Journal of a 40-something year old wife, mother and chicpreneur.

A couple of years ago, I discovered the magic of pressure cooking. I had heard about the concept before but never really considered its cooking method for my kitchen. I was at that point in time more of a Crock-Pot slow cooker fan.

My first electric pressure cooker was really an impulse purchase. I was at the electronics store, the sales assistant was doing a demo on how to use the electric pressure cooker, I was impressed, the price promotion was good and the rest as we say it was history!

Anyway, the pressure cooker I purchased stayed in its box for a good three to four months before I actually opened it up and tried to cook in it. My first recipe turned out disastrous because I didn’t understand enough about how pressure cookers work.

To be honest, my pressure cooking experience as a newbie was pretty scary. I had all these random thoughts in my mind like; “Will the pressure cooker blow up while cooking? What if I don’t release the pressure right and it blows up in my face? OMG the sound of the pressure releasing from the cooker is so scary?”… Yadda, yadda, yadda…

I realized then that I didn’t know much about pressure cooking. Millions of people around the world have been using pressure cookers safely without any drama and created delicious recipes in the process, so why can’t I? The experience led me to do some research on pressure cooking and also compiling 1001 recipes to try on Pinterest (which honestly I haven’t had the chance to really experiment with yet).

Anyway, the point of this post is to share with you what I’ve learned through my research on pressure cooking so far. I hope the information in the post while brief will give some explanation about pressure cooking methods to a newbie or anyone considering to buy a pressure cooker.

So let’s start.

How does a pressure cooker work exactly?

To simplify, pressure cooking is a method of cooking food really fast in a sealed pot using steamed pressure to cook the food. The steam in the pressure cooker builds up high pressure in the pot which helps to cook food faster. The best and simplest explanation that I’ve found so far on how pressure cookers work is from Modernist Cuisine’s website which you can read in detail here.

Traditional vs Modern Pressure Cookers

The concept of pressure cooking is not new. I remember growing up that my mother had a stove top pressure cooker she kept in the kitchen but I don’t remember her ever using it though. Anyway, pressure cooking methods have gone through many advancements leading to the creation of the modern electric pressure cooker that is used by so many today.

I don’t doubt that there may still be some brave soul out there who are still pressure cooking via the traditional method of using a stovetop pressure cooker. If you’re one of them, I salute you for your bravery!

Stovetop pressure cookers require manual handling, something which I think I may not have the patience for. Stovetop pressure cookers also require you to monitor and release the pressure within the pot manually… err… thanks but no thanks. One great thing about the stovetop pressure cooker is that the pot can be used as a stockpot or a saucepan as well.

To be honest, I’ve never owned a stove top pressure cooker, have never tried pressure cooking over the stovetop nor do I want to. I currently own a very modern electric pressure cooker by Philips. Actually, I own all three Philips electric pressure cooker models…

An electric pressure cooker is very, very different from a stove top pressure cooker. One, its definitely bulkier and requires a lot of space for storage, especially if you have three different models like me.

The best feature of an electric pressure cooker is that it has a pre-set digital timer that allows you to set the cooking time suitable for the dish being prepared. Unlike cooking the traditional method over the stove top, the electric pressure cooker requires very minimal monitoring as everything is pre-set. It’s also much safer to use than a traditional pressure cooker because electric pressure cookers have many built-in safeguards like temperature-sensitive thermostats to control the pressure within the machine.

An electric pressure cooker is really safe to use. The only time it may sound scary is if you use the quick release function and hear the loud hissing sound it makes while releasing pressure. This used to scare me BIG TIME but I’ve since learned to let the pressure release naturally and you don’t hear the scary hissing sound when you use this function. But if you need to use the quick release function, the loud hissing sound is totally normal so don’t freak out.

Quick Tips for Pressure Cooker Newbies

Read the instructions
If there is one thing I hate, its reading boring instruction leaflets. This tip may be super obvious but I know a lot of people myself included, who don’t really read instructions thoroughly. My first cooking experience with my pressure cooker turned out disastrous because I didn’t take the time to understand how the machine works. So, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.

