Showing posts with label Others. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Others. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A Recollection

It's that time of the year when I will reflect on what I've accomplished in my little world of baking and blogging, and, to wish my blog, a belated, blog anniversary!

It has been five years since I pen my very first blog post here. Since then, the number of posts per year has declined drastically...from a whopping 128 posts on the first year (I can't believe I was writing more than two posts a week back then), down to not more than 70 posts for the following years. Sad to say, I couldn't even make it to one post per week in 2011. My initial passion to blog about every single thing has long gone and the period between updates drags from days to weeks.  At the rate I am going, I wonder whether I am able to hit 30 posts by end of this year?

I still love baking. There are many recipes out there that I would like to explore. But, putting together a blog post goes beyond mixing ingredients and putting batter into oven. I am usually lost for words when it comes to the actual writing. Of course it is easy to write a post, but to be able to write a great post, with content and be able to engage the reader is something I have to struggle with every time I am on the 'draft' mode. Besides, I am probably too boring a person to be able to put up an interesting post every other day.

Nevertheless, I am proud of myself that I didn't deviate too much from the main aim of starting this blog five years ago...

"By starting this blog, I hope I am able to get ideas and suggestions from fellow home bakers to improve my baking skills. At the same time I hope my creations and little experiments would also inspire others, who are like me, to start baking as a hobby. "

I started off year 2011 with great inspirations...with the good intention of walking down my baking trail once again. Just like any other new year resolutions, I didn't accomplish much (^^'). Neither did I venture further from the simple was always the usual muffins, cookies and easy cakes. But I did attempt to try making traditional kuihs and local desserts, such as ondeh ondeh and tau suan. I hope I deserve a pat on the shoulder for that ;)

Here's a recollection of some of my favourite bakes and desserts for the past year...

Old Fashioned Banana Cake

Matcha Chiffon Cake

Melt-in-mouth German Cookies

Classic Chocolate Cake

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Apple Tart

Tau Suan

Traditional Mooncakes

Muah Chee

Cinnamon Rolls

Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh

Cranberries Scones

If you are interested in any one of them, just click on the images for the recipes.

I won't be making any new year resolutions...all I wish for is, this time next year, I am able to recollect more good memories than the past year.

Here's wishing all of you, a fruitful and prosperous year ahead!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Aspiring Bakers #11: Mid-Autumn Treats (September 2011)

Yes, it's that time of the year again...
when we get to enjoy delicious mooncake pastries, pomelos, yam...
when we get to see children carrying lanterns walking around the neighbourhood...

The mid-autumn festival is the time when families come together to appreciate the full moon. I grew up looking forward to the fifteen day of the lunar eighth is one of the many Chinese festivals that I really liked, I rank it right after the Chinese New Year :)

This year's mooncake festival will be a special occasion for me as I'm hosting the Aspiring Bakers #11 for September 2011!! Many thanks to Small Small Baker for giving me this opportunity to host this event!

If you are interest to find out what's on the previous Aspiring Bakers #10 - Easy as Pie (August 2011) entries, hosted by Janine of Not the Kitchen Sink! you may refer to this link HERE.

The theme for this month is none other than "Mid-Autumn Treats"!

Who can join?
Everyone!(if you do not have a blog, just send me a photo and recipe of your bake)

How to join?
Step 1 :
Make a mooncake, be it snow skin or traditional mooncake (including ice cream mooncakes, agar agar mooncakes, puff pastry mooncakes) in the month of September 2011.

Step 2 :
Post it on your blog between 01 September 2011 to 30 September 2011.
Your post must include the recipe or link to the original recipe. If you are using a recipe from a book, please include the title of the book too.
Any entries that are posted outside the date range will not be accepted.
Any entries that do not include a recipe or link to the original recipe will not be accepted too.

