Saturday, November 27, 2010

A dream come true

In a couple of hours, we are setting off on a holiday to the place of my dreams. It's a childhood wish of mine to visit this wonderful land that I've seen so many pictures of and heard so much about. Blame it on my dad who went on a holiday to Japan when we were young and brought back with him many souvenirs, pictures and stories of his trip. It became for my sis and I a dream which we would like to fulfil one day. That day is here. Thanks to my wonderful hubby who agreed to this trip instead of our usual home visit to Ireland.

Am I excited? I can't say I am exceptionally excited about it, because it is after all, my first trip to a land where the people speak a language different to what I am used to. Secondly, I planned the whole itinerary on my own, not having been there and not being familiar with the city. Hubby asked me earlier if I knew how to get to the hotel from the airport, and my reply was, err, we'll find our way there, and isn't that the fun part about travelling? However, I am looking forward to meeting up with cousin and family who have gone on ahead of us. From the smses exchanged, it seems like they have already been busy with lots of shopping. Oooo, can't wait!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Life Skills Cooking Class

The school has a programme for the kids at each level they are at, beginning with Primary One where there are parent volunteers who help out with teaching the girls life skills, such as how to pack their school bags, fold their uniforms, comb their hair etc. At the upper primary level, they are taught to sew and cook. I think it's a great programme to expose the kids to, equipping them with skills which they need for their life ahead.

I'm proud to have been given this opportunity to play a part in this very meaningful exercise. Even though my child is only in lower primary, when the request came via sms from the Central Parents' Council, I signed up for it, eager to teach the girls how to cook. I knew it was going to be a fun journey with them. I didn't know what to expect, and the thought of teaching a group of 11-12 year old girls was pretty daunting, but I had the confidence that I would be up for the task.

We assembled in the school kitchen at 7.30 am, but I was there the earliest as I had to send the girl to school before 7.20am. Once the other mums arrived, we set about getting ready the foodstuff which we had prepared at home. Each one had to cook enough rice for 15 kids. We put all our rice and ingredients together before dividing them up into boxes to be brought to the classrooms. As it was my first time doing this, I was assigned a partner, who had actually requested for one as she doesn't cook at home and wasn't confident about going solo. I'm glad I had her for company.

Here, we had put together a few desks and the portable electric stoves.

The ingredients such as rice, sausages, mixed vegetables, eggs, and the various seasonings.

I don't remember having such nice pans when I was in school.

A hands-on experience for the girls. Some got to break eggs, beat them, and some got to season and fry. Among them were girls who cook at home. Wow, that was impressive. I hope that by the time my girl is at that age, I would have trained her enough that she will be able to do some simple cooking.

I'm glad to have spent a most meaningful morning with the kids and I hope they went away with the confidence that they might possibly be able to cook a simple meal for themselves or their family.

My first Pokemon bento

This is my first character bento in a long time. It's all due to the food colouring I got hold of a few weeks' ago, but have been too lazy to do anything with them.

Thinking I should make use of them soon, I chose to go with the red seasoning and created a Pokeball. I got the girl to draft out for me what it looked like, what colours I needed etc, and she did a great job.

The bird on the bottom right was for the hardboiled egg which I added at the last minute due to her request for one. I'm pleased that she has started eating hardboiled eggs, even though it's her first time today. In the Old Chang Kee curry puff which she had in the afternoon, there was a piece of egg and she said it was nice, and that she liked it. After confirming with her that it was an hardboiled egg that she liked, I decided to add it to this bento, not that a chick had anything to do with Pokemon, or does it? Who knows?! I don't even know the characters.

As I've not made bento for a long time, I couldn't find my tools at the last minute, especially my punchers thus the chick's eyes are super tiny. They look really weird on a big body. ;P

In the bento was a rice ball, a skewer of chicken balls and crabsticks, cherry tomatoes, a tempura prawn, blueberries and some lettuce.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BeanSTRO by Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Have you been to Marina Bay Sands? Hubby said he'd take me there one day, so we finally made it today. We met the girlfriend and her family for brunch at the new BEANstro at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. If you go there by taxi, be sure to tell the driver that it is at Tower 1 or 2.