Join a pressure cooking FB group or follow a pressure cooking blog
There are really so many types of pressure cookers in the market; I.e. Instantpot, Culinart, Noxxa … just go onto Amazon or Lazada and you can see so many brands in the market. While the pressure cooking basics are the same, different brands have different steps to creating a meal. Joining a group or following/reading a blog written specifically to the brand that you use can help you gain a bit more understanding on how to best use your pressure cooker, get pressure cooking hack tips and also ideas to creating simple but delicious meals.

As you know, I use a Philips electric pressure cooker. When I first started, I got my recipes from Philips pressure cooker ambassador, Chef Marina Mustafa’s blog. I also joined a Philips pressure cooker Facebook group administered by Sidney Kan a food enthusiast. He has created two groups; one called Cooking with Philips Pressure Cooker for the older models under the Philips brand and the second group was created specifically for the Philips Pressure Cooker All-in-One model which you can join here.

The people in these group love sharing their tips and simple hacks to prepping meals and they are super helpful when you ask a question. I have really learned so much from other pressure cooking enthusiast in these groups.

Have fun
The thing about trying out a new method of cooking is that you get to try new ways of prepping meals and new recipes. I can tell you I’ve had my fair share of disastrous meals and still do but don’t let the experience turn you off to the magic of pressure cooking. There’s always McDonald’s for days like this.

The point is to have fun. Once you get the hang of your pressure cooker, you won’t want to switch on your stove top ever. Trust me on this!

I hope this post has been helpful.

Title:             Carrie
Author:        Stephen King
Format:       Audiobook
Duration:    7 hours and 24 minutes

If you were born in the 70’s, then you would have seen this movie growing up. It was a pretty big movie during my growing up years. I know I saw the movie first. I’m pretty sure I read the book sometime in my early teens. I’m not completely sure to be honest. We didn’t have Goodreads when I was growing up so I could have totally imagined reading it.

I recently decided to read ALL of Stephen King’s work… in sequence. It might take me forever but I’ll get through the list eventually. First up on his list of works is of course Carrie.

Carrie (the movie) is easily one of my personal favourites. I can watch the movie ten thousand times and will probably never get bored of it. This movie introduced me to Sissy Spacek as well. I don’t think I truly appreciated the movie growing up as much as I do now especially after re-reading Carrie; her performance was brilliant. She really brought Carrie White’s character to life.

I purchased an audiobook version of Carrie narrated by none other than Ms Sissy Spacek herself. Let me just repeat this, if I did read the book when I was younger I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate the book as much then as I do now.

First there is a prologue read by Stephen King himself giving us a little bit of background on what inspired him to write Carrie. I thought that part was interesting though I’ll be honest I skipped a part or two cause it did get a bit slow.

Two, listening to Sissy Spacek narrate Carrie is an incredible experience. Seriously, you must listen to her bring this story alive.

Three, if I thought this book was good in my teens; revisiting the book now has convinced me it is excellent with an engaging storyline despite it being King’s first book ever published.

I’m pretty sure almost everyone is familiar with the story so I won’t go into details. In fact, I believe they even did a remake of the movie just a couple of years ago (I rarely bother watching remakes cause I usually get disappointed).

So in summary, this audiobook got a 5 star from me for great storyline and performance. Read this book. You’ll appreciate the build-up; the details on the unfortunate events as they unfold, the characters and how they play a part in creating the tragedy that ended with the destruction of a small town and the death of so many.

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version. The listen is worth the experience even if you have read Carrie in the past. Safe to say that Carrie (the audiobook) is now one of my personal favourites.

