Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DIY Foam Stamps

Finally, a DIY craft project! I felt like I've been cooking a lot, more than I was crafting lately...
So last weekend, I made these simple foam stamps for myself and for Darren... he likes stamping! So cute, he even drew the shapes (copied me) on a sheet of paper and requested me to cut them.

This is such a fun and easy project! And the materials are cheap and easily available. That is, if you have Daiso around.

Essentially, you need wooden blocks ( I got a dozen from Daiso, measuring 3x3x3cm), foam sheets, a good sharp cutting blade and imagination!
I drew some shapes directly on the foam sheet and cut them out. You can also use punchers.

A good source for basic shapes is in Microsoft Word Dingbat fonts... I selected my shapes and adjusted the size so that it is slightly smaller than 3x3cm. I used the ruler guide to estimate, and did a test print in light grey shade so that I don't use up a lot of my black ink. When I'm happy with the size, I printed again on a thicker cardstock, then cut them out. These became my templates to trace on the foam sheet.
Then simply glue the cut out foam onto the wooden block. I used 4 surfaces and left two sides opposite each other empty for my fingers to hold, this makes stamping easier.

Christmas theme stamped wrapping paper.

Darren made me a sweet card :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Remembering him...

The other day, out of the blue, Daniel said I would've had another son if 'he didn't die hor'.

I am always prepared for jolting comments like that, so, composed, I let the conversation go on. I asked him if he remembered ( he was 6 when it happened), he said yes.

I asked him if he was scared ( or sad ), he said yes.

Our little pensive conversation felt like he was imagining what it would've been like if he was around today.

What a sensitive boy... and that made me happy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Making Mooncakes

I didn't know what came over me. I felt compelled to make something very Chinese, because I am a Chinese. And I really really wanted to give it a try even if it turns out bad. Well, the cakes turned out looking good! And they taste like mooncake! Of course I could never achieve the solid and smooth filling consistency like the commercial ones. But nevertheless, it tasted very homemade, and not too sweet. Here are the steps if you'd like to see...

I bought everything first but the lotus seeds, and when I finally went to the TCM shop to get them, I was quite shocked at the price. RM8.50 for a small pack of around 120g. 
I thought I'd save a lot of money making my own mooncakes. 
My hands instinctively took 4 packs and paid for them. At this point, my mind triggered an alarm, 
are you really going to do this? Spend so much for a failure? Just for fun, you say? Fine, up to you.

*said a prayer, please Goddess of Mooncake, bless my experiment*

Soak these gems in water overnight. Then remove the middle part which is bitter.

 Nah, this part here.

Boil them in a pot of water, until they're soft like potatoes.

Transfer the seeds to a blender or food processor. For this step, add water as you blend. The amount of water here depends on how easy it blends. I started without any water, so the seeds were still unblended at the sides while the middle part worked. So I gradually added water until the entire content was pureed.

Then comes the labour-intensive part. Transfer the puree into a pot on low to medium fire. Add 200grams of sugar. I added 100g  because I wanted it less sweet. You can start with 100g and as you dissolve it in the paste, taste it. Add more sugar as desired.
Also add 200ml of oil. I added half the amount, that was why my fillings weren't as smooth. I added Knife peanut oil, which made it more fragrant.
SO... stir stir stir! Mix them all well, and reduce it to a consistency like a dough. How? Lift the spoon, if the paste stick to it, this is it. It also depends on how diluted the puree was in the beginning. So the more water you added during blending, the longer you have to cook it in order to thicken it.

This next step is optional. I pressed the paste through a sieve to make it finer. You must be prepared to get your hands very messy.

Sieved! A portion of the whole lot...

Next, roll the paste into balls weighing 33-34g each.

I'm not kidding when the recipe says 33-34g. This is actually just nice for the mould. Oh, I did not include salted egg yolk in my mooncakes because I dislike it. You can keep the balls aside as you prepare the skin dough.
Oh, I must mention that for the amount of lotus seed I bought (around 480g), it yielded fillings for 26 mooncakes.

