5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

Through the course of switching to more eco-friendly body and skin care products with less packaging, I discovered a few gems in my kitchen.  Here are 5 that have become my must-haves in both the kitchen and bathroom.

++ Baking soda : This has so many uses around the house that I have been buying the larger 1.81kg box from Arms and Hammer in paper packaging instead of getting those 100g plastic bottles from the baking supplies aisle.  Occasionally, discount stores offer the 454g pack at $1.  I will add a teaspoon here and there for its clarifying and exfoliating properties.  It makes a great foot soak too, for removing feet odours especially from after wearing not so well ventilated covered shoes.  Brownie points for its paper packaging that can be recycled.

++ Organic raw honey : With the 1kg tub going slightly above $20, this is even cheaper than my gentle facial cream cleanser which isn’t even organic.  Do honey’s natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties sound like a good idea for a cleanser?  While commercial brands of facial cleanser add honey as one of the many ingredients on the list, I am going for the 100%-honey-and-nothing-else method to clean my face when I don’t wear makeup.  I first learned about plain raw honey as cleanser from a local skincare entrepreneur at an eco-event.  Nothing to mix or cook, simply smear a thin layer of raw honey over damp face, leave it for 10 minutes and rinse off.  The first few attempts left a long trail of ants on my bathroom basin and counter, I now know better to rinse using more gentle action with less messy splashes.  I use only about half a teaspoon each time so the 1 kg tub would have last me really long if I hadn’t used it as food in the kitchen.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

Until I can find a bee farm here, I will definitely end up with a plastic container after I finish up the honey.  I am starting a habit to reuse plastic type with recycling symbol #5 (Polypropylene or PP) instead of throwing them into the recycling bins since they are of stronger nature, able withstand higher temperature and thus has more potential for reuse.  As opposed to #1 (PET) from bottled water and disposable food containers which should not be reused and can be easily avoided by bringing own water bottles and lunch boxes.

The tub from honey happens to be a PP5, so off with ideas to reuse the nice looking translucent container.  The handle makes it a convenient non-hot-food storage container, like this honey lemonade I made with “ugly” lemons I bought off the shelves on discount.

++ Apple Cider Vinegar : I religiously start my mornings with a warm mug of water mixed with a tablespoon of ACV.  ACV is also my go-to ingredient for homemade facial toner after diluted with either plain filtered water or brewed green tea.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

The ACV comes in 2 sizes and I buy whichever is on sale.  The larger empty glass bottle is reused as a water pitcher at home, reminding me to keep myself hydrated throughout the day.  I have kept aside 2 of the smaller size version, waiting for a perfect aha moment to reuse them.  Glass recycling is not as lucrative anymore anyway, so I might as well reuse these glass bottles instead.

++ Coconut oil : I bought coconut oil a few years back to make granola with a sweet smelling whiff of coconut, but the oil has since doubled up as a makeup remover.  I used to buy makeup remover with mineral oil to take off water-proof mascara, though I no longer wear mascara, this oil-in-make up remover thing got stuck with me.  While harboring thoughts of making my own makeup remover to save some moolah sent me to the kitchen pantry where my huge jar of coconut oil sat.  An earlier oil cleansing method attempt which I tried with coconut oil was brushed off as too troublesome since I ended up with the chore of preparing a pail of hot water and a greasy washcloth in the laundry.  However, the attempt taught me that coconut oil is indeed a very effective natural makeup remover.  So now, instead of going through the whole oil cleansing ritual, hot towel and all, I only rub the oil over my face to dissolve the makeup and wash away the grease and makeup with diluted liquid castile soap.  I did not come up castile soap + coconut oil recipe on my own, though I think the method of separate application is.  It actually came from a few sources (here and here) that gave instructions on how to diy makeup remove pads, I simply remove the need to buy (and discard) cotton pads and come up with my own 2-step cleansing process, talking about adapting for zero waste.

