Ajam Katjang

Photography Alice de Sturler

One of my family’s favourites is a simple meal of fresh vegetables, basmati rice, and ajam katjang. Ajam Katjang is a simple dish of baked chicken with peanut/soy sauce. Very often, the chicken is grilled on sticks and then the sauce is added or, you can bake the chicken and let it simmer in katjang sauce.

There are many recipes for katjang sauce but if you wish to make mine, try this.



garlic (fresh or powder)

pepper and salt

onions (finely chopped or powder)

peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

peanut pieces

brown sugar


kentjoer (sand ginger)

ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce)

sambal katjang


Work order:

In a non-stick pan, use the oil to fry garlic and onions and bake the chicken. I use filet cut in cubes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter (peanut bits optional) and a little bit of milk to make the mixture smooth. You should be able to stir a spoon through the peanut butter. If it drips off the spoon, it is too thin.

Add to taste: a small amount of brown sugar, kentjour (sand ginger), and to spice it up, sambal katjang. Smooth it out with ketjap manis. Last, add parsley.

All sauces are personal and experimental to me so I taste, mix, and add.

If you want a variation, use ketjap asin (salty soy sauce) with sambal trassi (shrimp based) but then be careful adding more salt.

Sate Paste
Photograph AdS

You can also buy sate paste. I use either of these two when I am in a hurry: Satay Peanut Sauce by Por Kwan and King of Satay Paste by King.

Salamat makan, enjoy.

Sauerkraut à la Alice

Recipe and photography AdS

Yesterday evening, I posted this picture on Twitter. I frequently post what I am cooking there. I got the request for the recipe. So, here it is: Sauerkraut à la Alice.


-onions, I like to use green onions to keep the sauerkraut taste dominant
-hotdogs, cut up into little pieces, or ground beef
-black pepper and salt to taste
-sauerkraut, drained as much as possible
-tomato paste
-ketjap manis (sweet or demi-sweet) or soy sauce
-sambal goreng or chili paste to taste

Work order:

Put the oil in a non-stick pan, add garlic and onions, and stir until brown.

Mix in the hot dogs pieces or the ground beef. If you use shawarma beef it might clash with the taste of the sauerkraut. Add all the dry spices and keep stirring to get the meat done and prevent the powdered spices from sticking to the pan. Add the sauerkraut and mix it really well. This goes best if you add it bit by bit. I just use my hands, grab a hand-full, and place it in the pan. Stir, next hand-full, etc. When all is added and mixed well, turn heat down to medium.

In a cup, mix in equal parts the tomato paste and ketjap manis or soy sauce. For a 1 lbs. package of sauerkraut, I use 3 table spoons of tomato paste and ketjap, mixed well. Add sambal goreng to taste.

Add the tomato-ketjap mix to the beef, turn it up briefly, taste to see if you want to add more salt or sambal goreng but be careful not to overdo it as the sauerkraut has such a unique flavour. You can also later add the sambal goreng to your rice.

Once you add the tomato-ketjap mix and are happy with your spices’ mix, turn the heat low and keep the lid on, serve promptly.

I like to eat this mix with rice and fresh veggies like carrots or corn, or raw veggies like fresh red bell peppers. As for the rice, either white or brown will be tasty and you can even use sticky (sushi) rice.


Dinner is served!

Cooking and photography by AdS

Today’s prompt is about superpowers. Which one would I like to have and why? My first reaction was to be able to apparate. This way, I can visit my family whenever I want while of course, respecting another country’s covid19 restrictions.

But then it occurred to me that again, all these prompts in #Bloganuary are about me, me, me. And it shouldn’t be.

So, what superpower would I use to help others? I would like to fill everyone’s belly with at least one warm meal a day.

If everyone had dinner covered, it would reduce everyone’s stress levels. No worries about grocery shopping or finding time to cook. Not even worrying about money to buy groceries for dinner, no. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat are expensive. If that falls away, there would be room to use available funds for other meals, bills, anything. But even if no other funds were available, knowing that you have a dinner every day, that you can sit down with family and others, enjoy a good meal, relax, that is priceless.

When we eat we do much more than just making sure we get in enough calories for our energy. We sit, we relax, we reset our minds, think about something else even if it is a tiny detail such as the pattern on the dinner plates or wondering what you are actually eating, what it tasts like, and if it reminds you of anything.

