Recent Changes

September 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm

There are a couple of changes in the household these past weeks.

♥Juicing For Health♥

After comtemplating for a while, I decided not to get the extremely expensive Vitamix (~RM3000), or its OEM equavalent (~RM1000). Since we just bought a Philip blender a year back, I thought I better make more use of this.

And for almost a month now, I’d been juicing. Well, not really juicing, but blending fruits and vege, and drinking up all the juice and pulps that comes with it.

Philips blender at work

Using the Philip, and having it set at Smoothie mode, most vege/fruits can be blended to a smooth drink packed with goodness in 3 minutes. I change the fruit and vege daily to give ourselves a variety. In case you wonder, the juice does not taste fibrous or yucky as long as some water is added to make it not ‘paste-ty’. Unfortunately, at this point in time, the girls still do not like the taste of any of the juices (Zara said it taste like a salad drink), so it’s just Daddy and I getting a glass each to start our day.

Beetroot smoothie

♥Change of Milk♥

After being a sucker for Enfa milk for the past 4.5 years (Zara started taking formula only when she was 1year +), and accomodating their ever escalating price, we’d finally had enough!

Switched the girls to Dumex which is 1/3 of the price! If you were like me who didn’t know, Enfa milk is Made in Thailand with milk from US. Dumex is Made In Malaysia with milk from Australia and New Zealand.

Girls didn’t mind the change, they claimed, “They taste the same.. This one (Dumex) not so sweet.”

Their bowel movement remain the same. Oh maybe they will be less inteligent than the Enfa kids (so the Enfa advertisement claims), but we pumped them up with DHA pills and they have fish every meal time, should be enough brain food for them.

Unless Dumex becomes greedy too, or the girls are allergic to the milk, Dumex it is.

There, Enfa, you just lost 2 loyal customers due to your greed by always increasing your price!

♥Change of Sleeping Partner♥

I’d been Zaria’s sleeping partner since she was born. She won’t sleep with anyone else if I were around.

Suddenly these past 2 weeks, she said she wanted to sleep with jiejie instead. Not everyday, but maybe a few times a week.

Girls being loving

So when she wants jiejie for the night, she’ll share a bed with Zara, poke Zara’s belly button; I kind of enjoy seeing this closeness between the girls. On days, when she wants to sleep with me, I still love her small body next to mine, and her roaming fingers finding my belly button in the middle of the night.

Zaria’s 3rd Birthday

January 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm

We asked Zaria who she wanted to invite for her birthday celebration, she told us slowly and counted, “Auntie… Mummie… Daddy… Jiejie. Only 4 people.”
“You don’t want to invite your friends?”
“Nope.. after they sing happy birthday too loud.”
When I asked her if she wanted any cake. She said no as well, because of the above same reason. The strange thing is, she has been drawing pictures of birthday cake after birthday cake decorated with sweets (oh well, at this age, sometimes I don’t know what she’s drawing, but that’s what she told us her drawing was about).

So, how do you celebrate a 3 year old birthday if she didn’t want a party and a cake?… I decide for her.

My brother’s birthday falls on Christmas, and 3 days after, it’s Zaria’s. I offered to bake a cake for us to celebrate their birthdays. Zaria, not really a fan of my brother, really didn’t want to share her cake (maybe that was one of the reason she didn’t want a cake! :P)

Here is the cake I baked, hazelnut torte with chocolate ganache.

Zaria and Ah Ku's birthday cake
And because she didn’t want to share her cake with Ah Ku, and didn’t want us to sing too loud. We have to sing once for my brother, then the 2nd time softly to her (and no clapping! That’s her command). She then refused to blow her candle but when Zara did it for her, she cried.. 🙁

You can see how sulky she was with her cake.
Zaria blowing candles on her cake

Ok, that was Christmas eve.

I wasn’t planning to bake any more for her because since she said she didn’t want any cake. On the actual day, when she woke up and we greeted her with hugs and Birthday wishes, she said, “Yeh! Today is my birthday!” then added, “Can you make me a mermaid cake?” *faint*

I can’t whip out a mermaid cake just like that, but the next 1hr + I was in the kitchen and made her these, orange butter cupcake with chocolate frosting.

