Simple Pleasures

This post is inspired by a recent photo book I have read and re-read over the past week: HDB Homes of Singapore.  118 homes nestled in the heartlands are featured in this super thick (and 4.9kg-heavy) book by Japanese couple Tamae Iwasaki and Eitaro Ogawa.  While I have always been awed by beautiful HDB apartments featured in the local decor magazines, this book isn’t about glamorous interiors or stunning home makeovers.  Instead, the photographs bring these apartments to life by showcasing the real, surprisingly warm, and unedited state which homeowners live in, clutter and all.  And it’s hard not to fall in love with these every day yet unique homes.  Each featured unit and every photo come with a short narrative that the couple meticulously pens after talking to the homeowners to find out more about the stories behind themselves, their stage of life, their style, and even knick-knack items that filled and shaped the home.

I shall make an attempt to mimic this editorial style to feature a few easily-forgotten and underappreciated “spots” around my place that make it such a pleasure space to stay.  Shamelessly labeling this home #119 : Simple Pleasures.

Thanks for making me fall in love and appreciate my HDB home all over again.

// No west sun means cooler rooms to enjoy in the evening.
// 没有夕照的房间, 夜晚家里的温度舒服一些.

// The homeowner appreciates this generous outdoor laundry drying rack design that seems to have disappeared in the newer flats.  Solar power is free!
// 户外晾晒衣服的好处数不尽: 免费.环保.杀菌. 新一代的组屋快看不到了.

// Indoor greens, planted or drawn, are placed around the house for a soothing effect.
// 为空間或墙上增添一些绿意, 清爽过每天.

// The homeowner has a knack for diy decor items like this wool felt ball garland in the master bedroom.  “Wake up happy” is a very possible blissful dream every day.
// 屋主偏爱手作品, 主人房墙上的羊毛球串是其中之一. “每天开心地起床” – 简单且实际的幸福梦想.

// Another handmade wool felt ball garland, this one is a colorful version placed in the kids’ bedroom.
// 又一手作羊毛球串, 彩色的, 让孩子的房间明亮起来!

// Souvenirs from holidays are meant to be displayed, not kept deep inside the cabinet.
// 把出国买回来的纪念品摆出来, 藏起来的别买.

// The family’s eco + diy habit has spread to upcycling glass jars, plastic cups and containers, and paper boxes into decorative or useful items around the house.
// 这家人把环保, 手作, 和居家良品合为一体了.

// A super practical way to use the window grilles.  I spy a polar bear.
// 超级实际的窗口铁花. 看见北极熊在玩躲迷藏.

// A naturally bright and airy bathroom, keeping everything clean and fresh.
// 光线充足空气流通的浴室, 自然就会清新整洁.

// Colorful spot in the bathroom, one of the pails used to be a bath tub for the children when they were newborns.  Personal memorabilia! Can you guess which one?
// 多彩的浴室角落, 其中一个塑胶桶是屋主的小孩刚出世时用过的婴儿浴盆. 小朋友的个人纪念品! 猜得到是哪一个吗?

// Waste paper and newspaper recycling spot, neatly stacked up and bundled with paper strings.
// 整齐的纸张环保角落, 的确会让人更愿意分类,整理.

// Another colorful spot, the household waste sorting and recycling corner.  The homeowner revealed that she is gathering a set of sandcastle building tools by upcycling various plastic containers collected over the past few weeks.  She has so many different eco projects ideas!
// 又一个多彩的环保角落,  小小的垃圾分类回收区.  屋主透露这几个礼拜正在累积无法避免的塑胶包装材料, 把它们循环成堆沙城堡工具,模具.  全年都有不同的环保创意主題!


HDB Homes of Singapore is available at here and an exhibition titled HDB Homes Of Singapore: The Photo Exhibition by Keyakismos and Tomohisa Miyauchi is currently held at SPRMRKT till 27th June 2017.

