Sunday, April 27, 2008

Simply Cupcakes!

Sometimes simple is better. We, No.3 and I, made these simple cupcakes this afternoon, just butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. I don't think it took us more than 10 minutes to have them ready for the oven. Another 10 minutes in the oven, they are ready. Scrumptious, even without frosting. Perfect for Sunday afternoon tea.

Working With Kaffir Lime Leaves

I got a whole packet of kaffir lime leaves last week. I needed about five of them to make Indonesian snack lemper ayam, banana leaf-wrapped chicken rice parcels. Either banana leaves or crepes are used in Indonesia to wrap the rice. The kaffir lime leaves was cooked together with the chicken, the result was just great, great fragrance. I didn't have any banana leaves therefore I used crepes to wrap them. It was my first attempt and I was quite happy with the result.

I am left with still plenty of kaffir lime leaves. I know that some Thai dishes use kaffir lime leaves but I was not into Thai food at the moment. An idea came to head, another Indonesian dish that could use more of my leaves, called Opor Ayam or Coconut Curry Chicken. Searching the recipe on the net, I found that different website gives variations of the recipe, but I picked up some ingredients that I had and tossed in some leaves on my dish. I love it, despite having to answer at least four similar questions from the people that live with me here, what I cooked. I thought it was delicious and authentic. I had it with steamed white rice and I thought I would cook them again in the future. DH refused to have them because it has lots of coconut milk. I was not surprise.

I longed for something spicy all week. With a pack of shrimp in the fridge, I made a quick stir fry with onion, garlic, green and red chillis, salt, and of course, more kaffir lime leaves. Spicy and wickedly delicious. DH said he was going to eat one, yes, one shrimp only, because he is trying not to consume much of shellfish. He ended up eating two. Wowww.... that's doubling the original portion, he must have liked it!!

She Saw These In New Zealand

Try to read those Maori words out loud, the one in BIG YELLOW, the very long one. I gave up after a few syllables. My tongue was twisted. The English version is the gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao.
Interesting isn't it?.

I feel somewhat obligated to put some of the pictures that my little one and her friends took when they went to New Zealand last month. Maybe I should call it guilty feeling! She took many pictures. There are in fact more than 950 pictures to choose from, varying from the cloud, the sky, kangaroos, goats, lamb, pigs, someone's eyes, someone's bag, someone's bald head, someone's iPod and practically plenty of, sorry to say, simply out-of-focus wacky pictures.

Some of the pictures were really good, in the sense that they gave me something new to learn. She went to they places that I have never been too and it is interesting to see them from her point of view. Mind you,I am not talking about her friends' eyes, her friends' bag, and the assistant head.

Definitely, she was having too much fun, along with her friends that used her camera, to take better pictures which she normally does. Here are kiwifruit trees especially for those who never saw them before, like me. And more animals in the farm pictures .......

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chocolaty Chocolate Cake

I started the day early yesterday, my usual weekday time. It turned out to be a very busy day. Exhausting day, but I got a lot of things done. Towards the end of the day, I stumbled over a box of Betty Crocker's Cake Mix, my last one that I got from the USA trip last July, expiring at the end of the month.

Turned on the oven, in cake mix into the bowl, tossed in eggs, water and oil, did some quick whisking, poured into the baking pans and sent into the oven.

I personally prefer chocolate glaze to frosting. I prefer chocolaty taste to sugary one. But since I won't be eating much of it, I shouldn't, I obliged to the request for frosting. Hershey's recipe for frosting was used.

DH is still away until Friday night, the kids are around and happy with the heavy-duty wicked chocolate cake treat.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I Spy With My Little Eyes....

DH, No. 3 and I were on the way back home last Saturday after a visit to the new Orthodontist and No.3's weekly lunch at Sushi Tei. Yes, it has been weekly for her and DH over the past three weeks since she got back from New Zealand and so many other weekends prior to that. The rest of us have gotten so tired of the food from there and couldn't bear eating their food every so often.

The traffic was slow and without warning, this little Sushi Tei lover burst into laughter and pointed at the public bus in front of our car. The bus number sign was apparently placed upside down. It was not (really) funny actually, I have seen something like that before. But if that makes an 11 year old happier, let that be! And we just had a free good laugh over it...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Here Is The Tutu We Love

Last Thursday, No. 3 requested me to buy some Kueh Tutu if I happened to be nearby a stall that sell them. Kueh Tutu or sometimes called Tutu Kuih is a local delicacy here. We all like the ones with sweetened shredded coconut (you can have them with peanuts as well). They are S$2.20 for 5 pieces and it's best to eat them while they are still warm. They are made from rice flour or glutinous rice flour, steamed and served on a small square piece of pandan leaf to add fragrance. They are our family's favorite for a long time.

Kueh Tutu are made on the spot when you order them and normally, you can view how they are made. Very interesting!

