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Saying goodbye.

This is the period when we bid farewell to friends whom we have known for the past one year. Many are due to return to their countries after their studies and saying sayonara can sometimes be difficult especially.

The first to go off is CM whom we have grown fond of, especially his funny self. But more so, we will miss his questions during small group. Valid questions they are and at times, difficult to explain.

We had fun together and I really like the humour that the Taiwanese have. I believe I will miss this group when the rest of the Taiwanese go back by the end of this year.

We had a farewell dinner at Cheers, home of the Bull and Finch Pub, where exterior shots for the TV show Cheers were filmed. Don’t ask me what that show is because I have no clue!

I’m not sure what is so special about this pub. The food is certainly not palatable. The fish and chips that we ordered was bland, the bowl of Boston Baked Beans was none too flavourful, and the Buffalo wings a tad too sourish. =(

At least, we enjoyed the company of our friends and that’s what matters.

Cheers Boston
84 Beacon Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Being thankful

I’m thankful that I’m blessed with a wonderful man who will do anything to make me happy, and that includes being bullied by me. Hehehehe.

Thank you for your love.

PSIF retreat @ Camp Laurel, Maine

I left for Camp Laurel with a heavy heart. Receiving the email the night before potentially disrupts the plan that I have for the coming year. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it is a pleasant surprise but there are more considerations now. I am once again reminded that I can plan for all I want but it is the Lord that determines our every future step. I can only say, “I surrender”, and watch what He’s doing in our lives.

The 3-hour ride to Camp Laurel was rather smooth and our driver, KT, decided to depart for the destination earlier since we could enjoy the facilities more as compared to arriving close to midnight (thankfully, we were able to play a game of frisbee and watch the gorgeous sunset). At the back of our minds was the news of the impending Hurricane Irene which would be making her way to New England. Many were keeping watch by being updated of the news every now and then.

The trip was short-lived and we headed back to Boston the next day due to the storm. Gray clouds were already threatening to fill the sky in Maine at around 2pm and we heard that Boston was already starting to pour. Safety is the priority and we decided to leave for home. Thankfully, we were able to have our morning meeting and catching up with our mentors and getting to know new friends. A few of us managed to throw in some time for boating before bidding sayorana to the camp.

Short-lived but definitely meaningful.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord

with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. 
In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will straighten your path.  

Honey Spice Cookies

The dough is soft and hard to manage. Instead of rolling it out to 1/16 of an inch in thickness, I did a short cut by pinching small amount of it, rolled it into a ball and then flattened it. It would require more time in the oven, I reckon, since it is no longer that thin. The first batch came out soft but the flavour intensified after 2 days as the author has recommended. Freezing the dough a few days more, I baked again yesterday, this time, having them in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.

I realised they can be good.

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Boston Restaurant Week: KO Prime Steakhouse

So this is our third and last restaurant for the BRW and we chose KO Prime Steakhouse because I wanted to have a taste of how they do their beef. It shouldn’t be anything short of expectation since the menu is developed by James Beard Award-winning Chef Ken Oringer.

Our first course include grilled sweet corn chowder and watermelon & smoked feta salad. Ken loves the corn chowder which surprises me since he is not a fan of corn while I find the watermelon in the salad to be rather chunky. It’s hard to place a big piece into my small mouth =p. I find the vinaigrette a tad acidic.

Next, the main course which is our favourite. We have Spice Rubbed Petite Filet of Beef and Slow Roasted BBQ Berkshire Pork Belly. Ken loves both dishes and I cannot agree more. In fact, I normally keep pork belly at a distance but KO Prime has done hers well. Crisp skin and tender meat at the same time. Ken’s filet of beef is succulent and the man is satisfied with his meat indeed.  Oh! And I love the griddled corn bread. Thumbs up!

Dessert is a bit disappointing. After a fantastic main course, you are expecting more from the sweet stuff but out came Lemon Verbena and Mixed Berry Shortcake and Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Bar. I’m not saying that they are bad, just that they fall short of expectation. I was expecting something more creative and light. A shortcake at the end of the meal seems rather heavy and the ice cream bar seems like a magnum to me.

It’s still good as a whole. Ken is a meat-guy and he finds this meal the most satisfying while I prefer Rialto. However, I must stress again – the pork belly is good.

90 Tremont Street

Boston , MA 02108

617.772.0202

Ken’s Thoughts – Culturally Relevant Teaching

After repeated reminders from the wife that I should write more and share my thoughts with the world, I’ve decided that it would be best not to re-invent the wheel.

Essentially, I was already spending hours drafting and re-drafting papers for my course, and these reflect much of my personal beliefs on educational matters. So instead of re-writing new articles, why not just use the ones I’ve already written?

 

The following paper – Learning Environment – Culturally Relevant Instruction – is one that started as a very broad topic, but which I shaped to represent much of my thoughts on education, with a slant towards those who may experience cultural (not necessarily racial) difficulties in the education system they find themselves in.

 

As you, faithful reader, spend your time on the following article, do let us know how you like it. You are, after all, the reason why I’m writing in the first place.

 

Do you think this is a bad idea? Is the article too long? Too wordy? Does it lack the ‘oomph’ of shorter tirades? Would you prefer me to return to writing shorter notes?

 

Or perhaps you love the idea? The length is just nice for you to read at night, and has proved to be such a wonderful cure for insomnia that you think I should patent it?

 

We’d love to hear from you!

11.30am onwards…

I have been baking and cooking. And then realised I still have not enough time to prepare food for the small group.

Green tea financiers

 Burger buns which look so much like pong pia.

Preparing Brioche dough for the next day

Mantra for the day: Bake/cook, wash and then dry.

Fried radish cake for small group. Radish cake didn’t turn out well; it needs more time in the steamer and the portion is not enough! Nonetheless, have improved.

Not enough time! The hubs to help! Green Pea Fritters to add to the inadequate amount of fried radish cake. But, it’s not really a popular dish. =(

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Hey, be on task!

Nat came over for help with her assignment. Midway through, we were distracted and Pad Thai became the focus.

As you can see, food clearly binds people together. We were so engrossed in our conversation and paid special attention to the ingredients used for Pad Thai. And yes, we shall experiment with Pad Thai soon.

how do you make a gif

Shepherd’s Pie with Curried Meat

This is interesting. It has an Asian twist to it with the addition of curry powder and spices such as cumin and coriander (found in Indian cuisine). I adjusted the portion so that it would cater to just the two of us and perhaps, some leftover for tonight. But the hubs kept eating and I think it means the dish is nice and that we’ll have little left for dinner. I’m not complaining. It’s worth all the trouble to prepare the dish when someone can appreciate.

As usual, I don’t like to use broiling because of some bad experiences with using it. The potatoes are not golden brown as can be seen from the pic. Nonetheless, it’s still delish.

Source: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Serves 4 to 6

6 white potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp  curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup crushed canned imported tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked fresh/frozen green peas
1/2 cup hot whole milk, plus more if needed
3 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Put the potatoes into a pot and add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender to the core when pierced with a fork.

2. While the potatoes cook, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add the curry powder, cumin, and coriander, and cook briefly, stirring. Add the meat and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up the lumps, until it’s lost to raw colour. Add the tomatoes, broth, sugar and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Heat the broiler. Drain the potatoes and put them through a food mill or a potato ricer (or just use fork!) back into the hot pot. Stir in the peas and heat briefly. Add the hot milk, 2 tbsp butter, and pepper, preferably white, beating with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too thick, add more hot milk.

4. Spoon the piping-hot curried meat into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Top with the hot mashed potatoes. Smooth over the top. Dot with the remaining tbsp of butter.

5. Run the mixture under the broiler until the top is golden brown.

Book review: The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every ChildThe Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is always precious to hear a practitioner’s viewpoint on various aspects of education and in this case, reading.

