Foodiva's Kitchen: Not Really a Food Post, Just Some Things That Make Me Happy

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not Really a Food Post, Just Some Things That Make Me Happy

I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.
~ Anais Nin
Gateau Choco-Citron

I was struggling to string together a few sentences for a recipe post today, so instead, I'm going to let you in on some of the things in my life that make me happy, or at least, are interesting to me. Now, because this is a food blog, I start off with this Gateau Choco-Citron I made as a result of watching this drooly video by Aubergine (yes, it's her real name) of Kitchen Vignettes. This is a lovely new blog I just discovered and although it only has 5 posts at the time of writing this, Aube's clever prose and visuals already had me running into the kitchen to make this 3-layered brownie, lemon curd and chocolate mousseline delight! To borrow Aube's phrase, I almost shed a tear (maybe I actually did) when I had the first forkful of this gateau. If anyone's interested, I'll post the recipe up - as usual, I made it entirely on the fly :-).


Fresh pasta and purple sweet potato pie.

On a hot day last week, Diva D and I made fresh pasta noodles which we hung outside to dry. Needless to say, the act of making pasta by hand, one flavored with casual, teasing banter always manages to lift my spirits up.

And how about that vibrant looking, silky smooth purple sweet potato pie on the right? It's deliciously easy to throw together that this has become my go-to pie recipe for when I need to admire (or eat) something that's very near perfect. The purple shade of the filling is au naturel, by the way, with not a drop of artificial coloring in there. The recipe for this pie is my second most viewed post ever, it still gets plenty of hits even now. If you're curious, you can view the mechanics of making this pie here.


Okay, so I was happy to be clutching this bunch of leaves from the market for something like a US$0.50, but what exactly are they? They're pandan or screwpine leaves, used to flavor our drinks, desserts, savory and even rice dishes. They are the Asian equivalent of vanilla and they impart sweet, piney and floral overtones to any dish. They can even be thinly sliced and used as pot pourri to give your house a warm, sweet, lingering scent. These leaves can be kept frozen and thawed just before using so these babies do last quite a while. Anyone for pandan-wrapped chicken? Recipe coming up soon, I promise!

Now, I'm going to give you a little tour of my new home. You've already made the acquaintance of my funky red kitchen and although I do spend a lot of time in there, there are other areas of the house that make me equally happy.


Like my shower with this great view above it, for example (spot the bird!). As a side story, I once stayed at a hotel in London whose rain-shower heads had flickering downlights surrounding the holes where the water jets came out. What's amazing was that these lights changed colors and flickering patterns every minute and these playful effects were then reflected in the spurting jets of water as you showered. It makes you feel like you're in your own discotheque in there - all wet and naked to boot! LOL. Alas, when I mentioned this wondrous creation to the owner of this home, he was clearly not having any of that nonsense. So yes, I'm still quite happy with our light-less shower head.


Now walk yourself into my side of the walk-in closet, another self-indulgent space in the house. Women do not actually need twice as much stuff as men to look as presentable but most days, my brain still doesn't get this. What truly makes me happy in this closet though is that wooden spiral staircase leading up to my study. I call it my 'contemplative' steps as I sit there often, thinking. Mostly about what to eat.


The high ceiling in our house makes me feel lighter, even though I know it's going to be a major pain having to clean all the cobwebs and dust that gather up there someday. Those vibrant fresh flowers arranged all artsy-like in that vase above, well they come from my garden and they always make the house look warm and inviting.

Meet our cute Bearded Dragon

Now an introduction to our pets....and please don't shut down this page just yet unless you're truly, truly squeamish! You see, I'm endlessly fascinated by Donald Schultz, the herpetologist with the sexy South African accent with hit TV shows on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. In my wildest fantasies, I dream of........having his job. Unfortunately, I don't foresee anyone here letting me traipse off into some unknown jungle in search of venomous snakes anytime soon, so what do we do? We bring the reptiles to us! LOL, this collection of pets is actually my brother-in-law's passion but since I love biology so much, I'm always enthusiastic to pay these babies a visit!


How about Mr. Tarantula and the superworms to be used as feed? Yes, my brother-in-law breeds the (urrgh) food for his pets as well, making this a highly sustainable hobby.