Step 3 :
Please mention that you are submitting your post to Aspiring Bakers #11: Mid-Autumn Treats (September 2011) hosted by Happy Home Baking and provide a link back to this post HERE.
Entries will not be accepted if the above is not included.

Step 4 :
Email to me (I have removed my email address since the event is over, there is just too many spam mails in my mailbox) in the following format:

Your name or nickname:
Your blog name: (omit this if you do not have a blog)
Name of your bake:
URL of your post:
Attach your photo in your email (one photo for each entry, preferably less than 500kb).
Please use "Aspiring Bakers #11" as your email subject. You may submit more than 1 entry. Please send a separate email for each and every entry.

I look forward to your active participation and support for this event!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

just doodling....

Shhh...armchair chef in the making...please do not disturb...

that's how HHB looks like after going through so many books...of course, she is much rounder and many times fatter than cute pinky piggy!
Well, this is one of the little perks that I get to enjoy being a SAHM (aka full time housewife). Sometimes you will see me lounging around, under bright day light while my working friends are probably slogging away in front of their computers or attending yet, another meeting. Ah K, if you are reading this, please go ahead and envy me ;')

For the past weeks, I have been working very hard...I don't think I was ever that hardworking when I was a student. I am not dreaming to become a chef or a baker...I was just trying to gather as many meal ideas as possible. It is high time I add a few new items to my family meals. I was a complete culinary idiot (I am still one) before I started baking and cooking for my family. Despite reading tons of cookbooks and magazines for the past few years, I am still relatively new to the culinary world, probably because I have been an armchair cook all along ;) I enjoying gawking at illustrations of delicious, lip-smacking dishes, sometimes I even bothered to copy down the recipes, but I hardly transform those instructions into a real dish to be served at my dining table. Most of the time I chicken it due to the ease of getting the ingredients or the techniques or skills required. I tend to move back to my comfort zone, to prepare meals that I could do with my eyes half opened...dishes that I do not have to keep referring to the recipe for fear of missing out some key ingredients, or meals that are oh-so-forgiving that a lazy cook like me could get away with it easily.

sources of my, from the public library
For the last few years, not a single day has passed without me learning something new about food. Yet, I am still hungry for more...

...what about you?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

where meals and memories are made

my kitchen...the heart of my home...

a place where cakes and bread are baked...

a place where meals and memories are created.

It is with much hesitation that I decided to put up this post. My newly renovated kitchen has got nothing to boast about. It is a far cry from those beautiful kitchens you see on home and deco magazines.  With bare walls on most part of the kitchen, it looks almost half-done. So, please don't laugh as I walk you through my kitchen. Even the 'gas-pipe man' jokingly asked me was it because I do not have enough budget to install the top cabinets (^^''')

But, that is how I wanted my kitchen to be. A place that serves its primary function for cooking simple meals, with utensils easily accessible, enough storage space for a small family, and most important of all, one that requires minimal maintenance. With a higher than usual ceiling height, without the top hung cabinets, I no longer had to climb up a ladder each time I needed to clean them. Even with a ladder, I was not able to reach deep inside the highest shelves. So, unless I am able to grow taller by another 10cm, I would rather do without the extra storage space. The tower cabinet on the other side of the kitchen, furthest away from the cooking area, is built all the way up to the ceiling...which is 3m or almost 10ft high. I am using the uppermost shelves to store...'hopefully never gonna use but cannot be throw away items' aka my husband's military uniforms, boots, full pack, etc.

Here are my squeakily clean stoves...right after I gave them a thorough cleaning. I have opted to get a glass hob over a stainless steel one, again, for ease of cleaning. These gas stove come with inner flames...good for Asian type of cooking...lots of stir frying over high heat, and yet able to adjust to the lowest heat for slow cooking.

My humble expensive pots and pans nor delicate bone china for me to break ;') You are not able to find any crystal glasses, shiny cutlery, nor a single cast iron dutch oven or a standing mixer, not even a food processor. It is equipped with only the bare essentials...basic utensils that I can get by for simple, everyday cooking.