Cupcakes for Zaria's 3rd birthday

As a celebration, we just invited Tasha and my sister out for lunch and then to Jungle Gym, so the 3 cousins could play.
Girls at Jungle Gym

Girls in pools of balls

Tasha in pools of balls

Zaria in pools of balls

Girls playing outside Jungle Gym

She didn’t get as many presents as Zara, but I think she did have a good time.

Zara’s 5th Birthday

November 22, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Confused with her school concert date, we decided to celebrate Zara’s birthday a week earlier, thinking the concert would be held on her actual birthday, but it is actually a week later. We are obviously parents who do not read school notices.

On 14th November, we invited our neigbours, 6 families all in plus my SIL and MIL who also moved to our neigbourhood recently, to celebrate Zara’s birthday. This time, I ordered Nasi Dagang, fish curry and fried bee-hoon from a new restaurant near our place; at home, Jelly fried a veg, some chicken wings, and I baked some cheese puffs, apple crumble, and of course, Zara’s cake.

Zara has been very much into mermaids these days, so I thought I’ll create a mermaid cake for her with sea creatures all included.

Baking of the cake and cupcakes started Friday morning. In the afternoon, I tried to mould a mermaid using fondant, and in fact it was a nice mermaid with a tail that sparkled. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I suspect it’s due to the humid weather, the mermaid started sweating, and turning soft; by evening, it was one fat and flat mermaid. So at night, I started creating another mermaid, this time making its body thinner, and then I left it in a air tight container with dehumidifier sachets. I can still see the mermaid softening a bit, but it was better than the fat mermaid. Because of the softening of the fondant, I didn’t feel comfortable creating more sea creatures for the cake.

The fat mermaid that was ‘sweating’ away.
The fat mermaid

I decorated the cake and the cup cakes till 2am on Friday, and this was the end result.
Zara's Mermaid CakeStill a lot of room for improvement, but I guess for a first fondant cake attempt, it’s not too bad.

The cake (for adults) surrounded by cupcakes (for the kids).
Zara's Mermaid Cake

Side track, on Saturday morning, Zara was being a bit naughty, and due to lack of sleep, I was getting grouchy, and I told her off, “If I knew you would be so naughty, I wouldn’t bake you the cake.” Now this was before she actually saw the cake I completed the night before, and guess what my spunky daughter said? “It’s ok mum. I can ask Daddy to buy from the shop. The ones in the shops are nicer anyway.” *crack! went my heart*
After she saw the cake, she felt really sorry, and started apologising profusedly. But you see, she is capable of saying such things.

Ok, back to the party.

It was a good turn out, and the girls have fun playing with their play mates (whom they regularly meet and play together at the park). I am thankful to my SIL who was entertaining 11 children in the play room with baloon fights and all, while I spent time chatting with the neighbours.

Zara with her Mermaid Cake before cake cutting

Now, Zaria has been attending friends’ parties, and she has stopped crying during birthday song singing since early this year, so we thought there won’t be any drama on Zara’s birthday. When the birthday song singing started, she was quiet for a while, and then suddenly burst into tears.
Zara and Zaria before Zaria bursting into tearsLater, when we asked her why she cried, she said “Everybody was singing so loud.” o.O”

Zara blowing her candles on her birthday cake

Zara blowing her candles on her birthday cakeThanks to Kathy, who still caught Zara blowing her candles amidst the chaos (the loud bawl from Zaria, and Daddy running off with Zaria to calm her down).

One of the children came to me at the end of the party and said, “This is the best party ever. I have so much fun.” I give my SIL credit for entertaining the kids. 😛

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, a day before Zara’s actual birthday, we celebrated Zara’s and Zaria’s birthday in school. Zaria’s birthday is not until end of the year, but she wanted so much to celebrate with her friends and teachers in school I thought we’ll do this 1 month earlier together with Zara’s.

The day before, Zara helped me to think of how to decorate her cupcakes. She wanted flowers in the middle of each cake, and I got her to decide on the colours (with me making a few small batches of fondant in different colours). The final product, was a batch of cupcakes decorated with (store bought) sugar flowers.

