Barley

Barley is a grain that is enjoyed by the young and old(er) in the family. I would usually boil barley drink for the family, especially on very warm days, to ‘cool’ it off. I always prepare the drink using the slow cooker. Just throw everything in the morning and voila, it will be done by tea time.

barley
Ingredients:
1 cup barley
2 litres water
10 candied winter melon strips
Pandan leaves

Directions:
1. Rinse the barley and pandan leaves.
2. Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker, cook at high for 3hrs, or low for 6hrs. The longer you cook, the softer the grains and thicker the drink.
3. If you are using the grains for your baby’s food, you might like to sweeten the drink later.

There are times I would add a snow pear, or rose buds and cook together for some variations (the rose barley drink is one of my favourites!), or some lemon for a refreshing cup of lemon barley.

So there was once, I used too much barley grains that I decided to blend some for my nephew and add the rest of the blended grains to the drink to thicken it. My nephew loved the barley-pear puree and I thought of making the same for our little friend when she is old enough (I was still pregnant then.) Since then, I have been blending my barley grains so that nothing goes to waste. Now that babystingrui is taking solids, I have given her barley a few times, sometimes as a base on its own or mixed with other ingredients such as sweet potato.

Barley is a nutritious grain. It is high in fibre, contains several vitamins and minerals (B3, B1, iron magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, and etc) and is a wonderful source of antioxidants. However barley contains traces of gluten. For babies with family history of Celiac Disease, please check with your pd before introducing barley.

For a sweet meal, usually breakfast, I blend/mix fruits (purée) with cooked barley. IMPORTANT: YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BLEND THE BARLEY BEFORE SWEETENING THE BARLEY DRINK. Or cut down on the sweeter fruits to accompany the barley. One of babystingrui’s favourite is the pear rose cranberry barley, flavours inspired by the cranberry rose scones from starbucks which she loves too.

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked barley (I used the ones that I cooked with rose buds for the drink)
1 snow pear (I used the ones that I cooked with the barley)
About 10 pieces of organic cranberries, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend. For babies who enjoys texture, you can blend it roughly. Or blend half of the barley and mix the other half to the pureé.

For a savoury meal, you can prepare a barley risotto (for older babies, 8months and up). You can also use rice, pasta, kway tiao or other carbs.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Ingredients: for about 500ml
1 cup cooked barley (I use the ones that I cook for the drink)
1 strip (about 60g) chicken breast
2 mushrooms (I use 1 white, and 1 brown)
5-10 dried scallops
A handful of greens (I use kailan)

Directions
1. Chop the ingredients into smaller size and steam them. I steam all of them in Beaba.

2. Blend the ingredients when cooked.

3. Mix the pureé together with the barley. You have to ensure that barley very soft. If not you can blend it roughly to make it easier for your baby to digest.

Besides puree and risotto, you can also add barley to your stew or soups, both as a thickener and to increase the nutritional values. You might like to check out other dishes that use barley to introduce to your own dinner menu and your baby’s. Have fun!

Me Made May 15: Week 2

Here’s a summary of what I wore for MMM in Week 2: unplanned florals and a new blush blouse.

Day 6: Sample deux for my wedding dress

 

Day 7: Aprils in Paris skirt with stripes. This is my most well received skirt (other than the wedding skirt) till date.
IMG_7538

 

Day 8: A new blouse in blush with a lace panel

 

Day 9: Wicked skirt in a watercolour print
IMG_7613

 

Day 10: Batik print pencil skirt. Yup reused the same photo because I was running late for work.
IMG_7328

My takeaways from Week 2 of MMM? We are half way there!!! The outfits that I wore for Week 2 are more representative of my style, which I really want to fill my entire wardrobe with. I also feel more comfortable in the selections of the me made outfits for this week. Maybe because I was making a conscientious effort to select a me-made item last week which was a little stressful; it just came so naturally for Week 2. It was also very inspiring to see what others from around the world are making and wearing for MMM, which makes me want to have me made wardrobe for everyday! I haven’t plan any outfits for Week 3. I’ll most likely be rewearing some items from the past 2 weeks and a couple more fresh new ones. Can’t wait to see what the last 2 weeks bring!

