It’s mid-week!

I’ve been wanting to make pancakes for breakfast after having them at Chye Seng Huat that Saturday. I want to see if I could create the same type of pancakes and since today the hubs could go to work later, I prepared them for our breakfast.

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The taste is ok but they are not as fluffy as the ones we had. There’s a need for improvement. Otherwise, the breakfast is a hearty one. =)

Fluffy Hotcakes [Halve the portion for 2 person’s share]
Source: Chef at home: a taste of goodness
IMG_2681(Makes 10 to 12)
2 cups plain flour
2 eggs
4tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Blend all ingredients together for 1 to 2 mins until well mixed.
2. Heat a skillet and grease it lightly.
3. When skillet is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot skillet; cook on low heat till the top surface bubbles. Flip hotcake over to brown the other side.
4. Continue till all the batter is used up.
5. Serve hotcakes with maple syrup or honey, and butter. I serve with fruits too.

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26 Feb

I was to attend the graduation ceremony for my MLS course and the hubs had kindly taken leave to attend, no, to take care of Faith. So, the days leading up to the ceremony saw me trying on my pre-pregnancy dresses and I ended up being depressed. The hubs, having heard my complaints, suggested that we go down to a shopping mall to buy a dress before attending the ceremony in the afternoon.

So, after the morning run, at 9.15am, the hubs said, “So, we leave home at 9.45am ok?”

I’m not sure if you have watched the movie ‘I don’t know how she does it’ but there is this scene when SJP had a time of going through the list of things to do in her mind during bedtime while her on-screen husband had fallen into deep sleep.

After that question by the hubs, a million things raced through my mind too.
1) Need to bathe Faith. That would mean prepare the water for it, bathe her, discard the water, blah, blah…
2) Need to rinse the clothes so that we can dry them (it’s sunny).
3) I haven’t gone to the toilet for some big business (I had the feeling).
4) I haven’t chosen the clothes to wear (just in case we could not get a decent dress during shopping so this has to be a back-up plan).
5) I haven’t chosen a pair of shoes to go with it.
6) I haven’t cleaned up the kitchen.
7) The water isn’t boiled.
8)  I haven’t blow-dried my hair and it was in a mess!
9) The dining table was in a mess. Need to tidy.
… and the list goes on.

My immediate answer to the hubs’ question was, “Huh? Not even time la!” To which he quickly answered, “Okok, 10.15am then.”

That’s the difference between how a man and a woman thinks. Maybe we think too much or there are really some things that we can do later. Prioritization? Anyway, the hubs offered his help to clean Faith and after rushing here and there, we did manage to step out of the house at 10.15am.

And I did manage to buy a dress, not the best choice, but it is the most comfortable and one which I could breastfeed Faith conveniently. Oh, Faith, could you please take to the bottles again so that Mommy will not be so tied down by you?

To be totally honest, I was a bit sad yesterday. My body has gone out of shape and I look like an ‘auntie’. I have not cut or trim my hair since Feb last year and it has become like ‘dry grass’. It’s so depressing! Do you mothers face the same thing too?

But I did turn up for the ceremony in the end after toying with the idea of being absent. And I’m thankful to the hubs who looked after Faith outside the theatre for the whole session while the ceremony was going on. These are the only photos we took. Sigh!

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OK, I think I need to make an effort to put on some make-up from now on. But it’s so troublesome! And I kind of can guess what the hubs will say with regard to this. Hah!

Weekends :: 23, 24 Feb

I’m on half-load on weekends and I’m loving it.

picasion.com_e887db04403cac9325211271fcb3670aSaturday saw Faith and I accompanying da man to his workplace and I became a passenger at last! Ken was nervous about driving along the highway but I believe he should be able to drive with ease with more practice.

In the afternoon, while I busied myself in the kitchen, baking the strawberry cake for the cell group later in the evening, Ken spent time with Faith by reading and introducing rock music to her! The whole time when the music was on, Faith was listening intently and enjoying it at the same time. Sigh! It seems Faith prefers rock to classical or jazz.

IMG_2617Even when the hubs was ironing the clothes, he did not spare Faith the rock music and the kiddo literally rocked herself to the music.

La femme finally met up in full force! One does not need many friends but just a few who will be there for you when you go through the ups and downs of life. Sadly, the time was too short as we need to go back to my in-laws for ‘Yuan Xiao Jie’ dinner.

