs up for breakfast, he would take the borrowed wooden plan and pretend to cook up his own meal too. 

– Ball games. Kicking and throwing. Balloons. 

– Drawing! He loves drawing circles.. and will ask me to help him draw triangles

– Painting. Although at the moment, we are painting with water. He dislikes mess and stickiness. It is a work I’m progress with play doh and textural play. 

– Slides. He received a slide for his first birthday and really love that. He would even slide his teddy down

– Cars. All kind of cars. Plus planes. 

– Lego. He is really into lego now. Building blocks. Telling me he has built a ship or a car! 

– Tractors. We got him a Tonka truck for his birthday (shhhh). 

– Cosy coupe- we don’t have that but he loves it when we visit friends.

– Singing. We can sing Row row a boat, abc, twinkle twinkle, wheels go round, bob the builder, ba ba black sheep…etc. The funny thing is we will catch him singing at random times to himself. Super adorable. 

– Music instruments like tambourines, egg shakers.. anything that has a rhythm. He would even bang on the boxes and call it a drum

– Puzzles. A friend bought him a fire engine puzzle and he loves it. We also have ABC puzzles and animal ones. 

– Rough play-. Tickles, upside downs. Anything that involves heaps of movement.

-Chasey

– Bubbles!

– Peek a boo. This is a surprised. I thought they would grow out of it but he would peek a boo every thing including holding my sweater and hiding himself there. 

– We like looking at buses, trucks, tractors on the road. 

– Tool box. He likes sawing and turning things

– We cook and bake a lot more now. He would sit on the bench and watch me cook or stir things. Sometimes he might have a go. IMG_1978 (640x427)

I’m sure I missed out other things. He is still a little yucky on sensory things like playdoh. I bought some special books that he can paint with just water which he is warming up to. Day care is doing a great job in exposing him to messy play too. He has no problems getting his hands dirty when he eats though!

I’m most surprised by his pretend play. He would stack a car up a truck and said that’s a car transporter. He would grab a bag and pretend that he is going shopping. He would use a toy kettle and said he is making tea. 

Apple and cinnamon. They can never go wrong together. I made these cookies for him and he seems to like it. He loves fruits so much that he probably thought he was eating apple pieces with dough stuck on it! They don’t last as long in the pantry and I do suggest double toasting them if you can. That way they can stay crispy longer. Enjoy these little nibbles.IMG_1979 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’56’]