The 面包 experience

Some people say that bread making is therapeutic especially when you are kneading the dough. My opinion? Incredibly stressful …on your FIRST attempt.

My first bread making experience started purely due to necessity. We had a day trip the following day and had to pack our own lunch. The easy way out was to prepare sandwiches but we had no bread. We could well go to the supermarket and buy a loaf but I thought it was a good opportunity to bake a loaf of bread!

I started reading up and gosh, how confusing it seemed! There were a lot of information that I had to take in: how yeast work, at what temperature will it be active, how to knead the dough, etc.

I am thankful that there are numerous resources and reading widely helped. My first attempt at Honey Wheat Bread was a success and I was amazed by yeast! My second bread was Currant Bread with Cinnamon Swirl and I got distracted while watching Masterchef. The bread turned out well, nonetheless, just that it has no swirl.

Honey Wheat Bread

Currant Bread with a Cinnamon Swirl

I’m eternally grateful for my mixer which makes life so much easier for me. =)Here I am. I’m making notes on it, so bear with me.

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Quiche Lorraine

Quiche, a French cuisine, is an oven-baked dish made with eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust. Usually, the pastry shell is blind-baked before the other ingredients are added. The most traditional quiche of all is a quiche Lorraine, made by pouring a custard mixture over pieces of bacon, and sometimes cheese, arranged in the tart shell.

A little history: Both France and Germany play roles in the history of the classic quiche Lorraine. Since sovereignty over Lorraine (now a province of northern France) has bounced back and forth between the two countries, the word quiche may have originated with the German Kuchen, meaning “cake” or “pastry”(Essentials of baking by Williams-Sonoma). A true quiche Lorraine would not have cheese as its ingredient.

I intend to make this for lunch and judging by the time needed to prepare the crust and then the baking of the contents, it would at least take me about 1.5 hours. It was my first time making the pastry crust and naturally, was quite fearful if it would turn out well.

I decided to make the basic pie and tart pastry dough (Pate Brisee) which is unsweetened pastry, normally called for in recipes for savory tarts such as quiches, dessert tarts or pies with very sweet fillings. I used a 10″ pie pan and followed the recipe found in James Paterson’s baking.

1 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs (help to make the pastry less tough)
2 tbsp additional water if dough is too dry

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix both flours and salt on slow speed (you don’t want the flour to start ‘flying’) for about 30 minutes. Add the butter and combine it with flour on low to medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the eggs and mix the dough on low to medium speed for 40 seconds up to 2 minutes. The end result should have the dough holding together in a clump. If not, add the 2 tbsp of water. Mine clumped together effortlessly. Thank goodness!

Flatten the dough into a disk on a non-slipped pastry mat. I love this mat because it has markings on it which guides me on the size of dough. Roll out the dough that is big enough to cover your pan (at least 4 inches wider).

This stage is called baking “blind” in which the shell is baked empty before any filling is added. Blind baking the shell is necessary because when liquid or semiliquid fillings are cooked in a shell, the shell must be pre-baked or the filling will keep the shell from getting hot enough to become crispy.

     

As you can see from the picture, I didn’t roll out the dough at least 4 inches wider in diameter. Thinking that it was good to be able to cover the pan, I just left it as it was.

  

Into the oven it went, at temperature of 400 F for about 15 minutes for the edge of the tart to turn pale brown and about15 minutes more for the inside of the shell to turn golden brown and look matte instead of shiny. After 10 minutes, I opened the over door and checked and to my horror, the sides had shrunk! I have to think of repairwork because if it continued to be ‘pulled down’, I could not fill the shell with liquid!

 

 So, I did some patch work with the additional dough I had. I’m not sure if it will stick with the existing shell but it’s worth a try. To solve the previous problem, I should have placed a parchment paper over the shell and put dried beans to keep the shell from puffing up in the oven. It worked and after being baked, I set it aside.

For the content of the quiche, you would need
Egg wash to seal the tart shell
1 1/2 cup of flavourful cheese ( I used Gruyere)
4 slabs of thick-sliced bacon
2 eggs
1 cup milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper

1. Prebake the tart shell. Brush with egg wash and bake for 5 minutes more to seal. Reduce heat to 300 F.

2. Cook the bacon strips over medium heat for about 6 minutes, until they barely begin to brown. Remove, drain on a paper towel. Cut them into 1/3-inch-thick slices.

3. Beat he eggs until combine and then beat in the milk and cream. Add a little pepper.

4. Sprinkle bacon over the tart shell, then spread the cheese over it. Pour the eg mixture last.

5. Place the quiche on a sheet pan for about 40-45 minutes ot until set – there’s no motion on the surface when you move it back and forth. Mine took longer than 45 minutes and I turned up the heat to 350F and baked till set.

Note to self:
1) If dough is not used immediately, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
2) My rolled-out dough was too thick this time round. Consider a thinner shell.
3) Consider putting spinach in the quiche.

Cooking adventures…

It’s difficult to plan and cook for 100 people but Sarah and I decided to take up the challenge again to cook for the fellowship. Her idea was to prepare our own version of the kimbap but was not sure if it would take off. “I think it would work. Just try. That’s no harm trying!” I assured her.

So, we and our hubs took the Saturday to help prepare the ingredients (this, after watching Harry Potter and Dim Sum for lunch). It involved a lot of shredding, cutting, frying and cooking of the rice. It was definitely an enjoyable time with the Tays and we ended the night with some exercise at their gym.

The next day, it seemed that God had planned the timing well. we bumped into the Tays at the entrance and they needed help to carry the many bagfuls of food inside!

And so we started preparing the table for the 100 people who would be coming in to have lunch. It was not easy to gauge the amount and I must admit we were poor at it. The rice was indeed insufficient but all other ingredients were ample. The people really love their carbs!

The people liked the concept; it’s a nice change from the normal kind of meal that we had. It pays to JUST TRY! (ZM, did you hear that?!).

So, it was more cooking at home. Sometimes, I was frustrated because the food turned out poorly, edible surely but not delectable. Yesterday, for example, I wanted to cook the hubs’ favourite dish – ngoh hiang (deep fried meat roll). To me, it was an easy dish but the bean curd skin baffled me. I took the skin out while preparing the meat and when I was able to wrap it, the skin went dry…irritatingly dry! Is it the humidity? Or is it supposed to be like this – that you take out the skin only when you are ready to roll? Another mistake I did was to put the ngoh hiang into the oven. Minutes into the baking/ roasting (I don’t know what), the smell didn’t seem right. It has to be deep-fried but I have decided not to since I didn’t want the kitchen to reek of smoke. But they are not meant to be baked/roasted and in the end, I pan-fried them. I know it is possible to steam too but let’s just try. Hubs said the dish was okay and had the taste but I know there’s so much more that could be improved.

