Tiong Bahru: hipsters paradise

On day 6 we visit one of the hippest neighbors in Singapore, Tiong Bahru. It’s not a really touristy hot spot and it was had a very different vibe to what I had seen in the city so far.

Tiong Bahru is actually the oldest housing estate in the country and was built in the 1920’s. It’s name actually stands for ‘new cemetery’ (thióng in Hokkien for “cemetery” and bahru in Malay for “new”), since there were a few cemeteries in the area. It  became quite a polluted and shabby part of town, so in the 1930s it got a face lift. Before I tell you about the interesting architecture, I first have to tell you what we had for breakfast.

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Miso Noodle Soup with Hoisin Tofu

Just when I thought I picked up all the kindy bugs, I just got another one this week. I was feeling pretty terrible today and was thinking of ubering some Japanese ramen. But I was so hungry I didn’t want to wait 40 minutes for delivery. I really wanted soup but I have ran out of stock. So while I was scouring the pantry, I found some Instant miso soup that I had bought in Singapore. So my lunch crisis was solved.

This noddle bowl for one was inspired by Vegan Ramen bowl from Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan. The soup base is a lot different and quicker to prepare. I did cook my tofu and vegetables in hoisin sauce and add it to the soup last, similar to Chloe’s recipe.  This dish only took me 15 minutes to prepare and gave my insides a warm hug. 

 

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Ginger Anzac Biscuits

Last Wednesday we celebrated Anzac day in Australia and New Zealand. This day commemorates and remembered the soldiers fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It also celebrates all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Biscuits originated from WW1, as these biscuits were originally made by women’s groups and wives and sent to the soldiers. They were specially made with ingredients that would travel well, which typically included rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water, and desiccated coconut. It still remains a tradition to make Anzac Biscuits for this national holiday, but they are also popular to consume throughout the year as well.

Anzac biscuits are usually quite hard. I have never been a huge fan of them, as I prefer softer biscuits that don’t break a tooth. Homemade Anzac biscuits are a little softer then the hard commercial ones, but they do have chewy whole oats, which I’m also not a fan of. Most people do love them though, so I guess its a preference for me.

I never make Anzac biscuits myself, but we were having a BBQ with the family for the day and I really wanted to make something sweet. My intention was to use up the Buderim Crystallised Ginger, which I bought by accident when I was looking to replenish my Buderim Naked Ginger snack stash. I have been addicted to dried ginger since Marco’s Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. They are a great substitute for late night chocolate cravings and nobody likes them except me, so win win. I asked the kids if they prefer muffins or cookies and cookies won, so when I was looking for some inspiration I thought why not spike some Anzacs with a ginger infusion.

My recipe is a little different to the original. Most modern recipes call for butter, whole rolled oats, boiling water, golden syrup or treacle, and white or brown sugar. I wanted mine to be soft and chewy, but without raw oaty flavour and overly sweet taste. So I grind the rolled oats, skipped the golden syrup and traded regular sugar for coconut sugar. I also added some ground ginger and crystallised ginger, which gave a pleasant ginger flavour, that even the kids liked since the baking took away the ginger burn. These are also vegan, which is you can share with your vegan and dairy intolerant friends. I’m pretty happy with this recipe so I think this will be a tradition that I will continue every year.

 

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Coriander Pesto Noodle Bowl

We aren’t huge fans of coriander in my household. It’s not a herb we cook with a lot or use as a garnish. One way that I do like to use it is when I make Coriander Cashew Pesto, to serve with potatoes (eg. Roasted Potato Salad with Coriander Pesto Aioli). Something magical happens when you blend it with cashews and the taste transforms into something really different delicious. Another way I love to have it is with noodles and sauteed vegetables.

This is a delicious 15-minute meal that you can make when you hangry and need to get some healthy greens in your body asap. I whipped this up last night after my toddler was put to bed and I finally had some peace to make something without complaints. After it was made and eaten I figured the rest of the family would probably have enjoyed this too. I just won’t mention its coriander next time…

You can make this dish gluten-free, by changing the noodles. I really like the crunch of green beans and bok choy, but you can use any quick cooking greens. If you don’t have cooked or can chickpeas,  swap for tofu or some whole cashews. The Coriander Pesto can be made ahead of time. I also used this batch for in a chicken schnitzel and salad sandwich, on top of brown rice crackers and dollop on homemade veggie pizza.

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Mini Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Jam Frosting

For Octavia’s 3rd birthday this year, I made some special cupcakes for her big party, with her favourite fruit of the moment, blueberries. These mini cupcakes are a great size for little people and dessert tables with a few options.

This recipe is similar to the cupcakes I made last year for her Trolls 2nd Birthday. This year I changed the fruit, shrunk them down, used less sugar in my frosting and organic butter inside of Nutlex. I found that the butter did better in the heat since Nutlex seems to melt and separate. If you have a better dairy-free butter alternative in your country then feel free to make them vegan. If you can’t get a good quality vegan butter then an organic grass-fed butter is the healthier option if you really want to include the frosting.