We started off with drinks...

I opted for the White Chocolate Latte, which is very rare for me as I do not normally consume caffeine. It's just the words 'white chocolate' got me interested. Truth be told, it wasn't worth the caffeine intake as I could hardly taste any white chocolate. Maybe the hot version would have been a better choice.

I ordered, by special request, a hot White Chocolate for the girl. I requested for a special something to add to her drink but I will not reveal what it was, else I might get my head chopped off. :{ Oh Mr GM, is it possible to add a caffeine-free hot White Chocolate or ice-blend for kids onto the menu please? Hint hint.

Godbrother no.3 had a Chocolate Banana ice-blend, a favourite of ours too.

Breakfast specials include the delicious and tummy-filling Buttermilk Waffle with caramel sauce and freshly-whipped cream.

Princess had this for her main course and godbro no.4 had it for his dessert after trying a piece of hers. Hehe. Yums!

And the very popular and beautifully-done Eggs Benedict for godbro no.2.

For starters, we (the gf and I) shared an Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad,

as well as Skinny Fries which were very well-done and super crispy.

Godbro no.3 had the Fried Pacific Dory for his main, which came with a side of skinny fries and salad.

The adults mostly had this, except hubby who went for the Caesar Salad with roasted chicken which we did not take a photo of. This is the delish King Prawn Fettucine. Uber delish! Ask for more black pepper.

Godbro no.4 had a Herbed Chicken Club.

To round off her meal, the princess had a serving of Berry'd Treasure yoghurt swirl with an extra 2 servings of marshmallows. Indulgence or what?

This cafe is rather big and has plenty of seating. The best seats are the ones outside, around the fountain area where you can watch the boats going by, somewhat like those gondolas you see at The Venetian, Las Vegas. However, it's more like wannabe gondolas which don't quite make it. The fountain in the middle of the roundabout is not working and there isn't really much to be seen in that small man-made river, nothing like that of The Venetian. One word of caution... flies! If you don't like them, then I suggest you find a seat within the cafe. Or, bring your own fly swatter. The server explained to us that the flies came in through the opening above the 'fountain'. There is a hole there as the roof doubles up as a wishing well. It is for the coins to go down through, but due to the poor design, most coins get stuck at the bottom of the 'bowl' ceiling and gives one the impression that there might be mould all over. It is pretty unsightly. Our server also explained that the flies are coming due to the ongoing renovations around the place. Let's hope the fly situation clears up once all the renovations are done.

Pricing for the food and drinks here aren't the same as what you would expect to pay at most CBTL outlets. The quality of food here is higher and according to hubby, the ice-blends are smoother than what you would usually get. There is also a wider variety of food choices.

We enjoyed our brunch very much, and also the company of our friends made it all the more enjoyable. Thanks for the lovely meal. I would go back again another time, just to try the eggs ben and the eggplant lasagne which I believe, is to die for.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's been too long since I last made pizza. I don't know what got over me yesterday when I decided to cook for aunt and family who came over to play the xbox. I guess it stems from my love of feeding people.

I made Hawaiian pizzas,

Garlic-based cheese and basil pizza,

using roasted garlic, which I put in oven to roast till soft before squeezing out the flesh and added olive oil and some black pepper to that. I used that as a base instead of tomato sauce.

We also had a dried version of bolognaise,

and a fried pasta dish.

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the dinner. For pizza recipe, see here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A pressie

My girl has caught the reading bug. I used to have to force her to read. She only wanted to buy many books and store them on the bookshelf. She used to read, but stopped for quite some time. Suddenly, in the middle of her exam period, she sought out her books again. She was reading pretty ferociously. In between doing lots of assessments in preparation for her exams, she would ask for a rest and turn to her reading. I didn't stop her, as I felt she needed a diversion from all that concentration.

I couldn't wait for exams to be over so she could indulge in her current passion, thus I decided to get her an 'end of exam' pressie consisting of books, meringue, and a painting kit. I stumbled upon the 'Ramona' series by Beverly Cleary and she loves them. We're only short of 2 books to complete the series.