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Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

I started making Eco enzyme during Chinese New Year when I cumulated quite a lot of mandarin orange peels.  Eco enzyme is a mixture of 3 ingredients: fresh fruit or vegetable scraps, sugar, and water that goes through 3 months of fermentation and then turns into a vinegar based eco detergent that has many uses around the household.  While finding out how Eco Enzyme works, I read that the term eco enzyme is more of a “colloquial term” than a real enzyme product.

The real enzyme is probably what Tampines estate is using to kill their cockroaches when they recently announced that they will be going the enzyme route as a more effective form of pest control treatment, after a month-long trial last year showed positive results.  I had to admit that I cringed a little when I saw the reporter licking off the enzyme solution from her finger to show that it is edible and completely safe.  Then again, how I wish that everything we wash down our drain should be as safe as this. I always thought that for a population that counts a small part of our drinking water from reclaimed sewage water, we should be more wary of the chemicals that we wash down our drains.  But of course, the water treatment technology is more sophisticated and advanced that I think.  Still, I prefer less harsh chemical detergents around the house, and even better, make one on our own with ingredients that we know are safe.

The Eco enzyme I made is not for consumption purpose.  And there are only 3 steps.  The initial time spent on mixing the ingredients takes less than 5 minutes, then we leave the rest to Science to break down the scraps and turn it into an environmentally friendly household cleaning solution.  Here’s how:

Step 1 : Gather a plastic container with a lid, fresh vegetable and fruit scraps, black or brown jaggery sugar, and water.

Step 2 : Fill up the container with 10 parts water, stir and dilute 1 part sugar, then top with 3 parts of fruit peels and vegetable scraps and stir again to mix well.  Leave enough gap in the covered container for air to expand during the fermentation process.  Cover the container, keep it slightly loose, not screwed too tightly and leave this in a cool area away from the sun for 3 months.

Step 3 : Filter to extract liquid enzyme.  I use a coffee filter bag with wire handle for this job.  Store the Eco enzyme in plastic bottles and dilute according to usage.  The residue that has been filtered out are useful as plant fertilizer.

After reading up, making and applying the Eco enzyme in household cleaning, following are some tips and links that I have penned down/bookmarked during my DIY Eco enzyme journey and hope that you will find it useful as well.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

+ Why plastic container?

Gas will build up during the fermentation process might cause a glass container to explode.  Even though plastic ones are safer, always leave a gap inside the container when filling up the ingredients.  Also, for the first month, open the cover to let build up gas escape every day when fermentation is most active.  On certain days, I can even hear a fizzing sound of air escaping as I  unscrew to open the lid.  After 1 month, check on the eco enzyme once a month.  Stir the solution to keep everything well mixed once a while.

+ Any preferred vegetables or fruits to use?

Citrus based fruit peels make the best smelling eco enzyme.  For my first batch, I added 100% mandarin orange peels.  Later I learned that one of the benefits of making Eco enzyme is to reduce the amount of kitchen waste sent to landfills.  Since scraps like vegetable roots, peels, yellowish leaves are unavoidable, turning them into Eco enzyme instead of throwing them away is a great way to reuse them. I have since been following a 70% fruit to 30% vegetable scrap ratio to keep my final Eco enzyme smelling good and to do my part to ease the landfill load.  However, only fresh scraps can be used.  Do not include cooked leftover vegetable scraps that are uneaten.

+ What are those marking on your container?

That is a method I learned from a DIY workshop ran by this group mentioned in this article to measure the ingredients required for a batch of Eco enzyme without a weighing scale.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Firstly, cut out a strip of thin paper as long as the height of your container without the lid, I always use the newspaper since it is thin enough for me to do multiple folds.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Next, fold it into halves 4 times, so that when you unfold the paper, you get 16 equal parts.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Mark the paper according to the recipe, with 10 parts for water, 1 part for sugar and 3 parts for fruit/vegetable scraps, leaving the remaining 2 parts for an air gap.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Trace the marks onto the bottle.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Then I add the ingredients in this order: 1. pour water till it reaches the marked “water” level, 2. add sugar until it displaces the water to reach the level marked “sugar”, and finally 3. drop fruit peels and vegetable scraps till the liquid level reaches “food”.  Give it a good mix and cover.