To prepare the skin dough for 12 mooncakes which most recipes are based on, mix 60g of golden syrup ( Lye's), 1/2 teaspoon of alkaline water and 28g of peanut oil. I bought the golden syrup, alkaline water (and the mould) from Phoon Huat. 
Mix well, then add in 100g of sieved plain flour/wheat flour. Mix with spatula, then knead gently into a dough. 
Ok, at this step, don't know why, I looked at the dough and though it wouldn't be enough for 12 mooncakes, so I made another batch and combined.

Wrap the dough with clingwrap and let it rest for 40 minutes to 1 hour. I chose 1 hour because I kiasi.

 HOKAY. When you are mentally ready, get these ready: Baking tray, mould, rolling pin, baking sheet about A4 size folded into half. And of course, the filling balls.
Scoop or pinch out a tablespoon of the skin dough, roll it a bit and place it between the baking sheet. 
Roll it into a thin disc, about 3.5" in diameter. How thin? I'd say, imagine how thick you want your mooncake skin to be, then the rolled out dough should be half of that desired thickness.

OK, at this point, your hands are going to get oily. I couldn't get anyone to take a photo of me holding the disc dough perilously in one hand and placing the filling ball in the middle of the disc dough, then wrapping it into a fully covered ball. If any filling is exposed, just gently manipulate the surrounding dough to cover it. I know this sounds hard, but surprisingly, the dough was very easy to manipulate because it's soft and oily.
Then, place it into the mould and press firmly all over. I bought the easy one, which is comes with an ejector. It is so easy!

 Ready to bake.

In a preheated oven, bake it at 180ºC for 8 minutes. During this time, prepare egg wash. Whisk as egg together with a table spoon of water. 
Remove mooncakes from oven to let them cool for 5-10 minutes.
Coat each mooncakes with egg wash using a brush. The top and sides.

Put them back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes. You can smell the aroma even after 5 minutes!

Remove from oven and let them cool on a rack.

They are ready to be enjoyed after one or two days. 

Tada! Looks good ya! I love the taste too. For those trying for the first time, good luck!!

I must thank Christine's recipe.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

My Weekend of Roast Chicken and Paper Petals...

Simplest roast chicken ever... and fail-proof!

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towel... very important to ensure crispy skin!
2. Rub salt all over... more like massage.
3. Stuff chicken's insides with one lemon (halved), one big red onion (quartered) and 5-6 cloves of garlic.
4. Mix 5 tablespoons of oil with some salt and 2-3 tablespoons of McCormick's Italian Herbs... or any rosemary, thyme, sage herb mix. Rub all over the chicken.
5. Bake at 230ºC for 1 hour 15 minutes.

 Guarantee jadi wan!
Accompany with mash potatoes. This one not from powder ok... it's authentic potatoes. Boiled with garlic cloves, mashed with butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Supposed to add cream cheese, sour cream and milk but was worried the lactose-intolerant men would not be able to stomach this dairy combo.
And for the first time, the husband used a potato masher. Just bought from IKEA. He said, "WHY DIDN'T WE GET THIS EARLIER!" It was mashed in 5 seconds. 

I also had to get these pictures done. I just love the colour combinations! Pink and rose, mint and ultra blue. So gorgeous.

I'll be trying new recipes these coming days... can't wait!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Zoom Park Johor

UPDATE: Zoom Park is relocating, until further notice.

This is one of those things that baffles me... I live here and I don't know about this place! I found out about Zoom Park Johor on Facebook when a friend liked their page, showing a National Day promotion of RM58 for 2 pax. I was like... there is a trampoline park in JB?? Ally... Ally...

So... go lah! Last weekend, after brunching at The Brew's Orchestra (previous post), we dropped by to surprise the boys.

Jump and flip into the sea of cube foams... haha.

Darren pretty much decided this was his favourite. He jumped, landed on a sitting position and bounced back up... and repeated.

See the girl sitting up there? She stayed there for almost 30 minutes because she didn't dare to jump down. A few friends climbed up to cheer her on, but to no avail. Hahahaha. Eventually, the park marshall 'ordered' her to come down, and she took the plunge.

Let me tell you what I observed. I don't know if it is a general thing or just this group of youngsters.

The ang moh and Malay kids really play. I mean, they jump, do back flips, somersaults, dives, all those gymnastic stunts.

The Chinese girls there jump on one spot, do cutesy in-the-air poses for photos. And giggle giggle. Aduhai mak engkau.

Anyways... we'll be back there!