Currant bread with cinnamon swirl

A few days ago, Ken also introduced me to a website where I could view the past episodes of many different shows and I was hooked on to Masterchef. While watching it yesterday, I attempted to bake Currant bread with Cinnamon Swirl and FORGOT to add in the egg when the mixer was at work! Dang! I was distracted! And for the first time, I used a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk (to add to the yeast) and also chicken breast (for my soup noodles) but it wasn’t much of a help. Sometimes using my instinct is better but I know too that I ought to learn how to use it properly.

The bread turned out fine (phew) although it took a mighty long time for the dough to rise (oh! by the way, the cinnamon didn’t swirl…sigh). The breast was overcooked (sigh) and it was hard. Apart from these experiences, cooking the other dishes for the past few days was satisfying. I adapted some of the dishes from the cookbook and did it the way I wanted it. My fried rice turned out well (at last!). It may seem like a easy dish to do but to achieve that kind of standard (not damp) and have the grains of rice flavoured without using too much of any sauces takes experience (in my opinion). I followed how Terry cooked his egg fried rice and improvised it. I’m happy it turned out okay!

Stir-fried Green Beans with Hoisin Sauce, Garlic and Bacon

Braised Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce Noodles

Egg fried rice with Lap Cheong, carrots and green beans.

Thanksgiving

Even though I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I think it is good to be grateful and count our blessings.

Let’s see. I’m thankful for:
(1) My life. The fact that I am alive and lack nothing is a wonderful gift from God, not forgetting the gift of salvation. Thank you, dear Lord.

(2) A wonderful husband. So loving, gentle, supportive and gracious. I’m blessed. Thank you , dear Lord.

(3) My family and a loving family-in-law. I know I can count on my family whenever I am in trouble. Though I may receive a lot of nagging from them (esp the older folks, heheh), I know deep within, they care and love me much.  My family-in-law, especially the four of them, are just terrific. Thank you, dear Lord.

(4) Friends. I don’t have a lot of friends but those few who are close to me are good enough for me. Though we may not meet often, I know they will be there when I need them. You know who you are. I appreciate you deeply.

Am also thankful for new friends in Boston, like the 2 couples. We had a smashing time with the Tays for 2 consecutive days during Thanksgiving period – first at Wrentham and then yesterday for Harry Potter and to make preparation for food for the fellowship. Both Ken and I enjoyed their company tremendously; they are truly God-given.

(5) God. He’s the reason for for my living. Thank You for guiding me throughout. I’m lost without You.

Meal combination: Braised Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce + Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Garlic & Carrots

My latest project, apart from reading up and experiment with cooking and baking various recipes, is to attempt to try out the recipes found in Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. Her recipes are pleasantly familiar and I intend to cook through the recipes in the cookbook, but making changes to the servings such that they would be appropriate for TWO and to tweak the ingredients and the method of cooking to suit my style; I suspect it would largely resemble my mom’s cooking.

The project is called Eats for 2 and I’ll start with Chinese cuisine, although at times I would attempt other cuisine too.

Today’s meal is Steamed rice + Braised Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce + Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Garlic & Carrots. You could top it up with a bowl of soup to make it more complete. =p The total time taken for them to be cooked excluding steamed rice is about 35 minutes. I used dutch oven to cook the chicken and wok to stir-fry the bean sprouts. In this way, I can cook two dishes simultaneously rather to have to wait for the first dish to be completed and then risk having them served cold. I’ve tried cooking the chicken using the wok too and I find both methods work well though I very much prefer the dutch oven since the food stays warm even after the heat has been turned off.

As with most cooking, the recipes are just a guide. Sometimes, you might not find that they suit your tastebuds and that’s why it is important to experiment with them. Oh! I forgot to mention. The portion here might be a tad little for some as both Ken and I are small eaters. As a gauge, we share a meal when we eat out.

    

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We survived Black Friday!

What do you think of when we mentioned Thanksgiving?

Family gathering? Turkey? Stuffing? Football?

For many of us in America, we also have one thing in mind – Black Friday! This is the start of the big shopping season, i.e. great deals! This is a great activity that draws people and family together as they pore over the discounts and emails from various retailers (my email inbox was flooded and I was bombarded by Sale! Sale! Sale!). You need certain strategies in order to gain from it. Knowing what you want to buy is important and it’s a good test to see if you are easily tempted. =p

The four of us (S, KK, Ken and I) set off at around 8pm for Wrentham, the village for premium outlets. The streets in our neighbourhood were quiet, like a ghost town. As we approached the shopping area, we realised that people were already on their way there, ready for action. After dinner, we started to queue; it was 11pm.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There was no rushing in; people were civilised. Ken and I were at Eddie Bauer (we were first in the line!) and came out satisfied with our purchase of the winter wear, all of which were at 40% discount. Ken also got his winter boots from Timberland after KK msg him if he wanted to share the deal with him (2nd pair @ 50%  discount).

I, of course, was absolutely delighted with my second acquisition of a Le Creuset product – a cast-iron skillet. The discount was huge! I think in the end, I got it at half of its retail price. I was tempted to buy a larger cast-iron dutch oven so that I could cook a whole chicken in it but decided that I shouldn’t be swayed by the offer. Maybe next time! Heheheheh.

After 3 hours, we were tired and headed back. Many more were coming and there was a huge traffic jam. Phew! It’s good to go earlier!

In the kitchen.

I spent a mammoth amount of time in the kitchen – reading up, experimenting, tasting and recording of those experiences. So you would expect that the kitchen would grow with time  ( i.e. more equipment & crowded).

I paused one day and examined my favourite area in the apartment and realised the change. Three months on and it has grown and I, too, in terms of my culinary experience.