+ How does the end product look like?

It should be brownish with a pleasant citrus vinegar aroma.  Filter with a cloth bag to retrieve just the liquid portion and store the Eco enzyme in plastic bottles.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

+ How do you use the Eco enzyme?

I have just harvested my initial batch that yields fewer than 2 litres, too precious to be used nonchalantly.  I am currently using it to mop the floor, cleaning the kitchen counter and as fertilizer for my plants.  This is a list of household uses and dilution instructions for Eco enzyme which I find will come in handy when my next few containers reach their 3-month fermentation target.

Green Monday : DIY Eco Enzyme For Cleaning // Mono + Co

Anyone with experience to chip in more?  I find myself barely scratching the surface.  I am lucky that my first few containers fermented without a hitch.  Nothing rot. No terrible smells.  Will update as I go along if there is anything worth a mention, both making and using it.

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Oat Porridge Sourdough

Oat Porridge Sourdough // Mono + Co Oat Porridge Sourdough // Mono + Co Oat Porridge Sourdough // Mono + Co

Great recipe if you are thinking of baking a softer sourdough bread.  Oat porridge did the magic here.  For so long, I have been adding different types of root vegetable puree into my bread dough knowing that they help to make my Pullman loaves and buns really fluffy.  No chemical bread enhancer, no packaged dough conditioner, just steamed vegetables, how natural and nutritious does that sound?

So when I heard that there is a sourdough recipe out there enriched with oat porridge that makes it softer, of course, I want to try it.  See how soft it turned out.

Oat Porridge Sourdough // Mono + Co Oat Porridge Sourdough // Mono + Co

I used instant oatmeal to make the porridge instead of cooking rolled oats porridge over the stove.  I also stick to baking my dough cold straight from the fridge and shaping my loaf just before baking.  As for the rest of the instructions, I followed to a T, down right to coating the crust with rolled oats and giving the top with 4 snips with scissors to create that “zipper” look.


OAT PORRIDGE SOURDOUGH

adapted from the perfect loaf

for oatmeal porridge:
250g boiling hot water
125g instant oatmeal

75g fed starter
350g+12g+12g water
350g of plain flour
150g whole wheat flour
10g sea salt

To prepare oat porridge, mix hot water to instant oatmeal and stir until a thick consistency is formed. Leave it aside to cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, add fed starter to 350g of water and stir with a wooden spoon to mix well.  Next, add plain flour, whole wheat flour, and mix with hand to form a dough with no dry flour is visible.  Cover the bowl and leave this aside for 60 minutes.

Sprinkle sea salt over the dough and pour the remaining 12g water on top, and mix the salt, water into the dough by hand using squeezing action.  The dough by now will appear very stretchable and doesn’t stick to the side of the bowl.  Leave this aside for 30 minutes, cover the bowl with a lid or tea towel.

After 30 minutes, incorporate oatmeal porridge to the dough in 4 separate additions,  with each addition, folding the dough so that the porridge get mixed as uniformly as possible. The remaining 12g water can be added bit by bit if the dough feels too dry. You may not need to use up all the remaining water, stop once the dough feels wet enough since the oatmeal porridge is also providing hydration to the dough.

Do a series of turns 6 times at 30 minutes interval.  With each turn, reach the dough from the bottom of the bowl and pull it up to tuck it to the opposite side of the bowl.  Turn the bowl and repeat for another pull-stretch-tuck action for about 3 more times till one round is completed.  Rest for 30 minutes and repeat this again till you complete 6 sets.

