Ecostore: Kinder to Our Planet

Ecostore is a New Zealand-based brand that manufactures plant and mineral-based home, body and baby care products sans all those harmful chemicals. In layman terms, their products are healthier and safer for both you and the planet.

I’ll be leaving Singapore soon, so I haven’t had a chance to try out these products, but in line with their approach, I would like to do my part by raising awareness and to move people into action — which could be as simple as choosing eco-friendly products over normal products.

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Oh-Goodies Snack Box: October

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And we’re back with the Halloween edition of the Oh-Goodies Snack Box from MadeReal SG.

I definitely preferred this month’s box to last month’s paleo edition. The October box featured some pretty unique snacks, including wild mushrooms (they were crispy), apple-spiced quinoa granola, and citrus rings.

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The apple-spiced quinoa granola was awesome! The oats were still crispy, and you could taste the crispy quinoa bits here and there. I was a bit skeptical of the use of quinoa in the granola, but they didn’t affect the taste. The apple flavour wasn’t very strong, but the sweetness was nice. This would be perfect with some greek yogurt.

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I have yet to try the citrus rings, but I’m sure they’ll be a nice change to plain old tea bags. I appreciate the effort to offer something that stands out from the usual items 😛

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I used the trick-or-treating trail mix to make some of my oatmeal-on-the-go bars for snacking, and stirred in some extra peanut butter chips as well. Everything paired nicely, with the bittersweet dark chocolate chips, tart cranberries and crunch from the pumpkin seeds.

I’m thinking of using the brazil nuts to make some pesto. All you need to do is blend brazil nuts, fresh basil, parmesan cheese and olive oil and you’ve got homemade pesto ready to go!

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Peanut butter apple slices were slightly disappointing since they gave plain ol’ peanuts, which are kind of a cheap alternative to cashews and walnuts etc. The amount of apple chips inside were measly as well. I wasn’t impressed.

The mushroom chips are… actually really nice! I thought they would be gross, but I liked them. They are kinda sweet, and very crispy. The sweetness and the earthy flavour from the mushroom chips go well together, despite my initial reservations.

Well, there you have it for this month’s box!

Happy (belated) Halloween 😀


HAWKER HERITAGE: Poh Guan Cake Shop

Hello everyone! I’m back with the Hawker Heritage series! The last post I did was ages ago, and it was about Chinese steamed buns, aka pau.

A few months back (Yes, I’m terrible when I procrastinate blog posts), I went on a hawker heritage trail in Chinatown. My dad, the wise old foodie, knowing my interest in traditions and Singapore’s hawker culture, brought me to visit a few of the early hawkers in Chinatown area.

Kickstarting this series is Poh Guan Cake Shop!

I just realised that they even have a Facebook page, which is pretty impressive, considering that they’ve been open since 1930. Two thumbs up for the effort. 

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If you were scurrying past, as many of us do, you would probably disregard Poh Guan Cake Shop as any old school bakery. But if you just took a moment to slow down and look, you’ll realise that the goods that they have on offer are rarely found in other bakeries. Or at least, the sheer selection is hard to beat.

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The assortment of kuehs are impressive, and I love seeing my parents getting all excited by their childhood snacks, as they eagerly point out their favourites. My personal favourite was the orange huat kueh that you see in the background of the above picture.

I think my foodie father influenced my love for it. I used peel the slices, and roll them into bite-sized balls and eat them as they were, sometimes with a dip of butter.  Another way to enjoy them is in freshly-steamed slices… all you have to do is slather on some peanut butter while they are still hot, and you have a delicious breakfast. The more-ish-ness of the kuehs are hard to beat.

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He also sells those traditional mooncake pigs I used to see when I was young, alongside the traditional mooncakes without all the unnecessary frills that we get with overpriced mooncakes nowadays.

The boss, Mr Chan Kim Ho, is no stranger to being in the spotlight, and has been featured in the news several times.

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They were featured again recently for making traditional Teochew moon cakes, which are studded with sesame seeds, and the size of a plate. A rare sight in Singapore indeed! Apart from these Teochew moon cakes which can be filled with green bean/red bean paste (La Bia) or even steamed black sesame cakes (La Gao), he also makes traditional cantonese mooncakes filled with lotus paste. They may not look perfect, but they sure do taste good!

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Boss Chan Kim Ho with his traditional Teochew Mooncake

He sits there everyday, at the rustic cashier, with the olden day calendars lined behind him. I asked him if I could take a photo with him, and he readily agreed. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but he commented something about rarely having a photo with young people nowadays. I strongly agree! We should still try to get to know some of our local culture and traditions, even as we progress as a nation.

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I look terrible here, but at least I have a photo with the boss! So honoured to be meeting one of Singapore’s earlier hawkers.

