Sweet tooth cravings: a fruit smoothie prepared by moi and some ice cream

Sweet tooth cravings: a fruit smoothie prepared by moi and some ice cream

  Mini mangoes!

Mini mangoes!

Over the last few years, Singapore had been popping up into conversations more frequently.  Its location served many times as a layover for those in transit to/from Australia and as a gateway into Asia.

When I left Australia en route to Thailand, I found myself there with less than 24 hours.  Luckily, my time was quickly filled as my Couchsurfing host, Hang Seng, was a local and had some time to show me around.  One of the things I really enjoy about traveling is getting to know the people who live there, especially if they've grown up there.  You learn so much about the country, the culture, and their people.  Here are a few snaps that were captured:

In the last picture, if you're curious as to what flavors I chose, I had to go with the local flavors that I would only find in this area.  The light purple scoop is of pulut hitam, a sweet dessert made of black glutinous rice porridge with coconut milk and palm sugar.  Sitting below that is a scoop of chendol, another sweet dessert consisting of coconut milk, rice flour jelly noodles that are dyed green, and palm sugar.  If it sounds familiar, it's because I had it when I was also in Malaysia, but in its original, non-ice cream form

After that, it was back on the road and catching quick glimpses of sites like the 165 meter-high Singapore Flyer before getting to Changi airport and flying out.  To no surprise, it is a very, very clean country worth stopping over for to gawk at the high-rises, enjoy some street food, buy some electronics, and get you to where you need to go.

Posted
Authorlinda

Let's face it, breakfast is very important! It gives us a boost of energy in the morning and as much as we wish to have personal chefs, most of us are our own personal chef.

With limited time in the mornings, it's tempting to just skip breakfast altogether or pour yourself a bowl of cereal, but there are healthier options that also don't take up a lot of time, just a bit of planning and preparation.  One of my favorite things to eat in the morning, especially during warmer weather, is called bircher muesli because it's very refreshing and wholesome.

  The colors of this remind me of the film Moonrise Kingdom

The colors of this remind me of the film Moonrise Kingdom

It's been a relatively recent discovery and of course, I had to look up the recipe and give it a try when I was in Australia.  After trying my hand at it a few times, I got the hang of it and now just mix it up and alter it based on my mood and the season.  Needless to say, I would see it pop up on the menus everywhere there but no longer had a need to order it since it was being whipped up at home in just a few minutes and dare I say, it was better! Again, probably because I altered it to my liking.

Upon my return back, I've told a few friends about it, who have all asked, "what's bircher muesli?!"  I thought to myself, it must be an Oceania thing.

After a bit of reading, I discovered it was around 1900 that Swiss doctor Maximillian Bircher-Benner had made this as part of a healing therapy treatment for his patients as it's good for digestion (and also gets you some fiber!).  Apart from Switzerland, it can also be found on the tables of neighboring European countries such as Germany, Austria, England, and Sweden.  Can anyone else chime in on any other countries that eat this? It'd also be interesting to find out how it found its way to Australia and New Zealand (I'm thinking England could be responsible for this).

Basically, to keep it simple, bircher muesli is soaked oaks (now, please go laugh at the title of this post, thanks!).  For a few of my fortunate friends, including fellow healthy foodie Ksenia at Breakfast Criminals, they've been able to try my bircher muesli and because of the positive feedback and minimal exposure, I decided to do a post dedicated to it.  The good thing about cooking (versus baking, which is very scientific and measurements need to be kept) is that it allows room for flexibility so GET CREATIVE and GET COOKING (or in this case, preparing!).

  Breakfast Criminal's first bircher muesli

Breakfast Criminal's first bircher muesli

BIRCHER MUESLI RECIPE

Yields ~ 4 servings

Here are some of the things you'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt 
  • 1 cup apple juice (preferably unsweetened and organic)
  • 4 handfuls of mixed berries*
  • 1/2 grated granny smith apple
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 spoon of honey or agave nectar

Optional and recommended add-ins:

  • 3 spoons of chia seeds
  • 3 handfuls of slivered or sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds
  • a few dashes of cinnamon

*may be substituted for other fruits such as peaches, nectarines, pears, figs, passionfruit,

Combine all ingredients together, I usually go down the list.  Be sure not to over mix it and go with your gut (hopefully your gut knows too)! Get creative in your experiments, add things, take things out and have some fun! Prep time is literally a few minutes and you'll need to soak for a few hours/overnight.  When serving, top it off with some fresh fruit and granola for that extra crunch factor.

Enjoy! Here's to good health and delicious brekkies!

A few days in Peru was not enough.  The country has so much to offer and I dream of going back there again soon, spending a few weeks or months to really get to know the place (read: to eat and taste and cook and experiment with ingredients).  Its cuisine is definitely one of the most underrated in my experiences so far but luckily, chefs like Gaston Acurio are out there spreading the word of all the magnificent delights they have to offer.

One year, I'll decide to skip the winter in the Northern Hemisphere (who am I kidding, I live in Southern California so it's really just an excuse to travel) and head for the summer on the opposite side of the world in the Southern Hemisphere.  Or who knows, maybe I'll end up there for their big food festival Mistura in September one year.

I created a list to remind me of what places are like.  Just going through it again has me salivating for a fresh and citrusy ceviche along with a side of chicha morada.

PERU is....

...colorful

...non-stop Salsa music

...unorganized

...long lines

...asking folks on the street

...onions and potatoes and limes

...ponchos plasticos

...walking sticks

There's nothing more exciting than taking off on a plane to somewhere new.  The thrill of going into the unknown and immersing myself into a culture to find out more is quite addictive and a breath of fresh air to revive my free-spirit soul. While it's tempting to revisit the places I've been to before (and I will), there is also an urge to venture into new territory.

One of the main reason why I love traveling is to learn about different cultures.  A big part of culture lies in the food they eat.  It absolutely fascinates me to think about all the little details and how a certain dish has been formed, from the land where the ingredients are grown and where they are sourced from, to how it is prepared, where the recipe develops from, the changes it goes through, the variations of the dishes, and much more.  My mind is simply blown when I start digging deeper.

After being more exposed to the Peruvian culture in Sydney, thanks to the large immigration of South Americans (predominately Peruvians, Colombians, Brazilians, Chileans, Argentinians, and Uruguayans), I found myself drawn with my eyes wide open.  Thanks to a special deal on an airline, I booked a ticket and flew off finding myself exploring both Lima and Cuzco (plus the surrounding areas like).

Below are some recollections (the horizontal collection) of my trip there: