Singlish

This is our uniquely colloquial language, Singlish. It’s nothing wrong since it’s part of our identity. The problem, I’m afraid, is that students thought that that is the standard language. It’s truly a battle for us when they come in with such a notion. There’s once when my students asked me if I came from Britain!!!?? I was merely speaking standard English (I don’t believe I spoke with any accent)!

Being able to distinguish between Singlish and standard English is important and thereby, code-switching.

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Monday bakes

The bananas that Yumi brought over on Friday are ripe and ready to be turned into a banana bread. I have baked this a few times and they have received raved review. No harm baking again. Brekky for the next few days!

And since I have chocolate ganache lying in the fridge, I might as well bake chocolate macarons. I really want to improve my technique. I made a few mistakes but in the end, the presentation turns out ok though I’m not sure about the texture. My friends would have to be guinea pigs again while I try and try again.

Too runny a batter! Darn!

Inconsistent sizes =(

Macarons in a ramekin

Chocolate macarons!

Sunday

I find it strange to see snow on green. But it’s a refreshing sight as we opened the main door after the previous night’s snowstorm which dumped up to 30 inches of heavy wet snow in parts of the state and our area, a few inches.

White Witch cast a spell in the land of Narnia! Thankfully, it was soon broken.

On a quiet Sunday morning.

Farewell to our friend, James.

Shabu Shabu with a group of special and close friends.

Thank you Lord for all these.

Apple Cinnamon Toaster Strudel

Another apple stuff. No, not related to Jobs. Taken from the kitchn. I find the filling a tad too sweet. The next time I try, I would decrease the amount of brown sugar. Was lazy too. Used store-bought puff pastry.

  
Pics taken at night (left) and daytime (natural light) using Lumix.

Taken using Canon EOS 400D.

Apple Cinnamon Toaster Strudels
Serves 8
Adapted from the kitchn 

For the crust
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling
2 baking apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

For the filling, grate the apples on the large holes of a box grater. In a heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the grated apples and toss until coated. Add the brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon of (chilled) butter. Cool the filling to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a well-floured work surface, continuing to flour the work surface as necessary throughout the rolling/trimming process. Roll out the pastry to form a very large, thin rectangle. Trim the edges of the dough to make a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out 8 (3-1/2 x 5 inch) rectangles.

Transfer 4 of the rectangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon a scant 2 tablespoons of the apple filling into the center of these. Spread the filling evenly across the pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch space clean around the perimeter. Brush the other 4 rectangles with the egg wash. Place an egg washed rectangle directly over a filled rectangle (egg wash touching the filling). Using your fingertips, firmly seal the edges on all sides (dip your fingers in a little flour if the dough is sticky). Use the tines of the fork to seal the shorter 2 ends of the rectangles. Prick each strudel all over with a fork, including the sealed edges. Repeat this step with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Egg wash the rectangles before baking them in the oven. Bake the strudels until puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before eating. Serve warm.

Friday bakes

This weekend is packed to the core. While we do not have any halloween party, we do have invitations of various kinds and this provides a good opportunity to bake since there would be people who could possibly polish the food off. Yay! And since I have only about a month more to go before I let go of my beloved standmixer, I need to maximise the use of it.

First up is Joanne Chang’s Apple Snacking Spice Cake which is easy to bake and delicious for munching. I have been attempting some of her recipes and thus far, they turn out good!

Somehow, the combination of apple, raisins and pecan nuts won’t get you nowhere.

Next up is banoffee macarons, one that Yumi chose to bake from the Macarons book that she gave me months ago. Since I had just attended the French Macarons class, I’m ready to apply what I’ve learnt. Having to eyeball the whipped egg whites to a shiny, smooth consistency is key to having a sexy looking macaron shell and I’m nervous about it. We do have feet this time but the shells are a tad hollow. What is wrong again??

Last but not least, we baked Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes. Baking them made me think of the reason why I started baking in the first place – that I was captivated by the many many cupcakes that I saw online and was thus enticed to bake them. Cupcakes are easy to bake and they are absolutely not as finicky as macarons. I got the idea to bake these cupcakes from the blog – Love & Olive Oil – but adapted a little using the Chai Latte teabags instead of the black ones. Thus, I also adjusted the amount of spices used – half of the amount indicated. The frosting is just amazing! It’s so delicious and not as heavy as the usual (American) buttercream. The cupcakes turn out moist and the whole combination is just heavenly! This cupcake recipe is for keeps.

Happy baking!

Fast-forward

It’s snowing right now. Weird. In October?

It’s like fast-forwarding to December. Bags all packed, items sold or given away, memories all locked in.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Christmas is coming soon! And all I want for Christmas is to be with my family and friends again.

And when I’m back in Singaland, I would reminisce the good old days in Boston.

Life’s like this.

French Macarons

Yesterday was the Macarons class and we baked Almond Tuiles, Lemon Sables, Madeleines, Palet Coconut and Orange Palet too. The attention, of course, was on the finicky ones. Most of us who signed up had baked Macarons before but failed certain times. So, this class was precious to us since we wanted to learn from the more experienced and knowledgeable one. And boy, did we learn new stuff!

The whipped egg whites should be shiny and when you scoop a little out, should be devoid of sugar.

Chef tended to my partner and I first and we had a good batter, so said Chef. Minutes into putting the piped macaron shells into the oven, he opened the oven door and observed. Something’s not right…and then he immediately looked at the oven temperature. Someone had tuned it up to 350F when it should have been 325F. The shells cracked and he explained that the heat was too much for the shells.

With coffee ganache

Something went wrong with the other pairs too. Think it was the piping. The baked shells did not turn out as well. Chef decided that we should start a new batch again and throw away those imperfect ones. Oh! What a waste! So many of them, all into the bin! The second time round, the results were much better. 

  
With pistachio and lemon ganache

With raspberry ganache

A few pointers:
1. The important step is whipping the egg whites. There is no need to use aged egg whites. Just make sure there is no speck of yolk in the whites when you whip.

2. The sugar is added to stabilise the whites. No salt added for his recipe. Go on low speed after the whites reach soft peak stage and sugar added @ ard speed 3 or 4.   The initial whipping speed is at speed 10!!!!

3. If the whipped egg whites becomes a bit too dry (overwhipped), add a little egg whites during the folding stage. Need not whip again.

4. The almond flour affects the quality of the turnout of the shells. Check if there is cornstarch added which tends to remove moisture. Better not to have cornstarch.

5. Chef opened the oven door ever so often to check on the other trays of shells. It seems that such action does not affect the baking! To tell if the shells are ready, when you place your finger on the shells, they should feel a bit shaky on the feet. Take out and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes before adding the filling.

6. Chef did not rest the shells after they are piped. It doesn’t seem to matter! But in his recipe, he recommended resting for 30 minutes before baking to form a crust which helps to avoid cracking. But it works without resting too!

Next step is to test baking them without the supervision of Chef. =p

I think I have had enough macarons for now.

I’m glad I’m not doing the washing.

The kitchen counter cooking school.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home CooksThe Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

She did it again! This is such an empowering account of 9 culinary novice turned triumphant home cooks. Besides tracking the learning journey of these nine ordinary women, the author also included snippets of facts about the food that we consume, some of which can be rather alarming. It’s part educational due to this and simple recipes are provided too.

Some of the facts listed in her book:

– “Commercial poultry growers have researched how to engineer chickens through breeding to grow significantly greater portions of breast meat. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts fetch as much as six dollars per pound – roughly five times the retail price for whole chickens and at least twice as much as the other portions of the bird. The downside? To maximise profits chickens are often confined to massive barracks where they are provided an endless supply of feed around the clock but given little exercise. Some birds grow so big so fast, they ultimately cannot support themselves under the weight of their mighty breasts and fall down. Detractors of the industrial poultry process say that they system ratchets up the stress level for the chickens and breaks down their immune systems, thus requiring mass poultry growers to use a lot of antibiotics.”

– I realised Alfredo sauce is made up of cream, pasta water, some (Parmesan) cheese and maybe some garlic & pepper. Darn…so easy!!!

– Vinaigrette = 1 part acid (vinegar/ citrus juice) + 3 parts oil

– On parts of a cow: Chuck –> shoulder –> a lot of muscles = tough –> stew;  Shank & brisket –> thighs –> braise; meat near the ribs is tender; Behind the ribs are short loins and then sirloin –> most expensive cuts –> tenderloin, filet mignon…

May I suggest you read this book and especially the chapter on ‘What’s in the box?’. It’s important to learn to read the labels on boxes of pre-mixes or any ultraprocessed food that we buy.

Above all, learn to cook from scratch because you have control of what goes into that particular dish and I’m sure you only want the best for those whom you cook for. It’s really not that difficult; it just takes a little bit of time.

Hello! Monday!

It’s less than two months before we head back to Singaland. Suddenly, there is a tinge of sadness and apprehension. I wonder what life would be like then. Slowly but surely, emails from the relevant organisations have been creeping into my inbox. What would the workload be like? Would I be able to manage my time properly? Would I have the luxury to cook and bake anymore? Would I be able to enjoy the company of friends like we’re experiencing now? Would we be caught in the rat race? Would I wind myself up in the land of materialism?

Oh well, there’s no point thinking too much. It’s a beautiful morning, a day full of hope! Drive the Monday blues away!

My Savior, my God.

I consider all things rubbish, all my achievements and ambitions, present, past and future, if the ultimate end is not for His glory. If I should be a good helper to my husband, it should be for His sake. If I should be a good worker and friend, it should be for His glory, that people could sense His love through me. If I should be a daughter whom my parents would be pleased with, it should be because I want to point the folks to His transforming power in my life. If I should be a caring mother, it should be because He has placed in me a responsibility so great that I could not do anything less than a well-done job. Yes, mediocrity is detestable for He gave His best for me.

He must increase, and I must decrease.

The wedding

Since coming here, I have missed at least 3 of my friends’ wedding. Before I was married, I disliked attending weddings, finding it a waste of my time. But since I got united with da man, it has a whole new meaning for me and missing my friends’ weddings saddened me (see how marriage can change a person!).

All was not lost as we got to witness R and A’s wedding yesterday. It was beautiful, the bride no doubt, but the whole ceremony gave God the due credit and that’s splendid.

We may have only known R and A for about a year but they have indeed made an impact on our lives through their dedication to the Lord and His people. A, especially, like what her college friend said to us during the reception, is hard not to like and indeed, we love this wonderful woman to bits. As she entered the sanctuary all dazzling in white and marched down the aisle to Canon in D, I found myself overwhelmed by emotions. Tears just welled up. And I’m not the only one. I heard Janet sniffing and her eyes watery. A, you have such magical powers over us!

The wedding reception at Harvard Club was with so much fun, especially the dancing part. The atmosphere lightened as we enjoyed one another’s company. The couple gave the first dance (and boy, did they dance well!) and the older folks joined in with such enthusiasm and energy! How could you not want to participate? It was an awesome sight! Yesterday was just beautiful with wonderful people and an amazing God.

Blessed marriage, R and A. And…the journey has just begun. Smile!

Apple pancake

Hello! It’s the weekends and I finally can take some time to meddle in the kitchen.! My refrigerator is still packed with two bagfuls of apples even though we or rather I had been trying to eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away. So, the other alternatives to solving this beautiful problem are to give the apples away or bake them!

Thankfully, there are various recipes on the internet and the kitchn has wonderful ones on the website. I thought of baking the apple pancake since I have all the ingredients in my kitchen. Yay! It alos requires a no-fuss kind of baking. Double bonus!

Am pasting the recipe here for reference sake.

Weekend Apple Pancake 
serves 3 to 4

2 large or 3 medium apples, preferably tart ones like Granny Smith ( I used 2)
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs ( I used 4)
Powdered or cinnamon sugar, to serve

Heat the oven to 400°F. Peel, core, and quarter the apples, then cut them into medium slices (1/4-inch thick or less). Then cut the slices in halves or thirds. You should have about 3 cups of chopped apples.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and ginger and set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks and place them in a deep cast iron skillet or 8×8-inch baking dish. Put the skillet or baking dish in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the 1/3 cup brown sugar over the melted butter. Carefully spread the apples on top of the brown sugar and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples. Put the pan back in the oven to caramelize the apples and sugar.

 
 

Whisk the flour with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps. When the flour is smoothly incorporated into the milk, beat in the vanilla and the eggs one by one. Beat by hand for 2 minutes, or until foamy. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. By now the sugar should be bubbling around the apples.

Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples. Bake for about 20 – 25 more minutes or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.

 

 

@ the Kindergarten

Have spent this week in the Kindergarten. It was fun albeit a tad tiring. The little ones can be adorable and yet demanding at the same time. I have observed wonderful instructions by the teachers and the activities were all insightful. =)

A gift from C during Choice Time

My treat by the amazing teachers at kindergarten. Bye for now. See ya next week!

WA @ PSS: At the Kindergarten

This was my second week at the Kindergarten. Since the three teachers had to do DRA testing of the kids, I was roped in to conduct the morning meeting with the Green team.

Having had my first (awful) experience with them last week, I was more at ease with morning meeting now. Basically, there would always be a morning message written by the teacher on the white board, get the kids to read together with you, highlight some key words you want the kids to learn and then go straight to respond with whatever question that goes with the message. After that, it would be Bible reading and then prayer before talking about the calendar and the weather.

I thought the conversation was a excellent way to get to know your students better and to build rapport with them. The students can choose to ‘pass’ but most of the time, if the topic is interesting, you will have willing respondents.

I thought I did a good job on Tuesday and then worsened on Wednesday and subsequently, today. I believe the kids want their fun-loving Mr Fortier back. Oh well, this would be my last time conducting morning meeting with them, I hope. The trio had finally completed all the testing today! Bravo!

Picture day | 19 Oct 2011

On the Teachers

“One-two-three, eyes on me!” (teacher)
“One-two, eyes on you!” (students)

 To be kindergarten teachers, you need a specific set of skills. Apart from the wide repertoire of classroom management techniques you need to have under your belt, you need to know when to be serious, firm and fun-loving at the right time. Being quick-witted is an important trait in these teachers since many unforeseen circumstances can happen to young kids. Flexibility, that is crucial. Above all, having a cohesive team of well-trained kindergarten teachers is essential. 

Buddy Reading

On alternate Thursdays, there will be Chapel and the whole school would be down in the Gym room for a time of worship and sharing of God’s word. Today, there’s no Chapel but Buddy Reading. Pupils from Grade 5 and 6 paired up with the Kindergarteners and read to them in the library.

*AFI: Instead of chatting among themselves, the teachers could go around and assess if the kids are doing the Buddy Reading the right way.

The Kindergarteners would proceed to this tray of books to select the ones that they want their buddies to read to them.

Choice Time

I love Choice Time, so do the kids. This is the time when the kids can choose the kind of activities that they want to do after Literacy Centres or when the kids have to stay indoors for their Recess (normally held at the Esplanade). There are quite a few activities ranging from picture puzzles, book nook, play dough to Lego. A lot of social skills can be taught and learnt during this ‘play time’.

  
Making a choice

Choice Time goes like this: The teacher will call out the students one by one to get to the board so that they could place their name pegs at the station that they choose.  Obviously, the kids who get to pick first are the ones who behave properly to be called by the teacher first. When each station has 2 or 3 name pegs on them, the students know that they are NOT to place their name peg on it anymore. So you know what to do if you want to get to the choice board first!

Making serious choices starts now!

In the middle of the Choice Time, the students can negotiate with the friends to take over that specific activity/station. That would need quite a fair bit of skills. Most of the students are nice and would allow their friends to take over. However, there are some stations which are popular and kids want to hold on to their ‘place’ as long as possible. That’s when conflict is highly plausible. One of the unfortunate cases was I. B. who didn’t get to the teaching board which she loved and got into a conflict with her friends. In the end, the teacher had to call her out and gave her a time-out. She had to go to one corner and reflect on what had happened, draw the scene and then talk to a teacher about it. Thereafter, she could ask to rejoin the group. Oh! One more thing, the paper has to go back to the parents! Scary!

So, our dear girl was crying as she did her reflections. Obviously, she didn’t want to bring the paper back home since she knew what she would be in for. *I let the teacher handle it. * Somehow, the teacher had a way to deal with the kids. It’s just so magical. The kids listened and obeyed! Moments later, our dear friend was back with her friends on her fav teaching board.

  
Kind-hearted M invited I.B. back to the teaching board.

There’s much to learn during this ‘Play-Time’. Students need to learn how to negotiate and be patient.  Kindness and love towards one another have to be shown and teachers can absolutely use this time to talk about it. This is also a great time for teachers to observe the kids and to know their likes and dislikes and what they are good at. The kids’ temperaments are clearly shown in this activity.

To Sum Up

Three days have since passed and I’m absolutely impressed by how the teachers handled the kids. They were quick to correct the misbehaviours of the students and gave ample encouragement at the same time. The students were in a very safe environment to comment yet at the same time, they were taught to know their limits. I like it that a lot of fundamentals were taught in Kindergarten, like having a good writing position and how to hold a pencil in the correct manner. Teachers also emphasized on reading and through this, taught the kids difficult words, prediction skills and the various genres.

Mr Fortier teaching how to grip the pencil

H practising THE GRIP

So, with a cup of coffee compliments of the teachers, I left the school, tired but happy! Three days spent in Kindergarten!

CSCA – Petit Four

I’m a bit disappointed that basic pate-a-choux  is taught as part of the lesson series Petit Four and Macarons. I thought that it would touch on more of those tartlets stuff that we often eat at buffets. That forms a small part, no doubt, but a lot more time was spent on pate-a-choux which I have learnt before.

Nothing was lost, of course since different chefs teach different things and each time you learn something new. The following are examples of the various cream puffs and eclairs that we made from pate-a-choux dough. Something new I learnt was the fondant icing that was used on the eclairs. Normally, I would just use chocolate ganache but the use of the fondant creates better shine and taste. And Chef D showed us how dirty sugar (those that we bought from supermarkets) can be when he taught us to clean the sugar when making fondant, an important step to do if you want a good feel of  fondant when it’s in your mouth.

 These small tarts are from Pate Sucre.

And we took back 2 boxes of goodies plus a bag of pate-a-choux empty shells.

Next lesson. Macarons! So looking forward to it!

Food trucks in Boston

We used to have food carts back home. I remember when I was still very very young, our family would go to the streets lined with food carts after my father called it a day at the shophouse. These days, we see the cleaner version at Chinatown but it just isn’t the same. The atmosphere is just different. Sometimes things need to be kept the way they were. Dirty, unhygienic? I consumed the food when I was a kiddo and nothing happened? Oh well, those were the days.

Naturally, I was drawn to food trucks in Boston. Not that I always frequent them but the concept gives me a nice feeling and brings back memories.

{via}

SG buzz @ Boston

Joy informed us that there was a talk cum dinner organised by the Overseas Singaporean Unit and we thought we should check it out since the invited guest was Dr Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost (whose blog I like reading) and free Singaporean food! While we were exhausted from the apple-picking trip, we thought we should just press on.

Thankfully we did. Dr Tay gave a superb and appetite-whetting sharing on the history of our hawker food. Boy, we seriously felt that it was a terrific session, both informational and fun. He was both factual and humourous at the same time and at the end of his sharing, we felt really proud of being a Singaporean, with reference to our local food. Oh of course, I felt that I’m back home again, with all my fellowmen and uniquely Singapore Standard English floating in the air.


I think there indeed might come a day when some of our local food will face ‘extinction’ since the next generation of locals would not aspire to learn the trade from their parents, preferring more professional kind of work like bankers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Sure we could employ foreign workers to do the job but something is lost by doing so, I feel. 

I do feel a lot about food, especially after a year of learning to cook and bake in my own kitchen. It’s highly educational and fascinating and food forms a great part of our culture. Having said that, I really ought to continue to learn the craft from my mama and koko!

By the way, I think his book is worth buying if you want to know the history of our local food.

 

The {mis}adventures of apple picking

If you asked me to choose between visiting farms and theme parks, my answer would undoubtedly be the former. As an urbanite who grew up with all things man-made, I would much prefer to be with nature and learning how they come about. So when Ken bough the tickets for us to go for apple picking, I was thrilled!

The trip was organised by BC Graduate Student Association and cost $15/pax which includes 10 lb. apple picking bag, haywagon ride, hedge maze, a caramel apple, a cider donut and a 16 oz bottle of cider. Not a bad deal since the 45 min of transport is included too. Oh, something worth mentioning – we took the yellow school bus to Honey Pot Hill Orchards! All of us (BC students) were thrilled. Back to the past!

The weather was terrific for adventures such as this and everyone was in high spirits. Let’s go pick apples!

First stop is to refuel (though we had done nothing much in the morning!). Cider donuts and caramel apples! We went with Lana, a Malaysian and she is such a fun person to be with!

Then we went on to get ourselves lost in the hedge maze. The kids (human GPS) gave us some hint to get to our destination but some purposely gave us wrong directions! =p

I didn’t know there are so many different types of apples until today and when I googled it, I was amazed! MANY types! Some of those available in the orchards are Cortland, Spencer, Empire and Mcintosh, to name a few. Apparently, there is a way to pick apples.

  

  
The fruits of your labour is to eat the fruits that you picked.

Twin apples!

Ken, as usual, gets all excited when he talks about education.

And the clumsy Lynn has to get into trouble. A splinter got into her palm as she tried to ascend the ladder to pick more delicious-looking apples. Oops! Ken looked on in pain. But it’s my palm that’s hurt!

  
But apple picking has to go on!

       
Then we had a rest to enjoy the beautiful foliage and claim our bottles of cider!

Yummy drinks!

Our last activity would be to take the hayride. Of all things, I had to drop my Lumix camera into the muddy water. Sigh! Thankfully, it still works. =)

Oh! I really love apple-picking. No wonder the Americans themselves love it too and the locals who went with us were reminiscing their apple-picking days! Thank you, dear hubs for initiating this activity! I ❤ it very much!

The Finns

Some features of Finnish education and culture (Gamerman 2008):

– Parents of newborns receive government-paid packs of child-development materials that include books. Some libraries are attached to shopping malls. Book buses travel to remote towns so that everyone has access to books.

– Children do not start school until age seven.

– Finish students rarely do more than a half-hour of homework a night.

– There are no classes for the gifted. Much more emphasis is paid to those students who are behind grade level in reading.

– Finnish teachers have more freedom to design lessons to meet the needs of their students. One principal says, “In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are entrepreneurs”.

Source: Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it by Kelly Gallagher.

Busy but happy Friday

Love it when friends come over for a meal or to cook together!

It’s Yumi’s first attempt at macarons. Deep in me I was afraid of what the weather can do to the end result of the macarons. Remember, my previous failed attempt was on a humid rainy day too?

And the shells did crack! I’m really not sure if it’s the macaronage or the weather. But it’s too much of a coincidence to ignore the possibility that the humidity might play a part. Oh well. We’ll try again. It’s a lot of fun baking with Yumi though.

Some pics.

They looked good after being piped but you only know the results when you take them out from the oven.

The salted caramel is also difficult to handle. Have to wait a long time before it cools and hardens slightly.

After the baking of macarons came second round – cooking bak chor mee! This time, it’s with the 2 gals from BC. They wanted to learn how to make the dish and we had fun too!

  
Fun with the gals

Happy faces! Yay!

=)

 

WA @ PSS: I did morning meeting

I think I suck at classroom management now.

Mr Fortier asked me if I wanted to lead morning meeting with the kids today while he used the time to test some pupils using DRA. To be honest, I was scared stiff. I mean, how long ago did I last teach? About 4 years ago! And today we are talking about the kindergartens and I have never taught them before! Apart from this thought was the fact that there are cultural differences and our accents are different thus affecting comprehensibility and more importantly, I do not know their names.

But I did it anyway. My classroom management wasn’t excellent. I lost them in the middle of it and I did not manage the time well. Sigh! Big boo boo to me. Guess I need to practise more!

The kindergarteners at Literacy

This photo is taken during centre time when students are allocated to different tasks and after completing that task, they can have the choice of activities (Lego, Play-Doh, etc). One of the centres is ABC and students have to find the lower case of the letters. While they small letters are so obvious presenting before my eyes, the children had a hard time looking for them. I guess this is part of development * think Piaget*.

Back to PSS, I went up to Louisa’s art class and wanted to apologise that I stepped out suddenly in the morning (cos Charlotte called for me). In the end, I stayed on to help her with the Grade 5s and I thought I did a better job communicating with these kids, the seemingly naughtiest ones. Oh! How I like to talk sense rather than to kids. =p

Roasted broccoli with red pepper flakes and garlic

I love roasting of any kind. Roasting of vegetables and meat and less pots and pans to wash! That also means less time at the stovetop!

Serves 4 -6
Source: Good food to share by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan

1 1/2Ib (750g) brocooli heads, ends trimmed
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice plus more for serving
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Cut the broccoli lengthwise into spears 4-6 inches long. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, peel off any dried or bruised skin from the stems.

Arrange the spears in a single layer in a roasting pan. Pour the olive oil over the spears, then sprinkle with the lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Roast, turning once about halfway through the cooking time, until the broccoli is tender and the tips and outer edges are crisp and browned, about 15 minutes. Serve right away with an extra squirt of lemon juice and a few pinches of sea salt.

Singapore Laksa

This post is written for the Woods, who have been excellent hosts to us when we went over to Buffalo, NY, for the ISI conference and to visit Niagara Falls. The Woods is a good example of an exemplary family who desires to seek after God’s heart.

