Saturday, August 30, 2008

A date made a year ago...

Plain lotus and some with red bean and a little piece of Oreo hidden within...

Red wine and cranberry snow skin...

The mooncake festival is just round the corner, in approximately 2 weeks' time. Last year at this time, I had only started blogging not long, and was introduced to a whole new world out here on blogger. I've learned a lot in this short time, and marveled at all the wonderful food creations people around the world come up with. There are so many so many talented bakers and cooks out there who don't even do it professionally. Where I used to only bake once in a few months, I suddenly got caught into this baking frenzy with recipes popping up everywhere, some so interesting I just couldn't wait to try them out. It was during this time that I discovered so many people actually made mooncakes at home. I was intrigued. Curiosity got the better of me, and I actually tried it out. Alas, I was unsuccessful. One lady in particular caught my attention and she is none other than Cranberry. I love to drool over her beautiful bakes. She is very talented and when I casually mentioned that maybe she could teach me to make those beautiful snow skin mooncakes, she agreed and we made a date for this year. Time sure does fly by so fast, don't you agree? I can't believe one year has passed.

The mooncakes turned out great and we had lots of fun making them, princess included. J is so super patient with her and allowed her to play with the flour. Mummy couldn't help telling her to stop it and not mess up the place. Hehe. It was really wonderful of her to open up her home to us and let us learn from her. Thanks very much, J. I do so appreciate it.

Not just that, she even made us lovely peach and mango marshmallow cakes. Wow, that was a surprise, but I do so loved it. It wasn't sweet at all and the biscuit base really complimented the marshmallow and fruits. Yum! It's the one thing I've seen countless times on her blog and often wondered what this marshmallow cake is. Now I know and have tasted. :)

Here's the one we brought home. :)

Tummy's still aching

It's been a week since the tummy aches began and till today we don't know what it is. We went to see the paed yesterday, as one week is too long to not be having an appetite where my girl is concerned. She told me, I hope I get well soon so I can eat nice food. Awww... doesn't that just break your heart? Well, she did a urine test and we hope to get the results very soon. But on the bright side, she asked for breakfast this morning and also her dinner of bee hoon which I da bao from J's. Thanks dear J, she finished all the bee hoon. It's the happiest thing for me this whole week, just to see her eat and ask for food.

Thanks to all those who posted comments which I didn't reply. Not that I was that mega busy, maybe it was just the weather, as well as the little one not being well, but just plain lazy to do anything, and not in the mood to bake or cook. Nice to hear all your feedback with regards the article before this one. And Peony, no worries, just help yourself. I pinched them from other blogs too. ;)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Poor girl's ill

My poor little girl is ill. :( Initially I thought it was from the hula hooping she was doing all day yesterday from trying to get her tummy small (as told to her by Auntie P who visited yesterday, haha). I know I practise it but I don't advocate it for children about this losing weight and raising their self-confidence bit. Well, of course she's not fat, and I was mad at dad a few weeks' ago when he said it to her that she had put on weight? Hang on there! I told him off. She's only 6, why are you giving her a complex? I don't care if she's 6 or 16, I don't want her growing up and feeling insecure about her body. Does thin necessarily = healthy? I'm not talking about obesity here. I remembered he said it too, to my goddaughter a few years ago. She wouldn't have been more than 9. I was very shocked when she started P1 and was told to go on the TAF club programme (if you haven't already noticed, TAF stands for Trim And Fit, but it's also FAT spelt backwards). There was no way there was even an ounce of fat on her skinny 7-yr-old body (that was before she started putting on a little weight).

Back to the topic at hand. Well, poor little one said she had a tummy ache this morning and even while at ballet class, she wasn't feeling too well. Whenever they had a little break, she always sat down while they were still supposed to be standing and practising. She even asked to be excused so she could take a rest. She didn't have an appetite for lunch so she skipped that, and even for dinner, she had a few maki. Poor girl. She asked to go home immediately after dinner and even though she slept 3hrs in the day, she went to bed at 10pm. I hope she gets well soon as it's very seldom that she's ill like this and out of sorts. As I was saying, it probably couldn't have been the hula hooping she was doing all day else how to explain the lack of appetite? She might have caught some bug but thank goodness, there's no fever or anything else.

