And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. 

 Ecclesiastes 3:14, NLT

What is the purpose of life? It is that we should revere the all-powerful God. To revere God means to respect and stand in awe of him because of who he is. Purpose in life starts with whom we know, not what we know or how good we are.

It is impossible to fulfill your God-given purpose unless you revere God and give him first place in your life. 

That dress

Simple yet elegant, a perfect fit for a modern princess. What a wonderful wedding and let’s hope for a blissful royal marriage.

“This was a beautifully understated, exquisitely tailored, classic wedding gown. She looked fabulous because it actually showed her style.” ~Fashion designer Caroline Castigliano

On GEP

I always felt that the hubs has a knack for writing and yesterday, he put me on the cc as he replied to an email regarding the Gifted programme. Thought it would be good to store in here, and especially if you are interested to read his thoughts on it.

Hi Ken, quick question. I remember when you were in primary school, you were selected to go to R. School because you were the top few% based on your results. Do you think it is good ? Would you want your children to go? Do you think it makes a difference? Would the child who go to the school become better in terms of School results and character wise? Me and W met Sa’s Form teacher early this month and and she mentioned that Sa showed a lot of potential of going into that programme ( forgotten the name) where the top few% selected and will go to the schools that I mentioned earlier. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks, R. 

You’re talking about the Gifted Education Programme (GEP).
Before I answer your questions, I just want you to know that it was a long time since I was in that programme, and I think that the direction of it may have changed a little. (May. I’m not sure.)
When I was in school, the GEP had just started and there was public concern that it was a elitist movement. The GEP teachers therefore seemed to make it part of their responsibility to talk to us GEP kids about social responsibility, giving back to society and thinking beyond just helping ourselves.  Do they do the same thing now? I don’t know.  The GEP now seems to be more about helping high achieving students succeed.
Now, with that in mind, let me give you the short answer to your questions.
I think the program is good.
If my child had the opportunity, I would insist they grasp it. (I remember not wanting to change schools, dad and mum forced me to.)
I think it does make a difference academically because of higher expectations in general. Note that this can also backfire and be very stressful for your child.
Character wise, I think it depends on the teachers, and finally, I still believe that the family is most important.
Quick suggestion. If you can, talk to my dad. He might give more insights from the parent’s point of view. =)
There are a few things that will probably happen if/when she gets into the GEP:
1) She will meet classmates that are as smart or smarter than her. If she used to succeed easily in her previous school with little effort, she will find things different now. She will no longer be the one the teacher always turns to for the answers, she may be affected that she is finding trouble understanding concepts or giving answers even though her classmates seem to understand it already.  She will be challenged and she must learn to be resilient, hardworking, and still be confident that she is capable.
2)  Be careful that her success does not get to her head. She will realise soon enough that she got in because she is smart.  Help her to understand that she was selected for her academic talent. Different people are talented at different things and being academically talented does not make her superior to others. She must learn to recognise the talent in others.
3) She may, especially if her classmates are brilliant, start to doubt her own talent and worth. That is why it is important that she understand that while she may be academically talented, that does not define her. She is precious and worthy of love and all that is not tied to her academic talent at all. However, she is talented, and she should work hard to help that talent bloom.
4) Be prepared for longer school hours and weird school projects.  Be prepared that she will start to question more and ask more ‘why’ questions. Be prepared to listen and discuss with her your reasons for your decisions.  Be prepared also to point out to her that not everything can be resolved logically, some issues are matters of opinion, and that as the adult in the family, you have more say because you have more responsibility.  Help her to learn to respect others’ opinions even when she may not agree with them. Have high expectations of her, not just her academic talent, but have high expectations of her level of maturity, her values, her morality, everything. And watch her live up to your expectations.  But never forget that no matter how brilliant, how mature and how wise she might seem, she is still a child. She is still your child and she still needs your love. Pure and free, not tied to her academic performance or her show of maturity.
That’s all for now.
Hope this helps. =)
God bless, and feel free to keep asking questions. =)

Cappuccino macarons

I admit I’m addicted to my new-found love. I think about it day and night, the different flavours I can create and the various designs. I aspire to bake every flavour found in the book and this desire has grown stronger each day. Today, the shells were good even though I have placed my egg whites near the hot oven (how could I forget about it??!). I was afraid that the shells would collapse and all my effort to age it would go to waste but hey, they turned out pretty well!