++ Tea seed/ Camellia seed powder : This year, I am adding tea seed/ Camellia seed powder to my growing list of natural body and skin care ingredients.  The powder was first acquired, after a long search, as a dishwashing detergent alternative that I have written earlier.  I am not sure why I had to have a hard time looking for this product here in Singapore, given its effective cleansing properties, affordable pricing and its popularity in Taiwan and Hongkong.  Camellia oil, on the other hand, is easily available in health shops here, marketed as a cooking oil that has an even higher oleic acid than olive oil.  The Japanese and Koreans also add the oil to their skincare regime.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

As for the powder with natural saponin, it is simply the residue which would otherwise be discarded from the process of camellia oil extraction.  The factories grind these seed residues into a very fine powder that can be dissolved in water, forming a paste or mixture for cleaning purposes.  Camellia seed powder, unfortunately, has a very short shelf life; one year if the packaging is unopened and 3 months after opening.  And after mixing with water to form a paste, it must be used up by end of the day as the process of decomposition starts to take place.  Given our humid weather here, I have been storing the powder in an airtight container with its past life as the ubiquitous Chinese new year goodies container.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

I also reuse dessicants found in Japanese seaweed packets to keep the powder dry.  On the right is an older packet I have been placing inside the powder for past few months and the newer one is on the left.  I find it wasteful to discard these palm-size packets that come with my Daiso seaweed sheets (and they weigh more than all the sheets added up!) so I reuse them in my cookie tins, tea leaves and anything that would thank a dry storage place.  They should be food safe since they come in direct contact with the seaweed sheets anyway.

Because tea seed powder needs to be used up quickly once opened, I have been finding ways to use them beyond cleaning my kitchen counter.  Like those pantry items above, camellia seed powder has crept into my bathroom as skin/hair care products.  Take note that when using tea seed powder as shampoo or facial cleanser, always be careful not to let it get in eyes.  Like any product with saponin, they sting and irritate the eyes when in contact.

Shampoo

1 teaspoon to 200ml water.  Shake to mix in a squeeze bottle.  Apply to scalp, massage gently to clean, rinse completely.

User note: The first time I shampooed with camellia seed powder, I was sorely disappointed that my scalp didn’t feel squeaky clean like my kitchen dishes after washing.  The real difference came the next day, when I noticed that my normally greasy scalp was not oily at all. This kind of prove that the shampoo was working in its own gentle way; cleaning my scalp and hair without stripping away all the natural oil, so the body will not produce even more oil to compensate.

Facial Wash + Scrub

Because the powder is really fine, it makes a gentle cleanser and an even more gentle exfoliant.
Mix 1 teaspoon of tea seed powder with 60ml of water to form a runny mixture.  Rub gently over face to clean.  Rinse completely.

Facial Mask

Mix 1 tablespoon of tea seed powder with just enough water to form a mud-like consistency, thick enough to apply on face.
Spread mask on face, avoiding delicate eye area.  Leave for 10 minutes.
Wash with water, remember to keep eyes shut until all residue has been rinsed clean.

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Milo Taro Pullman Loaf

Milo Taro Pullman Loaf // Mono + Co

I tried something different with this bake.  I used the water bath method to bake this bread for the first 10 minutes, but had to deconstruct the water bath structure once I realized that the bread top had risen to touch the oven’s upper heating element.  That explains the odd looking plateau you see on my bread top.  I continued to bake it the standard way for the remaining 20 minutes.

The additional steam inside the oven looks promising as a method to create taller loaves, although my table-top oven is too small for the set-up; rack + 10″ cake tin with hot water + trivet + Pullman tin.  I won’t put this in my recipe instructions below but I will try another method to create steam inside the oven by placing my smallest ramekins filled with hot water around the corners of the oven instead.  But that’s for another day.

Milo Taro Pullman Loaf // Mono + Co

As always, the addition of steamed taro makes my homemade bread moist and fluffy.  The Milo powder idea stems from this bread recipe that uses cocoa powder.  I added only 2 tablespoons of Milo powder (not the 3-in-1 type) so the loaf does not exactly whiff a strong aroma of chocolate malt, but the color reminds me of the brown traditional Hainan bread loaves : subtle.

