Apartment hunting…and woes

Source: Straits Times

While many have been complaining about the exorbitant prices for the DBSS units at Tampines, the folks at home (one of them) actually went to view it and asked for an application form on my behalf.

I nearly flipped and breathed out fire.

It’s the time of the season when apartment-hunting is on my radar and making me frustrated and…hot-headed in these summer days. While staying in swanky new apartments is ideal, we really do not have the finances to fund it, unless my parents want to give it to me as a present, like what the New Yorkers are increasingly doing. Otherwise, it’s a big NO NO.

Anyone wants to donate to the Queks’ foundation?

At the end of the day, I believe the folks just want us to stay in a relatively new flat, free from the problems old apartments would give, which is absolutely understandable. They have our interest at heart, love them! But there are constraints too, or criteria which we need to consider when we think about purchasing a place we can call our own.

Let me attempt to list them, as the hubs has so often asked me to do.

Budget

No money, no talk. No matter how cool the place looks, if we are short of finances, there is really no point in discussing it. We looked into our savings and did our Math. Financial freedom is something we want to achieve in time to come and slaves to the bank we want not to be. Looking into the future, we want to be able to survive on one income and provide for our children in a comfortable way. Raising kids is no mean feat and we do need to consider the cost involved too. Bearing these in mind, let’s be realistic – we cannot afford a high-priced apartment.

Location

We ❤ the east! Thankfully, both of us grew up in Bedok and love the area to the core! My FIL’s place is just 20 minutes’ walk to the East Coast and we enjoy the morning jog every weekend. The church we worship at is about 15 minutes’ walk from both Ken’s and my place. Our primary schools are in the area and we want our kids to be schooled there too (either one will do). Ample amenities are available and we are spoilt for choice. The best thing is, we will be close to our parents if we can find a place there so Bedok is the place we want to reside eventually. At one stage, Punggol seems like a good choice because the flats are new and the area quiet. Besides, many of my friends stay there and it’s easy to meet up with them. However, I find the location a push factor and decide, in the end, that it is not a viable choice.

Type of apartment

This is related to the cost and location. I had adamantly wanted a 5-room apartment since I grew up in a space such as that and love the spacious area. Love having a dining room and a balcony to grow some herbs but because of the budget, a 4-room apartment might seem more feasible.

Since we want to reside in Bedok, we might need to be content with old flats. We went to view the flats in that area before and I was not in the least happy with what I saw; the apartment was in a dire state and in desperate need for a make-over. Think renovation cost!

…………………………………………. Stop for now……………………………………………..

 

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Green Tea Financiers (David Lebovitz’s)

After a morning of being in the dentist and emptying the pockets of a few hundreds of dollars, a 5km run and a dinner of bak chor mee, all I need is zen, calmness, before the in-laws arrive in less than 24 hours. They are somewhere in the sky as I write.

These financiers are no-fuss but definitely a comfort to an exhausted soul. They look good as a welcome gift to the family too!

Financier (pronounced “FEE-nan-ci-AY) is a moist and extremely versatile cake. It has many virtues. The batter can be refrigerated and held up to 2 weeks- in fact it’s best made a day in advance. The cake stays fresh for days after it is baked. The cooled cake can be layered with fillings like curd and ganache.

The most outstanding attribute of financiers is its moistness. Only egg whites are used. They have the same stabilizing protein as the yolk but much more water. And while most cake recipes call for whipping air into the whites, creating a foam, in financier the whites remain liquid.

Butter also adds to the moist texture of this type of cake. While in typical cakes solid butter is creamed at the beginning of a recipe, here it is melted and added to the batter last.

The following recipe came from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Desserts

Sesame-salt mixture
2 tsp sesame seeds (white, or a mix of black and white)
1/8 tsp flaky sea salt

Financiers
2/3 cup (55g) sliced almonds (I used ground almonds)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
5 tbsp (45g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp green tea powder (matcha)
1/4 tsp baking powder
Big pinch of salt
Grated zest of 1/2 orange, preferably organic
1/2 cup (125g) egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Butter a 24-cup mini muffin tin.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 tsp sesame seeds and sea salt and sprinkle the muffin cups with two thirds of the mixture.

3. To make the financiers, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender, pulverise the almonds, sugar, the 1 tbsp white sesame seeds, the flour, matcha, baking powder, salt, and orange zest until the nuts are finely ground. Add the egg whites and butter and pulse until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl or blender jar as needed to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined. I gave up on my blender halfway through and transferring all the ingredients into a big bowl, I used a whisk to mix them together so that they are well combined.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, then sprinkle the tops with the remaining sesame-salt mixture. I could only fill up to 23 muffin cups and each is filled to the half-mark. Rap the muffin tin on the counter once or twice to release any air pockets and level the batter. Bake just until the financiers feel firm when gently pressed with a finger, about 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Let cool completely, then remove the financiers from the muffin cups.

The batter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking. Although financiers will keep for up to 1 week stored in a cookie tin, their crusts will soften.

Don’t you feel peaceful just by looking at them?