My Favourite Asian Recipe Collections From Cookidoo

Last night, OnlyGirl was asking me how long I’ve been using the Thermomix. I replied, “Five.”

Talk about time flying! I first got my TM5 in October 2018 as a customer; I joined as an Advisor soon after; then I got my TM6 about a year later in September 2019.

One of the most frequently asked question of all time that I get from people is: what’s the main difference between TM5 and TM6? To this, I would have a long list but on top of that list would have be the recipes. You see, TM6 can connect to the internet via WiFi, allowing it to sync effortlessly with Cookidoo, Thermomix’s library of guided cooking recipes. The library has been growing at an astounding rate. From an initial 40,000-something during its launch in 2019, as of this writing, there are now 89,238 recipes in multiple languages.

I’ve always felt that having so many recipes at your fingertips completes the entire Thermomix experience. You can search by recipe name or by ingredient name, then narrow down your search further using various filter options (by language, portion size, degree of difficulty, etc).

I find the vast selection of recipes to be both a blessing and a bane…because too many choices can be overwhelming.

Hence, I am sharing this list of my personal favourite Asian collections from Cookidoo, to help you (especially the new users!) navigate your way through Cookidoo:

Asian Sweet Treats with Sugar Stages

Chicken – quick & easy Asian favourites

Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr

Flavours of Japan

High Temp Asian Cooking

Istimewa Hari-Hari (Indonesian)

Japanese Cuisine

Kneading: Asian Recipes

Korean Cuisine

Let’s Celebrate Chinese New Year

Let’s Go Mamak

One-Pot Rice Meals

Peranakan Snack Delight

Spicy Asian

Taste of East Asia

Taste of Malaysia

As the Malays say, semoga bermanfaat (may this be of some benefit)!

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Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Ask About Ramadhan (But Did Not Know How To Ask)

Ramadhan Kareem!

Most of the Muslim world starts fasting tomorrow (it varies due to moon sightings done in each country). Having been raised a Catholic, I can understand how non-Muslims are unsure how to interact with Muslim friends and colleagues for this entire month. So here are a few pointers:

1. Ramadhan (or Ramadan) is actually the name of a month. The Muslim calendar, which is lunar-based, has Arabic names for the months and fasting falls on this particular month.

2. Two simple ways of greeting Muslims are: ‘Ramadan Mubarak’, which simply means ‘Blessed Ramadan’ or ‘Ramadan Kareem’, which translates to ‘Generous Ramadan’. (‘Happy Ramadan’ sounds reaaally awkward; it’s like greeting a Christian ‘Happy Good Friday’)

3. In this entire month, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Smoking is also forbidden, as well as sexual activity between spouses. (NB: Sex outside of marriage is completely forbidden.)

4. Throughout this month, there are special prayers at night called ‘taraweeh’. Taraweeh prayers are quite rigorous, as they involve reading long portions of the Qur’an (i.e. standing for long periods of time) and a lot of physical movement, as well (bowing, prostrating, etc). These prayers are not obligatory but many Muslims try to do it because (i) they can only be done in the month of Ramadhan and (ii) it is said that “Whosoever stands in the nights of Ramadan, with faith and in hope of receiving Allah’s reward, his past sins will be forgiven”.

5. Fasting, combined with taraweeh, can take a physical toll on the fasting Muslim. If you think hunger and thirst are the hardest part of fasting, you’re wrong. It’s actually the fatigue and sleepiness that pose the greatest challenge throughout the day, especially from noon onwards.

6. Ramadhan is a good time for families to eat together twice a day — once in the morning for the suhoor and once in the evening for iftar. When people go out for iftar (or buka puasa, as it is called in the Malay-speaking world), it is often as a family. Personally, I prefer to break fast with my family at home, and would usually politely decline invitations from business associates to have iftar at a hotel or restaurant.

7. Children are not required to fast but are encouraged to practice waking up for the pre-dawn meal and to try to fast for as long as they can during the day. It helps them get used to the process so that by the time they hit puberty (and fasting becomes obligatory upon them), it would not come as a shock.

8. Ramadhan would always be either 29 or 30 days only. The end of fasting depends on the sighting of the new moon.

9. During the month of Ramadhan, good deeds are said to be given “manifold reward”, with each good deed receiving ten times or up to seven hundred times the usual reward. So during this month, Muslims give a lot to charity, especially towards the last 10 days of Ramadhan.

