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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Corn Soup

I think this is the longest break I ever took. Hopefully it wouldn't happen so often. Sudden rush of emotions and work madness didn't help. As a result, I could only stare blankly at the screen, not knowing what to do. Fortunately, after blogging for a while, instincts take over whenever I finish cooking a dish or completed an order, else there will be no pictures. Not sure if this is considered a boon or bane as this has resulted alot of backlogs, all sitting comfortably in the draft box, waiting for the text to be fit for posting. Of course, there will always be distractions like the Facebook farming stuffs. Facebook is a such a convenient platform to post anything and reach out to an audience. More importantly, you don't have to write much. As such, I have become lazier. It is not a good sign. Though picture speaks a thousand words, some memories, like recipes, have to be captured in words to be shared with loved ones.

I'm back with more recipes which I tried during this period. I will also be posting some pictures which I took when I went for my long walks, away from the maddening crowd, thinking and keeping my sanity. As usual, I am only armed with my camera phone so pictures might not do justice.

Back to the soup. This soup was what I read about during my late teens when I was addicted to Chinese romance novels. I managed to re-create the soup based on the descriptions and it was really easy. I came to know that this soup is quite common in Taiwan, kids take to it quite well. So I experimented on my kids years later.

Corn Soup (玉米浓汤)

1.7 litres Chicken Stock
380g pack Del Monte Sweet Corn Cream Style
380g pack Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn, drained

150g Enoki Mushrooms, sectioned into halves or third (depending on length)

Salt and Pepper to taste *(No salt is required if you use commercial chicken stock or you have already seasoned your homemade stock)

100 ml Water
4 Tbsp Potato Starch (3 Tbsp is you prefer less thick)

150g Ham, diced
3 or 4 eggs, beaten

Garnish (optional but recommended)
Chopped Parsley
Chopped Spring Onions

1) In a pot, add chicken stock and 2 types of corn. Bring to a boil.

2) Add in Enoki mushrooms, stir for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper if required. Lower heat. Mix starch solution, pour slowly into soup and stir till thickens.

3) Add in ham, drizzle eggs on the soup. Wait a short while before stirring again.

4) Serve with garnish.

Easy peasy, almost effortless and you can have your soup ready in no time. Letting the eggs to rest a while in the soup before stirring gives you chunkier bits of egg drops. This recipe will yield quite a big pot of soup. My kids and I are 'soup-people', so usually we have seconds. Also, I will also save it for next day's breakfast. The original recipe does not call for enoki mushrooms. I added them based on a couple of factors; one of them is adding texture. After cooking, the enoki mushrooms do not lose their crunch. I'd like to think of it as a substitute to sharks' fins. I occasionally attend vegetarian banquets and they usually substitute sharks' fins with 'tang hoon'. While it does resembles sharks' fins, the texture is nowhere near. So I told Ah Girl that this is mommy's 'poor man sharks' fins soup'. She then went on telling me why we shouldn't eat sharks' fins, to my delight. Seems that they are teaching eco-awareness early in school now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Time to say 'No'

Be warned that this post has nothing to do with food. Seldom have I posted negativity in this blog. But I think it is time for me to certain things off my chest. It has been weighing on me too long that I have no will to blog of other stuff at all. I do not know if this post will draw any flak. All I ask is that if you find this post offensive, don’t read it. Allow me to vent my emotions on my own blog. I do not expect you to walk in my shoes or feel how I felt.

1) Have your parents been humiliated by your in laws during the wedding preparation?
2) During the wedding dinner, your parents were being treated as if invisible?
3) Till this day, they had never spoken to each other because your in laws think your parents are holed up in 3 room flat?
4) Have your parents been accused of as snobs when the real snobs are your in laws?
5) Despite meeting your in laws only during Chinese New Year, it can still become a circus act, gossips that followed months and months later?
6) Over a period of 7 years, your daughter met her ‘so-called’ grandfather on 7 to 9 occasions?
7) You do not even know where your in laws live?
8) Have your joy of a first time mother doused with words like, ‘I already have 4 grandchildren’?
9) Have your pride of a first time home owner being trampled upon, just because you could only afford a HDB flat?
10) Your sis in law returned and insisted a bigger ang bao for her kids even though your husband was jobless and relied on your income at that time?
11) Your sis in law gave your kids clothes so worned out that even your helper didn't even want them?
12) Your sis in law gave big packets sweets and chocolates to your kids which were so close to expiry dates?
13) Have your calls for help being answered only a year later when the crisis was over, and that they came questioning if what you said a year ago were true?
14) Despite of all these, they expect you to fulfill your obligations to them when the need arises?

