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(Disclosure: I received this device to review as a member of the
Lenovo INsiders Program. All opinions are my own.)

A few weeks ago, I was sent a Lenovo Smart Display to evaluate; never having owned any smart devices before, I wasn’t sure what to expect and how much use I’d get out of it.

As a point of comparison, if you’re familiar with smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon Echo, the Lenovo Smart Display is the next level up – imagine a smart speaker that comes with a display screen so you can watch videos, see pictures and read or select search results.

I followed the instructions that came with the unit, installed the Google Home app on my phone, and connected the smart display to it. Since I already use Google Assistant on my phone, I didn’t need to train it to recognise my voice or speech pattern.

I then set up some “routines” in my Google Home app – which include adding a chronological set of instructions for the Lenovo Smart Display to carry out when I issue specific commands – eg. “Hey Google, good morning/I’m home/good afternoon” etc.

Right now, I’ve programmed it so that when I say “good morning”, it tells me the current temperature and weather forecast, the estimated commute time to “work”, any reminders and upcoming items on my calendar, and then it plays a specific podcast until I tell it to “stop playing”.

When I say “I’m home”, it’s set to play the latest news from a variety of sources I’ve preselected – including news from Indonesia, Germany, France, Spain and a couple of other countries, in their native languages (I graduated Sydney University with a degree in languages 25 years ago, apparently in anticipation of this invention).

The most intriguing feature, though, is its ability to pull up recipes in its search results, and then read out the instructions step by step at my pace – which means I can cook along while listening to it, without having to touch the screen.

Here’s my 3-minute video showing how this works (along with some of the other commands) –

Lenovo Smart Display - Features & Commands - YouTube

It also controls some 5000 smart devices including lights and even coffee makers.

So what do I think of the Lenovo Smart Display?

Here are the pros –

It’s a sleek and beautiful unit with a sturdy and stable base.

I like that I can watch YouTube videos on it, and get it to scroll through the thousands of photos in my Google Photos album throughout the day.

It’s kind of like having a really smart housemate who can tell you stuff like what time it is halfway across the world (something I need to know more often than you’d think, simply because I work online and have meetings in different timezones), and set reminders and pull up other search results for me.

It works as a security camera so you can monitor the rooms in your home through the display (including the baby’s room), and you can also get it to show a live feed of your backyard, using smart devices.

Instead of just listening to music, I can watch the videos that accompany them.

I can make video calls with it, and when in that mode, I can pop the Lenovo Smart Display on its side for vertical video.

The speakers are clear and powerful, and the microphone has a great range – it can pick up my commands from my study at the far end of my apartment.

Unlike Google Assistant on my phone, the Lenovo Smart Device can hear my commands very well (eg. telling it to stop) over any audio it’s playing.

What are the cons?

Because it runs on Google Assistant, its capabilities are pegged to the limitations of said software –

  • It doesn’t recognise my command to pull up recipes from specific websites (eg. yours truly’s) – right now it only yields Google search results, which means when I ask for “the perfect steak recipe” – my selections are limited to those from websites that rank highest (think Jamie Oliver, etc.).

  • It defaults to the most recent upload when I ask it to play a particular podcast or YouTube channel. With the YouTube video, I can then pause it and then scroll through the playlist for one I do want to watch, but I can’t do that with podcast episodes since they are audio only.

However, when it can’t perform a specific task, it does respond that “I can’t do that right now, but I’m still learning” – which gives me hope that someone at Google is working hard to finetune its features.