I also observed another habit of mine – borrowing a lot of books to read up even though I might not have the time to do so. I have this habit since my school days. I would look up on a lot of books and research papers, have them on the table before I could start my assignment. So, in those days especially near to the end of the semester/modules, the dining table belonged to me and no one was to disturb the orientation of the materials because I know exactly where to find certain information and articles. In the same way, I have borrowed and purchased a lot of cookbooks to read up on and they have been helpful for me to understand how certain food reacts to different levels of heat and how various methods of cooking work. Of course there are a lot of resources online but I belong to the old school; I prefer a book. And you could have imagined – I occupied a larger proportion of the table in the kitchen. Poor Ken has only 1/4 of it most of the time. =p

James Peterson of the book ‘Cooking’ shared on his experience:
“Everytime I cook, there’s something a little new- something that makes the process interesting. …each dish involves a discovery, which means I rarely make the same thing exactly the same way twice. In other words, learning to cook well requires a willingness to experiment and to be less than perfect. It also demands repetition. Proficiency and, ultimately, perfection require trial and error in the kitchen until you get a feel for how dishes go together. Most cooking is based on a handful of basic techniques that, once understood, will allow you to discover your own cooking style and find confidence in the kitchen…”

On good cooking, he said that it is based on doing lots of little things correctly without taking shortcuts and by a profound reverence for ingredients – for letting them express their own character. And as a teacher, he always tells students, especially the ones who want to become chefs, to read, read and read.

I love cooking and baking and each day it delights me when I learn new things about the craft. My recent bread baking attempt thrilled me and there is so much to learn about food and cooking.

I am only at the beginning of this culinary journey.

Flour – Joanne Chang

Lunch time was over, I thought, but why were there still so many people?

It was 1.30pm. Ken and I had checked into Flour Bakery and Cafe at Farnsworth Street. I had a mission – to check out the acclaimed sticky buns.

The cafe was crowded and before us was a long queue. I was afraid that we would not be able to get a table; I had wanted to chill here. Thankfully, the customers left after they had finished their meals and we were able to get our seats.

I like the casual setting of this cafe, the friendly staff and above all, the affordable food. Where would you find a nice cafe with good pastries and cakes and drinks that are around $2-$3 each? I had my first bite of the sticky bun and instantly felt in love with it. Ken’s grilled roast chicken sandwich experience would have been perfect if not for the relatively long waiting time. Since good food has to be given time to prepare, we were quite all right with it.

 

Of course, I must also admit that I went because of the owner/pastry chef Joanne Chang. I had read about her and felt that I quite like this lady. I’m not sure if it is due to the fact that she is an avid runner that struck a chord with me (she has competed in every Boston Marathon from 1991 – 2006). Perhaps, it could also be her personality? Outgoing, open and personal (or maybe it’s because I like her loft kitchen?). Whatever it may be, I like this honors graduate of Harvard College enough to purchase her newly published cookbook.

So, it’s not the sticky buns that I first tried my hands on. It would be something really simple like the Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Adapted version – pg108). I’ll reserve sticky buns for another day.

I do think that I would be going back to the cafe again. =)

Chicken macaroni soup

Today was windy and it made running very difficult indeed – the breathing part, I mean. And it was indeed a very quiet day with few people on the streets. Perhaps, they have gone back home for Thanksgiving.

Following the advice of ZM, I decided to do something soupy and since the fridge has drumsticks and I really wanted to finish up the macaroni, it would not be difficult to guess what I would be preparing.

I love chicken soup, especially with dear ginger because to me, it is really comforting. Using 3 drumsticks (remember to clean them with kosher salt), 8 slices of ginger, scallions and 3 garlic cloves (crushed), place them in a pot and fill water to a level that is 1.5 inch above the drumsticks. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, cut carrots into stripes. I’m using carrots since that is the only vegetable available in the fridge. I would have used caixin or lettuce if I have them. When the water is boiling, reduce to medium heat and remove the scum. Cook until the meat is ready and tender. Then clear the soup by removing the ingredients in the stock. You may want to add soy sauce or a little salt to add to the flavour of the stock. I just added a drop of soy sauce since the stock was already rich the way I like it.

Fill another pot with water and add a tbsp of salt. It’s time to blanch the carrots (first) and to cook the macaroni, the latter for about 10 minutes. Once they are cooked, place the macaroni, carrot stripes and drumstick on a bowl and pour the stock over them. Garnish with coriander leaves. There you go, a simple lunch for two!

=)

Soon after moodiness engulfed me, I received comments and email from concerned friends, giving me useful tips to survive this period. Thank you, dear friends. I’m touched!

That same night, the Kahs called us and asked if we wanted to try out driving a mini cooper. It was A’s birthday and her hubby rented that car for her since it was her favourite and they thought of us! They wanted me to try driving here since I expressed fear in doing that; I still had not gotten used to left-hand-drive and the traffic here!

So, it was with great trepidation that I manoeuvred the machine and my first time driving an auto-car! The three passengers were ever so encouraging and guided me on the directions. So there you are, my first attempt at driving in the US and I made it! My goal? To drive out of the city and come back safely!

=(

I’m not sure if the weather has anything to do with my mood. It gets dark so early that I am reluctant to go out when the clock strikes 4pm.

I was supposed to go for the volunteer support meeting and I was dragging my feet as the hour approached. I wanted to stay home, in my warm abode. When the train came, I reached into my pocket and realised that I did not bring along my T-card and I turned back, not to go home to get the card but to stay at home for the evening.

I dislike the cold weather and definitely darkness. Since we are going to be here for the next one year, I guess I would have to think positively.

I think I should set myself some goals (random thought); it’s time to think about goals for 2011!

Cutting hubs' hair...

maybe nutella cupcakes can cheer me up?

History came alive!

Thanksgiving is round the corner and we joined the FOCUS group for a day-trip out to Plimoth Plantation to learn more about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives.

It would be ideal to go on your own (1 hour-drive from Boston) since you would need to stick to a certain timing if you go with a big group. The wonderful thing about this place or attraction is that we are not just going there to view the exhibits; there are people, descendants of the natives and actors role-playing the pilgrims. So, it is rather interactive and you get to ask burning questions about the past. They also have sites that replicate the scene of yonks ago.

I like it and would love it if we have more time. There is a quiz of about 7 pages worth of questions for each group to complete. We teamed up with A & J but being the slackers that we were, they did most of the job. So, be reminded that if you want to win, don’t select us as your members (hehehhe). But in the end, we won! Hah!

The trip ended with a Thanksgiving dinner in church. Wonderful! And now I have a better understanding of Thanksgiving. =)

What would you do?

What would you do, if someday, someone came up to you and told you a story.

It could be anyone. It could be your parents, your best friend, a relative, even a complete stranger.