As the verse went, ‘A time to kill, a time to heal’. And this is my time, a time to say ‘No’. A relative from IH’s side said, ‘Do not have pride, forget and forgive and life is all about relationship, do not deprive the kids of their grandparents.’ Well, I would like to tell this self righteous relative, who has never been married, never had in laws like mine and whose womb never nurtured a child to hold her tongue.

Do not have pride - It is not about pride; it is dignity. My parents definitely did not raise me up just be treated like that. I did not receive education to be treated like that. I did not have children just so you could treat them like the way you people did.

Forgive and forget - It is so easy for you to say 'forgive and forget' when you are not at the receiving end. You may request, but the choice is up to me. In the first place, there wasn't any apology.

Life is all about relationship, do not deprive the kids of their grandparents - All their lives, my children have only known and loved one set of grandparents. At the age of 4, Ah Girl told my dad that 'the other old man' is not her grandfather because he doesn't love her. Upon hearing those words, how would a mother feel? My MIL was so indifferent towards Ah Girl and Ah Boy, perhaps they didn't even know she is the grandmother. What relationship? How can one be deprived of something which they never knew they had? My kids don't even want to be carried by them or speak to them. To them, my in laws are nothing more than strangers. Whatever love they couldn't give, my parents gave, my aunts and uncle gave, unconditionally.

There was death in the family recently and so the drama unfolds. I refused to attend the funeral and told IH that the kids are too young to go. It took them 7 years and a funeral to remember that they have a daughter in law and grandchildren somewhere. 冰封三尺,非一日之寒。If they expect instant reconciliation, they are mistaken. I may be married to IH but I am not enslaved to him or his family. I have the same earning power, I stand on even ground. Being an outcast for so long, I refuse surrender my freedom. I do not want to waste my energy on my in laws anymore. Out of sight, out of mind. I am fine as long as they stop bothering me. I am not stopping them to see the kids; that is if they ever bothered to. But don't expect me to play nice, that's hypocrisy. Brand me unfilial, unforgiving, vindictive, I don't care. I insist, call me Madam, not Missus. I do not want to carry his family name for I am my own master.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Soy Milk Chiffon Cake (Re-Post)


A reader experienced some problem with this recipe I posted so I wanted to do some experiment with it. I have been rather busy with work so thanks for bearing with me. It is quite difficult to explain without pictures so I decided not to reply via comments.

The original recipe which I posted earlier is as below.

Soy Milk Chiffon Cake (Yolk Free)
180g Unsweetened Soy Milk (I used Sobe)
30g Fine Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
50g Corn Oil
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

110g Cake flour
40g Soy Flour
1/2 tbsp Baking powder


5 Egg Whites
50g Fine Sugar
1/2 Ttsp Cream of Tartar

1) In a bowl, using hand whisk, whisk (A) till incorporated.

2) Add (B) and mix well.

3) In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat till the whites are frothy. Add in Cream of Tartar and beat till soft peaks. Add in sugar gradually and beat till stiff peaks.

4) Fold in 1/3 of the whites into the mixture using a rubber spatula till incorporated. Pour the mixture to the remaining egg whites and fold in gently till incorporated.

5)Pour into a 21 cm chiffon tube pan. Level the batter with a spatula. Bang the pan on the table to get rid of bubbles.

6) Oil a piece of aluminium foil and cover the pan loosely. Bake at 170 deg.C for 10mins.

7) Turn down the temperature to 160 deg.C and bake for 20mins.