Mrs Miller’s thoughts on reading and the traditional practices used by teachers in schools made me reflect on the programmes that we have back in my school. We all know children or even adults need time to read. As teachers, we are acutely aware that if the home environment does not support reading, then the school must, all the more, be vigorous in its attempt to provide such an environment and more importantly, the time for students to be engaged with the characters in the stories. We know teachers are role models and they need to be seen and their passion for reading be felt by the students. Reading cannot be seen as an activity mandated by the school, with all the after-reading worksheets to be completed. This kills the joy of reading. The need to show evidence for student’s reading and achievement with the use of reading logs or tests is a chore and you might want to question yourself of their validity and usefulness.

I question myself. Have I shortchanged my students? Have I done justice by seeing reading as one of the many periods in the curriculum and thus having my students go through the motion? Have I imparted the love of reading to them? Have I matched them to their reading level? Have I caused much enthusiasm in them by sharing good books with them? Have I spent more time discussing the stories or am I too concerned with completing the syllabus?

What about the reading programmes in my school? How are they useful to the students? Are they just “unexamined wallpaper”?

I would want my colleagues to have this book and that we evaluate our reading programmes during Learning Circle, based on the pointers that Mrs Miller gave.

I really appreciate Mrs Miller’s honesty in her sharing. This is a must-have in my library.

Colours

Since we are a step nearer to purchasing our home (actually still a long way to go), it shouldn’t be too early to do some initial research into the design of the apartment.

The question, “What do you envision yourself to be in five years’ time?”, is a common one asked. When it comes to housing, the question then would be, “Can you envision your new home?”

I certainly can! I think I even know the colour combination! Of course, the more you read up, the more you can get confused too! An extra pair of eyes would definitely help and thus an ID would come in useful. Once we go through the 1st appointment, I’m ready to look for one. In fact, I have one in mind already. Hopefully, she is free to do mine.

Came across useful tips on colours from one of my favourite websites regarding home. I thought the content from the video series is rather informative, at least for me who know very little about such things.

The following is on Colour families. Go on and watch the others! I like the one on the 80/20 rule too.

 Which of the following hues do you like?

[via]

Earth

Water

Fire

Air

FFWD: Coconut-lemongrass-braised pork

Ok. I know I’m lagging wayyyyy behind the project. I don’t seem to be around on Friday to prepare the FFWD’s dishes! So, I’m trying to catch up now.

Had Coconut-lemongrass-braised pork for lunch. This dish pairs up well with rice. Didn’t add much coconut milk (even though the recipe calls for it) since I don’t quite like too strong a coconut milk taste. Think I didn’t choose the right cut for the pork. Should use pork butt but I bought lean ones since the latter was available in the market.

To buy or not to buy, that is the question

I think I had a similar title on my FB post recently about housing issues. To buy or not to buy, given the current economic situation. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to buy and we are done with the Option to Purchase. Yay!

I’m attaching the news article which resonated with us. We have also considered the points listed by the reporter. Maybe this is another confirmation that we should buy?

In any case, our minds are set.

To buy or not to buy, that is the question. 
Article in The Sunday Times, 21 August 2011.

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Cook and share a pot of curry!

So, today, in my home country, a lot of people would be cooking curry, thanks to a FB event (that has grown too wild) put up by a group of friends whose aim was to say, ‘let’s not argue, let’s not quarrel, let’s learn to tolerate, embrace and appreciate our multicultural way of life.’ in response to an incident between a new Chinese PR and the neighbour, an Indian family.

I shan’t go into the details of the story. But I want to declare that I love curry, all sorts and versions of it, and all the more when I can mix the correct spices and cook my own curry.

Obviously, there are also many who cannot take to the smell of the spices in the curry. It’s well…normal, I think. Like I dislike the smell of durians and shun it at all cost while my colleagues and family members love it and my mother would purposely bring one piece near to my nose. It’s all right.

I love anything and everything  spicy while my dear hubs cannot really enjoy it. It’s okay. I just do separate dishes or sometimes he will try the spicy food, with loads of water to accompany, that is. This is called preference and surrounding it, respect.