For non-taro milo bread ideas (& for me to adapt with taro) :
this recipe with whole wheat flour
this bun recipe with milo custard filling

Milo Taro Pullman Loaf // Mono + Co


Milo Taro Pullman Loaf

280g plain flour
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon raw sugar
2 tablespoon Milo powder
100g steamed taro, cooled
1 egg
110g fresh milk
30g cold unsalted butter, cubed

In a mixer bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together ( flour, yeast, salt, sugar, milo powder) with a hand whisk.  Then add mashed steamed taro, egg, and milk to knead into a ball with a dough hook.  Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.  Start the mixer again to knead for 1 minute before adding cubed butter one by one, and knead till the dough reach window pane stage.  Stop mixer and leave dough to bulk rise for 60 minutes.

After the dough has risen, punch down the dough to deflate and transfer to a clean work top.  Sprinkle worktop and palms with flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  Flatten and shape each portion, rolling them up swiss roll style.  Arrange them in a Pullman tin, seam side downwards.  Leave this aside to proof for 60minutes, covered.

Preheat oven to 170C, and bake the bread for 30 minutes.

When done, remove bread from tin immediately and place on a rack to cool completely.

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Green Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0

Green Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0 // Mono + CoGreen Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0 // Mono + Co

When I first started making my own beeswax food wraps, one of the suggestions I received was to choose organic fabric for it to be food safe.  I can’t agree more, homemade products have the best reputation for quality when everything thing is made with love.  So I went in search of organic cotton in People’s Park Complex to make my FOURTH batch of food wraps.   Funny that this item was marketed to replace the use of disposable cling wrap, something that I hardly use in the kitchen previously.  However, after making these food wraps of different sizes, I realized that they are kind of useful around the house, and this is my version 4.0.  Yes, I tweak something slightly after every batch.

Green Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0 // Mono + Co

Version 3.0 saw me making natural dyes with food to dye the fabrics at home.  The latest batch that I am making is intended for wrapping cooked food, there is something uneasy about reusing the same wrap for raw ingredients like onion halves on a bread bun.  I am always running out of the bigger A4 sized wraps anyway.  So I bought $4 worth of cotton fabric that is food grade according to the textile shop owner.  People have been buying these for making tofu, milking hot soy milk and liner for steaming hot buns and dim sum dishes.  Sounds food grade enough.

Green Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0 // Mono + Co

When it comes to natural dyes, I only have luck with yellow and red/pink so far.  The last blue dye I tried making with blue butterfly pea flower faded away totally after just a wash.  This time, I tried boiling the fabric in pandan leaves to create pastel green shade.  Sadly, it was a waste of time (and gas) when I realize that the green color did not stay a bit on the fabric after one rinse.  Even the cloth I used to squeeze pandan juice to make kaya jam stained better.

Green Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0 // Mono + Co

And so it was back to just yellow and pink.  For more colors, this site has a comprehensive list of natural dyes, I simply use the ingredients I have in my kitchen and must not be too expensive since the dye is to be discarded after the project.

Green Monday : DIY Beeswax Food Wrap Ver 4.0 // Mono + Co

Here’s the variation I made to my 4th version: after the beeswax wraps have air dried, I hand sewn cloth labels to differentiate the sides so that same side always goes towards the food.  Just like commercial beeswax wraps, there will be a side with prints that will be the facing outside.

A very quick run down on how I treat and dye my fabric before turning them into turmeric yellow color beeswax food wraps:
Step 1 : Trim the fabric to sizes for beeswax wraps.
Step 2 : Handwash with mild detergent and air dry.  Cloth seller mentioned avoiding laundry detergent.
Step 3 : To make turmeric yellow dye, fill up half a small saucepan with water and add 1 tall heap teaspoon turmeric powder, stir to mix well. If you want brighter, deeper shade, add more turmeric powder.  Bring the solution to boil and add 1 heap teaspoon of salt.
Step 4 : Wet the fabric and wring dry before adding it into the yellow dye.   Boil for 5 minutes, turn off the fire and let it soak until the water cools to room temperature.
Step 5 : Remove fabric from dye solution and rinse in cool water.  Air dry and press with an iron.
Step 6 : Line a tray with parchment paper, place the fabric on top.  Sprinkle beeswax evenly and melt the beeswax in a preheated oven at 150C for 2-3 minutes.
Step 7 : Once all the beeswax has melted, take out the tray, add 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil, spread the oil and melted beeswax evenly on the fabric using a brush with short bristles.
Step 8 : If more beeswax is required, top up and send it back into the oven, but keep a watchful eye on the oven as beeswax is flammable.
Step 9 : Remove fabric from parchment paper and air dry for 1 minute.
Step 10 : Rinse the beeswax wrap with mild detergent once and air dry again before the first usage.
Step 11: (Optional) Sew a cloth label on one side of the wrap so you will know which side always goes towards the food.

