Phnom Penh: Pottery lesson with my son at The Art Bar

My pre-teen son loves bonding, and I love it! My husband and I try to find unique ways to bond with him to have fun and to create memories that he would remember forever. We found out that the best way to connect with him at this age is to get on what he is interested in doing. For example, he loves bonding with his dad over watching a movie at the theatre or playing Ipad games together or swimming. And he loves bonding with me over cooking a simple dish like meatballs or baking a cookie or walking in the park.

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Pete loves art. He loves to draw, he loves crafting, and he loves to create something new from scratch. So one weekend afternoon, while my husband was swamped with work, Pete and I indulged ourselves in a pottery lesson at The Art Bar in Phnom Penh.

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

The Art Bar is a tidy, cozy place with experienced staff. Pete and I went there before for a “Sip and Paint” session. For both activities, our instructor was Mr Danny, he was competent and patient and nice.

Pete with our instructor, Mr Danny

When Pete heard about the idea – pottery lesson, he was ecstatic. And I couldn’t forget the enthusiastic look on his face from getting out a bag of clay and getting his hands dirty – preparing the clay, centering the clay on the wheel (pounding, palming, coiling, etc), shaping, and tearing (using a string to cut piece off the hump).

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

It was our first time to use the pottery wheel, and we both had so much fun. It felt kind of relaxing especially when your hand was on the swirling clay and your feet were on the ground. We enjoyed every part of the process, it was so magically creative.

Pottery lesson at The Art Bar, Phnom Penh

Absolutely, our pottery lesson at The Art Bar was a beautiful and exciting experience. And, I believe that shared times like this with my son provides him with marvelous memories, helps him express himself, and helps him develop out-of-the-box thinking.

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Taste of Home: Beef Kimbap

Hello everyone! Last Friday, I made Beef Kimbap, a Korean sushi roll.

Beef Kimbap

I learned this recipe from one of my students a few years ago. Since then, I make it once in a while for snacks or for a light meal or for picnic or for a ride. And this is my favorite version of Kimbap – marinated beef, fresh cucumber, sautéed spinach, fresh carrot, omelet, fresh bell pepper, sesame seeds, sesame/olive oil and rice.

Beef Kimbap

It’s very easy to make, with many variations such as seafood, chicken, vegetable, bacon, beef. And it’s very easy to eat – just pop the pieces into your mouth. It’s wholesome, tasty and it’s so filling.

What you will need to make 5 rolls?

  1. For beef marinate:
    1. 500 grams beef, cut into thin strips
    2. 4 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
    3. 1 tbsp oyster sauce
    4. 1 tbsp honey
    5. 1 tsp oregano
    6. 1 tsp paprika
    7. 1 tsp red or black pepper, freshly crashed
    8. 1 tbsp sesame oil (you can replace it with olive oil)
    9. 1 piece shallots, sliced
    10. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  2. For egg omelet:
    1. 4 eggs (only the egg yolk)
    2. salt and pepper, to taste
    3. 1 table spoon olive oil
  3. For sautéed spinach
    1. 1 bundle of spinach, washed and cleaned
    2. 1 tbsp sesame or olive oil
    3. 2 cloves garlic
    4. 1 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
  4. Others:
    1. 5 pcs of dried seaweed
    2. ½ pc carrot, peeled and cut into strips
    3. 1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into strips
    4. 1 small bell pepper, cut into strips

Beef Kimbap

Beef Kimbap

Beef Kimbap

How to make beef kimbap?

  1. Prepare the beef.
    1. In a mixing bowl, put in the beef. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, black pepper, oregano, paprika, garlic and shallots. Mix well until everything is well combined. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
    2. Pre-heat a frying. Add a small dash of olive oil and spread it around the pan. Add the beef marinate. Let it cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat. Once it’s cooked, put it on the plate and set aside.
  2. Prepare the egg omelet.
    1. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl. Add salt and black pepper. Beat the egg yolk using a fork.
    2. Pre-heat a pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and spread it around the pan. Add the beaten egg yolk and cook both sides well over medium heat.
    3. Place the egg omelete on a chopping board and cut it into long strips. Then set aside.
  3. Sautéed the spinach.
    1. Wash and clean the spinach. Remove the hard stalks.
    2. Pre-heat the frying pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic. Add the spinach leaves. Add soy sauce. Mix well. Let it cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside
  4. Toast the sesame seeds
    1. Pre-heat the frying pan. Turn down the fire into low. Add 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Mix it continuously for 2 minutes or until the sesame seeds turn light brown.
  5. Prepare the rice.
    1. Place the cooked rice into a mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon of sesame or olive oil. Add sesame seeds and a quarter teaspoon of fine salt. Mix them with a rice spatula until everything is well combined.
  6. Prepare the other vegetables.
    1. Wash and peel the carrot and cucumber. Then cut them into long strips.
    2. Wash and remove the seeds of the yellow bell pepper. Then cut it into strips.
  7. Putting together.
    1. Place one dried seaweed sheet on the clean table (shiny side down). If you noticed I don’t use a bamboo mat because I find it easier to roll the seaweed sheet without the bamboo mat (I still have to practice this skill).
    2. Put the rice on the seaweed sheet then spread it evenly and thinly to cover the seaweed. Leave about 1 inch gap at the top of the seaweed so that it would be easier for you to close it.
    3. Put some strips of beef, egg omelet, carrot, cucumber, spinach, yellow bell pepper.
    4. Roll the seaweed.
  8. Serve, share and enjoy.