Just wanted to share the mooncake pastry fish that I love and bring back some memories for some. I remember grandma used to come home with those little piggies in the baskets, how cute they were. They can still be found each time the Mooncake Festival comes along. Is it because I'm bigger now that I find the little piggies have shrunk? Well, I'm glad I found this fish (carp?) at a market stall and the owner sells them every year at this time. They cost only 60cents each and are real value for money. Just this afternoon, I saw a fish a third the size of this and it cost $1.50. These plain pastries are great for kids as most (like mine for e.g.) do not like the lotus pastes in them. Children are such purists. How's your mooncake preparations coming along? I know this is the time that most bloggers will be busy churning out mooncakes. Can't wait to see what the offers are this year. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oodles of noodles

In this house we love pasta and noodles. I've been cooking lots of rice in the past few weeks so decided to make a simple pasta for dinner last evening. The reason was that I had spied a packet of pizza toppings in the chiller while buying some ham, so I decided to grab that. And what better way to use them than in a pasta dish cooked in plain olive oil, salt, some herbs and plenty of black pepper? I added fresh mushrooms, a yellow capsicum sliced, onions and some crabsticks.

You would think that having just had pasta for dinner, I'd have opted for something else for lunch today, but no siree... it was noodles. :P Well, reason being I had planned this for dinner but hubby reminded me that he had a dinner appointment with an old colleague who is in town. Oh well...

I made two different styles. One was a non-spicy type for the little one, and the other was using a laksa paste for me. For hers, I fried an omelette and sliced it up to use as a topping. Her ingredients included sausages, bean sprouts and fishcake. I used oyster sauce, sesame oil and some white pepper for the seasoning and garnished with some fried shallots.

This packet of instant paste caught my attention while I was in Cold Storage one day. How to resist, right? Plus it is by Prima Taste so it shouldn't be all that bad. So I got a packet to try out.

Instead of using it to fry rice, I decided I should use it for a noodle dish. I got some fresh laksa noodles from the market, together with fishcake which I sliced rather thinly, prawns, bean sprouts and tau pok, in keeping with the laksa theme. Those are the ingredients typically found in the normal soupy laksa. I couldn't find any laksa leaves this morning so just had to do without that. I fried the tau pok before everything else in order to keep it crispy. The result was rather good. I guess it could have been a little spicier. I should have added some sambal to it. Will remember the next time. But all in, I did enjoy the dish. I guess it's a good substitute for laksa, in my case, as I can't take coconut milk. There is coconut in the paste but it's not significant so it shouldn't do me much harm. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008


This quaint hole in the wall Japanese eatery beckoned to us one rainy Sunday afternoon, while we were at Far East Plaza to pick up something for sis. We had arranged to meet mum for lunch in Orchard. But as most malls in Orchard are not linked, we weren't too keen to venture out into the pouring rain. Besides, we had no idea what to eat. So we took a stroll around the mall and chanced upon this Japanese restaurant which apparently specializes in yakitori. Business was brisk. While we were seated at the counter seats beside the entrance, customers were going in and out.

Mum ordered the Obento, I believe it cost $12.90 and it comes with 5 sticks of yakitori, rice, and pickles. Not sure if I had left my camera home that day, thus we used the camera phone. Hubby had the Shokado ($14.90/$16.90 - can't remember) which comprised a grilled fish/sashimi, some pieces of yasai tempura, fruits, rice and pickles. As for me, I had the Unagi ($18). All were excellent. For princess, we ordered her 2 sticks of chicken meatball yakitori ($5), agedashi tofu ($8) and a bowl of rice.

Prices are reasonable for the sets. Ala carte can set you back by quite a bit and drinks too were costly. But I guess at the end of the day you are paying for the quality. We'll be back for sure.

Nanbantei Japanese Restaurant
14 Scotts Road
Far East Plaza
Singapore 228213

Salad and pancakes

We had dinner at Sizzler last evening. It's newly renovated, although the layout still remains the same. We've not visited it in years so decided to go check it out. The salad bar was the most popular choice on the menu, but for a couple of dollars more, you get a main course as well. Princess ordered the chicken nuggets which cost $11.90 and it included a drink. However, she got very excited with the salad offerings that she hardly touched her main course. (Kids size salad bar costs $9.90) What a waste of $$. However, we're not complaining as we were so delighted that she still enjoys the bar. When she was much younger, we went there a couple of times but she's forgotten. Those days, she ate for free. She and daddy made a little face with her salad and she ate everything on her plate & even went back for seconds. Wow! At the end of the meal, she said, 'I had a wonderful dinner!', and you could tell she was happy as she was in a very good mood and prancing around. Haha.