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Dinner @ in-laws. Koko cooked so many dishes and each time, we have to cry out to her to cook less. For me, I need to detox for the next few days. Nah…

IMG_2652Eunice making Kway Pie Tee for us. Wonderful lady!

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Dad entertaining Faith by singing to her. 

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Da man reading newspaper (sigh!) and Gabriel preparing Yu Sheng. Nice guy!

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IMG_2664After Yu Sheng, there’s still Peranakan food!!!

Happy Yuan Xiao Jie, people!

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Japanese-style strawberry cake

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I have wanted to bake a strawberry cake for the members of our CG whose birthdays fall in February. Browsed through Keiko Ishida’s cookbook and saw the picture of the strawberry cake. It was lovely and thus decided to have a go at it. As you know, I am not fond of baking cakes because I am poor in assembling cakes and worse at decorating them. However, such dislikes and fears have to be conquered!

Keiko’s recipe includes certain ingredients which I could not get hold of, primarily because I did not have the time to buy it so I goggled and found this wonderful recipe. I love the explanation and the beautiful pictures depicting the steps to assembling the cake. Awesome!

I like how easy the sponge cake can be baked using this recipe and it turns out soft too. However, I have problem with the whipped cream frosting because of the humid weather and the fact that it was so warm yesterday didn’t really help. Nonetheless, the show had to go on and after assembling it, I quickly placed it in the refrigerator until evening.

The result? I asked the hubs to bring the cake out for the guests while I fed Faith. IMG_2625When I came out, the guests were giving good comments about the cake and how nice the whipped cream frosting is. I had a go at one piece myself and loved it. I couldn’t take a decent picture of the sliced cake since I was busy savouring it. We were left with one last slice though and this is the best I could capture. =p

Loving this recipe. Would bake this again!

Am adapting the original recipe for my reference.

Strawberry cake (Source: La Fuji Mama http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/07/japanese-strawberry-shortcake/)
Makes one 7 or 8-inch layered cake

For sponge cake:
4 large eggs, white and yolks separated
120 grams  granulated sugar, sifted once
3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 grams cake flour, sifted 3 times
22 grams  unsalted butter, melted

For the stabilized whipped cream frosting:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4 teaspoons cold water
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
(I made 2 batches in the end since it was not enough)

For the simple syrup:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

8 – 10 ounces fresh strawberries

To make Sponge Cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 170 to 180 degrees Celsius.  Line a 7 (18cm) or 8-inch circular cake pan with parchment paper, or grease the cake pan with butter, then lightly coat the pan with flour.

2. Add the sugar to the egg whites, and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy.

3. Add the egg yolks to the egg white mixture, and gently whisk until the yolks are incorporated. The mixture will turn slightly yellowish.

4. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and flour (in that order) to the batter and gently fold them into the batter with a spatula.  Fold in the melted butter until it is well combined.

5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, and get rid of any air bubbles in the batter by hitting the pan on a counter once or twice.  Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes.  The cake is done when it is golden brown and springs back when pressed lightly.  Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. Run a blade around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, and remove.

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To make the Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting:

1. Put the cold water in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water and let stand for 5 minutes (do not stir).  Place the saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon just until the gelatin dissolves.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool to room temperature.

2.In a mixing bowl, combine the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat until slightly thickened.  Then, while beating slowly, gradually pour the gelatin into the whipped cream mixture.  Then whip the mixture at high speed until stiff.

To make the Simple Syrup:

1. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and water.  Bring the water to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To assemble the cake:

1. Reserve 6 to 1o strawberries for decorating the cake.  Slice the remaining strawberries into thin slices (about 4 slices per strawberry).

2. Slice the sponge cake horizontally into 2 layers.

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3. Place one sponge layer cut-side up on a cake board or serving plate and lightly crush the surface with the simple syrup.  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the cake layer and arrange the strawberry slices over the surface.  Spread an additional layer of whipped cream over the strawberries.  Brush the cut-side of the second layer with the simple syrup and place it over the first layer.  Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.  Decorate as desired and garnish with the reserved strawberries. 