 

 

Taste of Home: Moules Marinière

I finished work late on Thursday, and while I was at work, I received a telegram message from husband saying “Surprise dinner tonight. Healthy.” I was thrilled and flabbergasted. The moment I received his message my stomach started to rumble.

When I came home the house smelled so heavenly good – the pungent smell of cooked moules marinière wafted through every nook and cranny of the house. Moules marinière is the quintessential French dish. The splash of spanking fresh mussels, white wine and shallots give an extra kick.

moules marinière

When I looked the huge steaming pot filled with these yellow charms, it felt like a festivity but this classic recipe is very easy to cook and to put together. Moules marinière is very comforting, super delicious and totally healthy loaded with full of goodness – high in protein, iron, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids, low in calories, low in fat, rich in Vitamin A and B12, etc.

While we were having dinner, I loved watching my son devouring the mussels with joy. And I couldn’t get enough of these myself. We had it with steamed rice because it can soak up the sauce but you can also serve it with French fries. It was absolutely a great dinner, and little things and little surprises certainly always makes me happy. Thank you, My Alan!

moules marinière

If you wish to cook yourself a restaurant-style moules marinière, here’s my husband simple six-step recipe:

What you will need:

  • a kilo of mussels, washed and cleaned
  • 30 cl of white wine
  • 2 medium-size onions, cubes
  • 20 grams of salted butter
  • 2 tsp French Tarragon
  • 1 tsp of salt

How to make it:

  1. Wash the mussels with running water. Put them in salted water for about an hour so that the mussels would get rid of their water.
  2. In a cooking pot, melt the butter and caramelize the onions.
  3. When the onions are caramelized, add the wine, salt, tarragon, and a bit of water. Stir. Let it cook for 5 min.
  4. Put in the mussels into the pot. Mix well. Let it cook for 20 min or until all the mussels are opened and cooked.
  5. Discard the ones that are still closed.
  6. Serve, share and enjoy.

 

Cambodia: Boodle feast with Filipino friends in Phnom Penh

Yesterday was a holiday (King’s Birthday), and we were invited by some of our friends to a boodle feast. A boodle fight is a Filipino dining tradition where everyone eats military style.

Boodle Fight with friends

The fresh dark green banana leaves were laid out on a long table loaded with food – steamed rice in the middle, and the shrimps, grilled pork, vegetable chopsuey are placed on top and on the sides of the rice, served with sauce.

Boodle Fight with friends

Then we washed our hands with clean water, we stood alongside the table and when everyone was ready for the “fight” we started boodle fighting with our bare hands. Everyone marked his/her territory by creating a small tower in front of him/her by grabbing all the food that he/she wanted to eat as fast as he/she could.

Boodle Fight with friends

In a Boodle Feast you can serve the rice with whatever dry food items you want – sausage, seafood, fruits, crackers, cheese, etc – the skies the limit. It’s very creative, colorful, exciting and fun!

Boodle Fight with friends

Boodle Fight with friends

It was my son and I (my husband wasn’t able to join as it was a working holiday for him) first get-together with a Boodle Feast with friends. After the feast, we were as happy as a clam at high tide. It sure was one of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had and I think the only “fight” that is worth fighting for.

Cambodia: Full moon walk with my son at a park in Phnom Penh

When my siblings and I were still little, our parents number one priority was our education. They did not spend a truckload of money on entertainment in order for us to have fun. They taught us that the most fun things are free. In fact, my childhood best growing-up memories were right in our backyard, in our neighborhood. And one of those I have enjoyed since I was a child was walking or playing at night at the beach with our neighbors, by the moonlight. It was very fun and it offered me a new and different perspective on how the world was mutating from an ordinary landscape during the day into a wilderness at nighttime.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

When I learned that the moon was full on the night of 17th April 2019, I took my son for a full moon walk at the park near the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh as we are living in the capital city (far from the beach and the mountain) . We strolled for 6 rounds in the park making it about 7km under the moonshine.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