That's a corn snake (left) and a baby python (right). Don't worry, these are very gentle, non-venomenous snakes and they hardly ever bite unless provoked :-). One tip though, never hold one of these snakes straight after handling mice (a.k.a. the snake's meal) and before washing your hands thoroughly first. The smell of the mice will remain on your hands and the snakes, mistaking your hands for food, will be tempted to sink their fangs in....Ouch. Anyway, these unusual pets do bring a big smile to my face every time.

Okay, let's get away from this slight sordidness that is part of my life and get back to food.


Dark chocolate - it never fails to make me joyful, and if it's sugar free, all the better.


Now if you know me at all, you'll know that this flower, bunga kantan or torch ginger flower, makes me extremely happy because having it around allows me to cook the perfect Penang laksa!


Reading these books by Paulo Coelho tear me away from the kitchen most days. Oh and that Nutcracker guy up there has been keeping me company for about 15 years of so.


I've also gotten around to rewriting my 'About' page because that was long overdue. The first write-up sounded stupefyingly ridiculous because I didn't know where this blog was heading then and I didn't think anyone would read it anyway. I hope this one isn't even more stupefying. Do let me know what you think.

Finally (really), relish this passionate, invigorating TED Talk video by spoken word poet, Sarah Kay. Her words, oh her spoken words, they are fabulously joyous!


There is no heartbreak that chocolate can't fix....

It's great to be able to share these things with you. Next week, everything will be back to normal and I shall post some more recipes. Have a great Sunday!

34 comments:

PFx said...

Wow Maya... I'm speechless!
There are so much to take in.
From how lovely are your high ceiling... and the zoo you're having (so what happens if one goes missing?) to how you came 'about'. No surprise then that you're an awesome kitchen goddess.
And Aubergine's blog is awesome as!

Foodiva said...

Pierre, your brain is probably numb from the information overload...on a Sunday too - while you're trying to relax on HOLIDAY! Haha, I do apologize. As for the pets, we make sure all the cages are locked every night. No fugitives yet! I'm so glad you like Aube's blog, I'm so in awe of her video editing abilities...and of course, I like her laidback aura very much too.

Kitchen Vignettes said...

Maya, you are so sweet to mention my blog!! And I'm amazed at how fast and effortlessly you were able to recreate that choco-citron cake!! Without even a recipe!! That is some serious cooking talent! It's also lovely to get a virtual tour of your house too, I feel like I've been to your place and we're old friends now :-) And that bright purple sweet potato pie just put a giant smile on my face!

Foodiva said...

Aube, the speed at which I go and make something I see is equally proportional to the size of the 'craving' for that something! LOL, you shouldn't have videotaped and broadcast your cake-eating session on your blog. Funnily enough, I feel like we ARE already old friends, even without the house tour :-). And I don't say that often.

Kelly @ Eat Yourself Skinny said...

Mmm what a great post! That chocolate pie would make me very happy too! :)

Isabelle said...

Maya, I am so jealous of your house... it's so lovely and airy and light-filled!
BTW, I'd be happy too if I had a closet and a shower like yours. :) I've had both things on my dream house wishlist for years.

Foodiva said...

Kelly, I'll let you in on a secret...there is strong coffee in that chocolate brownie! Yes, you'll be high-happy after you've eaten it :-).

Foodiva said...

Isabelle, I suppose I've had more years dreaming about this house than you (since I'm much older) and I only just got my wishes! I hope you'll get your dream house someday, just make sure to remember those discotheque shower lights! LOL.

Sandra said...

Maya, this is such a wonderful post..I am afraid of snakes and spiders, like realllyyy afraid:)) but other than that everything would make me happy too.
Thank you for sharing little bit of your life with us! Have a wonderful Sunday afternoon!!!

Foodiva said...

LOL, Sandra, you're so sweet! I am okay with the creepy crawlies staying in their cages, but to have them running around loose would freak me out too...I mean, imagine them wanting to cuddle up with you in your warm bed! No, I don't think that would work for me ;-).

Sandra said...

I was hanging on your blog just watching that video and what a video it is..I love it Maya..The girl can speak!:))I will Google her..

Foodiva said...

Sandra, Sarah Kay is an amazing poet, isn't she? And an amazing person as well, it just makes ME want to be better as a human being, also as a mother when I first listened to her!

Erin said...

What a great post! Love all the things that make you happy. The cake at the top is a good start. And I LOVE your high ceiling!

Christine's Pantry said...

Great post. Love the chocolate pie. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn said...

These sorts of posts help me get to know my fellow bloggers better. Thanks for sharing!

yummychunklet said...

