Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pardon me

Yes, I am aware of the ugly photobucket thingy all over my blog, but I can't repair it, so have to wait till hubby's free to fix it. Do bear with it. Thanks. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New toys

I have some new toys today, so that spurred me on to make a bento this evening. To tell the truth, we didn't spend the entire day doing revision. It started off with some online homework and some written ones given by the Chinese teacher. But what got me off to a bad start this morning was that the minute my eyes were open, I was greeted with a 'I can't find my planner!', and that got me out of bed pretty quickly. Found the hubby digging everything out of the school bag. Here I am stressing like, oh no, what are we going to do now. The userid & url are all written in a note in there. While I was fussing and nagging, the two of them nicely settled themselves down in the computer room and logged in. So what was all that fuss when the girl could remember her passwords etc, I don't know. Anyway, a classmate's mum suggested that she might have left the planner in school so I'm hoping she's right. Even though it's the end of the school year, we do want to keep that, and fingers crossed it didn't go missing. All the memories of her first year in a primary school are in there. I'm a sentimental person, so yes, I will keep such things.

After her e-learning work was done, we made a trip to Orchard. We had a simple lunch there and picked up some stuff. Then it was home again for the start of mummy's work. Hehe. I'm taking a break now after dinner and giving her a bit of tv time as she's been doing quite a few tests since the afternoon.

My friend told me to expect a package in the post this week so when I got home this afternoon, I had to stop by the mailbox and was elated to find it waiting there for me. Little girl couldn't wait to open it so I let her do the honours. There was a whole bunch of stuff in there, but the one I was most eagerly waiting for were the emoticon picks as shown in the bento above. I did not just use one. I had to use at least 3! Haha. I thought the patterned pick made a very cute hair do for the yellow face. The diecut HK bento is super cute.

Knowing that I'd be tired after a few hours out, I thought we'd just have hotdogs for dinner. For her bento, I cut up a hotdog bun in half, slathered it with pizza sauce, and sliced up the sausages and topped that with some cheese, and baked them to make submarine pizzas. Of course that was not all she had for dinner. She had a whole hotdog bun on the side. The jelly was made by a friend's mum for her, so that went in the bento. There was half a tomato, some strawberries & some mini Easter eggs. There is also some ketchup in the little HK container with the spoon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dinner bento

Since this week is revision week and the little girl is not in school, I decided to fix her bentos for her meals. I do not like keeping her at home as she tends to eat non-stop, and keeps complaining that she's hungry. Just like today, she had a muffin & a packet of milk for breakfast. Okay, granted lunch was a bit on the late side, but she did wake at 11! She had rice for lunch with loads of fruits, baby kai lan & cherry tomatoes. One hour later, she asked for something to eat so I gave her a muffin. She asked again not that long after and she got a whole dragonfruit. She ended up with an apple around 5.30. And while I was preparing dinner at 6, she kept going in and out the kitchen hahahaha. This gives me the excuse for not doing any decor on the rice balls. I kept them simple & presented them as Mickey. The main Mickey head had teriyaki chicken hidden within. It's her favourite chicken. There are fish fillet strips, baby kai lan, teriyaki chicken & cherry tomatoes on the side. Oops, better eat them fast; Hello Kitty's eyeing the food!

I'm very glad that she has started eating lots of veg now, so I decided to reward her in order to encourage her to eat more. It all happened overnight. We had dinner at Dad's one weekend, and he had cooked some Shanghai greens, somewhat like xiao bai cai. And she kept loading her plate with them. I was happy to see that for sure, as we used to have to force her to eat them. And from that day onwards, probably 3 wks' ago, she's been eating all manners of green leafy veg no problemo. All very weird. Hmm... So well, we asked her just a few days back and she said that she was afraid Grandpa would be angry if she didn't eat them. Well, that can't happen as she is his darling. Haha. I guess she just needed an excuse for herself. So now my next hurdle is fish. I prepared two charts for her, one for fish and the other for veg and when she collects a number of stickers, she gets to exchange them for something. She's having fun every day, adding new stickers and watching the list grow.

Hubby's home today so he's working with her on her Maths. I will take over the language papers once he's back to work tomorrow. I need to get her back to study mode again as we had a break over the weekend due to studying lots last week. I'm glad that language paper 1s are over and done with, and so have the orals, show & tell etc. Heaved a sigh of relief last Thursday.

