23 weeks

Faith hits another milestone on her 23rd week. Her budding tooth is visible now and you could imagine my joy.

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Both Ken and I have suspected that she is teething when she becomes more fussy and drools … a lot! In addition, she wakes up in the middle of the night which is uncommon. Thankfully, once she has her fill, she is back to dreamland again. Oh wait! Does this actually mean that she needs to consume more and is definitely ready for solids?

Oh my! My girl is growing too fast for me. I need to read up more! This first-time mommy needs to catch up!

Counting down. We are starting her on solids the following week!

When mothers unite…

…you will never be hungry.

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It is my privilege to host the lunch fellowship today for my BSF group of ladies. My job is easy – just open my home and serve drinks and rice. The rest will be taken care of by the others.

Boy, do we have a lot of scrumptious food and most of them home-made (with love!). At the dining table, conversations are spontaneous and generally, the mouths do not get to rest. I love that we share about our lives and since we are all mothers, stories about our children, life at home, etc, are exchanged. We encourage one another and offer comfort to those whose spirits are down.

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As for Faith, she has been really cooperative and good. I suspect she was listening to our conversation. Inquisitive girl =)

FFWD | Swiss chard pancakes

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Ok, the first thing I asked myself upon looking at the title is what on earth is swiss chard? It sounds like some cheese and after googling, to my surprise, it is some greens! This is how ignorant I am. Do pardon me.

I wonder if there is any chinese name to this vegetable in my current context. I have seen and surely eaten swiss chard but didn’t know that they have such a name. Over here, the vegetables could be given some Chinese and dialect names so I could only look for swiss chard by how it looks. Apparently, the supermarket I visited yesterday did not stock up on this and I am going to replace it by using red spinach.

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Farcous as these pancakes are called in France, are a staple throughout Southwest France and in French homes, they are a main course, most often served with a salad. The portion can be as large as a skillet but Dorie prefers them smaller, to be served as an hors d’oruvre.

IMG_0523I have eaten some form of vegetables pancakes as well during my travels to Taipei and Shanghai. Their versions include a lot of chives and are sold along the streets. I remember eating them like this.

Anyway, the pancakes are easy to make. First blend the ingredients (like milk, eggs, flour, shallot, onion, garlic cloves) together before adding swiss chard and in my case, red spinach, to the mixture and continue blending. I do not have a blender at home but thank God, Mom lives near me and I could borrow hers.

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Farcous could be made a few hours ahead and kept covered at room temperature and then reheated before serving. Alternatively, they can be packed airtight and frozen for a longer period. Just reheat as needed.

FFWD participants do not publish the recipes on our blogs but a version of the above can be found here. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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Buckwheat and almond chocolate cake

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These days, Faith has been acting up and it tires me out by afternoon. Perhaps, she is teething since she is displaying related symptoms like heavy drooling (really a lot!), sucking of her fingers (all the time), rubbing of her right ear and is more irritable than before. I couldn’t really get angry with her since I know she is feeling uncomfortable. In times like these, I wish there is help at home or some comfort food.

I didn’t waste any time. I got down to making a chocolate cake when Faith took a short nap in the morning. I like this recipe because it is fast to make and looking at the ingredients (like buckwheat and almond flour) used, you might find that it is comparatively healthier. Use good quality chocolate, by the way. It’s a chocolate cake we are making! The cake turns out to be moist and decadent and I would serve it with vanilla ice-cream. The weather is really hot these days!

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an inspired life

Makes one 9-inch round cakeIMG_0505
Ingredients:
100g unsalted butter, plus more for cake tin
100g bittersweet dark chocolate (I used Valrhona 72% cocoa)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
90g caster sugar (I cut the amount of sugar)
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
35g buckwheat flour
30g almond flour
Confectioners’ sugar, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut a round piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the sides and bottom of the cake tin. Butter the tin and line it with the parchment paper; set aside.

IMG_0495Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and melt it in a bain-marie*.

In the bowl of a standmixer with a balloon whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar and sea salt until light and pale in colour and the batter has doubled in volume. Gently fold in the vanilla and the melted chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the buckwheat and almond flour over the batter and fold gently to combine.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the blade of a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out dry. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then flip it gently onto a plate. Remove the parchment paper carefully and flip again. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve at room temperature.