This is my favorite go-to recipe for really busy or lazy sloth-mode days. It’s a Sunday today and we had a full day out and about with the kids and my mother-in-law. One of the things that we had to do was get my eldest sons school stuff sorted because he has to attend his Year 1 orientation scheduled for this Friday. Sob, he’s growing up so fast… but that’s a story for another blog post…

To be honest, we were planning to cook beef pot pie which was really a last minute dinner request from my husband. He JUST HAD to tell me this really late in the day when I had absolutely no ingredients whatsoever in the pantry to make this one-pot meal. So we dragged the kids and my mother-in-law to the grocery store to get all the stuff needed and believe it or not I had to visit 6 different supermarkets to look for beef broth, SIX. NONE of the supermarkets I went to had beef broth or cubes!!! Anyway, by the time we gave up on hunting which was close to dinner time really, my husband decided he wanted chicken curry instead. Thank almighty! I don’t think I had the energy to step into another supermarket.

This is really the simplest recipe one could try in their pressure cooker. You can eat this with rice or with bread. We opted to eat this with paratha bread tonight.

This is my version of chicken curry in the pressure cooker.

This recipe was prepared using the Philips Electric Pressure Cooker HD2139 model. 

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 chicken
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 packet curry powder, I dilute this with a bit of water
  4. 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  5. 2-3 shallots, sliced thinly
  6. An inch of ginger sliced thinly
  7. 2 potatoes, cubed
  8. Two tablespoon cooking oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 packet coconut milk (optional)
  11. 2-star anise (optional)
  12. 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  13. 2-3 cardamom (optional)
  14. 4-5 curry leaves (optional)
  15. 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional if you like your curry a bit spicy)
  16. Tomatoes and red chilies (optional if you like a bit of color in your curry)

Instructions:

  1. Turn the pressure cooker on, press MENU and select any mode, I used the STEW mode
  2. Saute onions, shallots, ginger, spices and curry leaves until fragrant
  3. Add the curry and chili powder, fry till fragrant
  4. Add chicken first, mix until ingredients are evenly distributed
  5. Add potatoes and add water.
  6. Press OFF, close the pressure cooker lid and direct red knob to SEAL
  7. Press MENU, select STEW and then START
  8. Leave to pressure cook for about 20 minutes until the silver pin drops
  9. Once pin drops, release pressure by moving the red knob to VENT and take lid off
  10. Add coconut milk. If you don’t like your curry watery then you’ll need to press STEW again and let it cook until it dries. You’ll need to stir the dish every now and then to avoid coconut milk from breaking
  11. Add tomatoes and chilies and let cook if you like. I usually add them in for garnish so I don’t leave them in too long
  12. Finally, add salt to taste

Voila. Dinner was served with 10 minutes of prepping and dumping everything in the pot. Sat down and watch Suicide Squad with the hubster while I waited for the meal to cook. My husband doesn’t like thick curries so mine is usually a bit watery. Plus, I’m the only one who eats really spicy food in the house so I usually don’t add the chili powder. BUT, my mums’ kick-ass curry is always prepared with chili powder and it’s always so yummy.

Anyway, here’s a shot of the chicken curry in the pot before I served it to the fambam. I have no talent whatsoever in photography so you’ll have to trust me when I say that this turned out O.K. Lol…

I hope everyone has a great week ahead.

Instagram is dangerous. I’m serious.

Instagram is how I found out about the Kokuyo Jibun Techo. I was just surfing around the usual #planneraddict hashtag, ogling on how others are setting up their planners when I saw a post on the Jibun Techo. I did a quick check on google, fell in love with it and ordered one for myself the next day. I hate you Instagram.

My Jibun Techo arrived on the 26th of January, just one day shy of my 41st birthday. So, I consider it as a birthday present to myself. Purchase justified, hurrah!

About the Jibun Techo

To be honest, there is not much information I could find on the Kokuyo Jibun Techo since the site is in Japanese but through google translate, I tried to understand as much as I can about the planner and how it works. So some of my information may need correction cause you know… it’s google translated.

The full Jibun Techo is a 3 in 1 Life Log Diary that comes in a set of three books; the ‘Diary’ is the yearly planner, the ‘Life’ book to record your personal notes and the ‘Idea’ book which is a grid notebook to jot down ideas or for note-taking. Each booklet has a specific purpose and can be used together or separately depending on the users’ needs.