Zara's and Zaria's cupcakes to bring to school

I sent them to school in the morning, and stayed till their break time. I helped the teacher to set up the snack area to prepare for the ‘cupcake party’ (since that’s the only food served)

Zara's and Zaria's cupcakes in school

Zara and Zaria were beaming with happiness. When the birthday song was sung, Zaria didn’t cry, but was smiling and looking around. (Later when I asked her why she cried in jie-jie’s party, but not in school, her reply, “I only like children singing, I don’t like adults singing birthday song.” She’s sure full of excuses).

Zara and Zaria blowing off their birthday candles

They were both happy to distribute their party packs to their friends too. Later, when Zaria came home without a party pack and started sharing Zara’s goodies, Jelly asked Zaria, “Why you didn’t take one party pack home?” She replied, “The party packs are for my friends. Not for me.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy 5th Birthday Zara, may you grow up healthy and filled with love and happiness. Daddy, mummy and mei-meil love you very much.

Wordless Wednesday – Bread Making

November 4, 2009 at 12:55 am

Working The Dough

Working The Dough

Shaping the dough after resting

Dipping the dough in water

Coating the dough in poppy seeds

Coating the dough in poppy seeds

Cutting the dough in the centre

3 cuts in the centre of the dough

Turning the dough over

Shaping the dough into star

Proofing the star shaped dough

Star shape wholemeal bread coated with poppy seeds

Homemade Nutmeg Juice/Drink/Syrup

October 26, 2009 at 9:17 pm

When you are in Penang, you have to try the delicious and refreshing Nutmeg juice. I haven’t really tried the juice that’s freshly squeezed out from the nutmeg (which I think is also available), the one I’d tasted is the boiled nutmeg juice which is a mix of sweetish, sourish and minty. Zara had her first taste of the drink when we went to Penang 2 weeks back. She loved it, and said it tasted like fizzy Ribena.

On our last day in Penang, since I spotted some fresh nutmeg for sale in Chowrasta Market, I bought 2Kg home and asked around for the method to make the drink. (Btw, at the stalls that are facing Penang Road, they were selling at RM12/kg, but at the back of the market, it was only RM3/Kg).

This is what fresh nutmegs look likeFresh nutmeg

This is what the seeds look like, the red ‘flowery’ mace and the seed can be used for cooking especially salted vege duck soup (Kiam chai ak) but they all turned mouldy and I had to throw them away before having a chance to try it on other recipe.Nutmeg seeds

This is how I made mine (recipe calls for 1Kg nutmeg and 1Kg rock sugar, but I reduced the rock sugar amount).
2 Kg fresh Nutmeg
1Kg Rock Sugar

Method
Wash nutmeg and scrub off any dirt from nutmeg.
Half the Nutmeg and remove the seed.
Smash the Nutmeg.
Layer Nutmeg and sugar in slow cooker, i.e. one layer nutmeg cover with rock sugar, until the whole pot is filled (no water added!).
Turn on slow cooker to high and boil content for 3hrs, then turn power to auto and boil for another 6hrs.
Filter out the thick reddish liquid which can be stored in a container
Mix nutmeg syrup with water to get nutmeg juice drink.
Nutmeg and rock sugar to make nutmeg juice

After this first round of boiling, I actually put back the boiled nutmeg into the slow cooker, poured in some water, and turned on slow cooker to auto and boiled the content for another 8hrs. This gave me another batch of syrup which was a bit more diluted but nonetheless as tasty.

I love the red wine colour of the drink, and wonder why the flash being so white, can produce drink this colour.A refreshing glass of Nutmeg juice/drink

Our Daily Homemade Bread

September 30, 2009 at 9:35 am

For more than a month, Daddy has not bought a loaf of bread for himself but instead he has been eating home made bread. As for the girls, they are not really bread eaters, and they do not like wholemeal bread. If I baked sweet bread, or rye, I’ll make sure they have it for breakfast as well instead of their usual Koko-crunch or toast made from High-5 bread.

Here are some of the photos of the bread which I baked from then till now, and I think I’m getting the hang of how the dough works.