How fun is that purple sweet potato pie!

Three-Cookies said...

Really really interesting post, even though not food related. Its nice and interesting to learn more. Showers...the best shower I had was at KL airport. It was made with black stones etc - far more memorable than the best hotels I have stayed in. But this one did not have fancy lights:)

wok with ray said...

With or without the purple pie, fresh pasta or even the tarantula. It's always a pleasure reading your blogs, Maya. Wish you a very nice week.

~ ray ~

Ann said...

Maya - this was a great post! I loved reading what made you happy....

....heading to your "about me" page now!

Thanks for a happy read!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

I read your new About page and I love it! So much to write here...but let's say I love the sweet potato pie (HUGE LOVE) and high ceiling living room (WOW!) and beautiful flower! Well, it's easier to say... I love everything you wrote today! ;-)

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Always love a personal post like this and love to get to know my virtual friends. Yummy chocolate!

Lilly said...

OMG your house is beautiful!!! And I love the pics of you and the kiddies. I can’t believe you made that pie on the fly! Just like that out of the blue with no recipe at all. WOW

Foodiva said...

Thank you to everyone who was interested enough in my bigger life to want to read this post and more importantly, leave your comments. I just didn't want anyone to think that my life revolves around just food, as I have other things that interest and complete me too. As do you, of course. ;-)

Michael Toa said...

I thoroughly enjoy this post. That sweet potato pie looks awesome and pandan-wrapped chicken? sounds utterly delicious. I cannot find pandan leaves here in Sunderland.
I really enjoy the house tour too. Where is this hotel in London? I love a great toilet me. Sounds so weird, but true. The toilet at the Berkeley Hotel is amazing. I am weird.
Dark chocolate is my favourite too.

Foodness Gracious said...

Wow what a house and I can see why you get such good pictures with all of that light shining in.I need to check out that purple pie,It looks outrageous!
Thanks for sharing..

Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

Your new home is absoooolutely stunning and I adore the pic of you and the kiddos. I keep asking myself, "Why did I not book my tix to stop through Brunei"? That will have to be on the agenda for my 2nd SE Asia adventure. XOXO

Foodiva said...

Michael, I can tell you and I are both toilet buffs! We can probably do reviews of hotel toilets together...hey that could be a new blog idea! Haha.. The hotel I mentioned is Sofitel London Heathrow, it's gorgeous, especially for transit passengers like we were that time.

Foodiva said...

Jenny, yes that will DEFINITELY have to be your on your second trip out here! And stay with me, of course, we have lots of space :-).

Gina said...

This is perfect my dear, now I know where I won't be sleeping. With any of those slithering creatures, lol. But rather, I'll take the shoe closet. I'm thinking I need way more shoes now! lol. Don't our little babies grow up way too fast. Tell then when Auntie Gina comes over to stay, she brings cookies.
-Gina-

Priscilla - She's Cookin' said...

Maya, I really enjoyed getting to know you better through this lovely post. I smiled thinking of you standing in the shower to take those photos and the torch ginger made me miss the flowers that I came to love in Hawaii. And Sarah Kay is a force!

Foodiva said...

Auntie Gina, our pets corner IS a big space...but we won't put you in there (if you don't want to) of course! LOL. A girl can never have too many shoes, and I sometimes wish I have more than a pair of pins so these shoes get their fair share of airing. And yes, cookies are forever welcome in our household!

Foodiva said...

Priscilla, you totally aced in your analysis of this post. I felt utterly RIDICULOUS standing in the shower taking those shots while trying to avoid the water spray! I was hoping no one would think further of it but you actually sussed it out...LOL. Love that there's torch ginger in Hawaii, and so glad you enjoyed Sarah Kay's words too!

Spicie Foodie said...

I've been meaning to tell you that I love the quotes you've been posting.
Thanks for the tour of your gorgeous home and family. I want your shower! Sadly I don't share your love for reptiles, eeks they scare me. But the lizard is cute.
I love how the chocolate says it's good for weight control, that's my perfect excuse for gorging on chocolate- to get thin :)
Your children are beautiful! Yesterday I saw some guys with the same traditional dress as your boys, how cool.
Thanks for introducing me to TED, loving it.

Spicie Foodie said...

Me again :) She brought tears to my eyes and gave me goosebumps with her words. What a talented and inspirational girl. Thanks for sharing Maya!

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