Sizzler Suntec
#B1-21/22 Suntec City Tower 2
Tel: 63365866

She hasn't been feeling very well since Saturday night so I decided to keep her home to rest these two days. For breakfast I made our favourite pancakes but this time I made them plain and served the fruits on the side. I made half the recipe but there's still batter leftover for tomorrow. An unsuccessful attempt with the hello kitty stencil.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Peanut Butter Sandies

Whilst browsing through the blogs, I came across Maya's Peanut Butter Sandies which originated at Ovenhaven's blog. How is a girl to resist a very simple 3-ingredient biscuit which takes so little to put together? I had a half bottle of creamy peanut butter, plus just enough brown sugar to finish up and what better way to use them than in a yummy biscuit recipe.

The result was melt in your mouth yummy goodness. My biscuits didn't turn out as pretty as those the girls made as I did not have enough peanut butter to bind them together. Nonetheless they were great. I would cut down a bit on the sugar though. I found them a little sweet.

Note - Once cooled, the biscuits were not so melt in the mouth, but that could be because I cut down on the peanut butter? In any case, they are still good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My magic pot

I have a new toy - a magic pot. This thermal pot is not new in the market but it sure took me a long while before getting one. I was skeptical to say the least. I mean, does it really do the job it proclaims to? Just bring the pot of ingredients to the boil and then without any electrical device, leave it for a couple of hours and it can cook on its own? It sounded too good to be true.

I paid S$49 at OG. It's a great buy really, and worth every cent of it, except that it is kind of bulky. It's a most wonderful aid for a mum like me on the go. Why didn't I invest in it earlier... I often wonder??!! Well, it did cost an arm and a leg till replicas started flooding the market. The Made in Japan ones still cost S$200-300.

In actual fact, I did pick up a pot last month from a shop in the Marina area but as their stocks were not moving quickly enough, it turned out that there was mildew on the carton box as well as within the pot itself and I only discovered it after coming home. I couldn't use it and thus had to return it to the shop. The guy who first attended to me was reluctant to take it back. He said I could just wash it off. Oh come on, use your brains a little. I couldn't possibly wash the insulation in the outer pot, could I? In any case, our health comes first and I won't jeopardize my family's health with that. However, beside him was a lady who understood perfectly and she took over him to attend to me. I told her she was very nice and understanding and she said being a female, she knew exactly how I felt. So I got my money back.

I couldn't wait to try it out the minute I got it. So I made a pot of soup for last night's dinner, using a quarter of a sharksfin melon which J had given to me.

This is what I put in the soup -

a quarter of a sharksfin melon, cut into smaller cubes
pork ribs
ikan bilis
8 red dates
3 pcs of dried scallops
1 carrot cut into cubes

I cooked that for approximately 5hrs in the pot as I was out. I came home to steaming hot soup and I added in some fishballs and meatballs, before bringing it to the boil again on the stove and then returning it to the outer pot to keep warm till dinner. The flesh was falling off the pork bones and very tender. I'm convinced. :) And the plus point was that the soup turned out to be really light and flavourful as no flavours were sacrificed in the process of constant boiling on the stovetop.

I then steamed a fish as well, (not in the pot of course) but I believe it can be done as it comes with a 2l and 5l inner pot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy birthday Singapore

This post is 3 days' late, all because silly me left my camera at mum's. We made plans to have a pohpiah session at mum's on Saturday and watch the parade together. But in the end, the kids were more interested in playing than watching. I have to say I wasn't too impressed with the parade. Well, I only watched the first part of it till the President arrived and did his inspection of the contingents. The poor man had to walk in the rain throughout the downpour. And what have they done to the national songs? It's all jazzed up and weird and you just can't sing along. Well, anyway, I guess the important part of the day was the food. :)

Mum and sis prepared the ingredients for the pohpiah. Thanks very much for all your hard work. :*

Uncle C bought the skin and condiments from Joo Chiat at a shop called Kway Guan Huat. I've found an interesting post with descriptions and photos of the place if you are interested. By the way, the plain skin costs $18/kg now on weekends.