My dear hubs can’t force me to quit eating spicy stuff like belachan, no, hell no! But he will tolerate the smell and avoid the dish when I cook it. I will stay away from durian but that does not mean that I react violently when my colleagues have them as treats.

It’s all about respect for one another, even if a certain action or smell, in this case, makes us very uncomfortable, revolting at times. But if it is part of a person’s culture, shouldn’t we be open and learn more about it instead of rejecting it straightaway?

Anyway, I am enjoying my Bombay curry and spiced roast potatoes with my hubs but felt that the curry is not spicy enough. Will add more chilli powder the next time. Oops..I mean, I will add more chilli powder to my own portion. =p

Bombay Curry
Source: The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Serves 4

One 4 -pound chicken, cut into 6 pieces (alternatively use parts of chicken; I used chicken wings)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, thinly silced
2 tbsp curry powder
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
1/2 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water

1. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, add the chicken skin side down and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken to a plate.

2. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan, and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the curry and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Add the coconut, coconut milk, and water, return the chicken to the pan, and cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes. Baste the chicken with the pan juices. When the meat is done, remove it from the pan.

3. Arrange the chicken on a platter. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce. Spoon it over the chicken.

Spiced Roast Potatoes (Sekela bateta)
Source: Cooking with my Indian mother-in-law

These potatoes can commonly be found in many rice dishes. Originally, they could be added to stretch quantities to feed more people.  I think they are excellent as a side dish too!

For dishes serving 4 people (adjust accordingly)

4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1/2 tbsp groundnut (peanut) oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of chilli powder
1/8 tsp tumeric

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. In an ovenproof dish, toss the potatoes with the oil, garlic, salt, chilli powder and tumeric. Put the dish in the oven and roast the potatoes for 25 minutes until they are golden-brown and cooked through – test them by piercing with a skewer or the point of a knife.

Boston Restaurant Week: Rialto

It’s Jody Adam’s Rialto we went for a 3-course dinner. Anticipating that it would be much food – at times more than we could handle – we decided to have a light lunch so that we had space for this US$33.11 meal.

Situated on the 2nd floor of Charles Hotel, we were 20 minutes early but the waitress graciously sat us by a 2-seater table. The decor was cosy and the atmosphere light. Jazzy music was playing in the background and I hummed along to Norah Jones’ number.

Overall, the hubs and I enjoyed the dinner. Our server was attentive to us and the food tastefully decorated. Fish was fresh, as with the vegs too. Ken loved the popover with the tangy touch to it. I…just love everything about the food. The amount was just nice and didn’t leave us with a bloated stomach.

  

Charred beef carpaccio...bean salad, tomatoes, pickles

Ceviche of local fish... sea salt, mint oil, pickled watermelon

Grilled bluefish... grilled razor clam, bacon, garlic potatoes, cucumber sauce

Grilled pork sausage...chic peas, grilled romaine, Aleppo, feta

Sweet cinnamon popover with blueberry peach compote and lemon mascarpone mousse

Chocolate torta with sweet corn ice cream, cornmeal crisp, chili crème anglaise and corn nut croquant

Pardon the grainy pictures. Forgot to bring my camera along! Sigh!

Tis Wed @ small group gathering

Instead of BS, we had a time of fellowshipping over dinner and Cranium. Here’s what happened in motion picture.

My debut using iMovie. More to come!

Mushroom and beef stroganoff

Stroganoff was invented by a Russian chef in Saint Petersburg at a culinary competition during the period of the Czars. Glad that he did because this dish is easy and nice to have. Serves as a comfort food too.

Serves 4 (adjust serving size accordingly)
Source: One-dish meals

1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
200g beed tenderloin, cut into strips
800g white button mushrooms, caps wiped, stems discarded and sliced

1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
300g Linguine, cooked al dente

 

1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes.

2. Add beef and mushrooms and saute for  3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook for another minute.

3. Add white wine and cook until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

4. Mix in sour cream, then add nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Add linguine to a pan. Toss until linguine is well-coated with sauce. Serve hot.