They’d say,
“You know, it’s probably about time you heard this story. You’re certainly old enough to think for yourself and decide for yourself what to do with it.

A long time ago, when you were very young, a pretty amazing thing happened that you might not remember.

You may not know it, but that event changed your life.”

“You were pretty young back then. Old enough to get around on your own.
One day, you were playing outside with your mum watching over you, when she had a minor emergency to tend to at the back of the house.  I don’t quite remember what it was.”
“Anyhow, she rushed off, with a stern warning to you not to wander too far away.”
“Which of course, you did.  Not TOO far. Not very far at all I think.

But you did end up in a nearby construction site. Someplace where you’ve been told before not to go.”

“You could get around by yourself, but you were still pretty young and I don’t think you understood the danger you were in.
It may be hard for you to understand it even now. Sitting here listening to this story, it probably feels like it happened to someone else…
But you were in danger.”
“We still don’t know the cause of what happened, but several girders from on high were suddenly tumbling down towards you.
You would have died had it not been for Him.”
“As you were playing, oblivious to the danger you were in, He came running towards you, pushing you out of harm’s way.”
“He saved your life.”
“And for that, He was crushed.
The skin of his back was torn, lacerated by the rivets on the girder.
His lungs were crushed. His legs broken. His side pierced through.”
“He gave His life for you.  Your life is a gift.  I just thought you should know that.”
How would you respond?  How could you respond to something so dramatic?
Would you even believe it? Perhaps it would sound too fantastical to believe? So you’d just choose to ignore it?
Leave the past to the past and go along your merry way? Secure in the knowledge that you’re not the one who died?
Would you at least give it the dignity of further enquiry?  Convinced that this story of your life was worth closer examination before you decided?
Would you feel the need to examine your own life more closely? Acknowledge that your life is indeed a gift, dearly paid for by someone else?
Would you want to try to get to know your savior better? Launch an inquiry into who this person actually is, and what made Him give His life for you?
“They wrote a book about Him y’know?”
“Kinda about Him anyway. It’s a little about His life, a little about His purpose in life.  About who He is, and what He did and why He did it.”
“…”
“…”
“Would you like to read it?”

TGIF

I ❤ Fridays for it is a day when the hubs and I have nothing on our schedule and we could just do what we like. A typical day goes like this:

After breakfast which always includes a cup of coffee for me, we would go jogging and today was my first time since the marathon. It was cold though (about 3 C) and we had to decided a short run would suffice.

It was preparing for lunch and today was FFWD and I cooked Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux. It was an easy dish and really delicious! We both loved the bread in it which had soaked up all the juices that the chicken thighs exuded. Satisying meal!

Since we are going on a day-trip tomorrow and need to pack lunch, I decided to try my hands on baking bread so that we could have sandwiches! It was a first time for bread! I was excited yet apprehensive as the more I read about baking bread, the more I feel foreign to the whole thing; it’s complicated! The yeast , for example, has to be mixed with water/milk at a certain temperature and bummer, I didn’t have a thermometer! So I had to use my feel and hoped that it would turn out fine. The whole process took rather long as the dough needed to be risen and then kneaded and left untouched before it could be placed in the oven.

So, while waiting for it to rise, we took a walk to the nearby supermarket to buy ham for tomorrow. It was a nice walk and to admire the sights around us. Winter is coming. The trees are shedding their leaves.

Back home, the dough, after kneaded and left for a while in the loaf pan could be baked. During the process, the aroma made me real hungry and thankfully it was going to be dinner time and there I was again, up and about, preparing for dinner!

The bread turned out beautiful! Cool! I would be baking more bread now! It’s such an encouragement! Dinner was braised chicken thigh with egg noodles. I think I could try to create my own recipes and contribute them to a site which I was recently invited to by a NZ food writer. Obviously, I could only do Chinese for now since I’m more familiar with the cuisine. Let’s just see how I could progress as the days pass!

So, I guess it would be busy times ahead for me, and more eating!

Honeymooners class: Lesson 5

The Gender Gap – Have we bridged it? 
” Your willingness to accept the differences between you will allow you to complement one another in ways that make life better for each of you.” ~ C. W. Neal
We didn’t manage to attend this class since we were busy in the kitchen cooking for the fellowship. But the ‘kiasu’ me borrowed the book and read it and I felt that I should pen down these information for keepsake.,

We all know men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In other words, we are really VERY different. Though we may think that we have found a soulmate in each other, the fact is, our partner is really not like our kind. Biblically, Adam lived in the only Paradise that has ever existed on this earth, felt no pain and shed no tears. But even so, loneliness flourished and God determined that it was not “good” for man to be alone – something was missing and He responded by creating Eve – not another Adam.

The authors commented that when a man and woman marry, the partner makes up for what the other lacks. When we are discouraged, they are hopeful. When we are stingy, they are generous. Because we are are male and female joined togeter, there is wholeness. But, the important thing is, our differences, if not understood and accepted, become a source of confusion rather than completeness.

It is thus crucial that we do not evaluate our partner’s behaviour according to our feminine or masculine standards and that we consider the vast differences between the sexes.

So how are we different? The book gave a summary of what we should know about the opposite sex and I find it so true!

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=)

We survived three months! Nope, it should be, we enjoyed the three months.

It’s not as bad as I thought. Relocating has its fair share of worries and uncertainties but we managed to meet wonderful people who made our stay here purposeful and heart-warming. Above all, we are thankful to the One who made all these possible.

After the marathon, I asked myself what’s next? But you know what? I’ve been busy!

1. Been going to the library and borrowed yet more books, not forgetting the slow (but steady) and increasing collection of cookbooks that were purchased in my short time here. The hubs was commenting that if guests were to come to our place, they would think that I am the one studying here instead of him. hehehe..

The recent addition was Flour which gave me quite a headache. It was initially not delivered although the system tracked that it had. Wrote a few emails to the carrier company and then to Amazon and the latter eventually sent another copy to me. Nice policy they have and I like that they value customer service. But the initial non-delivery made me miss my book-signing opporunity by the author. But I will be going to her pastry shop this coming Monday! Yay!

2. I’ve increased one more day of volunteering at the elementary school. Although sometimes I feel I would be better off being at home relaxing and thus dread going to school, the rewards of seeing the children listen to you and learning new stuff made you happy and this gave me the strength to go on. Today, Ms H talked about Thanksgiving during reading lesson and I learnt much from the lesson, as well as from the students!I’m so going back to school!