Porridge;

After about 2 weeks of her first purée, I made carrot daikon porridge purée for her. It happened that it was a new cycle of new food for her and I was cooking carrot and daikon soup that night. So I took some rice, carrot, daikon and the soup, and blend them together. Subsequently, I have been preparing soup porridge for her since.

One of babystingrui’s favourite is the salmon belly soup porridge.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
This is what the adults eat.

Processed with Moldiv

This is what my baby eats, which includes everything else that we eat: salmon, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushroom, cabbage, wakame, and tofu. I portioned out an unseasoned portion for her. Add it to rice, and blend away! I used Japanese rice here because we cooked Japanese rice for dinner. Other times, I would use mixed white and brown rice, depending on what we cook for the adults.

The ingredients for salmon belly soup is rather soft and easy to blend. I have made for her black bean soup porridge, lotus roots soup porridge, carrot and daikon soup porridge etc. For these soup, make sure that the ingredients such as beans, lotus root, carrot and daikon are cooked till soft. If not, you will have a grainy porridge when you blend it. We also started babystingrui off with meatless soup porridge. Fish was introduced to her at months ( months adjusted). All of the soups are cooked in the slow cooker: I just throw in all the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and we’ll have a hearty bowl of soup for dinner after work!

Depending on the age and preference of your baby, you might like to adjust the consistency of the porridge. I started babystingrui off with a porridge purée. The porridge here is slightly more textured, for her at 9 months (7 months adjusted), which I find is easier to feed.

Me Made May 15: Week 1

My day 1 for MeMadeMay started on the 4th of May as I pledged for Me Made May for my work outfits. Here’s a summary of what I wore in Week 1.

Day 1: Navy pencil skirt

Day 2: Happy Birthday dress

Day 3: Frilly sorbetto

Day 4: Black flare skirt

Day 5: Fury Baroque-esque Blouse

I haven’t blogged about the last 3 items which I wore this week. Let me get a few more photos taken and I’ll share a little more about them!

Now about Week 1 of MMM’15. I was actually pretty nervous about it. I thought my outfits would be boring due to the limited pieces I have. Prior to May, I did a stock count of what I made in my wardrobe. I have about 14 pieces and definitely can’t last the entire month of memade outfits. So I decided to give myself break during the weekends and focus on the weekday work outfits instead. 14 should be manageable, with a couple of repeats. I think week 1 has been okay and I am excited to see what I will wear for the rest of May!

Storing Baby Food;

Because your baby eats very little each time (when compared to adults), it is quite a hassle to prepare the food meal by meal. I sure can’t see myself preparing 60ml of food for each meal. Since I feed babystingrui the same food for at least 4 days, I prepare the food and freeze them in batches, enough to last 4-7 days.

There are many freezer trays available in the market. I am not doing a comparison or promoting any particular brand so I am going to share with you what I do.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We were gifted quite an amount of shopping vouchers so we decided to buy Beaba freezer tray to complete the collection. You will be able to store 7 portions of 60ml in each tray. What I really like about this particular tray is that there are 7 portions in each tray – 1 for each day of the week. Each portion can also be popped out easily to be defrosted. When babystingrui was on 1 solids per day, 1 tray was enough for each week. Now that she is taking 2 solid meals each day, I would usually prepare 1 tray of sweet and 1 tray of savory/soup porridge. This way, our little friend can enjoy homemade food everyday without me having to cook everyday. It also makes food preparation and storage a lot more easier. When the time comes when babystingrui is eating a lot more, such freezer trays might not be the best option anymore. We’ll see how things go then, but for now, cooking in batches and freezing them works best for us right now!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Oats to Joy!

I never like oats, until after I had babystingrui. To cut the long story short, I decided to try having overnight oats as part of my project eat clean somewhere during my maternity leave. It is also an excellent milk booster. I started with the basic proportion of 1 cup oats to 1 cup milk (liquid) and 1/2 cup (plain) youghurt, experimented with flavours and today I based the proportion by estimation. Though there are some recipes that says you can use liquid of any kind (milk, juice, coffee, tea), I find that milk works best in terms of flavour. Trust me I’ve tried the rest and they just tastes horrible (with the exception of adding coffee to the milk).

There are endless combination to overnight oats and it’s extremely easy to prepare.

Processed with Moldiv

The basic ingredients include:
1 cup oats
1 cup milk
1 table spoon chia seeds
1 banana to sweeten,
and fruits for flavour.

