Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Saying Goodbye To 2008!

We finally arrived at the very last day of 2008 and I can't help thinking back of what has happened all these 366 days. So many days, so many things took place. So many great things, some not so good ones as well. It so hard to believe that we will begin a new year in a matter of hours.

I have a mix feeling having to say goodbye to 2008, I have become so attached to it. This year, I have grown along with children and DH. I got to do what I love to do, We traveled, we cooked and baked so much more than ever before. We visited new places, learned new things, tried many new recipes and tasted new foods. We have challenges that we dealt with and we survived.

Goodbye 2008, hello 2009! Tomorrow will be another new day, another new year, a new beginning for all of us!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie was on the "to-make-list" for a while and we finally made them last week. It was a matter of putting my heart and my mind into it and a little request from the people who would eat them. The crust was made from scratch too and we always ended up with some left that we used to make small apple pie for dessert. One likes it with the crust all around while others like the crust on the top. It's not hard to cater the preference at all.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I am on Dilations now - Math it is! Feeling like high school student all over again..

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Going Bananas

My fridge is looking really healthy for once, but it is so stuffed!!! Really really stuffed! We have cut up fruits and all sort of fruits in the fridge, mostly courtesy of my in laws. Don't get me wrong, DH's family is really generous and I really appreciate their kindness. My mother in law and some of DH's sisters are absolutely super giving people. When they give, they really give! They give us mostly food, so much food. Much more than we could eat and give away to other people. Every time we get something from them, we scramble all over the place trying to re-distribute the gift to others. Occasionally, we are too exhausted and we could not care less about passing them on because it takes effort to call people and drive around to deliver them and that can be exhausting too.

DH tried, unsuccessfully, to explain that we do not need certain things and they could give them to others instead. It has been explained nicely also we do not eat certain types of food they give us and we could only have a bit of them, but we can't possibly have too much or they will be wasted. This does not work too. They still send stuff. Lots of stuff, much more than we can chew.

Last week, upon a trip to DH's mom, we got two big papayas, one large water melon, one large honey dew, a hand of bananas, some green veges and some frozen stuff. I am going crazy right now, being haunted by ripe fruits around. ................. To begin with, we had some grapes, apples and oranges already. We are not able to consume them well except for me, but how much fruit can one person eat anyway?I had two glasses of melon juice this morning and I still have a tall glass left. Nobody else is willing to have them. I am getting so sick of these fruits, they are just too much.

I asked DH why he brought back too many things. He replied, " I said no to the chicken she offered, no to the fish, no to the vegetables and no to the rice noodles ....." And by the way, in my fridge, I still have a large container of chicken curry from DH's sister. Every refuses to have it now nangih.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blue For Some

At times like this, I could use a freshly baked white bread as my comfort food. It is depressing to see many people get affected by the current economy crisis. Life gets tougher as prices of basic goods go up while more and more people losing their source of income.The roads ahead are getting bumpier for many.

When in comes to retrenchment, delivery of news could come anytime, even on Christmas eve. It is hard breaking to know that one more friend of DH was laid off yesterday, after a few others. DH just got his call today, on Christmas today. Wishing him a Merry Christmas really brought its meaning to a new level. It does not really matter whether this person held a high management position, it still means that future income is gone and plans have to be altered.

The night before, the technician that I called to fix our refrigerator came over. He told me that he and his colleagues have been laid off too and no compensation money was given because the company was losing money. An excuse that is rather unacceptable, because in general, those sort of payments need to be made unless the company went bust. He was going to work on getting what he feels that he is entitled to, which constitute to at least five months salary.

I am certain there are way so many sadder and heart breaking stories around this. There are people without enough money to buy food and pay for the much-needed medical care. There are kids that can't go to school because their parents lose their income. There are just more sadness and sorrow this Christmas. I pray for the strength to do my part in helping others although I barely am good enough to help myself. I know, it is a blue Christmas for some people. Sorry that this is a downer.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Expansion With Apple Pie

In a rainy day like this, what could possibly be better than having hot apple pie served with a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hmmm.... it's beginning to feel like ... Christmas..??.....

