Dashi Stock

Posted November 30th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

 

Recipe for the essential item for Japanese cuisine – dashi stock.

<dashi>  makes 3 cups

  • 3 cups (750ml) water
  • 5g bonito flakes
  1. Place water and bonito flakes in the sauce pan, and bring to the gentle simmer.  Turn off the heat, and leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain the bonito flakes and keep the liquid.  You can discard the bonito flakes, or cook with soy sauce and mirin and eat with rice later!
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Happy 10th Birthday!

Posted November 29th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

On the weekend I made a birthday cake for 10 years old girl!

As it’s for a girl, and she is turning 10, I made the cake into “10” shape and decorated with pink cream.

It’s a sponge cake layered with fresh fruits and whipped cream.

It was very rush, actually.  I told the father to come to my house to pick it up around 11 am, but I woke up at 9 am!  All the ingredients were ready – the sponge cake was baked, cream was whipped, and the fruits were washed and dried already – I just had to assemble all of them and create a “10” shaped cake.

When I was covering the sponge with cream, I realized I will need more cream- the amount I whipped last night wasn’t enough to cover this huge cake!  I was panicking a little, but tried to calm myself down and whipped another pack of cream.  Lucky I had bought 2 packs of cream!

I layered lots of fruits inside.  I wanted to make the surface simple so I just decorated the side of “0” with sliced strawberries, and I decorated the top of cakes with pink cream flower.

Hope she had a wonderful 10th birthday 😀

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Bagels and Bamboo Restaurant

Posted November 27th, 2010 in Ume's Pregnancy | No Comments »

After week 20, my belly started to grow bigger and bigger very quickly.  I’m at week 24 now and I can’t see my bikini line!  People can notices that I am pregnant and I have to wear very big clothes or maternity clothes, otherwise it’s too tight and very uncomfortable.  

I won’t be able to wear my normal clothes this summer, so I have packed all the summer clothes in the closet.  Maternity clothes are quite pricy, so I’m wearing some of my wide clothes or D’s T shirts everyday… (π´®†¥¨ˆ∂ƒ©˙

As the belly grows, I can feel bub’s movement very strongly now and sometimes I have to support my belly with a maternity belt when I have to move around or keep standing up for a long period of time. 

Especially while making bagels…

This week I had a special order for a baby girl’s 1 month birthday (?).  It was my first time to make bagels with icing!

I wouldn’t think about putting icing on bagels, but it was the special order for a special girl…

White and pink icing 🙂

Ahhhh… my stomach is still full…   In-laws and I went to Bamboo restaurant last night, and ordered quite a lot of dishes.  

I really like the style of the restaurant, but the food is pretty average to me.  I’ve been there only for dinner, but some food are nicer at South Ocean in Kardinya.  

We ordered fried fish with crabmeat sauce, seafood and tofu claypot, and Thai style chicken.  

The flaming Thai style chicken was quite entertaining, but we had to wait until the flame goes off… for about 3 minutes.  The chicken was beautifully roasted, and the sauce was spicy – lemongrass, coconut and other spices and chili.  

I felt all the dishes were quite salty.  It helped me drinking lots of water though…   

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Simmered Pumpkin

Posted November 26th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

Pumpkin….  It’s a vegetable with full of nutrition!  It is used to make both savoury and sweet dishes, and the variety of the recipes are endless.

While I was little, I used to eat steamed rice mixed with this simmered pumpkin.  I call it “pumpkin rice” (カボチャご飯) and it was one of my favourite snack back then.  I remember bringing it to my friend’s house and eating, just like chocolate or lollies.

Making this dish is so simple – just place all the ingredient in a sauce pan, and simmer.  

<Simmered Pumpkin>

  • 500g Japanese pumpkin
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sake
  • 2 tbs sugar
  1. Cut pumpkin into 4~5cm cubes.  Leave the skin on. (you can peel the skin if you like) 
  2. Arrange the pumpkins in a layer in a medium sauce pan –  the bottom of the pan should be covered with pumpkins.  Pour the water to the pan to come halfway up to the height of the pumpkin.
  3. Add sake and sugar to the pan.  Turn on the heat, and bring to the gentle boil.  
  4. Meanwhile, cut baking sheet or aluminium foil into a circle of the size of the pan.  Turn down the heat, add soy sauce, and cover the pumpkin with the sheet (foil).  Place a lid, and simmer for 10~15 minutes.
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Mood for Beauty

Posted November 25th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

My friend recently had eyelash extension and she kept saying that she now loves looking at her face (eyes) in the mirror.  She had the extension by a Japanese lady – friend gave me the information about the lady but I’m not sure if I ever get eyelash extension.  It sounds very interesting, but I’m not sure if it’s 100% safe, and it is also pricy and not permanent.