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Jan dinner in Feb

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This is the bunch of ex-colleagues at HQ who still make it an effort to meet up once a month over meals. We brought Faith out, half afraid that she would be cranky the whole night but she’s ok! Thanks to the hubs who carried her around to view things (she’s uber curious) so that moi could have a peaceful dinner and thus ate too much in the end. =(

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The most interesting thing about this steamboat is the condiments. So many different ones, 12 of them, all mixed together as one. The ingredients are fresh and I love the sliced marbled beef and the various balls available. Love the drunken ginseng chicken soup base too. I would say very little (or no) processed food is served. Why of course, you pay the price for it too!

The night was still young as they proceeded to have dessert after that. For us, it was way too late for Faith’s bedtime, actually for us too. =p

Lao le (old already).

Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant
#01-21/23 TripleOne Somerset
111 Somerset Rd.

Cotton Light Cheesecake

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Mise en place! When will I treat this seriously?!

The hubs went for his driving test and I thought it would be good to celebrate the outcome of it (I have confidence that he will pass). So I got hold of this recipe and did step by step without mise en place. Faith was cooperative all the way, sitting on the rocker until ‘bang!’ I dropped the base of a springform pan. I was whipping the egg whites halfway through and realised that I have taken the wrong size of the pan. In my hurry, I dropped it.

As a result, Faith wailed! I had to tend to her and at the same time, keeping an eye on my meringue. Thank God she was pacified within minutes and as I put her in the pram, I continued with my baking.

IMG_2565A few mistakes here and there, and it is definitely not easy when Faith drifted in and out of sleep. I had to carry her and put her down several times, until I became so tired that I had to scold her harshly when she turned cranky, wanting me to carry her. She seemed to understand from the tone of my voice and stopped throwing tantrums. *Must start young in discipling kids and don’t give in!

Anyway, it turned out well. At least, this time round, the cheesecake browned well on the top and in good height. =)

Oh, by the way, when the cheesecake was brought out of the oven to cool, the hubs texted to say that he has passed.

Nice! Thank God!
And this recipe is for keeps. 4.5* out of 5*

Cotton Light Cheesecake (Source: Chef at home: a taste of goodness)

(Makes a 9-inch cake)
200g cream cheese
50g butter
100ml milk
6 eggs, separate white from yolk
1 tbsp lemon juice
60g Hong Kong flour
20g corn flour
140g icing sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 160C. IMG_2562
2. Melt cream cheese and butter in milk over double boiler. Set aside to cool.
3. Add egg yolk, lemon juice, sieved flour and cornflour. Mix well.
4. Whip egg white with sugar and cream of tartar until light and fluffy (stiff peak)

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5. Fold in egg yolk mixture and mix well.
6. Pour the cake mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the pan with aluminium foil.
7. Place pan in a bigger pan of hot water and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. I took more time than that, probably because of the temperature of the oven. Once the top turns golden brown and when a stick inserted comes out clean, it’s done.

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8. Decorate with fruits and a little icing sugar.

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The cheesecake in the pic seems to be floating in the air. Must get the hubs to buy me a cake stand. =p

Tips on baking the cheesecake.

hmm…

So, we went shopping on Saturday but in the end, I could not make up my mind to buy anything except a cup of bubble tea, Tollyjoy’s laundry detergent, a new bottle for Faith and a pair of slippers to wear at home.

And then when we walked out of Giant’s, I thought of what I want (not need). You see, the kitchen is the most treasured place in my home and I spend a lot of time there, baking and cooking. I love kitchen gadgets too and would appreciate cookbooks as gifts as well.

So… I thought of buying something to add to my kitchen. Nope, it’s not Le Creuset’s dutch oven. I can’t carry heavy stuff now; my wrists are really very weak. No more pots since I have a few now. I don’t mind a new kettle since the one that we currently have is too heavy for my wrists to handle but I think that can wait a bit. So, it’s this…

nespresso_u.3Nice?

Anyway, the hubs’ poem to me…

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Happy V Day! Tiramisu Charlotte Cake

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But the weather is so gloomy! It has been raining the WHOLE DAY! The sky became so dark at one point that I suspect Faith would have thought that it was evening!

I had wanted to bake Tiramisu for the hubs since it is his favourite. Problem is I do not have mascarpone cheese and after entertaining thoughts of giving the baking a miss, I dragged my feet to Cold Storage to purchase it, complete with Faith in tow. And am I glad that I went!