By the end of the 6th turn, cover the container and put the dough into the fridge for overnight retardation.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 250C.  Take out the dough from the fridge and shape the cold dough tightly into a ball, while remaining careful not to break up too much of the air pockets that has built up inside the dough.  Invert the dough onto a tray of rolled oats to coat the top part of the bread.  Place the dough inside a floured dutch oven pot seam side downwards.  To score, hold a pair of kitchen scissors almost parallel to the surface of the bread, making 4 snips across the top to create a “zipper” look.

Cover the pot and put it into the preheated oven bake for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, remove the cover, reduce the oven temperature to 220C and bake for another 30 minutes.

Cook on rack completely before slicing.  I waited for 4 hours, as recipe suggest the bread need a longer “setting” time due to its higher hydration.

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Natural Starter Milk Loaf

Natual Starter Milk Loaf // Mono + Co Natual Starter Milk Loaf // Mono + Co Natual Starter Milk Loaf // Mono + Co

After mixing a dough for sourdough country dough meant for an overnight fermentation, I fed my balance starter with another 50g water and 50g flour, only to find it rise to double its height again in 3 hours.  Unable to resist the temptation to bake another loaf with such active starter, I went for a softer milk loaf recipe instead.  Recipe largely adapted from this one, minus the taro, added more milk.


Natural Starter Milk Loaf

120g fed starter
165g fresh milk
240g flour
1 tablespoon milk powder
2 tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
20g cold butter, cubed

In a mixer bowl, add starter and milk, stir to mix well.  Next, add flour, milk powder, sugar and turn on the mixer on its lowest speed to knead with a dough hook until all the ingredients come together into a ball.  Leave this aside for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, sprinkle salt and run the mixer again to knead the dough for 1 minute.

Add cold butter cube by cube and knead until the dough reaches window pane stage. Stop mixer and leave the dough to bulk rise at room temperature for 180 minutes.

After the dough has risen to expand its volume, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with some flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.  shape the dough into a roll that fits the tin, and place it inside, seam side downwards.  Proof for another 90 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 20 minutes.  Remove bread from tin immediately after baking and cool completely on a rack before slicing or serving.  I brush the top crust with butter to make it softer after cooling down.

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Green Monday X Simple Pleasures

// My reusable glass jars and bottles, all clean and shiny.

// A matching pair for storing evaporated milk and condensed milk.

// A perfect fit, albeit after chomping 4 biscuits from a new pack.  Because I don’t want something that takes up more pantry space than the pack of biscuits needs.

// harvesting my first batch of eco enzyme.

// because mending makes clothing last longer, so I am teaching my kids how to sew a few simple stitches.

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Sugar Topped Pull Apart Buns

Sugar Topped Buns // Mono + CoSugar Topped Buns // Mono + Co

Baked another old school style bread that is still widely available at the commercial bakeries.  Actually, my girl likes this type of bread so much that she often places a few slabs of butter on a slice of white sandwich bread, sprinkles the top with sugar, and pops it into the toaster oven for a few minutes and out comes her favorite “butter-sugar-toast” for breakfast/tea/supper.  It’s an all-occasion snack for her.

Sugar Topped Buns // Mono + Co

Since I am still passionately baking pull apart buns with my rectangular pan, I tried a beautiful butter sugar bun recipe from here just to make the pan work harder.  It has hardly gone through 10 baking sessions since I bought it years ago for a birthday cake recipe that didn’t go as planned.

Sugar Topped Buns // Mono + Co

As this pan is deep (3-inch tall), the dough had no other space to expand but to rise towards the brim.  I love how this creates buns that are more evenly shaped after they are baked, compared to baking them on a larger cookie sheet pan.

Note:  My cake pan does not have a non-stick coated surface, hence I grease it really well when I bake bread with it since the dough expands to reach every corner and sides inside the pan.  This greasing step must be done so that the bread can be unmolded easily after baking for cooling which is very important as bread will shrink if left inside the pan to cool.