Note: Pipe shells of the same size in the same tray. I know this is commonsense but I went to pipe a bigger one in a tray filled with smaller versions. Sigh!

These macarons are for my ESL students tomorrow. It is going to be my last time seeing them and thereafter, the summer break begins. Would I volunteer for another season? I’m not sure yet. I would love to have more time in the kitchen since these last few months in Boston would be really a time that I could spend honing my skills in cooking and baking. Once I get back to reality, it would be busy days ahead. I’m not sure if I would go back to the state in which I left for work in the dark and left the workplace again in the dark. I know it’s not healthy and I hope to strike a balance especially now that I have a family. Well, for now, I would just enjoy the time that I have left here to pursue my interest.

Thoughts…

My hopes, after watching The Finland Phenomenon:

(1) Student-teachers observe Senior Teachers in action and then having a post-observation discussion. How powerful this is since student-teachers would be able to observe how a model teacher teach in a classroom and then the learn from one another through the group discussion.

(2) Peer observation. I want my co-workers to observe my teaching and give constructive feedback. Vice versa so that all learn together.

(3) Having a high standard of professionalism. That means teachers have a great understanding of their content area and deep pedagogical knowledge. It also means that they do not shun PD since it is all part of continuous learning. Teachers will never reach a stage of know-it-all. And it also means teachers, yes, even student-teachers take pride in their profession.

(4) Trust. By that, I mean trusting all teachers to do a good job in the classroom, thereby ensuring all students learn. So that means no checking on their marking, the time so precious and which could be used more constructively in other areas. There also need to be trust between parents and teachers, students and teachers, management and teachers…at all levels actually.

(5) Small class size so that we can devote more attention to each individual student and be able to assess their learning better. Will help greatly in student intervention.

(6) Time and space for students (and teachers alike) to delve in the subject area(s) –> TLLM.

These are …for now.

Bitter chocolate almond tart

I’m really enjoying baking now. This interest is escalated by the recent attempts at macarons. Oh, the wonders and science of baking! It got me more and more intrigued.

This morning, I decided to bake this beautiful tart. I have to bake this because (1) it is an art and a beauty to behold; (2) it’s relatively easy and it has to do with meringue; and (3) I need to bring this as a pot-luck dish for today’s gathering.

I need to remind myself that I should bake only until I have done my morning transaction in the lavatory. Oh! At times I felt them urging to meet the T. bowl but the tart is not ready to come out of the oven! Sorry, it’s a bit gross.

Anyway, the final product should look way better than this. If you see carefully, the initial outer part of the filling was arranged neatly with the sliced almonds but subsequently, it proved too much for my patience and ….anyway, this is my best effort and I’m contented.

Question: Why does the filling tear away from the crust after is has been taken out of the oven and cooled?

The church was packed today and I must say, the service was grand with full orchestra and choir. Didn’t capture that (too shy). The sermon was simple yet powerful – the story of how one would die to save a much less deserved person. It really happened in real life, in Boston and of course we also know that the Lord did that as well for all of us.

We were also greeted with a piece of good news. A finally got the bling bling from R! Yay! She was so happy that she went around sharing with her friends. Yup…good news should be shared and we were all so happy for them! And of course, all sorts of celebration are accompanied by food, glorious food! Erm, this is for Easter.

Anyway, happy Easter and know that Easter is not about bunnies and eggs. =p

This recipe is taken from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow and is meant for a 9-inch round tart. However, I have only a 10-inch round tart pan and had to do some cosmetics job so that the shell would be sufficient in the end.