The boss is in his mid 80s but he still has the most jovial smile on his face. Sadly, I didn’t get to talk to him in greater detail as there were other customers, but it was still nice to have gotten a chance to meet a pioneer hawker 😀

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If you don’t recognise these cakes, these are colourful steamed cakes that are often eaten dipped in orange sugar. You can often find miniature versions sold in franchises, but the authentic ones are hard to come by.

The bright pink buns are chinese steamed buns which resemble longevity peaches, and are filled with a sweet lotus paste filling. They are one of my favourite traditional chinese snacks! They are usually served at birthdays or other auspicious moments to signify longevity.

We bought a couple of snacks, one of which was their tau sar piah. Tau Sar Piah is usually filled with a mung bean paste filling, and covered in a flaky pastry. My favourite is from Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah, but that’s a post for another time. (Spoiler: I saw the boss too!)

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His Tau Sar Piah was average, much like the traditional ones my parents said they ate when they were young. But it was still fun to have a taste of tradition, quite literally.

Yet another local snack he makes are these sticky chewy peanut kuehs. Well I’m not quite sure if they are kuehs, but they have a very chewy consistency, and filled with sweet peanuts.

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I didn’t try this from his stall, but I’ve eaten before, and I would say that it is an acquired taste, since there is an aftertaste that I can’t quite put my finger on, which lingers after the flavours from the peanuts have disappeared.

I also remember seeing this yellow spongey disc-like snack I used to eat, which was another childhood favourite of mine. Sadly, I didn’t take a photo and I can’t find a photo of it. If anyone knows what I’m describing, do let me know the name!

The photos were actually taken at the oldest Yakun outlet in Singapore, but that’s saved for another post.

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I just want to give you a glimpse into the kind of pastries our parents ate when they were young, and perhaps raise awareness in the younger generations of the existence of these old school snacks and bakeries! Please try them in case they close down 😦

Prices are affordable of course, and you get to enjoy a sweet treat which costs a tenth of those cakes you get in cafes. Poh Guan Cake Shop has everything from Beh Teh Soh (a pastry with a sweet chestnut paste filling) to Wive’s Biscuit (老婆饼)which is filled with a sweet winter melon paste and coated in a thin layer of pastry. There are so many variations, and some of these pastries even have interesting stories behind them.

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Even though I didn’t know the names to some of these items, t hope you managed to learn a little bit about some of the snacks that were, and are, a part of Singapore’s food heritage. Perhaps you’re even feeling the urge to go on your own Chinatown food trail?

I mean, what better way to learn about your traditions than through food? 😛

Stay tuned for more updates in this series! I’ve got a couple more posts lined up for you, including Ya Kun’ oldest stall and one of Singpaore’s best kueh stores 😀

Address: #01-57 Hong Lim Complex, 531 Upper Cross St, 050531

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Oh-Goodies Snack Box: PALEO Edition (September)

Made Real’s September’s Box had the theme: Paleo!

What is Paleo? In layman terms, it’s when your eating habits are similar to what the cavemen used to do. That means lots of meat, fruits and vegetables… the natural foods and no dairy and processed food.
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They even included a card about the benefits of a pale diet:

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This month’s box came with a complimentary session with Momentum Bootcamps, which I have not gotten a chance to redeem (and I doubt I will heh). But apparently it’s worth $30, so if you’re interested, you can have my complimentary session. Just reach out to me and lemme know.

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Let’s get back to the food 😛

I thought the names were lame at first, but then I realised that they were actually rather apt!

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Pictures can be deceiving… but not in this case! Check out the real deal below:

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The Caveman’s Trail Mix tasted rather Asian (if that’s even a taste) because of the strong flavour from the goji berries. I liked it, but I think it would have been nicer with a more robust nut, like almonds, rather than pumpkin seeds.

Earthy Mix was nice too, and I loved the hazelnuts. I felt like I was eating Ferrero Rochers 😀

Caveman’s Gold was the best name ever. Dried apricots are usually overlooked, but I do realise what a nutrient powerhouse dried apricots are!

Up next we have… Coco Nuts and Chunky Monkey

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I have yet to try these, but I know I wasn’t a fan of the coconut chips the previous time. But I’m sure I’ll love the Chunky Monkey 😀

There were some Natvia Sweeteners too!

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I added a sachet to my tea just to give it a shot, but I nearly puked. I think I’m not used to artificial sweeteners 😐

I loved the tea bags though, there was chamomile, english breakfast tea and one more… which I can’t remember hahaha.

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Well that’s about it for this month. I just received October’s box, and I’m so excited to share about that.

Have a happy weekend 🙂

Bunny & Pony: A completely irr(elephant) name

Just like my title, Bunny&Pony has absolutely nothing to do with the ice cream store itself. Or at least, I failed to see any link to a bunny or a pony, let alone both.

