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Ella Manopi

Love cooking, love eating, love writing.

2012 went by incredibly fast- for better or for worse!

My years of eating are usually the same every year but of course, I try different things and see if I like it or not. But, I'll be more adventurous next year. Reflecting back on the past ten and a half months, I would say...

Things that made my taste buds jump:
- Kimchi (after learning how to make it, traditional style, I can't get enough of it)
- Quiche
- Chocolate truffles
- Austrian Coffee Cake
- My mom's homemade specialties
- Frozen yoghurt (or as my sister says it "FroYo")
- Baklava
- New things to do with Nutella (I can never get tired with nutella - that's just me)

Things that make me lose my appetite: (not so many)
- Rainbow cakes. (I don't know why some people like it)
- ...um...I'll list more later when I can find some other things I didn't like in the year 2012.

Kimchi: what's yr favourtie thing to do with it?

My mom made kimchi about a month ago. She was taught the traditional recipe by a very nice Korean lady and I was lucky enough to learn it too. Anyway, in Korea, kimchi is a side dish and there are many varieties. However as a side dish, it is most enjoyed with rice. Unless you're like me, I can eat it all on it's own. :D

What do you make in big batches?

Spaghetti/tomato sauce. That is always one for my mom and apparently, it is convenient for me too. Just make a huge pot of sauce and eat as much as you want that night and the rest can be put in the freezer so that at any given time you feel a little lazy to cook or busy, just take out the sauce, boil some pasta (any kind you like, you can also make lasagna) and voila! Dinner! It keeps well in the freezer for a long time but I make sure to finish within a month or less. :)

"If you finish your food, then..."

@Zinnia1 Yeah! That was the same with my dad. We travel all over the world, living in different countries a few years at time and my dad would always find something new to eat. Like when he came back home from a short meeting in South Africa, he brought a kind of beef jerky there. And now that we're living in Kuwait, he loves to eat camel meat. (Sorry to disgust any of you! It tastes like and looks like beef.) Anyway, every time he brings us home these new things, my little sister would always be the one to look disgusted and he always scolds us (even though I have no issue with any foods, she's the picky eater of the family). He would say, "Have you tried it? If not, taste it first then see if you like it or not. Don't judge by just looking at smelling. Taste!" But I guess you're right, it does teach us a lesson not to judge things too quickly.

What Culture's Cuisine Have You Been Making?

Well, since I still live with my parents, (going to Uni very soon though), my dad prefers to have his all time home favorites, which is Malaysian food, from Malaysia, where we're from. It's mostly rice with other scrumptious side dishes to accompany it and since there's so many, it's hard to get bored with the same all over. Besides, there are noodle dishes too! But there are some days I'd volunteer to cook and on those days I'd cook Mediterranean , French, Italian, or even Japanese and Korean food. You name it. And when we eat out (which is rare), it's usually something very different than what we eat everyday. :)

Any requests? ....Oh, besides that....

I haven't really experienced that yet since I eat anything anyone gives me. I'm not picky, but I suppose when I get my own place and invite my folks over, the real challenge will begin; my dad doesn't eat chicken, my mom hardly eats any red meat, my sister is a pescatarian, my little sister likes to eat a lot of spaghetti which my dad doesn't like either. It's only my bro and me that seem to be okay with anything. I think it's harder to cook something that'll satisfy everyone's appetite rather than cooking something a lot of people will like and you don't. I mean, they're the guests. Gotta be a good host, right?

Are you a serial overloader at a buffet?

I would take what goes well together and that could fit my plate, (not overloaded), and I always leave five minutes to rest before taking another round. I would take 4 to 6 trips, each plating with different food, the last being the cakes and sweets. I prefer taking many trips and finishing the food rather than overloading the plate and not finishing. Makes me feel bad when I waste food. :(
But I think people sometimes overload their plates because they're scared it may finish by the time they want seconds. I don't know, that's how I used to think when I was a kid. :)

Storing Egg Whites

@ag3208 clever thinking! Wow! Thanks guys. This was a big help. :)

How Long Do You Spend On Dinner?

I usually take about half an hour to an hour. It depends on what I'm cooking. Since I'm going to be in culinary school soon, I work in a fast pace to practice but at the same time be precise and spot on with my cooking. I like the rush. But for an Asian kitchen, specifically a Malaysian kitchen, you have to be in the kitchen for at least an hour. The dishes are pretty simple (but amazingly delicious) but the process and techniques that go with it all is what takes time. My mom would be in the kitchen for two hours straight, not including the washing up. But, she doesn't have to clear or wash the dishes. That's usually my job. :)

How different are grape juice and wine from one another?