* Bain-Marie – a process by which you melt or heat ingredients by putting them in a bowl that is then placed over a pot of simmering water.

Wordless Wednesday: French Food Rules

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Finally completed the reading of French Kids Eat Everything. The rules above are a reminder to myself. Countdown to starting solids on Faith starts today!

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The nursery of a 5-month-old

As Faith grows, so does the amount of stuff in her room. The nursery used to contain just the basics but now, more toys are added since the parents thought that she would need some companionship.

Before such memories fade, I thought it would be good to capture the ‘growth’ of her nursery.

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Faith’s room is rather small as one side of the wall has been hacked and replaced by a built-in wardrobe for the parents. Still, it could contain most of the essentials like a cot, a set of drawers and an armchair!

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This has got to be the area that I like most. Why? I nurse Faith in this armchair and treasure every moment of that intimacy with her. Witnessing her growth is a joy and I’m constantly thankful that she is developing well. Faith is growing taller and when she stretches in my arms, she knocks her head against the sides of the chair. It won’t be long before this chair will be shifted out.

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An organised changing area is especially helpful. You know exactly where to look for for specific items. However, the changing mat will soon be replaced as IMG_0488Faith grows.

A praying teddy bear by the lamp to remind me to pray constantly for Faith.

Have you been praying for your child?

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The is the play area where Faith has her tummy-time and performs her flip. Now, she is constantly trying to crawl push herself out of the mat.

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There isn’t room for a wardrobe in this room so one side of the walls has been used to display her dresses. This reminds the mummy of the frocks that she has and at the same time decorates the rather plain-looking nursery.

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Left: A small reading corner is created for her and of course, we are looking to expand it!
Right: Training Faith on the high chair at the corner of the room.

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IMG_3481Pouches hang by the sides of the cot, for organising soft toys and milk bottles.

IMG_0494Oh my! How you have grown, Faith.

Check back again in a few months’ time and see the changes for yourself!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

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My brother-in-law bought us a tub of Ben & Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake ice-cream for dessert when they came back earlier this month and I was hooked. So, I thought I should bake the cupcake version and boy, do I love them! Pieces of fresh strawberries are used in this recipe and when baked, they moisten the cake and texture of the cupcakes. The crumbled digestive biscuits sprinkled on top add to the flavour of a cheesecake base. This is really an easy bake – no fuss and so straightforward – and I recommend you make them for tea! Another winner from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook!

*If you have silicon cupcake cases, it may be better to use them as the strawberries at the bottom can make the paper ones go soggy but I’m not too bothered with that.

You will need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup caster sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
12 large strawberries, chopped into small pieces (depending on how big your strawberries are. I used about 6 and others for garnishing)
180g digestive biscuits
12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

For the frosting:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and the unsalted butter in a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

2. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until all the ingredients are well mixed (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Add the egg and beat well for a few minutes to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.

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3. Divide the chopped strawberries between the paper cases. Spoon the cupcake mixture on top until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

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4. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating the icing sugar and the unsalted butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat it until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least five minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

5. Roughly break up the digestive biscuits and put them in a food processor (alternatively, you can just pound them). Process until finely ground. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and finish with a sprinkling of finely ground biscuits. You can decorate it with half of a strawberry.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Ever wonder how these cupcakes get their red?
I once had that thought and was wondering how the taste would be like. So I purchase one at a cupcake store, took a bite and was curious – it had a mild chocolatey taste. So, what cause the colour? And obviously, the answer lies in the red colouring that is added in the making of red velvet cupcakes.

If you look through the ingredients of cupcakes, you might find that the ones that red velvet cupcakes need are a tad different from the other common ones. For example, instead of baking powder, baking soda is used. Also, buttermilk and distilled white vinegar are used instead of whole milk. It is said that the reaction between cocoa powder and baking soda gives a tinge of red to the batter, but it is definitely insufficient to result in a good red. So, red food colouring has to be added. The recipe I followed calls for 2 tablespoon of it but I only used about a teaspoon of my wilton’s christmas red colouring gel. So, I guess it very much depends on how ‘powerful’ your colouring paste/gel is.

