mardi, mars 27, 2007

Tagliatelle alla Carbonara

Baby Girl reminded me yesterday that I had promised to let her invite her friends over when the weather is warmer. And I am one who likes to keep her promises and so I did. This afternoon, we picked up her classmate Maeve after school and brought her home with us. Maeve has an Irish mother and a French father and has spent her early years in South Korea.

I also invited Mateja, a 5 year-old little girl (Croatian/Slovenian parentage) who plays quite a bit with Baby Boy in the Kinderhaus. As her mother looked really set on coming along, I decided to invite them over only at 3pm. In time for tea, but past lunch. I did not think that I would be able to cope with cooking lunch, keeping an eye on 5 screaming kids and making small talk (in German) with an unknown mother.

School ending at around 1pm means eating lunch pretty late. Either one has to cook lunch in advance and heat it up, or one would have to get it done really quick. Since I was at Metzingen (Hugo Boss again) this morning, I had to opt for the latter. I have therefore decided to make Tagliatelle alla Carbonara.

I got it out in under 20 minutes. In a mixing bowl, I cracked 3 fresh Eggs in it, added in 100g of grated Parmesan Cheese, 50g of salted Butter (in small pieces), pepper and a generous serving of olive oil. In a frying pan, I browned 200g of diced bacon (lardons) or pancetta (will be better) together with 1 diced onion in some olive oil. When they were golden and fragrant, I added in some white wine and let everything simmer for a few minutes. You should, by the way, time to have your pasta cooked and ready at the same time. I used fresh tagliatelle (500g), so it only took me 3 minutes to cook them in boiling water. Drain and use immediately.

Pour the hot bacon/onions/wine/olive oil onto the egg mixture in the mixing bowl. Quickly add in the hot pasta and mix well. Serve hot.

I actually made a cake for tea, but changed my mind about serving it. I had a can of condensed milk (very precious in these parts, they do not sell the super sweet ones that we like, only condensed milk as in milk condensed) and was cracking my brain about what to do with it. I should have just made French Toasts with it, or added it in my coffee (if I usually drink any), but I had to be Keh Gau and decide to make a really bitter coffee and chocolate cake to go with it. I cut the cake into really thin slices and dribbled the condensed milk on top of them - somehow just doing this brought me back to my childhood. Nostalgia...

One really has to eat the really bitter cake with the super-sweet condensed milk, so the purpose had been fulfilled. But my guests do not share my nostalgia and will probably find this dessert really weird. It was the first time Matthea's mom visited the house and I figured that if she asked, I wouldn't be able to explain my story to her in my lousy German, so I might as well spare myself the trouble in the first place. I served her coffee with industrially-confected branded biscuits and cookies. She spent the time wowing over my house, it is true that compared to her 80 square metres, my 300m2 with all its spiders and other insects must seem enormous.

This week I have to finish up the remaining 6 German classes I have with Berlitz and leave learning German behind me at least for now. I must tidy up the house a little as the Estate Agent will be bringing potential future tenants of the house for a few visits. I must also pack for our coming ski trip (Flaine) followed by another week in Maranello (where Hubby works and lives in now). Baby Boy will finally get to drive his Enzo Ferrari! We'll be gone for 2 weeks starting Saturday. Happy Easter Holidays!

White Asparagus with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Asparagus season is here because one is starting to see bundles of green and white in the supermarkets everywhere. And soon they will also be found on the edge of the roads here, offered for sale by the local farmers.

I am very fond of asparagus. Probably started a few years ago when we were living in Spain. In Andalusia, the Gypsies sold them in the streets - white, green, cultivated and wild. The green ones I usually steam them with oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, wine and sesame oil. The white ones I like to eat them boiled or grilled and with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar (see photo above). They are lovely eaten on their own, or accompanied by grilled meats. The French, like my Hubby, like to eat them with a Mousseline sauce (made with butter, egg yolks, lemon juice and crème fraîche), preferably downed with a few glasses of Savennières wine...I ignore how the Germans eat them, but when the Season is here, they always advertise their asparagus with their ubiquitous all-occasion hams.

Whatever it is, do peel them thoroughly and chop off the bottoms if you wish to enjoy your experience to the full. They usually take about 15 minutes to cook in boiling lightly-salted water.

lundi, mars 26, 2007

Ma-la Tofu

Umami and her Ma-la postings started me craving for some, though honestly I should be avoiding the stuff like the plague, my stomach being pretty delicate after a week of non-stop Indian curries, and my diet screaming out : "Stop! No oil..."

Then I was in a Viet-run Asienladen and my eyes fell upon a packet of ready-made Ma-la spice paste. Made in China. If you can read Chinese (like I can - surprise surprise, actually I'm the one who's suprised), it claimed to be authentic Szechuan leh. So I bought it lor. Some more got sell Singapore-made Silken and not-so-silky Tofu. Wah, what a find. Je ne veux pas être chauvine, but Singapore-made Tofu in all textures is ze best.

So today, I braced myself and starting reading the instructions (only in Chinese, mind you). Actually, I probably wouldn't be able to write them, but I can certainly read them. So I made my Ma-La Twin Tofu and it was quite good though not oily enough. Somehow it lacks a little oomph when it's not oily enough. But spicy enough it was, I started hiccuping after just the first mouthful...

In the evening, I added some Tung Hoon (Mung Bean vermicelli) and believe it or not, my 2 babies finished them up (with their glasses of water in the hand).

Otherwise, it must really get my temperature up, for when I discovered that Baby Girl had broken a DVD (the Disney cartoon "Valiant") with Baby Boy's toy hammer, I didn't even hesitate, I took out my mother's rattan cane and gave her a few strokes of the cane. It did me some good. It's the kind of thing where once you get started, you just had to hit anything within reach that moved. She was getting uncontrollable nowadays, just doing whatever she wanted. The next time it could be the Plasma TV or her brother's head. And this yet another mess was the last straw for the month. She must learn to obey. If I cannot talk her into it, then I must try my mother's old method. Voilà.

vendredi, mars 23, 2007

Ganesha, Stuttgart

Butter Chicken

One of the things that I'll miss about Stuttgart is Ganesha, a surprisingly good Indian Restaurant in a city of generally lousy food. The restaurant has less than 20 tables and is usually full on Friday evenings, but lunch is often calm and the lunch menu has a variety of good curries all for less than 6,50 Euros.

