Sweet Temptations

August 13, 2010

I baked these for a friend’s cousin.

Dark chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache

My favourite vanilla cake, topped with sweet and slightly tart raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream. The buttercream is rich and light at the same time, the slight tartness of the raspberry balanced the richness of the buttery cake below. And, who can resist that lovely colour?

Vanilla cakes with vanilla bean dotted buttercream

Day at the Beach

August 13, 2010

We spent National Day at the beach.

It was Xuan’s first time at the beach and she was quite happy about it!

So was Rui who was utterly excited to see helicopters carrying huge flags in the sky!

We didn’t go to the National Day Parade, but I received an NDP pack from work. Inside the bag was a fun pack which include snacks and drinks, temporary tattoo pack etc. I emptied the content in the morning and put mini cakes inside for Rui to bring to school.

I think they were well-received.  :)

A Little Night Time Happening

August 4, 2010

The night started with a little steam.

Well, not that kind of heat but the wrong kind – angry heat.

The hubby commented about my not-so-desirable habit of leaving things around. And well, as the guilty as charged always do, I got defensive and told him off. Deep down inside though, I knew he meant well but in my defensive mood, I wished he would cut me some slack, and focus more on the things that matter, or the things which I think that matter more than an inappropriately placed item.

We bit our tongues and calmed down, knowing what a full-on confrontation could lead to. An awkward silence ensued.

Then thankfully, the innocent chatter of Rui and babbling of Xuan took over and broke the dreaded silence.

Giggling excitedly, thankfully oblivious to the foul atmosphere, Rui began pretending to be diving into what he imagined as a pool of water. The pool was actually his mattress. Who wouldn’t cracked up at the sight of a little body “swimming” on a mattress?

Then, the mattress suddenly became his space-ship, pillows and bolsters, his control panel, with daddy as his co-pilot. Of course, a space saga could never be complete without an antagonist and who better be than Xuan, the bad alien. The roles soon changed with daddy becoming the bad alien, and Rui and Xuan being on the same side.

I watched with delight as the brother tried to shield his little sister with his light blue fleece blanket when daddy aimed a little bolster at her. I chuckled when Rui dived into a pile of pillows to hide from the evil alien’s “laser”, thinking that if he could not see the alien, he could not be seen as well.

The mood lighten considerably, tempered with loud cheerful laughter and gleeful chatter.

It was past ten o’clock and the hubby tried to calm Rui down for his bedtime. He cuddled the boy in bed and proceeded to tell his son about his days as a boy spent swimming and playing in a river in Sibu. “Daddy loved jumping and playing in the river. There were fishes and prawns in the river,” said daddy. “And squid and octopus!” the little boy chipped in. “Yes, squids and octopus too!”

I smiled.

These were the times that I hope Rui and Xuan would etch in their minds forever – the laughter, the cuddles, the hugs, the kisses, the warmth, the closeness and the innocence.

Rui… an update

April 15, 2010

 

Recognise me? I am almost three and a big boy now! I go to school every morning and deal with classmates who bite me in a civil way.

See you in China soon, auntie Young!

Sharing the Love Through Sweets

April 15, 2010

Laz, Young’s hubby, has always been such a kind and wonderful supporter of my baked good. He is so sweet and always has a nice word for whatever I bake. For that reason, I seldom appear at their place without a sweet treat in tow.

Now that they are in Beijing, I have decided a good way to share, other than me sending them cakes and bakes through post, is to give them simple recipes of healthy cakes, so they can bake it on their own!  :)

So, Young and Laz, just for you… my new series called Share a Cake with Young and Laz!

OKay, before I start… I know some of the pics I post will have my dear photographer Young cringing. Stay with me, cousin! I am slowly, SLOWLY getting the hang of it. Hey, anyway, I am a baker, not a photographer!  ;)

Torta di Mandora

Or Moist Almond Cake. Beautifully moist with a hint of citrusy goodness from orange and nutty flavour from ground almonds.

I love cakes and I do bake often because I need to fill Rui’s lunch box everyday with something. I would rather make him some healthy snacks than to feed him something store-bought. At least I know every single ingredient that goes into my food and I am sure there are no chemical nasties and unneccessary food colourings.

Because of the regularity of my baking schedule, I do make an effort to look for recipes with less or no butter, for simple health reasons (CH is a believer of The China Study). Rather than baking with margarine, I would rather bake with healthy oils.

This lovely cake fulfils both my health requirements and my innate glutton. Made with olive oil, it is light and fruity. The addition of orange juice and zest further enhances the fruitiness. And like all cakes made with ground almonds, it has a great bite and an incredible fragrance that even my fussy PROFESSIONAL baker dad loves.

This recipe is now marked as “well worth repeating” in my ratty note book. The next time I make this, I will substitute flaxseed meal for one or maybe two of the eggs.

I made this cake without the glaze but it is highly recommended by many bloggers out there. Try it and let me know if it is worth the time browning the butter!  :)

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup ground almond

1  1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 large eggs 

 3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1) Grease and flour a 7-inch round cake tin

2) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius

3) Sift the flour, ground almond, salt and baking powder. Set aside

4) In another bowl, by hand or using a handheld beater, beat the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is light and lemony

5) Beating the egg mixture at a medium speed, slowly add the olive oil, vanilla extract and the orange juice and zest

6) With a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture

7) Scoop mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a cake tester come out clean

For the glaze:

2 tbsp browned butter

1 cup icing sugar

3 tbsp milk

A few drops of lemon juice

1) Mix all of the ingredients together and spread on top of cooled cake

2) Savour or gobble!

