Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Eggplant with Minced Meat and Salted Fish

One of the joys I have is cooking for my family. The fun part is trying to sieve out the flavors of the food that we like while eating out so that I can try to replicate it at home - of course sometimes, I can't do it without some help from the internet!

I was inspired to cook this dish at home after we tried it at a Chinese restaurant. The portion was very small and couldn't satisfy our meal that night so I knew I had to try cooking this. So glad when I see my husband and son ply the eggplant onto their plate of rice repeatedly. It is a good standalone dish. Best part? It is not a daunting dish to prepare at all. (Recipe adapted from The Meatmen)

Preparation time : 10 minutes  Cooking time : 10-12 minutes  Serves : 4

Ingredients :

2 medium size long eggplant (about 1/8-1/4 longer than the size of a palm)
80-100 gm minced meat (I used pork. Minced chicken would work too.)
2 slices of dried salted fish (about 20-30 gm)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
Some spring onions, cut into small pieces
Some oil for cooking
Corn flour

Sauce :
a) 1 tbsp oyster sauce
b) 1 tsp light soya sauce
c) 1/2 tsp black soya sauce
d) 1 tsp black vinegar
e) 1 tsp soy bean paste 
f) 1 tsp sugar
g) 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
h) 1 tsp corn flour mix with 1/4 cup water to thicken sauce

Method :
- Firstly, slice the eggplant into wedges and lightly coat it with corn flour.
- Heat your pan with about 3 tbsp of cooking oil, pan fry the eggplant (or deep fry if you must) till slightly soften and browned. Drained and set aside.
- Rinse and cut the salted fish into smaller pieces.
- Prepare a fresh pan with 2 tbsp of oil. Stir fry the salted fish, garlic and ginger till fragrant.
- Add the minced meat, give a good mix and fry till cooked.
- Add the sauces from the above list (a) - (g). Mix well.
- Add in the eggplant and let it stew with the meat for a few minutes.
- Add in the cornflour mix to thicken sauce.
- Add the spring onions and give a final stir.
- Serve and enjoy with piping hot white rice!

Till the next post, have a wonderful day!

Absolutely Me,

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Qualities of A Successful Small Craft Business

Building a successful brand, in my case it's handmade lifestyle jewelry, does not happen overnight. It takes a whole lot of commitment, persistence and perseverance to be where one wants to be. Most times, when you hear about someone's success in their business undertaking, they have probably already started honing their skills very much earlier before getting noticed. And 'success' deems differently for each individual. For me, success is about my passion, tenacity, building self-worth, trust and relationships.

I remember my daughter asking me this question very recently, "mummy, do you think dancing is a talent?", and I said "yes" because I certainly do not have any talent there! But she went on to quip that with practice and perseverance, anyone can actually dance well. I paused and pondered. There is certainly truth in her observation which also speaks volume to my personal journey at Adeline's Loft. There was no particular 'talent' to speak of before I discovered my interest in making jewelry. It was indeed something that was nurtured over the years (11 years and still practicing). It was only after my 6th year into this little hobby business that I found my purpose and concept behind what I love to do. So if you happen to be in a rut with your handmade venture, you are not alone.

I have thought through about my little business journey and decided to share about what I think is the essential qualities one should possess. I hope it will help inspire you along with your journey, if you are on one like me.

Do you have a signature style?
It took a long time for me to find mine, which I am glad it is still reflected in my current style even though over time, it did evolved a fair bit. It may not be a style that everyone would appreciate but it will certainly be one that you are most skilled at. This is about staying true with what you enjoy doing and not just following trends. When you enjoy your work, it is reflected in your pieces.

Do you communicate the value of your work accordingly?
I often put myself in my buyers' shoes. I would ask myself if the price is affordable and if the value of the product in terms of labor, cost of materials and originality, are in place. Define a story of what you are doing so that you can attract the right clientele to your brand.

Do you have a regular clientele base?
There are clients who will always be supportive of your work, and then some who are 'touch and go'. It's the same everywhere. The right clients would always love your creations and wear what you make. It may not be a big number of clients but they appreciate your designs and are often your biggest source of referrals. They are also the ones who will bump up the value of your brand. Hence, it is essential to maintain a good customer relationship with them.

Will you stay dedicated to your craft?
We celebrate when in good times. Would you quit when in bad times? Or be resilient and stay on course, adapt new techniques and move forward? We must learn to adjust, and know when it is time to cut out on things that aren't working and confident enough to try out new things that would enhance our experience and skills. Always go back to why you started out in the first place and keep building on it. By all means, get inspired by your favourite craft artisans when you need to but NEVER copy others' work, because successful brands do not prosper that way.

Do you relate to my article? 
Is there any other qualities that you would like to highlight on your own journey? 
Read more jewelry resources written by me HERE 
 Let's connect!

Till the next post, have a wonderful day!

Absolutely Me,

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Babi Masak Assam or Tamarind Pork

If you do a google search for this peranakan dish recipe, you will see different versions of it. I learned mine from my mother and have asked her how some recipes I came across called for lemongrass or kunyit (tumeric). She dismissed my questions, citing that it was a much simpler recipe that she learned from my mama - how I greeted my paternal grandma, who was a true blue nonya. I love my mum's cooking so of course, I had to follow hers! It is the reason why I love this dish very much.

If you are not familiar with this dish, let me tell you that it is a VERY appetizing dish because of the assam juice. Just by looking at the photo sends me salivating! The result should be a very tender meat dish. My family enjoys it and it usually is gone before I can go for second helping. It really whets the appetite and is even better when you drizzle the gravy on your rice! 

The green chillis added to this dish, is not at all spicy. It somehow, adds a different dimension to the flavor of this dish. For me, it is definitely the highlight! (Because the kids won't eat the chillis so I get to eat more!) But of course, if you are concerned that your children might be sensitive to the green chilli taste, please omit it, though you may be missing out on a special flavor. :)

Preparation time : 10 mins  :  Cooking time : 1 hour  :  Servings : 4-5


- 500 gram twee bak or pork shoulder, sliced.
- 1 soup bowl tamarind or assam juice from 3 tbsp tamarind pulp (see below for how-to)
- 2 tbsp fermented soy bean paste (tau cheo)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 4 to 6 green chilli, de-seeded
- 1 tbsp brown sugar (or regular sugar if you don't have this)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil

 Method :
- prepare the tamarind juice by soaking the pulp in 1 soup bowl of hot water for a while. Then strained into another bowl by pushing the softened pulp through a sieve. Set aside.
-  Heat the oil in frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic and bean paste. Stir fry till fragrant.
- Add the pork and mix it well with the paste. Fry for a few minutes.
- Add the tamarind juice and green chillis. Lower heat and let it simmer for about an hour. By then the gravy would have slightly reduced and thickened.
- Add the brown sugar. Do a taste test for the level of tang you like.
- Serve with white rice.
- Enjoy!

Till the next post, have a wonderful day!

Absolutely Me,


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