3. Had spent more time with friends here. Remember the time when we were schooling and we would hang out with friends and just chill? I experienced that again! Since S and I were not really working, we could go out just by giving each other a text msg. I don’t think I could do that in my busy state in Singapore. The other night, Ken and I just called to pop by A & J’s place for a swim. Today, S and I came together and baked a sponge cake decorated with fondant for A. It’s so troublesome decorating with fondant especially if we made it ourselves. I am really not good at decorating cakes and dread the lesson on it (remember my home-based culinary programme? I’m into the topic on cakes now!).

4. I found myself falling more and more in love with the hubs and I love hanging out with him! He’s so funny at times and so gentlemanly. Ahhh….love it! Thank you Lord for all your blessings!

 

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake: A Basic

Do you think it’s weird to have cheesecake as breakfast? Maybe not weird but I do find that it is too rich for a breakfast meal.

I had baked the tall and creamy cheesecake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours and it was ready to be consumed in the morning.

I am not proficient in cakes…yet. Lack of experience is one thing but my decorating skill can really be a laughing stock. Nevertheless, there has to be a beginning to learning how to bake and decorate a cake and I chose Dorie’s cheesecake recipe to bake.

Dorie’s recipe provided a step-by-step set of instructions which was really helpful. Of course, it would help visual-learners like me if there are pictures. They still work nonetheless. I was able to follow 90% of the instructions except for the water bath: I did not have a roasting pan. To make up for that, I placed the springform pan on a double layer of baking sheets.

A slice of cheesecake is priced rather high for a reason, I believe. It takes a mighty long time to bake and the ingredients (the cream cheese) are a tad pricier than other desserts. Precision goes into the baking and it gave me a feeling that I was in a laboratory, being mindful of the time each process had to take and tomake sure I had carried out each step correctly. Interesting.

My cheesecake came out all right, not excellent but okay. The crumbs are a bit moist and the interior of the cheesecake, a tad moist too. Perhaps I should have left the cheesecake longer in the oven, say about 10 minutes more. It’s still a good cheesecake nonetheless.

I’m adding more information from this source to put on my site as a depository for myself. Do go to this page and learn and experiment more from Dorie Greenspan’s book! Her recipes are really great!

Notes:

– Large cheesecakes need to bake slowly and, of course, evenly, and a water bath — in which the spring-form pan is placed within a larger pan with about an inch of boiling water — ensures that the heat around the pan will be even and gentle. This method also prevents bottom or side crusts from forming on the cake, so that the only crust is the top. To make sure that the water won’t leak into the pan, wrap the base and the sides of the pan in aluminum foil. The easiest way to do this is to make a cross with two overlapping long pieces of foil, put the pan in the center and lift up the foil. Make sure the foil is higher than the water level.

– Ready-made graham cracker crumbs are available at the store, but you can whir whole crackers around in a food processor to make your own. Or you can put them in a Zip-loc bag and pulverize them with a rolling pin. Don’t worry about the crumbs being uniform.

– Butter the spring-form pan well, and press the crumbs into the pan. Give the bottom a good layer of crumbs and then work your way up the sides of the pan to around the midpoint. You’ll probably have a thinner layer around the sides and it might be raggedy, and that’s fine. A wavy layer around the sides of the cake is pretty.

– Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. If the cream cheese isn’t at room temperature, it’s harder to smooth it during beating and lumps are a cheesecake’s nemesis.

– To unmold the cake from the pan, you can dip the pan into a sink filled with hot water, but that’s messy. The best tool for removing the sides is a hairdryer. Warm the sides of the pan with the dryer and then remove them. Leave the cake on the pan’s base — you’ll serve from it. If the cheesecake has softened a bit from the heat, smooth the sides with a spatula or knife, if necessary, and then pop the cake back into the refrigerator for a little while.

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Loving the weekends (part II)

Cooking for 100 people can be challenging, especially when you have no experience of cooking for such a number before.

But great fun we had. Our commander-in-chief, Terry, was in charge of Egg fried rice and he had an awful time with the rice cooker. Thankfully, in the end, all was ok but we had a lot of rice left over. I did Sukiyaki which is easy once we had all the ingredients all cut up. Because it was just dump, dump, dump and let them cook in the heat after that. =p Raymond did the frying of the dumpling while Daisy did the boiling. Ken, Siling and Peter did the background work of cutting up the ingredients which was so crucial and helpful. And in the end, we were given more food by people from the mission conference. Yea! God provides!
Our menu: Egg Fried Rice, Sukiyaki, Baguettes, muffins, boiled and fried dumpling, fruit and vegatable salad.

The important helpers

Terry, cooking the egg fried rice

The short girl had to resort to tip-toeing to cook

In all, we had fun, I mean I had great joy in cooking in the kitchen. All the pots and pans were BIG and the stove was high and in the end, I had to tip-toe to cook. It’s definitely not for a short girl like me =p.

Ken did a good leading of the discussion in the small group and I really do feel that is his gifting.

In conjunction with the Missions Conference week by the church, there was a Jesus Viewfinder Photography Exhibition which displayed the lives and work of the church’s missionaries. Of the many photos, one spoke to me. It was a picture of a rather basic kitchen and it’s entitled The Aluminium Chef.

‘Culinary arts are high fashion today. We prize the cooking as much as the food. But the important elements aren’t the tools: Faithfulness  to feed all the hungry; physically, emotionally and spiritually. Perfect strangers as well as your own children. This is the one thing needed. Love for those you’re feeding, for the very act of feeding, this is the finest ingredient. Jesus Christ calls me to live out Faithful Love, whether my gifts and resources are that of the Iron Chef, or more like this Aluminium Chef. This is my God’s call.’

Well said.

Next weekend, we are going to have History lesson at Plymouth. Yea!

My love affair

I am unfaithful. I committed infidelity.

I had a long standing relationship with bags. I love bags and have many since Secondary School days. I could spent hundreds of dollars on one. Remember Chantal Thomass? Sonia Rykiel? Jean Paul Gaultier? ELLE? Those were my love when I was schooling.

Starting work, I upgraded to the bigger players like Coach, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Longchamp and Burberrys. Suddenly, I found myself being able to own the bags I have been eyeing/ coveting when in school. Can you understand why I am so broke now?

Not that I don’t love bags now. I still do but they no longer hold a big portion of space in my heart. Something else has filled that gap. I’m not sure if it has to do with age. Perhaps?