Actually we usually eat there in the evening. The curries cost around 10-12 Euros each, a plain nan 2,05 Euros. Basmati rice is included in the price of the curries. But we've been eyeing the lunch menus for a while now, telling ourselves that they look like good value for money.

Lamb Madras

Finally at noon today, I drove to Ganesha (main problem has always been finding a legal place to park, but I was lucky today, whole street to myself) and took away 5 curries for a grand total of 29 Euros. What I appreciate about Ganesha is the fact that the curries usually taste different one from the other. Too often Indian restaurants in Europe tend to make curries that taste more or less the same no matter what they call it. But at Ganesha, a Sagwala Curry is different from a Korma is different from a Madras, Vindaloo, Ceylon curry etc.

Ceylon Fish Curry

Their Dal Soup is pretty good, by the way. And we like their Tandoori chicken and Tikkas. However, I'm not hot on their Pakoras, too heavy and not crispy enough.

Mutton Sagwala

Today I ordered a Lamb Madras (tomato, fresh ginger and coriander leaves-dominant), Butter Chicken (cream and tandoori spices), Mutton Sagwala (with spinach), Paruppu Curry (yellow lentils with curry leaves, cloves, dried chillies, coconut milk etc) and Ceylon-style Fish Curry (similar to the Paruppu).

Paruppu Curry

They were all delicious, I am (eating and typing at the same time) trying hard not to finish up everything myself, but leave some to my beloved hubby who, if all things go well, should be back home tonight. The babies ate their portions with gusto, dipping their papadums in the sauces.

Otherwise, I was back at the dentist's this morning. Went there to have my 3 fillings polished and ended up having one of the cavities re-filled as its filling was already falling out. Doesn't look good. She said that if this continues, I may need to have the tooth crowned. Aye.

Then I went for my German class and the teacher didn't turn up because he couldn't get a train on time thanks to the snow. Must say that we're officially in Spring since yesterday and we woke up to more than 10cm of snow this morning. Since I've already paid for my parking, I decided to take a look at the M for Madonna Collection at H&M.

I caught a first glimpse of it yesterday and nothing caught my fancy. Black, white and beige, classic lines, kind of tame. She has certainly aged, that Madonna. Or she's really taking the English Aristocracy thingy too seriously. But I've always liked her, could never explain why.

Anyway, I took a closer look today and discovered that the clothes also came in silk, wool, cashmire and linen - fabrics that I adore. Better still, I found trenchcoats and bomber jackets in lamb nappa leather - light and trendy! The prices were kind of discouraging at first (Hugo Boss on sale would cost just slightly more), but after trying out a few pieces, I discovered that the cut of most of the clothes was pretty good and that they flattered even a pork like me. I walked out of the shop with 2 leather jackets...Now must lie low for a while and not attract the Hubby's attention too much.

Lembergstrasse 19
70186 Stuttgart

jeudi, mars 22, 2007

Lor Mai Fun (Glutinous Rice with Chinese Sausages and Egg)

My darling Hubby, as you know, is away. I am therefore given to the temptation to prepare food that he normally wouldn't eat. And there must be quite a bit of such foods because I have been stuffing myself sick.

I also suspect that I am quite relieved to be able to "let down my guard". The problem when you've done some studies, gotten older, richer, well-travelled etc is that you are more or less expected to show all the time that you have evolved. I certainly have my veneer of good manners, good taste, sophistication, culture and what not. But the problem is that somewhere inside I'm still also that simple HDB girl and she is dying so very often to come out and do a jiggy.

Whenever I return home to my HDB flat, I would always ask mom to go to the coffee shop downstairs to get me some basic stuff like lor mai kai and fan choi. I really do get a lot of satisfaction from the little portions of rice/glutinous rice, char siu, hard-boiled egg or marinated chicken. The kind of food that is cheap and which fills up the stomach. And I am not ashamed to say that pretty often, I would be eating it in front of the TV in my favourite position - squatting, as my mom would say, like a trishaw puller.

Yesterday, before I went to the dentist to have my 2 (finally 3) big teeth filled, I've decided to give in to my craving for more comfort food. So I made Lor Mai Fun. I still had some uncooked glutinuous rice left over from Sunday (soaking in water), so I cooked it. Then I sliced 2 Chinese Sausages (not just any sausages, but sausages from Lim Chee Guan in Singapore), 2 shallots and started to fry them in a non-stick pan. When the shallots and sausages were fragrant, I added a little bit of oil to the oil from the sausages and scrambled 2 eggs in it. Finally, I added in the cooked glutinous rice, added salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup manis and sesame oil, stir-stir and basta, ze dish's ready. Delicioso!

OK, I could have been more authentic and healthy by steaming the rice and using chicken. But I liked the way the Chinese Sausages leave behind its sweet fragrant oil when cooked, the combination of fried shallots and scrambled eggs. When I had dried shrimp I would fry some and make a version with Chinese mushrooms and chicken, and other times I added in some boiled peanuts as well. In any case, this is no gourmet cooking. But it doesn't matter as long as it makes me happy. And I am happy knowing that when I want to, I can get the gourmet stuff done too.

About my poor teeth, I wish though my parents had been more assiduous with my dental hygiene and care. When I smile, I have a crooked iron smile - because almost all my molars had been filled in ages ago. And we didn't have or couldn't afford white fillings then. Anyway, a few months back, I had my 4 wisdom teeth removed on the same day because I was told that they were causing my normal big teeth to decay. Last week, the dentist confirmed that I had 2 cavities and would need to return to have them filled (minus the kids).

I went back this morning and she found another cavity. Was asked if I would like to have my gums anaesthesized, but I said no as the thought of the injection and the numb lasting 2 hours did not excite me. Besides, like I said, I've already had the bulk of my molars filled ages ago and what those brutal Government dental nurses/doctors put me through then would certainly make any pain that I could have now pale in comparison.

Tomorrow I return to have the fillings polished. I do not know if it's any comfort, but my dentist "complimented" me on my BIG mouth. Said that the procedure would have been almost impossible to carry out if my mouth had been smaller.

mercredi, mars 21, 2007

What kind of Intelligence do you have?