Party's over! It's back to the grill tomorrow. :P All the best to those taking their exams next week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cream Cracker Cake

Look at how my cream cracker cake turned out. Ain't they gorgeous? Unfortunately I was too lazy as always. I love to be quick in baking, and have no patience whatsoever in wasting time waiting for cakes or cookies to bake. The quicker their out of the over the better. Thus, I made the mistake this time for not using smaller cups. They were beautiful but oh so heavy, as in rich. I couldn't finish a whole cupcake at one go. Maybe because it was very dense, it made it difficult for me to digest. My girl loves them and she had one full one plus half of the one I left behind. It's a lovely cake really, and I wouldn't say it's super easy to do, but the job is best left to the cake mixer.

I received this packet of mix from a friend last month. She got it from Cooking Island. Apparently they are very famous for this mix, and the kind soul went all the way to the shop to get me a packet. Thanks so much.

When I first received it, I was like, what's this? I've never heard of this cake in my life. She assured me that she's tried it before so not to worry, it will turn out well. Haha.

The recipe on the packet says 6 eggs & 250g butter. Ok, the eggs did scare me a little.

What I dislike most about adding eggs to butter is that they curdle too easily, hence my explanation at the start of this post about my laziness. Well, this recipe sure was a test of my patience. But I had to constantly remind myself that I couldn't afford to mess it up as it was the only packet I had, and how was I going to blog about it as requested if I had allowed all those eggs to curdle? So I very patiently let the mixer do its work, thank God I didn't use manual labour. I wouldn't have arms left. Below is the result of my 'hard' labour (meaning constantly reminding myself not to add more eggs in before the last bit has been well blended). Look how beautiful the creamed eggs turned out. Phew.

Adding the premix was easy peasy. It's done!

I didn't follow friend's method of piping them, as I thought to myself, if they are going to be steamed, and being of such heavy texture, they were bound to flatten before ballooning. Thank goodness I decided on the lazy way, as they turned out really well.

This was before they were put in the steamer.

I bought the following block of butter with the intention of steaming the above cakes. However, this disgusting sight greeted me when I peeled open the packet. Needless to say, I was mad, having just walked the distance to the supermarket and back for that. But I did return it later in the day, and went off to another supermarket to get some. Make sure you check your butters before baking. I've never come across such a sight, and always take for granted that they are fresh inside. I will be careful from now on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Breakfast bento

After last evening's very light dinner for the princess, I decided to fix her a heavy breakfast else I know she'll wake with a very empty tummy & demand her breakfast pronto.

She found me in the kitchen when she awoke, commenting that I would normally be in the computer room but she couldn't find me there (guilty, guilty :P).

This was a very quick to prepare bento. The first thing I did was to put a pot of water to the boil for the sausages. I then washed a banana & cut it into pieces with skin attached. I did cut slits on each one of them so that it is easier for her to peel them. Strawberries were just washed and sliced in half. I also made use of this 2-tone cheese which I made some time back, and decided to use my gingerbread man cutter for that. The hotdog bun was cut open in the middle and the man stood right in the middle of it. I filled up the gaps inside with bits & pieces of cheese.

I love these little hotdog buns from one of those small local bakeries. I especially love them with a piece of otah within. Yummy! They are a good size for kids.

P.S. For those interested in learning how to do the striped cheese, do refer here.

Chinese Dumplings or 角子

I have a cleaner lady who comes over once a week to my place. One day, I suggested to her that she could teach me how to make 角子. She was delighted to do so, seeing my interest in the most popular food of her homeland. She comes from the Northern part of China, terrible I for not remembering which province she is from. Even though I speak Mandarin, albeit not extremely well, but good enough, we often have problems communicating. Thus, that was how I ended up with a wrong ingredient but it was still do-able. She asked for 白菜 & I bought cabbage. Don't ask me why but I always have this thing in my mind that the veg within the dumplings is cabbage.

This is the recipe as follows. She was very fast and I had to make sure she waited for me to jot down some notes before she could move on to the next step. Looking at the words I was putting down on paper, she commented that she knew not what I was writing. Haha. She doesn't understand English at all, except for picking up some common words like 'hello', 'bye bye', and 'pizza' during her one year stay in Singapore. I'm sure she knows a few more than the ones I mentioned.