I'm a Muslim too and yeah, I've had this question on my mind as well. Thanks for asking for I too put grape juice in substitution to wine. Anyway, what I know about wine and grape juice is that wine has been fermented. It's been kept for a long periods of time and has added substances in it. There really isn't a substitute that has similar characteristics, which makes it harder for us to cook recipes that have wine in it. The only thing is that it may taste slightly different. But usually, wine is to enhance the flavors so I think you don't have to put in any unless you really want to. I don't.
I'll be going to culinary school soon, in Malaysia, so I'll ask my lecturers/master-chefs. :)

What can't Chinese people eat?

Each other. They can't eat each other, but then again, during the Chinese Cultural revolution and post revolution, I suppose there was one case of cannibalism. Or was it a few. So I guess, huh, I don't have a definite answer... :P

Dinner Tonight: Alice Waters' Spaghetti with Green Garlic

That looks really appetizing. My aunt loves her pasta this way too. I'll definitely make this for her soon when I visit home. And since you mentioned Alice Waters cookbook, I may get myself a copy!

The Picky Eater

Everyone knows a picky eater, whether it be your toddler, who isn't as adventurous with vegetables compared to, I don't know, nuggets, and there are those incredibly huge meat lovers who "don't have" an acquired taste for anything green or anything vegetable, like, *cough cough!*, my cousin.
He doesn't eat veggies at all, and he's fifteen. I asked him why and he says they taste bitter. I'm pretty worried about him considering he isn't getting a lot of the nutrition and vitamins you would in veggies, compared to huge amounts of protein and iron in meats. I mean, it may not affect him now, but later when he's in his fifties or maybe even forties, things will start to kick in. Must have a balanced diet, right?
Anyway, any good recipes that sort of hide the fact that it's a vegetable or any techniques that could make him a devote omnivore? Not just a carnivore? It's going to be hard, but it's worth a lot of tries.

Fresh or canned/packaged?

With everyday life busy as ever, some people choose "ready made" stuff, which, as an individual going to study the culinary art, I try to avoid. But, I do admit though, there are some foods out there that are better canned/packaged when going to be of use in a recipe. But not all. What are the ingredients you prefer being packaged/canned and what are things that are better made fresh?
For example: puff pastry. yeah, that's a given because not many people can perfect making it. To have a frozen one can be quite convenient. Another example; canned tomato sauce. Now that, I cannot take. I prefer mine cooked fresh.

What is your Achilles Heel?

Okay, this topic is somewhat like Santiago Cardona's topic on the three things you can't give up. Well, what I'm asking is, what food makes you go weak in the knees? That one food you must have and never tired of? It can either be savory or sweet. You can also name one for each if you wish.
Mine is, for savory: sambal (a chili paste that goes with almost anything when cooked), and for sweet: tiramisu.

"If you finish your food, then..."

Just a fun topic to talk about. All of us at one point in life as children had a tough time finishing food or eating veggies. I suppose we had better things to do like play, right? So, as always, parents would give reasons as to why you should finish. My mother used to say that if I finished all my food, I would grow to be a beautiful girl or that I'll be strong as superman or I'll be rich! And other times, she'd say that the food will cry if I don't eat them (which gets me every time.) Haha.
So what did you parents used to say? And if you are a parent, do you find yourself saying the same thing? Because frankly, I find myself saying the same thing to my four year old cousin. :P

Storing Egg Whites

There are quite a number of recipes that only require using the egg yolk, and not the egg white. Instead of just trashing the whites, how do I store it and how long will they keep?

Thank you!

Crimes in the Kitchen

I was just looking through my mom's old Food & Wine mags and saw a few columns on "crimes in the kitchen" which includes not to overcook your veggies and not to use the same cutting board for meats and veg, etc. So I'm just wondering, what are your big NO NOs in the kitchen?

Re-purposing French Fries

Usually when I order take out at a fast food joint, I would always eat my french fries on the go, but on other days, when I'd wait to get home to eat it, the fries become cold and soggy and it really puts me off. And furthermore, I don't like wasting food. So does anyone have any ideas how to re-purpose these? Frying them again is one but is there any other way?

Swedish Meatballs

I'm looking for a recipe on Swedish meatballs. I was thinking of making it for my little sister on her birthday for dinner, since she loves them so much. The IKEA meatballs from the frozen foods section is out of the question. I want to make this from scratch!

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