But, it is a place with no shortage of homemade goodies and desserts...a place that is seasoned with love and warmth...a place where I will enjoy preparing meals for my family, and also a place I enjoy keeping it clean and tidy (I hope I won't loose the enthusiasm too soon!).

3D design
My finished kitchen is pretty close to what I had in mind (read about my kitchen design here). The cabinets were built according to my design with a good balance of drawers and shelves. I'll probably add some wall decals to jazz up the empty space a little, but I think an ipad velcroed to the wall will be great...I can watch J. Olivier while trying to re-create some of his recipes ;)

A kitchen is never complete without a fridge. Here's my fridge corner...a place that double-up as a notice board. The fridge is covered with fridge magnets I have collected over the years. I have also reserved the empty space beside it for a future food trolley...that is, if I ever need it.

So, that's it...we have come to the end of the 'tour'. In case you ask, I will do up a review on my oven only after I have tested all the function. Hope you enjoy this little peep into my humble kitchen, and maybe one day, I may just invite you over for a cup of tea ;)

Monday, 10 January 2011

Joy of Giving

A big thank you to everyone who took part in my blog anniversary giveaway. Thank you all for your well wishes...your kind comments and encouraging words gave me the fuel I needed to keep blogging :)

As promised, I am happy to announce the winner of my blog giveaway. To pick the winner, I assigned a number to each participant's comment and used a random number generator to generate a number...

...and the lucky number is....


Congratulations to neyeeloh of 我的厨房乐园, you are the winner of this book '爱上蛋糕:我的甜蜜烘焙厨房'! Please leave a comment stating your mailing address and email address and I'll send the gift right over to you (^^)

To the rest of you, I hope you are not too disappointed. I have already bookmarked a couple of recipes from this cookbook and I can't wait to post them here. I will also be hosting giveaways once in a while and everyone will stand a chance to be the next lucky winner :)

My home renovation is finally completed and I am in the midst of cleaning every single inch and corner of my house. I haven't even started unpacking! I hope I can get back to my baking routine soon...really looking forward to the day when I could turn on my new oven :)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Yet Another Year of Baking

I have been missing from the cyberworld for the past two months. I miss visiting my favourite baking and cooking blogs and I couldn't even find time to update my blog. This is also the first time I have missed my baking blog anniversary. I am 5 days late :(

Besides busy with my home renovation, I spent the last 10 days of 2010 in cold cold Beijing. It was by chance, I went into a local bookstore in Beijing and bought myself a little present to mark my blog anniversary (^^)

These are the books I bought. The bookstore does not provide any plastic bags...instead, they use a string to tie up the books. Yes, most of the shops including all their supermarkets will not provide any plastic bags, you need to bring your own. Unless, you specifically request for it, and of course, you need to pay for the bags.

In the past, I used to mark my blog anniversary by sending little gift to fellow blogger pals...privately. This time, my 4th year into blogging, I am making it a public affair. When I first saw this book on the book shelf, I immediately know that this is it! This will be a great blog giveaway.

Just look at these beautiful pages! What make this book stands out from the rest is...besides the usual sweet cakes, there is this whole section on savoury cakes. How interesting?! The only downside is, it is written in Chinese.

If you love to add this book to your collections, simply leave a comment with this tag: "我爱烘焙!" and I will announce the winner on 10 Jan 2011.

To all my readers, here's wishing all of you a wonderful year ahead and I am looking forward to yet another year of Happy Home Baking!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Joy of Giving and Receiving

Do you have a list of favourite places that you would want to visit in your lifetime?