10. In Malaysia, it is quite common to see a good number of Muslims spend the last 10 days (and nights) of Ramadhan in mosques to immerse themselves completely in the recitation of the Quran and in prayers. This is not obligatory either.

11. Dates are abundant at this time of the year because they provide energy and fibre. They are often served as the first item for Muslims to break their fast with, together with a glass of water. They’re not an obligatory form of food either.

12. Some people are exempted from fasting, such as people who have illnesses, pregnant women, lactating mothers, as well as women who are having their menses.

13. When Ramadhan ends, the month of Syawal (or Shawwal) begins. The celebration of the end of Ramadhan is called Eid ul Fitr (or Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Malaysia, often shortened to Raya) and is, technically, only for a day, even if it is celebrated for an entire month in Malaysia.

14. On Eid ul Fitr, people take a bath, wear their best clothes (new clothes, if they can afford it), and go to the mosque to listen to a special sermon and to pray. Then they go home and share a meal with the family…and go out and visit family and friends and have even more food!

15. After Eid ul Fitr, it is recommended to fast another 6 days through out the month of Syawal as it is said that, by fasting in Ramadhan and adding 6 days in Syawal, it will be as though one has fasted for an entire year.

16. Throughout the year, Muslims can also fast as an ‘extra’ form of worship or to replace the days when they have not been able to fast.

17. It is perfectly all right if you forget that we are fasting and you eat or drink in front of us but it can be quite challenging, especially when your food or drink has a strong aroma like coffee or chocolate, which can trigger hunger pangs, so yes, it would be good to avoid having those things in the office! Unless you pack some for us to eat later 😁

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments for anything that you’ve always wanted to ask Ramadhan but did not know who to ask!

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Snake Plants Are Dangerous For Cats!

Snake plant

You see this plant almost everywhere these days. It’s called the Snake Plant, also known as Sansevieria or, in Malaysia, Mother-in-law’s tongue (pokok lidah mentua – I know, it’s sad, right?).

This plant has been hailed as an easy way to purify the air, hence the increase in demand to have these as indoor house plants. It also helps that these plants are quite affordable and very easy to maintain (read: won’t die so easily on non-green thumbs like me!).

Many sites claim they are pet-friendly so I gave it no thought whatsoever when our pet cat, Thomas, would gnaw on a leaf or two once in a while. I’ve always thought cats would know instinctively what’s good for them or stay away from what’s toxic for them. Hah! Or so I thought.

Now you must understand that Thomas is part-British Longhair. Because of his long fur, we’ve always thought that it’s quite normal for him to spit out hairballs once in a while together with a bit of mucous. The incidents recurred a couple of times but we did not give it much thought.

Meanwhile, at some point, Thomas chewed down practically all the leaves of our Snake Plant that my mom decided to send the plant outdoors to allow it to recuperate.

Soon after, Thomas got really, really sick. He had diarrhea, randomly vomited all over the house, pooped on my comforter (!), refused to groom himself, and hid under the stairs. The fact that he stopped grooming himself was really alarming because it’s a sure-fire sign that a cat is unwell, made worse by the knowledge that when cats hide themselves, it’s when they’re really ill and/or about to die (a lifetime of caring for cats taught me that).

It was late evening and our vet’s clinic was closed so we decided to clean him up manually, stopped all dry food, and just left fresh water everywhere. I started searching online for possible causes of cat vomiting and diarrhea. After reading several articles, my heart jumped when I came across an article that mentioned that snake plants actually contain a certain toxin and should be kept away from pets.

Thankfully, Thomas somehow recovered the morning after. He came out of hiding, groomed himself, and returned to his usual active, noisy self.

Suffice to say that the snake plant is now permanently kept outdoors now!

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Mama, My Hero

My mother started teaching when she was barely 21 years old. When she discovered FaceBook, she managed to reconnect with many of her former students and many of them do not simply call her “Miss” or “Madam” but “Mama”. Yes, she has also become their second mother and I am proud they think of her that way.

Always beautiful in my eyes

I’ve always loved my mother and had a special bond with her. When I was a teenager, instead of the usual teenage angst that normally drives children away from parents, I found a confidante and best friend in her.