Saw this in one of Dutchess' latest postings and decided to try it out for fun. I must say that they cheated a bit, asking us towards the end what we have studied/would have liked to study.!!

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

mardi, mars 20, 2007

Pig's Liver with Szechuan Preserved Vegetables and Bean Sprouts

The supermarket near my place (REWE) just underwent some renovations recently. Now they have more shelf space and could stock more items. Needless to say, I was really happy to discover that and first thing Monday morning, I turned up and made a leisurely tour of the shop.

They have a better selection of meat now. I have sworn off beef for this week last week, but couldn't resist the vacuum-packed kilogramme of Brazilian Rump Beef on the shelf. Then my eyes fell upon a packet of Pig's Liver, all slippery and bloody and so very tempting. I grabbed it before I could change my mind and paid up.

Then I left to shop in Metzingen, filled with happy thoughts of my coming lunch.

The morning wasn't too bad. I had a good time in Hugo Boss, grabbing a few short-sleeved shirts for Hubby (Summer's coming and he still has to work then - poor soul). Polo Ralph Lauren was even better, I had quite a haul - linen, silk and cotton dresses, woollen jacket and a gorgeous red belt (don't I just love red).

After that I had 30 minutes to try to reach Baby Girl's school to pick her up. A little short, but if I didn't have to follow some lorry's bum, I should make it.

I reached the parking's exit. I've been so often to Metzingen that I should be able to navigate in the parking blindfolded. There was this car before mine. It didn't look like it was going to budge. So at the last minute, I swerved to the left and decided to exit from there. Except that I didn't get the angle right, I didn't see the little pole dividing the 2 exits and of course scratched the car on it. There's now a little dent and a dash that's at least 15cm long. Hubby's going to kill me.
Needless to say, I was late reaching Baby Girl's school.

Back home, I really needed comfort food and the liver certainly came in handy. I had a can of Szechuan Preserved Vegetables and that really reminded me of mom and her soups and stir-frys made with said veggie. So with some ginger, spring onions, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry and sesame oil, I made myself a Pig's Liver with Szechuan Preserved Vegetables and Bean Sprouts, served on a bed of Tang Hoon (Mung Bean Vermicelli). Sigh, really shiok...

lundi, mars 19, 2007

Baby Boy is 3! (Dark Chocolate and Coffee Cake)

The love of my life turned 3 yesterday. How could time fly past so quickly? It was like only yesterday that he came out of my womb and suckled furiously at my breast. To think that one day he couldn't walk and then another day he was climbing out of his baby cot...And now he can answer the phone and when you asked him to pass it to you, he would say, "No, I'm not finished (with Papa)!"

We invited the Dugands and the Sommerhalters over for lunch. The Dugands' eldest son is my eldest's best friend. And their youngest used to play twice a week with Baby Boy (before they moved to Kahlsruhe). And Mrs Sommerhalter also happened to be born on the same day as Baby Boy, albeit a few decades earlier :-).

I must say that I am quite pleased with myself for the overall organisation of this meal. I marinated the duck pieces (2 breasts and 2 thighs) the night before and roasted them first thing on Sunday morning. Then I made the Thai Red Curry (yes, Roast Duck in Thai Red Curry and Glutinous Rice!) and cooked the rice. The highlight of the dish was probably the addition of fruits like pineapple, lychees, seedless grapes and cherry tomatoes to the curry. I've also marinated my chicken the day before and therefore just needed to skewer them on the day itself and have them grilled - Chicken Satay! And then I made the peanut sauce. The satay was for the children (though the adults kept eyeing them with the look that said, "Why can't I have some too?").

I left the Rocket Salad with Grapefruit, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and Parmesan Cheese to Hubby and was finally left with just the finger food (for the apperitif). I made different types of mini puff pastry canapés (with fillings like foie gras, cream cheese with herbs, grated cheese, chicken in shallot, wine and cream sauce...), the last filling, believe it or not, being leftovers from the children's dinner on Friday.

And before I forget, I've also baked the Birthday Cake(s) the day before and it turned out really well and was gobbled up immediately. I've also made a Rose-flavoured/Egg Agar-Agar using my Bob the Builder silicon mold.

For the alcohol, we started out with a Spanish Cava (Ex. Vite Llopart) and a bottle of Champagne from our wedding (turned out we still have 2 bottles here in Stuttgart). Followed by a Magnum bottle of Bodeaux red wine Mouton Cadet 2003 for the starter and main course, a Chateauneuf du Pape 2001 (very nice bottle) to go with the cheeses (just Camembert, Parmesan and Cheddar) and a bottle of Ste Croix du Mont for the Birthday cake. Ended the day with Nespresso coffee and various liqueurs (I never drink any, so didn't bother to find out which ones).

Baby Boy was really a pro at receiving his Birthday song, blowing his candle and opening his presents. Yet as far as I know, that was the first time that we were really celebrating his Birthday. How's that for smart, intelligent, maybe even genius?

One of the presents (from us) was a Bosch toy chain-saw (that he chose for himself to complement his Bosch Work Station). He gave us quite a laugh going about sawing everybody up into pieces. The men joked about the movie "Texas Chain-saw Massacre", which made me glad that I've never set eyes on the film.

I mentioned Bithday cake(s) because I actually made 2 types of cakes. A tiny Chocolate-Banana-Mascarpone Cake in the form of Mickey Mouse, to be put on top of a much bigger Dark Chocolate and Coffee Cake. The latter I last made 5 years ago after learning the recipe from a Chinese girlfriend in Paris, but the coffee I added in on my own initiative. The second cake was really good and I'll make it again this afternoon for Baby Boy's classmates tomorrow.

Dark Chocolate and Coffee Cake

200g Dark Chocolate
250g Sugar
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
3 Eggs
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
125ml Milk
125ml Strong Black Coffee
250g Plain Flour
1 Packet Rising Agent
1/2 Tsp Salt
125ml Vegetable Oil

Melt the chocolate in the microwave oven or in a bain-marie. It might help if you add in a bit of milk before doing so though. Wherever possible, I avoid using Cocoa Powder.