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Art lesson – macarons

We are going to Joy’s today to view the much anticipated The Finland Phenomenon and that means baking macarons for my friends!

I’m baking the flavours – white chocolate & raspberry and white chocolate & strawberry. Bearing in mind my previous attempt, I hope to make more discoveries today.

So, the changes I have made are (1) draw out 2-cm circles instead of the 4-cm ones since the batter will spread a little; (2) whip the egg whites a little longer & (3) to allow the oven to heat up again after a batch of shells are taken to ensure that the next batch would be baked at the specific temperature.

As usual, my piping skills need brushing up because I was still unstable as I piped out the meringue mixture. The first two batches of shells came out a bit weird. Some of the shells have ‘half-feet’ and the shapes came out a tad off a concentric shape. However, the last two batches – those that I really cannot be bothered to do a good job of piping and these two batches didn’t even have the circles drawn on the parchment paper & mat – came out surprisingly well! For the silicon mat, I realised that I need to put in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes more and the shells came out beautifully well!

Working with raspberries is a little tricky. They are so delicate I’m afraid that I would crush them, knowing how ‘rough’ I can be. They have to be washed and then dried and in the end, not all could be used since some of them are rather soft. In the end, I did about 7 of the white chocolate & raspberry macarons. It’s really testing of patience having to place them properly and to pipe out those white chocolate ganache (remember my piping skill sucks?).

I much prefer making the white chocolate and strawberry because I used the jam and not the real fruits! But I must say, the process got easier as I became more confident.


You should have seen me at work when I’m baking. I sprout nonsense or sing when I’m stressed. So, the hubs has to bear with all my acts and listen to the monologue.

But hey, I really had fun baking macarons. On to the next few flavours from the book. I intend to cover as many flavours as possible!

As usual, I’m quite upset with the turnout of the pictures. Many of them are not sharp. I’m so waiting for the online lesson on Food Photography next weekend starting 13 May and hope I can get something out of it.

Hot Cross Buns

21 April, 8pm | It’s quite coincidental. I had just finished reading a rather reflective book and wanted to take a break from that type of genre. Glancing at my book shelf, I have about 10 more books to read and decided that I could do a romance novel. Once I started reading the first few pages, I was hooked and found myself slumped into the armchair in front of the mini library.

Pages upon pages, the true life story of this wonderful lady, Ree Drummond unfolded before my eyes. It’s so fairytale-like and oh, a cowboy, a saviour always there for her, to shield her from all harm. He’s always there, giving his assuring smile and a gentleman in all aspects. How we ladies long for such a man!

Between my eye-breaks, I scrambled to the laptop and casually went to her website. Hey, she has baked Hot Cross Buns! How apt! It’s Holy Week after all and I wanted to bake them!

22 April, 6am | The following day, Good Friday morning, I was halfway through her story and in between breaks, began my baking. I love how she showed the steps through the beautiful photos and her write-up. My recent purchase of a bigger saucepan has made life easier for me and I breezed through the whole process, yearning to go back to the book once the initial part of the baking was done. By the time, the dough was ready to be placed in the oven, I had completed the story.

Ah! It makes me think of the hubs! Well, my hubs’ no cowboy, ain’t any muscleman, rides no horses, drives no car but he’s a gentleman through and through. Highly intellectual, yet humble in all his ways and always there for me when I need him. He is a gift from my truest Saviour. He, I mean my Lord, knows best and granted my heart’s desire.

These Hot Cross Buns meant something to me actually. There is cinnamon sugar and raisins in it. I am like the bun filled with dirt. Some of them are big while others in specks but nonetheless still blemishes in a perfect body of a dough. But I’m accepted because God sees the Christ in me, symbolised by the cross on my body. And it is done. I’m a complete being, cherished and loved by God Almighty. I’m pure and blameless because of the Christ in me.

