Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Costumes From Rubbish Removal Items This Year, Next Year, and Every Year

When Clearabee comes by for your rubbish removal, be it a man with a van or a beebag, you will be heartened to know that much of this "rubbish" is turned into new found treasure! There's no better example of this than taking a trip to the thrift store for your Halloween costume(s) this year!

Fall is here! It's snuggle season with the cooler temperatures. The trees are turning spectacular sunset colors. And... the hallmark of the season is the small army of superheroes, witches, vampires, ghouls, and pumpkin dogs that roam our streets in search of free sugary treats. It's also a fine time for grown up costume parties

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that 179 million Americans will participate in Halloween activities in 2017. 48.2 percent, or about eighty-six million, of these Halloween celebrants will be decked out in a costume! The numbers are likely similar in the UK.

Unfortunately, Halloween is not like it used to be when mum and dad helped the kids put together a costume from scrap materials around the house. No, the "new tradition" for the majority of families, for about two decades, has been to go buy a brand new costume and then toss it in the rubbish removal pile the day after Halloween after only a single wearing! Even though Clearabee is able to recycle or upcycle about ninety percent of their rubbish removal, there's still something you can do to decrease the waste going into our landfills even more!

Take a trip to the thrift shop, charity shop, or second hand store to put together a totally unique costume. Here are some ideas on how to create an eye popping halloween costume that will make you a Halloween star.

- Dress From a Different Decade

Dressing in the style of another decade is a type of Halloween costume that is always a hit. It's also the type of costume that is easy to find at a thrift store or a vintage clothing store. Are you going to a grown up costume party? How about a darling cocktail dress from the 1950s or a glam flapper dress from the 1920s? Do you miss groovin' under the disco lights? How about finding an old plaid leisure suit with bell bottom pants and funky white shoes? If you don't want to re-style your hair, you can hunt for a suitable anachronistic wig!

- Pick a Profession

This is a good strategy for kids who aspire to be a certain profession when they grow up. Do they want to be a doctor or a nurse? Find a white coat or some scrubs. If they want to be a mad scientist, in addition to the white coat, find some thick rimmed glass frames and wild up the hair! Look for some scientific paraphernalia for props like test tubes or simply a notebook labelled "Lab Notes." If they want to be a lawyer, find an old brief case and a suit. How about a professional football player? Find a helmet and a uniform. Just for fun, what about an spooky undertaker? Find all black clothing and an odd looking bottle you can label, "Embalming Fluid." Some kids may have no idea what they want to be when they grow up but picking out a "career costume" may get them thinking about it.

- Get Creative

A thrift store in Denver Colorado had people model the costumes they came up with items from their store for the local ABC TV affiliate. They were quite clever and some of the ideas may inspire you. They had a little boy with a hooded sweatshirt being Eliot from the movie ET. They attached the handles and basket of a small bike to his sweat shirt and found a stuffed ET toy to put in the basket. Quite adorable! They had a woman wearing a fringed old fashioned lamp shade to represent the leg lamp from The Christmas Story. Another woman was dressed as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. She wore a black dress they had embellished will all sorts of cute patches and buttons, plus a cute stuffed gecko on her shoulder.

By the way, did you know that Ms. Frizzle has a cousin who owns and operates a recycling plant? Murph is his name and he knows what to do with
rubbish removal!

Here's another Halloween costume solution you can find at thrift stores:

You can often find fully made used costumes that found their way into thrift stores when Clearabee takes their rubbish removal items to a way station that they know will place these items in a thrift store to be used again instead of the landfill. The trick is to SHOP EARLY because these ready made costumes will go fast. This is useful way to get a low impact costume if your kid is dead set on being a trademarked superhero like Superman, Spiderman, Wonderwoman, Thor, or Captain America since these would be very hard to create from scratch. You can often find other iconic costumes that would be hard to copy exactly such as SpongeBob, Pink Panther, Winnie the Pooh, or Tweety Bird.

Happy Halloween everyone and stay safe out there!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Drunken Chicken Roll

Chicken meat can be prepared in many ways.  We can roast, stew, stir fry or poach them but today I am going to share with you another way to prepare chicken meat.  I remembered I did a cold version of drunken wings some years back . And it was a hit with the family.

To make a simplified version, I pressure cooked ginseng chicken soup for the family and took out a bowl to make drunken chicken roll.  I used two chicken leg, deboned them , season with salt and pepper , then rolled them up and tie with string to hold the shape.  Steamed the chicken rolls till cooked.  Add 1/3 cup of chinese cooking wine to the prepared ginseng soup and pour over the cooked rolls and soaked overnight in the fridge. Serve them chilled as appetiser or as a main dish.  A very delicious dish to serve the family or when you have guests to dinner :)

steam them for 20 mins till cooked

I skip the step of resting them in cold water to lock up the
juices....you can do that if you want but I let it cool down 
before pouring the ginseng wine soup over them

soak over night so that the ginseng wine flavored soup
get infused into the chicken rolls

my microwave tupperware comes in handy for this dish

when serving , remove the string and cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices

to make it look more appetising, I make a spicy cucumber
salad to go with it.  Yummz!

Drunken Chicken Roll

ginseng soup - one free range chicken , two ginseng roots, red goji , water enough to cover the chicken.  Pressure cook soup . Add salt to taste. Take out soup enough to cover the chicken rolls. The rest of the soup to be served as soup for the family.