For the record, my $4 fabric was made into 9 pieces of beeswax food wraps of various dimensions.

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Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

I have quite a number of wooden kitchen items at home but I have never thought of applying oil over them to moisturize and protect their surfaces.  I always thought that wooden products, being a natural material and subjected to much abuse in my kitchen, are meant to split/turn moldy/breakdown/wear and tear and eventually be replaced due to hygiene reasons.

I was so wrong.

While going through some of the methods to clean and restore my chopping boards, I stumbled upon this post that detailed how to give old wooden salad bowls from the thrift store a total makeover. Another one here.  My wooden spatulas and spoons need more than a thorough nightly air dry as maintenance.  And they have the potential to outlive me and gain vintage status if I just give them regular TLC sessions with spoon butter, which is nothing more than a mixture of beeswax and a neutral flavor oil.  The super brief ingredient list only means that I am going the DIY route instead of buying a big jar that I can’t use up.

There are many recipes out there when you search for “spoon butter recipes” and they are really similar to how I have been making my lotion bars and lip balm.  So I am going to make just enough to buff my wooden utensils and use up the leftover as hand moisturizer for the next few days. I hate leftovers that linger for months.

After eliminating mineral oil, and a number of cooking oil that turns rancid easily, I decided to turn to this recipe that uses coconut oil, something that I have been using for my homemade skin care products.  According to other sites, walnut oil and olive oil are great choices too.  Pick something food grade that you already have in your pantry instead of buying a bottle for a single purpose.

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

I made a really small initial batch for testing, with just 3g beeswax pellets and 10g coconut oil, since most instructions mention “1 part beeswax/ 3 parts oil.”  I have covered almost every wooden items in my drawer except for 3 large chopping boards.  If you need more, simply increase the portion of ingredients accordingly, especially for chopping boards.  I will give my boards the royal treatment over the weekend and let it cure longer.

I made the spoon butter directly inside a small glass jar that I am storing it with, hardened wax is really messy to clean up.   I learned that the hard way after making my beeswax wrap, so I will avoid making it a separate vessel to skip the transferring and pouring steps altogether.  For this reason, use a glass jar instead of a plastic one since we will be heating it.

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

Place the glass jar with beeswax pellets and coconut oil in a pot of water over low heat and let it simmer.  Once the beeswax pellets melt (in my warm house, coconut oil is always in liquid state), stir to mix well.  I usually hold the bottle by its rim (wear a mitten and be careful) and swirl to mix.  Then leave the spoon butter on the kitchen counter and let it set at room temperature.

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

To use, rub the spoon butter over the clean and dry wood surfaces, either with dry cloth or bare hands.  Leave them to sit over night.  The next day, wipe away any residual grease that is not absorbed by the surface with a dry cloth.

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

I always thought my spatula handle feels unfinished and dry.  After treatment, the wood grains even start to look more beautiful.

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

The difference before and after on my bamboo chopping board.

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

Homemade Spoon Butter : A Wood Preserver // Mono & Co

Bamboo toothbrushes getting a treatment too, especially the ones with unfinished surfaces that gets moldy really easily inside the bathroom.  See the difference before (below) and after (top).  But I can’t seem to find a way to reach the part between the bristles.

Reapply whenever the wooden surfaces start to look or feel dry.  I won’t wait until they crack or split anymore.