The Lenovo Smart Display I received for review is an 8-inch model; it currently retails for just USD 99.00 at https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/smart-display

Here are the specifications:

  • Design
    • Width x Height:142.21mm x 263.21 mm
    • Thickness:12.5 mm — 111.36 mm
    • Weight:1 kg (2.2 lbs)
    • Color:Grey
    • I/O Buttons:1 x Microphone-Mute, 1 x Camera Shutter, 1 x Volume +/-
  • Display
    • Size:8”
    • Type:IPS
    • Resolution:HD (1280 x 800)
    • Screen:Direct Bonding
    • Rotating View:86° Wide Angle
  • Performance
    • Processor:Qualcomm® Home Hub Platform (base​ Snapdragon 624, Octa-Core A53 1.8 GHz, 14 nm)​
    • Audio:1.75″ 10W Full Range Speaker​ 2 x Passive Tweeters
    • Microphone:2 x 2 Dual Microphone Arrays
    • RAM:Up to 2 GB
    • Flash (eMMC):Up to 4 GB
  • Multimedia
    • Front Camera:5 MP Wide Angle
    • Video Call:720p
  • Connectivity
    • WLAN:2 x 2 WiFi 802.11 ac 2.4G/5G, MIMO
    • Bluetooth®:Bluetooth® BLE & 4.2
  • What’s In The Box
    • Lenovo Smart Display (8), Cable, Adapter, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card

The post Lenovo Smart Display for Hands-Free Cooking appeared first on Jackie M.

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I first heard about spicy fried cashew nuts from the People With Disability advocate who helped me file Noah’s NDIS review (I’ll write all about the failings of the NDIS on a separate platform – if you have your own NDIS horror story to tell, get in touch!).

Anyhow she mentioned that the highlight of her visit to Thailand had been these amazing spicy fried cashew nuts that she just hasn’t been able to find anywhere. I honestly have no idea what they’re meant to look or taste like but I scanned through some Thai cashew nut snack recipes online, picked some apart, and came up with this iteration, which I haven’t been able to stop eating.

If you’re not a vegan you would use fish sauce in lieu of light soya sauce – and depending on which brand of soya sauce you do use, keep in mind that they do vary in strength and can be overpowering so go light on it if in doubt.

Here’s a clip from the Twitch Live Asian Kitchen broadcast – I over-browned the sugar in this batch, but you get the idea. The recipe follows below, and all quantities are “agak-agak”, ie. guesstimates.

Watch Vegan Spicy Fried Cashew Nuts from JackieMFood on www.twitch.tv

Vegan Spicy Fried Cashew Nuts

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup raw cashew nuts

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TBSP light soya sauce

2 TBSP sugar

2 tsp chilli flakes or chilli powder

2 tsp kaffir lime leaf (I used the kaffir lime leaf powder from MyBlueTea.com.au)

METHOD:

  1. Cook the cashew nuts – either deep-fry for 1-2 minutes at 180C or airfry for 5 minutes at 180C (make sure to pause and stir them mid-cycle). Remove and set aside.
  2. Combine sesame oil, light soya sauce, sugar and chilli in a (preferably non-stick) saucepan, and heat until the sugar starts to caramelise.
  3. Toss in the cashew nuts, mix well and remove from heat.
  4. Mix in the kaffir lime leaf.
  5. Allow to cool before storing.

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The post How To Make Vegan Fried Spicy Cashew Nuts appeared first on Jackie M.

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You know a Malaysian product is good when even Malaysians rave about it. I’d heard about Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen’s famous sambal, but did not at first realise The Sambal Lady and I had a lot in common.

First of all, Auria and I both went to the same high school back in Malaysia – Convent Seremban – she was in the year below me, though I’m not sure our paths ever crossed. We both then ended up overseas, gave up our professional careers, and started Malaysian food businesses in our adopted homelands.

In this Live video interview for my new Facebook community, Food Fame, Auria recounts her journey from music to food, and how she niched down her business to just one initial product – her award-winning chilli condiment (aka “sambal”), which earned her the moniker of “The Sambal Lady”.

Watch the replay here to find out more about how Auria managed to generate publicity in the lead-up to the launch of her homemade sambal (and now, kaya) business, and the nuts and bolts of producing and distributing her products across 55 stores in New York >>

You can buy Auria’s Sambals and Kayas online for delivery within the US at >> https://auriasmalaysiankitchen.com/

Food Fame is my free Facebook community set up for current or aspiring food business owners seeking to learn how to get noticed without hiring expensive PR or marketing teams. Join us here >> bit.ly/food-fame

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The post Food Fame – Auria Abraham, AKA New York’s Sambal Lady appeared first on Jackie M.