Recipes for red velvet cupcakes are more or less the same. For this batch, the recipe I used is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

FFWD | Cod and spinach roulades

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I admit I nearly gave up on this dish. It’s rather troublesome and especially with a baby who constantly vies for your attention, the making of these roulades can prove a tad too much to handle.

In short, this dish is made of a light fish mousse that is filled with lemony spinach. It is rolled into a sausage shape and steamed. Dorie explained that this dish used to be prepared by chefs working in grand French restaurants and of course the tedious work of getting perfectly smooth mousse was done by the apprentices. In our case, we just need to use the food processor and viola, we can have the same product too!

The morning saw me making the tomato-lemon sauce and my senses awoke when IMG_0432the aroma of melted butter and garlic filled the air. Hmm… and when I added the tomatoes, I decided then that I had to persist and make this dish work!

I didn’t use cod but replaced it with Sutchi fillet since the recipe calls for any other white fish fillet. To make the roulades, we basically have to put the small pieces of the fillet, egg whites and cream, together with salt and pepper into the processor and let the machine do the work. The next step then is to use the cling wrap to wrap and roll the mousse and the spinach into a sausage. Once this is done, it is a breeze thereafter. Just steam it!

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I’m so glad that I persisted. Everything about this dish is new to me – the tomato lemon sauce, making the roulade with spinach and steaming with cling wrap! It feels good to learn new stuff! And the best part? I do enjoy having it for my dinner. It’s well worth the effort!

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If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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Friday Five I 5 books I’m reading

Faith will be introduced to solids in a month’s time! How exciting and the ever IMG_3333eager mom went to purchase some bowls and cutlery for her in anticipation of this next phase of her development.

And before that begins, it’s always good to do some reading up. Here are 5 books that I am currently reading.

#1 | French Kids Eat Everything

french kidsEver since I read Bringing up Bebe and implemented some French ways of bringing up kids on Faith (with some success), I’m hooked and am especially intrigued by how they educate children on food which ties in with my own philosophy -eat everything, especially veggies! Do explore the website to this book.
“At once a memoir, a cookbook, a how-to handbook, and a delightful exploration of how the French manage to feed children without endless battles and struggles with pickiness, French Kids Eat Everything features recipes, practical tips, and ten easy-to-follow rules for raising happy and healthy young eaters—a sort of French Women Don’t Get Fat meets Food Rules.”~ Amazon review. 

#2 | French Twist

Another book on French parenting. I like how the executive lifestyle editor of The frenchtwistHuffington Post reviewed this – “Ever seen a French child throw a tantrum in a restaurant or talk back to his parents? Neither has Catherine Crawford. In French Twist she uncovers the secrets of French child-rearing—and then tries them out on her own family, with remarkable results. Part memoir, part instruction manual, French Twist is hilarious, honest, and incredibly useful“.

bebe#3 | Bebe Day by Day

This is the notes’ version of Bringing up Bebe. It is an easy read but to get more information on French parenting, it would be better to read the original version which includes findings and explanation of certain behaviour by the professionals being interviewed by the author.

#4 | The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planethomemade

Ok, I admit I am attracted by the adorable graphics and photography. But more importantly, I am committed to providing Faith with homemade food rather than those found in the stores so the recipes found in the book would be of great help. I have no doubt that the commercial ones can aid in terms of convenience (and I am thankful for that) but anything with preservative is really not ideal, is it?

#5 | First Foods

firstfoodsLocal production! I like! As with many guidebooks on this topic, First Foods provides information on frequently-asked questions for today’s parents and includes 50 nutritious recipes for Asian babies. It is an easy read and I must say the content is quite comprehensive.

Right, I should get down to reading them. Faith is starting to show interest in my food now -one of the tell-tale signs!

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[Wordless Wednesday] My bums found their seat

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Mom finally bought this chair for me! I think I quite like it although I don’t like to be seated for too long!

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Why, oh why?


bostonmarathon
[live.boston.com]

I awoke to the hubs telling me that an explosion has occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I was shellshocked. That oh-so-familiar area, that path that leads to Copley library, now smeared with bloodstain.

As I read the newsfeed and twitter updates, my emotions turned to that of anger.