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Simple Pleasures

just a gather of some random shots of things that caught my eye, made my day, or meaningful enough to make me press the shutter, but just don’t seem to fit in anywhere or significant as a post.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// all these in 5 days, by the window sill.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

//  food safe cotton fabric, ready for making soy milk.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// almost bought a $10+ bread scoring lame, then I found razor blades in Chinatown selling $1.20 for 5.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// glass tooth mugs kept sparkling clean with vinegar.

Simple Pleasures // Mono + Co

// hello due date sheet, long time no see! try creating your own library/ reading system from here and here.

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Peach Gum, 4 ways

Peach Gum, 4 ways // Mono + Co

First, a note to self: peach gum expands 8 to 10 times in volume after soaking, so remember not to soak too many pieces next time.

Obviously, I forgot the lesson last time, repeated the same mistake and ended up with a very huge bowl of soaked peach gum after 2 nights in the fridge.  The hard crystals softened into a gelatinous texture that is very convincing as a collagen booster food.  Since peach gum is tasteless and I have no idea how much longer can it last inside the fridge, I decided to cook as much as possible in one day and leave the remaining to make a pot of this longan and peach gum dessert for tomorrow.  Yup, I have that much, so here we go:

Peach Gum, 4 ways // Mono + Co

++ Honey Lemon Peach Gum Drink ++

I got this idea from the popular bottled collagen drink in the market.  Since I don’t consume animal derived collagen, adding peach gum to my homemade honey lemon juice sounds like a good substitute. Delicious when served chilled.

P.S. I am not sure if peach gums can be eaten without cooking first, but I steamed the soaked gum for 15 minutes just to be safe.

Peach Gum, 4 ways // Mono + Co

++ Banana Milk Shake with Peach Gum ++

I was clearing some brown bananas into milk shake for my kids and decided to blend some steamed peach gums with the banana and milk as well.

Peach Gum, 4 ways // Mono + Co

++ Dashi Vegetable Soup with Peach Gum ++

Since the peach gum is tasteless, I am not limiting my collagen intake to just desserts.  I have cooked this meatless “trotter” vinegar with peach gum before, so I can surely add them to savory soups.  I made kombu dashi stock like this, add apples, onions, corn, and carrots and simmer for 1 hour.  The kombu from making dashi can be eaten, so don’t throw them away after making the stock.  After an hour, remove apple and onion from the pot, season with soy sauce, add soaked peach gum and boil for another 15 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.

Peach Gum, 4 ways // Mono + Co

++  Udon Soup with Enoki Mushroom and Peach Gum ++

With leftover vegetable dashi stock, it’s easy to create this late afternoon snack.  Heat up the soup, add enoki mushrooms, peach gum and miso paste (optional).  In a serving bowl, place udon (cooked separately in another pot) and pour soup over it, top with a bunch of cilantro leaves.  Serve immediately.

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No Frills Shopping

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

I share frequently on my plastic-bags-free shopping style when shopping at the wet markets.  I will share today how I store the groceries after buying them packaging free.

This method of shopping somehow always piques interest as to 1) how i cope without plastic bags to line my trash bin, 2) how I store the produce without proper packaging.  Even the market stallholders are curious.  But they know a thing or two about the best way to store their stuff, so I often get useful tips from them, minus the plastic bags of course.

Like this yam, uncle told me “must remember to store inside fridge, but let it breathe.” Since I think newspaper is the best material to wrap fruits and vegetables and yet allow them breathe (most sellers bag in shiny plastic bags with a few punched holes,) I simply leave wrap in in newspaper and leave it inside the crisp drawer.  Placed this right at the bottom since I don’t want it to crush on the leafy vegetables.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Red spinach before.  Auntie merely wrap the roots with a smaller piece of newspaper to prevent the soil from making a mess in my shopping bag.  But I don’t really mind since I clean the bags often and make sure they are dry before folding them up for the next use.  It’s alway good to keep the reusable bags clean and ready.  Nothing foils a green shopping plan than fumbling around looking for clean shopping bags seconds before leaving the house.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Red spinach after.  All wrapped up with a larger piece of newspaper.  Always remember to remove the elastic bands that are used to tie the vegetables together.  Otherwise, the tension will cause the vegetables to rot fast.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