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Turmeric Spiced Couscous Ratatouille with Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki

What do you do when you’re so hot and hangry and there seems likes there’s nothing to eat for lunch. Well, nothing except some leftover couscous and a few veggies in the fridge. Salad would be my usual go-to, but my little girl doesn’t eat salad. I thought about a warm salad with beans and veggies, but I had no canned beans. So this lunch was created in 15 minutes using whatever I could find on hand.

I spiced the veggies with Turmeric Latte spice blend, which has been neglected lately in back of the cupboard. The Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki was also a nice refreshing side that helped cool the meal down. Octavia won’t swallow cucumber, so she got yoghurt and with a dash of honey on the side, so everybody wins.

What is your go-to dish that you can whip up in a jiffy in times of hangriness?

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Serbian Slava Celebration

Over the weekend Marco’s sister’s family celebrated their annual Slava. This is a Serbian Orthodox tradition, which venerates the family’s patron saint. We were invited to a family lunch to celebrate the day. This year we are unable to attend their big Slava, that they will host for their friends. The date and day change every year, so if the family can’t make it to the big party, there is always usually a small family lunch.

I have been attending most of their Slava’s for nearly 10 years now and I always look forward to this special lunch. The last time I wrote about this celebration was in 2013 (on Live Blissful), so I thought it would be nice to give you guys a bit of a taste of what it’s all about.

Although I have been attending these celebrations for a long time I really don’t know much about it. I am not Serbian Orthodox and Marco doesn’t really follow the religion either. Similar to being an Italian Roman Catholic,  you are kinda born into the religion, typically baptised when your little and it’s up to the individual to keep the faith going. I usually ask the same few questions every year and then we start talking about what we are going to eat. So I thought I would ask some questions to Marco’s sister, Maria directly so she can explain to you all about her Slava.

  • Why do you celebrate Slava?

We celebrate it because it is Milan’s [my husband] family tradition and a great excuse to get together. Every slava or saint has a little story as to why people started celebrating them. People then like to make a big feast and invite friends and those people they go to slava to during the year.

  • Who is your families patron saint?

Milan’s family patron saint is Saint Theodore. The date of the Slava is by the Orthodox calendar, which can change depending on when Easter will be.

  • What are the rituals that you follow for your Slava?

We make the bread and zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and take it to the Serbian Orthodox priest, on the morning of the Slava. He blesses the food we made with red wine. After we spending the day with our closest family and friends and remembering the good that the particular evangelist did. 

  • What are some typical dishes served on Slava?

Typical dishes are sarma, pig or lamb on the spit, bob (broad bean paste), prebranac (baked lima beans), punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or anything really, there are no rules about that. If a Slava falls in one of the fasting periods in the year, the Easter or Christmas fast, then you have to eat and serve only vegan on that day but if not, you can serve anything you like. Our slava is during a fasting period so we can’t use any animal products, except fish. So we make similar dishes but veganised. 

  • Do you hope that your kids will continue celebrating your Slava?

We hope Stefan continues to celebrate with his own family when he is older. The girls can too if they wish, there are no specific rules about that.

  • Can Marco and I pick a Saint and start our own Slava or is that against the rules?
You can pick up a Slava. I think it would be great to keep the tradition going. Marco’s slava is St Luka, that Victor’s father (Marco’s grandfather) used to celebrate. Zoran (Marco’s uncle) in Serbia celebrates St Luka as the oldest son and Dusan (Marco’s cousin and son of Zoran) will continue on. Victor (Marco’s father) could have here but he never really thought about it. It is on 31st of October and it’s called Luke the Evangelist in English, you can search it up
  • How many other Slava’s do you attend during the year? 

We attend a few in a year, almost all our friends celebrate a Slava. The slava outside the fasting period is usually the best. 

 

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A Feast of the Seven Kingdoms

This week was my partner, Marco’s birthday. His birthday is so close to Christmas that sometimes celebrating his special day can be a bit rushed. He’s so hard to buy for and having to come up with presents for both birthday and Christmas is really hard.

Marco is a big Game of Thrones fan of both the books and TV series. Last year I did get him The Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book and World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of the World of A Game of Thrones. He’s not really into fan merchandise, so I wasn’t sure what else he would like.

I came across a couple of things that he didn’t have that I knew he would love. I bought him the book A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which is a prequel to A Game of Thrones. It consists of three novellas, which are set a century before in Westeros. I knew he would love this because he adores George R.R. Martin writing and its something he can take to work with him to read. I also got him the Feast of Ice and Fire: The Offical Companion Cookbook. This book recreates the recipes of the foods that George R.R. Martin mentions throughout the books. Marco can’t cook to save himself, so I knew he wouldn’t be that interested unless I was to make some of these medieval dishes for him. So for his birthday, I made a Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. 

