Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Year Of Blogging...

... is not a big deal. Last Saturday marked my first year of blogging. I was too busy to notice. Time slips away so fast, especially when you are not looking. When I first started out blogging, I had alot of negativity in me. I was bitter and angry. I needed a place where I could express what I felt and what I went through. I started 'All That Matters Not'. In there, I wrote about my unhappiness, things and people that I wished didn't matter to me. But life shouldn't be this way. Whenever I look at my children, I am reminded that despite all that I went through, I am still being blessed with good things. And that, I would want to write them down as well. I like spending time in the kitchen because that is my 'me' time. In the kitchen, my only concern is churning out dishes and cakes which my kids and parents love to eat. I didn't have to think about unhappy stuffs. By doing this, I hoped that I would be spending more time tending to this blog, rather than the other one. After 1 year, I am glad to say; I achieved what I set out to do. Well, okay, most of the time.

During this 1 year of blogging, I attempted many things. Some with yielding results, some not that great. The most important thing I have learnt through these is not to give up, have faith in yourself and not limit your abilities. I learnt alot from fellow food bloggers and am humbled by the knowledge they have and shared. I have made friends, hopefully, no enemies. Those who came in frequently to comment on my blog, those who didn't, those who are too shy to, those who came and went; I thank you. Blogging can be boring at times, not unlike talking to a wall. It is you who has made this journey fun and enjoyable.

I didn't do anything for blog anniversary (told you I'm not that into anniversary stuffs). But I received a last minute order last Sunday. Sweet lady ordered for her friend's 18th birthday. She specified she wants sun, ocean and sunflowers. Later, she decided she would love to have Elmo for her cousin as well. So the theme looks suspiciously like 'Elmo goes to the beach with sunflowers'. Ahahah~~

Ladybugs and sunflowers.

More bugs.

I really like the brown seashell. Terribly sorry about having to change the pick up venue due to a last minute meeting. I hope you and your friends had a great time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joel's Full Month Cake

Yesterday was baby Joel's full month celebration. To mark this occasion, mommy Jullie ordered a cake from me. For Chinese, baby's full month (满月) is a big thing. It is also a way of announcing and introducing the new addition to family and friends. In some traditions, if you have a baby boy, glutinous rice, ang ku kueh, cakes and eggs that are dyed red are distributed to relatives and friends. For baby girls, glutinous rice is off the menu. These days, due to lower birth rates, people don't really make the differentiation. Nowadays, it is so convenient to just give out cake vouchers. Thanks Jullie for putting her faith in me. I hope everyone likes the mango mousse cake. This cake has 3 chiffon cake layers and 2 mousse layers. It weighed 4kg and it was quite tiring holding it while waiting for a cab. Fortunately I had the 'training' required from carrying Ah Boy. I was stoned (from the lack of sleep) at the party so I didn't and forgot to snap any pics of Joel.

I thought I paced myself quite well when I made this cake but in the end, there were a few hiccups. First, there was a health-scare and my dad went for an operation. Fortunately, the doctors cleared him for cancer. I waited for the op to end before heading back to bake. I slept at 4 a.m. and woke up early to visit my dad so I could catch the doc-in-charge when he was doing his rounds. Rush back at 1 p.m. and decorate the cake, have it delivered at 5 p.m. and went back to the hospital again. It has been a stressful week; from knowing my dad's suspected condition, to the tests and scans then the operation. There were problems at work. I thought I could heave a sigh of relief and steal some air after holding my breath for so long. But no, IH, had to come and remind me that I am an incompetent mother. You need not stand by me, walk with me or stand behind my decisions to do certain things. But you don't have to run me down like this when I am exhausted and at my weakest. I know where my heart is and my conscience is clear. You cannot and will not break my spirit. Seriously, I do not know what to make of this post but I need an outlet I guess. I'm sorry it had to end with a sour note.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Babies' Valentine

I got this for my Valentine's Day. Not that I mind since it has my kids' picture on it. But it is a reminder that romance is dead once you become a mom. Gone are the flowers, lingerie, chocolates, cakes, jewelleries and what-have-yous. So my advice to the ladies, do not complain when you receive gifts of any sort. Say 'thank-yous' between your clenched teeth no matter how much you dislike, how useless is your gift (except baubles or a supplementary credit card). For one day, it might be downgraded to a bottle like mine. Well, plastic flowers is a different matter entirely. Dump him already! I'm never big on anniversaries or festivities, so I don't bother buying gifts. But to reciprocate, I bought IH a cheapo pen with his initials from Watson's. Ahahah~~

But this is another story. A couple of days back, I made this cake for a customer. He wanted to celebrate Valentine's Day earlier with his girlfriend. He came back and said he had proposed successfully with the cake. Aww.. that's sweet. But really, D, she said yes because she loves you. It has nothing to do with the cake. But remember not to downgrade your gifts okay?