Sugar Topped Buns // Mono + Co

Quite a few changes were made to the original recipe since it was passed to me with modifications by a lovely member of a separate Facebook interest group.  I tweaked it further with the available resources I have in my pantry and thought it will be useful to jot down, in case you have the same limitations that I have in my tiny home kitchen.

+ I have been baking with plain flour bought in bulk from the market, so I did not use bread flour.
+ The recipe did away with salt as salted butter was used, so I used the modified recipe that has 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
+ The recipe stated 120ml milk while the modified one stated 100ml.  Since I don’t own a measuring cup, I weigh 100g of fresh milk and add it slowly to the dough while the mixer is running, ready to stop when the dough ball is formed.  Turned out 100g of milk was what I needed.
+ Original recipe applied egg wash before baking and cubed butter as toppings which I replaced with a brush of milk and a sprinkle of raw sugar.  I didn’t want to use just 1/4 of an egg for egg wash and having the chore of storing the remaining 3/4 of it.  There wasn’t any plan for an omelet that day either.
+ Original recipe shaped the dough into 9 portions, I divided mine into 8 and shaped them into an equal number of balls and braids, a “do-whatever-you-like” privilege that only home bakers have.

Enjoy yours!


Sugar Topped Buns

+ adapted from oladybakes +

250g plain flour
10g milk powder
45g raw sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
100g fresh milk 
1 egg **
35g unsalted butter, cubed

+ topping +
fresh milk 
raw sugar

** I use small egg weighing 55g with shell.

In a mixer bowl, place plain flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast, salt, egg and milk, start mixer to knead with a dough hook on its lowest speed until a dough ball is formed.  Stop mixer and let the dough sit for 15 minutes.  I do this to let the flour absorb the liquid better before kneading it to window pane stage.

After 15 minutes, start the mixer again, add cubed butter one by one and knead until window pane stage.  Remove bowl from mixer and let dough stand for 15 minutes.

Transfer dough to a clean work top, flour palms and work top slightly if the dough is too sticky to handle.  Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Shape each dough into a tight ball and place in a baking pan.  I shaped 4 of mine into balls and the remaining 4 into braids baked in a well-greased 6″x9″x3″ rectangular pan.  Let dough rise for 90 minutes.

When ready to bake, brush the top of each dough with fresh milk, and sprinkle raw sugar over.  Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 170C.

When the bread is done, unmold the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.

Pull apart and serve, or store balance in an airtight container to keep crumbs soft and fluffy.

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Green Monday : Grocery Shopping

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

I visit the supermarket mainly for chilled/frozen items, stuff that I cannot get from the wet market.  Last Monday, I experimented with shopping a day’s worth of meatless grocery at the supermarket to get food items with as little packaging waste as possible.  Armed a few small cotton produce bags (road test!) and just ONE reusable shopping bag – a method I adopt very often to avoid over-purchase/impulse purchase, I headed to the nearest supermarket that carries a wide range of fresh produce and here are the items + packaging waste I bought.

+ Fresh vegetables

Nowadays, almost every type leafy vegetable is bagged in crisp clear plastic bags for a more convenient checkout process.  When it comes to vegetables like brinjals, gourds, cabbages, peas, lady fingers, asparagus, and taro, I found them individually wrapped with plastic cling film at some supermarkets.  Some items like chilies and long beans even come with an additional styrofoam tray.

The stall holders at the wet market bag some of the vegetables after weighing so I can tell the “cashiers” in advance that I do not require their plastic bags, and offer 1) my cotton bags or 2) request to wrap them in newspapers instead.  I usually avoid getting those that are already bagged, or I visit the market really early to “catch” these vegetables before they are being packaged.  And cabbages, cauliflowers, and radish are never shrink-wrapped at the wet markets.  I could thus avoid most of the plastic packaging waste when I shop there.

There is only one aisle with open crates of broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and capsicums (yes, only these 4) greeting me warmly with their bright colors sans any plastic packaging, so I bought all four varieties.