Thank You for dying on the cross for me us.

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Response…responsibility

I’m glad that our place in Boston is near the Whole Foods Market and that it’s just a 15 mins walk. I intentionally made a visit to the supermarket today because I am preparing to bake more macarons in the days to come and wanted to see for myself if I could get hold of certain ingredients. Coupled with that is the fact that I’ve been reading up on chocolates and wanted to try cocoa nibs myself and to find out the kinds of chocolates Whole Foods has. I left the store excited and with much thoughts.

I believe, at a certain stage, most of us would inevitably land ourselves in a state of much questioning about the food that we consume. Where do the food come from? How are they slaughtered, prepared, cleaned? What ingredients go into that package of food and cooking? How responsible are the sellers?

I found myself asking these questions the more I work in the kitchen and the more I read up. In the kitchen, I am responsible for producing healthy and flavourful food for my family.  So you want to use better ingredients in your cooking because the end consumers are your loved ones. You won’t want to serve trashy stuff to them! I have also come to realise that the ingredients you use show in the ultimate product, especially in your baked goods (my opinion).

Which comes to my point of who to go to when I do my grocery. As a very practical consumer, I must admit that cost is a great factor for me. When we first arrived in Boston, everything seemed expensive to me. In a bid to keep the household expenses low, I tend to go for the cheaper lot at times. There is this one supermarket whose meat and vegetables are the lowest in cost but when I look at their appearances, they hardly are fresh. Yet, I found myself reaching out for them and to be honest, I left the store with guilt because I know that the end consumer is me, my family.

Perhaps the consolation I have is that I cook and that is rather powerful since I can control the amount of oil, salt (among others) that go into the cooking. I would rather that the spice and herbs do the job of enhancing the flavour to the star of the dish instead of artificial ones or worse, employing the use of MSG.

Which also explains why I prefer to cook as compared to eating out. It sure is convenient to do the latter, especially if you are working. But how much do we know what goes into that particular dish? All I can count on are responsible cooks who want the best for their consumers but if they are not doing that, then I would have to count on my sense and sensibility in my choice of stalls and restaurants and then hope for the best.

As I get myself educated more in this area, I found myself shying away from that particular supermarket and to look for fresher ones, despite the higher cost. I want my grocer to love his job and that means selling quality stuff to his customers. I want my grocer to know where his stuff comes from. I want my grocer to take pride in his work. And I find these traits, values in Whole Foods Market.

They show by the food they carry, how they arrange the meat in the counter fridge (and with information too), how clean their shelves are and the willingness and readiness of salespeople to help and assist you if you are lost. I suspect they will be able to explain more should you need more information on a particular food. And yes, they support local farmers! Hooray for that!

I wish I had found myself to be a regular at WFM earlier because they carry all kinds of stuff that I need and those which I could not find in Shaws and Trader Joe’s. And the surprising thing is they are not any much pricier. You do, of course, find quality stuff here. Imagine my joy when I saw that they carry Scharffen Berger chocolates! I thought I would not be able to find premium artisan chocolates around here (for baking purposes) but lo and behold, they are on the shelves! I must tell you, there is a whole lot of stuff we must learn about the chocolates you consume.

Ok, I’m going on and on. But I have resolved to frequent WFM more and learn more about quality food there. I have resolved to learn to read labels and to make sure that I choose more quality ingredients in my cooking, especially in baking.

Actually, this series of thoughts was prompted by an episode on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in LA. He showed us what actually goes into the minced meat that we eat. UTTERLY APPALLED. That was my immediate response.

I don’t want to eat those stuff, let alone my offspring. Poor children in the schools. What kind of food are they really getting? We need more education on this and we need to teach our kids what is real food. =p That, to me, will be my added responsibility.

Macarons adventures started!

This day, I have decided to take the plunge to bake Macarons. I have put this idea off for months and since this week is a relatively relaxing one for me, I thought why not try this today?