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A fellow ex-Malaysian now based in San Francisco, Tracy Goh of EatWithTracy.com has been introducing Americans to authentic Malaysian food since 2012 through her pop-up events.

I love how she has her Instagram strategy really dialled in via beautiful photos and great engagement (basically everything I know I should be doing but don’t), and her propensity for pushing the envelope with her menu offerings.

Now, after seven years, Tracy is looking to launch her first restaurant, to be named after her home suburb of Damansara back in Malaysia. What’s unusual about her approach is that she’s using the power of crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to realise her dream of opening what will be San Francisco’s first ever Laksa bar.

I managed to catch up with Tracy via a Skype interview streamed on Facebook Live; check it out to learn more about Tracy’s food journey and how she’s leveraging Kickstarter to build buzz around Damansara –

Here’s the link to Tracy’s Kickstarter campaign, which includes tiered rewards for backers – Damansara – A Malaysian Laksa Noodle Bar In San Francisco

This interview is part of an ongoing series for my new Facebook Community called Food Fame. If you’re a food entrepreneur or have dreams of becoming one, join us there for discussions on how dominate your niche and get noticed >> bit.ly/food-fame

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The post Damansara – Crowdfunding San Francisco’s First Laksa Bar appeared first on Jackie M.

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Jackie M by Jackiem - 3w ago

This was my second attempt at a vegan version of Kaya; the first time around, I used mashed taro (=>
https://jackiem.com.au/2017/02/23/make-vegan-kaya-onde-onde/ ), which basically tasted like sweetened mashed taro. Nice, but you’re not fooling anyone who has any inkling of what kaya is like.

This new recipe is adapted from one I found at MoreThanVeggies.sg; it looks fabulous and the texture is just right, but I’ll admit it is cloyingly sweet so I’ve changed the amount of sugar in this write-up.

Also, maybe it’s because I know it contains tofu, but I can’t get past the hint of beancurd when I eat it. I don’t know; maybe I’m setting too high a bar for vegan food but this isn’t going to make me give up the real deal anytime soon.

If you live in Sydney and want to help offload me of this solitary jar of uber sweet kaya currently sitting in my fridge, hit me up; I only made it two days ago during my Twitch Live Asian Kitchen, so it’ll keep for a few more weeks yet.

Vegan (Tofu Kaya)

INGREDIENTS:

300g silken tofu

150g sugar

300ml coconut cream

2 TBSP pandan juice or 2 drops pandan colouring

1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  1. Blend tofu into a paste in a blender.
  2. Transfer into a heavy-based, non-stick saucepan, add all other ingredients and cook on low heat, stirring until it thickens to nearly the consistency of jam.
  3. Remove from heat, blend again if lumpy, then transfer into a glass jar. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator. It should keep for about 4-6 weeks.

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The post How To Make Vegan Kaya II appeared first on Jackie M.

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I love hearing about new Malaysian restaurants because I’m tired of people never having experienced Malaysian food or getting it confused for Thai, Indonesian or Mongolian (yep) cuisine. (Don’t even get me started on Crispy Rendang-gate.)

Anyhow thanks to the champion networking skills of my long-time collaborator Alexx of MyBlueTea.com.au, I was invited to sample the food at Ya-Malaysia’s most recent outlet located in the Chatswood Interchange upstairs food court.

It was a great opportunity for me to catch up with some old associates and meet some new ones, many of whom were from my new Facebook community for existing or would-be food entrepreneurs (if that sounds like you, click on bit.ly/jackiemgroup – and ask to join).