Beat the sugar, cinnamon, eggs and vanilla essence till thick and creamy. Stir in the milk and then the coffee (cooled, of course). Fold in the flour, rising agent (levure) and salt. Lastly, stir in the oil and then pour mixture into a mould. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190ºC for 35 minutes.

The Mexican and Colombian ladies then entertained us with loud, but very in-tune Spanish songs. Amazing how they could remember all the lyrics so well. In typical French fashion, the guests arrived for lunch and stayed till past dinner time. But everyone had a great time and I hope, most of all, my Baby Boy.

samedi, mars 17, 2007

Friday the 16th

Friday was one of those days when things just never seem to go right.

First thing in the morning, I received Hubby's latest speeding fine in the mail.

At 6:30pm Eldest Son turned up at the doorstep when he was supposed to be attending Judo class. He had managed to get his Kimono locked up in school (while he was kicking ball with his friends) and could therefore not turn up for Judo practice. Then I found out that he had actually forgotten (at school) 2 jackets in 3 days in the same week as well!

Then Hubby called from the highway between Modena and Milan to inform me that he was stuck in a massive traffic jam on his way to the airport and might miss his flight. Well, he had spent more than 4 hours (on a journey that should normally last less than 2 hours) on the road and did indeed still miss his flight. And that was the last flight out of Milan for Stuttgart. So much for my changing the bedsheets and cleaning the toilets in a rush this afternoon, they wouldn't be in a state the next day to impress - after the 3 monsters have had their way with them.

Better still, he called again later to inform me that the Lancia Phedra I wanted is no longer available with automatic gears. They have stopped making it. Also that starting this month, the Group has changed its rules and that we would no longer be able to order a company car with Xenon headlamps, sliding roof and leather seats. Why couldn't they change their rules next month instead? I could live without leather, but I certainly would need Xenon lights, I am very myopic and astigmatic and would need all the light in the world when I drive in the evening. And what's the point of living in a warmer country if we couldn't drive with the roof open? I have a sliding roof now and the weather is not warm enough to open it often...

I sense that we are going to have a very rush weekend again. And I have loads to do as baby Boy turns 3 on Sunday and I have planned a party for him. I haven't cleaned the house, nor wrapped the presents and I have certainly not started cooking. And the other bad news was that the Enzo Ferrari (with pedals) that we wanted to offer baby Boy will not arrive in time for his Birthday. He probably doesn't really care about it (ignorance is bliss), but I certainly am disappointed.

Maybe Saturday will turn out to be a better day.

vendredi, mars 16, 2007

Fried Bee Hoon (Fried Rice Vermicelli)

Fried Bee Hoon

After Priscilla's* visit on Wednesday, I found myself with a whole big packet of bean sprouts (bought them initially to go with the laksa we had for lunch). Not wanting to waste it, I decided to fry them with salted fish (brought over from Singapore last year). And then I told myself, why not add in rice vermicelli as it does go so well with taugay? So I had Fried Bee Hoon for lunch today.

I must say that it didn't look too exciting when it was being cooked. But it's the kind of simple and deceivingly plain dish that grows on you. Baby Girl said that she didn't want to eat it, and when I insisted that she at least try it and she did, she had three servings of the vermicelli. Myself, once I started eating the dish, I couldn't stop. Needless to say, todays' diet has been seriously compromised.

rice vermicelli (soaked in hot water till soft, then drained)
vegetable oil
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
spring onions
salted fish (sliced, optional)
cooked ham (sliced, optional)
2 eggs (season, make thin omelette and then shred)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sherry
dark soy sauce (if you want darker noodles)
light soy sauce
ketchup manis (if you want dark and sweet noodles)
sesame oil
water or stock
fresh chilli (sliced, optional)
bean sprouts
fried shallots and fresh coriander (for garnishing)

The dish is very easy to make, though my version will never taste like the food stall ones simply because I do not use a lot of oil to cook it.

Basically soak the rice vermicelli in salted hot water till it turns soft. Drain and set aside.

Beat the eggs, season with salt and pepper and cook into a thin omelette. Shred into thin pieces.

In a bowl mix the light soy sauce, sesame oil, wine, sugar, salt, pepper and hot stock. Set aside.

Chop the onion and garlic. Fry in a little bit of hot oil till fragrant. If using salted fish, slice it into smaller pieces and add to the oil.

Add the cleaned bean sprouts and sliced fresh chilli. Toss. Add in the rice vermicelli and pour in the bowl of seasoned stock. Stir fry without breaking the noodles. Let it soak up the sauce.

Serve with the omelette, fried shallots and coriander leaves.

*Quite fortunate to have bumped into her at Berlitz where we were both learning German at. A coincidence that this fiesty and pretty girl 10 years my junior should have come from MGS (my sister school) as well as NJC (like myself!).

jeudi, mars 15, 2007

A Note on My Sugar

No, I am not going to talk about my Blood-Sugar Level. At this moment it must not be very exemplary since I have been stuffing myself with sugar donuts (Backzeit having promotion - 2 for 89 cents) and as usual almost never exercising.

Just want to mention a detail (friends have commented that I'm too aga-aga in my measurements, discouraging to follow my recipes etc. But sorry, am not going to change things, the recipes are more for my reference than yours anyway).

For a few months now, I almost never use refined white sugar if I can help it. When I mention "brown sugar", it could either be unrefined brown cane sugar or demerara Sugar and when I mention "sugar" it'll usually be fruit sugar. I also use Palm Sugar especially in Thai curries.

I will need to look into the subject a little more seriously though. I am using fructose because it is sweeter than normal table sugar and therefore will be needed in smaller quantities = fewer calories. But apparently it can only be processed in the liver and being a low-reaction sugar may lead to obesity and heart problems. On the other hand, normal sugar breaks down into glucose that could lead to sugar spikes and insulin problems. What a headache.

In the meantime, can't tell Backzeit to change their sugar on the donuts. Will have to stop eating them. Bad girl.

Hongshao Paigu (Red-Cooked Spare Ribs)

Having left my beef trip behind, I thought that making a Hongshao Paigu would be a fitting reunion with pork. And so it was. I nearly didn't get around to red cooking it though, I was eating the ribs just after the frying stage...