I had baked Tiramisu using Keiko’s recipe but this time round, I googled and decided to use this instead with minor modifications. No raw eggs were involved and that’s good news. =)

Decided to do the Charlotte version because it is so pretty (and looks like a gift) and besides, it is easy to make. So this is my gift for the hubs, on top of the three shirts I bought him yesterday (that’s because I wanted him to ditch his usual wear!). The hubs came back with grapes and chocolates in his hands since he wanted to make some grapes dipped in chocolate kinda thing. But, the chocolate is KIT-KAT!!! Sigh! Not sure why he didn’t want to leverage on his strength (expressing in written words) for this V-day. So in the end, he gave up and said, “We go out this Saturday and shop for what you want!”

But…I don’t even know what I want. If not, I would have made my request. Now, I have to think what I want to get this Saturday. Sigh! =p This is a good problem.

Having said that, we are really not into celebrating this kind of ‘day’.  We would like every day to be a V-Day and while people say that the hubs is a fortunate man (erm, with a wife who enjoys working in the kitchen), I would like to believe that I am the more fortunate one. I have a husband who loves me very much and is always there to support and encourage me. He’s also a wonderful father to Faith, very hands on.

And above all, thank you God for making this union a blissful one. I am blessed.

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Ingredients:
(makes a 7″ cake)

Espresso Syrup:
1 tablespoon instant espresso/ strong coffee powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) boiling water
1 tablespoon Amaretto

Filling:
250g mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1 cup (200 ml) heavy/whipping cream

sponge fingers
cocoa powder, to dust
strawberries for decoration (optional)

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Method: 

To make the Espresso Syrup:
Dissolve instant espresso coffee powder, sugar in boiling water. Leave to cool. Stir in 1 tablespoon Amaretto. Set aside.

To make the Filling:
In a mixing bowl, with a manual whisk, whisk mascarpone cheese with icing sugar, vanilla extract, Amaretto and 3 tablespoons of the espresso syrup until blended.

With an electric mixer whisk the whipping cream until soft peak (do not over whip). With a spatula, fold in 1/4 of the whipped cream to the mascarpone mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream to the mascarpone mixture.

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To assemble the cake:
Cut off one end of the sponge fingers so that each one is about 3″ in length. Line the sides of a 7″ round baking pan* (with a removable base or use a springform pan) with the sponge fingers (do not dip them in the espresso syrup). You will need about 17 sponge fingers (depending on the type/brand). If the last sponge finger cannot fit in nicely, trim away part of it to fit it in. Save the leftover small pieces.

One at a time, gently dip (do not soak) sponge fingers in the espresso syrup and use them to line the base of the pan. Cut the sponge fingers into shorter lengths if necessary. Use the leftover pieces to fill the gaps.

IMG_2516Spoon over 1/3 of the filling. Spread evenly. Sieve cocoa powder over the filling. Repeat with another layer of sponge fingers and spoon over another 1/3 of filling. Spread and smooth the top and sieve cocoa powder. Repeat for the last layer. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best left overnight.

Just before serving, unmold the cake and dust the top with cocoa powder. Decorate with strawberries (as desired).

Note to self: Can afford to dip the sponge fingers with more syrup to have a more moist version.

The first swim

Brought Faith for her first swim spa and it was quite a wonderful experience, for me (not sure for Faith, hahah). The session started with warm-up and subsequently, Faith was in the pool of 37.5C water. Initially, Faith looked quite ‘stoned’ in the water but a few minutes later, she was enjoying the workout.

After the swim, Faith was given a massage and naturally, because of the exercise, she was super hungry. After feeding her, the whole session took a total of one hour for the first trial.

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I didn’t realise that she could lift up her head for a good amount of time until the massage session and when she reached my father’s home, she did it again! Well done!

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CNY 2013, we survived!

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Faith, daddy’s girl. She was so sweet and cuddly towards da man and the latter’s heart just melted.

IMG_2434First day’s theme: Blue

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Second day’s theme: Pink

IMG_2449When my family met up, we would always need a rest after a while…to feed the next generation.

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Third day’s theme: Denim.
And mom held the record of having the longest conversation with Faith. She really has the patience!