The world is already in such a messy state. To the one(s) who caused this: Why, oh why, do you add more chaos to it? Have you no regard for life?

What could have been a joyous occasion for both marathoners and spectators has turned out to be a tragedy.

Folks in Beantown, stay safe. Elsewhere in the world, many are praying.

prayforboston[NewsBusters.org]

Strawberry, apple and almond breakfast muffins

Fancy a fruity and quick-to-make muffins? I’ll suggest making these muffins. Once you have amassed all ingredients, all you need to do is to mix them together. No mixer or any complicated tools needed. Perfect!

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I like these muffins because I can literally taste the fruits (in this case, strawberries and apples) as I fill my stomach. It is not too sweet and if you really want it to be more wholesome, reduce the amount of sugar and replace it with raisins or cranberries! I like it that these muffins are soft and fluffy unlike some other dense versions of them. The top is caramelized since a morsel of light brown sugar has been sprinkled on each muffin.

Bake them for your family or colleagues. They would love this gesture of yours!

Adapted from What Katie Ate: Recipes and other bits and pieces
Makes 12

1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Large pinch of fine salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
113g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
6 large strawberries, hulled and quartered
Handful sliced blanched almonds
1-2 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400F/204C.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper baking cups or use 12 muffin baking cups.

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Place the flour, almond flour, castor sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the vanilla IMG_0426extract, melted butter, beaten egg and 3/4 cup warm water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon, then add theapple and gently stir to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup to about 3/4 full.

Place two strawberry quarters on top of each muffin, then sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

FFWD | Financiers

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This would be my second type of financiers that I have baked, the first being David Lebovitz’s Green Tea Financiers.

Financiers are domed-shaped French tea-cakes with a soft and springy texture which taste of caramelized butter and almond. According to Dorie, these cakes were invented at Patisserie Lasne which was a favourite of the stockbrokers who worked at the nearby Bourse. The brokers, financiers, would rush in, looking for a sweet and then rushed out. Lasne then realised that they needed “fast food” like a pastry that they could eat without knife or fork and resulted in these small cakes.

The batter for Financiers is made by combining all-purpose flour with ground almond and sugar. To that is added lightly beaten egg whites and brown butter (beurre noisette). Brown butter is just clarified butter which has been cooked until the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the saucepan and turned golden brown. This butter gives the Financiers their rich caramel flavor. The batter could be made in advance, say, one day and then bake the next day. However, if you areIMG_0385 in a rush, one hour of chilling in the refrigerator might do the job too. The batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I do not have a financier pan but made do with a pan that I have bought years ago but have not used before! Alternatively, mini-muffin pan will do just fine and pass off as petit fours (I’ll use this tomorrow). I top the financiers with strawberries and kiwiberry but they are good by themselves.

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Yummy! But what do you do with the unused egg yolks?

If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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Wordless Wednesday: Organising

Before I even fork out some $$ to buy more shoes, it’s better to keep track of what I have thus far.

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Wordful Wednesday: I do, now and forever

histhoughts1It has been more than 3 years since we said “I do” and certainly not without our ups and downs. There have been many changes, not just due to the marriage, but movements not only from one house to the next, but even from one country to another.

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Working together to have our catch

Over the past three years, we have:
– Stayed at L’s place on weekdays and K’s on weekends.
– Moved to Boston where we first got our own place and our first taste of living only with each other. And no where to hide or parents to run to so we had better get along! (We did. Not without tears at times, but we did. =) )
– Moved back to SG, buying a house that we had never seen personally. (Only through videos and pictures sent through the net. Many thanks to Sis and CG!)
In total, not counting the shuttling back and forth that happened when we first got married, we’ve moved about 4 times in 3 years. It seems a little strange to be settled in a place that we might well be living in for the next 30+ years…
More than just the physical location, we’ve also:
– Learnt to get along with each other’s quirks and personality.
– Begun to learn what it means to be parents to a God-given little bundle of joy. So many things that we do not know or cannot control that we cannot help but to place our trust in Him.
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As L may have mentioned in previous posts:
– Faith was thought to have a high risk of Down syndrome.
– To determine if she did indeed have that, we had to consider whether or not we wanted to take the risk of an Amnio.
– After God led us through that, we were informed later on that it was strange that she had not engaged even late on in the pregnancy.
– A scan saw the umbilical cord near her neck. Doctor advised inducement.
– After a 19 hour labour, Faith entered into the world via a natural birth, with the umbilical cord wound around her neck. (Whenever I relate this to friends, many are surprised that the doctor didn’t immediately opt for a Caesarean over a natural birth…)
And many more surprises and challenges to come I’m sure. With much joy as well. =) (We count our blessings and thank God that Faith has been a rather ‘easy’ baby thus far. Keep praying for us!)
Our dear folks in Boston