Packaging waste count: As these vegetables are sold by weight, I ended up still having their price labels (and receipt) as trash.

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

+ Potatoes

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Only Holland potatoes and Russet potatoes come in these mesh bags that I like to reuse.  The rest are packaged in plastic bags.  So I got the Holland potatoes.  At the wet market, I usually buy about 5 each trip as they are sold in bulk.  I hope I can finish these up before they start to sprout and shrivel and end up as food waste.

Packaging waste count: The mesh bag can be reused, this becomes handy when buying root vegetables or shiitake mushrooms at the wet market so that the stall owner doesn’t have deduct the weight of my self-brought container since these bags are very light.  The plastic item tag was unfortunately trashed.

+ Mushrooms

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Other than fresh shiitake mushrooms that I buy and store in my reusable covered containers, I almost can’t find other types of mushroom that do not come with plastic packaging.  I say almost, because I have seen brown and white button mushrooms sold in bulk occasionally.  Since I usually get pre-packed Erynjii and Shimeji mushrooms from the wet market as well, I stick to these varieties instead of shiitake that are packed in plastic bags at the supermarket.

Packaging waste count: plastic bags, same outcome if I were to shop at the wet markets.

+ Flour

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

I get white flour sold in bulk at the dried goods store.  While the supermarket does not carry flour in bulk, I found this brand packed in a paper bag that can be recycled.

Packaging waste count: None.

+ Pasta

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Since I buy pasta from supermarket all the time, I went straight for the one that is packaged in a paper box.

Packaging waste count: a small plastic sheet that made up a see-through window on the cover of the box.

+ Freezer /Processed foods

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Processed foods come with plenty of packaging trash.  With home cooked meals 80% of the time in my family, I will be lying if I say I don’t use any kind of processed food to help in my cooking.  Condiments, ready-made sauces, and vegetarian’s favorites such as seaweed sheets, kelp, fried bean stick, tempeh, and fried tau pok, ingredients I use all the time come with some form of plastic packaging.  Not to mention common items like sugar and salt also come in plastic bags.

To counter the build up of non-recyclable processed food packaging waste at home, I stick to the obvious solution of buying these in recyclable tin cans or glass bottles as far as possible.  If not, indulge in processed foods as infrequently as possible, which makes a healthier option as well.

Packaging waste count: flexible food foil packaging


++ Update++

In case you are curious what I cooked for that day with the items bought:

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Lunch: Baked pasta
~ penne, broccoli, red capsicum, shimeji mushrooms, cooked with garlic, butter, cheddar cheese, whipping cream available at home.

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Honey Bread loaf.
~ White flour, baked with wholemeal flour, honey, steamed taro, instant yeast, salt and butter available at home.

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Dinner dish #1: broccoli, red capsicum, shimeji mushrooms, stirfried with ginger slices and vegetarian oyster sauce available at home.

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Dinner dish #2: Tomato omelette with eggs available at home.

Green Monday : Grocery Shopping // Mono + Co

Dinner dish #3 : Instant vegetarian rendang with potatoes, added tau pok available at home.

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Vegan Cabbage Kimchi : A Recap

Vegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + Co

I have been making vegan cabbage kimchi with a non-vegan recipe from the very popular Korean food cooking site Maangchi.  While the flavor is uniquely complex, the method is definitely not.  Just mix everything together and …. wait.  A day on the counter at room temperature is enough for the lactic acid bacteria (the good guys) fermentation process to create that pungent/tangy flavor of a classic kimchi.

I went through a phase when there was always cabbage kimchi in my refrigerator until I ran out of Korean red pepper flakes.  It was a good few months before I got my hands on this crucial ingredient again.  I found myself fumbling through a few sites just to recall the modifications and pointers that I so often referred to during the beginning of my kimchi making days.  It’s easy to take them for granted so here’s a list of them put down for future references.

+ How to make Kimchi Vegan?