Ingredients for dough:
4 cups plain flour
1-1/4 cup water
(form the above into a dough & knead till it becomes a nice round ball)

This part I forgot to take a photo of, but she made a hole in the middle of the dough like a donut, and then broke off a part to form this long snake as shown in picture below. She then proceeded to break off little pieces slightly bigger than a 50 cents Singapore coin, and flattened them into small round pieces.

I realized too that I did not take photos of her using the rolling pin to shape the little round 'coins' into very thin skins. I was busy making dumplings at this stage and hands were all covered in flour.

Ingredients for filling :

300g minced pork
spring onion
half a cabbage

Method -

1. Season minced pork with light soy sauce, salt & 3 dsp* of cooking oil.
2. Shred cabbage finely & season with salt. (to draw out excess water)
3. Cut spring onions very finely & add to seasoned pork.

It's the first time I've seasoned minced pork with cooking oil. According to her, it makes the meat more tender. Not too sure about that fact.

First you place some meat filling into the middle of the skin.

Then you close over so that the ingredients are not overflowing.

Next you place dumpling to rest on your index finger, and with both thumbs, press on the opening to seal it tight.


I did this whole plate of dumplings. So proud of myself. She said I was a fast learner. I told her it was because she was there to guide me. Not so confident if I had to do it all alone. But I must try it on my own one of these days. Wrapping it wasn't a problem. The intimidating part was rolling out the skins, but thankfully I managed to get it right.

This is my girl's dinner. There were leftover skins & I decided to make them into mee hoon kueh.
It is her favourite form of the handmade noodle that you get at the ban mian stall. She loved the mee hoon kueh and didn't touch the dumplings. I think it was because of the meat within (she doesn't like meat much). But anyhow, great to know that, and also now I know how easy it is to make them, we can do it at home when the craving for ban mian calls. :)

I enjoyed my dumpling lesson very much, not just in learning how to make them, but also in enjoying the end result. I didn't count how many we ended up with but it was at least 50, if not more. I gave a plateful of them to a neighbour and still have a plateful in the freezer, ready for when I need them.

I apologize for not being too detailed in my recipes. I somehow forget that non-Asians do read my blog. For Jori - You can boil a pot of water then put them in when water has come to a rolling boil, and cook them that way. Discard water & serve. You can also cook them in a pot of clear soup & enjoy them with vegetables as I have done above. I know that in the Western diet, clear soup is not something that is common and my mil doesn't like it, because to her, it tastes like water and salt, but in most Asian diets, clear soup is the way to go. Not sure if I have done a post on clear chicken broths etc, but I might do another one soon, so watch out for it.
*dsp = dessertspoons (The ones we use to eat rice)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Penguin waffles & a bento

Presenting my penguin waffles...

Mr & Mrs Plain
The chocolate chip kids.

All in a bento for breakfast, with golden syrup & a nutella muffin.

Nasi Lemak

How coincidentally that on the day I made this meal, my friend little corner of mine had the same thoughts in her mind. Our versions are both very different, except for the hard-boiled eggs. Check hers out. I think her's looks more beautiful with the green rice. :) My version had store-bought otah, sambal oelek prawns, halfway fried then baked drumlets (these were most tender), hard-boiled eggs & cucumber slices. The sambal on top of the eggs was bought from the same otah stall.

For Otah & Sambal -
Lee Wee Brothers

51 Old Airport Road
Tel : 6348 9122

For the kid's version, no sambal (chilli paste) was present as you can see. There was an omelette, non-spicy otah (which is really just fishcake), ikan bilis (anchovies), a drumlet & cucumbers. She only ate some rice and some ikan bilis, and lots of cucumber. In fact, half of her dinner was left intact. Omelette not touched, and neither was chicken. She did however eat all the fishcakes.

I don't do nasi lemak quite a lot, in fact I've only done it a couple of times. Reason being I can't consume lots of coconut or any 'cooling' or what the Chinese would say 'yin' food. Recently, my girl has been on the catered food programme in her school and she tells me about her liking for nasi lemak, so I thought I'd try cooking it at home. Thank goodness I didn't suffer much the morning after the meal. When affected, the joints get all painful.

I had some remainder lemongrass which prompted me to boil them and make it into a drink to accompany the dinner. This drink is commonly found on the menus of Thai restaurants. From what I know, this drink helps to get rid of 'wind' in the body. I thought it would be the best accompaniment to counter the effects of the coconut. Maybe it did work after all.