My cyberfriend, VB once told me there are two places that she must visit in her lifetime. It is not so much of the 'place' but the 'scenery' she wants to view. One of which is to be able to see maple leaves turning red in autumn. The timing has to be right and the weather has to be good too. I am glad she was able to catch the red maple leaves in 'full bloom' on her recent trip to Korea. I was very happy for her when she sent me a photo of her standing under an astonishing sea of golden yellow maple leaves. Me being so ignorant, didn't even know that maple leaves could turn yellow too (^^')

I got to know VB when she left her first comment on this blog 3 years ago. Even though we have never met each other, this kind lady has been sending me gifts 'on a regular-basis', so much so that I think she has even made it a point to mail me a 'goodies parcel' each time after her holiday trip :)

I grew up in a family where everyone got to learn to be independent. As much as we can, we try not to rely on others for help. We prefer to give than to take. I used to have this mindset that whatever kind gestures I received from others, I have to return it back one day, and, as soon as possible. As such, I prefer to give, as I find receiving any gifts in any form from others, could become an invisible burden. I will only have peace in my mind after I have duly returned the kind gestures.

I understand the joy of giving, and it is a tremendous pleasure knowing that the receiver loves and appreciates what you have given. But, it was only in recent years that I appreciate the joy of receiving, minus the self-imposed obligation. I am now able to view the whole situation in a different perspective. By receiving, you are actually giving the chance for the giver to enjoy the pleasure of giving and sharing. I hope I am right to say so.

It is with these thoughts that I enjoyed this cup of icy cold omija tea VB sent me...along with many other goodies :)

I am sure most of you would be quite familiar with Korean Yuja tea or commonly known as citron or yuzu tea (柚子茶). This is the first time I have heard of omija tea.

I googled and learned that omija tea, a traditional Korean tea, is made from dried fruits of Schisandra chinensis. Also known as 五味子 in Chinese or "five flavor berry" as it has a mixture of sour, sweet, salty, spicy, and bitter taste. 五味子 is also commonly known as 山花椒 (wild peppers?). No wonder, I thought I could smell pepper from a cup of steaming hot omjia tea!

This lovely pinkish tea has a slight tang to it and it tastes really refreshing when served cold. The tea is neither bitter or salty. It reminds me very much of drinks made with Roselle (洛神果) and it has a similar sourish sweet taste like hawthorn (山楂). The tea comes with tiny bits of nuts, I believe they are either pine nuts, almond bits, or sunflower seeds. When served hot, this lovely sweet and tangy tea is a great way to end a meal, especially if it is a heavy one ;) If you happen to go to a Korean restaurant, do check whether it serves this beverage, I am sure you will enjoy this drink, be it cold or hot.

As the season of giving draws nearer, here's wishing all my readers Happy Shopping for your gifts and presents for your friends and loved ones! And, in case you ask, my favourite places to visit in my lifetime: flower fields at Furano and tulips in Holland, what about yours? 

Thursday, 29 July 2010

When the going gets tough...

have a break, have a kick kat!

No, don't worry, this is not some advertorial ;)

My husband bought this box of kit kat at the Narita Airport on his way home two days ago. He was back home for a mere 21 hours before he was off to another part of the world. He had planned to stay till the weekend, but was called to go to another place when he was still slogging away in Yokohama. I told him we were like 牛郎织女 a Chinese folk story about a couple who could only meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month ;)

Even though he was home for less than 24hrs, I was glad that at least he managed to have a good rest. He had been working till 1am every night at the overseas office for the past whole week. It doesn't help that it was scotching hot over there and he came home looking so 'red' and heaty! I had to drown him with herbal tea to cool him off. For once, he finds our local weather here, lovely!

When I told some of my friends that he is taking up a long term assignment, I could detect the envy written across their faces. To most people, they equate overseas postings with a nice, fat pay package. Well, this is certainly not true for his case. Everything remains the same and he would even have to suffer some form of pay cut due to the currency exchange rates and the employee benefits that he would get to enjoy back home. He is not even given a choice, it is a matter of take it or leave it (the job). The irony is, just three years ago, he had made a decision to leave his former employer of seven years just so as to avoid being relocated to Down Under, and to cut down on the frequent travellings. He was promised a 'desk-bound' job. But things didn't work out as planned. Eventually, he even lost his desk in the office as they have adopted a 'book-a-desk' kind of work arrangement! The current organisation lost the local contract last year, and the market here is so small for the industry he is in, they have to look beyond this little red 'a wider region within seven hours flight radius' from our island.

