Know Your Ingredient – Borage

Borage

General Description

A type of herb with edible leaves that is native to the Mediterranean region. Its seed is also cultivated commercially for extraction of borage seed oil. It grows up to 60-100 cm tall. This is also known as “starflower”.

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Borage is the highest plant-source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a type of fatty acid. Its seed oil contains stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid and nervonic acid, which are vital supplements for our body.

Medical Use

This herb is used to treat hyperactive gastrointestinal (cramps, colic, diarrhea), cardiovascular (hypertension) and respiratory (bronchitis and asthma) disorders. It can also help in correcting urinary problems.

Culinary Use

Borage can be used a fresh vegetable. It has a cucumber-like taste which makes it fit for making salads or garnish. The flowers are also edible which are often used as cake toppers or decorations. They can also be made into sweet syrups.

Italian Desserts

So, you’re planning a party with an Italian influence. What are you having for desserts?

To help you out, here are some of the well known Italian desserts. And nope, you just won’t be able to stop your mouth from watering, so you might as well get some tissues. 🙂

Gelato

Image by By Filipe Fortes from New York, United States

Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, so this should be a hit at kiddie parties. In traditional Italian style, though, a gelato is a soft ice cream with at least 3.5% butterfat and contains a small amount of air. Milk, cream and sugar are the main ingredients of this cold sweet.

 Spumoni

Spumoni, as you can guess from the photo, is another ice cream sort of Italian dessert. But what makes it distinct is that it is made of layers of various flavors and colors of ice cream and also contains nuts and candied fruits. Pistachio, cherry and chocolate or vanilla are the most common flavors combined to make spumoni.

 Panna Cotta

Image from Toscana City Centre website

Panna cotta means ‘cooked cream’ and it is so because this dish is composed of thick cream, honey and egg white. With careful monitoring of time and temperatures, this dish could indeed taste like cooked cream. Later versions of panna cotta contain gelatin. This yummy pudding can be served with fruits and syrup.

Cannoli

Image by William Meppem

 Cannolo is the singular form of this word, which means “little tube” in Sicilian language. In plural form, they’re called cannoli. They’re made of tube-shaped pastry dough with a creamy filling (usually with ricotta content). They’re often served dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Semifreddo

Semifreddo means “half cold”.  Most often, it is made by combining equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream, which gives it a similar consistency to a frozen mousse.

Curried Carrot Soup

Don’t you just love a bowl of warm vegetarian soup on these cold Australian winter evenings? Ooh, and pair that with crusty bread fresh out of the oven. Yum!

Here’s one of those delicious vegetarian soup recipes you might want to try. Quite easy to prepare and will be ready in less than an hour.

Carrot Soup

CURRIED CARROT SOUP

Olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
500 g carrots, chopped (approx. 7-8 medium sized)
1 potato, chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
100g split red lentils, washed
2 vegetable stock cubes
2 cups water
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 lime

Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic over medium heat for around 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add carrots, potato and curry powder. Stir well.  Add lentils, stock cubes, water, salt and black pepper. Stir well to dissolve the cubes, while allowing to boil. Simmer over low heat for approximately 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit.

Transfer soup to a blender and process until smooth. Then, return soup to saucepan to reheat.  Drizzle gently with juice and grated rind of lime, before serving with warm crusty bread.  Enjoy your yummy soup!

Know Your Ingredient – Nutmeg

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Description

This is a brown-colored hard seed from the nutmeg tree that gives a spicy sweet taste. This originates from Indonesia but can also be found in the Caribbean (Grenada).

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Nutmeg has anti-oxidant, health promoting and disease preventing properties. It’s a good source of minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. It has also B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, and folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin A.

Medical Use

In traditional medicine, it is used as anti-depressant, anti-fungal, aphrodisiac and carminative agent. It also aids digestion and prevents constipation.

Culinary Use

Nutmeg is a popular spice. It can be used in preparing many dishes and recipes. It can be used in making cakes and pastries, and can also be added in making smoothies. Nutmeg is considered a natural flavoring in baked goods, syrups, sweets and beverages.

Fried Rice Last Night!