Red-cooking is basically braising or stewing meat or vegetables in a mixture of soy sauce (dark and light), 5-Spices, wine and sugar (preferably rock - for the glaze). In a way, some of the basic ingredients are similar to that required for making a Roast Pork Belly (incidentally I used the marinade I froze after the last time I made said dish). Only instead of grilling the meat, you braise it.

Preparing the Ribs :

Chop up 2 kgs of Pork Ribs
Marinate overnight with
5-spice powder
Ground Paprika
Ginger Juice
Light Soy Sauce
Worchestershire Sauce
Tomato Purée
Red Wine
Lime Juice
Beaten Egg

Prepare a Sauce :

Cider Vinegar
Dry Sherry
Oyster Sauce
Plum Sauce
Sesame Oil

Corn Starch
(for coating ribs - optional - and thickening sauce)

Ginger (finely-sliced)
Garlic (diced)
Star Anis
Lime Peel

Brown Sugar

Marinate the ribs overnight. The next day, heat up some oil in a non-stick frying pan. You could shallow-fry the ribs as they are or coat them in corn starch before you do so. The latter will give you a messier sauce, but I like it. No need to over-fry the ribs as you would need to braise them later. Take them out of the oil and drain them on kitchen paper. Set aside.

In a non-stick or heavy-bottom casserole, brown the ginger, garlic, star anis and lime peel in a little oil. At the same time, caramelize the brown sugar (if using rock sugar, add it in later). Add half of the vinegar. Stir well. Put in the ribs and coat them well in the sauce. Add in the other half of the vinegar and pour in the sherry etc. Add some hot stock to the remaining marinade (for the ribs) and add it into the casserole. In a little bowl, mix some corn starch with water and pour over the ribs. Stir everything, lower heat, cover and let it simmer.

If you like melt-in-the mouth ribs, cook for a longer time. I don't (prefer to chew it off the bone), so after like 30-40 minutes, I stopped the fire and served it hot with rice.

mardi, mars 13, 2007

Capellini al Ragu (aka Bolognesa)

Still on my beef trip, I had of course nearly 500g of BIO minced beef on my hands and had to do something about it. So I decided to make a Capellini al Ragu which usually goes well with the kids. And I think that I'm quite done with beef for this week, I'll move on to pork.

1 Red Onion (diced)
2 cloves Garlic (diced)
Celery stalk (diced)
Olive Oil

500g Minced Beef (seasoned with Salt and Pepper and hand-formed into round patties)
Herbes de Provence (sprinkled on the patties)

1 can chopped Tomatoes
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
200ml Beef Stock
100ml Red Wine
Bay leaves
10 dried red Chillies (optional)

Frozen Green Peas and Baby Carrots

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat up a non-stick pan with a cover and add in some olive oil. Put the beef patties in to grill. When one side is nicely grilled, turn it over and add in the onions and garlic to brown. It is best if you could use beef for braising instead and then chop it up into small pieces at this stage (after grilling), but good quality minced beef will also do. If using beef for braising, the ragu will have to cook for at least 2 hours.

Add the celery.

In a saucepan, heat up a little olive oil and caramelize the brown sugar. Add in the tomato purée and chillies and stir well. Pour in the beef stock and the red wine. Simmer till sauce thickens.

In the 1st pan, use a wooden spoon to cut up the grilled beef patties (they should still be pink on the inside). Add in the peas and carrots. Pour the sauce into the pan and mix well. Serve hot on al dente pasta and with freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese.

When we live in Italy, I guess that I can then move on and do more complicated pasta dishes. Am getting pretty bored with the usual ragu, pesto, carbonara stuff.

lundi, mars 12, 2007

My Baby Girl

Inspired by my dear friend K's (of Bibou Thru The Years fame) posting on her little girl and what a character the child is etc, I've decided to copycat and come up with one for my Baby Girl too. Though mine would be more of a recap.

Much Wanted Little Beanie

When I think about it, both my sons were accidents. But Baby Girl was much planned and awaited for. I went off the pill expecting to get pregnant quickly and it took me 9 long months before I finally conceived. And even then, I miscarried within 4 weeks and was told by my Gynaecologist to wait at least 3 months before trying again. Well, as usual, I did not listen to instructions and got myself pregnant again less than 3 weeks after the incident. It was therefore with much joy (and relief) that I watched the little beanie on the screen during my first ultra sound for Baby Girl.


I was lucky to have smooth pregnancies. In fact I was unusually happy and contented during those months. I even had the great idea to follow Hubby on the boat when he went diving in Bali, vomitting my heart out each time. And I had the fear of my life on the last ride where we had such a crazy sea and the boat literally flew up and down on the waves. I was shaken pretty violently and thought that I would lose the baby.

I went for an ultra sound at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore and the doctor, reading the scans, announced, "Hamburger". That was his way of telling us that the baby was female :-).

Hubby was ecstatic as he really wanted a little girl. He sat down next to a row of books on Baby Names in MPH and flipped through a few of them. Them he snapped shut the one he was reading and said, "Théa". That was how Baby Girl got her name.

Little Head

But in Spain, they started frightening me with diagnostics of Baby Girl having a small head. Well, her head must not be that small since the Sage-Femme in Paris still had to snip me open in order to let the little head out.

Grenouille (Frog)

We nicknamed her Grenouille when she was in the womb. Those who have received our faire-part at her birth may remember the picture of 2 frogs (drawn by MIL) on the card. She was pretty active in the womb, always moving and kicking. She still is, now that she's out in the open.


Tétoune, Tété, Théa...this child I have breastfed the longest. First for 15 months after her birth and then till she's 3 together with her little brother. Oftentimes I would have 2 babies at the breast. You know why we have a pair of them.

Now and then, you would find her looking at my boobs with lots of nostalgie. With Baby Boy, she had an amazing reflex to suck immediately after being born into the world. And she has since replaced sucking with eating and boy, can she eat.

Fat Cow

The other day, her fiancé (kid of the Crèpe-fame Le Clercqs) in school offered her a candy and she actually refused it, saying quite sadly that she had a fat bum (like her mother) and must eat less candy. She does have quite a bum and should watch out if she doesn't want to start having custom-made pants at the age of 4.