Corn Bread, The Recipe

With DH being away most of the time and three kids with loads and loads of needs and wants, I tend to have a long to-do list. I, therefore, am doing the best I can, not to procrastinate. I doesn't always work my way though, because at times, I drag my feet on and on and the list gets longer. Several things have been on the list for a couple of years. In fact, I have some unfinished cross stitch projects that I started before my first one was born, more than 17 years ago, one of which was intended for her. Also, a patch work that I initiated around 6-7 years ago and still remains a WIP (Work In Progress). I really don't know if I will ever go back and finish them up.....Maybe someday.

I am happy to say that one was crossed out today, we got a new orthodontist for the kids!

So here we go, the corn bread recipe:

¾ c cornmeal
1 ¼ c milk
1 c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 c sugar, and 1Tsp if you like it sweeter like I do
2 medium size eggs (beaten) or 1 large egg
¼ c melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and butter until smooth for about 3-5 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Follow My Crave

I was craving for cornbread this afternoon, so I went online looking for the recipe and put together a new composition for my own corn bread and whoopee .... I am contented, or rather, my tummy is. Happy tummy is happy me!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Banda Aceh At A Glance

Never, I would have guessed, that this beautiful beach is in Banda Aceh. Click this link for more pictures.

Banda Aceh is the capital city of Aceh province of Indonesia, located at the very north tip of Sumatera island. It is one of the oldest Islamic city in South East Asia. Therefore, girls and women are expected to observe and adhere Islamic dress code, i.e. covering their legs and arms.

On December 26, 2004, tsunami hit Banda Aceh shore and reportedly killed more than 90,000 people, some said that more than 140,000 people were killed, I am not sure which number is correct. Wikipedia lists its population as 260,000 per 2006. A small town indeed by anybody's standard.

My No.1 has been fortunate enough to get the opportunity with some of her friends to spend a week in Banda Aceh to teach English in a local high school over there. Not only teaching that she experienced, but also the joyful and happy life of the youngsters over there, how welcoming and kind they were to the visitors. The hosts were kind enough to take them around to see their city and their beautiful beach.

Teenagers going to school in motorcycle seem to be a familiar scene over there, like in many smaller cities in Indonesia.

Aside from cars, becaks (rickshaws) are commonly used as public transport. Pizza Hut and KFC apparently are there already along with some other western food vendors, I am quite certain that there are quite a number of foreigners living there, helping the rebuilding project.

No tall buildings, everything look descent and stress level doesn't seem to be as high as in big metropolitan cities. School buildings look new and apparently they were built quite recently.

Unexpectedly, despite some hiccups prior to leaving for Banda Aceh, No.1 truly had an experience that she won't forget easily and she carries on her friendship with many wonderful students there. I believe she still keeps in touch with some. I am not sure if she is willing to admit, it is very likely that she had a great time there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Grey & Wet Weekend

The sky was dark by around 11 o'clock in the morning and I tagged along with DH and No.2 & 3, trying to get a ride and run some errands.

And rain started to pour while we were still on the way there and it got heavier as we parked our car.

DH and the kids crossed the street in the middle of pouring rain, because they had appointment with the dentist. I was supposed to cross the street and take subway to my destination but I thought it was a bit silly to get wet and then go shopping. So I thought I should just wait a bit. The rain was way too heavy. I waited and waited. And waited. 20 minutes later, the rain started to calm down but thunders and lightnings began to take over. Roaring, again and again. What's the matter with the weather?? I continued waiting.

From afar, I saw DH were walking back with the kids. Back to the car, back home! What a waste of my time!

Moral of the story: what a miserable day!

Sights In South Korea

I finally managed to select some interesting pictures from No.2's South Korea Trip last month. The weather was cold, but the views are gorgeous. Hope someday, soon, I make it there.

Unification (South & North Korea) symbol.

A view from Jirisan National Park

Plum Pots

Overlooking North Korea

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Morning Waffles

It's Sunday morning and it's time for waffles. Served with whipped cream and topped with strawberries. Alternatively one could opt to have them with bananas, topped with caramel sauce. Equally good!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Visit To The Dentist

I know nobody who likes to go to the dentist. I dislike going to the dentist since I was small. My current dentist is a nice guy and his assistant is a nice lady too, but I still dislike going there. The fact that under normal circumstances, I only see him twice a year, doesn't make it better as well. My nephew is studying dentistry and he will be finishing in a couple of years. And no....., I still don't like having someone taking a look inside my mouth and checking my teeth out one by one and made judgment about them! Occasionally hurting them for making them healthier!?! Very unpleasant.

My semi-annual visit was scheduled yesterday and I got all stressed out over it all week. But I passed with flying colors, no cavities whatsoever, and I will not have to see my dentist for another six months. Yeay...... so glad it's over, for now at least. Ha ha.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stock Clearing

Along with sightseeing, I tend to do some grocery shopping whenever I visit any countries, provided that they have reasonably good quality and good pricing. Sometimes I get some stuff just to taste them and if we like them, we get some more and bring them home. Often times, however, when we get home, we no longer have the appetite for the products and end up tossing them upon the expiration date.