I made some burgers for the kids in case they wouldn't eat the pohpiah. Mini burgers using butter rolls. I used a mix of minced pork and beef, cut the florets off the broccoli, shredded some carrots, diced some onions and added them to the patty. I used oyster sauce, worchestershire sauce, white pepper for the seasoning of the patty and pan fried them. I then assembled them with a slice each of tomato and cheese. Voila!

I also made curry chicken which didn't look very pretty so I'm not showing it here. :P

What I did make, which were rather pretty, were custard tarts with strawberries and blueberries as topping, as well as some chocolate eclairs. You just can't stop popping them in. ;) I used Peony's custard tart recipe, and instead of using jam, I used melted chocolate. I also did not bake the fruits in with the custard. I opted to decorate them after they were out of the oven. They were nice. I will try the creme patisserie for the filling another time as it would have been more appropriate for the topping.

My aunt bought these cute little donuts from a stall in Suntec called Mumsie's Oven. They are very pretty and perfect for parties. They cost $9 for 24pcs. Ok, they do not have a website but I just googled it and found that they are actually under Puteri Mas. I love their durian puffs and I think they were refrigerated together with the durian products, which explains the durian taste in the donuts. No wonder hubby wasn't too keen on them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Roast chicken

Whenever I go to Vivo, it's chicken rice day. That's because I love the roast chicken selling at Giant. It's way way better than the ones sold at Cold Storage. They are tender and juicy and not dried out, with a lovely honey roasted skin. And since I'm out the whole afternoon, I usually do not have the energy to cook dinner, so with the instant chicken rice mix by Chng Kee's, just a spoonful in the rice before cooking, and I have ready chicken rice. I sometimes add a couple of pandan leaves, and then slice up some tomatoes to serve. With the leftover meat, we use them in sandwiches.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The man in the balloon

Over the weekend we attended a birthday party. It was a combination party for both the girl and boy, as they share the same birthday month, thus the two initials on the cakes.

This balloon man amazed me at the funfair that we had last month as he was fantastic with his balloon creations. P decided to use his services and boy, were we wowed! The man in the balloon act was a bonus that we didn't expect. I think he was fantastic and he grabbed our attention with that particular act. Before that, I wasn't paying attention to him at all. Unfortunately I am not planning anymore big birthday parties for my girl or I would not hesitate to use him. It was a lovely gathering for us mums too. It's our last year together and once everyone goes off to P1 next year, there'll be less time for each other, so we're making the most of it now. :)

Note - That's 5 posts for one day which should make up for the shortage of posts for the week gals. ;) Hope you are happy. :D

Food from the heart

I love that phrase below - 一份食物 一份愛心 (an item of food, an act of love), how beautiful.

My little girl's school organizes this charity event every year, which I truly support. Read more about the organisation here. It's great that we get to do this act of charity through them. There's also one at the end of the year where each child brings in a teddy bear as a donation and they will distribute them to the kids who are not as lucky as our children. In our every day life, we don't do much to help the poor, and we often are not aware that they are in our presence, so it's good that there are such events to remind us that there are poor people in our midst, people who cannot even afford necessities such as food. It helps to open our eyes to reality. And it teaches the kids at the same time.

Look at all the lovely posters that they prepared. It's a big event every year and something new for this year is the dance-a-thon sponsored by us parents, with the food that we donate. They were also given donation cards to get sponsors such as their grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.

Have you done a worthy cause lately?

Italian night & some bakes

I finally did the risotto, and hubby loves it, S! Princess tried it and said yummy, but she declined to have more. Hahaha! Initially, I was a bit skeptical and thought the water was maybe a little too much, as it was nearing the 15mins mark but the water still wasn't drying up. Thank goodness I persevered and it finally did. Boy, was I rewarded. I added some fresh prawns to it and that really lifted the dish. However, I didn't get a chance to make a trip to the supermarket to get some greens to add, so it looks rather boring. ;P Also made some pizza using pita bread as a base, with a topping of ham, pineapple and mozarella.