8) Reduce the temperature to 150 deg.C and bake for 10mins. Insert a skewer to check if the cake is done. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10mins to brown the surface.

9) Remove from the oven and invert the pan. Remove the cake from pan when it's completely cooled.

*Note : Mixture (A) will be heavier than your regular egg yolk batter. This is normal due to the extra soy flour used.

**Note : Perhaps I should just replace some of the cake flour with soy flour (toying with idea of 90g cake flour and 30g soy flour) to get a lighter cake. Disregard the yolks entirely and stick to 140g of soy milk.

Below are the correspondence between Hwee Choon and me.

Anonymous said...
Hi Rei

I tried to follow your recipe today but unfortunately the cake turned out to be too dry.

It was already too dry when i tried to mix Group A and Group B ingredients together, even when I have added 200g of Soy Milk instead of 180g. I tried adding another 30g of soy milk but the cake turned out to be too dry. The only difference from your recipe is that I used 150g of cake flour instead of 110g of cake flour and 40g of soy flour.

Also I noticed there is also a harden layer at the top of the cake which I have nvr come across when i bake other favour chiffon cake.

Appreciate if you can advise.

Hwee Choon

April 7, 2010 12:04 AM

Rei said...
Hi Hwee Choon, first I need to determine if you are the recipe without egg yolk or with egg yolks. Next, when I tweaked the recipe, I have taken soy flour's water absorption into consideration. Thus, amount of soy flour should not be substituted directly with cake flour. Should you use 150g of cake flour, you would need an additional egg to support the cake structure. Substituting egg yolk can be quite tricky as it contains water and fats.

I would like to know if you have added corn oil on top of the 230g of soy milk. Assuming you added these 2 liquids, your hydration ratio is about 53.6%, which will result in a very moist cake. It shouldn't be dry.

The top layer you were refering to is after being inverted?

April 7, 2010 9:29 AM

Anonymous said...
HI Rei

Thanks for the quick response.

Initially For group A, I used 200g soy milk, 30g castor sugar, 50g corn oil and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence. For group B, I used 150g Cake flour and 1/2tbsp baking powder. No yolk was used. When I added the flour into group A, the consistency of the patter was very "solid" as in it's not as liquid as the patter I always have when baking chiffon cake. And I dont think it's possible to fold in the egg white to the mixture. So I added in another 30g of soy milk.

230g of soy milk is excluding the 50g of corn oil.

The top layer is before the cake is being inverted as in the side that is direct contact with the heat and not the cake pan.

April 8, 2010 2:03 AM

Anonymous said...
Hi Rei

By the way, I did not say that 230gm of soy milk is too dry. What I meant was, your recipe of 180gm of soy milk is too dry after adding the flour. And if I read correctly, your recipe did not include any egg yolks and I did not mention that I added any egg yolks.

Hope this is clear for you.

Thanks and regard
Hwee Choon

Experiment 1
As mentioned in my comments, I do not encourage direct subsitution of soy flour with cake flour. The water absorption between the 2 flours is different. Below is how the batter would look like based on Hwee Choon's direct substitution. 150g cake flour + 180g soy milk + 50g oil.

It is slightly thicker than the normal chiffon cake yolk batter, which was mentioned in my earlier post. But it doesn't look solid to me. Hydration ratio is 65.22%

Experiment 2
Soy milk was increased to 200g. Oil remains at 50g. Batter looks smoother, presents ribbon stage when whisk is lfted. Hydration ratio is 60%

Experiment 3
Soy milk was incresed to 230g and oil remains at 50g. Batter falls easily from whisk. Hydration ratio is 53.57%

I would suggest that the hydration ratio stays within the 60 to 68 percentage. Too much liquid might hinder the cake from rising as the cake cannot support its own structure.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

2 Years

It's been 2 years of blogging. Beginning of this year, I made plans to organise a luck draw for the readers. However, due to several unexpected turn of events, I had to shelf the idea. It's way past anniversary now but, who cares? Ahah~~ I will make the announcement once I am ready. It is my way of saying thank-you to the readers, especially those who bothered to come back for updates.

