Sunday, 13 September 2009

Pchum Ben - Nom Ahnsahm

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The fifteenth day, of the tenth month, of the Khmer calendar marks the Pchum Ben festival. This is a time when the spirits of the dead ancestors walk the Earth. And the living can ease their suffering by offering them food to eat.

Throughout the country, families will gather to make food and cakes in honor of the festival. The nom ahnsahm is a linga-shaped cake made with a layer of sticky rice laid in a banana leaf with spread of bean and pork lard. Traditionally, the leaf is wrapped into a roll and the phallic cake tied with the fibre of the banana tree “trunk” and steamed in a large pan.

When I first happened upon this somewhat, in western eyes, untraditional cake, I instantly loved it. So this year hubby and me decided to make them at home. Or, that would be, I asked hubby if he wanted to make them for the festival, to which he replied that he would love to eat them but he would prefer not to have to make them. Anyway, to make a long story short, I made them.

They are fairly easy to make, but quite time consuming. And of course, the wrapping can be a rather messy affair, but when you master that there is no secrets to makeing these at all.


You need sticky rice, which you soak in water at least for a couple of house, then drain, and mix generously with salt and pepper and shredded coconut. I used the dried one you can buy at any grocery shop, work like wonders. Yellow beans, also soaked for a couple of hours and drained. Pork meat, fatty meat makes the cakes tastier, cut into strips and seasoned with salt and pepper and quite a lot of garlic. Well, I use fatty meat, in Cambodia there is common to only use fat or lard. And of course banana leaves and some string.


In order to get the banana leaves soft and pliable enough to be able to roll rice into them, you will need to give them a quick boil. When raw banana leaves are quite stiff and brittle, but turn soft and a lovely shade of green after a few seconds in boiling water. If they are not soft enough, then give them a few more seconds.


Then you make the cake. You take a sheet of banana leaf, put on a layer of the coconutty rice, a layer of yeallow beans, and then pork at the top. Then you roll the leaf together to for a tube, fold in the ends, and tie it off. Make sure that the bananaleaf do overlap as the rice do expand a bit when cooked. After all the cakes are prepared, then put into a large pot, cover with water, and leave to simmer for 3-4 hours. Yummy!!!!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Roll out the spring rolls

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I have wanted to make spring rolls for a long time now, but had somehow talked myself into believing it was such a hassle. Especially the deepfrying part, as I don’t have a deep fryer and would thus have to use an ordinary skillet and lots of oil (come to think of it, that is pretty much the same deal as with a deep fryer…).

But, i was playing with an idea of making mini-sized pies, and I thought about using spring roll wrappers. Well, mini-sized pies did not happen, but spring rolls did (and some spring packets as I played around with shapes).

The first batch got a korean-inspired filling, while the second batch got a more traditional vietnamese filling. Both were super-duper yummy!!!!! I will definitely be making these again. And as I discovered that they get just as crunchy when baked in the oven, I don’t even have to mess around with all that oil and skillets and stuff…

Korean inspired spring roll filling

  • 300g beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 6 medium size mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon of Thai curry paste
  • 1 dl sourcream
  • Sugar, salt, and pepper to taste

Chop beef, mushrooms, and onion into small pieces.

Put sesame oil, dark soy sauce, and grated garlic into a skillet. Let simmer on low-medium heat until thickened. Turn up the heat and add the beef, mushrooms, and onion. Fry until mushrooms and onions turn soft. Add Thai curry and sourcream. Let it simmer for a bit, and then season it with sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

More traditional vietnamese spring roll filling

  • 500g minced pork
  • 500g minced shrimps
  • 1 section bean thread vermicelli, soaked and drained
  • 6 medium sized mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • Salt, sugar, pepper, chili to taste

Mix everything well. To check taste, take a small lump of the mix and pop it into the microwave for 30 sec or so. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Then, take out your spring roll wrappers. It is normally sold frozen, so need to defrost on the counter before use. After defrosted, separate and keep under a damp towel.


Take one wrapper and add some filling closer to the corner. Don’t be too greedy, it is not a burrito. One tablespoon, or slightly more, is enough, you want to be able to roll it.

Then fold the bottom corner over the filling, roll once, then fold both sides in, and finish the roll. Very easy.


Put on a baking tray with seam down, and pop in the oven on 175-200 for 30 minutes or so. You might want to turn them over once after 20 minutes to get them crisped up all over. Serve with sweet chilisauce, or other condiment to you liking. Enjoy!!

Spring rolls don’t keep their crunch in the fridge, so either make only what you are going to eat in one sitting, or expect to eat slightly chewy spring rolls later (they are still yummy though).

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Lazy Daisy Baby Jacket for Thea

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This christmas I will become stephaunt to a new world citizen, a little girl. Which means that I now have a small girl to make cute babyclothes to. So, this pattern for Lazy Daisy Baby Jacket from Pickles had been hanging around in my ‘would-like-to-do’ pile for a while now, and this was the perfect opportunity. I changed it around (which I do) a little bit. Instead of knitting it in garter stitch I used stockinette, as I do think that looks nicer. It is all done now, and is just waiting to get a bath and to be blocked gently into shape. It looks so small though!!!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Spare ribs for hungry tummies

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Spare ribs is something which is suprisingly difficult to get hold of in Norway. And when one does it usually is already marinated in bbq sauce and cost an arm and a leg. I don’t really like that for two reasons, firstly, I ma not willing to pay an arm and a leg for something which is mostly bone, and secondly, I am not in particularly fond of the bbq sauce slapped onto the meat. So, when I do happen to come across spare ribs without anything and priced reasonably, I am one very very happy camper.


I was very happy with this sauce and I thought I would share. This was almost two kiloes of meat and bone.

Wandering Lady’s Wonderful BBQ Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Hoi Sin
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Chili to taste

Mix well, massage into the meat, and let sit for at least an hour. Cook in the middle of the oven for at least two hours on 175 celsius until the meat falls off the bone. Towards the end I will cover the meat with foil or baking paper, and just before it is done I will remove the cover, turn on the grill and crisp it up. Yummy!!!!!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Grumpybum Monster longies – The Manly Purple Beast

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 So, the second monster longies are all done and ready. After having made a couple monsters now, I must say I am rather pleased with them. There still are some things I need to sort out and fix though, like the crotch needs to get a larger gusset, and I need to figure out a way to turn the work without getting holes or bumps. I also think I will make the legs wider.

These ones got a small ghost on the front of the leg. I am really pleased with these embroideries. I think they make the longies so much nicer. And also make them stand out a bit from all the other monster longies out there.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Grumpybum Monster Longies – The VIF-supporter-by-accident Beast

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I came across a picture of a monster longie on the net, and instantly wanted to knit it for Wanderbaby. But, after googling and googling I could not find a pattern I liked. All the patters available out there (or at least the ones I came across) had some elements I didn’t like. So, after having studied lots of different pictures I decided to wing it.

Not too shabby if I can say so myself. I obviously need some more practice doing duplicate stitches, and the eyes are not quite to my liking. I should also get myself some sock needles so I don’t have to knit back and forth on the legs but just around and around.

After having knitted about 10 cm I suddenly realised that I was making it in the VIF colours. I don’t think the recpient i had in mind is a VIF supporter, but I guess it never is too late to become one.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Grumpy Monster

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Wouldn’t you know it, a monster managed to sneak into this abode as well. Wonder if he has any friends?