I agreed to helping the teachers in school bake some cupcakes for their National Day celebration tomorrow. I was given the Phoon Huat golden muffins ready mix. Just needed to add eggs and oil. They turned out almost perfect. The first lot was the most beautiful but as the oven temp increased, the rest slowly resembled little hills. Hehe. Still, even though it was a pre-mix, I spent 3hrs baking the 50 cups and having to wait for them to cool to store. So much for sleeping early last night. ;P

Smoking cabs

This topic really gets me on my nerves. Why is it that taxi drivers need to smoke in their cabs? It was never a problem before, but since the ban on smoking in coffeeshops, I noticed a steep incline in drivers smoking. Have they no consideration for the passengers who use their services? It is their bread and butter thus shouldn't they take proper care of their working environment? Is it the rising costs of living, or the ban in eating places, or they just simply do not care since everyone is doing it?

I had an experience about 3yrs ago, and it wasn't a problem yet at that time, but I had the misfortune of calling a Trans cab (not sure if that's the name of the company, it was a red cab) during peak hours, so you know there's already a surcharge on top of the booking fee. There was a very long queue at the taxi stand and I had my girl with me and we had to rush home thus couldn't wait in line. So he pulled up and once I entered the cab, the smoke hit me. It was fresh smoke, which means he had just smoked on his way to pick us up. Fumbling with a little kid and bags etc, I had to take it. I didn't have the energy to reject the cab. But I let it be known to him that I wasn't happy at all. You know what his reply was? Oh, that is not smoke, it's the smell from the zhi char stall. That got me fuming! Was thinking to myself, you think I'm the age of my 3-yr-old daughter?? I wound down the windows and refused to speak to him the entire journey even though he was trying to mend things. One retort from the drivers (hubby can attest to that) is that the person who was in the cab before us had smoked and they couldn't stop them . Classic! Try a better excuse next time.

In the past year, it has gotten very bad. When I call for a cab, as it is, the fares are exorbitant, so I don't see any reason why I should pay to suffer and put my & my family's health at risk. Even when my dad used to smoke, my sis and I would banish him out to the balcony with the sliding door closed over. Thank God he has quit now for quite a number of years. I always say to people, if my dad can quit, so can you. He's been smoking for so long and he even used to work for a company that retails cigarettes, and worse of all, the staff were given cartons of cigs every month.

These days, since my girl is older and easier to handle, I reject taxis which pull up stinking of cigarette smoke. I don't care what they think. If they were responsible, they shouldn't do it in the cab. Some smell like the nightclub the morning after as all the smells have been absorbed by the leather etc over time. It is pretty disgusting. I often see them on the roads with their windows wound down puffing away. I also never flag for cabs with a window wound down for that reason. I hate it that I've always showered, washed my hair, and then step into a cab and come out of the ride smelling like a smoker. That disgusts me to no end.

The other thing that I used to do when I called for a cab after my many unpleasant experiences was to request for a smoke-free cab. The operator gets a shock when he/she hears my request and they usually say, but the drivers are not allowed to smoke in there. Well, tell it to your drivers then! That option didn't work well for me as sometimes the driver arrives early and will step out of their cabs to have a puff. The smell of course goes on their clothes, so now I say, give me a cab with a non-smoking driver. ;)

Am I being too sensitive? Well, maybe I am but I do not care. That's the stand I take about smoking and and I strongly believe that I am not wrong to protect my family and I. Someone once said that I can't protect my girl forever, but where her health is concerned, I will protect her for as long as I can. As for smokers who do not care about others but simply blow smoke into faces, well, I can't stop my girl from turning her nose up at them. Who will protect you if you don't protect yourself? Therefore, I ask you, is the rapid increase in taxi charges justifiable if we are given such shoddy service?

I've been missed & Blueberry alert!

Before I begin, grab them blueberries at NTUC - $4.99 per 2 punnets! I came across them yesterday and wanted to give out the alert, but hubby was having some stuff done to the mac and thus it was unusable.

Sorry to the gals who've messaged to ask if I've been busy and thus have not been updating my blog. Well, what else is new. It's a mix of laziness, not having cooked or baked much & being busy.

I came across this device in Isetan last week and hesitated only for 3 secs before I picked the last piece up and bought it. I reasoned with myself that it helps to fully utilize the slices of bread as well as save time, and besides, it was the last one on the shelf! I used to do this and if sis remembers, it was her job at each birthday party to cut shapes out of the sandwiches for the kids. How much wastage there was. So am pleased that I got it. Have used it twice since.

A little snack box for school with strawberry cream cheese sandwiches, kueh lapis and yellow cherry tomatoes.