Our dear folks in Boston

Over the years as well, as we continue to prepare for a forever together, we have:
– Gone for a pre-marital course at our church.
– Gone for newly-wed sharing sessions at our adopted church in Boston.
– Been invited for a sharing session on relationships for young university students.
– And last Saturday, we went for a short talk on marriage.
It was an interesting talk, by a very engaging couple who have been married for 36 years now. They shared on 5 main points.
1) Keep your Spouse No. 1
2) Talk, Laugh, and Communicate
3) Manage your Money in Harmony
4) Raise your Children Together
5) Enjoy Sexual Intimacy
There weren’t any real surprises. All five points are pretty common knowledge I think, though it is always good to be reminded of them. We’re currently on a journey for (4) I guess. And what a journey it has been. =)
Our family of three!

Our family of three!

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Spring Court Restaurant

Spring Court Restaurant is reportedly the oldest Chinese restaurant in Singapore and since it was featured on the Sunday Times a few weeks ago, we decided to dine there on a Sunday, taking advantage of the 84-cents’ Peking duck (when you spend $84 and above)

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The restaurant is located at 52-56 Upper Cross Street and is among one of those shophouses. There are ample carparks around the vicinity and we soon got ourselves a lot. However, we found ourselves having to wait for about 15 minutes before we were seated even when we have made a reservation. Must be a busy day.

We went straight to ordering Char Siew Sou since all my family members like it and we were all pleased with it because it IS good. The pastry is soft and flaky and the char siew very tasteful.

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Along with this, we also ordered some dim sum items like Char Siew buns and Xiao Long Bao (by now, you should know we love baos…).

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It’s never a wrong move to let the matriarch decide on the dishes…

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while the rest posed for the camera!

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Ok, back to the food. We had a bowl of shark’s fin soup (haha), yam cake ring, fish, asparagus, Dou Miao and Peking Duck and noodles. On the whole, the food was delicious but I thought the Peking duck is a tad too dry and nothing spectacular while the vegetables were so-so. 

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On the whole, the food was delicious but we were more satisfied with the dim sum. I like that the restaurant exudes a family-friendly feel to the dining experience. The servers are prompt in their service but a little more smiles would be very much welcome. And I love the location since we can always adjourn to some desserts stalls after that (which we did!).

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Spring Court Restaurant
52-56 Upper Cross Street
Singapore 058348
64495030
11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm
www.springcourt.com.sg

The April babies

I’m so glad that my sis and her family were back from Jogja and we had a feast at mom’s place. Home-cooked food is still the best, all in the comfort of the oh-so-familiar environment.

Mom will normally cook up a storm when she has a chance to AKA the kids go back home. This evening, it was no different.

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Our six course meal includes:

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Nope, Faith is not part of the meal set.

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Cousins having fun!

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Celebrating the April’s babies! And thankfully mom likes the cake, commenting that it is not that sweet which is to her liking. Yay!

A cake for mom

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I have been thinking about making a cake for mom for quite some time. And I thought it apt to do so for her birthday. In our family, we don’t really celebrate birthdays. At most, we will go out for a meal (and that only happens for dad and mom) but most of the time, it is just a greeting.

This year, sis and her family would be coming back and I thought of a cake that would please the young and old. My nephews love strawberries and I thought the strawberry cake that I have baked a while ago would suffice. But to celebrate mom’s birthday, perhaps I should pipe rosettes on it?

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I took two days to bake this cake because it’s quite a challenge to do so in one day with a baby who needs you to carry her at times. On Thursday, I baked the sponge cake and sandwiched with two layers of sliced Korean strawberries (cos mom said these strawberries are sweeter) and whipped cream frosting.