The usual practice for most planners is that you would need to migrate key information on a yearly basis at the end or start of each year into your new planner. The Jibun Techo’s concept is that you can keep important information in the ‘Life’ booklet forever, so it saves you the trouble of transferring information every year and you only need to change the ‘Diary’ section on a yearly basis.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the Jibun Techo sections:

The Diary section –>

This is where you can plan your life for the year. This booklet has:

  • A four-year calendar
  • Weekly and yearly schedule
  • Age chart
  • My dream 2017
  • Money plan
  • Map of Japan
  • Favorite phrases
  • Book and movie list
  • Gifts received and given
  • Promise list

The Life section –>

This section allows you to record personal information that can be carried forward for years to come. It’s made with high-quality Mio paper suitable for long term use and allows for a smooth writing experience. The Life booklet is broken into:

  • Life dream
  • 100 wish list
  • Personal motto
  • Life Plan
  • Monthly anniversaries
  • Travel map
  • My news
  • Family tree
  • Emergency contact list
  • Password hint list
  • Financial management
  • Medical record
  • Favorite photo

The Idea section –>

A slim grid notebook that can be used as a memo pad. This notebook uses the Tomoe River Paper, well known for giving users a smooth writing experience.

First Impressions

What I received with my purchase

I ordered all three booklets for the Jibun Techo. My purchase also came with two clear plastic covers. The clear plastic cover is used to hold the three booklets together. The cover has a lot of pockets where you can store cards or planner stocks. The purchase also included a pencil board that has a elastic band attached to it. You can slot the pencil board at the back pocket of the cover and use the band to hold the books in place over the plastic cover.

Picture ref 1: I’m using the plastic cover with the gray insert. At the back is the pencil board with the elastic band attached to it. 

Picture reference 2-4: The plastic cover and the many pockets for you to slot in name cards, craft paper, stickers or whatever else you need. 

What I immediately liked about the planner is the size. I am currently using a Hobonichi A6 as my daily planner and I’m finding it a bit too small for everyday use. The size of the Jibun Techo is just nice and a bit more comfortable to write in. I also like the weight of the planner, it’s not heavy and has a solid feel to it despite it being three separate booklets.

I really liked that the ‘Diary’ and ‘Life’ booklets have detailed sections to cover almost every aspect of life but in all honesty, I don’t think I’ll make use of all of them. The ‘Idea’ book is really a notebook. It’s in a grid format, which I love and will definitely use for bullet journaling and note-taking.

Left: The Jibun Techo in my Traveler’s Company notebook cover. Right: The Jibun Techo in my fauxdori.

I’m also considering the option of carrying only the ‘Diary’ and ‘Idea’ book around with me. I don’t really see a need to carry the ‘Life’ section with me everywhere I go. The clear plastic cover works fine and still holds two booklets quite firmly. I also tried using my Traveler’s Company notebook cover but the notebooks jutted out slightly, and I don’t really like it when that happens because the elastic band will leave a dent on the notebooks. However, it did fit in one of my wider sized fauxdori slightly better than the Traveler’s Company cover.

If I do decide not to carry the ‘Life’ section with me, I might consider using two ‘Idea’ books instead; one for doodling and one for meeting notes. Probably makes more sense to carry two notebooks around with me as I do write down a lot of notes when I’m out and about or in meetings.

Finally, here is a picture of the Jibun Techo size against my 4-month-old baby girl. As you can see, the techo is probably a little bit more than a quarter of the size of my baby girl… lol… I’m just playin’ with yah…

Baby vs Jibun Techo

Anyway, these are my initial thoughts. I’ll probably do one or two more posts on the planner after I’ve fooled around with it for a bit.

Where to purchase the Jibun Techo

As I mentioned, the Kokuyo Jibun Techo website is in Japanese, so I was not able to purchase it from the site. Anyway, I was lucky to be able to get an Etsy supplier who sells products from Japan to get me the planner. I usually get all my Japanese stationery supplies from her. I think there are some people who have also made their purchases via eBay, so thats another option to look at purchasing the Jibun Techo.

