Texas Gulf Coast | Corpus Christi – Sparkling City By The Sea

Corpus Christi, or its Latin translation that means ‘Body of Christ’ is a port city in south Texas. Home to almost 300 thousands (census 2006) people, Corpus Christi is the fifth busiest port nationwide, serving mainly oil, chemicals and refinery cargoes.

USS Lexington floating museum, also known as The Blue Ghost
USS Lexington floating museum, also known as The Blue Ghost

Exists in a comfortable bay area, Corpus Christi has wide access to the open water yet protected against wild sea tantrums by the thin Mustang and Padre Islands that stretch from north-east to south-west. The beautiful nature of this city attracts a huge number of inland Texans when they are searching for a beach gateaway!  
The Watergarden fountains and behind is Harbor Bridge
Enjoying a subtropical climate, Corpus Christi is a popular destination especially from spring until fall. Various activities are lined up and await for visitors. Be it historical attractions, arts/cultural spots, aquarium, shopping malls or water recreational activities, Corpus Christi has it all under one city!
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Home Kitchen Recipe | Prune Cake – A Healthy Choice

Grocery stores in Austin offers a wide selection of ready-mixed cake flour therefore, I always cheat, take shortcuts and seldom bake cake from scratch. A few weeks ago, we had picnic at Pedernales Falls State Park and my friend R shared with us some prune cake that she baked. It is moist and softer compares to a typical fruit cake. Without hesitant, I asked R for the recipe to try out.
Prune Cake - A perfect dessert or snack
The plus of baking this cake is prune works as a laxative to assist the bowel/intestines movement and break down the bulky foods. With tonnes of fiber, prune cake is obviously a healthier choice of cake!

I did attempt to bake mixed fruit cake a couple of times. The cake turned out alright but the mixed fruits however sunk at the bottom which did not look impressive. This attempt of prune cake is rewarding as I can see the prune blending well and spreading equally in the cake. Thank you R for the secret recipe! And you can do it too!

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Home Kitchen Recipe | Toasted Garlic Bread

Thinking of kick start your day with some scrumptious garlic bread fresh from oven?

Crispy and scrumptious!
Crispy and scrumptious!

Getting enough sleep is important. At the same time, nobody likes rushing to work without breakfast. The strategy works if the baguette bread are sliced on the night before. Same goes for the preparation of butter spread with minced garlic and chopped cilantro. These steps only takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Keep the butter mixture in the fridge.  

As soon as the alarm rings on the next morning, walk to kitchen. Preheat oven. Spread the butter mixture onto the sliced baguette bread and place them into oven. Then, proceed for the morning/bathroom rituals. After 10 minutes, these crispy garlic breads are ready for your breakfast meal! Impressive quick fix, right?
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Home Kitchen Recipe | Fried Yam Rice with Chicken

If you have tried ‘Yam Rice’ at Yong Tau Foo stall and ‘Claypot Chicken Rice’ at hawker center in Malaysia or Singapore, this dish is a combo of the two.

My move of attempting this dish was inspired by our favorite taro or yam. Apart from that, diner preference is considered as well. Since my Significant Other does not favor the dried shrimps his meals, I learn to more flexible and eventually exchanged that with marinated chicken for some protein.

Fried Yam Rice
Fried Yam Rice

The Yong Tau Foo version of yam rice is typically prepared by dumping everything in electric rice cooker and let it do the job. Meanwhile claypot chicken rice is undoubtedly cooked under direct fire in a claypot. And my version of Yam Rice with Chicken takes off by stir-frying in a wok! If you do not fancy stir-frying, I guess it works too if all the ingredients are loaded (add 2 cups of water to cook the rice) into an electric rice cooker. Try out and share with us!

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Home Kitchen Recipe | Nasi Lemak – Coconut Milk Rice with Anchovies Sambal

The thought of Nasi Lemak is good enough to make me drooling. Worst still, processing the picture of Nasi Lemak flew my mind back to Malaysia almost in the speed of light. Nasi Lemak or nicknamed as Malaysia national dish is one of Malaysian’s most favorite breakfast. Of Malays origin, Nasi Lemak is also popular in Brunei, Singapore and Southern Thailand. In Malays language, ‘Nasi Lemak’ literally means ‘rice in cream’ and this refers to the rice preparation method which is cooked with coconut milk. It is typically offered with anchovies sambal (chili paste that is spicy in nature), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg and slices of cucumber. Traditionally, Nasi Lemak is wrapped with banana leaf which enhances the fragrance of the dish.
Malaysians favorite breakfast - Coconut Milk Rice
Getting Malaysian spices are truly challenging in Austin and MT Supermarket is the one and only grocery
store that we can source for screw pine (pandan) leaves, banana leaves and shrimp paste (belachan). Holding to the belief of ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’, I treat the challenge as an opportunity to improve my culinary skills.

The tips from my friend R suggested that anchovies sambal (or sambal ikan bilis) can be prepared with blended dried chilies and shallots. Firstly, heat up the wok and stir-fried garlic and onion until fragrance. Then, add belachan and blended paste. Continue stirring until aromatic. Dried anchovies and tamarind juice reach next into the wok and lastly season with salt and sugar. This preparation is the authentic version of anchovies sambal (sambal ikan bilis).
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Austin Chinatown Center | Fortune Dim Sum Restaurant

Dim Sum or Chinese snacks that are served on small plates are something that I have never attempted at home. Besides the huge number of varieties to serve, each dish on the tiny plate are attentively and passionately prepared by qualified chefs. When we crave for dim sum, the best approach is to search around in town and we picked Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant for this round.