Beginning of Year 2010, I didn't have time to reflect, no time to make any resolutions. But looking back, 2009 had been a good year though not all smooth sailing. I was doing some spring cleaning of my draft folder and found a few drafts with pictures uploaded but no words. I may have long forgotten how I felt after I finished decorating the cake but each picture brings back bits and pieces of memory. I compiled them together and post them here. And thank you all mommies for placing orders with me again this year.

Monday, April 5, 2010


This is a much delayed post. I had planned to post it last December but was too caught up with things that it got lost in the draft folder. Every once in a while, a special request will come up that you don't have the heart to say no to it. This cake was it. I'm not exactly a bird loving person. I'm actually a cat person. I don't mind mice, snakes or dogs. In fact I love big dogs. I once wanted to adopt a Malamute but I didn't have enough space for him to run around. Mice are rather smart and I find snakes intriguing. Cats, I love them for their grace and independence. Okay, I digressed. As you might have noticed, most of my cakes were for kids, well, except for mahjong cakes. After doing some repetitive work, I welcome a break from it.

This cake was for a bird watching hubby from a loving wife. The reason I did not delete this post as I would love to share the beauty of this bird captured by his excellent photography. She needed a small cake as her hubby wasn't a cake person. I usually don't accept orders under 1 kg but I was really interested when she mentioned 'Kingfisher'. When I received the picture, I was mesmerised by its beauty. If only I could capture half of its glory on the cake. My camera phone couldn't capture the 'feathers' and the shimmer on its head. I was kind of frustrated from trying and finally gave up. Maybe I should take up photography lessons.

Meantime, enjoy the work of nature.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Start Them Young

Came across this post some days back from Terri of Hunger Hunger and thought it would good to share with you. While I could not load the video (not sure why), but reading what she wrote is enough to convince me. She is a sincere blogger and writes what she believes in. Do hop on over to her blog as the areas covered by her are vast. I am picking out just one of points mentioned as I was astounded by the message Jamie Oliver wanted to bring across. The amount of sugar found solely in milk consumed by a child over a period of 5 years is incredible. After knowing this, it would make any parents think twice about giving out carbonated/cordial drinks, sweets and chocolates freely. Below, are some of my efforts to introduce healthy eating habits to my kids.

Speaking of which, I am guilty of giving my kids cordial drinks like Ribena. Though I did not start this habit but I did not stand firm enough stopping IH from buying it. These 2 months however, I started buying barley and boiled them with some pandan leaves. The kids are getting use to this. It's now either barley water or just water. As for sweets, chocolates and carbonated drink, as long as you don't have them at home, they can't ask you for it. Simple as that. I don't stock sweets, chocolates and ice cream at home. Occasionally, I will buy them sweets and chocolates in smaller packagings or ration out to them. We bring bottles of boiled water when we are out, so no excuse for ordering carbonated drinks.

Being a baker, it is inevitable that there will always be cakes, bread and cookies at home. One benefit of homebakes is that you can reduce the amount of sugar used. That is what I did for most of the recipes I have tried out. With the constant supply of homebakes, I would always ask my helper to share with my neighbours, their kids and helpers. This way, my kids learnt about sharing. In fact, my kids must have gotten tired of my bakes these days.

I breastfed Ah Girl for 6 months and Ah Boy for a year. When they were weaning, the first solids were vegetables puree which I made myself. Pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, chinese spinach, corn, peas are some examples. All of which are unadulterated with seasoning. My mom had advised me to feed them pork bone or fish porridge but I believed that by starting them with vegetables to their untainted palate, they would be more receptive towards vegetables when they are older. Indeed, nothing makes me happier to hear my kids say, 'I want vegetables' or 'I want some broccoli'. Though they are quite picky when it comes to fish, I'd rather that than them picking out vegetables from their plates.