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Deciding on what to use for the rosettes is difficult. I need a frosting that could withstand the hot and humid weather of Singapore. However, I also want the cake to be tasty and not too candy-like so frosting made with icing sugar is out. In the end, I settled on swiss meringue buttercream. Fortunately, I found this website but I have changed the method a little.

Using the same amount of ingredients,
100g egg white (3 large eggs)
135g sugar
227g unsalted butter, soft but still cold, cut into small equal size of cubes

Remove butter from fridge and cut into small cubes, set aside (you can do so slightly later too). Lightly whisk egg whites in a mixing bowl, place over a pot of simmering water (double boiler).

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Add in sugar in 3 batches, whisk sugar and egg whites till sugar is fully dissolved (rub some with your fingers, if it feels grainy, it hasn’t dissolved yet). I took about 4 minutes.

IMG_0223Remove from heat. Transfer the mixture into another bowl and using the standmixer and the balloon whisk, I whisk for about 5mins till peaks are stiff, thick and glossy.

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With the mixer at low (speed 1 or 2), add in the butter cube one by one, ensuring that each addition is well incorporated before adding the next one. Beat till mixture become curdles, stop the mixer, take a spatula, continue to fold and stir till the mixture become creamy and satiny. This takes rather long and at first, it was runny and I wanted to give up. But I thought I should just persist and there and then, it curdled. Phew!

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Using Ateco’s 824 star tip and adding a tinge of Wilton’s rose colouring, pipe rosettes on the cake. Remember to do a crumb coat first! If you know me, I’m not very good with decorating and piping so this is not done very well. Since Faith was making noise while I was doing all these, I thought she should just join me.

click here

click here

I’m going to share with you a secret. The batch of buttercream is insufficient! I could only cover the top part and half of the side. So, I guess I would have to increase 1.5 times for the buttercream the next time! For now, I just have to bear with the imperfections and hopefully, mom wouldn’t mind. She won’t. I’m sure. I have fun making this cake and I’m actually quite hooked!

And so, I’m striking off one of the to-do items off my 30-stuff’s list. Yay!

IMG_0250Ok. Packed. Can’t wait for dinner later!

* Note to self. Photography skill needs to improve. Need to buy cake stand.

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FFWD: Pierre Herme’s olive sables

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I am all excited for this week’s item for the following reasons:

1) I have not cooked using olive before. Olive oil, yes, but not olive itself. Growing up, mom has never introduced this so it is alien to me. Most of the time, when they exist in a salad that I order, I would put them aside, even though I know how they can benefit the body.

2) This recipe was given to Dorie by Pierre Herme. How can you not bake it??

3) I have not baked sables before and a savory one? This is going to be super exciting!

IMG_3186The other day, I went to the local supermarket to purchase the pitted black olives. The lady at the counter asked me what I would be doing with it. My reply, “I’m going to bake cookies with it.” Her eyes widened. Huh? Olives? I have never heard of that! Neither have I.

So, you can imagine my excitement.

I started preparing this yesterday since it is advisable to chill the dough for at least several hours, or, better yet, overnight. And since I cannot wait to taste it, I baked about 6 slices of them, just to try.

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The dough for these slice and bake sables (French for shortbreads) includes the grated yolk (whoah!) of a hard-boiled agg, potato starch and confectioners’ sugar and the dough is super soft which explains why we need to chill it.

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So, how does a sable taste like? Personally, I’m not quite sure but mine is rather tender. I like the savory twist to a cookie. Brilliant.

Note: Try not to use canned black olives. They will fall apart or turn mushy when chopped.

If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie? Next item on the list is Financiers. Can’t wait!

Tuesday’s Twenty Questions

20 questions pertaining to my pregnancy.

1. Was your pregnancy planned, and how old were you?
We just came back after the hubs completed his studies and thought we should start a family. We let nature takes its course. I was 33.