It soothes the soul to know that someone made this effort for you and it affirms, that you matter. Too many people these days doubt they do.

After dinner, you might think differently about the day’s issues and problems. You might even find solutions as your brain had a moment to breath and relax.

Who knows what we could accomplish together if we sat down, ate a good meal, and mulled things over?

Meal Plans

Making telor uduk – eggs in coconut sauce – photograph AdS

My last post was about my content calendar. I am working on it and am adding something to it: expiration dates.

When the pandemic hit, we stocked up big time. And now with the stock piles, we were exploring what we have in the pantry, and what needs to be replenished.

I have everything in the pantry sorted mostly by food group. And while doing that, I started placing items on shelves by expiration date. It is easy to forget jars and cans when they are in the back of the pantry. So, I took all the 2021 and 2022 dates out, placed them in order, and the ones that need to be used within the next six months go in the content planner too. Just a quick note like corn, palak, tofu, etc.

Just this morning, I was standing in front of the refrigerator thinking what to do for dinner. Not having any inspiration, I went back to my desk where my content calendar lies open. And, it said what I had to do: telor uduk. It is an Indonesian dish of eggs in coconut sauce. Both should be used within the next 10 days so, problem solved.

What are you doing for dinner?


After Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2020I hope you all enjoyed a safe Thanksgiving. We didn’t have our normal celebration with international faculty, students, friends, etc. as we cannot risk anyone’s life during the pandemic.

So, why not change the whole menu?

The result was Nasi Goreng (top left) with Telor in coconut sauce (top right) and Pad Thai (bottom). Needless to say these are also our leftovers for today.

This time of year also marks the beginning of my ‘Writing with WordPress’ period. On November 24, 2009 I started the website Defrosting Cold Cases. It felt like a jump into the deep end of the pool but I soon learned where the lifesavers were located. You can read here why I started it.

I wondered whether I should write another year review. I have not. The pandemic has changed a lot. Working or being at home doesn’t mean you have more time. The situational anxiety we all feel doesn’t always provide the right mood to write. If I look at my stats it is clear that I wrote less in 2020. It wasn’t intentional as my list with writing requests is huge.

I am also behind with writing book reviews. Unfortunately, this year for the first time I experienced book reviewer bashing. I really believe that if you don’t want to know what others think of your writing you should not have published your book. If you hold it so close to your heart and cannot bear that anyone points to a mistake or honestly tells you why they didn’t like it, maybe don’t offer your book to reviewers. To cut a long story short, several emails landed in my inbox with comments online. It has made me more careful with whom I work on manuscripts.

So, the plans after this Thanksgiving? An inventory of what was left behind in 2020 and planning for 2021. But first, we eat leftovers!

Stuffed rolls

Finished rolls stuffed with beef/AdS
Finished rolls stuffed with beef/AdS

I love making stuffed rolls. You can start from scratch and make the filling but, if you are creative and feel adventurous in the kitchen, you can also use your leftovers.

These are easy to make. You can use vegetables (finely cut) and you have the option to use meat or fish. And, the leftovers are ideal next-day lunch packages.

These are egg roll wraps filled with minced beef, green onions, broccoli pearls, garlic, and fish sauce.

Stuffing and sauce/AdS
Stuffing and sauce/AdS

What do you need?

For the stuffing:

1 package of egg wrap rolls
1 pound of beef or shrimp
green onions
a package of broccoli pearls (or chip them small yourself),

For the sauce:

rice vinegar
hot sauce
fish sauce

I use 3 table spoons of each and mix it before I start cooking. Of course, you can use any sauce you like such as ketjap, teriyaki, peanut, etc.

All rolled up/AdS

Let’s start!

Saute the garlic with the green onions, add the beef, and mince it well. Add the broccoli pearls. When you see them get golden, add the fish sauce. Let it all cool down.

In the meantime, set up your wraps and grab a sheet pan lined with parchment. Wrap a small bit of stuffing in each wrap, tuck in the ends, and let them rest a bit.

Turn up the heat.

I air-fry the rolls at 425F for about 10min. You can spray them with a little bit of oil before they go into the oven to make the wrap more crispy.

Note that if you use a small appliance air-fryer you may need to go to 400F and just for 8min. My oven has a built-in air-fryer and I found that 425F for 10min works best. I do check after about 8min to check their crispiness.