Saturday, March 15, 2014

Is This Chutney? I think so!

I have a belimbing buluh tree in the backyard, and if you follow my Instagram handle eycdong, you would notice that it has been fruiting like mad. The last few times it fruited, I toyed around with a few recipes. I made an achar here, and blended the sour fruits to make belimbing cooler a few times. I still had a ton of mustard and fenugreek seeds left over from the achar; I decided to try making something different this time. This is an irumban puli pickle, which turned out very chutney-like. The flavour is intense, much like the potent chutneys you get with Indian banana leaf rice. It also bears a resemblance to kimchi.

This recipe was much easier than the previous achar recipe, and I made two batches over two weekends. The first batch, made last week, was the test batch, and this one I show here has been improved upon, with a few adjustments to the ingredients. Even if I say so myself, it's pretty perfect.

When you're making this, you can adjust the ingredients to your liking. I added more mustard and fenugreek seeds to this recipe, and sliced the ginger smaller as the bigger slices from the first batch tasted delicious but was harder to eat because of the intense flavour. So this time, it was done julienne instead of slices.

I also salted the belimbings for about 5 days before making, whereas in the first batch, I used fresh ones plucked from the trees. You'll see the difference between the salted and fresh fruits in the pictures below. The salted fruits made the chutney wetter, and the sourness milder, which blends well with the flavours of the seeds and chilli powder.

What you need:
1/2 to 1kg belimbing buluh (chop into pieces and add salt a few days before making. Keep covered it in the fridge and turn once a day)
5 tablespoons sesame oil
Dash of apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs curry leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 large piece of ginger, similar in weight to the garlic
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
250g chilli powder (or more to taste if you like it spicy)

(Ground into powder - for sprinkling at the end)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
The ingredients and fresh fruit.

 On the left, fruit that has been salted for 5 days. On the right, fresh ones.

You can use either fresh or salted belimbing.

Ginger, in slices above. But I julienned it for this batch.

Three cloves of garlic. I might add more next time as the flavour is amazing.

Hot to make it:
1. Toast 1 teaspoon each of fenugreek and mustard seeds in the pan, and grind it into powder. Set aside.

2. Gather all ingredients. Heat the oil and add the whole seeds (2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds and 1 teaspoon mustard seeds.)
 3. When fragrant, add garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Stir fry for a few minutes, until you can smell the garlic and ginger. Add chilli powder and fold to mix.

 4. Add fruit (along with the salted water, if using salted fruit) and fold to mix. Fry for a few minutes. Add vinegar. The ingredients should have a paste-like consistency. If too dry, add a little more apple cider vinegar.
 5. Bottle the mix immediately and let it cool in the jars before keeping them in the fridge.
Note: To sterilise jars, put them without lids, in the oven at about 80 degrees centigrade, for 20 minutes. Remove using an oven mitt. Pour hot water over the lids and let them air dry. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

If Wishes Came True

I've been blogging about the Monster High dolls the last few months, starting with this post in June. The imperfect characters of Monster High have been charming, scary, funny and generally very entertaining.
Now they get even more entertaining with their very own movie length DVD! 13 Wishes hits the shops this month, with the ghoulish gals storming the small screen with their larger than life personalities. The movie introduces several new characters: Gigi, he daughter of the Genie, and Twyla, daughter of the Boogey Man.
Here's Twyla, who's shy and hides in the shadows. She captures nightmares, so that only sweet dreams get through. Aww…isn't that sweet?
In 13 Wishes, Howleen Wolf, sister of Clawdeen Wolf, finds a genie and her lamp in the attic of Monster High. She is granted, 13 wishes, of course, but every wish comes with a dark price. Watch as the other girls try to save Howleen from this folly and from herself!
Be scareful what you wish for, eh? Sorry, couldn't resist!
Happy Sunday!
For more information on Monster High™, including its student body, videos, and more, visit where the ghoul kids rule at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Up, Up And Away! A Birdie Tutorial

I volunteered myself to make wings for six little birdies in a Christmas play. It was a pretty easy template, and requires basic sewing skills, so here goes the tutorial. I modified it from a cape I did for the girls five years ago. Has it been FIVE years already?