As mentioned before in my earlier posts, I do not offer deep fried food at home. Once in a while, IH will bring them out to McD's. Probably due to the lack of exposure to deep fried food, they usually cannot finish the chicken nuggets or french fries. It is some relief that McD's now offers yoghurt, apples and corn cup in their kid's meal. I believe all kids love McD's for a reason. The same for my kids; its toys. In general, Ah boy and Ah Girl prefer homecooked meals. There is pros and cons about this. They usually can't eat much when we eat out.

A must-have for my kids is soup. Particularly, clear soup. Soup is good for 2 reasons; nutrients in soup are easier absorbed by body and it hydrates the body. There must be soup in 1 of the meals for them. Besides the regular ABC soup (potato and carrot soup), below are 2 soups which I usually cook for them. For soups to be clear, it is important to remove the scums during boiling.

I believe that all parents want to inculcated healthy eating habits in their children but sometimes, we adults who are 'young at heart' inevitably fall into temptation ourselves. If we as parents do not check ourselves, wouldn't it be hypocrisy to ask our young kids to exercise self restraint?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Febrile Seizure & My Grievance

Okay, so I took an even longer break. I hope everyone had a wonderful Chinese New Year. I was so busy with the preparation, pineapple tarts sale, cake orders and tending to a sick child, I didn't really get to enjoy my break. At the busiest time of the year, Ah Boy fell sick. Just first week of February, it started out with a mild grade fever in the morning. When I was about to leave office for home in the evening, I received a panic call from IH. Ah Boy's fever escalated suddenly and went into seizure. Ambulance was called in and Ah Boy was sent to hospital. The journey from office to the hospital was torturous. What happened to my mischievous and active boy?

Being afraid and uncooperative in an unfamiliar environment is normal for a toddler. Even more scary for him as he was in the isolation ward. Fortunately 1 of us was allowed to accompany him. While he was still very alert after the seizure, he was afraid of the masks and medication time. Later, the paediatrician explained to me that what occurred was Febrile Seizure . It is a type of seizure that usually lasts less than 15 minutes and is caused by a sudden rise in temperature. As the child's brain is not fully developed, it is unable to handle this and thus shut down. Usually, after the seizure, some children will fall asleep. After Febrile seizure, the child will appear normal and alert. According to the doctors, Febrile seizure is unlikely to cause developmental problems or impairment of intelligence. However, when seizures occur, it is important to send the child to hospital to rule out other possiblities such as Meningitis and Encephalitis and to identify the cause of fever. In Ah Boy's case, I was worried about Dengue Fever. Just a day ago before Ah Boy's seizure, I was informed by the people from NEA that there is 1 case of Dengue Fever in my block, just 2 levels below me. Then there is H1N1. Dengue Fever was ruled out. It was diagnosed as viral fever and since Ah Boy was alert, he was discharged that night.

Unexpectedly, the next morning, Ah Boy had another seizure and fell alseep after that. According to the doctor, the recurrence of Febrile seizure is not uncommon (about 30%) but it is not common for it recurr again in 24 hours. We had no choice but to send him back to hospital for another check. He was admitted and tested for H1N1 but was cleared. Still, he had to stay in the hospital for observation. He was alert and played with his toys. Ah Girl was rather shaken by the experience and cried when Ah Boy had to stay in the hospital. Due to my earlier commitment, I had to stay home that night to finish my order. My helper stayed the night with him in the hospital. For once, I hated myself for having to bake and decorate.

I would like to share my experience of handling seizure at home. Not that I have lots of experience but what was taught by the doctors. My hope is none of the parents has to go through this frightening and dreadful experience but it is important to know what to do if it does happen. First, when seizure occurs, turn the baby/toddler to his/her side. Do not attempt to stuff anything into his/her mouth, including your own fingers. Try to stay calm. I tried to talk to Ah Boy in an assuring voice and pat gently on his back. Meantime, observe the duration of the seizure, the child's response such as, clenched fist, twitching body, eyes staring forward or rolled back. Did the child let go of his bladder? What happened after the seizure? These are the questions doctors will ask you when you bring the child in.