Hubby came home yesterday afternoon and had a cross between a late afternoon snack and early dinner, then said he probably won’t eat much for dinner because he was full.

With enough leftover boiled jasmine in the cooker, I decided to simply cook fried rice for dinner. One of my ways of recycling food that’s still too good to toss in the bin.

While I didn’t take notes during the preparing and cooking process, I will just do my best to recall how I made it. And since I didn’t really do exact measurements of the amounts of the ingredients I mixed in the dish, feel free to have more or less of the ingredients, depending on how you like it.

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LAST NIGHT’S FRIED RICE

Cooking oil
2 eggs, well beaten
A handful of chicken fillet
50g butter
3 cups cold cooked rice
1 brown onion, sliced
1 piece carrot, chopped to small bits
1 small can of corn kernels, rinsed and drained
A handful of frozen green peas
2 tablespoons fried garlic (we already have fried garlic, so I used that)
A handful of cooked prawns, shelled and each sliced into 2 or 3 parts
Soy sauce to taste
Tomato sauce to taste
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Salt to taste
Ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat oil on pan. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Fry well beaten egg in the pan until cooked. Take out of the pan, slice to small strips and set aside.

Slice chicken fillet into small parts. Fry in pan until thoroughly cooked. Roughly break up cooked chicken into smaller bits using a wooden spoon. Add butter and onions. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots and corn. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add cold rice. Break up rice and mix well with the other ingredients in the pan. Add soy sauce, tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and ground cayenne pepper to taste. (You can skip the Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper, if you don’t like it spicy.) Mix everything well and cook over medium heat.  Continue to stir every now and then for about 10 minutes.

Add sliced cooked prawns, frozen green peas, and fried garlic. Combine well with the rest of the dish. Cook over low heat for another 5-10 minutes, stirring every now and then so the bottom part doesn’t get burnt.  Serve warm.

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Oh, by the way, hubby ended up eating dinner after this. In fact, he had to stop himself from eating much of this so he could still have enough fried rice to pack for lunch at work today. Lol!

Know Your Ingredient – Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Description
Lemon Balm is a herbal plant that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. Its leaves are heart-shaped and deeply veined characterized by a mild lemon scent. It grows up to 150 cm tall. It produces white flowers during summer, which attracts the bees. The flavor of this herbal plant comes from its contents like citronellal, geranial, linalyl acetate and caryophyllene.

Nutrients
Lemon Balm contains phenolic compounds, rosmarinic, protocatechuic acids, caffeic, and flavonoids.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use
This herbal plant has been known to cure cold sores, stomach upset, sleep disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used to cure colic to breastfed babies. It also helps in maintaining a normal blood pressure. The leaves are known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s a good treatment for flu, insomnia, indigestion, depression, and Herpes virus. It also acts a memory booster.

Culinary Use
Lemon Balm has a delicate lemon flavor and has been widely used in making dishes. It is a good garnish to fruit salads and drinks.

Bendigo Filipino Fiesta 2018

And so this blog was silent for over 10 days. Well, if we have to blame it on something, it will have to be the Filipino Fiesta, which we helped organise and also sponsored.

Serious planning started as early as January of this year. Roles were assigned and defined. Suddenly, the weeks and months passed by oh so quickly and next thing we knew, it was April!

Thankfully, a lot of our supplies arrived in the last two weeks, after being delayed by the Easter break and what-nots. Then came the job of repackaging, pricing, and deciding on the mock set-up.  Plus, there was also the shopping of lollies, biscuits, toys and other inexpensive novelty items for the children’s games.

By Saturday morning, hubby wakes me up around 7am, but I sleepily and jokingly asked if I could just arrive at the fiesta venue much later at 10am. Of course, not. I dragged myself to the venue, with a car loaded with TQB merchandise and children’s game props and prizes.

And tah-dah! Here’s one of the children’s games that I prepared for the fiesta:

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It is called “pabitin”. During the game, kids stand below this, to this sight…

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…and somebody (an adult) holds the other end of the rope and pulls the rope back and forth, so the pabitin goes up and down, teasing the kids, who would jump up and down to try and grab some of the goodies that they could reach.