Home visits

My social calendar since the last exam paper has been unreal. Since last Friday, I've had guests every day to my home, minus the weekend though. This week alone has seen three days of impromptu visits. One from mum, another one from aunt & uncle, and another aunt and family will visit tonight. A friend commented that I'm celebrating Deepavali, and it almost feels like it. Haha. On a good note, my house hasn't been so clean over a period of a week. It's usually in a mess and it does feel good to have squeaky clean floors, an empty dining table as well as a coffee table not stacked with loads of junk.

We were out with aunt and uncle on Tuesday and since the girl had been bugging for a steamboat dinner, I had to get that out of the way, so after seeing her off in the school bus that morning, I made a trip to the wet market and bought whatever stuff my hands could carry for the dinner that night. I decided to invite aunt and uncle over for dinner as it's more fun to have steamboat with a group of people. They were thrilled to be invited and that made me really happy to have made that decision to include them. They enjoyed dinner very much and it's been a long time since I had seen them eat so much. They have been ill and haven't had much of an appetite. It felt good that I was able to do something for them.

We came home last that afternoon so I had to set about getting dinner ready. It couldn't have happened if I had done it all by myself. Thankfully I had my girl who was ever ready to help out. She made the wantons all by herself. Don't you think she did a great job? I think she did them so beautifully.

We had a simple dinner, but it was the company that made it all special. I wish I could invite them over for dinner more often. We have already made plans. Next on the menu is chicken rice. :D

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween last year was fun, but in a different way. Fun, as it was a good gathering with the family, spending time together, with cousins and all. My plan then had been to visit Woodlands, to the famous streets where trick 'o' treat was big there and where all the action was. My aunts wanted to go to the Science Centre instead. So, it wasn't till this recent Halloween did we get our wish fulfilled. This time we didn't plan anything with the family, but instead arranged to meet SS and her family at Woodlands. The atmosphere was really good, with many kids dressed up as all sorts of characters. Some of them were very creative, and they made their own costumes from recycled materials, cardboard boxes, and some even wore handsewn ones. It was indeed a feast for the eyes, as well as the tummies of all the kids present there that evening. According to a friend, last year's was better and more houses were dressed up, but there were fewer this time round.

I will let the pictures do the talking...

This is any parents' worst nightmare!

Mango Pudding

I don't usually test pudding mix unless it's been tried and tested. This one I was introduced to at a party two weeks' ago, and I kinda liked the taste. It is cooked with evaporated milk thus there was a nice flavour to it. I added cubed mangoes to push it up a notch. The next time I try this out again, I shall add a few drops of mango essence. I didn't follow the instructions on the package which said to use 3000ml. Instead I cut it down to 2800ml so that the end result wouldn't be too watery like the one I had tasted earlier. I love this firmer texture.

I'm not sure where else you can find this, but I was told that it is sold in Sheng Siong and that was where I got mine. One packet makes a whole pot. You do need a big pot. There are many flavours to choose from.

The picture above shows the plain pudding without addition of evaporated milk. The picture below has additional evaporated milk added just before serving. I made this dessert when my friends came over for brunch today. Right beside the pudding is creme caramel which M brought. It's also made from an instant mix you can get at Phoon Huat. It was a bit too sweet.

Glad that my friends enjoyed their little lunch today and I had fun cooking for them. :)

Cuppies for a special friend and updates

Hello everyone, I'm back! Not sure how long I will stay, though. Over the past month, it's been crazy preparing for Princess' final year exams. I'm glad it's all over, a weight has been lifted off my mind and shoulders. I'm happy that the hard work paid off, and she improved in her weakest subject. I'm glad that I made the right decision in sending her for enrichment class after her dismal results at mid year.

In between exams, I took time out to make some cuppies for a good friend of mine for her birthday. I'm happy that she liked them. There were a few more that I made, but I need to find the photos for them.

I also stopped making bentos. Just lost the interest for making them. Hope to regain it again soon. I did make a simple one for school one morning. In the bento was a ham and cheese sandwich, some homemade croutons, a box of Smarties, cubed dragonfruit and a cherry tomato.