Since I forgot to take pictures the last time, I replicated this cake again for my kids for Valentine's Day (well, 2 days late by the way). We went to Sentosa around late morning, I had to collect my baking stuffs and run errands. Time was really tight. Sometimes I wonder why I make my life so challenging. But when you see the smiles on your kids' face, you'll forget and do the same stuffs all over again. I unmoulded the cake this morning and had to take pictures and rush to work. In the end, I tore abit of the jello here and there. Eeks! Okay, I'll let it go. Accidents do happen, especially when you hope they don't.

I tweaked my Strawberries Cheesecake recipe by using only cream cheese and yoghurt. I got the idea from HHB's cheesecake. However, without the volume from the whipped cream, you need to increase the quantity respectively. Ah Girl was thrilled with the cake. Ah Boy is still too young to appreciate. I think I can still do better.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Kids

They are the best playmates together, otherwise known as the 'Twin Terror'. That is when they are not fighting. When they do, terror escalates to horror.

She going to be six this August. I just wish that she will be more lady-like. Ironically, I signed her up for Aikido class instead of art class. I want her to be disciplined and respectful. And of course, drain off her excess energy. She does her homework dutifully but can be really cheeky at times. She's a little stingy and still doesn't like to share her food with Ah Boy. But she will share her toys and make her brother laugh.

He is tall for his age. Last month, he had his last jab but didn't cry at all. He recognise quite a number of pictures. His vocabulary so far; 'jie jie', go where, bird, bag, back, ball, book, apple, fish, eat, dog, cat, duck, pig, horse, nose, head, mama, dada, aunty, please, thank you (though not too clear), yes and no. He likes to shake his head when he meant 'no'. He is able to point to his tummy, ears, nose, mouth, head and hair when prompted.

Both have the same temperament, they fight but they do love each other. Captured this moment so when they quarrel over petty things, I can show and remind them. Both are animals lovers. They are crazy about the hamsters, terrapins, birds, dogs and cats.

This is the evidence of Cartoon Network influence. You'll get Superhero kids when they start watching TV.

Ben 10 Girl. Told you she is unlady-like.

Ultraman. Okay, to be fair, this was taken when he was a couple of months old. But I believe his time will come too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chikuzen Ni (筑前煮)

This is a late post on what I did New Year's Day. I didn't have time then and after posting 7 Vegetables Soup (七样羹) , I thought I should post this as well. In some ways, Japanese and Chinese cuisine have their similarities. Chikuzen Ni is usually cooked on New Year's Eve and consumed on New Year's Day. This allows the flavour to infuse thoroughly. This dish uses at least 5 or more types of vegetables, usually in 5 different colours. Traditionally, the vegetables used are; Satoimo (里いも, Taro), Ninjin (にんじん, Carrot), Renkon (れんこん, Lotus Roots), dried Shiitake mushroom (干ししいたけ), Take no Ko (竹のこ, Bamboo shoots), Gobo (ごうぼ, Burdock) and Kinusaya (きぬさや, Snow Peas). The vegetables are cooked with chicken and konnyaku (こんにゃく).

I usually cook up a Japanese fare on New Year's Day. As mentioned in earlier post, I didn't have time for an elaborate meal, so I opted to cook this dish instead. This year, I found these radish in the wet market.

Believe it or not; like Chinese, Japanese like auspicious colours like red and yellow too. So in their New Year's dishes, they will include auspicious colours. I adjusted the recipe I had as I did not have Taro, Konnyaku and Burdock. I used Daikon (大根, radish) and Imo (いも, potatoes) instead.

Chikuzen Ni (筑前煮)
1 Chicken Breast, remove skin, deboned and cut into cubes
12 No.s of dried Shiitake Mushrooms, soaked, squeeze dry (retain water) and quartered
2 medium size Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (original : 12 small baby taro, peeled and rub with some salt, wash)
2 medium size Carrots, peeled and cut into cubes
2 small Red Radish, peeled and cut into cubes (original : 100g Burdock, peeled, cut into short length and soak in vinegar solution)
100g Lotus Root, sliced and soak in vinegar solution
100g Bamboo Shoots, cut into chunks
*1 slab of Konnyaku, break into pieces by hand or scooped using melon scoop* (optional)

3-1/2 cup Dashi Stock and water from soaking dried mushrooms
3 Tbsp Sake
6 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Mirin
5 Tbsp Shoyu
Some oil
Some Snow Peas

1. Heat up a pot, add oil and sear the chicken chunks slightly. Add all vegetables, except snow peas and taro (if using) and stir fry for a short while.