Here was our stall. We were sharing the marquee with a friend, who’s also selling some bracelets, rings and necklaces, as well as some refreshing drinks.  Those milk crates and white storage boxes served dual purposes – to hold the goods as they were transported, and to hold/elevate the displays at the stall.

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Before it got busy, I was able to take a quick walk around to snap some shots.

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Then, the Santacruzan parade started. Traditionally, in the Philippines, this parade is held in the month of May. But because May is the last month before it’s winter in Australia, we just couldn’t have it in May, because all those pretty gowns don’t quite match with beanies and ugg boots. 🙂

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This was the last decent shot I had taken. After this, a friend of mine from high school arrived, so I had to entertain her. Then customers started coming to the stall. The program started and the games had to be done. Oh well, you can just imagine how busy it became.

But this yummy treat nearby was beckoning me. Luckily, hubby was nearby, so I asked him to buy some of the tempting “ensaymada” (a type of soft Filipino sweet bread) for me. Oooohh! It was delicious! I regretted not buying a dozen of it. (OK, I was too busy to regret during the day, but when the fiesta was over and we were relaxing at home, and there were a couple of these left in our bag, I did regret not buying more.)

So, the fiesta was quite a success, but we are all relieved that it’s finally done and we can relax and get back to our normal lives. Lol!

So now, what do we do for FIG Activity Day?

 

Know Your Ingredient – Oregano

OREGANO

Description

Oregano is a small shrub with many stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers. It is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe because it is very much related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. Oregano is a wonderful herb that adds a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of the Mediterranean cuisine.

Nutrients

Oregano is not just for aroma and flavor but it is also composed of several nutrients. It has 14% Vitamin K, 5% Manganese, 4% Iron, 3% Calcium, and 3% Fiber per 2 teaspoons serving.

Health Benefits and Medical Use

Oregano is an effective anti-bacterial agent. It reduces the growth of bacteria hence, decreases the risk of infection. Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients that have also been shown to function as powerful antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures all over the body. It is also proven that it is a good source of fiber which aids in the prevention of cancer.

Culinary Use

Oregano is famous among pizzas. In addition to that, it is widely used in making special cuisine.

Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Ages ago, I came across a 1970’s magazine for youth/young adults. One article was about a fun outdoor activity with lots of games and fun. Since I was looking for ideas for games we could do at an upcoming outdoor event, there was a game in the article that caught my attention. It involved chocolate pudding, being fed by one blindfolded person to another also blindfolded person.

The first time we did the game, I had to buy a few cups of chocolate pudding from the supermarket. The game turned out to be a hit – lots of laughter from the players and spectators as well!

A couple of years later, we decided to do the game again at another event. This time, due to tight funds, I wondered if I could get a hold of a chocolate pudding recipe and if it would be the less inexpensive option. I did and it was, so I kept the recipe. Here it is:

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CHOCOLATE PUDDING

INGREDIENTS
6 Tablespoons cornflour
½ Cup sugar
¼ Cup cocoa powder
4 Cups milk
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1 Egg, well beaten
1 Teaspoon vanilla

PROCEDURE
Combine the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa and salt in a heavy saucepan. Gradually add a little milk and stir to a smooth paste; stirring constantly add remainder of milk. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken. Do not boil.

Pour a bit of the hot mixture into well beaten egg, beating while pouring. Add egg mixture into pan with remaining hot mixture. Stir until well blended.

Return to heat and cook until pudding consistency. Remove from heat. Pour into individual serving dishes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional: Add crushed Oreo cookies on top. You can also serve it with whipped cream instead.


Party tips:

This yummy snack/dessert is also perfect for garden themed parties or construction themed parties, if you are after foods that go well with the themes.

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For a construction themed party, you can pretend it is earth or top soil.

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For a garden themed party, you can ‘plant’ a piece of edible herb on top and add a popsicle stick with a name of a veggie or herb. Then you can pretend they are seedlings!

Construction Theme Party Ideas

For every kid who wants to be an engineer, architect, builder, construction manager, etc. when he/she grows up, here are some of the coolest ideas for a construction themed party.

FOOD IDEAS:

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CAKE IDEAS:

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DECOR IDEAS:

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