Also, I do not know about other little girls, but this one whinges and whines almost all the time. No, in fact, she whinges and whines only when she's with me (and her dad when he's around). Very often, you'll hear me say, the minute she opens her mouth, "Shut up and stop mooing, you're not a cow!" Seriously, she has this tendancy to go "Ngggg..." whenever she's unhappy with you and that's nerve-wrecking. The house is a real farm.

K wrote that her Bibou's teachers described the girl as a "character" and that that confirmed the parents' own observations.

Well, Baby Girl's teachers told us that she's very shy, reserved, sweet, gentle etc and sang praises of her to the stars. She even got nothing but 'A's in her report card.

You should see her at home. Quite a different person. Bossy, fussy, loud, tomboyish and always up to no good. She knows what she wants and will tell you about it whether you want to know about it or not. She wants to do everything on her own e.g. choose her own clothes, dress up etc and would whine you to death if you should fail to respect that. Though she still refuses to clean her own backside after she has done her big business. All those kids have a thing about leaving me to deal with their mess.

And she can be pretty violent with her little brother. He occasionally sports scratches, bites, bloody nose and bruises courtesy of his older sister.

Little Cat

"Meow...Me I'm Little Cat and you are Mama Cat. Meow..." Don't ask me why, but that's Baby Girl's other identity one-third of the time. She goes about meowing and her Baby Brother is a Little Dog. Me, I'm not into domestic pets, but somehow ended up with two. If you consider that Eldest Son is quite the pig, then I have 3.

School Mistress

The other third of the time she's the school mistress. I'm often tempted to ask her teacher if the good lady spends her time screaming and scolding like my daughter does when she's the school mistress. The person victim of all her scolding and instructions ("Come do your homework! Go and pee in the toilet! Do not touch that!") is of course none other (who else) than her younger brother.

I'm Beautiful

It is my fault, I guess, that I tell my kids every hour that they are sooo beautiful. They really believe in it now. And would occasionally (i.e. at least 3 times a day) seek confirmation with me on the subject. It is fortunate that thus far, I have no need to lie. Hopefully God will be kind and keep things as they are.

Mama, do you love me?

I am pretty limited in what I say to my kids. I belong to those people who dislike talking to children. But if I never say anything else to them, I'll always tell them that I love them. And whenever they see me (and I'm a little slow in pronouncing my usual discours), they'll ask me, "Mama, do you love me?".

Bisous de cinéma

I don't recall my parents ever kissing us. We are affectionate in a distant sort of way, but not physically close. I have therefore made it a point to change this with my own kids. I kiss them all the time. And they reciprocate. Théa loves to kiss. She pouts her lips and then she smooches. And she likes to kiss me on the mouth, like in Hollywood films.


She has it in her mind that she is a Princess or will be one (depending on the moment). She would often start her sentence with, "When I become a Princess, I am going to (do this, or buy that, or have this)..." My allocated role in helping her fulfil this in the short term is to buy her 1) a Princess dress 2) a Princess tiara 3) a Princess-like mosquito net to cover her bed. I've negotiated to do that only when we've moved to Italy.


Needless to say, she sings. In tune and with almost all of the lyrics. Mostly in French though. As I've been too lazy to teach her the ones in English (or I did when she couldn't talk and she has since forgotten them). When she sits in the car, she would go, "Mama chérie, could you please put on my music?" And then she'll sing along with the CD. Occasionally, she would also break out in song, inventing her own lyrics.

Father's Girl

She made her way to her father's heart as planned. For her he would return home early enough to bathe her himself (no such priviledge for the boys) when she was a baby. He would carry her, sleep with her, and he is always much more patient and indulgent with her whims and demands. He taught her to swim, he marveled at her intelligence and he tells her all the time that she is beautiful and that he loves her so much. A real Papa's girl.

I could go on and on, but should stop somewhere. Or the others would be jealous.

PS : Photos taken at the Studio Loft in Singapore last year.

Sago Pearls in Pandan Coconut Milk

Sago Pearls in Pandan Coconut Milk

I said a few postings ago that I should think about making Sago Pearls in Pandan Coconut Milk and so I did. The kids and the hubby liked it very much as it's a simple and refreshing dessert and I must certainly make it more often (though too much coconut milk may not be too good for our arteries).

I boil my sago pearls in a lot of boiling water till they turn transparent. Try to stir them every so often to prevent them from sinking and sticking to the bottom of the pot. Then I drain the sago pearls in a colander and rinse them in cold water.

After which I made a syrup with pandan (screwpine) leaves and sugar (rock sugar, fruit sugar...) to taste (usually quite a bit as when the dessert is cooled, it will taste less sweet than when it's hot) and added coconut milk to it.

Let the coconut milk syrup cool at room temperature before chilling it in the fridge.

I usually add the sago pearls to the coconut milk syrup only before serving. You can eat it as it is, or serve it with fruit like melon, honey dew, mango, banana etc. Not to forget cooked cubed yam and sweet potatoes. I like to drizzle some gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup over the pearls as I serve them, it goes really well with pandan and coconut milk.

vendredi, mars 09, 2007

Shoes Shoes Shoes (or Dress Your Feet While You Still Can)

Hubby left to work in Italy last Monday and that marked the beginning of 4 months of him being away from home in the week. I have loads to do everyday, so I guess that it doesn't make much of a difference as to whether he's around or not. Except when you expect him to be back on Friday night and you receive a call from him on Thursday informing you that he is meeting Michael Schumacher on Friday afternoon and can only return home on Saturday. That can really get a girl down. I want those kids to go whinge at their father instead of at me for a change. And the father in question is not cooperative enough.

It is fortunate that shopping still manages to help me de-stress. I had a 2-hour shopping trip to Metzingen yesterday and as usual didn't leave empty-handed. On this trip, I had my biggest harvest from Hugo Boss : 3 pairs of shoes and a dress. And two skirts and a leather bag from Escada. Plus a Cashmire sweater from Polo.

Why this obsession with shoes? Actually those who see me everyday only see me in my old pair of boots (that cannot be zipped up entirely because of the thick calves). And I don't think many here have yet to see me in a dress, I'm mostly in jeans.

I suspect that this has to do with the extra 15 Kgs that I have been living with ever since I've had Baby Girl and Baby Boy. With the spare tyres on the skeleton, clothes often look unflattering, so I hide myself in pullovers and jeans. The cold weather here in Stuttgart does not help either. Brèf, morale is often low and I do not usually feel good or attractive.