I have read up quite a fair bit about Macarons because I’ve heard that it is not an easy bake, that it is finicky in nature. Hisako Ogita’s I love Macarons made it seem so achievable to bake these dainty goods; you don’t need sophisticated apparatus to make them! And it is perhaps a Macaron cookbook given by some friends here that prompted me to take the step to BAKE.

Of course, there are plenty of resources in the Internet and many of them are so rich in information. Some of them are videos which really help visual learners like me. If you are like me, you might want to try some macarons from famous patisserie for benchmarking. =p I tried Miette’s when we went SF and Bouchon Bakery by Chef Thomas Keller in NYC. Macarons from them are good, especially the Pistachio ones from Bouchon Bakery.

There are two common ways of making macarons, the Italian Meringue method and the French meringue one. I much prefer the latter since it is less troublesome and will be more suitable for first-timers like me.

Generally, the ingredients necessary are ground almond, icing sugar, egg whites, pinch of salt, caster sugar and any garnish that you want to put on the shell. For filling, I’m going for good old chocolate ganache.

My egg whites are aged ( a few days old in freezer) since this reduces the moisture content while at the same time preserve the proteins bonds from the egg whites.

Things to take note: 

Early in the morning, I have drawn circles on the underside of the parchment paper to assist me in the piping of the shell later. I drew up circles of 4cm in diameter. But I realised that the next time I do it, I would keep to 2 cm since the batter will spread a little.

I used parchment paper, silicon mat and wax paper but in the end, I think I prefer parchment paper because for the other two, my shells stick to them. Perhaps, they need more time in the oven and I would continue to experiment with them in future.

There are two things that I’m fearful of. One is whether I have whipped the egg whites to stiff peak and from what I’ve read, the test is that when you invert the bowl, the meringue won’t fall out. Secondly which is the more important and dreaded stage is the macaronage, the mixing of meringue with almond and sugar. This is the ‘make-it-or-break-it’ stage. Overmixing will cause the shells to crack and be feetless, something you would not want for your shells!

 

The batter is said to be ready when it resembles that of a smooth molten mass (think ‘magma’).

Most of my shells turn out well, except for a couple which cracked and they all have feet, thank God! For the cracked ones, it could be due to my unsteadiness in my piping (yes, I did tremble when I piped).

One thing that baffled me is the inconsistency in the sizes of my shells. Some are obviously bigger than others (they spread more when I piped out). So, does it mean that it needs more egg whites since it is runny? Updates: I think I might have the answer to this after reading Veronica’s write-up! It could be because I dumped in all my dry ingredients in one go rather than in four additions! Okay! I’m so going to try again in my lab aka kitchen. I have never loved experiments and research that much until now. Woohoo!

This being my first attempt, I’m rather pleased with the result. The taste resembles those of which I had eaten from the bakeries and though I fumbled and dropped some apparatus here and then (startled the hubs), it was still a wonderful adventure.

I’m hooked and wanting more!

Useful resources:

I love the macaron tutorial from Tartelette.

Loaded information from Ms. Adventures in Italy.

A little bit of Macaron history from Serious Eats.

I’m loving The Pleasure Monger‘s macaron journey!

The video helps a lot though I know nothing about French.

Check out Kitchen Musings‘ Macaron Chronicles!

There are numerous bloggers out there who are doing a mighty good job in macarons. The above are but a few that I read up on. Their blogs already contain quite a few links to more useful sites.

I need more time to read and experiment!

The video is Chef Joanne Chang’s demonstration on macarons.

Wet Tuesday

My diary read ‘to run 3.21km today’ in a bid to kick start a training programme under Nikeplus. And then it rained. Not only did it rain, I had my monthly ordeal this very day.