Back in the storage, I still have some bags of chocolate chips that we got last December in New Zealand and I have not make much use of them.

I came across the recipe of this Rocky Road Crunch Bar when I was sorting out our DVD player, I saw it on the recordings that I was trying to clean up. I had nearly everything needed and with a little substitution here and there, I was ready to go. It's brilliant that with this recipe I could make use of the biscuit that I have had for a while and the chocolate chips that I bought in New Zealand. A little spring cleaning on the way..... and some yummy treats for everyone.

It was very easy and quick to make and I mixed in some Hershey's chocolate chips as well, just to make sure that there is familiarity with the chocolate taste in there. They are not bad at all, but next time, I would reduce the amount of the biscuit by some 10-20% or so to make it more chocolaty! Too bad, my kids are not fond of nuts, otherwise, almonds or walnuts would make enrich the flavor.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lil' Lady Behind The Snickerdoodles

The baker and the primary consumer as well as the distributor is right behind the pile of the snickerdoodles. Yum!
Clue: it's not me!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pleasant Surprise

When we first moved to this country, to this neighborhood, the complex we are living in was barely ready. The swimming pool, was there but has not got approval from the government to be used yet. Nobody else lived here, but us! Then came along a family with two children, only later we found out that they have another daughter who was already 18 years old at that time. Their youngest daughter was the same age as my No. 1. Their second child, was about 10 years old, a very nice and polite boy.

We used to see each other in the swimming pool most of the time. That was when the children were rather young and enjoyed the pool quite a bit. That was when school was relatively less demanding. Those were the days....... We used to live in the same block and bumped into each other in the lift, in the hallway and in the common areas. Then we moved to different blocks, the kids became less interested in playing in the pool, their children moved back to Canada and we just hardly see each other. We, however, are still friendly with each other, we still have so much to talk about every time we see each other, which is not often enough.

Now, ten years later, we still live in the same neighborhood. Occasionally, DH and I got a glimpse of Daniel, but Suzanne was rather hard to be seen around. The nature of the job takes DH and Daniel out of the country often. I suppose they hardly see us as well.

Then came last Friday when unexpectedly I ran into Suzanne after not seeing her for probably some two years. Yes, it has been that long! I was totally thrilled. As usual, we exchanged notes on the children, our husbands, our homes and our summer plans. We caught up on lots of things, exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch. She will go back for a while to see her children in two weeks, so is her husband in a couple of weeks or so, but I hope with the wonders of internet, we will still be able to stay connected.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Morning Scones

School is about to start again and I anticipated an elevated level of stress this weekend. I am glad that I was wrong. Everyone was relaxed. The children made the time to unwind, relax and watch TV in between their study times.

I am easing back to my routines, which tends to be a little hard after taking sometime off. I spent hours chatting online with my sisters this week, catching up with many things, important and not important issues and that has recharged me a bit. I also went groceries, stocked up some food supplies yesterday, accompanied No.3 to have her favorite sushi lunch and kept on reminding the kids to make sure they know where their schools things are. It's like we're getting ready to go to war..... I do not want anybody looking for anything 60 seconds before heading to school.

So this morning, when No.3 requested that I made cheese scones and I gladly obliged. Our classic weekend breakfast... life is back to normalcy.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Just For One!

Life would be a lot easier if everyone here likes the same kind of food, Chef Blue will all smile from ear to ear the whole day. Surely, that's not the case. The three juniors here, occasionally, will be craving for the same food, but quite often, they have different preferences. This is the time when the boss of the house will say, "You don't always get what you want. Sometimes you have to be willing to eat whatever has been prepared and be grateful about it!" And then, the three will obediently eat..... NOOOOOOOO.... of course not!!!!!!!! I wish!

No.3 loves cheese, but doesn't want to have anything to do with cheese muffins. No. 2 loves muffins, but not those with cheese. So cheese muffins are especially made for No.1. The fillings were in big chunks, not grated, topped with thickly-sliced ones and grated parmesan! Cheesy, but not cheesy..... Just for you!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Thanks For The Present

One of the birthday presents that I received from my second daughter was a WMF Yolk Separator. It was very thoughtful of her to get me that, I couldn't even think of what I needed or wanted myself. It's a smart gift. Of course, if they ask me what I wanted, I would tell them I wanted world peace along with "having them keeping their room tidy", "washing their dishes without having to be reminded 5 times", "pushing the chair back after finish using it" and I could stop right there first. Also, I could use "Keep the house tidy at all times!".

I don't normally use a gadget to help me separate the yolks from the whites. I do have a plastic yolk separator somewhere in the kitchen, I can't be sure where it is because I never really had the need to use one. It is well kept indeed.

Anticipating the arrival of No.3, i.e. having a good strong team around the house to consume the cake, I decided to make use of the present by making the family favorite, marble cake. The version that everyone loves is the one that requires the egg whites to be beaten separately and mixed to the dough prior to putting it in the oven. The cake is gone now, but we still have the pictures. Thank you.