We continue with our waistline expansion program with chicken pot pie for lunch today and apple pie plus vanilla ice cream for dessert. I don't know if we will still have any space for tonight's dinner and Christmas meals tomorrow. Knowing us, I am confident that we will provide ample space for the forthcoming meals. We certainly will.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Morning And Papaya

I am so totally stressed out right now, I need to bake something sweet-chocolate-something tomorrow. I dislike complaining, so do not take that as a complain, it was merely a statement. Sometimes I am convinced that despite how long I have been on this earth and my years of experience dealing with non-sense, I am still not prepared for what keeps on coming to me, the not so good part of life, of course. I take whatever good and great things, anytime, any day.

Talking about good stuff, I tried to eat better this morning, having this gorgeous papaya for breakfast. Its orange color was very beautiful and it is such a healthy fruit, it is a rich source of vitamin C! More importantly, the ripe ones like this are very sweet, my kind of fruit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Some Hectic Days ...

Three days to Christmas day. It is ridiculous how busy I have been during this holiday. It's not so much about preparing for Christmas but it has been about being at home with three teenagers that have super healthy appetite. I have one that loves to have a big proper hot breakfast every single day, and lunch. So sandwich is almost out of the question. And dinner too. My 12-year old loves to cook and bake and prepare things and by default, I will be in the kitchen, assisting, directing, cleaning and doing whatever. The other one simply takes the food that she likes and stays away from things that she does not like. But she eats. Everyone is responsible for the mess they make, but I am always left with dishes that nobody claims to have used and those used by my invisible child number 4.

I spend many good hours in the kitchen doing whatever needs to be done and after spending some time away, when I go back to the kitchen again, I will always find more things need to be done there.

Just over the past few days, we had waffles, baked a cake, baked some breads, whipped up bolognese and mushroom sauces, made both potato and semolina gnocchis, stir-fried some vegetables, baked salmon in the phyllo and many-many more. After dinner last night, I stood by by little baker who could not wait until the next morning to make some "healthy pancakes" using the recipe from one of my cook book.

Ironically, my breakfast this morning was this instant fried noodles with fried egg, shared with my dearest little friend. As for my late lunch, I had rice with chicken curry courtesy of DH's sister. I barely contributed to the making of my own meals today, it was certainly a change.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

N95 & N96

DH got me this Nokia N95 when it was just out in the market and I must admit it was a very good gadget. At least for a little while. Newer models keep on flowing in to the market. The it started acting up a couple of weeks ago that I decided to go back to my old mobile phone, Sony Ericsson. This phone works well but its' screen was however, painfully too small for me and I could not access all the data that I had. It's time for a new phone.

I don't actually care much about mobile phone, as long it is able to receive and send phone calls and messages. Features that come along with them are great but not that essential. Unfortunately good mobile phones come together with all sort of features whether we want them or not. I have camera, a better one that the 5MP that Nokia has and an iPod Touch with 32 GB capacity and it is superb. Phone is more for communication to me.

I was really weighing between getting an iPhone and Nokia N96. I have had iPod touch and I'd love to get an iPhone. But N96 has its pluses for me too, among them, I could keep the same phone number as my mobile operator does not sell iPhone, I am also familiar with Nokia product and can easily transfer my data to the new phone.

Well, one thing led to another, DH got me an N96. It's an excellent phone with great features, some of which, woul not ever be used because I truly do not need them. It's abit of a waste. Nevertheless, I am happy with N96 - big 2.8" screen, 5MP camera, 16GB capacity, and more good stuff! So, I am good. senyum

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crunching The Numbers

It is holiday for my children, but it's sure loads of hard work for me. Not only extremely frequent meals need to be prepared, but also the tidying up and the cleaning that come with them. At times like this, I am longing for the beach, sitting under a giant umbrella with a mini umbrella on my drink and the serenity surrounding me. Hm.... if only.......