So, I stayed home on this gray, cloudy, foggy day. Looking at the bright side of things, to be able to stay at home and concentrate on my hobby is a luxury. So let’s do all things French. I’m baking Broiche and having Almond basa meuniere, an adaptation from Dorie Greenspan’s Almond flounder meuniere.

It’s not my first time baking Broiche. The first time I baked that was last week and the turnout was a pleasant surprise. It’s incredibly soft and flavourful. I made them into buns with chocolate chunks in each of them and today, I decided to go for the loaf version, using the same recipe by Francois Payard from his book Chocolate Epiphany.

I must say that it is not an easy dough to deal with. It is unlike the other bread dough which I’ve encountered. It failed the windowpane test and after mixing it with butter, it was soft and sticky, just like some cake batter. It’s at this stage when I doubt the dough. Would it work? Am I doing things correctly?

If you’re not in a rush, you could allow the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. For me, I did the bare minimal. =p The dough was still sticky after it has proofed twice. I guess I persisted because I wanted to see the turnout.

The bread turns out well, I guess. I can’t wait for breakfast!

Go on and try baking broiche. =)

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Boston Marathon 2011

What a privilege to participate in Boston Marathon, no matter whether we are the spectators, runners or the volunteers. To be part of the world-famous marathon is really an honour!

The day is perfect for a run. The sun is smiling brightly, just that the wind can be strong at times ( most of the time). We met up with Joy and made our way to Heartbreak Hill. We were early enough to catch the Wheelchair race. I must say it was really tough to ascend those upslope after such a long distance. Some of the participants (wheelchair category) were having such a hard time and the spectators knew what was best – to cheer and run alongside them till they reached the apex of the slope. One of them made it seem so easy and she is the winner for the Women’s category – Wakako Tsuchida. She’s way ahead her competitors and it’s really a no-wonder that she won.

I was on the lookout for Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall in this race. I have loved Kara a few years after I got serious into running. She and her husband are a great team, training together and now, being a mother (she gave birth rather recently), she continues to earn my admiration for her passion for running. I got to know Ryan Hall through the Runner’s World magazine and the write-up about him is so inspiring. And I managed to catch them today! Sadly though, both did not make it to the top 3. Kara was placed 5th while Ryan was placed 4th, just 0.05s behind the 3rd runner. What a bummer!!!!

 

I must say the crowd was amazing. We were near the Boston College area and the atmosphere was just so hyped-up! I supposed the other areas were just as exciting!

These few days of events have prompted me to be serious in my running again. I want to aim for a half marathon in September and October and hopefully achieve a PR. But before that, Eclairs anyone?

B.A.A. 5K run

Finally, an official run in Boston! When we first signed up, it was because some of our members wanted to run this race and it would be wonderful to have more company in a race.

The night before, it was raining cats and dogs. The wind was strong and I was wondering if the race would happen in the end. So there I was tossing in the bed and hoping that the sky would clear by the time the race starts.

In the morning, slight drizzle greeted us. As we made our way to Hynes Convention Centre to meet up with the gang, there were already some folks who were doing their warm-ups. Man, they are so hard-core. 

The race started and it was a pretty nice run, with a few gentle uphill and downslope. I started off wanting to do a leisure run. 4o mins is all I need, I told myself. That way, I could run with our friends. But a few minutes into the warm-up, I started to pick up my pace. I think it is hard to run leisurely in a race. In the end, you just want to do your best and that’s one of the reasons why people want to pay to run in a race – to achieve your personal best timing.

A PB I did not have. But what I have experienced is so much better than a timing. I crossed the finish line with the hubs with our hands joined as we faced the official camera (I hope they captured us!). That, is most precious!

In the evening, we had dinner at this Moroccan restaurant, Tangierino,  where there’s belly dancing and smoking of  Shisha. The food is good but we couldn’t capture any nice photo because of the dimly-lit area. Don’t really like restaurant in this aspect. I can’t even see the appearance of the food. All we can is to taste it. Sigh.

Burp…Had a bit too much of food today!