I love those kitchenware and baking stuff now. Every week, I would go to Marshalls and admire those pots and pans and dutch ovens. Last Wednesday, I saw a twin PINK non-stick round grill by KitchenAid. What beauty! And then more Le Creuset pots were on the shelves!

Le Creuset! Oh my, these French stuff! I am drooling even as I am writing this post. They are so beautiful, both on the stovetop and on the dining table. Oh, they are those prized possession you should be placing on your kitchen shelf. I mean, who wouldn’t love them, seriously?

If you don’t know what I am talking about, you could refer to Sunday Times’ Lifestyle (14 November 2010) on Appetite for luxe gadgets. More Singaporeans are aware of these lovely things, perhaps a result of more travelling and studying/working overseas. While our counterparts in the west have enjoyed these products for many years, we are introduced to them only recently (in a mass-market sense).

Source: ST (14 November 2010)

As the report went, each of these Le Creuset’s pots (and I believe they are the cast-iron ones) cost between S$300 to S$600. Like bags, they can last a long time, a few generations, if you take care of them. And they are evergreen; they are not fads. Unlike cars, they do not depreciate in value and do not have to be scraped in a number of years’ time. Some people change cars in a matter of 5 years but these kitchenware stay with you for a lifetime!

I’d rather invest in my kitchen now. Ok, I am aware that we don’t have to buy luxury products to whip up good food (although you absolutely need fresh produce) and perhaps I am consumed by consumerism (something my dear hubs has always abhored). But, pray, allow me to indulge. =p

LC outlet @ Wrentham Village

So, I’m looking forward to Black Friday @ Wrentham Village. I will be in the queue for Le Creuset and see if I could get some good deals.

The only problem? How to ship them back to Singapore and the possibility of mom fighting with me over them (though the probability of the latter happening is rather slim).

Loving the weekends

Weekends in Boston are totally different from those back home. Our calendars are full and we find ourselves busier, for the better.

We invited the two couples for dinner and of course, the game that gelled us – Dominion! I cooked wanton mee with char siew and prawn wantons with vinegar dressing. I think the latter was rather salty; I need to tweak the recipe. It was fun having them over and we could have played into the nights but being the kind souls they were, they decided that we should need rest since we are not night owls. Yea, we needed that as we had to get up early the next day for another adventure.

    

                    

So, the next day, we got up early to participate in Love Boston Day, an event our Church organised to involve us in the community. There were many areas that we could help out with and we chose to distribute food to the low-income people at Harvard Food Pantry. We had fun doing it and I learnt what ‘fennel’ is through it since I’m in charge of distributing this veg! It’s really a blessing to be able to render help to others; I felt our spirits were lifted too!

After that, we had lunch at Penang Malaysian Cuisine at Chinatown. Oh! The food here was delicious! Just like those back home!!!! We had Roti Canai, Char Kway Tiao, Bak Kut Teh, Yam pot with seafoof and Kang Kong balachan. Heavenly!!!!

         

This is Kenneth teaching Shanghainese Terry how to eat Roti Canai. Shortly after, 4 men and a woman went to the supermarket and purchased a trolley-load of food. For…?

It’s our turn tomorrow to cook for the people in PSIF…100 of them! Whoah! And we would have a chance to cook in a real kitchen, a professional one. =)

I so felt the warmth and God’s love from the fellowship of these people. It’s like back to the times when I was a youth and was attracted to the people in the Youth Fellowship. People were genuinely caring for one another. No farcade, no pretense. I really do think that we are living out The Fellowship of the Believers in Acts 2. We see people change as a result. More please! More of such love on earth!

Stay tuned!

FFWD: Caramel-topped semolina cake

It’s French Fridays with Dorie! Today, I’m gonna make the semolina cake. Thankfully I was able to find both farina and Cream of Wheat at Shaws and in the end, I bought the former.

It was a good change to the breakfast menu for us. I had fun baking it too thought I think more caramel could be used.

=)

Mongolian Beef

Recently, I went to the library and got hold of Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. As I flipped through the pages, the familiar pictures and recipes got me excited. I am so gonna cook them!

The recipes are divided into differnt categories: stocks, soups, beef, pork, chicken, duck, seafood, eggs, tofu, vegetables, salads, rice, noodles and wantons and side dishes and pickles. Hmm, let’s see if I could cook 80% of them before I return the cookbook. =p

This dish, called Mongolian Beef (not sure why it is called that) requires knife skills as you need to slice the carrots and red pepper and shred the cabbage. I did without the red pepper since Ken and I don’t quite like it. The combination of the meat and vegetables gives colour to the dish. Serve with steamed rice.

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Experiment – Char Siew Sauce

We are going to have guests coming over for dinner and naturally, I would be preparing something that I’m more familiar with, which is Chinese dishes. I was considering Fried carrot cake and sweet & sticky roasted honey chicken since I have attempted them before. In the end, I changed to Char Siew Wanton Mee.

My goal is those Wanton Mee that I ate in Hong Kong. Their wantons are bigger, unlike those back home and their noodles have a certain texture to it. My biggest worry is not the wantons or dumplings but the char siew because I need to be able to marinate them well and then to roast them.

So, I went to the Asian supermarket at Chinatown and asked the lady over at the meat section which section of the pork is suitable for Char Siew. “This one, right in front of me!” And I purchased the whole long piece of it for about US$5. Along with the purchased was the Char Siew sauce.

It’s experiment time! Cutting two pieces from the original piece of pork, I marinated one with the ready-made sauce that I purchased and marinated the other piece with my own sauce mixture.

 

Ken preferred the ready-made sauce while I preferred the other, just that it was missing out on something. There is still time before Friday and it’s time to do more research and testing!

Char Siew noodles for dinner.
* Choose pork loin with some fatty part or pork butt to make Char Siew.

Wicked brownie bites

I think I need chocolates. It’s my comfort food but they need to be found in cookies, bread or other pastries. Looking through the cookbook Bite-size Dessert, I saw a recipe that I could attempt – Wicked Brownie Bites.

The writer Carole Bloom described them as wicked because they were intensely flavoured, bursting with deep dark chocolate and toasted walnuts. Ahh…just what I need! The recipe calls for the brownies to baked in mini muffin pans; I love it! Remember the mess I made when I baked brownies the previous time? I hope the turnout would be neater using the muffin pan.

And they came out beautifully. The brownies were intense just like what was described. Hmmm….this is nice! If only I could have a cup of coffee!