The worse was yet to come as after being discharged from the hospital as you have to monitor the child's temperature. Besides Panamol, he was also given Ibuprofen. These 2 medication will manage the fever but will not stop seizure from recurring. I was given some anticonvulsants to be administered through the anus should the seizure last more than 15 minutes. In Ah Boy's 2 instances, they lasted less than a minute. Ah Boy was really cranky and refused fever medication which was understandable. My helper and I took turns to carry him throughout the nights so that he could catch some sleep. What was unacceptable was an adult, acting like a kid throwing tantrums at the slightest thing. I believe that a child can sense the emotions of his/her parents. It is important to remain calm and assuring. It is no wonder, throughout the entire time, Ah Boy refused to be carried by IH. And especially at times like these, I find that a helper is more valuable than a husband. Usually, it took me 2 hours to cook pineapple jam. But having to take care of Ah Boy intermittenly, I took 6 hours. I received no help from him except he kept pressing us to administer medication. Just minutes after I started sponging Ah Boy, IH measured took his temperature again and said sponging didn't work. Then IH blamed me for not being there when the first seizure occurred. I was exasperated. I did not have the energy to deal with IH. A leopard will never change its spots. 狗,始终改不了吃屎。 Ah Boy cried at the sight of medicine. My helper and I wept when he hugged us and cried, 'Please, please, no more medicine.'

Finally, Ah Boy has fully recovered after Chinese New Year, gained back the 1.3kg he lost during his sickness. What I got in return is a healthy and active boy and a cough which tormented me for 5 weeks. Thank you for reading this lengthy and pictureless post. I can't promise that I will be more regular in my posts but I'm glad to be back.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's been a long break...

... And thank you if you are still reading this. I've been experiencing a little fatigue these couple of months. Recently, I have been boring you with cakes. I have baking cakes week in and week out. Not that I have lost my interest in baking or decorating but I have lost my direction in blogging. I cooked, I baked but most times, just too tired to take pictures. Partly because fearing they might ended up in the draft box like, forever.

During this break, I took time to prepare Ah Girl for Primary 1. More than ever, I realised that I had been too lax with her. Her handwriting is atrocious, especially for her Chinese. That also made me feel rather guilty. I didn't spend enought time with her to correct her handwriting.

Ah Girl's graduation day. She performed in one of the skits.

I took time off to accompany her on the first and second day of school. Everything was a breeze except for a hiccup from the transport company. She was being assigned to the wrong bus. From a supposedly half an hour ride, turned into a near 2 and a half hour journey. I had to sit at the drop off point, worried sick and not knowing when she would reach home as the driver couldn't give me a confirmed time. Call it being Singaporean or whatever, I called up and gave them a piece of my mind. Honestly speaking, if she were to take public transport, it would probably take 10 to 15 minutes to reach home. I thought the arrangement would be more convenient for Ah Girl and my helper. I was quite surprised when Ah Girl reached home without tears. I must say I was rather proud when she said she wasn't afraid, just bored nd hungry. Perhaps she is more independent than I would like to admit. By the time she had her meal, it was close to 4 p.m. She asked if it was her lunch or dinner. Hah.

The only thing I am worried about is her spending too much at the bookshop and being talkative in class. Thus I wondered if she was made monitoress because of her constant chattering.

At the same time Ah Boy fell sick, recovered and fell sick again over the weekend. He is getting used to Ah Girl's new routine and will ask where is Ah Girl when he wakes up. He used to follow Ah Girl to the Kindergarten but she now has to go off at 6.15 a.m. This is his cheeky self. His favourite TV shows are Pingu, Bob the Builder, Barney, Hi 5 and of course Thomas Tank Engine. Favourite song? 'Happy Birthday'. He comes in really handy at birthday parties.

This is his not-so-cheeky self. I noticed his hidden double eye-lids will appear when he is unwell. If that is really the case, I'd rather they remain hidden forever.

I enjoyed the company of my kids while slowing down. I think I have been doing too many things at the same time. Finally, I had time to sit down and read. Finished 4 books to be exact. Found time to revisit beading and unfortunately, discovered jewellery making. Argh.