Saturday, May 30, 2009

Exam stress!

No, my kids are too young for exam stress. They are still in pre-school and enjoying every minute of it. My colleague's children and feeling stressed out about their exams and thought I could bake some cupcakes to cheer them up. She wanted the cupcakes to say a few words of encouragement and this is what I came up with.

I did not have much time to think about the design nor do the decoration, so I tried to make it simple. The bears were added on to add 'life' to the cupcakes.
This bear says 'Perservere'.

This bear feeling the pressure of study...

And this one, my favourite, taking a well deserved break.

I heard the cupcakes were well received. And I've been requested to conduct a cupcake decoration lesson for the girls. Will find time...

If you are feeling stressed about study or work or family pressures, do encouraged by our Lord's promise :

Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version)
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A new interest - cooking

I hardly ever cook in my life. My only experiences were instant noodles, fried egg and maybe once, century egg porridge. But I've been reading magazines and books on cooking, just never had the guts to start.

You know, even when I bake chicken pie, the fillings were cooked by my domestic helper. So is the filling for my pineapple tart. I am hopeless when it comes to using the stove. But now we use the induction cooker and I feel it is more manageable. The 'fire' comes in a range of degrees - 120, 150, 180, much like the oven.

I was inspired by the Ngoh Hiang recipe posted on the Sunday times on 10th May. And last weekend, I was hit by the 'cooking bug'! I even visited the wet market (I probably can count the number I times I was in a wet market using a single hand).

On Saturday, I made wantan noodles and Ngoh Hiang.
On Sunday, I made 'Braised pork ribs with pumpkin' and 'three cup chicken'.

I thought it was quite a feat for a beginner and the results were good. Even hubby was impressed. I am extremely motivated. Look out for my posts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh

Yes, I had been baking, but since they are old recipes which I had already posted, I had no updates.
I spent last week and this week trying my hands at making one of my favourite desserts, the ondeh ondeh. I also prefer sweet potato in the dough, so I scored through the internet for recipes.
The first recipe I tried was from AromaCookery.
Sweet Potato Onde Onde
adapted from Amy Beh’s pumpkin onde onde recipe

150g sweet potato, cubed, steamed until soft and mashed
200g glutinous rice flour
pinch of salt
100ml water
1 tbsp tapioca flour

Filling :100g grated gula melaka combine with 1 tbsp sugar
Combine:200g grated coconut (white part only) and 1/4 tsp salt, then steam for 5 minutes and leave to cool. (This helps it to keep better.)

1. Bring water, salt and tapioca flour to a boil over low heat. Keep stirring until almost transparent.

2. Pour the mixture immediately into the glutinous rice flour in a largemixing bowl. Stir till it is well absorbed. Add the mashed sweet potato andmix well to form a dough. If dough is too soft, add a little moreglutinous rice flour. If it is too dry, wet your hands and knead the dough.
3. Divide dough into two and roll each portion intoa longish roll. Cut into small pieces.

4. Bring water to a boil in a deep saucepan. Roll the pieces ofdough into small balls with your palms. Then flatten the ball and put abit of the sugar mixture in the centre.

5. Pinch to seal, then roll againinto spheres. Drop the balls into boiling water until they float to the surface (about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes).

6. Remove the cooked balls with strainer.

7. Roll in grated coconut to coat.

The dough was easy enough. The grated gula melaka melted and became a large lump, not sure if it was because it I did not put in enough sugar. It was relatively easy to wrap. But as the balls rest on a plate while waiting to be boiled, the gula melaka melted and seeped through the dough. I was not satisfied with the results - 1) when eaten, the ondeh ondeh did not 'burst' in the mouth as it was supposed to. 2) the taste of sweet potato was not obvious (maybe the sweet potato is not of good quality) 3) its a tad hard. and 4) the gula melaka was of inferior quality and not 'fragrant'.
Most of all above.. is my fault.

So I got another recipe and tried again today.

This recipe is from Baking Mum. Hers is quite different from the above, has more sweet potato than flour and has less steps!


600 gm of steamed and mashed sweet potato
2 tbsp pandan juice (I omited as I did not have pandan leaves)
250 gm white coconut shreds (add 1/2 tsp of salt and steam)
150 gm tapioca flour
1 tsp green colour (if sweet potato used is orange in colour, omit the colouring)
3 tbsp castor sugar

Filling: 200 gm of gula melaka (cut into small pieces)

Mixed mashed sweet potato, tapioca flour, sugar, pandan juice and colouring (if used) and knead into a dough. If dough is dry, you can add some water (a tbsp at a time) until dough is soft and not dry.

Pinch some dough and make into a small ball.

Flatten it with your palm and put filling in it and wrap it up.

Boil a pot of hot water. When water boils, put the wrapped ondeh ondeh into the pot and let it cook. When ondeh ondeh floats to the top, the dough is cooked.

Roll cooked ondeh ondeh in the steamed white coconut shreds.

This time round, I chopped the gula melaka rather than grate and added quite a fair bit of caster sugar (which is a mistake!). The caster sugar kept the gula melaka from melting, but it also kept it from binding together, so when I filled the ondeh ondeh, it also trapped air in the dough ball! Some of the ondeh ondeh pops, but with little gula melaka, but with much air! Another disappointment.
But overall, I like this dough better. Able to taste the sweet potato and its also soft and chewy. I will definitely try this recipe again, until I can figure out how to put lots of gula melaka in there and not have it seep through the dough. Any advise you have will be welcomed.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Long weekend

A long weekend feels even longer when the oven's not working. Yes, the oven is down, had been down since two weeks ago. Which explains the long silence on the blog.

Spoilt a batch of portugese egg tarts the other day when after more than half an hour in the oven, the pastry refused to 'puff' up. The oven was supposed to be at 220 degrees, yet I can touch the pan with my bare hands!

The last two weeks had been bad too.. hence no time to call the service center.

Nathalie's rashes had been getting worse. Visited the docs three times in a week! The last visit was to KKH to see an allergy specialist. Took blood test to test for milk, wheat and nut allergy, will know the results tomorrow. The specialist also introduced a 'wet wrap' treatment for her, which includes through mosisturizing, then letting her wear a set of damp pyjamas followed by dry ones. As uncomfortable as it sounds, it really worked. After a couple of days of wet wraps treatment, her skin condition improved tremendously. We stopped only when she seem to have caught a chill.

Visiting the doctor tomorrow for followup and praying for good results to the blood test.

Gabriel appears to have some insect bites and he could not stop scratching, causing an infection. We tried to get an appointment with a dermatologist in KKH and Skin center, but was told that the next appointment will be late June! But God work miracles and sent help our way. We manage to get an appointment for tomorrow! Praise the Lord!

The oven will be fixed tomorrow. Really looking forward to bake something.