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The road to recovery…

…seemed so painful and slow. The legs were feeling better by the second day but the body continued to be under the weather. I was sniffing and coughing and having sore throat. Arghh….this was not a good feeling!

The hubs bought back nearly 3 pounds of ground beef (*faint*) yesterday and I guess we would be consuming them for the next few meals.

So it would be meatball spaghetti on the menu!

My version of meatballs = ground beef + sweet onion + thyme + egg + parmesan cheese + salt & pepper.

Cook the meatballs in a large frying pan for about 12 minutes, turning occasionally until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Discard the oil and place the pan over medium-low heat. Pour the tomato sauce (thank God for these prepared sauces!) into the pan. Add the meatballs and cook, covered, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring occassionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and add to the sauce. Gently toss to combine. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Yummy!

NYC Marathon Experience

Through the eyes of Ken.

New York was…interesting.

Beyond the bumps of the chilly weather, inadequate hotel room, confusing train schedules, and the crazy subway map, I enjoyed myself.

It was refreshing to see so much of the city out in force in support of so many runners they don’t even know.

I had set out immediately after seeing the wife off at South Ferry, and made my way to a nice street corner to wait for her to pass.

She was in the third wave of runners so I waited probably over an hour and witnessed some pretty amazing things in the meantime.

People were pouring out of their houses (some hanging out of their windows) to cheer on the waves of runners that were passing by.

You’d think they were cheering on friends, probably set their watch according to some schedule just so they could pop out and cheer him on as he ran past, but that wasn’t the case at all.  These people were cheering for ALL the runners.

I was waiting an hour for my wife. These folks were there before me and was still hanging around after I left, cheering on every runner that passed.

If you had your name on, they’d yell your name. If you had your country’s name, or flag, they’d cheer for that. If you wore a silly costume…etc.

It was infectious and I soon found myself alongside them, cheering for people I’ve never met.

They brought their kids out! On a Sunday morning. On a CHILLY Sunday morning.  All wrapped up in their coats so they wouldn’t freeze (I know I almost did…)

And their kids cheered with them. For people they didn’t know. They’d stretch their hands out to the runners, who hi-fived them as they passed. And every single time they were high-fived, they’d turn around… and BEAM. Their smiles were so wide you wondered if you had somehow stumbled on the set of a toothpaste advertisement.

It was fun!  (No, I’m not any closer to running a marathon. We can have cheering screaming people along a half-marathon route too…)

Yeah. Fun. =)

Momofuku Noodle Bar

You will never go hungry in New York because there are thousands of eateries around and they all serve delicious food! You are spoilt for choices!

I was excited upon reaching NYC, apart from the marathon, another highlight was to frequent Momofuku Noodle Bar. Of all eateries/restaurants/cafes, why chose Momofuku?

A few weeks ago, I borrowed David Chang’s book and wanted to try out some of his recipes and then realised that it was difficult! I gave up in the end and since we would be going NYC, we might as well get a taste of what I saw in the cookbook!

We reached the noodle-bar about 10 minutes before the opening time (5.30pm) and there was already a queue! Oh my goodness! We dashed across the road, joined the line and hoped that we could get a seat each for ourselves.

The bar opened on time and we were ushered in. The interior reminded me of those Japanese Izakaya and we got the seats near the counter. Too bad we couldn’t get those seats where we could see the chefs at work. It was good nonetheless.

Since I need some carbo-loading, the choice was easy. It would be the ramen that I went for. I told the hubs that he could try the steamed buns with pork or smoked chicken wings; he chose the former.

I must say that the steamed buns with pork were good, especially the pork; it’s succulent! Mmmm….Ken and I had our fair share of such buns before but I must say those served at Momofuku were really delicious. I could go back for more! I like the ramen too. The broth was clear and the ingredients fresh. Thumbs up!

Although it was crowded, the waiters made us feel at home and went the extra mile to explain to customers what certain dishes were. They asked us for our feedback on the food too. Nice…

I left the place satisfied. =)

The NYC Marathon experience

Through the eyes of Lynn.

First and foremost, I am deeply indebted to friends and family members who encouraged me in running this race and especially to my wonderful husband, without whom I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this whole experience and the pictures too!

When I first signed up for the lottery for NYC marathon last November, I was hoping that I could get in. It would really be great opportunity since we were going to move to nearby Boston. It was defintely a great joy that I was IN when the news came out in April this year.

When you sign up for a marathon, you jolly well commit to it and train for the big day, failing which you would find yourself miserable during the race.

I didn’t train as well as I should. The longest distance that I have clocked this year was a half-marathon (and one attempt only), a far cry from the 30km you need to do before the actual marathon. It’s mere laziness and ill-discipline on my part. Period.

But I must say, running in a cold weather is a superbly nice feeling. You won’t be drenched in perspiration (so less chaffing) and you are less likely to get heatstroke. We had great weather during the marathon – sunshine and breezy @ around 10 C!

Here’s my thoughts on the experience:

1) Get to the expo on the first day.

We got there on Saturday and the whole process of getting the goodie bag was well-organised and smooth. I was given a Large-sized T-shirt (part of the items in the goodie bag) when I asked for a ‘Small’ during registration as the S and the M-sized shirts have run out. As in many races, I’m not sure why the organisers ALWAYS cater more large-sized shirts. Are all athletes BIG? It was a nice t-shirt but I could not wear it out.

The NYC marathon is a money-making business. You sense it with the newsletter sent to you, enticing you to buy this and that for memory’s sake and the fees you need to pay for marathon eve experience, post-marathon dinner, carving of name and timing on your medal, etc. Why not? It’s a popular and much coveted marathon, with so many international marathoners! Hotel rooms were almost booked out and surely retailers  would love this event!

2) Book a room, NOT in Manhattan!

We all know, Manhattan is absurdly expensive. Get a bed or a room in Queens, Long Island…anywhere. Just not Manhattan! We had a small room, just big enough to fit a bed and a chest of drawer, with no bathroom attached. The check-in time was 3pm and we arrived 15 minutes earlier. There’s no flexibility; we had to wait. When we got our keys, opened the door to our room, lo and behold, the bed was not made! What crap!

Lousy experience we had with the rooms in Manhattan. Well, if you are rich, you could check into hotels which cost more than US$300 per night. For common folks like us, we could only pay 1/3 of the price for a dirty, old room.

3) Get good, decent dinner!

