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!

=)

 

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A’s Bridal Shower

When Janet asked me a week ago if I wanted to help plan A’s bridal shower with her, my answer was an unwavering YES, why not? A is a very wonderful lady who cares so much about the people around her. In fact, she was the one who made Ken and I, amongst others, feel so much at home when we first attended PSIF. It’s indeed a privilege to be able to throw a bridal shower for her.

Thankfully, she agreed to having one. We were afraid that she would decline it since she didn’t want to bother us and that her mum was admitted to the hospital the week before. All turned out well, in the end and so the shower must go on!

Of the invitees, 10 responded which is a terrific number for an intimate and cozy shower. J and I went down to the store to buy gifts for her, simple and useful ones that she could use in the kitchen. Since she has taken an interest in cooking, I suggested buying aprons and stuff for her (Lynn always goes for practicality). Janet and GT set up VB house and I was pleasantly surprised by the change in decor. Beautiful! And what’s more surprising was the fact that most of us were clad in shades of red even though we didn’t call for it! Great minds think alike!

I thought we had a wonderful 2-hour shower. A shared her journey with R and she received some advice from the married folks. Friends had a wonderful time catching up with one another and with A. I’m glad that the people were blessed by the session and at the end of the prayer, A’s sister teared, “So touching!”

Ah…thank you God. May you continue to bless A and R in their marriage.

=)

Saturday. I’m feeling accomplished.

Organised A’s bridal shower in the morning and I certainly hope she enjoyed it.

Baked mint and chocolate macarons and they have feet! Yay! It must have been the macaronage.

Cut da man’s hair and I’m not unabashed to say that my skills have improved! Alas, I have no ambition to be a barber. I hope this is the last time I’m cutting his hair. He could have his haircut back in sunny S’pore in future!

Prepared my version of pad thai for dinner. Thank you Nat for teaching me how to cook it! The more authentic one’s here.

Thank you Lord for the strength to go through this day and week. It has been a really busy but terrific week. I’m glad it’s coming to an end though. I need rest, proper rest.

Busy weekend

I’m welcoming Fridays with much enthusiasm. After a few days at the school, the body was so tired and needed a break. It’s the momentum, I guess. Once my body adjusts, things will be better. The hubs didn’t have it easier too since he woke up the same time as me.

So on Friday, it’s the opening screening for ‘I don’t know how she does it’. I had wanted to watch this movie since a few months back. I got hold of the book but didn’t like the writings. Watching it on film with Sarah Jessica Parker as the lead would be better. The hubs and I had brekky at Thinking Cup before proceeding to the theatre. Loving the affordable coffee and the ambience!

The film reminded me of mom. It has a predictable storyline and as you would have known, the lead character, a working mom, chose to spend more time with the family after the realisation that she has neglected them (though she tried her best to be there for them) and that she had broken a few promises made to the children due to work (a terrible thing to do!).

It’s not easy being a working mom. These moms face the guilt of not being there for the children, the unnecessary remarks by some SAHM and the challenge of juggling between work and family which is absolutely a tough balancing act. It is easy to just say that they can choose to be a SAHM but let’s not be too presumptuous and determine that being a SAHM is the way to go for every mother. We don’t know the circumstances surrounding them.

My mom is a working mom, prompted more by financial issues rather than by preference. Nope, it’s not because she wanted to earn much much more as she’s not that educated and could only use her skill in sewing clothes. By working in my father’s shop, she could help lessen the burden of having to employ one more seamstress and a dispatch driver, in addition to other stuff she had to do in the garment factory cum shop.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the shophouse and witnessed what went on in their lives. I have to say that mom didn’t have it easy and worked extremely hard. The only time she rested was when her head touched the pillow at night but even so, I doubt she could fall asleep that easily. She couldn’t really teach me since she didn’t know how to so I was pretty much left alone or at times deployed to help her. She was aways in a rush since she had multiple things to do but she would ALWAYS cook because she didn’t want her children to be having junk in their bodies (MSG) and that took up a lot of her time if you know what cooking involves – from doing the grocery to prep work and then washing up.

That’s so much I could go on about her life as a working mom and the guilt that she forever has in her since she also left us with different people at various stages of our initial years of growing up. Only she knows best and I do treasure you, mom!

In the evening, we went for the performance by the Blue Man Group. Ken was initially chosen to be on stage (they had to prep him) but in the end, the performers chose another man two rows down from us! They have made a mistake! I was relieved, Ken felt rejected. But we both had a good time though da man enjoyed it more. =)

Saturday, it’s a packed day for us. We were honoured to be invited by our Taiwanese friends to attend their graduation ceremony.