Arnold Arboretum

It would have been perfect if the weather wasn’t so chilly. We were deceived again; it was way too cold for Spring. The flowers are also not blooming.

We’ll go again, when the place is teeming with colours.

And we had Easter dinner in church after that. The man (other than Ken) is my student in ESL class. He and his wife are Mongolians and the wife is an English teacher with the Police Academy back home. Whoah!

FFWD: Coffee Eclairs

This week for FFWD, we are baking eclairs! As usual, I’m a little late in completing this since my Friday was filled with activities. I did make the Coffee Pastry Cream though yesterday.

This recipe allows you to do some of the stuff in advance, i.e. cream puff dough and the filling which for me is the coffee pastry cream.

This is one of the creations by using choux pastry. I had, in my very initial phase of baking, attempted this and failed quite miserably. I didn’t understand the science of it until I did a little reading on it.

I only did a batch of eight eclairs for this morning, reserving the rest of the eclair shells for the next two days (you can freeze the shells and bake them when you need them). I would much prefer to use chocolate ganache as the glaze but my bittersweet chocolate supply was running low. No worries, I would be heading out this evening to get it!

* Note to self: In future, use a bigger tip or cut the tip to be about 2cm to result in a bigger/fatter eclair.

Marathon Fever!

We are having marathon fever here! The famed Boston Marathon is going to be held this Monday on Patriots Day and suddenly the streets are filled with fit-looking people.

Ken and I obviously couldn’t make the mark to enter the Marathon – there is qualifying time – but could however be contented with the 5K run on Sunday. So, we made our way to Hynes Convention Centre the hour they start the collection of the race pack. From experience, if you wait till the last day, all the smaller T-shirts sizes would be snapped up and you would be left with sizes fit for giants.

We thought we were among the few who would turn up so early but to my surprise, there was already a long, snaky, organised queue! Whoah! Somehow, looking at the marathoners made me feel for them. They must be feeling nervous but yet anticipating the race. Imagine the months of training and sacrifice! It has better be worth it!

It’s an unexplainable feeling to run in a marathon. It’s crazy on hind sight. And yes, there are nuts, many of them on this planet earth =p.

We are so looking forward to the marathon and will be situating ourselves near Boston College, the hubs’ school, where the notorious Heartbreak Hill is. The runners would need plenty of encouragement to go through that wretched hill. Those cheers, those crazy screams, would get the runners to the finish line.

Oh yes, that reminds me. I need to prepare honey water.

Wrap your woes away…

animated gif maker
One of my favourite dishes to prepare is pork dumplings soup, especially when the stock is home-made!

The hubs love this dish, pointing out that it is the marinade that makes the difference. =) And today, I added spinach and eggflower into the soup. Nice!

This is one dish to prepare for the in-laws who are coming to visit us soon!

13 March dinner

The hubs wanted chicken.
So it’s honey-baked chicken wings and boxing chicken on the plate, coupled with Dorie Greenspan’s Garlicky crumb-coated broccoli and PW’s version of potatoes. I was not able to catch up with FFWD now since Friday has been rather busy these days. I can always make up, I guess.

We had our fill.

So easy a meal to prepare. I love love love preparing food using oven!

Haste makes waste

Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…. Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.

On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgement and effort to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.

~ One thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp

Heart-a-flutter

I’m feeling rather excited now after receiving an email. Hope things will turn out well!

This month is a terribly exciting month!

Boston Marathon is round the corner. Nope, I’m not running, obviously, since I’m not good enough but I will be running the 5km with the hubs and some of the Gingerbread buddies, complete with our cheerleaders!

Easter is round the corner too and it’s a great reminder that our faith is not futile because Jesus died and rose again!

I will be starting my Advanced Baking course end of this month. Yes, I’m so looking forward!

And the email that I’ve received has everything to do with food and the more I indulge myself in this activity, the more I’m fascinated by it – both the science and art of it. And my goodness, there’s so much to learn about chocolates and there are so many recipes that I wanted to try out and understand!