It is not easy to get a new job over night at our age. So, for the time being, we could only try to adapt to this work arrangement. He will be away longer this time, and won't even be home on the seventh day of the seventh month! He promised he will buy a ticket to come back for the mid autumn festival, I hope no one will stop him from doing so by then. I am blessed with two kids who are very understanding and easy to take care, and yet there are times when I wish he is around especially when small things seem to start to grow into a big issue.

Ok, enough of my ramblings, I have digressed!

One of my pals has always shown great concern about the size of my brain cells when I became a full time housewife. She worries that my brain cells will shrink over the years since a housewife's world would only revolved around the seven things in the kitchen...柴米油盐酱醋茶(fire wood for the stove, rice, oil, salt, sauce/soya sauce, vinegar and tea, in a traditional Chinese home). So, I do make it a point not to lose touch with the outside world by reading, blogging, surfing the net, so as not to become a frog in the well.

Here's one new thing that I would like to share with fellow SAHMs, since we are 'home-bound' and hardly gets to see the 'outside' world. (Pardon me if you don't belong to this category, or feel insulted by my words. I don't mean to imply that all SAHMs are isolated from the outside world. I hope you understand where I am coming from because I have received unpleasant remarks and comments for being a SAHM.)

Unless you understand the Japanese language, I don't think you will be able to guess what the flavour of these kit kats is. Green tea, you may guess, but no, they are wasabi flavoured kit kats! Correct me if I am wrong, I don't think this flavour is available here? I have had wasabi coated nuts but not wasabi chocolates. These kit kats taste like white chocolates to me, sweet, and there is only just a slight hint of wasabi. You can forget about getting the real kick from tasting the real wasabi. Those wasabi coated nuts fair better in providing the burning, searing sensation in your nasal.

I won't be too surprised if anyone tells me they had baked something with wasabi....wasabi cakes, cookies, muffins and buns?!

Have a great day, and am I too early to look forward to a great weekend ahead??

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Afternote - Comment of the Day

Dear readers,

Thank you for leaving your comments on my previous post. I really appreciate the kind understanding from all or you. Thanks for cheering me on!

My purpose of putting up that post was not to highlight the negative comment, but to use it as a platform to express my appreciations to Cassie, someone I do not know, and yet took time to read my blog and hear me out.

I have no issues with the way the negative comment is worded. I was from the corporate world, I am well trained to brace myself against those comments. Life is not a bed of roses! The only thing is, right from the start, I believe the person is living at another side of the world. No mothers will feed their children to see them growing up to suffer from diabetes or heart problems. However, due to the differences in our culture, the person may not know that rice, noodles, wheat (flour) is our main staple. The majority of our population (hope I am not wrong?) have rice almost every day. It was only these recent years that we get to see more varieties of commercially made wholemeal or multi-grain bread available at the supermarket shelves. During my short-term stay in the states 10 years ago, I was really amazed at the range of delicious multigrain loaves available, I even thought of bringing loaves of bread home. For those of you living in the western part of the world, you will be surprised that most of the local bakery stores here are selling bread and buns made with white flour, you can hardly find a bun that is made with wholemeal flour at the neighbourhood store. If you were to walk along the baking supply shelves in our local supermarket, don't be shock that sometimes you don't even see wholemeal flour on the shelves. Most of the time, I have to make special trips to the baking supply store just to get it.