My middle child is such a hard working gal. To prepare for her forthcoming exams, she wakes up early, for a holiday standard, and has a schedule to follow. Her timetable includes lots of studying and working out at the gym as well. She pops out for her meals and snack time too. Occasionally she drags me into the world of high school and upper school math all over. So here I am, on top of my daily dosage of works, I also need to squeeze my brain out to solve the problems that she does not want to solve on her own after a few tries. She definitely should try more! This girl is not hesitant to interrupt my TV time with her Math question. I know, how dare she....We are talking about quadratic equations, reciprocal numbers, solving x and more , versus watching TV. We know which one is more important.

I am aware that more challenging math problems are coming my way too, you know, those with cos, sin and tangent and more stuff. How exciting. My head hurts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Feeling Good

We did not normally made our flour tortillas from scratch. We just bought the ready made ones from the supermarket and wrapped whatever we want to eat. They are so handy and get along well with almost everything. Cheese quesadilla is one of our few favorites. I love to to put in hotdogs, just like my little niece Dione.

One fine day, as I was surfing the net, I stumbled upon a recipe that looked workable and passed it on to the one and the only one who would be interested in this. The little Miss Baker eagerly tried the recipe and substitute the shortening with the margarine since, shockingly, we did not have shortening in hand. She practically did all the work herself and the tortillas she made turned out alright.

Fast forward to a few days ago, I had the urge to make them. We had shortening, so we could follow the recipe much more closely. But then again, I did not use as much flour and probably therefore never really needed as much water as the recipe said. Nevertheless, the dough was really easy to work with and I got eight pieces of tortilla from the two cups ++ of flour that I used. Not bad at all.

There's always a good feeling coming out of doing the experiment, especially when the result is satisfactory. It's like a discovering something.... it is interesting knowing the way to get somewhere. I always like to learn how to do certain things and preparing some dishes that I have never done before, is one of them.

Here's what I used to make these Tortillas:

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup of warm water (the water is likely to be more than needed)

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. With the fingers, mix in the shortening until well incorporated.
  • Add water part by part until the dough comes together, knead the dough until it becomes soft, workable, not so sticky dough. You are likely to have some water left.
  • Leave it to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.
  • Lightly flour a board and roll out the tortillas to around 7-8 inches in diameter.
  • Cook tortillas in a heavy skillet over medium heat until lightly browned on each side.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tea Eggs - The Recipe

Tea eggs are salted-hard boiled eggs, that can be consumed warm or cold. The marble pattern created on the eggs are resulted from the penetration of the tea used to boil them after they are cracked.

6-8 eggs
3-4 Tsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 black tea bags or any dark colored tea
3 piece star anise
1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns (optional)

1. Place eggs in saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Remove the eggs. With a spoon/knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shells in a few places. Return to saucepan.

3. Add other ingredients and stir. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, adding water as necessary. You can leave the eggs in the saucepan longer to let the flavor penetrate further.

4. Drain, serve hot, warm or cold.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All In One Bowl!

I really-really want to bake more cookies and cakes, but we just have too much food around. We still have cookies and brownies as well. We should work on finishing them first before we get into more baking.

Over the weekend, we baked some cut-out Christmas cookies and we still have quite a bit left. My little one baked brownies at school and brought home most of them. I am trying not to excessively stack up food around the house unnecessarily, irregardless the reason. I have sent away a couple jars of cookies, baked one loaf of panettone for my niece and nephew in Jakarta too. We have not been very good eaters, which is good and bad. Good, because that means that everyone of us has a good control of what he/she eats. Bad, because when one stops eating, one does stop eating and the foods, no matter how tempting they are, will be left alone.

Anyway, I had fried rice noodles for lunch yesterday. It was Friday, no-meat day for me. I mixed some cabbage, carrots and sliced spring onions in there. They should be quite healthy, I got my important daily needs one bowl!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Bwah! It's 12th of the 12th month! I can't believe how fast the time goes. I got around to make some Marbled Tea Eggs a couple of days ago. They are so good and as always a big plus for me, is the fact that it is easy to make. Just a few ingredients and a few hours of leaving them simmering, they are ready for snacks or meals.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Deviating ...