Recently, we sent a box of Laksa sauce kit to them and thought they could whip up this Singaporean dish. It was really easy and in all, it took me one hour to do it. A shorter period of time is possible if you skip making the shredded chicken. But you do need the following ingredients:

       
Fish cake, sliced.

Hard-cooked eggs

Gently place the eggs in a saucepan and add tepid water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and place under cold running water until cool and peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise.

  
Fried bean curd, cut into halves

Other ingredients include rice noodles, bean sprouts and shredded chicken (this is optional). All these ingredients can be purchased from an Asian supermarket. I hope you have one in your area!

After you have done your mise en place, fill two saucepans with water. One for blanching the rice noodles and bean sprouts, the other for making the laska gravy.

 
Blanching of rice noodles. Follow the instructions on the pack.

Next, blanch the bean sprouts for about 5 to 10 seconds. Apportion the rice noodles and bean sprouts into individual bowls. Now, we will go on to make the Laksa gravy. Fill the other saucepan with about 2 3/4 cups of water. Add the Laksa Premix and mix well.

Do you know this is actually coconut powder? Next add in the Laksa Paste.

The Laksa Paste contains vegetable oil, chilli, shrimp, ginger, onion, shrimp paste, tumeric, laksa leaves and lemon grass. Mix well.

At this point, I add in the fried bean curd.

When you have all these steps ready, it’s a breeze from now on. All you need to do is to add the various ingredients and then pour the laksa gravy over them. That’s it. Singapore Laksa!

make a gif online
If you desire the more spicy version, you can add the packet of sambal chilli. Just a little will do. It is really spicy! This is mine after I made for Ken who doesn’t really fancy spicy food.

Below is the version that Ken’s auntie cooked for us (from scratch and without any sauce kit!) while we were in Singapore.

Yummy! Do try cooking it and have fun!
If you don’t have an Asian supermarket, just add hard-cooked eggs and shredded chicken. The replacement for the rice noodle is Italian Capellini.

Boston Half Marathon 2011

It will be our last race in Boston.

The weather’s great, not too cold, the shuttling to the race site was smooth and the runners encouraging.

Ken and I ran at a good pace for the first half of the distance until his muscles started to tighten and eventually cramped up. He has hit the wall. It got so bad that he couldn’t run well anymore.

It was frustrating. In the beginning, the run was great. I really thought with that pace, we could make it back in good timing. However, when you hit the wall and couldn’t get rid of the lactic acid, that’s basically it. It’s even worse that that there was no deep heat or anyone who could do some massage at the medical post.

I believe Ken was equally frustrated since he’s the one experiencing it.

* So I tried looking for any tube of deep heat that have been discarded by runners. With my eyes fixed on the ground, I saw a familiar bottle. Ah! That’s hope to ease the cramp! So I scooped out whatever was left in the bottle and applied it on Ken’s thighs and massaging them at the same time. I really thought it was deep heat ( apparently, I was thinking right). It was after the race that I realised the bottle which I have mistaken for deep heat was actually Vaseline lubricant! My goodness! What was I thinking??!! 

But we crossed the finish line still, as a couple and that’s more important. His legs got so cramped up that in the end, he had to be wheeled into the medical area. Whoah!

All was well in the end! Yay!

A burrito to replenish all that’s lost. =)

=)

I had long wanted to visit Boston Common Coffee and Co. for a while now as I’m captivated by the facade of the coffee joint.

However, I was sorely disappointed when we stepped in. The interior decor was uncoordinated, distasteful to a certain extent. Since we were already inside, we might as well just bummed there as planned. Thankfully, the drinks are affordable and the place not too noisy for us to do some reading.

And then it’s off to Mike’s Pastry – Italian pastries. We had often seen people with the store’s boxes in their hands and wondered if its baked goods are really fabulous. So we decided to try and bought the cannoli.

Yay! I’ve got a box in my hands too!

Had a picnic with Juliet, her son, her MIL and KJ. Half the time, Juliet was distracted by the son who was lured by the squirrels at the Common. The kid was just so energetic. Fortunately for her, her MIL came to take care of the little one during her stay here. Otherwise, I would think it is immensely challenging to study and have to take care of the young kid at the same time!

And then we ran into demonstration ‘Occupy Boston‘. Interesting.