To increase the intake of complex carbohydrates, I compensate by cooking a mixture of white and brown rice, and I was lucky that my kids have no problem eating it for the past year. We switched to soft multi-grain bread once they acquire the taste. I have also started tweaking recipes to introduce wholemeal flour or oats in the bakes I made. I don't follow recipes that call for a whole block of butter, and if a whole cup of sugar is required in the recipe, I'll either stay away or reduce the amount. I make muffins instead of cupcakes laden with buttercream or icing and till now, I could not bring myself to frost a cake with fondant. I baked bread more than cakes and cookies, yes, even though the bread and buns I made consisted mainly of white flour, but if we were not to eat this, I don't know what else to feed my children for breakfast. What's the point of giving them cereals if they would rather choose those 'kids-friendly' cereals which is hidden with sugar, over muesli?

I am not trying to make any justifications as there is no need to do so. However, I have to highlight this fact that my blog posts are just snap shots of what we had at that point in kids diet changes as they grow older, what I have written almost 3 years ago may not give a fair representation of the present.

I'm the sort of person who usually leaves things as it is, just like the Chinese saying 清者自清 (meaning: it is not necessary to explain or clear things up if one has not done anything wrong). However, I just felt so compelled to voice this:

Blogging makes our world makes the world bordlerless, bringing us closer, and yet, everyone needs to understand that we are still physically apart, some of us are living thousands of miles away. We have to try to understand there is always differences in our cultures, not everyone on earth speaks the same language, eat the same food. So, instead of giving one's views based solely on one's perspectives, we have to take a step back...look at things from a macro point of view and try to understand the differences before making any judgmental comments. Seek first to understand then to be understood.

Ok, that's all I have to say, thanks for reading, and I hope this won't offend anyone.


(会看中文的读者不要笑hor, 我觉得最后那段好像选美赛宣言leh!不过不吐不快说了心中才感到痛快,可是长篇大论后又觉得在对牛弹琴,真是自相矛盾! 希望ah lau 没有突击检查,让他看到一定会给他笑死!)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Comment of the Day

No, no, no, not this one, but this one here:

Here's sharing with you the joy of blogging. 

Someone left a not-so-nice comment on my blog post here. I do get this kind of comments once in a while. I usually get a little upset initially (yes, go ahead call me 小气, petty-minded), but I would choose to ignore them and not be bothered with it...after an hour or so ;)

Although that post was written almost 3 years ago, to a certain extend I agree with that person's comment about me not feeding my kids with nutritious food. I wrote a rather childish reply (^^''')...even though I know that the person would likely not return to my blog. After posting my comment, I thought the case is closed.  Little did I know it is a classic case of the Chinese saying '翁失马,焉知非福' (aka 'The Lost Horse' in Chinese folktales).

I received the second comment from Cassie the next day. I felt so touched with her words! If you are a blogger like me, and if you are unlucky enough to encounter similar experiences, I am sure you will feel that everything you have put up on your blog is worth the effort and time. It is those words from readers like you that kept me going...and I am so glad that I have found another friend. Dear Cassie doesn't have a blog, and if I don't keep one, I will choose to be a silent reader, like many non-bloggers out there. I believe, it is not 'second nature' to leave comments on someone else blog if you are a non-blogger. The point I want to make is, she has chosen to break the silence just to 'stand-up' for me and cheered me on. I really don't know whether I would  be able to do the same. 

I am no good with my words at all. With my limited vocabulary, I am not able to express my heartfelt thanks to her in my reply...and I tend to digress in my replies! So, I am dedicating this post to Cassie to show my appreciation. We are total strangers and yet I felt like talking to a friend next door. I used to find it amazing that my mother could chat up with a stranger at the market as though she knew that person for ages. Now I know why aunties can 'click' so easily!

Once again THANK YOU Cassie!!!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

of jam & toast, and a sad story

Warning...This is going to be a super long post!

Before I move on to talk about my jam and toast, I would like to share with you a little story, within a story...