But, after hearing from the friend I looked at my eyelash and realized that my eyelash has been falling off quite a lot!  I believe I had more eyelash when I was younger (>0<).  I never cared (I should…) about these things, and now I think I should do something about it.  

I bought L’Oreal Lash Boosting Serum to help my eyelash grow! L’Oreal brand seems to be quite popular among Japanese girls too.  Let’s see how it goes… 

I’ve been wearing the serum on my eyelash for 2 weeks now, twice a day.  I haven’t worn mascara for the last two weeks, and I think that my eyelash has became stronger –  less failing.

By the way, one of my friend in Japan is also pregnant (around 3 months) and they are having the wedding party on January next year.  She is already married to her husband, but they didn’t do any party or ceremony. (which is quite common thing in Japan these days)  They chose the following dress:

… yes, not white.  Wine color!  These days people in Japan don’t really care the color of the wedding dress much…  I’ve seen many brides wearing pink, blur or red dress in their wedding, not white.  I really like the dress and I think she will look great in this dress 🙂

These days my appetite has been strange.  I feel hungry, but don’t know what I feel like eating.  And, I get heartburn very often now.  If I eat a lot in the morning, I can’t eat anything until late night.  So, I just eat light food or snack little by little during the day.  

But, yesterday I really really wanted to eat chicken rice!  I couldn’t do anything but thinking about it.  It was around 3 PM, and D and I headed to Ten Ten.

I ordered Hainanese chicken rice, and D ordered roasted chicken rice.  We must have had looked like two starved little kids….   I ate it up all and so did he (^^).  It was very satisfying afternoon!

 

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Paid Parental Leave

Posted November 24th, 2010 in Ume's Pregnancy | No Comments »

Having a baby in 2011?  The Paid Parental Leave scheme starts 1 Jan 2011, which will provide eligible working parents with 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage, currently $570 a week before tax.

All the information is available from Family Assist website, but I want to list down the key factors for myself and also others who are interested in knowing this scheme.

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Baby Bonus

  • Pays eligible parents $5,294 (effective 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011) per eligible child in 13 equal fortnightly instalments.  
  • Baby Bonus is payable for each child in a multiple birth.  Which means, if you have a twin, you get 2 xBaby Bonus.
  • Before, Baby Bonus was not an income tested payment, but it is now.  (income test)
  • Baby Bonus is not taxable income.

Check your eligibility for Baby Bonus → Eligibility

To claim a Baby Bonus: claim must be lodged within 52 weeks of the child’s birth (or in the case of adoption, within 52 weeks of the adopted child coming into the adopting parent’s care)  Hospital will usually pass you the claim form at the time of birth, but you can also obtain the form through Family Assistance Office or lodge online at  http://www.familyassist.gov.au.

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Paid Parental Leave

  • From Jan 2011, you can chose to receive either Baby Bonus or Paid Parental Leave for your child if you are entitled.  
  • Parental Leave Pay will be fully funded by the Government.
  • Eligible working parents will receive Parental Leave Pay at $570 a week for a maximum period of 18 weeks. 
  • You should lodge your claim at the Family Assistance Office, Centrelink Customer Service Centres, or online before the birth or adoption of your child. (you can lodge up to three months before)
  • Paid Parental Leave is taxable income.
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Things You Should Know
  • You can not get both Baby Bonus and Paid Parental Leave for the same child. 
  • If you have worked for 12 months or more for the same employer you are entitled to up to 12 months unpaid parental leave. (www.fairwork.gov.au)
  • Parental Leave Pay will be provided to you by either your employer in your usual pay cycle (employer will be funded by the Australian Government) or by the Family Assistance Office in fortnightly payments. (from 1 July 2011, your employer must provide your Parental Leave Pay if you have worked with them for at least 12 months prior to the expected date of birth or adoption of your child and you will be receiving at least eight weeks of Parental Leave Pay.)

If your employer provides your Parental Leave Pay:

  • You will be able to access other paid leave such as maternity leave, however this may mean you will be taxed at a higher rate.
  • They can deduct child support from your Parental Leave Pay if they are required to do so.
  • You may arrange for other deductions to be made from your Parental Leave Pay.
  • You may salary sacrifice some or all of your Parental Leave Pay. For example, you may make voluntary contributions to superannuation. You must agree these arrangements with your employer as you do with wages. 
  • Your employer will not be required to make superannuation contributions on your Parental Leave Pay.