CNY eve, according to my iphone pics

20130210-054251.jpg1. Morning breakfast @ Starbucks. I really do love their green tea latte.
2. Baked Hokkaido cupcakes with Pris’ recipe. They turned out better than the previous attempt’s.
3. Reunion dinner @ Koko’s. What a lot of scrumptious food and Peranakan, of course!

picasion.com_7cb4335577e09288b0d89b7f7f30d1dfAnd it’s sooooo difficult to get a decent photo of Faith…

quek familyAnd a family portrait of the Queks!

Faith :: 10 weeks

For days, I have been worrying if I have allowed Faith the opportunity to strengthen her muscles. I seldom have tummy time with her. Ken has been the one who does that with Faith but since he comes home in the evening, the little one would be cranky, if not sleepy by then.

Yesterday, after carrying her for a long time, I finally succumbed to tiredness and put her down on our bed, hoping that she would sleep. She struggled initially and then lo and behold, she lifted her chest up with her arms! While performing that act, she let out a pathetic cry and I so wanted to help her but decided against it. I know if I was to help her, she would not be able to do it herself.

And today, while baking in the kitchen, I heard her cry again. Rushed in and found her ‘working out’ again. Ahh…her new-found exercise regime!

CNY: Almond cookies

This CNY has been especially busy for me since mom has asked me to bake those goodies (save $). Have baked the peanut cookies, Kueh Bahulu, pineapple tarts and today, the almond cookies.

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This is a fuss-free recipe; it doesn’t require mixer. Just dump the ingredients and knead. But of course, there is always mishaps in baking. I put in two batches and one of them came out rather dark after switching to the fan mode. Suspect that the temperature is too high too. Will try another recipe which calls for a temperature of 150C instead of 180C. The turnout of these almond cookies is less than satisfactory. Maybe I have to toast the almond slices first? Hmm..hmm…

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Anyway…

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Language acquisition

Language is best acquired when you are immersed in the environment necessary for it to develop. Which means that you hear and speak the language most of the time. My nephew, Dallen, is trying very hard to learn the Chinese language and my sister, trying even harder to teach him. He grew up in Jogja for a good number of years and is indeed difficult to learn the language without the environment for it.

We would love for Faith to be effective bilingual and that would require each of us to speak in English and Mandarin respectively to her. Ken would be the English speaker while I am tasked to speak Mandarin to her. It is difficult for me because I have long forgotten many of the vocabulary words in Chinese and I would always go back to using English to talk to Faith. Tough job ahead. I think I had better brush up on my Chinese. Boo hoo!

Time to go Popular (bookstore) to buy reference books!

i <3 weekends

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Hello! Have I mentioned before that I love the weekends all the more now that I am a mother? There are so many things that we can do as a family and best is, I have help from the hubs!

The weekends’ mood started on Friday and I got myself a new swimsuit and a new pair of running shoes since the last functioning pair is no longer in good condition; the soles have come off. Call me a brand loyal customer but once I have terrific experience with a certain product/ brand, I will stick with it. And nope, the pair whose soles have come off does not come from this brand.

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I am getting hooked on baking bread and bought a cookbook – Bread Code. Started with the Mexican Coffee Bread but found that I prefer my previous recipe. And silly me misread the portion. What a lot of of bread!

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Saturday. Faith got her passport! Yay, we can travel as a family now!

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We visited Chye Seng Huat Hardware after collecting the passport. We were early and were the first customers. It opened 9am sharp and we had the pancake stack (recommended by another customer) and the chicken patties. And oh, I love the latte! Had a wonderful breakfast (brunch for us). I recommend this place!

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Chye Seng Huat Hardware
150 Tyrwhitt Road
Singapore 207563
Tel: +65 6396 0609
Tue to Thu: 9am – 7pm
Fri to Sun: 9am – 10pm

The hubs kindly rescheduled his driving lessons so that I could attend the bread baking class 2 Shermay’s Cooking School. I know how to bake bread all right but there is no harm in learning more! And I did get something out of the chef and realised too that I have committed errors when I bake bread. Learning should never cease!

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Sunday.

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We celebrated the one month old of the newest addition to our cell group – Samuel. More to come?? =p

Weekends, come quick!

Glazed Salmon Noodles

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To make the glazed salmon, cook it over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown on both sides in a pan. Remove from pan. Add soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook over a high heat until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly. Thereafter add the salmon back to the pan and cook until the salmon is glazed and cooked to your liking. Remove from the heat. ~ Basic Japanese Cooking.