My Significant had been there for buffet on weekday, but this was our first attempt for dim sum. Full cart service is only available on weekends from 11 am until 3 pm and that’s the reason we were there.

Located at a corner of the mall within the Chinatown Center premise near MT Supermarket, the facade of Fortune Chinese Restaurant faces the road of North Lamar Blvd. Buffet style lunch and dinner are featured on weekdays. In addition to that, they also serve a limited selection of dim sum upon order. On weekends, the banquet hall is transformed into the family-style dining with a huge array of dim sum on the attended push-carts.

We arrived with empty stomachs and huge appetite. Ready for a big chow down, we started with steamed rice noodle rolls or ‘cheong fan’, opting the filling of barbecued pork. Fabulous!

Hong Kong style Chee Cheong Fun
Hong Kong style Chee Cheong Fun

Next from the cart, we pointed for a platter of taro dumplings (wu gok) – our must have of among heavenly dim sum menu. Deep-fried and crispy but somehow theirs were not the best we have ever tasted.
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Austin Braker Lane | Pho Dan Vietnamese Restaurant

Tucked away in a strip of mall at the intersection of Braker Lane and North Lamar Blvd, Pho Dan is our newly discovered Vietnamese restaurant. Braker Lane serves as our most direct road to reach Austin Chinatown from home. We pass almost once every week if not every fortnightly, however I barely noticed Pho Dan until recently.

Facade of Pho Dan in Austin, TX
Facade of Pho Dan in Austin, TX

Walled by transparent glass, the first impression this restaurant gave me as I stepped in was simple yet spacious, clean and neat. Offering a variety of pho, egg noodle, rice with dishes in addition to numerous Vietnamese cuisine including appetizers, Pho Dan is a typical Vietnamese restaurant that serves the specialty of pho.
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Home Kitchen Recipe | Dried Wonton Noodles – Penang Wan Tan Mee

In Penang, Wan Tan Mee is usually served dried in black soy sauce or in plain broth, topped with barbecued pork (char-siew), leafy vegetables (Yu Choy or cai-xin) and a couple of wontons either deep-fried or boiled. The original wonton originated from Hong Kong is a piece of wheat dough wrapped with some minced shrimps. The Penang wonton version somehow contains minced pork instead.
A platter of dried wonton noodles
Being in Austin is almost like a dream comes true if we could place a platter of dried version wonton noodles on our dining table. While shopping at MT Supermarket last weekend, we came across a packet of egg noodles which are the exact noodles used in Penang Wan Tan Mee. The appearance was precisely the same. The journey of dried Wonton Noodles is half begun! Then, what’s next? Barbecued pork – I did a baked version before, thus it will be a ‘cookie cutter’ process. And, we grabbed some Yu Choy along for fiber/vitamins.
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Texas State Park | Bastrop-Buescher – Lost Pines Trail

Nicknamed as the beautiful ‘Lost Pines’, the 12-mile scenic road that connects Bastrop State Park to Buescher State Park in central Texas invites biking enthusiasts to explore and return. If cycling is not your cup of tea, take a leisure drive as it offers a roller-coaster ride along the winding road through the pines forest.
Lost Pines Trail that joins Bastrop and Buescher State Parks
About an hour drive or 40 miles southeast of Austin, Bastrop State Park encompasses an area of 5,926 acres and built up by loblolly pine and hardwoods. Apart from the ground of woodland, the park also operates a beautiful 18-hole golf course in Central Texas. It occupies a huge grassland, right after the park’s entrance if one is coming from Bastrop direction.
Charming piney forest land
Besides the golf-course, the main attraction at the park is Bastrop State Park Lake. Swimming is not permitted but fishing and canoeing are the favorite activities here. A handful of concrete tables and benches are also provided near the lake for picnickers.     
Vast lake attracts canoe-rowers and anglers
Hey fish buddy! I got a good meal for you..
One of the best spots for picnicking
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Texas Hill Country | Pace Bend Park – Lake Travis and Water Recreation

Mudd Cove is one of the most popular spots at Pace Bend
Mudd Cove is one of the most popular spots at Pace Bend

Claimed to be the most beautiful spot on Lake Travis, Pace Bend Park stretches over nine miles of shoreline and occupies the largest area of the lake, being more than 1,300 acres. Popular among the weekenders and holiday makers, it offers a huge range of recreational opportunities including sun-bathing, picnicking, camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, mountain-biking, horse-riding, sailing and boating. And a few high adrenaline activities await such as rock-climbing and cliff-diving.
Texas wildflower - Mexican Hats (Ratibida columnifera)
The beautiful sight of Lake Travis
Wind surfing on Lake Travis
Popular among day trippers and weekenders
Nestled within the rugged part of Texas Hill Country near Spicewood, Pace Bend is just 30 miles west of
Austin. Pace Bend Park is easy to access by vehicles on the 7-mile paved road that looped the edges of Lake Travis. From the main loop, there are dozen of branches which take you to the cove and shoreline.
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