My 1st wholemeal loaf.. looked horrid right? Although edible.
Wholemeal sunflower seed loaf

2nd attempt, still not so attractive, look wise.
Wholemeal sunflower seed loaf

3rd attempt, YES!
Wholemeal walnut loaf

Sweet white rolls.
Sweet white loaf

Daddy likes the wholemeal walnut bread, so I made it again, replacing 1/2 cup wholemeal flour with wheatgerm.
Wholemeal walnut bread

Made focaccia for dinner using a recipe from the The Pauper Chef, it came out very bland, but that’s because I didn’t put any topping besides coarse sea salt. Daddy liked it though.
Focaccia

This is my favourite. Love the crust colour, and the purplish hue on the bread from the rye flour.
Rye walnut bread

Using the sweet bread recipe, I added ground black and white sesame for some nutty flavoured buns.
Sesame bread

Then last weekend, I tried to make coconut buns.
Coconut bunsDaddy loved it (but he has to encourage me, or I’ll stop baking).
My MIL, FIL and SIL said they were nice.
My dad said no standard (not enough coconut it seemed).
My sis said it’s ok.
So you know who the critic is.

Baking Baking Baking

August 28, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Since we’d invested in a stand mixer, Daddy expects more frequent baking in the house, he was also hoping not to have to purchase another loaf of bread from the bakery, but have all bread baked at home. Over the 2 weeks, I’d baked hot cross bun twice; a loaf of bread, chocolate chip cookies and green tea butter cake once. The latter tasted rather awful, probably due to the macha powder which came from ‘aged’ leaves (which was very expensive but probably not suitable for baking) we used.

Here are some of the baking done in the last 2 weeks.

My 1st attempt on bread baking.
Hot Cross BunsForgot to ‘proof’ it and used a pan too small, it came out like a loaf. Tasty but rather dense.

Tried out a breadmix which cost RM12.9, just add water, oil, the yeast sachet, knead, bake and voila, the loaf turned out wonderful.
Premix BreadBut to me, this is cheating.

My 2nd attempt on the same recipe for hot cross buns.
Hot Cross Buns - Attempt 2
I followed the recipe closely (well, except it asked for sultanas and I used raisin), remember to ‘proof’ it and used 2 pans so the buns have room to expand.

Hot Cross buns servedThis time they turned out buns-like, but it’s still very dry and the crust hard. Any tip from anyone?
I think I’ll lower the oven temperature next time, and give it a milk wash right after I take them out from the oven. Not giving up yet. I’ll share the recipe once I get it right.

This is a recipe given to me by my best friend’s Father-In-Law. I’d tried it many times, and they are easy to make and extremely delicious.
Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookies for neighbours and the girls' teachers

Recipe for this :
150g butter
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1/3 cup castor sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup choc chip
1/2 cup pecan nut (you can replace it with white chocolate chip or any other nuts, but I prefer nuts as it’ll be sweeter if more choc chips are used)

Heat up oven to 190 degrees
Cream butter and sugar
Add yolk and vanilla essence and beat further
Mix chips and nuts with wooden spoon
Spoon batter onto baking sheet and bake for 10~15mins.

The cookies will come out very ‘soong’. Enjoy.

My New Toy

August 3, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Last year, my RM99 cake mixer broke down on me half way creaming icing for the cupcakes I made for Zara’s birthday celebration. Since then, I’d been asking myself the question, should I get another RM99 cake mixer? Or should I go for a good one?

I’d been looking at the Kenwood models, wanting to get one which is made in Italy or England, but I found the RM2xxx ones are all Made in China. No way I’m going to pay so much for a China made machine.

I asked around those baking gurus, most of them are using KitchenAid, and if they were not, they planned to get one in future. Then I saw the KitchenAid Artisan mixer in Tropicana City, and that’s it, my search for a mixer is over. KitchenAid it is! Fully Made in USA (except the bowl which is from Korea), it’s beautiful, and comes in various colours.

We didn’t get it immediately because Singaore is selling almost RM700 cheaper, and we were wondering if we should make a trip down south to get the mixer.

We made about another 4 trips to the same shop in Tropicana City looking and touching the machine, waiting for a price reduction (and contemplating at the same time); even Zara started questioning, “Why do we keep coming back to this shop?” and she even learnt, “Not everything I want, I should get. You like the cake mixer so much, you also didn’t buy, right?” 🙂

Anyway, last weekend, I told Daddy, enough of waiting, I want to get it!! And we did! So happened there was some promo running, and we got another RM100 reduction on top of the promo price.