I used to buy just 1 or 2 stalks of cilantro as they don’t keep well by day 2, until the seller taught me the trick to keep them fresh and perky.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Store them inside an air-tight container and they will stay like this even after 2 weeks.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

I have since started storing the scallions this way too, these are 1 week old.  Think I buy too much or use up too slowly.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Bok Choy, bundled with elastic bands.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Removed the bands and wrapped with newspaper.  These Bok Choy stalks might look limp, but a 15 minutes soak in a basin of water with a pinch of salt is all it takes to bring the crisp back.  I do the same with spinach too, but I will always make a mental note to use up these leafy vegetables first before cooking the more hardy ones.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Long beans, tied with elastic bands again, now you know why I find elastic bands one of the few household items that I will never need to buy.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Wrapped neatly with newspaper.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Next comes the “hardier” vegetables.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Wrapped all with newspaper sheets except for broccoli, with my diy beeswax wrap.  Not sure if my observation is accurate, but the wrap somehow keeps my broccoli florets longer without turning yellowish.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

The only few items that I can’t get without plastic bag are the melon and pumkin wedges that the seller cuts up into smaller portions.  I tend to choose smaller pumkins so that I can buy them whole, but the whole sharksfin melon is too big for my family’s consumption.  Onions and tomatoes are bought without bags, and store outside the fridge in a basket with my garlic, ginger and potatoes.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

The eggs bought in an egg carton that I “borrowed” from the seller.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

I will transfer the eggs to my box at home, and bring the carton back to the seller on my next trip to market.  Almost all the egg sellers at the markets I visit welcome customers to return clean egg cartons for them to reuse, whether plastic or paper.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

I have been reusing this paper egg carton since June but didn’t bring it along to prevent it from getting damaged or torn.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

This is how I buy tofu, and the auntie taught me to rinse the tofu with water before storing inside the fridge.

No Frills Shopping // Mono + Co

Covered containers that I bring along to buy from the dry goods store where most of the items are packaging free.  This means that I can buy the minimal amount I need without overstocking.   Some planning is required though, to get the right sizing and a correct number of containers.

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September School Holiday : Eco-Friendly Activities

September School Holiday : Eco-Friendly Activities // Mono + Co

The school will be closed for 1 week, but there seemed to be enough activities with environmental focus to carry through the entire month that allow one to be inspired and pick up some green habits.

// Catch an eco film
++ Don’t just catch the commerical blockbusters, choose from an array of eco films that will be screened from 1-3 Sep at the annual Eco Film Festival Singapore. Check out the film and programme schedule here. Free event.

// Host an eco-themed film private screening
++ The kind people at Eco Film Festival has obtained private screening license for the following films to choose from:
– The True Cost
– Cowspiracy
– A Plastic Ocean
– Guardians of Raja Ampat
– Disobedience
– Project Wild Thing
– Captain Planet Summit to Save The Planet
Cost : Free, register by 8 Sept here, & host the private screening from 15th-24th Sept.

September School Holiday : Eco-Friendly Activities // Mono + Co

// BYO Singapore Campaign
++ Ditch the disposables habit and start bringing your own shopping bags, drinking cups and lunch boxes.  Details here.

// Take part in energy saving challenge
++ Get the entire family to reduce household electricity use and win some prizes. Details here.

September School Holiday : Eco-Friendly Activities // Mono + Co

// Volunteer for a coastal clean up
++  Coney Island with Trash Hero Singapore on 3 Sep
++  Lim Chu Kang East with Little Green Men on 9 Sep
++  Mandai Mudflats with Nature Society on 9 Sep. Register here.
++  Ponggol Beach with on 23 Sep. Register here.

September School Holiday : Eco-Friendly Activities // Mono + Co

// Balik Kampung
++ Enjoy kampung lifestyle? Now that there is a week of school holiday, volunteer on a weekday to help out with “landscape and farm maintenance” at Kampung Kampus. Details here.