But shoes take on a life of their own. As long as one does not have bloated ankles and/or varicose veins :-). So assuming that I've somehow escaped that, I'm at least left with feet to dress up and I do so with reasonable abandon. As in I buy the shoes with pleasure and then keep them in my wardrobe waiting for the rest of the body to arrange itself to be able to go with the shoes.

I do not know of course why I insist on buying heels when I do not know how to walk in them. I also do not know why I only buy Summer dresses when we live in Germany where if you're lucky you'll have Summer for 2 months in the year. I guess that I must be quite perverse as a person. Or thick. Or unrealistic. Or escapist. Or stubborn. Whatever.

Anyway, I'm really happy with my shoes. And for the moment, that's what matters.

PS : As for bags, needless to say, no matter how fat one is, one can still find a crook to tuck the bag in.

jeudi, mars 08, 2007

Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

The other day I bought beef (again) and decided to disguise it a little so that the kids would not say, "What! Steak again?" So I cut the steak (an entrecôte) into 2cm cubes, marinated them in some spices, poked them through metal and wooden skewers (softened in water to prevent burning) and grilled them on the BBQ.

Marinated Beef on skewers

Overnight Marinade (grind into a paste with ground spices dry-roasted beforehand) :

5 Shallots
3 cloves of Garlic
1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
2 stalks of Lemon Grass
1 thumb-sized Galangal
1 thumb-sized Ginger
2 Tbsps Ground Coriander Seeds
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Dark Soya Sauce
1 Tbsp Kecap Manis
1 Tbsp Coconut Milk
1 Tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Lime juice

If you want to make the peanut sauce, I have a short-cut method which is not too bad (traditional is immer besser, of course).

Peanut Sauce :

3 Shallots
1 clove Garlic
1 stalk Lemon Grass
1 slice Galangal
Chilli Powder (optional)
2 Tbsp Chunky Peanut Butter
Coconut Milk
Lime juice

Grind or pound the shallots, garlic, lemongrass and galangal. In a small casserole, fry the spice paste in a little bit of oil. When fragrant, add in the chunky peanut butter and stir in some coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes. When the sauce is ready, squeeze in a generous amount of lime juice and stir well.

Tomorrow we will have grilled T-bone steak :-). And the day after - a Bo Bun (Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef slices served with Salad and Nems/Fried Spring Rolls on Rice Vermicelli).

PS : For the beef satay, I normally prefer a cut like the onglet, entrecote or filet that needs to be cooked quickly as we like to eat our beef rare. It also tastes amazing on a BBQ.

Food for Kids (Pizza, Egg Toasts...)

Children can be groomed to become gourmets, so it is important not to feed them basic stuff like ham and pasta everyday. Mine eat Foie Gras, raw oysters, all sorts of curries and a really rare steak, for example. But then children will be children and simple things often do make them really happy. It is also important to be able to oblige occasionally :-).

One simple food item that my kids like is an Egg Toast or Sandwich. Made with roughly mashed hard boiled eggs, crème fraîche, salt and pepper. Served cold on freshly toasted bread. Or just sandwiched between 2 slices of white or wholemeal bread.

Once in a while, they would also ask for a Pizza. Just simple with tomato purée, olive oil, bacon/ham, onions, grated cheese, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, herbs. Baked in 200ºC hot oven for 15-20 minutes and eaten hot.

PS : Baby Girl drew the above picture in school with her Art Teacher. I thought it was really pretty. Lots of windows and colours. It was apparently based on some story about a guy with a house. She said that the roof must look like an onion...

lundi, mars 05, 2007

Petits Croissants et Confiture de Mascarpone-Caramel au Beurre Salé

I was still in my Mascarpone trip a few days ago and with the last of my imported Salted Butter at hand, decided to go ahead and make myself that sinfully rich Salted Butter Caramel Mascarpone Jam inspired by Fabienne's blog. And I made little puff pastry Croissants (crescents) to go with it.

There is no natural fruit pectin to activate in this jam, but the mascarpone will give you the texture you need once it's cooled sufficiently in the fridge. I used demerara sugar (you could use icing sugar like Fabienne) and loads of mascarpone so as to have a creamier jam. If you like a more "bronzed" jam, use less mascarpone. Don't take my measurements as exact as I've used amounts as I saw fit and made the jam more or less by feeling. Salted butter, sugar and mascarpone - quite an interesting combination. Also goes well with bitter dark chocolate (bitter-sweet-salty...).

More or less :

125g Salted Butter
60g Demerara Sugar
80g Mascarpone

Basically, just make a caramel using the salted butter and sugar. Once the caramel is ready (brown, sweet-smelling and sputtering all over), remove the pot from the fire and stir in the mascarpone. Pour into jars, leave it to cool and then store in the fridge.

Use it as a spread on toasts, brioches, cookies etc. I made mini-croissants (cut puff pastry into triangles and then just roll from the base of the triangle up to the peak, and shape both ends to make a crescent) with the jam in them. Baby Girl sat down before the pastries and just gobbled up 3-4 in a go. I also toasted a few brioche slices to go with the spread.

Well, adios to the diet.

dimanche, mars 04, 2007

Confit de Canard et Pommes de Terre sautées à la Graisse de Canard

A Southwest French classic, this Duck Confit with Potatoes Sautéed in Duck Fat (à la salardaise). And unless you actually make your Duck Confit yourself (my FIL gave us his recipe for Confit de Poule/Hen Confit before he went to Heaven, so I'm just waiting for the right moment to try it out - I'll be back), it's a simple dish to heat up and serve - only it does take some experience to heat it up right and get the potatoes done to perfection.

The recipe for the potatoes can be found in one of my older posts :

Before we tucked into the dish, we had a glass or 2 of sweet white wine with a few Foie Gras toasts. This bottle of Sainte-Croix-du-Mont 2002 Domaine de Baure was actually one of my recent purchases. Yes, I've widened my purchasing repertoire and have in the past 2 years included alcohol in the things I buy. In fact, armed with my Hachette or Robert Parker, or just using the Internet, I have bought dozens of bottles of wines (Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Sauternes, Monbazillac, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont etc etc). I buy in wine shops, in the supermarket, on the Internet, in wine fairs, from the wine makers themselves...And I usually pay anything between 9 and 35 Euros for each bottle. Between France and Germany, we now have more than 200 bottles of wine in our cellars.