Directions
1. Prepare the fruits accordingly.
2. Combine all ingredients in a container.
3. Place the mixture in the fridge overnight and it will be ready by the next morning.

On days I need that extra kick of caffeine to power me through the day, I would add a shot of espresso, and some chocolate chips, to make it the java chip starbucks copycat.

After having overnight oats for a regular basis, I progressed to adding oats in my smoothies, calling them breakfast smoothies. These breakfast smoothies are perfect morning fuel for busy mornings. It keeps me fuller and reduce craving.

So the time comes when babystingrui started on her solids. I didn’t intend to start her with oats initially. One day I was preparing peach purée for her but the peaches were so sweet! I wanted to find something to reduce the sweetness without diluting the texture so I added oats to the purée. It turns out that babystingrui loves it! Since then we’ve tried oats with a variety of fruits: peaches, raisins, apricots, apples, banana, blueberry, melon and so on.

How do I prepare oatmeal?
Some recipes suggests blending the oats to powder and then add water/milk/juice. I did just the opposite because I find blending oats to powder very messy. I cooked the oats (I use rolled oats) with water to soften, and blend it together with fruits in Beaba.

Processed with Moldiv
Ingredients
1/4 cup oats
1 cup water
1 peach
1 pear
A dash of lavender (for older babies, 8 months on)

Directions
1. Combine oats and water in a pot and cook over the stove until thickened and soft.
2. Peel, core, cut the fruits into chunks. If the pear/peaches aren’t soft enough, you can steam them so that they will be easier to blend.
3. Combine cooked oats, fruits and lavender into baby food processor and blend.

I have written before that I prefer oats over rice cereal. Oats are higher in nutrition than rice cereals and it doesn’t cause constipation. I have not given babystingrui rice cereal – she has her rice in the form of porridge – and is taking to oats very well. If your family had history of Celiac Disease, you might like to take note that oats contain some traces of gluten and might not be suitable.

Fabric Shopping in Singapore: Arab Street

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It is a love-hate relationship with fabric shopping at Arab Street. Love because I particularly enjoy the vibe here and drooling over all the beautiful laces. Hate because the prices here are a little higher and the selection changes all the time so you really wouldn’t know what to expect for each visit. Nonetheless it is still a lovely place to visit. Some of my favourite hidden finds, places to eat and shopping are located here. Arab Street is located within Kampong Glam. It is an area of rich history and culture, which can be traced back to pre-colonialisation times in Singapore. If you are visiting from other countries and planning to immerse in some Malay-Middle Eastern culture, Kampong Glam is the perfect place to go!

I don’t usually buy fabrics from Arab Street unless I am looking for something specific that Arab Street has. I come here for French Dior/german sidoll, batik, ribbon supplies, or just to try my luck because I can’t find what I want every where else.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.25.04 pm
How to get there
The nearest MRT stations are Bugis on the East-West Line/Downtown Line and Nicoll Highway on the Circle Line. You will need to walk for about 5minutes to get to Kampong Glam which is where Arab Steeet is.  I usually get to Arab St via the Bugis side. If you do, when you see the Sultan Mosque, you know you are at the right place.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Sultan Mosque

If you are looking for lace for evening or bridal gown, you can try Arab Street, which is a street of fabric shops. I did for mine but found nothing: either too expensive or not what I want. I find the laces, especially the nice ones, particularly expensive. Most of the time you also need to purchase the entire roll of lace (about 5-6 yards). There are some selections which you can purchase by the yard/meter too. I don’t have any recommendation because different shops carry different laces at different prices. There are also so many different designs for lace. What my friend and I did when we were shopping for her bridal gown, was to comb almost every single shop and see what they have to offer, shortlist a couple that we fancy before returning to finally purchase the lace that she likes and fit her budget. These shops carry different laces all the time as most of their customers buy in high yardages. If you fancy something that fits your budget, it is best that you get it immediately.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset How a typical fabric shop in Arab Street would look like: mannequin, and fabrics

One of the main reason I make a trip down to Arab Street is for the French Dior/German Sidoll. It is a fabric that feels very much satin (silky soft) without the shine (looks like duchess), and much lighter than duchess. It falls and drapes very well. It can be used as lining or the main fabric. It doesn’t leave behind water marks like satin does: bonus point!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset #1 Molkan
72 Arab Street