Pictured below are some of the dishes our group of 60-odd devoured – Hainanese rice with fried chicken, a spicy mee goreng (right heat level for me, but if feeding your kids, you might want to ask them to hold the chilli), sambal fried chicken (this exceeded my chilli threshold but two of the other guests at my table ate every last scrap), nasi goreng, and the pièce de résistance, black pepper mud crab.

Hainanese Rice with Crispy Chicken
Mee Goreng
Sambal Fried Chicken
Nasi Goreng
Black Pepper Mud Crab
The ridiculously young owner of the Ya-Malaysia chain of restaurants, Sam the Man

Baby Noah’s antics aside (he tried to run away, and he knocked some of Alexx’s blue flower products off one of the seats), it was an enjoyable afternoon of conversations around food with friends from all over Sydney. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Ya-Malaysia , this time to savour some of their other menu offerings.

Ya-Malaysia Chatswood is open 7 days from 11am
Shop 78/468 Victoria Ave, Chatswood (The District) 2067
Ph: 8668 5514
Email: Chatswood@yamalaysia.com.au

The post Ya-Malaysia – Chatswood Interchange appeared first on Jackie M.

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I’ve probably said this before but we Malaysians tend to be durian snobs – those of us living overseas buy frozen Thai Mornthong durian out of necessity and desperation because they’re cheap and readily available – and then moan about how tasteless and soggy they are compared to fresh Musang King or XO and all the other varieties of durian that the rest of the world is generally clueless about.

Personally, I find frozen Thai durian great for use in recipes – I’ve used it in durian smoothies, durian ice cream, durian kaya, prawn durian sambal (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) etc.

More recently, I’ve tried it in jemput-jemput durian (where it’s mashed up with flour, baking powder and sugar, then deep-fried) but I decided I actually prefer having the durian pulp dipped into batter, then deep-fried, so that it’s like biting into durian-filled puffs, rather than having it all stirred into the batter.

Here’s a segment from my Live Asian Kitchen broadcast; the recipe follows below.

Watch Highlight: Durian Fritters from JackieMFood on www.twitch.tv Durian-filled Puffs (Durian Fritters)

INGREDIENTS:

500g durian pulp

4 TBSP sugar

½ cup rice flour

½ cup self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Enough water to make a batter that will coat the back of a spoon

Oil for deep-frying

METHOD:

  1. Combine durian and sugar in a saucepan (preferably non-stick) and cook on low heat until thickened into a paste. Allow to cool.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add water to make a thick batter.
  3. Heat oil to about 180’C. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, drop a dollop of durian paste into the batter, coat well, then transfer into oil. Fry until a golden brown colour – you’ll need to use a wooden spoon or ladle to turn it occasionally to ensure even cooking; this should only take a couple of minutes.
  4. Remove and drain on paper towels. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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The post How to Make Vegan Durian-Filled Puffs appeared first on Jackie M.

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This is the same acar recipe (mixed vegetable pickle with crushed roasted peanuts and sesame seeds) that I used for my restaurant except for the omission of shrimp paste (belacan) in order to make it vegan. Please note my philosophy of “agak-agak” ie. guesstimating is in full force here, especially where the sugar is concerned, so take the amounts listed below with a grain of salt (or sugar, for that matter).

Acar can be served as a side dish with nasi lemak (Malaysian coconut rice with sambal etc.) or with keropok per pictured at the bottom of this post.

You can find vegan keropoks at Asian grocery stores; look for ones made with cassava/tapioca and deep-fry them at 200’C until they expand – this should take only a couple of seconds or you’ll end up burning them.

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VEGAN Acar (Easy Recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 medium-sized cabbage, cut into ¾” widths
  • 4 cucumbers, cored and julienned
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 4 cups peanuts, skin off, roasted, then crushed
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds, roasted
  • 2 brown onions, peeled & quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 fresh chillies or 1 Tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 750ml white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tbsp oil

METHOD:

  1. Blend onion, garlic & chilli into a paste. Transfer into a frying pan and fry until most of the moisture has evaporated.
  2. Add oil and fry until browned and oil separates.
  3. In a separate pot, bring vinegar and water to a boil.
  4. Poach vegetables separately (the carrots will take the longest – about 20-30 seconds; cabbage should be done in about 10 and cucumber strips in 5 seconds); remove and strain.
  5. Add fried onion/chilli/garlic paste (aka rempah) along with turmeric, salt & sugar. Mix well and adjust to taste.
  6. Add crushed peanuts and sesame seeds and mix.
  7. Allow to cool, then strain to remove excess liquid.
  8. Store in jars. Keep refrigerated until use.