If Family Assistance Office provides your Parental Leave Pay:

  • We will withhold PAYG at the rate of 15 per cent unless you request another rate.
  • You will not be able to salary sacrifice Parental Leave Pay that is provided directly by us.
  • You can voluntarily request a Family Assistance and/or Centrelink debt to be deducted.

Centrelink FAQ

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Baby Bonus or Paid Parental Leave?

First, you need to check if you are eligible for both payments.  

Baby Bonus → Eligibility  

Paid Parental Leave →Eligibility 

If you are eligible for both payment, you can chose to receive either one of the payment.

Baby Bonus is $5,294, but it is considered to be not a taxable income.  On the other hand, Paid Parental Leave gives you the total benefit before tax of $10,260.   However, this money is considered to be taxable income and may affect your Family Tax Benefit as well as the followings:

  • Child Care Benefit
  • Child Support
  • HECS liabilities
  • Medicare Levy Surcharge
  • Public Housing Rent
  • Low Income or other Health Care Cards, or other associated concessions
  • Pensioner, Beneficiary, Dependent Spouse, Housekeeper and Child-housekeeper tax offsets.

To see which payment is best for your family, you should use the  Paid Parental Leave Comparison Estimator.

The result may vary depending on the date you wish to start receiving Parental Leave Pay, therefore it is recommended that you try different dates to determine the best financial decision for your family.

After 34 weeks following the birth or adoption, the number of weeks you will be eligible to receive Parental Leave Pay for will reduce. (refer the table below)



Oyako Donburi

Posted November 23rd, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

Today’s recipe is oyako-donburi. (^0^)  This dish has been one of my favorite food since I was a baby!  I just love the sweet sauce and soft egg….

I don’t use shop-bought dashi powder anymore to make dashi stock.  It may contain MSG and other things, and I thought it tastes better when I make my own dashi.  I just need bonito flakes and it’s so easy to make.  You can also use dashi-konbu (seaweed) or dried shiitake mushroom to make dashi, but I like the bonito-based dashi the best.

As you may know, “oyako” literally means “parent and child”.  Oyako-donburi is a dish which a parent and a child are in a same bowl.  So, chicken + egg is oyako, and salmon and salmon caviar can be oyako too.

Normally, chicken thigh is used for oyako-donburi in Japan.  You can use chicken breast if you can’t eat chicken thigh or prefer lighter taste.  (although I recommend using chicken thigh)

First, we make dashi stock.  Although the recipe for oyako-donburi below is for 1 portion, it’s easier to make dashi stock in bigger portion.  You can keep the reft over of dashi stock in the fridge for 1 week, and it can be used to make udon or soba later.  If you are making oyako-donburi for 4~5 people, the amount of dashi stock may be just about right.

dashi

  • 3 cups (750ml) water
  • 5g bonito flakes
  1. Place water and bonito flakes in the sauce pan, and bring to the gentle simmer.  Turn off the heat, and leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain the bonito flakes and keep the liquid.  You can discard the bonito flakes, or cook with soy sauce and mirin and eat with rice later!
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<Oyako-Donburi> serves 1
  • 50g chicken thigh (or breast)
  • 40g onion (1 x tiny onion)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml dashi stock
  • 10ml soy sauce
  • 5ml mirin
  • 5ml sake (cooking wine)
  • 5g sugar
  • 150g steamed rice
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  1. Cut chicken into pieces.  Slice onion.
  2. Place dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, chicken pieces and onion in a small sauce pan or frying pan.  Bring to the gentle boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in a bowl – just one or two whisking is enough.  Turn up the heat of the simmering chicken, and pour the eggs slowly into the pan.  Turn down the heat and place a lid.  When the eggs are cooked half-way through but still remains raw part, turn off the heat and leave for 15 seconds.
  4. Pour the egg sauce over steamed rice, and enjoy!
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Christmas Shopping and Yum Cha

Posted November 22nd, 2010 in Bagelier Bagel, Perth WA | 6 Comments »

Although it was very very hot during the week, the weather was pretty comfortable on the weekend.  Cloudy and little shower, but it’s better than 40 degrees!

Parents-in-laws went to Bunker Bay from Saturday to stay over night with sister family, so it was only me and D at home –  yey ♪

After making some bagels, we headed to Northbridge for lunch.  I felt like something dry – something similar to gyoza.  The thing I could think of was Yum Cha… 

  

D ordered the usuals – chicken feet, pork spare ribs, fried squid and ginger tripes.  GInger tripes are my favorite!  I usually eat chicken feet and squid, but I couldn’t eat any fatty stuff (especially deep-fried food) so I ordered some steamed prawn dumplings and prawn rice paper rolls.  I ate sooo much… as usual.  I always overeat when I go for Yum Cha.