If you are interested in purchasing the planner for yourself, you can also try the Etsy store I purchased it from called Japaneseeasyshopper. It took about three weeks for my planner to arrive from the date of purchase.

Other reviews

When I was researching about the Jibun Techo, Belle Beth Cooper’s blog was the first I stumbled upon and I found her post to be very informative. You can read her review of the planner here. She also created a video review of the planner which is more detailed than her blog posts. Belle also created a Facebook group for those who share the love for Jibun Techo’s. You can request to join the group here.

I also liked Hello Kyoto’s youtube channel on how he moved from a Midori Traveler’s Notebook to the Jibun Techo.

About a week ago, I came across this Jibun Techo review at Rogue Mom’s Blog which I thought was also pretty detailed.

Ok folks, that ends my very brief overview of the Jibun Techo. Happy planning and have a great week ahead peeps!

Last year, I sent my kids to pre-school for the first time. My closest friends would tell you how I cried my eyes out sending the kids to school on the first day. My eldest adapted well to his class from the beginning. My second son who was only 4 years old at the time, however cried his eyeballs out. It took all the strength that I had to stay calm and not cry in front of him and to leave him behind at school.

This year however, I was happy to send my kids back to school after a month-long break. Don’t get me wrong I love my kids but school helps occupy my kids for half a day and gives me freedom during that period to catch up on my to do list with little distraction. This year, the kids are in their second year of pre-school and thank God they were happy to be back in class.

So what did I do with my free time when the kids are back at school?

Well usually I’d clear up things on my to do list, you know… important things like; Facebook-ing, napping and/or catch-up on the latest Life in Pieces episode… I’m kidding but today being the kids first day back at school I did celebrate.

After dropping the kids off I switched on George Michaels’ Freedom to the max and sang out loud while I drove to my favorite neighborhood café.

I ordered the biggest breakfast meal on the menu and ate in peace while scrolling the news on my phone. No multiple questions thrown at me, no listening to the kids complain about 1001 things, no fighting, no crying, no kids pulling on my clothes for attention … just one and a half hours of breakfast, alone, in silence… BLISS!

Then I went back and took a nap with the baby.

I think I gained my sanity back… until the next school break that is…

By the way, have you seen this video by Whoa Susannah? I saw it last year and this video is so me right now!

 

Title:                    Younger
Author:                Pamela Redmond Satran
Format:               Audiobook
Duration:             6 hours and 48 mins

Sometime back, my husband introduced me to a TV series called Younger, a program he was certain I would love. My husband knows me too well. I was hooked from the first episode of the first series and binge-watched the first two seasons back to back. The finale for the third season had just ended last week and I am looking forward to watch the fourth season in 2017.

Anyway, I didn’t realize until about a couple of weeks ago that the TV series was based on a book of the same title written by Pamela Redmond Satran. I was browsing Audible and stumbled on the book and realized it was the same as the series. I don’t usually bother to read books when I’ve seen the screen version already but I decided to purchase the book anyway for fun.

While the premise for the book and the series were the same, there are of course some big differences in terms of characters from book to screen.

The book is about 44 year old Alice, who had recently gone through a divorce and was finding trouble to look for a job. In desperate need to make a change in her life, her best friend Maggie helped transform her looks through a make-over. Thanks to the make-over Alice now can pass off as a younger girl and she managed to secure not only a job but also a younger boyfriend.

I’ll start first with the differences between book and screen:

First, the book character is called Alice and the screen version is Liza.

Secondly, Josh is a 25 year old game designer who had just broken up with his fiancée. In the book, he is just getting ready to head to Japan to learn more about game design. Whilst the Josh from the tv series is a well known tattoo artist who owns his own tattoo studio or ‘parlor’ as Liza had called it the first time she met him at a bar in the first series.

Thirdly, there are more characters in the show than in the book. Which makes sense cause a TV series would allow you to expand the characters and the storylines better than a book of only 300 over pages. Plus, the Diana in the book is a mother of three whilst the Diana on screen is a single lady in her 40’s still in search of love. I much prefer the Diana on screen that the bitchy bossy Diana version from the book.