2. Add stock and bring to a boil. Remove scum if any. Add in all seasonings and turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes or till the root vegetables have softened. Add in snow peas just before serving.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sesame Street Buddies

I made this cake along with other Sesame Street characters for a 3 year old girl. She requested for Ernie for her birthday cake and her mommy wanted cupcakes to go along with the main cake. With Ernie as the main attraction, she left the rest to me. So Ernie is to be surrounded by his friends namely, Cookie Monster, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch and of course, Bert. I guess everyone watched Sesame Street at some point of their younger days. No matter how the show evolved, my personal favourites are still Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Ernie. But I guess in recent years, Elmo and Zoe gained their following.

The quality of pictures could have been better. But as usual, I was pressed for time and the pictures were taken at night. They are chocolate sponge cake frosted with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I have quite alot of egg whites in my freezer, left from my CNY bakes. So they came in really handy. I didn't have to worry about having leftover egg yolks. While I did Ernie on my own, I couldn't have done the cupcakes without the generous sharing of a lady. I found how she did hers here. I always thought making cupcakes is a hassle but guess I have finally found the fun factor in it now. Though it was stressful trying to get the colours right, I enjoyed the entire process of making these. I hope I did justice to the characters and especially Ernie. My hands were trembling towards the end of piping.

The mommy was happy with the outcome when I MMS her the pictures. I hope the lil' miss felt the same way too. I'm glad I had the opportunity to make these. Again, just me being anal, there were flaws which I hope to improve next time round.


I have the mommy's permission to post her little baby's picture here. Sharing the happy moments with you.

Look at the boys flocking around her. They know a pretty girl when they see one. Eheh~~


Monday, February 2, 2009

7 Vegetables Soup (七样羹)

Yesterday was the 7th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as 人日. It is said that on this day, humans were created. Thus it is considered as everyone's birthday. In Singapore, on the 7th day, we eat 'Yu Sheng' (Yu Sang or 鱼生). It is a cold dish, served with various type of shredded vegetables (radish, carrots, turnips, etc.) and raw fish (usually salmon or 西刀鱼). They are then tossed with oil, plum sauce, five spices, peanuts, sesame and crackers. People also call this 'Lo Hei' (捞起), symbolises 'prosperity' (捞得风生水起), not in terms of waistline of course.

For us, on the seventh day of Chinese Lunar New Year, my family will also cook this soup (七样羹) , made up of 7 types of vegetables and more. I am not sure if all Teochews do this but my family does. So to keep the tradition alive, I would want to blog about this soup. 羹, should be thicker than soup, however, my mom and me seldom cook till the soup is thickened. This would mean hours of cooking and the nutrition values of the vegetables will be gone by then. Normally, we will cook this dish with pork ribs. But this year, I am not required to do any cooking on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, I did not stock up my fridge. The butcher was not open so I used chicken breast instead.

Below are the 4 must have ingredients in this soup. The other 3 or more, you can add in as you like. I used kale, chinese leeks, cabbage and carrots this year. You can add radish, mustard greens too.

Bai He Cai (Bek Hak Cai, 百合菜) They are only available once a year during Chinese Lunar New Year. It symbolises unity in family.

Chun Cai (Chung Cai, 春菜), they are too, available only once a year but can still be found 2 to 3 months after Chinese New Year. I'm not too sure what it symbolises, spring, perhaps?

Chinese Celery (芹菜)symbolises being industrious and spring onions (葱)symbolises smartness (聪明).

Radish or carrots (白菜头/红菜头) symbolise 好彩头 (auspicious beginning). Chinese leeks (蒜)symbolise 有的算 (wealth to count).

It is just a humble dish with lots of good intentions in it. After 7 days of feasting, it is also time to detox our body. I usually take this soup alone with nothing else.

7 Vegetables Soup (七样羹)
1 Chicken Breast, remove skin, cut in chunks and marinate with salt and pepper
2 stalks Chinese Leeks, sliced
1 medium size Carrot, cut in chunks
1/4 cabbage, cut roughly
2 stalks Bai He Cai, cut into lengths
2 stalks Chun Cai, cut into lengths
1 stalk Kale, cut into lengths (the one I bought was huge)
1 stalk Cilantro, cut into lengths
1 stalk Spring Onions, cut into lengths

2 litres Water or Stock
Salt to taste
Some olive oil

1. Heat up a pot, add oil and fry the leeks and sear the chicken chunks slightly. Add in water or stock and bring to a boil.

2. Remove scum and add in carrots and cabbage. When they are slightly softened, throw in Bai He Cai, Chun Cai and Kale.

3. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste, add in cilantro and spring onions and turn off the heat. Serve hot with rice or as is.

I have another recipe coming up; Chikuzen Ni. The similarities are; these 2 are New Year's Day dish (well, Japanese New Year is on 1st January) and uses loads of vegetables. Definitely not for carnivores. Stay tuned. それじゃ~~