On Sunday, it was raining and there were many people at Borders in the city.  You can get $20.00 voucher when you sign up for the Border V.I.P membership – so we both signed up online on Saturday and headed to Border on Sunday to browse what to buy.

I love the goods sold at Borders – not only the books, but also some gifts and zakka things.  I saw some cool stuff, but I couldn’t decide what to buy in the end…  We decided to come back next week, as I can’t stand walking around for too long now: my body gets really tired and I feel very sleepy afternoon.

I say this every year, but I really miss Christmas in winter!  Next year…

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Bakar Chicken and CORICA Apple Struddle

Posted November 19th, 2010 in Food | 3 Comments »

My in-law made ayam bakar (grilled chicken), sambal kan kun and stir-fried kairan with oyster sauce.  Kan kun is my favourite Chinese vegetable!   Every time I go to Hawker restaurant I order stir-fried kan kun.  I just love the slimy and crunchy texture.

“Bakar” means, according to my husband, “burned”.  I assume it’s a similar word to “kogeru” or “kogasu” (焦げる) in Japanese.  The process of “bakar” enhances the flavour of the dish (meat/seafood).

The chicken was marinated in some kind of Indonesian spicy sauce, then grilled.  It was so yummy that I ate 3 pieces!

Sambal (chili paste) kan kun (front) and stir-fried kairan with oyster sauce (back).

It was a hot day!  Eating spicy food in such hot day is so perfect…

My husband’s friend from Malaysia had been here for few days, and he just left to the airport.  They are such close friends… it made me jealous sometimes! (>0<)

He left a box of Corica apple struddle for us in the fridge.

The sweet custard cream and crispy pie sheet….   It was a perfect dessert after the spicy Indonesian dishes!

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One Plate Breakfast (Wafu)

Posted November 18th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

It may be because of the weather, or it’s just that I’m tired…  I’ve been feeling sick lately.  No fever yet, but you know you can feel when your body is getting sick by having some symptoms such as running nose, sneezing, muscle aches, and headache.

I had these symptoms yesterday, and I knew I would have fever if I didn’t do anything.  So, what I thought of doing were….

① Eat well, ② Take hot shower (bath would be much better…), ③ Sleep well.

As I mentioned before I’ve been eating Indonesian and Chinese food over the last couples of weeks, and my body can’t take any more oily food!  And, my body needs more vegetables.  I don’t feel good if I don’t eat vegetables.  It’s not that I feel guilty, my body really feels weak –  get tired easily, and I have to rush to the toilet many times.

So, when I’m feeling weak, the food I eat is always Japanese food!

* Spinach and Silver Fish Rice (あっさり☆ほうれん草と雑魚の混ぜご飯)

* Onion Soup (ネギ汁)

* Natto (納豆)

Maze-gohan (mixed rice) is such an easy dish to make, as you just need to mix the ingredients with steamed rice.  (Spring) onion is one of miracle food that ease inflammation of sore throat – that’s what we say in Japan.  There is an old saying that if you catch a cold, tie a spring onion around your neck overnight.  Next morning your fever and symptoms of the cold/flu are gone.  There is something to do with Allyl sulfide, apparently.

Before I proceed to the recipe, I just want to say that I felt much better this morning!  I ate this one plate last night too, and I don’t have muscle aches and headache anymore.  Thanks to the hot onion soup… and hot shower and a good sleep.  This was my breakfast today as well.

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<Spinach and Silver Fish Rice> serves 1

  • 100g steamed rice, hot
  • 15g blanched spinach
  • 5g silver fish
  • 1/4 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
  • a drop of soy sauce
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  1. Spread silver fish in a frying pan (no oil).  Roast over medium heat until crunchy.  Set aside.
  2. Chop spinach finely.  Sprinkle a drop of soy sauce, and leave it for 5 minutes.  Gently squeeze out excess liquid.
  3. In a bowl: mix silver fish, spinach and sesame seeds with steamed rice.  Be careful not to break the rice.
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<Onion Soup> serves 2 ~ 4
  • 2 small onions (100g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onions
  • 2 tsp dried cut wakame seaweed
  • 3 cups water
  • 35g miso paste
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1g ginger, minced
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  1. Slice onion thinly.
  2. Place water, onion and spring onion in a sauce pan, and turn on the heat.  When it comes to the gentle boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat to very low, and add wakame, miso paste, mirin and ginger.  Turn off the heat.  Leave it for further 5 minutes.
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