This is very easy to do. Just boil approximately 5-6 stalks of lemongrass (after cutting off the top part & bruising them a little) with enough water for 4 glasses. Add sugar to taste.

Some bentos

These were some bentos that I made during the week...

First, a dinner bento of fried pasta, strawberries & banana chips.

And this one is a breakfast bento on a weekend morning.

Those are lovely nutella & banana sandwiches (yums!), some golden kiwi, grapes & coloured Goldfish. And in case you are wondering, no she didn't finish everything. She did love the sandwiches though, and we've recently started buying the crustless sandwich bread from Four Leaves and are in love with them. They are super soft and chewy at the same time. The good thing about them is that they are preservative-free but the downside is that they do not last more than 3 days.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More mooncakes

I made more mooncakes last Tuesday and then I fell sick. :( These were made for friends and family, but a few of them didn't manage to get them as it wasn't possible to meet up with these ladies while I was ill. My apologies to you gals. I couldn't possible keep them for too long. Maybe next year I'll do them again. These different coloured moonies had different fillings in them, namely pandan paste (I couldn't resist the paste after my second visit to KCT, seeing them stare back at me sayinG 'buy me'), chocolate, white lotus and sesame pastes. For the skin of the blackish mooncake, I added crushed Oreo bits to it. Encased within is chocolate paste. This one was for the kids.

Penguin Waffle Maker

This is the latest addition to my 'baking appliances' family. For those of you who know how long and hard I've been searching for this, I'm sure you girls can feel my joy! And HK, I found it in the place where yours was bought from. I just got it today. Bff found a display piece in Mustafa but alas, they were out of stock and even though I was willing to buy the one on display, it was not possible as it was broken. So she somehow managed to get the agent's number and was told to get it from a shop in Chinatown. Since yesterday was a busy day for me, it wasn't possible to go check it out. I asked hubby if we could make a trip to Chinatown today and he agreed. I was really happy to see it on display and called the bff who wanted the last two pieces left, so thank goodness hubby was with me as the three sets together weighed a ton. Anyhow, just wanted to share the news with friends who know I've been searching high and low for it. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Children's Day!

'Children Are A Gift From God'

God sent me one package
That needed special care
"Take care of this tiny gift
For she is very rare."

"Watch over her with all your love
And let her feel your touch
Take care of her every need
For you are needed very much."

"This gift will grow up very fast
As you soon will see
Love her with all your heart
And let her be what she will be."

"When this gift has fully grown
Look at Heaven up above
Know she exists because of God
And all his precious love."

A very Happy Children's Day to all the children in the world. Remember you are precious in God's sight.

For us, Children's Day didn't start off very well. On the eve of the celebration day, both princess & I fell ill. It was a wham bam sort of virus, no warning whatsoever. I did notice that there are more people around the island coughing away and the doctor's was more packed than usual. I believe much of it has to do with the very persistent haze which has been a real pain. The skies are clear today and I pray from today on, but even if not so, at least for tomorrow when the girls go out to play learn, that the haze has lifted from our tiny island.

I wanted to do snack boxes for the kids in princess' class for the celebration day, and already informed the teacher. But was suddenly struck by this illness, and wasn't sure if I was up to it. Anyhow, I put it aside and set my alarm for an hour and half before the girl had to leave for school yesterday morning. But alas, it was not what I planned it to be. I didn't sleep well all night with my nostrils blocked etc, so I got up and saw that the time was 3.05am. Gosh, it was like I had been in bed for the longest time, and it was only 3??!! Oh well, so got up and not knowing what to do with my time, decided to start work on the snacks for the girls. But of course, had to search for a mask first.

In the boxes, I prepared nutella bread, which were cut using a sandwich cutter, so that was easy. Chicken franks were secured with pretty toothpicks and there were some grapes and a lolly each. It was quite tricky thinking of what to put in. I decided Nutella bread would go well with most kids (who doesn't like a Nutella sandwich?), and sausages too. At least even if they don't like grapes or lollies, there's still half the battle won. ;P

My girl was adamant in wanting to go to school, but at the last minute, she complained of a tummy ache and decided not to. So this mummy had to go deliver the boxes to school else what was I going to do with 28 boxes of food?!

I hope the girls enjoyed their boxes, although it would have been most wonderful if one little sick girl was able to join them too. She did have a little box at home which I put aside for her.