2 chicken legs - deboned, keep skin intact
salt and pepper for seasoning the deboned legs
string for tying

1/3 cup chinese cooking wine - add to the prepared ginseng soup

To make spicy cucumber salad
2 japanese cucumber - slice thinly
2 tsp of chilli flakes
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and chill in the fridge.  Serve with the drunken chicken rolls


1. Deboned the chicken legs, keep skin intact.  Season with salt and pepper. Roll the deboned legs with skin facing down. Tie with string on both ends and middle of the rolls.  Place the rolled up chicken legs on a place and steam for 20 mins till cooked.  Take out and let it cool down. ( you can rest in cold water for 10 mins to lock in the juices but I skipped this step ) 

2.  Place the chicken rolls in a container and pour the prepared ginseng soup ( added with chinese wine) onto the chicken rolls. Let the rolls sit in the ginseng soup overnight in the fridge.  When serving, remove the string and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Arrange neatly on plate and serve chilled.  Serve with spicy cucumber salad as an appetiser or even as a main dish if you desire.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dhal Curry And Soft Chapati

WB and I had a sudden craving for homecooked Dhal Curry.  I googled for a easy one and found one from Sonia's blog - Nasi Lemak Lover.  I love all her recipes.  I gave her recipe a tweak and  added eggplant to it and used fresh turmeric instead of tumeric powder and added more dried chillies for extra heat . I have frozen blended turmeric         ( homegrown ) from the last harvest. I prefer fresh turmeric :p One thing about dhal curry is you can add any vegetables you like . A vegan dish that is nutritious, flavorful and delicious.   Dhal curry be eaten with chapati ( indian flatbread ) or rice.  I have not cooked this curry for a long time and am surprised that with Sonia's recipe, I did better than before.  Hubby complimented the dish . Thank you Sonia for sharing your dhal curry recipe :)  It is truly delicious ! And a keeper for sure.

  I added eggplant, more dried chillies for extra heat
and fresh turmeric instead of powder form :)
 fry the spices till fragrant
before adding the soaked dhal in

it is best to soak the dhal in water for 2 hours
to shorten the cooking time

 simmer for 1 hour to 1.5 hours under medium low fire
or till dhal has soften and gravy has thicken

 dhal curry can be served with rice or chapati

Dhal Curry - adapted from Sonia
 with some tweaks

1/2 cup dhal - washed, then soaked in water for 2 hours
3 green chillies - sliced
3 shallots- sliced
3 cloves garlic- sliced
1 large tomato - remove seeds - diced
1  large potato - diced
1 carrot - diced
1 small eggplant - diced
4 - 6 dried chillies -  *depends on how much heat you want
3 sprig of curry leaves

water -  1.5 litres
1 tsp of turmeric powder or 1/2 tbsp of fresh turmeric (pounded)
1/2 tbsp mixed indian herbs ( mustard seeds, cummin seeds etc...get from indian grocery shop)
salt to taste
1 tbsp of oil

1. Heat oil in a wok, add in shallots, garlic, mixed indian herbs, stir fry till fragrant.
2. Add in green chilli and curry leaves, continue to stir fry for a while. Add in the tomato, potato, eggplant, and carrot, mix well.  Then add in dhal and water followed by fresh turmeric (blended) or turmeric powder.
3.Simmer for 1 -1.5 hours over low heat or until dhall has soften (mushy look) and gravy has thicken.
Serve with rice or chapatis.

The Making of Soft Chapati

I have been searching on how to make soft chapati...after gathering some tips from all over the internet, I  put all together and make my own soft chapati.  Haven't really perfected the recipe , but it is still the best I have ever made.  I am using a technique used in baking bread called autolyse. The word sounds frightening but it is nothing but a resting period between mixing and kneading.  It helps the flour to absorb more liquid.  This is quite interesting . Instead of using room temperature water, I used hot water . ( it helps make the chapati softer )  You will notice that I did not use Ghee . This is a healthy version. The chapati remains soft when I store them in air tight tupperware. And I prepared them half a hour before meal time.  The chapati remained soft and warm.

 add hot water to the atta flour
and gently mix the flour and water till just mixed .
 Over mixing will activate the gluten
too much and interfere in absorption of water by the flour

once the flour and liquid is mixed like the picture above, 
 cover with a cloth and leave it to rest 30 mins
do not form a ball yet.

I always set the timer :) when resting the dough

 divide into equal balls , each ball about the size a lime

dust the board with atta flour
and roll the ball into a 4 inches disc

 place the chapati on a hot griddle

Soft Chapati
(make six 4 inch round Chapatis )

1 cup Atta flour
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp salt


1. Put one cup of atta flour in a bowl. Add half a cup of hot water and mix with a spatula or spoon. When there is no more water visible, stop mixing. Cover bowl and let it rest for 30 mins.

2. After 30 mins, add the salt, gently mix the dough for 2 mins, just enough to gather the dough into one piece. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30 mins.

3. Divide the dough into lime size balls. Set an iron griddle on medium high heat. Let it become hot. Take a dough ball and generously dust it with flour. Roll the dough into a 4 inch round . Place the chapati on the hot griddle. Let it cook for 10 to 15 seconds until bubbles starts to form on top. Flip the chapati and cook for 30 seconds more. Gently press on top of the chapati to make the chapati fluff up. Flip one more time and press on top. Chapati should beautifully fluff up.

Storing Chapati:
Line a bowl with cotton towel. Place the cooked chaapati on the bowl and cover with a towel. Chapati will stay beautifully soft for a long time.

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