I rarely go all the way to Changi since it’s on the other end of Singapore. But on this fine day, (twas National Day) I made a trip all the way down, and stumbled upon this little gem of an ice cream cafe. There were about 3 other ice cream cafes along the same stretch, and we finally decided on this cafe cause they had more interesting flavours and nice furniture.

More importantly, we chose this cafe because we could smell the buttery goodness from the waffles. When in doubt, follow your nose!

They had some pretty funky names for their waffle combos, which like it’s name, didn’t serve a purpose in helping me understand the combination any better. I would have been satisfied with Waffle with Single Scoop Ice Cream and cereal toppings or something like that.

At least, that’s what I’ll remember my order as!

So I had a single scoop of Mango Ice Cream on a freshly-made waffle.

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It was topped with chocolate sauce, strawberries, sliced bananas and sprinklings of cereal that was similar to Kellogg’s Blueberry Morning. All finished off with a snowy dust of icing sugar. The toppings were nothing to shout about, I mean it wasn’t like they gave me freshly made granola instead of a commercial cereal right? Fruits will be fruits… and the chocolate sauce was the usual commercial kind too.

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BUT the waffle was good. Really good, perhaps on par with Assembly Coffee and The Daily Scoop. The ice cream was lovely too, very smooth and light, especially with the slight tanginess from the mango. I would have been happy with just the icecream and the waffle, sans all the toppings.

My foodie in crime had another waffle combination…

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It came like this at first, cause the cotton candy fell off. Yes, that’s right. COTTON CANDY. Not just a few flimsy bits of fluff, but an entire ball of cotton candy on a stick. Haha, it was too bulky for the waffle to support.

In terms of presentation, it was just WOW. A platter of waffles, ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy? Sugar rush!!

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Waffles were amazing as well. The nutella ice cream (I think) was good too, my foodie friend was clearly in chocolate bliss. This was definitely instagram-worthy, for the few seconds the cotton candy would stay in place. It was still good stuff though, and I would recommend this over my earlier order.

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That said, the prices were steep. Ranging from $12-15 for the waffles (compared to the super affordable and equally yummy offerings at The Daily Scoop), I probably wouldn’t be a regular here. I could get the equivalent of two waffles with ice cream at The Daily Scoop. Yumz.

Considering that the toppings were all commercially made, I wasn’t impressed at the price tag. I do give them two thumbs up for presentation though. So if you’re willing to pay for an instagram-worthy photo, then sure go ahead. You’ll be assured of good ice cream and waffles, at a hefty price tag that is.

Rating: 7/10 (minus one for price)

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies

Hello! Dropping in with a super quick recipe post cause Monday is over 😀 Lessons are over at least.

I made these brownies yesterday, because I haven’t baked in ages, and one of my goals after attending the Hygge the previous Sunday was to make more food from scratch. So what better way than to start with dessert?

These brownies were made using both chocolate chips and peanut butter chips (best invention ever). So no cocoa powder was needed!

And to make them slightly healthier, I used olive oil instead of butter. It’s really killing two birds with one stone cause it’s healthier, and the oil results in a moister brownie. Yummers.

These brownies were the moistest brownies I’ve made so far. Tastewise they were definitely good, but I think using dark chocolate chips would have been ever better to add a bittersweet dimension to them. I was really happy with the crackly top though!

I wanted to do one of those cool stacked brownie shots, but they were so moist that they refused to balance nicely. I managed to snap this in the few seconds they stayed together.

And then I gave up and just lay them down. Haha, I edited the photo below to make it look like one of those retro photos… You know to bring back memories of the brownies your grandma/momma used to make when you were young.

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Okay, enough talking, here’s the recipe!

Recipe:
Adapted from here

Serves 16.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup self raising flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup (olive) oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (About 162 degrees celsius)
  2. Melt chocolate chips in a water bath. (Put the chocolate chips in a metal bowl and set it in a larger bowl filled with boiling water. Stir until smooth. If the chocolate seizes after coming into contact with some water, add more hot water and keep stirring over the heat until it is smooth again.)
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the eggs, sugar and oil and mix until combined for about 2 minutes. Add the water and the vanilla extract. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and melted chocolate chips and stir for about 3 minutes until combined.
  5. Stir in 1 cup peanut butter chips.
  6. Pour into a greased, parchment lined, or a greased foil-lined 8×8 square pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
  7. When finished, remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

    Switch things up!
    -Use chocolate chips instead of peanut butter chips
    -Add some mini marshmallows and maybe chopped walnuts and you’ve got some Rocky Road Brownies
    -Melt the peanut butter chips as well and swirl them in for a marbled effect

    Happy baking!