Last night, I prepared a list of things that I have to do and need to do today and put them on my working table, with a high hope of having them done. No, I didn't miss the list. It is right in front of me. It's been there since last night, it was still here this morning and it is here with me now. I just could not bring myself to start yet. I went to my beading kits and started making two pairs of earrings for myself (!) to replace the ones I somehow, hopelessly misplaced. They have very similar design. I lost one of them in Beijing. I can be a queen of procrastination sometimes.

I have all the swarovski crystals and pearls that I need and in just a matter of minutes, I got myself two brand new pairs of earrings. In fact, it took me longer to get better pictures and I still am not happy with them. Anyway. To the list I go. Seriously. I am starting. Now.

Monday, December 08, 2008

When A Monday Is Off ...

Three and a half day of school left in this term, there's no school today as it is a public holiday and there's only a half day of school on Friday, the last day of school. The two big girls are scheduled to be very busy with studying as their exams are coming almost right after the school start in January. Did I say January?....... Goodness, it will be 2009 in 23 days and I am panicking.

I am all stressed enough that Christmas is around the corner and I barely have time to dedicate to prepare much of it. I hardly am able to even keep up with my daily things, moreover more things.

Watched the finale of The Amazing Race this morning, it was live telecast from the USA. I am glad that Nick and Starr won $1m. They deserved it, they have been strong competitors throughout, they treated each other well and I liked Nick's "cool-calm-collected" attitude the best. Both can be very aggressive and focused when they needed to be. They are amazing youngsters. It's nice to seem these sort of people win!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Panettone For Myself

As Christmas approaches, supermarkets are flooded with more and more Christmas related from many parts of the worlds. I couldn't help noticing that boxes and boxes of panettone are stacked up high every year. They do look attractive, but I am aware that my family is not a fan of raisin and dried fruits. Still, it did not stop me from trying to bake some and explain what I made at least four times and persuaded them to try some. ( I should have gotten them sit together and given one single explanation instead of doing the same thing again and again!) And failed miserably at them. So far, three less mean people, who were willing or unwilling but did anyway, tasted less than an thumb size of this yummy bread. I am living with hopeless people.

Panettone is originated in Milan, Italy, some smart people said. It is cake-like as it is made with eggs and yeast. It's not too sweet, but very moist. This bread is really good! I had it for breakfast, will have it for lunch and maybe dinner too, since nobody else is eating them. sedih And the next breakfast, if there are still some..... poor me! Boo hoo.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Chilling Out With Mango Ice Cream

And it is now December. Today's weather forecast: Hi: 28C, mostly cloudy. Hot, humid. It's been raining quite a bit here, but it is still punishingly quite hot day and night. I sure do need chilling out, I need to go to the coldest place on earth after discovering that in one of the side table drawers in this house, NO DRUGS, NO CIGARETTES, NO LIQUOR, but a bunch of chocolate wrappers, dirty food wrapper, plastic bag with smoked ham label on it, Hershey's wrapper and a few others. Also, a couple of dirty plates, a few dirty cups and a spoon. This is not the first time, not second, third, fourth or fifth. Not sixth either. I has happened too many times. Yes, it is 30C inside the house but I feel 100C inside my body. I really wonder what's in the mind of a teenager??????????????????? fikir fikirfikirfikir fikir fikir

Years ago, I was so happy when she was born, I was so excited seeing her taking her first steps when she was only 11 months and started uttering a few words a few months later. She was an absolute joy when she went to school for the first time, playing piano. She could run really fast, beating all the boys and girls in her grade. She could swim really fast too, beating many older competitors. She made me beaming with pride.

Now? Let me see....... takbole I know, it is not smoking, drinking or sex. But for Pete's sake, the room needs to be clean too, the closet needs some tidying up as well! sedih

Mango ice cream is in order, in fact this is the third batch we made in a week, made specially to cater my own preference, less lime juice, slightly less creamy but the same amount of sugar. It is absolutely yummy. It is like the best ice cream I have ever had in a long time.