And here is my new toy…… (oh by the way, Zara insisted that I should get the pink one, but we didn’t listen to her, and chose a colour that matched our Oak-coloured kitchen).

KitchenAid Artisan

KitchenAid Artisan

What a beauty, don’t you think?

I tried it out yesterday, and baked a butter cake using a simple recipe from Donna Hay.

Put all ingredient into the bowl and mix it.
Mixing the ingredient

So easy, so quiet, so smooth…
Cake batter

Baked it for an hour +, and viola.
A slice of butter cake

Daddy is expecting some bread to be baked soon. o.O”
Tell me if you have a good and easy country bread recipe to share.

Homemade Soy Burger Anyone?

July 27, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Long long time ago in England, I had tasted Linda McCartney’s soy burger, and I absulutely loved it. They didn’t come cheap, and was more expensive than the meat burgers, but that was one of the few indulgence I allowed myself.

A week ago, Daddy used his credit card points to claim some voucher, and bought a high end Philip blender for me during the Harvey Norman sale,
Philip Blender

Since then, I’d made 10 cereal milk (十榖奶) and also soy bean milk (豆奶) a couple of times at home. The first time I made soy bean milk, we used the pulp which is called okara as fertiliser. On my 2nd attempt which was on Saturday, I kept the okara, with the intention of making soy burger with it.

For lunch today, that was what I did. Here is what I’d used (in estimation):
1) a cup of okara
2) one big onion diced
3) less than half a cup of corn kernels (freshly scraped out from a cob)
4) a stalk of spring onin diced
5) a stalk of coriander diced
6) a lightly beaten egg
7) some corn flour and flour to made the patty less runny

Mix them all up in a bowl. Add soya sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Okara mixture

Add extra flour a little at a time so that the patties can be formed (but expect it to be a bit on the soft side).

Fry the patties in a pan. (The 1st one Jelly actually deep fried it like an Indian wadai, and after that I had to take over the frying)
Frying the Patties

Frying the Patties

And viola, our lunch.

Soy Burger

Soy Burger

It was quite good, probably as delicious as Linda McCartney’s. *ahem*

Lunch was served with a cup of home made soy milk.
Soy Burger

(The girls had left over pizzas instead, since they are not keen on any meat burgers, I didn’t think they will like the soy burger, what more, it was my first attempt. However, I will definitely feed them this the next round).

Btw, I have been getting contradicting information about soya bean. Is it good, is it bad? Does it give you health benefits, or actually harms you? I really don’t know. As I like the taste, I’ll continue to make them.

Weekend Projects

April 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm

5th April 2009
Back from Bangalore and after a nap (only caught like 2hrs of sleep on the plane), went to Malacca to visit my besty and her 8 month old daughter, Maya, who are back from New York for a holiday.

Look at Maya, I’m so envious of those big eyes!
Maya

I so like her skin tone. That’s the thing about mix marriages, you produce beautiful babies.
Maya

It’s no kidding trying to take photos of 3 kids together.
Zara, Zaria and Maya

Zara, Zaria and MayaHmmph.. I give up.

Normally, I would stay a night there, but this round, due to heavy work commitments, I had to leave the same day after dinner. Will try to catch them again before they leave for New York.

12th April 2009
Zara requested for some cheese puffs and sausage rolls, so I bought some ready made pastry and made some for the girls.

Girls were guarding the oven waiting for their Puffies (That’s what Zara calls them, and Zaria followed).
Sausage rolls and cheese puffs

Girls having fresh from the oven Puffies for dinner, and they were very happy.
Zara having her sausage roll

Zaria having her puffy

For the adults, I tried my hands on mushroom soup. I was quite happy with the result. Daddy said it tasted like the ones you get from the restaurant minus the MSG.
Home made mushroom soup

And main course for us adult was tuna pie and salad (Jelly did the weaving of the pastry and she’s quite good at that).
Home made tuna pie and salad

18th & 19th April 2009
2 trips to Ikea, and many hours of work later, we managed to put up 4 of the girls’ poster size photos up on the wall. Another 4 more to go. *phew*
Girls' photos on the wall

Zaria was very happy this morning, kept saying, “Look at that. My photo(s).” “How many mei-mei’s photos there?”

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