 

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Vegan Tuna Salad: 3 ways

Tuna is something I gave up long ago. I was wanting to avoid BPA, Mercury and was trying to follow a plant-based diet. Fast-forward a few years later and I still remember the delicious taste of tuna but it’s not so tempting anymore. I came up with this recipe a while back I found that it really fixes my tuna craving.

This mock tuna is primarily made with chickpeas and get’s its fishy taste from the umeboshi vinegar and nori. You can enjoy it in a salad, on a sandwich or wrap it in a nori roll.

 

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Como: panoramic lake views and splendid villas

After staying Milano it was time to go further north to visit my family. On the way, we stopped at the north Italian town of Como. This idyllic town sits on Lake Como and the Swiss-Italian border. The amazing panoramic views of mountains and the lake is a little piece of paradise and is known for its’ rich and famous residents.

I’ve always wanted to visit Como, but for some reason or another never got here while I was living in Milano. Luckily we were able to drive to Como and up through Switzerland to visit my family in Luino, Italy. This took roughly the same amount of time as it would be to drive directly north. So we made a stop for a couple of hours to see the majestic lake and have some lunch.

 


 

Our first impressions of Como was the gorgeous old architecture and bustling narrow streets full of shops and cafes. Nearly every directions you look had a beautiful mountainous backdrop.

 


 

Like every Italian town, there was a beautiful Duomo in the centre of the city. Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta is a very special duomo because it is last Gothic cathedral built in Italy. It was built between 1396 to 1770.

 


 

The Lago di Como (Lake Como) is a huge body of water and is the third largest lake in Italy. Many wealthy people have built and resided in homes along the shore of the river, as far back as Roman times. It really is so spectacular to see in person and feels like your looking into a beautiful landscape painting. The lake is actually shaped like a wishbone and the city of Como is situated on the bottom left of the fork shape.

 


 

We continued walking around the Giardini del Tempio Voltiano and up to the Aero Club Como to see new perspectives of the lake. The garden itself is quite beautiful and plush and has many war memorials. If you have the time, you can take a small water plane from the Aero Club and see even more amazing birds eyes views. You can also visit the museum Tempio Voltiano, which is dedicated to the inventor of the electrical battery, Alessandro Volta.

 


 

The Passeggiata Villa Olmo is a scenic pedestrian road along the river. This walk will take you past the splendid villas, all the way to neoclassical Villa Olmo. Unfortunately on our visit we were not able to walk all the way to the Villa Olmo, as there was work being done on the grounds and the garden beds were all taken out. I wish the tourist office had mentioned that after they recommended we visit it. I imagine doing a tour of these villas would be amazing, to learn their history and see their interiors.

 


 

After all that walking we were really hungry. So we walked back towards to centre and headed to a hidden gem. L’Ora della Pasta is a small fast-service lunch bar that serves fresh pasta and ready made meals. They use organic and high quality ingredients and offer vegetarian and vegan options. You only need to choose your pasta and sauce and they will whip you up a lovely authentic meal that is reasonably priced and really delicious. We ordered Gnocchi al pesto and Ravioli con mozzarella di bufala.


 

So that was my short visit to Como. I hope you enjoyed revisiting it with me. If you would like to know more about this beautiful town, see Visit Como website for more information.

Carrot Ginger Mojito

Now that it’s starting to warm up again juices are back on the menu! I love this recipe. Its refreshing, healthy and a little bit fancy.

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Carrot Ginger Mojito 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the sparkling water in a juicer.

2. Place the juice in a tall glass or large jar and top with some sparkling water and some mint leaves to serve.

*Serves 1

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Mothers Day at Jamie’s Italian

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there. This year is my third mothers day. I can’t believe I’ve already had three. Time has gone so fast. This year I got my first present from my daughter. A plant and painted card with a picture of her and a lovely message that she made a Kindy. It was the sweetest thing ever. This year Marco and I decided to have a nice lunch without our toddler. She spent some time with her nonna and we had a relaxing lunch at Jamie’s Italian.

We have been to Jamie’s Italian a few times since it opened. I know it gets mixed reviews, but we have had good experiences every time. The food is always fresh with quality ingredients and cooked well. What I love about this place is that its real food, cooked from scratch. We have only been to the Brisbane location, but you can find the franchised restaurants in most capital cities in Australia and more across the world.

The Brisbane location just off the street level but actually has a second level of seating under the ground. The top level features the entrance bar and a beautiful marble bar with hanging Parma hams, garlic and chillis, where the antipastos are prepared. The lower level also houses the kitchen, so it’s also nice to sit in the hustle and bustle of the kitchen atmosphere. The rest of the decor is very industrial, yet homely. The walls feature exposed concrete and recycled wooden panels and the floors are polished wood. The tables are mostly wooden, with leather booths or red metal seat. The ambience of the restaurant really makes you feel like your in an Italian trattoria.

I have noticed the menu has changed over time to keep up with the current trends. However, the heart of Italy still shines through with their handmade pasta, classic antipasti and some traditional secondi dishes.

 

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