9 March 2012, by Mandy Loh
I’m proud to announce that I’m officially a Stay-at-Home Mom now! My employment with my previous organisation ended as of yesterday, 8 March 2012!
As a quick aside: It was a pity my work-from-home arrangement did not turn out as well as I had hoped. I shan’t go into the details, but suffice to say, bosses have the upper hand when they grant flexible work arrangements, because it’s not the norm, and as such, they can choose to terminate the arrangement at their whim. Perhaps the Singapore government should think about firstly, encouraging more companies to provide flexible work arrangements for women, and secondly, protecting the rights of those who are offered such arrangements. This is especially since it’s in the national interest to increase our country’s fertility rate, and to retain women in the workforce even after childbirth. Anyway, it’s just a thought…
I’m exhilarated to be able to stay home full-time to care for Cristan, yet at the same time its a little unsettling to be unemployed. Truthfully, I’m not too sure how things will pan out, but as a Christian, I believe that God will provide all our needs according to His riches in glory!
Anyway, we celebrated this milestone by having a big feast, which I prepared! As I had mentioned before, I’m a total kitchen klutz, so I recently borrowed 2 useful books from the library:
Flipping through these recipe books, I got somewhat comforted by how simple certain recipes really could be, and the “I Hate to Cook Book” was especially hilarious with their instructions, including “stare sullenly at the sink for 5 minutes while waiting for the water to boil”.
So I finally braved the unthinkable, and stepped into the kitchen to cook an entire dinner…ON MY OWN! (Ok, Tim helped a bit here and there when he got home from work). And this evening, I’m extremely delighted to have produced a full western meal of meatballs, pasta and 2 side dishes: veggies and oven-baked fries! Applause is appropriate at this point, thank you very much!
What I’m most proud of, is that this meal was fully Cristan-friendly, meaning he could enjoy all the same dishes that Tim and I were having, because most of them were salt-free!
And if anyone out there is a kitchen klutz just like me, I’m sure you’ll appreciate me sharing the simple recipes I used. So here they are!
FAST AND FRIENDLY MEATBALLS
(From allrecipes.com, by AnastasiaJane)
I wanted to make salt-free and healthy home-made meatballs for Cristan, and to my surprise, the original recipe didn’t even call for any salt! Recipe results in approximately 18-20 meatballs, which was served with pasta and baked fries, sufficient for 2 adults and 1 baby.
A generous drizzle of olive oil (to grease baking tray)
200g minced beef
1 egg, beaten
½ cup bread crumbs
Italian herb mix
Preheat the oven to 175°C.
Cover a baking tray with aluminium foil (for easier clean-up) and grease thoroughly with olive oil, then place it in the oven while preheating.
In a medium bowl, mix together the minced beef, egg, and bread crumbs using your hands.
Form the meat into golf ball sized meatballs. Place about 1 finger’s width apart on the hot baking tray. Press down to flatten the bottom just slightly.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn them over, and continue baking for about 5 more minutes, or until somewhat crispy on the outside.
HEALTHY OVEN-BAKED FRIES
This was extremely simple as I just threw these fries into the oven together with the meatballs.
2 potatoes, cut into wedges/ strips
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
dash of Italian herb mix
pinch of All-Purpose Seasoning (Ok so I snuck in a little salt here)
Preheat oven to 175°C.
Mix olive oil, Italian herbs and All-Purpose Seasoning in a bowl.
Toss potato wedges/strips in the seasoned olive oil mix.
Spread wedges/ strips out on a baking tray.
Bake until browned and tender (turning once after 15 minutes), and take them out of the oven after another 5 min.
(Same amount of baking time as the meatballs! How much simpler could things get?)
And also served with
FRESH TOMATO & MOZZARELLA PASTA TWISTS
(From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Low-Sodium Cooking)
Extremely simple no-cook pasta sauce! I used pasta twists as they are easier for Cristan to handle.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian herb mix
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cups pasta twists
Lightly fry garlic in a bit of olive oil until golden brown. (Original recipe called for minced raw garlic, but I did not have a mincer and I don’t like raw garlic)
In a large serving bowl, combine extra-virgin olive oil, Italian herb mix, pepper, garlic, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Toss ingredients well. That’s it! Pasta sauce is done!
Boil pasta twists for about 10 minutes until desired softness. Drain and add to pasta sauce, toss and serve.
To complete the meal, I also stir-fried some broccoli for veggies, and gave Cristan his all-time favourite dessert, strawberries, to end off on a sweet note. And that’s it!
The best part of cooking (despite the fact that I’m freaking tired and greasy at the end of it all), is watching Cristan enjoying his meal! Bliss all around!