I am in the mood to type down the recipe lately, before even asked, so here we go (it's actually a cut and paste from my recipe folder):

Mango Ice Cream

2 cups of cut up mangoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup heavy cream

Make a syrup with the sugar and water simmered together for 5 minutes. Cool. Add to the mango with the lime juice, mixing thouroughly. Whip the cream until stiff and fold into the mango mixture. Freeze in refrigerator at the coldest temperature available. Stir after 1 hour, and again at the end of the second hour. The ice cream should be ready in about 2 1/2 hours from the beginning of freezing depending on how cold your freezer is.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not All Are Sweet

I guess I was wrong. Bitter and painful punches also came along with sweet things that passed by. It's only life just like Kate Voegele's song "It's Only Life". So right, but as usual, it is easier to sing than to do..... As long as it is life, you can't possibly have the sweet things only. There are sadness in the family and friends and nations of the people that were killed in recent Mumbai attack, there are worries around the family and friends of those there are stranded in Bangkok, people that live in the war zones, people that were born in the poor regions in Africa. There's no smooth sailing-everything is good as depicted by many celebrities when asked by reporters.

I have been shocked by the voices I heard this morning from the two intelligent, sweet and wonderful teenagers that for the first time revealed their opinion about certain things. They have grown up. Conveniently they omitted the facts that could backfire them, but pointed out the mistakes made by the parents. Sure, I wish they were mistakes. They were not! When asked back on the solution, the answer was simply, "I don't know!" Yes, let the parents scratch their head! Let the parents talk like a broken gramophone, but never ever yell. Keep on supporting the choices made by their children, irregardless how unreasonable they are?? Tell me how to keep a parent's sanity!

My mother made it looked to easy, she had nine children, none of whom was a problem growing up. Everyone worked hard without having to be asked. Someone cooked, someone did the dishes, another did ironing and another cleaned the house. Everything was taken care of even though we did not have much. Nobody had a room on his/her own. I don't recall my mom being mad at any of us or having to repeat her order, if she ever did. So I got all these wrong ideas about having kids. Throw in the ipod, computer, games, internet and all the current things into the picture, and life as parents now can't be more exciting. Or, might take you to become a resident in a mental institution...........

This is now about the good mixture of sweet and lemon, I utilized the remainder of the buttermilk that I had in the fridge. This is Buttermilk Pound Cake, with a lemony twist added, because we like lemon. The cake is really flavorful and moist.

I halved the recipe and used a ring baking pan and that cut down the baking time to around 45-50 minutes. The full recipe could use a bundt pan.

Buttermilk Pound Cake
Adapted from Allrecipes. com


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease one 9 or 10 inch tube pan. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon and the vanilla extracts. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes (45-50 minutes if you halve the recipe). Do not open oven door until after one hour (or 30 minutes if you halve the recipe). When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan it is done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sweet Things Are Coming

It will be December in a few days and sweet things are coming our way. December is a month of goodies. Finally, I made use of Martha Stewart's Cookies that I bought over the Summer, I only managed to look through them, not thoroughly though, a couple of days ago. I do not exactly know what I have been doing all these times, but here I am, surviving all the punches, ups and down, the excitement in life.

My eyes have been set on these Chocolate Crackles since I saw them for the first time and with the need to get new ideas on what to give to others, I was more than happy to bake them. Of course, it is always the love that I have for my family that keeps on pushing me to the kitchen and bake or cook something, which therefore qualifies me further as the mother of the year... ha!

These cookies are not too simple and straigh forward to make. It's messy and it takes times, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies, the book. The website's version is slightly different.


Makes about 5 dozen.

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup(1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring. Set aside and let cool. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla, and then the melted chocolate. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk. Divide dough into four equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Divide each piece into 16 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar to coat, then in confectioners' sugar to coat. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.