The thing is that I honestly prefer tea to wine. But when in France do as the French do, and since we usually have to serve wine with our meals, I've decided to do the smart thing and build up our own cellar. This is an investment (as good wines have to be sourced, aged etc), a good way to assure the quality and control the price of our wines, et surtout to never run dry! God forbid (shudders)...

Cod Fish Steaks with Thai Green Curry

We try to eat Fish at least once a week and for Saturday we managed to buy a few thick Cod Fish Fillets (from the back of the fish) from Nordsee in town. I didn't feel like eating it European-style and so decided to combine methods and make a Thai Green Curry with it.

It was simple to make and really tasty. Do note that palm sugar and sweet Thai Basil leaves are important and do make a difference to the taste of the curry.

2 Thick Cod Fish Back Fillets
Ground Turmeric
Salt and Pepper
Corn Flour

1 big Zucchini or a few small round Thai Aubergines

2 Shallots (sliced)
2 cloves of Garlic (diced)
1 stalk of Lemongrass (bashed and cut into 3 pieces)
1 thumb-sized Galangal (sliced)
1 Tbsp ground Cumin
1 Tbsp ground Coriander seeds
2-3 Tbsps Thai Green Curry paste
Kaffir Lime Leaves
400ml Coconut Milk
1 Tbsp Palm Sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
Sweet Thai Basil Leaves
Lime Juice

Sweet Peas
Fresh Coriander Leaves

Marinate the fish fillets with a little ground Turmeric, salt and pepper. Heat up a little oil in a reasonably deep non-stick frying pan, coat the fillets lightly with corn flour and when the oil is hot, slide the fillets in it to be seared. Cook on both sides till golden brown, but do not overcook the fish. The fillets should still be in one piece. Take out of the pan and put aside. Squeeze some lime juice over them.

Cut up the zucchini into 5 x 2 cm pieces. Grill them on the frying pan. Do not cook them through, just take them out of the pan when they are nicely grilled on the sides. Set aside.

Heat up a little more oil in the pan, brown the shallots, garlic, lemongrass and galangal. Add in the ground spices. Add in the green curry paste. You could make some yourself (I usually do it in a huge quantity and then freeze them in small batches) or use the industrially-made ones that we can find easily in most Asian groceries (this time around I used the Asian Home Gourmet paste as I need to stop putting stuff in the freezer in preparation for our move to Italy). Fry the paste till it's fragrant. Then add in a few lime leaves, the coconut milk, stir everything well and then stir in the palm sugar and fish sauce. Add the sweet basil leaves, squeeze in some lime juice and cover the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover (the sweet basil fragrance will reach your nostrils, really nice), add in some frozen sweet peas, the zucchini and gently place the fish fillets in the curry sauce. Put some fresh coriander leaves on top, cover and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

vendredi, mars 02, 2007

Baby Picassos en Mi Casa

Eldest Son started it all when he came home one day and decided to paint. Just grabbed paper, brushes, water, watercolours and whipped up 3-4 paintings in like 30 minutes. Then he left everything on the table and moved on to something else.

The babies arrived. They took up where he left off, painted another few sheets of paper plus the table as well.

And this repeated itself everyday for like a week.

I screamed and threatened them to stop painting (especially the table), but to no avail. That's why Hubby liked to mock me for my lack of "natural authority".

And he even scotchtaped their pieces of work on the glass doors in the kitchen, blocking out the natural light and leaving marks all over the glass.

MIL would be happy though. She was convinced that Baby Girl has inherited her artistic talents (MIL used to paint). And as for Baby Boy, I paid for a few painting classes for babies last year for him and it looked like he hadn't forgotten how to hold a brush afterall. And Eldest Son? He didn't get a good grade for Fine Arts in school (the comment read : Showed little interest), so you wonder why he suddenly went into this painting frenzy at home (toc toc)...

Ahhh kids.

jeudi, mars 01, 2007

Chocolate and Mascarpone Cup Cakes

I had a big tub of mascarpone in my fridge and was sick of making Tiramisu. I wanted to make something quick, chocolaty and good with it and decided to dump a few classic baking ingredients together, experiment with the oven temperature and cooking time and see what I could get out of it. Actually I am stuck at home with all 3 kids since they are all still sick and having them come complain to me every 10 minutes about each other is really getting on my nerves.

For 12 Chocolate-Mascarpone Cup Cakes :

200g Dark Chocolate for Desserts
75g Salted Butter
200g Mascarpone
4 Eggs
140g Sugar
50g Flour

Melt the chocolate and the butter over low heat in the microwave oven. Stir in the mascarpone.

Beat the eggs and the sugar till thick and creamy. Pour into the chocolate-mascarpone mixture and then fold in the flour gently.

Fill up half of each muffin mould with the mixture and bake in a heated oven (150ºC) for 20 minutes. The cup cakes will turn out wobbly, but due to the little flour used, it's normal. Let the cakes cool for at least an hour before consuming them. They will harden thanks to the chocolate. I find them even better the next day.

Salted Butter and Mascarpone go really well together. From Fabienne's blog, I learnt that you could make Salted Butter Caramel Mascarpone Jam to spread over your scones and cookies. Looked really yummy, if I'm not on a diet I would have gone for it...

Then to keep the kids amused, I went to You Tube to watch a few music videos. Eldest Son loved the Crazy Frog, Macarena and I Want to Move It videos. I cried over the Danny Chan and Sandy Lam videos. The following made me feel so nostalgic :

At nearly 7pm, I brought the 2 older kids to the doctor and they were diagnosed with some bacteria that has given them rashes all over the body, a bad sore throat, buttons on the scalp, stomachache and fever. Antibiotics had to be prescribed. But you know, here in Europe, you have to buy your medicine from a Pharmacy and they tend to close at 6pm. So you either start searching for those late-night pharmacies or you wait till the next day. I chose the latter.

I'll have to keep them at home the next day. Will have to bring Baby Girl with me to my German class at Berlitz though as it would be too late to cancel the class now. Hope she spreads all her bacteria when she's there and teach them to be more flexible with their cancellation policy.