I used to purchase my French Dior from Molkan because I know one of their sales lady very well. She gives me good discount, is spot on with colours and provides very good recommendations. However she has left to further her studies and the shopping experience is not the same any more. Nonetheless, they have a wider range of colours compared to other shops.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset #2 Princess
96 Arab Street

Then I found out that some of the other shops also sell the same fabric but is known as German Sidoll. One of it the shops is called ‘Princess’, which is under the same boss as ‘Warma, ‘Aladdin’s, and ‘Angel, all located along Arab Street. They are well stocked with laces, satins, some printed cotton, mostly catering to the Malay community.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset #3 Gim Joo Textile
90 Arab Street

There is this other shop, own and run by a Chinese. It has a little bit of everything: cotton, faux leather, lace, chiffon, satin etc. I usually purchase cotton lining or chiffon from them because they are well stocked with a wide variety of colours.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

<caption width="450" id="attachment_2905" align="aligncenter"]Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Chiffon and cotton lining in any colour that you ask for

#4 Bian Swee Hin and Co
107 Arab Street

If you are looking for Batik, this is where you should go. The batik ranges from $50-hundreds, depending whether the prints are machine printed, hand stamped or hand printed. The more intricate the workmanship the more expensive each piece is. They also sell the embroidered fabric for the kebaya blouse. The shop is a little dark and small, but take your time to look around. You might find something you like.

#5 Kin Soon – House of Ribbons (Minton Ribbons)
36 Arab Street

Further down Arab Street, nearer the end towards Nicoll Highway, there is a shop selling tons of ribbons of various colours, designs and sizes. I purchased ribbons for my wedding here. They also sell some laces and materials for hair accessories and such for bridal use. You will definitely find something you want here.

Opening hours of the shops vary, but they generally opens around late morning/noon and closes at around 6pm-7pm. A point to note, you are highly encouraged to visit the washroom at the MRT stations or the mall before making your way to Arab Street and Kampong Glam area because washroom is really scarce.

The Pencil Skirt

First project of the year is a simple pencil skirt. It’s a basic skirt that works for me, which I discovered very recently. I have no idea what took me so long to sew a pencil skirt for myself! I used to shun away from it because I thought it’s only for people with smaller and skinner frames. Oh I am so wrong! I love it how it brings out the curves and smoothens the thighs. It can be worn on a casual day out and as a formal work wear, depending on the material and the entire ensemble. It’s so versatile!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
I sew my first pencil skirt last year, for a wedding, as part of a two-piece ensemble which didn’t turn out as pleasantly as expected (So no photos for that!). However the individual pieces are lovely as they are. I love the pencil skirt especially. It is made from duchess satin. It was the first time I worked with duchess, man, it was such a beautiful experience! Unlike silk satin, duchess satin doesn’t slip as easily. It is also very luxe, and not as shiny. Though it may fray rather easily, this can be solved by overlocking the pieces with a serger.  For this particular skirt, I took in quite a few inches at the hem. It was comfortable to wear, no problems when walking but there was some restrictions when getting up and down the stairs. I decided to reduce the amount to take it for my second pencil skirt.

IMG_7328
For the second skirt, I selected a printed cotton, which I bought from Kluang a couple of years ago. It’s in a vibrant red batik print, just what I need for my dull wardrobe and as I reminisce the time spent in Bali. Disclaimer: My skirt has been ironed! I just seem to smoothen it out for a creaseless photo.

Now that I have a staple solid and printed skirt that works for me, I will definitely need more additions to my wardrobe, such as a basic black one like what Amanda Seyfried wore in her role in Letters to Julia. I will also be sewing more skirts, bringing back Project MNS!

She Eats What We Eat;

IMG_5713
Babystingrui doesn’t really have an entirely different menu from us. When we introduced pear to her, we had pear as after dinner dessert. When she had pumpkin, we prepared pumpkin soup for us. When we introduced sweet potato, we baked other roots and tubers as a side dish to go with baked wings. So there is no need to do special marketing for her meals. We simply buy more or make use of the quantity in the adults’ menu.