Simply replace the fish sauce with light soy sauce and omit the fermented shrimp from the seasoning ingredients.  I came across this vegan fish sauce recipe from Vegan Miam that was used by Minimalist Baker for her easy kimchi recipe.  I decided to stick to the light soy sauce since I think the fermentation process will probably make the difference too subtle to be noticed anyway.  But the vegan fish sauce recipe will be very handy when making Pad Thai.

+ What about Buddhist Vegetarian?

Before I tried out vegan temple meals in Korea, I always thought vegetarian kimchi comes in white color, form of pickled cabbage in vinegar with a piece of red chili as garnish.  I have no idea who gave me this concept.  By now I know that kimchi dishes made without the garlic, chives, and scallions in fact come with red pepper flakes, looking just like traditional kimchi.  This is the only recipe I can find online to make kimchi without Osinchae, and this link briefly mentioned fermented soy bean paste and mushrooms.

+ Cabbage : to chop or not to chop

When it comes to the prepping the cabbage for kimchi, there are two ways:
One, for Pogi Kimchi/Traditional Kimchi, you can divide a big head of cabbage into quarter chunks by making a few slits at the base where the core is and tear the cabbage apart by hand, then sprinkle coarse sea salt in between the leaves and leave them aside for 2 hours to let it sweat or,
Two, you can chop the leaves into bite-size pieces and soak them in a pot of brine for 1 hour.  This is the method for Mak-Kimchi /Fast Kimchi.

For both methods, I like to press the leaves with a heavy pot (photo below), this helps to squeeze out water from the whole cabbage or to keep the chopped leaves fully immerse in the water instead of floating.  The cabbage is ready when the white stems turn soft and you can bend them without breaking.  The important thing is to rinse the leaves thoroughly to remove the salt and then drain the cabbage well.  What you are left with is a pile of limp leaves which you can then proceed to spread with the kimchi sauce.  A detailed salting process is documented here with lots of photos and lots of cabbages, which brings me to the next point.

Vegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + CoVegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + CoVegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + CoVegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + Co

+ How many heads of cabbage do you use?

I don’t make cabbage kimchi in bulk due to the lack of storage space in the refrigerator and I can’t leave them on the counter forever at room temperature as they need to be stored under cold temperature to slow down the fermentation process.  Otherwise, they will become too sour for my liking.  Since the kimchi continues to ferment in the refrigerator, I also can’t leave them there forever.  So I use at most 1 large size napa cabbage, which seems a lot at first but not so after the salting process when water is drawn out from the leaves.

Since Maangchi’s recipe is suited for 3 to 4 heads of cabbages, I will always have leftover kimchi sauce.  The good news is that the sauce keeps well refrigerated for up to 3 months.  Sometimes, I’ll even double the sauce recipe and freeze it in freezer safe containers so that come next kimchi-making session, I only need to thaw the sauce and do the soak-cabbage-in-brine step for a quick kimchi fix.

Vegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + Co

+ How to store Kimchi?

After mixing, the head of cabbage fits perfectly into my 23cm glass casserole for its first day of fermentation at room temperature (28C-30C), or 2 airtight containers that I transfer to store in the refrigerator subsequently to slow down the fermentation process.  Keep an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to absorb the smell of kimchi before it gets absorb by other food.

Vegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + Co

+ Can Kimchi go bad?

I personally don’t enjoy overly-fermented kimchi where sourness overpowers everything.  I can usually finish mine within a month, given how little I make in the first place (by Korean’s standard of course.)  According to here, Kimchi can turn bad, although it’s rare, that’s why the Koreans have their kimchi refrigerators.

Vegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + CoVegan Cabbage Kimchi : Recap // Mono + Co

Besides eating cabbage kimchi as a side dish, it can be used to make other dishes such as this soba, this sandwich, this pancake, etc.

Here is the recipe I modified from Maangchi’s.  I drastically reduce the amount red pepper flakes (she used 2 cups) so that my kids can enjoy this wonderful treat as much as I do.