2. What were your reaction?
Mixed feelings. Happy yet at the same time, scared.

3. How did you find out you were pregnant?
I missed my period. I have never missed my period for more than a week. And I felt different and bought a pregnancy kit. So…

4. Who did you tell first?
The hubs.

5. Did you find out the sex?
Yes. We did the Amnio test.

6. Did you have morning sickness?
Nope, not at all.

7.What did you crave?
Spicy stuff like laksa and tom yum soup and fruits.

8. Who / What irritated you the most?
Nothing?

9. Did you wish you had a different gender from what you obtained?
Nope! I wanted a girl all along!

10. How many kilos did you gain during the entire pregnancy?
13kg.

11. Where did you think the baby was conceived?
My father-in-law’s. We were staying there then.

12. Did you have any complications during the pregnancy?
Nope. It was life as usual. The hubs reminded me that it was not without complications. The baby was at high risk for Down Syndrome and we decided to go for an amnio test to determine it. Nearer to the delivery date, baby was still not engaged which baffled my gynae and he suspected that the umbilical cord was wound around Faith’s neck and advised us to induce. When Faith was delivered, the umbilical cord was indeed wound, two rounds, around her neck. Phew!

13. Where did you give birth?
Parkway East Hospital.

14. How many hours were you in labour?
19 hours.

15. Who watched you give birth?
The hubs, gynae and nurses.

16. Was it natural, or C-Sect?
Natural.

17. Did you take medication to ease the pain?
Does nitrous oxide count?

18. When was your child born?
20 Nov 2012.

19. What is her name?
Faith Quek Jo-Ann

20. How old is she today?
She’s 18 weeks and very active.

MummyMOO

Rock-a-bye baby Faith

Before Faith came into this world, several friends who are mothers have warned me, “Treasure your last few months of sleep because once the baby comes out, you would not have such a luxury.”

That prophesy came true and I believe many mothers suffer the same fate (do I see nodding heads?). However, by the end of the second month, the status update was:

1) Faith slept in her own room = no co-sleeping (this has been so from day 1).
2) Faith could sleep through the night from 8+pm to 5am (first feed). After her feed, she would continue sleeping until 7am.

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Our initial plan was to shift Faith’s cot into our room after the confinement lady left. However, that didn’t happen because we realised that the cot was too big to go through the door and we were too lazy to dismantle it so, due to our laziness, Faith remained in her room (which turns out to be a blessing!).

I turned to some literature (yes, definitely Gina Ford) in sleep-training Faith but I find the points made in Bringing up Bebe particularly insightful. I wrote a review on this book in a previous post and I’m listing the stuff I do to get Faith to sleep through the night.

1) Differentiating day and night. When Faith wakes up at around 7am, I make sure the windows are opened and would carry her near them and tell her that it is morning. I do this EVERY DAY. In the evening, the hubs and I would dim the lights and ensure that the environment is quiet.

2) Get Faith in the mood to sleep. There is a ritual that I follow quite religiously e.g. cleaning her, singing to her, etc. I’m sure most parents do that.

3) Talk to Faith about bedtime. I believe babies have the ability to understand even at this young age. When I put Faith in the cot, I told her it is bedtime and then leaves the room. She would still play by herself but eventually goes to sleep on her own (note: this does not work all the time).

4) Give her the boobs. Works most of the time, especially when she is really tired.

5) Do “The Pause”. I believe this is the one method that got Faith sleep through the night. Initially, every little sound that Faith made, I would rush into her room and pick her up. However after reading the book, I have learnt to pause.

According to the book, the key to sleeping for longer stretches is for the baby to learn how to connect his sleep cycles on his own. Babies often cry when they’re learning to do so. They can make a noise like an angry frog and yet still be asleep. So from the time the baby is a few weeks old, pause a bit when he cries at night. By rushing in to pick him up, we are not giving the baby a chance to develop the skill of plunging into the next sleep cycle on his own. In fact, the baby will think he needs you to put him back to sleep.

Do note that this is different from letting the baby cry it out. This would take about five minutes or so. If after these few minutes, he’s still crying, it could be that he needs something and that’s when you pick him up.

This gentle sleep-teaching method of The Pause works best in the baby’s first four months.

This method works on Faith and the hubs and I could have our rest.  Of course, all babies are different and unique and if all else fails, a little prayer won’t hurt. 🙂

How do you sleep-train your child?

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