Wandering as slow as a snail pace, we talked about the moon. I explained to Pete that the moon makes no light of its own instead it reflects the sun’s light back to us. The moon is full when the orbit that carries it brings it close to the earth but not behind the earth so that it can very nearly fully lit by the sun. When the moon is behind the earth, it is a dark moon (it means that there is moon but we can’t see it). When the moon is between the sun and the earth, it is a total eclipse. Furthermore, we also talked about nature, about family in the Philippines, and the Lent season. It was marvelous – leisurely and educational.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

The moon is indeed mysterious and alluring. This winsome white and shapeless mass gleams with radiance, bringing light on the darkest of nights. It dances through the twilight sky, and hides in daytime. Even though the huge pale ball seemed to be quite dull to other people, it always beamed a smile at me.

Certainly, it was a special night and great opportunity for me and my son to bond. Plus, the moon that was wandering companionless followed us home as we sauntered through the night and kept watching us from the distance.

Cambodia: Staycation at Plantation Urban Resort in Phnom Penh

We had nine days off during this year’s Khmer New Year holiday (April 2019), and for this time off our main purpose was to get a well-deserved rest. So, we spent a weekend at the Plantation Urban Resort, and it could not have been more a perfect staycation.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

Actually, our first plan was go to for a week vacation trip in Taiwan, but since we hadn’t got back our passports yet for our Cambodian visa extension (due to the new rule which is 10-14 days processing) we stayed in. Our 2nd plan was to go to Kirirom for a few days mountain escape; however, due to the daily power interruptions across the country plus the fact that the resort that we were supposed to stay in didn’t have a generator, so we ended up settling just staying home.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

We chose Plantation Urban Resort for several reasons:

  • It’s perfectly located right into the heart of the city – within walking distance or short tuktuk ride from the restaurants, Riverside, supermarkets, book shops, and from the capital’s cultural sites.
  • It has lush green gardens, two gorgeous pools, a relaxing spa, delicious food at two restaurants on site, beautiful rooms, and polite and efficient staff.
  • It’s quiet, tidy and eco-friendly.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

We spent the afternoons enjoying the bliss that doing nothing can bring. We relaxed in the pool when the heat and humidity climbed. We read a book. Took a siesta by the poolside. And we stuffed ourselves full of delicious food.

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

The Plantation Urban Resort

We were completely smitten. Staycation gave us almost one-hundred percent of restful time. It restored and revitalized our mind, body and spirit. Plus, the Plantation Urban Resort is just a posh, tranquil and verdant environment to retreat to and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Absolutely, a great weekend getaway sans all the fuss.

Taste of Home: Pear Tart

My family and I hosted an Easter Dinner with friends, and this scrumptious fruity Pear Tart was on the menu for a special treat and to kick off the fun.

Pear Tart

On the other hand, since our son doesn’t like eating fresh pears, I decided to make this baked pear pastry tart to see whether he would like it or not. I made it with 2 fresh pears (without skin) combining honey, sea salt and fresh cream. Then baked it at 180⁰C for 30 minutes. They’re easy and we love easy – quite quick and simple to put together.

It was a great success – my son loves it and everyone said it was delicious with just the right texture and flavor.

Pear Tart

What you will need for the tart crust:

  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 20 grams of butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup of cold water

What you will need for the filling:

  • 2 pears, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 1 20 cL cooking fresh cream
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt

Pear Tart

Pear Tart

Pear Tart

How to make it:

  1. Prepare a tart crust from scratch:
  • In a mixing bowl put the flour, butter and sugar. Mix well.
  • In a separate small bowl, cracked the egg to make sure that it’s a good one and to remove some eggshells. Then put it into the mixture. Mix well.
  • Add the cold water little by little until you get the desired consistency. Mix well.
  • Form into a big ball.
  • Wrap it with a plastic wrap. Then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. If you can refrigerate the dough longer the better.
  • Flour the surface of the working area.
  • Roll the dough out to your desired thickness. Make sure the edges extend a couple of inches beyond the 9-inch pie plate.
  • Roll out the tart dough into the tart plate. Then baked it for 10 minutes at 180⁰C.
  1. Prepare the tart base mixture.
  • In a mixing bowl, put in the fresh cream, honey, cinnamon and salt.
  • In a separate small bowl, cracked the egg to make sure that it’s a good one and to remove some eggshells that dropped into the bowl. Then put it into the mixture.
  • Mix thoroughly until everything is well combined.
  1. Put it together.
  • Spread out the base mixture on the baked tart crust.
  • Arrange pears over top.
  • Bake it at 180⁰C for 30 minutes.
  • Let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  1. Serve, share and enjoy.