Younger is a short book, only six hours of listening in audiobook format and about 300 plus pages in the paper format. I finished listening to it within two days. It’s a light and easy read. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the book as much as I do the TV series. I find Alice’s character in the book to be shallow and annoying and much prefer Liza in the TV series. I gave it a two-star rating in Goodreads.

I started blogging maybe about ten years ago. My first blog was a book review blog called Ulat Buku in the City; obviously inspired by my favourite show then, Sex and the City. Yup, that’s how creative I am with blog names.

Anyway for those who don’t know, Ulat buku in my native language means book worm. When I blogged at Ulat Buku in the City, I blogged for fun and enjoyed socializing with the blogging community discussing the latest book launches and reviews.

After I got married, I still blogged but not consistently. Then when I had kids, I kinda stopped writing and blogging all together. I tried to go back to my blog a couple of times but somehow I felt that I outgrew the blog, specifically the topics I covered. I wanted to write about so many other things plus I was no longer a single girl living in the city, so the name Ulat Buku in the City felt like a misrepresentation of who I was. I started a couple of other new blogs after that but it all died after a few posts.

In the past couple of years, I have been thinking about what to blog about. I kinda wasted time on the thinking and planning that I never got around to the actual writing and blogging.

I just love to write. 

I do. I love to write and blog. It really is my hobby. And in the years that I did not write and blog, I missed it. I missed the process of creating a blog, making friends and communicating with other like-minded bloggers. So I’ve decided, I’m just going to start writing and blogging. No more thinking and planning. I will commit to writing and blogging at least two posts a week in 2017.

My strategy to keep this blog alive is just to write, blog, connect with other blogger and then repeat.

Why 40 and Above?

Well, I’m currently 41 years old and am going through a lot of changes in my life. So I thought why not share what life in the 40’s is like from my perspective. This blog will cover my personal interest; from books to family to food and fashion (or lack thereof).

I have so many things to share about life in my 40’s and I think it’s enough to keep this blog running for a long time.

Our little princess is almost three months old. Time really does fly by. I feel like it was just yesterday that my husband was rushing me to the hospital to give birth to her.

Not even three months old and she’s already smiling when she sees me and hears my voice. I love babies at this age. They’re so small, so innocent and so pure. My favourite moment is bonding with the baby during breastfeeding. There’s just this magical feeling when you hold them in your arms and they look you straight in the eye while they nurse. I love it.

Like I said, time passes by so fast. I hope I’ll remember this moment forever.

Don’t grow up too fast baby girl.

I thought it was apt that my first post for this blog be a quick review of what I’ve achieved in 2016.

This will obviously be a short post.

In late 2015, I decided to break the bank, quit a job I loved and take a break from my career to spend time at home with my family and pursue my personal interests. I’m very blessed to be able to take time off from work.

This past year, I completely took my career hat off and became a full-time mom. I spent quality time with the family especially the kids; I was there for them when they needed me without worrying about work responsibilities and that felt really great. I did activities with the kids that I wasn’t able to do much off when I was juggling a career; simple things like – playing with the kids, reading to them, catching a movie with them – like I said simple activities that has become precious moments for me.

On a personal level, I have to admit that I have wasted my year off. I had a list of things I wanted to do: explore business ideas, exercise, read books, start a blog – literally had 10,000 things on my to do list for the year. I did none of them.

The only thing I did however, was binge-watch TV shows. I caught up with old and new TV series that I never had a chance watching when I was working. So, I guess on a personal level I achieved being a successful couch potato with the ability of binge watching a whole season of a TV series within two days tops. Woohoo! Pat on my back.

So, I asked myself:

Could I have done more and striked-off some of my 2016 to-do list?
Exactly, what did I achieve this year?
Am I disappointed with my achievements this year?

The answer:

Well, of course I could have done more to achieve the personal goals I had set out for myself in early 2016.

So, what have I achieved this year?
Reviewing the past year, I believe my achievement is more focused on relationships. I feel that I have spent quality time building relationships and memories with the people that matters to me the most; my family.

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