I appreciated her all the more when I started having children of my own. I look at her wrinkled hands now and I get teary eyed thinking of how those hands, over the years, soothed my pain and worry, bathed me, clothed me, fed me, held me…and now those very same hands are doing the exact same things to MY children.

We were tested when she was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 2a in 2007. But the fighter that she was decided to immediately go for mastectomy. She also went through 6 cycles of chemotherapy, leaving her with the classic symptoms of blackened nails, metallic taste in the mouth, and hair loss. She took her hair loss in stride, having fun doing virtual hair and makeup makeovers on her phone. She drove herself to her radiotherapy sessions.

When I see my mother, I see the strongest person I know. I see a hero. I see everything I wish to be.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. Words will never be enough to express my love for you.

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Interview with David Castro (Encore)

David Castro, Madrid-based singer & composer

I recently caught up once again with Spanish musician-composer David Castro, who just released two new videos. The first video is an updated version of his now-viral Thermomix chime video, featuring Thermomix users from all over the world. The second video is a slick David Bowie “Space Oddity” tribute that he created with a bunch of uber-talented friends, quite a feat considering that they were all in separate locations while working on the project due to the ongoing COVID-19 quarantine.

1. Congratulations on the new Thermomix chime video that features videos of people from all over the world connected through your music! The response from Australia to Portugal to the United States has been so amazing. How are you feeling right now?

I felt useful in the way an artist who is stuck at home can be. Art is a way to connect people. And this is what happened through my song. Thousands and thousands of people from many countries got inspired by the positive energy there is in it.

We realize these days how much we need art in our lives. It brings us joy and light. I understand art as trying to make this world more beautiful.

From here I want to thank all the artists who in an incredibly generous way are sharing their talent with all of us to make these days more bearable.

2. We’ve also seen your latest video paying tribute to David Bowie. Can you tell us more about it? How you came up with the idea, who the other people behind it are, how all of you managed to work on such a project, given all the quarantine constraints?

One of these days I was looking from my window and thinking of the distance that separates us from everyone else. Although that distance can be measured in meters, I have the feeling that each of us inhabits different planets at this time. An unreachable distance for our hands and our bodies, but not for songs, which are space, timeless and indefatigable travelers. 

For this reason I started listening to this song in loop. I had a feeling and contacted some great friends and musicians. They did not hesitate a second to get on my ship. Some days after this video is traveling from ear to ear hugging the ones I can’t touch. 

Let me now introduce all the people who took part in this:
Santi Fernández – Drums & Mixing
Yago Fernández – Piano
David García – Synthesizers
Ricardo Tirado – Bass Guitar
Edit by Luis García
Draws by Alba Marín
Mastered by Denis Blackham

You are nobody without a great team behind.

3. Can you share with us some of the projects that you are working on now or plan to do very soon? We’re excited to see what you’ll come up with next!

Every morning I wake up and come up with different new ideas and projects. I like the way creativity is awakening these days, not only in me, but in my fellow artists.

There will be more videos, collaborations and songs. I prefer not saying much in advance so I keep the surprise factor. Stay tuned!

4. Can we backtrack a bit? Please tell us about your first album ‘El Idioma de Los Relojes’.

These days I am getting to understand something about my own album. A work is timeless. Although it is created at a specific moment in your life, the path that the songs later have is linked to time.

In the last few days this songs that were recorded a year ago are reaching more people over the world than in a whole year. It is as if the album itself knows what time it has to reach each person.

I put my best on the record. My essence is present in it. Each song is a part of that puzzle called David Castro which is still far from being finished.

5. Who would you say are your main influences in your music? And, given a chance, who would you like to work with or collaborate with?

My biggest influences are usually the good songs ahead of the artists. I am more interested in the piece of art that represents a specific song. But if I had the opportunity I would completely love to collaborate with Marcus Mumford. There is something too special in his voice and music. He has the gift of making everything he does seem easy.

6. Is there any message you’d like to pass on to everyone out there during these trying times?

We have art and we have each other. Remember that separated we remain together.

Click here to read the first interview I did with this singer-composer whose song Tarde Para Olvidar was featured in Pequeñas Coincidencias series in Amazon Prime.

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