It was a Saturday evening, we were resting on the couch to unwind from a long afternoon...we just completed a 'marathon session'...revising for the upcoming mid-year exams! I picked up the newspapers and half way through my browsing, a one-quarter page advertorial caught my attention. It was a sad and touching story about a son and his mother. I passed the papers to my younger child who was sitting right beside me. After reading, I could see from his expressions that he felt sad. Before I could say anything, he commented, "妈妈,因为他没有学弟子规!". (translated as: Ma Ma, It is because, he didn't learn "Di Zi Gui/Student's Rules. ) I was really amused by his comments. We passed the story to his brother who was half buried in his story book. He read and agreed with his brother and continued to bury himself in his book. It was a surprise when I saw my younger child re-read the story again. I studied him with great interest...I could see his pupils moving from left to right...stopping briefly at certain paragraphs or texts. I then realised that he was reading some of the lines just to confirm what he interpreted was correct. He put down the papers and said "他真的很bad!(He is really bad!) How can he said that to his mother?"; "He didn't even cry when his mother passed away!". He was very upset with the son.

By now, I am sure you are interested to read about the story. It goes like this:

A son hated her him, she was such an embarrassment. When he was in elementary school, his mother went to say hello to him in school. He was so embarrassed that he ignored her and threw her a hateful look and ran away. The next day, one of his classmates said, "EEEE, your mom only has one eye!". He confronted her that day and said, "If you're only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don't you just die?!!!"

His mom did not respond. He didn't even stop to think for a second about what he had said, because he was full of anger. He was oblivious to her feelings. He wanted out of that house, and have nothing to do with her. So he studied real hard, got a chance to go to Singapore to study. Then, he got married, bought a house and had kids. He was happy with his life, his kids and the comforts.

Then one day, his mother came to visit him. She hadn't seen him in years and she didn't even meet her grandchildren. When she stood by the door, his children laughed at her, and he yelled at her for coming over uninvited. He screamed at her, "How dare you come to my house and scare my children! Get out of here now!!!" And to this, his mother quietly answered, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address," and she disappeared out of sight.

One day, he receivied a letter regarding a school reunion. He decided to attend the reunion back at his home town. After the reunion, he went to the old shack where he was raised, just out of curiosity. His neighbours told him she died. He did not shed a single tear. They handed him a letter which she had left for him. This is what she wrote:

"My dearest son,
I think of you all the time. I'm sorry that I came to Singapore and scared your children. I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you.

I'm sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up. You see........when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn't stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So I gave you mine. I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye.

With my love to you,
Your mother."

I am glad that 弟子规 Di Zi Gui is included in their school's curriculum. 弟子规 Di Zi Gui, or "Students' Rules" documents the standards for being a good student and child. The full set of rules comprises 1080 characters. The verses are very profound, teaching and imparting morals and good virtues to children. In summary, this set of rules teaches a child to show filial piety at home, respect the elders, behave prudently and trustfully, love all universally, and draw close to sages; when one has energy to spare, he should study edification by the sage. My favourite rules (since they are really to my great advantage) are:

父母呼 应勿缓...when parents call, don't be slow to respond;
父母命 行勿懒...when parents give an order, act, don't be lazy;
父母教 须敬听...when parents teach, one must listen with respect; 
父母责 须顺承...when parents reprimand, one must accept.

The following day, it was Mother's Day. It was a usual weekend, just like any other Sundays. We didn't celebrate the occasion, although I did asked my kids where were my presents! One pretended he didn't hear anything...the other one declared that he had already given it to me (my birthday gift)!

Even though there were no cakes, flowers or cards, it still warms my heart to know that my children are able to understand some of morals and teachings behind the 弟子规 Di Zi Gui. Although it is too early to judge whether they are going to be a good person later in in their lives, for the time being, I choose to think that they would not go down the wrong path, at least not too soon.

Now, back to my jam and toast...