Stressed.

Buying an apartment is one of the most stressful things that could happen to anyone.

Yesterday, I asked mom to go down to view the apartment. I wasn’t sure if this is a right move because I know if she was to give a bad review about it, I would be greatly affected. But the fact is, she is critical and honest in her opinion and that’s what I need most.

Coincidentally, bro emailed me about the recent news on housing matters and I updated him. I know he’s not very supportive of us buying resale flats because to him, buying from HDB is the best option since it is the cheapest. Of course, that would be ideal except that we would like to have the apartment soon and without having to wait 3-5 years for it. Bro’s intention is to make a profit from selling the apartment after the 5 years are up but our goal is to stay there for long. Our goals thus don’t match but I know I was affected by the email exchanges.

And as I have expected, I didn’t have a good night’s rest. I was stressed. I need to know mom’s reaction to the flat.

And…my mom is actually okay with it! It turns out that the owner is someone she knows! She had a quick glance at the flat and felt comfortable in it. That’s the thing I want to hear! Since we could not be present to view the flat ourselves, my mom’s opinion does count a lot because she knows my taste, to a certain extent. She even told me that I wouldn’t like the kitchen decor and she’s absolutely right! We will do something about that!

I am at peace again. Mom’s ok with it and that means a great deal to me. Yes, we are all concerned about the economic situation but what needs to be spent has to be spent, as long as it is within our means.

One more barrier crossed. *Thumbs up*

I felt assured again. Thank you, God!

Proceeding with paperwork

Joanne Chang’s Homemade Oreos

Another JC’s baked goods. I must say the oreos taste good and are easy to make though you might want to consider preparing the dough the night before so that it can sufficiently be chilled.

The recipe can be found here. I’m not in the mood to type out the recipe; my mind is on something else. After working through some of her recipes from the cookbook, I really think that it is worth your money. The baked products turn out delish!

Preparing the dough

Going into the oven

 

Filling on the cookie

Sandwiched!

Homemade oreos!

Never-ending

These are the books and definitely recipes (see the ‘bookmarks’ on the books) that I want to attempt before I return them to the library. Do you think I can beat the deadline?

Miette

The next time you are in SF, you have to visit Miette and try their pastries. Love the shop and obviously the sweet stuff. Love this video too and let’s hope I could get my hands on the book soon (from the library, i.e.). =p

We did our share of hunting for it earlier this year. =)

Macarons fever.

This film makes the baking of macarons looks so scientific. It actually is. Thus far, I’ve baked 5 different flavours. 5 more to go before the end of the year!

Union Oyster House

I’m back to Apple School again to learn to use iMovie. I was early – 10 minutes before 10am – and there was already a crowd outside the store. Seems like there will always be a steady number of customers = potential $$$.

iMovie is really easy to use, much more idiot-proof than Windows Movie Maker. I should be practising using it soon!

Went to Union Oyster House for our first Restaurant Week Boston. Established in 1826, it is supposedly America’s oldest restaurant and is found along the Freedom Trail. We had the 3-course meal for $20.11 per person and we came out, feeling bloated.

We were seated on the second floor and it was rather dim, giving it an old feel to the atmosphere. We were each served cornbread before our appetizers which were Clam Chowder and Buffalo Fried Calamari. By then, we were already half-filled.

 

Entrees: Oysters lightly fried and pan-fried halibut. We could not finished our share. I prefer the Halibut but it was a tad plain if eaten without the sauteed yellow and red tomatoes. The mashed potatoes could have been more flavourful while the fries on the plate of oysters could be served warmer.

For desserts, we had Homemade Apple Clobber and Indian Pudding and a cup of coffee each. And yes, we couldn’t finish again. We are just small-eaters by nature. What a waste!

Both of us concurred that the appetizers are the better dishes we had tasted and that we need to exercise more. =)

Chalkboard pots

In my future home, I would want to have such pots in my balcony or kitchen window. I want to eat the fresh herbs I grow.

Links within the pics.