September School Holiday : Eco-Friendly Activities // Mono + Co

// Start a recycling corner at home
++ Watch your trash trail closely and do good by dropping off the recyclables at one of these Tzu-Chi recycling points on 10 Sep.

// Nature Sketching
++ At Botanic Gardens on 16 Sep.  Details here.

// Picnic events
While these are not eco-themed events, I love the challenge of having a picnic with no disposables and instead, serving food on proper crockery.  Enjoy the events nicely plan out by various organizers, but keep the trash at bay.  I listed them according to locations.
++ Safra Ponggol on 3 Sep here
++ Marina Barrage on 3 Sep here
++ Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park on 2 Sep here
++ Concerts at Botanic Gardens always pull a picnic loving crowd, a check on the website shows concert event to be held on 2 Sep, 3 Sep, 9 Sep, 23 Sep, 30 Sep.

// Nature Tour
Guided walks are always popular with families during the school holiday, get the kids in touch with nature.
++ Pasir Ris Magrove Boardwalk Tour on 3 Sep. Sign up here.
++ Learning Forest Tour at Botanic Gardens 30 Sep. Details here.

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6-Inch Castella Cake

6-Inch Castella Cake // Mono + Co

Have been putting off baking Castella cakes since most recipes require steam-baking.  I do not have a steam oven, neither do I have a large roasting pan to hold my cake pan to do a “water-bath”.  The aha moment came only when I saw this 6-inch Castella cake recipe: I can water bath this 6-inch cake in a 10-inch cake pan!  I even get to omit using aluminum foil to wrap my pan since I am not using a springform pan, the only item discarded after baking this cake is the parchment paper used to line the base of the pan.  There is no need to line the side of the pan.

6-Inch Castella Cake // Mono + Co

Using the steam baking method definitely made the cake airy yet producing a fine and moist texture.  No cracked top, and not much shrinkage after cooling down, all thanks to the slower (1 hour at 150C) yet even heat source from the water bath, just like this steamed chocolate cake recipe post has described.

6-Inch Castella Cake // Mono + Co

Trim the round cake into a thick rectangular slab to serve, just like the ones attracting long queues at the malls.  I found this article in mandarin that is super detailed with its step-by-step method, definitely worth a read.  The instructions has an additional step to slash the top halfway during baking to make it split evenly for the rest of the process.  I am thinking of making this variation already for my next attempt.


6 -INCH CASTELLA CAKE

adapted from My Mind Patch

3 eggs, yolks and whites separated *
40g rice bran oil
50g plain flour **
30g fresh milk
40g raw sugar
pinch of salt
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I use eggs weighting 70g with shells for this recipe
** original recipe called for top/cake flour, I used plain flour to bake and the texture is still very fluffy to me.

Warm up rice bran oil in a saucepan over low heat, watch the oil carefully and turn off the fire once you see waves/lines begin to form at the base of the pot.

Add the plain flour to the warm oil and mix with a spatula, then add milk and vanilla extract, and stir to mix again.

Next, add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well to form an even mixture before adding the next yolk.  Set this batter aside.

To prepare meringue, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy.  Add raw sugar next and whisk this mixture until it forms soft peaks.

Add about 1/3 of the meringue to the cake batter and mix well with a spatula.

Fold in the rest of the meringue to form an even cake batter.

Prepare a 6-inch cake pan by lining just the base with parchment paper.  Pour the cake batter into the pan and bang the pan on the table 3 times to get rid of air bubbles trapped inside the batter.  Removing these trapped bubbles ensure an even and smooth finished cake texture.

Place this pan inside a 9 or 10-inch round pan (or roasting pan if you have one) and fill the larger pan with about 2-cm deep of hot water.  Send the cake to bake immediately in a preheated 150C oven for 1 hour.

When the cake is done, remove from oven and drop the cake pan from a height of 10cm onto a padded counter top, 3 times.  This is supposed to help preventing excessive shrinkage during as the cake cools.  Leave the cake inside the pan to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before turning the cake out, removing the parchment paper at the base of the cake.  Return the cake to the pan and cool it further 15 minutes.  This cake serves best when still warm.

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