About the toast:

I have not been making bread as frequently as I like. As a result, my recent bread-making attempts did not turn out as expected. I made a loaf of focaccia which was like a piece of cardboard...I added too much wholemeal flour, so, instead of bread I had bricks.

Then I made this loaf bread. I divided the dough into two portions and kneaded one tablespoon of instant coffee powder to one of them. The two doughs rose nicely during the first proofing. I shaped the loaf and left it to proof the second time. It took way too long to rise up to the brim of the baking I was running out of time, I sent it into the oven...hoping the 'oven spring' would cause the bread to expand a little bit more. The bread didn't balloon much, and in the end I had a rather short bread. The texture was not as soft and light as my previous attempt. I suspect I could have killed the yeast with the warm water I used to mix the dough :'(

About the jam:

I made this papaya and banana jam a couple of weeks ago. I must say it tasted better than its look. I should have mashed up the fruits before cooking to get a smoother jam, it looked more like salsa than jam to me. I kept the bottle of jam in the fridge...trying to deny its existence.

As for the loaf bread, it looked better than its taste. Other than the colour, I couldn't taste any coffee flavour in the bread! The bread was tasteless on its own. I tried it with peanut butter, the taste was so so. Then, I remembered my salsa-lookalike jam. I paired the two together and it was an instant hit! Almost like a match from heaven...the two were meant for each other, just waiting for the opportunity to cross each others paths...the pretty but plain toast became delicious when slapped generously with the ugly but yummy jam ;)

I won't be posting any recipes here as I am sure no one will be interested to make either one of these two!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Grow a Bottle

I first saw this pretty glass canister at Daiso when I was looking for a container to store cookies. I was drawn by the shinning label and the equally shinning lid. I had planned to make some cookies to give away to a friend, I was sure the cookies would look wonderful in this pretty container. However, in the end, I didn't buy any as I changed my mind (on the spot) and bought a set of pretty paper loaf pans instead. I thought I should bake her a banana loaf cake, the cookies can wait (^^). A few weeks later, I went back to get the canisters, not to store cookies though, I wanted to use them for another purpose :)

It all began when I started helping my elder son to make a garden terrarium for his school's Science project. I went around sourcing for the necessary materials...small pebbles, activated charcoal and suitable plants. After getting three pairs of hands all covered with soil and dirt, we were very happy with how pretty the terrarium looked. The plants have grown very well even though we didn't water the terrarium for 3 weeks. Hop over to this site if you are interested to learn how to create your own terrarium.

I decided to use the glass canisters to make three terrariums to give away to my friends. They are either working singles or full-time working mum. I am sure a bottle terrarium will be a great item for their office desk. If the ecosystem in the bottle is well maintained, that is, the plants are growing well, receiving enough sunlight and the humidity is controlled at the right level, the plants need to be watered only once a month or even longer.

I decorated the bottle terrariums with tiny toadstools, flowers, butterflies and even lady bugs, all made with jumping clay (read about it in my previous post). Since one of my friends is a totoro fan like me, I made a thumb-size blue totoro figurine for her terrarium.

I created these 3 bottle terrariums with the help from my two children. The bottles appeared huge in this photo, but they are not more than 5 inches in height.

A closer look of the side view:

View from the top...are you able to spot the ladybug? These plants with pretty foliage are known as fitonnia.

I have wanted to make this into an aquarium, so I decorated it with some of my precious shells, but, after adding the other figurines, it doesn't look like an aquarium at all (^^"). My younger boy sponsored two of his jumping clay creations...a bird...

and a cute little froggy ;) I planted Dill and Rosemary (both from my little herb garden) in this one. I hope they will grow well. This is specially for one of my friends who likes to cook and bake as well. I am certain she will like the lovely smell from the herbs each time she opens the lid to water them.

I like this photo best...I could almost imagine there is a cloud of question marks (?????) hovering over the totoro's head ;)

Gardens in bottles, all ready to be given away. I hope my friends will like them :)