What you need: 
- 1 metre of fabric
- 1 metre of lining fabric
- 2 sets of press buttons
- 2 ribbons measuring about 30cm each. These will be used to tie the wings to the wrists.

This is the pattern. For the width, I measured the length from the top of the shoulder to the wrist, and multiplied it by two. For the length, measure from the top of the neck to where you want the cape/wing to end. Once you have drawn the pattern, cut it out and fold it like the picture below. Cut along the perforated lines.
1. Fold fabric in half and trace the pattern onto it.
Folded out, it should look like this picture below.
2. Cut a lining fabric the same way.
3. Put the fabrics wrong sides together, and sew all around the edges with a 5mm seam allowance, leaving a gap of about 5cm. Turn the whole thing inside out through this 5cm opening. Fold the unfinished edge and sew it close with a slipstitch.

4. Press the wings with an iron so the edges lie flat and tidy.

5. Sew the two sets of press buttons at the top, like the picture below.
6. Sew the ribbons onto the two edges of the wing, on the lining side, like below.
The wing/cape is done!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's just any old the Monster High gals!

Halloween is around the corner. I'm still trying to think of costumes for my girls. Not that we celebrate it with pumpkins in the house or faux spiders everywhere. There are a couple of real ones around, I'm sure, but I doubt they realise the significance of October 31. But I do like making costumes for the kids, and usually they wear it to school and have a hoot. (Owl, nighttime, spooky, get it? Oh, never mind, lame joke.)

This here is Frankie Stein. We love Frankie. She's down to earth, yet electrifying. Ok, ok, enough with the puns! On the surface, this looks like a normal Frankie, but she's actually part of the Ghouls Alive collection. She comes alive! When you press a button on her tummy, she lights up, showing her skull, ribcage and neck, along with bombastic ghoulish sounds.

Third picture (above) shows her all lit up. In reality, you can see the lines of her skulls and ribcage, which is spooky even to me. So you might want to test the waters a little before getting it for your kids. At first, mine insisted I hide Frankie under a pillow THE WHOLE TIME. But after a few tries, they got used to the idea. Now I have to stop them pressing the belly too many time, in case the battery runs out before Halloween!

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Let's play Frankenstein!

We're playing with body parts, this weekend. That's right, body parts. Taking a cue from Dr Frankenstein himself and dismantling a few bodies. 
Scared yet? Well, actually, it's just plastic parts, of dolls. The girls got a little overly excited about the dolls, and I didn't have time to take the dolls while still in their pack. It's the latest Monster High Create-A-Monster Color Me Creepy Starter Pack. Google the name and you'll see what the pack looks like. We got the Sea Monster doll, the one shown on the far left in the first picture.

The instructions say to take off the limbs and soak them in hot water first, like the picture above. Then prepare another container of ice cold water. We put in an ice cube for good measure. Now it's time for some fun. Take the limbs out of the hot water and dip them into the cold water, and voila! They turn black!

 The pack also comes with an ice stylus, like below. You're supposed to pop out the inner tube, add water and put that in the freezer to freeze. Once frozen, put the inner tube back into the blue casing shown below. It didn't work so well for us. We Youtubed a few videos online, and found this to be quite helpful.
The girls had a blast with the colour changing limbs. Once you remove the blackened limbs from the cold water, they turn back to blue upon contact with heat. A good half an hour was spent giggling over the changing colours.

 The Add-on Pack comes with accessories that change colour as well.
We put the dresses in the fridge for five minutes, as the instructions said, and they came out in different colour, like below.
 The accessories went through the same hot and cold water dips. Cool eh?
 Now, the Sea Monster needs friends, doesn't she? So out comes the Mummy & Gorgon starter pack.
Is that enough body parts for you?
  The limbs are interchangeable for both dolls, so mix it up a little!
 Happy weekend, all!

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