@ Momofuku! I decided to visit this place after reading David Chang’s cookbook. His recipes are rather difficult for me and I decided to just try his food. We had the pork buns and the Momofuku ramen. I must say this is one place that didn’t disappoint. Will review in a later post.  

4) Have a good hearty breakfast before a marathon, at least 2 hours earlier.

We were in a rush and I could only get a piece of wheat bread with some cheese. Definitely not enough to fill up my tank. My energy was depleted after 16km. Not good.

5) Get updated transport info from the marathon website. The officers at the subway were not updated and could give you wrong info, resulting in a more stressful morning.

6) Make friends with fellow marathoners!

We met Liza while we were about to depart from the hostel and hey I’ve got myself a company!

7) Throw in a sweater for the initial waiting time at Staten Island.

It was cold. So, bundle yourself up well before the race. Wear a sweater that you are willing to throw ( given to charity) once you start the race. Use a trash bag to act as windbreaker, if you want. To run comfortably in NYC marathon, tights, running top, a pair of gloves and something to cover your ears would be good  enough. Once you start running, you will not really be bothered by the strong wind.

8 ) Bring along gels!

Okay. I was really not entirely prepared in terms of fuelling. I didn’t bring fluids nor gels with me, thinking that I could get it along the way. The thing was, my energy was all depleted at 18km ( I didn’t have the energy to even pull down my tights in the portable toilet). So be prepared!

9) The medical aid stations were heaven-sent!

I started to experience cramps shortly after the 18-km mark and needed help. The first-aiders were remarkably professional and friendly and when they applied deep massaging on my tissues, that was bliss! And I was enticed to go to them for help… thrice. Heh!

10) Wear your name on your t-shirt!

You need support, especially when you don’t have a group of fans cheering for you. But when you have your name on your shirt, the crowd would just cheer you on and this will give you a boost. It’s fun too!

11) The supporters were amazing!

They made NYC marathon spectacular. It’s almost like the whole of New York City was cheering you on. The crowd didn’t disperse, except for the part at Queensboro Bridge (the Manhattan skyline is AWESOME!). And you desperately needed their support because they were the ones who could spur you on when you were feeling down and out. No kidding!

I was truly impressed by them. You really can’t bear to stop/ walk when they were shouting their lungs out to encourage you to get moving! They were amazing!

12) The course was not flat so train using the hills!

What a lot of bridges and slopes! There were climbs over five bridges and then the final grueling 10km ( you really need to visualise the route  or better still, train in the real course if you can). Just when you thought that you have crossed one hurdle, another awaits you. Arghhh…but the downslopes are the ones you should capitalise on. Open your stride and go faster!

13) Savour the moment as you approach the last mile.

It’s awfully painful but you have survived. The crowds were cheering you on and fellow marathoners were encouraging one another. “Don’t stop!” “You are almost there!”, “Just a bit more!”

Euphoria was in the air. There was one Japanese old man who went shouting “ARIGATO! ARIGATO!” to the crowd as he approached the end. It was a hard run but he’s made it. Imagine the great joy! It’s indescribable.

14) Bottleneck after crossing the line.

Brace yourself for another challenge as you crossed that line. There was a huge congestion leading to the exit. The marathoners were all exhausted and to walk inch by inch and that was hell to the legs. One of them commented, “This is the hardest past of the marathon.” It’s meant as an insult but truly, we need to get out! There’s really no space to stretch or breathe (for a short girl like me!). I was just thankful that I didn’t pass out.

15) Go and have a dinner celebration!

This is the moment to celebrate. You limp like an old person but your heart is filled with joy and relieved that the worst is over. It’s time to celebrate with your friends and DIG IN, and we are not talking about bananas and gels!

Would I run a marathon again?

I honestly don’t think so. Unless I have a group of friends who want to do it together and better still, if someone pays me, I would be very much contented with running half-marathons.

I used 4 hr 56 minutes to complete this race. Not a bad timing for cramping all the way for the next 21km.

Results:
5km – 00:28:31
10km – 00:57:15
15km – 01:27:09
20km – 02:01:56
25km – 02:44:12
30km – 03:23:40
35km – 04:03:06
40km – 04:39:50
42km – 04:55:34

2 more days to NYC Marathon

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where -” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My sister asked me over MSN last night (EST) if I knew anyone in Jakarta. Immediately, I sensed something was wrong and asked her what had happened. Mount Merapi erupted again and they were on standby. This morning, I woke up and saw her FB msg, they were ready to leave.

They had no car and had to buy one in this time of emergency. I could imagine the great anxiety and trepidation that gripped them. They had stayed awake to be on standby the night before and now had to do a 12-hour ride to Jakarta. I’m sure the road conditions were bad. When it was in its normalcy, roads were bumpy and badly lit. Now, with people on the road, all frantic and fleeing, I’m sure it would not be any better.

When you are in danger, anywhere will do as long as you escape to a safe place. I hope they will make it to Jakarta though, safely.

It’s a great reminder again that humans are fragile and no matter how mighty you are, when you are at the mercy of such calamities, you could only cry out to the One who can save you. I’m praying that they will be protected from all harm.

Nothing is more important than lives.

I’ve decided to run this coming marathon with the people who are suffering on this earth in mind; I’ll be praying for them. I can’t do much here but I do know the power of prayer. A lofty thought you may say. On the contrary, I was humbled, greatly. I had more time now to read and realised that there are millions of people who are not so privileged as we are. I know all along there were people who need help but in my busyness, I had been oblivious to what is happening around the world.

In the last preparation of the long run, emotions are high. I remember my last marathon when I wrote this post. I was overwhelmed by feelings because I know I would be attempting a feat that is not easy. This time round, there is a different focus. I would be running the race with the people who are dear to me (…and those I have read about) in my mind. I’m lifting each one of them in prayers.

And I will still run the race, in the literal and metaphorical sense, and I seek to finish it well.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Heb 12:1

Potato gratin (pommes dauphinois)

It’s Friday! And it’s French Fridays with Dorie!
I have decided to bake the potato gratin (pg. 360) again and see if I could improve this time round. It would also be a good carbo-loading food for the coming marathon.

Even as I was preparing this dish, my heart was heavy. My sister and her family were fleeing their home in Yogjakarta as Mount Merapi erupted again. Here I was, cooking in safety and there they were, trying to get away, as far as possible, with a toddler in tow. Oh, dear Lord, have mercy on them!