I need to devote more time to it.

 

Twisted Cheese Bread

For two mornings, I have been saved by Sarah who has just returned from her trip to Italy and presented us with a loaf of bread from a popular bakery. The queue was long so she said and it was a random thought to buy a loaf for us. How sweet of her to remember us!
Okay, I should have taken a picture of it when it was still intact but I was too tempted to have it and finished half of the loaf before remembering to do so! Argh! The sweet bread was soft with a cake-like texture and filled with some fruits and topped with halved almonds and white rice chocolate (me think). It’s good on its own!
And so today, I had to bake something. It’s this cheese bread that I go for since I just bought a box of cream cheese. How timely!

=)

Love it when the weather’s wonderful.
The Gingerbread buddies become playful.



And had our fill at Figs.
42 Charles St
(between Chestnut St & Mount Vernon St)
Boston, MA 02114

More photos here.

Comfort Meatballs

A plate of pasta with meatballs is the solution to a hungry stomach after a run and swim. We have planned to run with the Kahs along Charles River and it was an absolutely wonderful day at 13 deg C. The Kahs are good pacers but the Queks were too tired to run a longer distance and we stopped at 1/2 of what they ran.

This recipe is taken from Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Cooks. As she has mentioned, these meatballs are not quite the same as those of the regular Italian ones which have more of a breadcrumb/parsley/Parmesan flair. These ones are more in the comfort food/meatloaf category. The taste is definitely different and I’m surprised by the addition of distilled white vinegar in the sauce.

Well, the meatballs satisfied our ravenous appetite and my friends wanted the recipe. So, I guess this is one dish that I would keep!

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The wise vs the fools

The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness.
Proverbs 12:23, NLT

Wise people have a quiet confidence.Unstable people (fools) feel the need to prove themselves, but wise people don’t have to prove anything. They know they are capable, so they can get on with their work.

Beware of showing off. If you are modest, people may not notice you at first, but they will respect you later.

Where has the morning gone???

I seriously think that the hubs and I are big eaters because the 9 sweet buns that I had baked recently were gone the next day and for this morning, I decided to try making a local dish – Chwee Kueh!

My yardstick would be those found in Bedok Interchange hawker centre. I don’t have the molds but replaced them by using my six-hole muffin pans. I could do better for the chai poh toppings (reduced the amount of oil but less tasty) and realised that I have to let the chwee kueh rest a while before consumption so that they will not be so soft. But since the hubs is not particularly excited about this dish, it will be a long while before I try again. Maybe when my in-laws come over?

After breakfast, it’s straight to baking coffee buns! Joy and How would be coming with the TV (bless them!) and we would be meeting with the Kahs in the evening for a run along Charles River and then dinner. It would be good to share some baked goods with them!

And after the coffee buns is the preparation of lunch! I’ve decided to try Bread crumbs baked chicken fingers after reading this recipe. I don’t have panko and substitute it with Italian breadcrumbs, no cayenne pepper and substitute with black pepper. This is a rather dry dish and is good with mashed potato as the blogger as team it up with. I, on the other hand, combine it with rice and boiled lettuce. Her choice is better!

This dish is a keeper and I would definitely do it again. Healthier too!

I need a break.

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Comfort food!

When I feel sad or miss home and friends, home-cooked food is the solution! Bak Chor Mee! And I think I do a mighty good job in it!

Smile!

Happy lunching! (EST)

We did our first >10km jog today…slow one but a good one nonetheless! Yay!

Sweet Buns

Bread is running low again! Or should I say…no more bread!

I came home after a wonderful meeting up with 3 other wonderful ladies, to the realisation that the hubs had finished the Focaccia Sandwich and that we had nothing for breakfast the next day. Of course, the same website came to the rescue!

The next type of bread to bake is Sweet Buns!

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