If there is ever one food that i’m not good at making, it’s salad.

I suck BIG time at making salad lip smacking good. No really, i do. I’ve browsed through tens of books and magazines on salad but i can never get it right. As strange as it may sound, it’s true. So why salad post today?

Well, i’ve kinda honed my skill a teeeennnieeee bit so, here i am, with this post of mine..  (but mostly because i wanna use these gorgeous plate and bowl (?) given by the lovely girlfriend from Australia when she came visiting. Mind you, she didn’t just lugged these two items for me, she filled almost half my props pantry up with many others! Heartfelt thank you, E! :*)

Pumpkin Salad with Balsamic Vinegar & Honey

serves 2

300-400g butternut pumpkin, deseeded, cut into 2 cm thick pieces
olive oil to drizzle
50g organic mixed salad leaves
a handful of cherry tomatoes
2 pinches of toasted sunflower seeds

Dressing

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp honey
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200c. Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes till tender. Check for the doneness with skewer.
2. To make dressing : Combine vinegar, honey and olive oil in a screwtop jar and shake all your might till well combined. If you must, microwave the jar for 10 minutes with the screw top removed to melt the honey.
3. Place salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Serve.

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I know i over edited the photos quite a bit but that’s because i missed my Photoshop so very much! Grin.

For the past few weeks, all the photos were touched up using the most basic software of all.. which comes with Windows. God knows what izzit called.. OH, wait.. It’s Windows Live Photo Gallery (i just checked). Teeeheheheheeee! Yup, so i’ve been using that for editing and i totally dreaded it but horrr, somebody just cannot fathom what’s the fuss about since i use only the basic-est functions of all functions on Photoshop which can be found on almost all (FREE) photo editing software.

Well, my only explanation is that i work best and fastest using familiar software and not anything else. I dislike spending time (can’t afford it) familiarizing with another software (lawwdd, the amount of googling one must do… *faints*) and in the end, i still cannot achieve the result i want *pulls hair*. Uh huh, even though i use only the very basic tools, the results differ. Funny eh?

Anyway, i’m so glad that i found my Photoshop CD again and i’m never gonna lose it ever (it’s now kept together in my VIS — very important stuff — box), evaaaaa. Period.

New Year is just a few days away.

WHERE HAS THIS YEAR GONE TO?!?!?! Like seriously? Just one blink and it’s a brand new year again.

Time really flies huh?

On one hand, i can’t wait till i’m 40 (this spells f.r.e.e.d.o.m coz by then my eldest boy would be in college and my youngest will be in high school! *yayness* errr.. nope, i’m not 39 this year ok!) but on the other, i’m so dreading the fine lines and wrinkles — i’m in denial and i refuse to acknowledge them! :P — and and… my short term memory loss, which is getting worst (think Dory from Finding Nemo!).

This coming year, i promise to treat and love myself a little better. :)

So here it is, something for the healthier and happier (tummy) me.
(after all that festive and holiday feasting, this is a must!!)

Vietnamese Vegan Papaya Salad

(from lovely Anh – a food lover’s journey)
1 green papaya (choose the firm one)
3 carrots, medium size
3 garlic cloves, skinned and crushed finely
2 bird-eye chillis (adjust to taste), crushed finely

Dressing for the papaya mixture: 1 cup white vinegar, ¾ cup sugar
Dressing for the carrot mixture: 4 tablespoons sugar, 6 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup skinned, roasted peanuts (the unsalted kind) or pistachio, crushed roughly
Salt
1.5 cups or more of fresh herbs: use the mixture of your favourite Asian herbs. I like coriander (cilantro), Thai basil and Vietnamese mint (aka laksa leaves). Washed and leaves picked.

Method

Prepare the green papaya first. Remove the skin, then cut the fruit in half. Remove the white seeds, then shred the papaya as thin as you can. Soak the shredded papaya in acidulated water to remove some of the natural latex for 30 mins.

Now, onto the carrot – peel off the skin and shredded the carrot just like you do with the papaya. Add the sugar and vinegar mixture (4 tablespoons sugar, 6 tablespoons white vinegar) and a pinch of salt to the carrot. Toss well, taste and set aside.

Drain the papaya well. Combine the dressing with the garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt. Toss through the papaya mixture. Taste (it should be quite strong in flavours).

Leave the papaya and carrot mixtures to rest for an hour or so.

Meanwhile, prepare the herbs by cut the leaves roughly.

To prepare the salad mixture, gently squeeze the dressing out of the papaya and carrot mixtures. You want a moist mixture in the end, so don’t squeeze too hard. Mix the carrot and papaya together. Now, taste the mixture – it should have that sweet-sour balance (more on the sweet side). Adjust with the dressing.

When it’s ready to serve, toss through the herbs and peanuts. This kind of salad keeps for a while. Enjoy!

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Not sure about you but there’s something about spicy and sourish food that makes my mouth waters every time i think or see it and that is so happening right this moment. Haha!

I’m sending this entry to Delicious Vietnam, hosted this month by Indonesia Eats (founded by A food lover’s journey and Ravenous Couple).

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Have a Wonderful & Happy New Year everyone!!

May next year be a better year for all of us! :)

Stay healthy and be happy!
(yup, that’s all i need for now)

xoxo

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