The post How To Make Vegan Acar (Spicy Pickles) appeared first on Jackie M.

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This prawn paste is sometimes called shrimp paste (not to be confused with belacan/terasi; I know, it’s confusing), and it’s best known as the base for Penang rojak aka fruit rojak, and as a topping/dip for Penang Assam Laksa. It’s molassy, dark brown, sweet and pungent. In Chinese it’s known as Hei Ko, and in Malay it’s called Petis Udang or Otak Udang.

Awhile back, one of my followers asked me if I knew how to make it – as is often the case I’ve forgotten who it was, so hopefully she signed up for my email list so she doesn’t miss out when this gets pushed out to my audience.

Since petis udang is so readily available in Malaysia, and to a lesser extent here in Sydney, Australia, it had never cross my mind to attempt making it myself. I decided to look into it and found a handful of recipes courtesy of my Sydney University Bachelor of Arts in Languages and our neighbours in Indonesia (the recipes are in Indonesian).

Here’s my Twitch Live Asian Kitchen broadcast where I attempted it, with the recipe underneath.

Watch Highlight: Making Prawn Paste Dressing from JackieMFood on www.twitch.tv PETIS UDANGHEI KOPRAWN PASTE INGREDIENTS:

250g prawn shells, including heads

800ml water

250g palm sugar or brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 TBSPS butter

White sugar to taste

METHOD:
  1. Combine prawn shells and water in a blender, and blend into a coarse consistency.
  2. Transfer into a deep saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about one hour.
  3. Strain and discard the prawn shells; transfer the liquid into another saucepan.
  4. Add all other ingredients and simmer, stirring gently, until thickened to the consistency and colour you want.
  5. Pour into glass jar, allow to cool, then secure with lid. Keep in refrigerator once opened.

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The post How To Make Petis Udang or Hei Ko (Prawn Paste) appeared first on Jackie M.

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If you’re in Sydney’s CBD and looking for great food in a creative space with free WiFi, check out Portal Cafe, located on the mezzanine level at 1 Martin Place.

I had the opportunity to visit the venue last week, and was struck by the freshness of the ingredients and the beautiful flavour combinations in the salad I ordered. The pumpkin soup was top notch, and the lavender white hot chocolate was quite simply unforgettable.

What I found particularly intriguing is that Portal Cafe is a social enterprise – 100 percent of the profits are donated to not-for-profits.

Diners are able to choose from three charities including Eat Up, an organisation that provides school lunches to Australian children who would otherwise go without, Blue Dragon, which rescues children from slavery and human trafficking in Vietnam, and Rural Aid, which supports rural Australian communities.

The kitchen is helmed by Chef Michal Siudeja (Mecca, The Farmed Table), and the menu is drawn from ultra-seasonal ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

Refugees make up the floor staff at Portal Cafe; they receive training in hospitality while waiting for visas that will allow them to secure paid work.

Portal is 100 per cent plastic free and co-founder Nicolas Degryse says the hope is that it becomes a communal space where people come to eat together, co-work and hang out for the day.

And if you get the chance to drop in on a Friday, make sure you order the lavender hot chocolate drink – trust me, it’s pretty fantastic.

Portal

Mezzanine Level, 1 Martin Place, Sydney

Hours

Mon to Fri, 8am – 4pm

www.portal.org.au

I dined as a guest of the cafe, but the opinions here are mine.

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The post Review: Portal Cafe @ 1 Martin Place appeared first on Jackie M.

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