Hello Auntie Young!

April 15, 2010

How many times have I mentioned that TIME FLIES in my blog? Can I say it again? TIME FLIES!

My Xuan is almost six months old now. I promised some pics and here they are… especially for you, Auntie Young, I hope these pics bring a smile to your face as they do for me…  :)

 This is Xuan after a feed and in an awfully good mood!

No milk milk…

And this is Xuan with Cousin Carl who is about a month younger but much bigger than her.  Sorry for the picture quality, Auntie Young! I guess this is the best I can manage with two fidgety babies.

The Blues Are HERE Again

March 14, 2010

Now, who’s great idea it is, for women to be part of the workforce? And who even has the heart to suggest mothers to go back to work after spending four months cooing at and fussing over the baby? Does that person actually has a heart?

I can’t remember the last time I felt Monday blues on a Sunday. You know, the feeling of “OMG, a new week is looming…”. Wait a minute, maybe I can, because four months passed just like a flash! I can remember when I just tidied my desk and got ready to stay home and wait for the arrival of my little girl. And I can remember the feeling of woh-wee, bye bye to all the office nonsense for four months!

Well, all good things have to come an end. I am enjoying the second last day of my four-month maternity and gosh, am I nervous about returning to work. I certainly feel a tinge, no, not a tinge but a huge wave of sadness, leaving the baby in my mum’s care while I take care of the needs and demands of grown babies at work.

I feel a sadness also because I took a longer time to bond with my beautiful little girl, compared to her brother. She gave us a major, major medical scare when she was born. Rather than jumping in, and enjoying her company and smiles and little tantrums immediately, we were faced with some uncertainties and worries. Thankfully, she has been given the all-clear and we started to really enjoy playing, laughing, tickling and talking to her.

I hope Xuan will bond with and feel comfortable with Granny soon. I certainly will miss the feel of her warm skin against mine, the smiles and even the crazy loud cries.

Parting is such (not so) sweet sorrow!

March 9, 2010

Life has been moving at a snail’s pace and at lightning speed, both at the same time for me, for the past four months.

I am so domesticated that I sometimes have no idea what is happening around me. For instance, I have no idea when the Oscars was held. I only accidentally watched it on TV yesterday. This is a first for me – a movie fan. And I don’t even know who is on the Best Actor list, except for my immortal beloved, George Clooney.

While I am bathing in domestic bliss (or madness, when Xuan screams on top of her lungs and Rui thinks it is a good idea to pour the whole bottle of fish feed into the little pond), the world is fast changing, and life is throwing amazing challenges to the people around me.

My wonderful, fabulous and cool Cousin Young has begun a new chapter of her professional life in Beijing. She left for China on 4 March and though things have not panned out as well as expected on the first couple of days, I think Young and hubby have more or less settled in in the Chinese capital.  Regardless of how terrible the initial experience or how tough it is to get into the groove of the city, I am sure this would be a wonderful experiece, both for Laz and Young. I am immensely proud of where Young’s professional career has taken her and I am sure she will do just fine!

Nevertheless, I miss Young terribly, and especially our gossip and binge session at our favourite sushi joint. I hope there would be great sushi… okay… xiao long bao places in Beijing, cos hubby and I are already planning to see them in Beijing some months down the road.

In the meantime, I would just have to rely on modern technology to speak to Young.

No matter what, Young, all the best to you! I miss you so! Take great care!

PS: I am going back to work next Tuesday, not looking forward to it at all. How I wish we could drown our sorrows in baked scallops!  :)

It’s been… Quite a While!

February 8, 2010

Yes, yes… it has been a year! And what a year it is!

Rui is two and a half now and boy, they don’t call this phase the terrible twos for nothing. He’s naughty and I broke the promise to myself and did slapped his little bottom a couple of times. He’s bright and curious, and is always asking “What is mummy/daddy doing?”. He can be such a charming little gentleman, if he wants to!  :)

I love pink stuff now and have been on a pink splurge recently. A new little person has entered my life. She is beautiful with lovely almond eyes, a petite nose and sweet lips. She is a little bald now, but I am sure that is not a major problem. She stretches contentedly after a good nap and can be real fiesty if she does not get her way. She, if I may say so, is one of the reasons for me to abandon writing for a while. Not that she has arrived and is soundly sleeping, I can indulge in a little time of my own again.

She is Xuan, my lovely little girl.

We will have pics when our camera is working but believe me, she is GORGEOUS! :)

The Amazing Adventures of Rui

March 15, 2009

img_1971_rui-at-bt-hill

I scaled Bukit Timah Hill on sheer will… and on my Daddy’s back…

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img_1975_rui-at-bt-pavillion

Climbers need strength, so I stole some rice crispies from a fellow young climber and attracted some attention… I wonder why…

img_1996_rui-and-goose

I tried to bring some geese home for Mummy to cook dinner. Alas, I was attacked by one of them. Just wait, you silly goose, when I am taller than you…

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Why not have some fish if we can’t have goose?

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After all the adventures, some nourishment of the mind.


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