Simple Kimchi

napa cabbage
coarse sea salt

Porridge
2 cups water
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Seasoning
24 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 cup + 1 heap tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped chives
5 stalks green onions, chopped

If making quick kimchi, chop the cabbage into bite-size pieces and soak in water mixed with sea salt.  The brine should be really salty to taste.  Soak for 1 hour.

If you like to have kimchi with whole leaves intact, make a cross slit at the base of the cabbage, and tear the cabbage apart with hands from the core, you will have 4 portions of cabbage complete with green leaves and white stem.  If the head of cabbage is really huge, I will divide it into 6 sections.  Rub coarse sea salt in between the leaves, paying more attention at the thicker white stem portion.  Leave the cabbage in a shallow pail/pot.  Optional: place a heavy cast iron pot on the vegetables to squeeze out the liquid in the cabbage.  Leave this aside for 2 hours, turning the cabbage over once or twice in between.

In the meantime, prepare the kimchi sauce.  In a saucepan, add water and glutinous rice flour to form a uniform mixture.  Bring to boil while stirring the whole time.  Once the mixture starts to boil and thicken, add sugar and simmer for 1 minute.  Turn off heat and let porridge cool completely.

To make seasoning sauce, mix cooled porridge, minced garlic, grated ginger, red pepper flakes, soy sauce and stir well.  Add chopped chives and green onions next to mix.

When the cabbage is ready, rinse the leaves 3 times to thoroughly to remove salt.  Drain well.

To make mak kimchi with chopped cabbage leave, toss the leaves with half of the kimchi sauce prepared earlier in a large mixing bowl.  Transfer to a clean container.

To make kimchi with whole cabbage leaves, scoop some kimchi sauce with a clean tablespoon and drop it on the cabbage, spread the sauce evenly on each leaf with hands (gloves optional), roll it into a tight ball and place it in a clean pot/container.  Repeat with the rest.

Cover the container and leave it on the counter to ferment for one day at room temperature.  Taste test, if the fermented flavor is to your liking, you can then transfer the kimchi to be chilled in the refrigerator where fermentation will slow down.

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Taro Raisin Buns

Taro Raisin Buns // Mono + Co

Fluffy soft pull apart bread for breakfast again, this time with raisins.

Taro Raisin Buns // Mono + CoTaro Raisin Buns // Mono + Co  Taro Raisin Buns // Mono + CoTaro Raisin Buns // Mono + Co


Taro Raisin Buns

270g plain flour
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
120g steamed taro
1 tablespoon raw honey
60g whipping cream (38%)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
15g cold butter cubed
50g raisins
optional: rolled oats for garnish

** Soak raisins in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze dry to remove excess liquid before use.

In a mixer bowl, place plain flour, instant yeast, mashed and cooled steamed taro, raw honey, cream, beaten egg and knead with a dough hook attachment on the lowest speed (KA 1).  Stop the mixer when the ingredients come into a ball.  Let the dough rest for 15-30 minutes.

After resting the dough, sprinkle the sea salt on the dough.  Start the mixer running on its lowest speed again to knead the dough for 1 minute, before adding cubed butter, one by one.  Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage, this is when the dough becomes very smooth and elastic, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Add raisins while mixer is running and knead for about 1 minute to incorporate the raisins into the dough. Remove the bowl from mixer, cover and bulk rise for 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough will rise and increase its volume, punch it down to release the gas, and transfer to a clean work top.  Flatten the dough to push out gas trapped inside the dough, either by hand or a rolling pin.  Flour hands and worktop to help with shaping if the dough is sticky.  Divide the dough into 6 equal parts, shape each into a ball and place it in a greased tin or pan, seam side facing downwards.  Let this sit in a draft-free place to rise for another 50-60 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 25 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan immediately after baking, and let it cool on a rack completely before slicing or serving.

Store in a covered container if not consumed immediately, to keep the loaf soft and the crumbs from drying out.

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