Whenever I cook barley drink, red bean soup, yam paste and such, I would separate out a portion for her before I season or sweeten it. For barley and red bean paste, I cook the drink/soup as usual and blend the cooked grains with some fruits for her. The adults don’t really eat the grains so nothing goes to waste now!

So what combinations of food can I offer?
At Stage 1, you may like to offer single food purée from a selection of fruits, vegetables and grains, such as apples, avocados, bananas, barley, carrots, oatmeal, peaches/nectarines, papaya, pears, plums and prunes, potato, pumpkins, sweet potato. From these selection of first foods, you can get a pretty decent combination as you progress onto double or more combination purée and Stage 2 of weaning.

Once you have introduced a variety of single foods (say 5 different types), you may like to start combining food to create different layers of taste in a meal. There is no hard and fast rule but I have some guidelines to help me decide what to prepare for babystingrui.

#1 Select a base: oats, potato, rice (for porridge, at Stage 2), sweet potato, yam
If you are concerned about not being able to use up the ingredients, potato and sweet potato are excellent choice. I used about 1 large potato or 2 sweet potatoes (depending on size) each time. For rice, I just cooked extra rice for our meals. Oats have a longer shelf life. I usually buy a large pack for myself and babystingrui. Yam is a little tricky because it is so huge. I only prepare yam for her when I make yam paste or yam abacus for the family.

#2 Include food of at least 2 different colour groups and 1 veggie.
I read about the different benefits and “functions” of different coloured foods when I was reading up on purple sweet potatoes during the time I was planning to introduce it to babystingrui. Rather than guided by which foods have more of this vitamins and minerals, I find it easier to provide a better balanced diet through colour codes. It is also a good opportunity to introduce colours to your baby! This website provides a comprehensive guide to “eating rainbow” You might like to introduce some fish, such as salmon and white fish, or chicken breast to provide the protein that your baby needs.

How much do I feed?
For a start, you can begin with 2-3 tablespoons. I started with 60ml because I want to see how much babystingrui wants to eat. She finished all the pear purée the first time, so I stuck with 60ml till she turns 9 months (7 months adjusted). I also decided on 60ml because the storage container from Beaba comes in 60ml. I also follow the rule of thirds: 1/3 base and 2/3 of everything else.

How do I prepare the food?
I rely a lot on my Beaba, which I used for steaming, blending and sometimes defrosting. Let me share with you a simple sweet potato recipe. This recipe uses sweet potatoes as the base and other foods for flavouring. If you are just starting to introduce solids to your baby, start with the sweet potato first.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Ingredients for the base
2 sweet potatoes, I used Japanese sweet potatoes this time.

Ingredients for flavour
1 fuji apple
Rasins
Cinnamon powder (for older babies, 8 months onwards)

Processed with Moldiv
Directions
1. Peel off the skin of the skin of the sweet potatoes and apple, and cut it into chunks.
2. Steam the sweet potatoes, apples and raisins in baby food processor. Make sure the sweet potatoes are soft enough.
3. Add a dash of cinnamon.
4. Blend away!

This recipe yields about 420ml of food. Apples are steamed together with the sweet potatoes to help your baby digest it better. However you don’t really need to steam it. If you choose not to, you may like to process the apples after the sweet potatoes are cooked to prevent oxidation.

You may use this recipe as a guide and play around with the combination of base and flavours. I will be sharing with you other starter recipes with you, such as oats, porridge in the subsequent posts so stay tuned!

Pasta;

At 9months (7 months adjusted) we introduced pasta to babystingrui. I lost track of her frozen food stash and didn’t realise that we have none left. So while preparing our own lunch, we took a look at the ingredients for what we plan for the adults and decided to cook pasta for her.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis is what we cooked for ourselves: pre packed tomato soup, tomato garlic ebi pasta and tangy lavender oven baked salmon.

I used about 16? strands of vermicelli and cooked per directions on the packet. While the pasta is being cooked, I prepared a small slice of salmon, some tomatoes and 2 thin slices of garlic. These goes into the beaba to be steamed. Once the vermicelli is done (I cooked it a little softer instead of al dante), it goes into the beaba,

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

and I blend everything.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

This is one way how she eats what we eat. It may be more applicable for older babies, as they would have been introduced to more variety of foods. I will be writing more on starting solids and making use of fresh ingredients on the adults’ menu.