Back home from the ceremony, we realised we had to be attending another event soon. What an adventure! It was at the Lavers’ home and we were to be on the panel again, sharing to about 20 new students on adjusting to life in a foreign land. We had a great time, getting to know new friends and to hear their wonderful stories. Amazing night!

Sunday. The last of the weekend! Argh! Where has the time gone? After PSIF, we had a gathering at Junjie who cooked Lasagna for us. Here we have a Chinese man having the courage to whip up Italian dish – quite an admirable act. Had a good time of dinner and catching up in his humble backyard in the cold summer/autumn evening. Nice.

It has been a tiring weekend but we both agree that it’s worth it when we could have the opportunity to be involved in someone else’s life.

Saying goodbye.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers Boston
84 Beacon Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Hey, be on task!

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

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

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Tis Wed @ small group gathering

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

My debut using iMovie. More to come!

Departure

@ South Station Bus Terminal. @ Logan International Airport.

It’s a short but joyful time meeting up with Peg. This ex-colleague is perhaps the few who came up to me and made me feel so comfortable on my first visit to the meeting at TDD. We hit it off well, almost instantaneously, partly  due to her sociable nature and partly because we both shared some similar issues then.

Anyway, I was indeed privileged that she detoured her plan to come back to Boston to look me up, even if it means the meeting up would take only a few hours. She had just completed her presentation/teaching at Worchester (pronounced Wooster) State University, together with Dr Yeap, and I believe she really needs a breather. She shared how Singapore Math (erm, I don’t have a good definition of what that is; it’s just Maths that I grew up learning!) is going to take off all the more quickly in the US and on the many Mathematical concepts that I listened with fascination. Math is interesting indeed!

I wish she could stay on longer but she soon left for NYC for her much needed break and I left to meet up with the family for a last dinner & ice-cream treat in Boston.

This family trip has allowed me to get to know more about my in-laws and myself better. The older folks have been marvellous, just a little too accommodating. I was hoping that they could be more demanding and tell us what they wanted. Alas, they were OK with anything and everything, even if it tires them out from too much walking, esp in NYC. I thought we could have been more open with one another since honesty is the best policy. At the end of the day, all was well and I simply enjoyed chatting and joking with the auntie . Loud she is but totally adorable. When they left for the departure gate this morning, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness. Just a tiny, weeny bit. Not sure if it is Singapore and the familiar life that I miss but it won’t be long too before I say my last goodbye at the departure gate. Hugging her, I told her, “Cook laksa ok?” And a deal was made. There would be laksa at the family Christmas dinner! Soooo looking forward. Hum…hum…hum…bloody red hum!

It’s back to the normal life again. Been lazing around and not working in the kitchen which makes me kind of lost. Not been running too and this makes me feel fat. Ok. I need to start afresh from tomorrow onwards.

It’s summer! Get your butt outta here!

Sunday at the Common

The sheep and the Shepherd. That’s what we were discussing today. Coincidentally, the sermon was on Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd. Perhaps, there really is no such thing as coincidence?

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Then it’s frisbee time!

And then we were tickled by our resident clown.

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Not forgetting that today is Dumpling festival!

The weekend at the falls and woods.

We experienced a suburban lifestyle  over the weekend and the hubs loved it.

It was a tiring 9-hour bus ride to Buffalo and thankfully for some cheerful folks on the vehicle, the ride was made more pleasant. We reached The Wesleyan Church of Hamburg and were greeted by a large number of American families who were to be our hosts for the weekend. There must be a few hundreds of them and to be honest, I was really not comfortable with it. But the uneasiness soon gave way when I met our host – the Woods.

The hubs and I, together with some other hundred odd international students from the regions of New England and New York State, were attending a conference cum sightseeing at Niagara Falls. This conference was complete with the home stay with the American families at Hamburg and it really opened our eyes to the culture.

Niagara Falls was magnificent. After the conference in the morning and filling our stomach with pizzas and buffalo wings (not sure if they were but sure looked like), we made our way to THE destination. We went straight to queue for the Cave of the Winds to get close to the pounding waters of the falls. Before we came over, we have heard that the US side of the Falls was not as good as the Canadian side and I wonder why. We had an amazing time and the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour just sealed the whole terrific experience.

Another highlight of this trip has to be the home stay. We were blessed to be staying with the Woods, a God-fearing family. I love their parenting style, their commitment to the Lord as a family and their bond to one another. The children (all four of them) have great respect for the parents. I was taken aback when they (even their eldest 20+ year-old) asked for permission to play another round of game on the Wii when they were about to set off to church and when the answer was a ‘No’, there was no tantrums but understanding of why their request was rejected.

The hubs wrote a thank-you letter to them which encapsulates how we felt about the family. Oh, I forgot to mention – they have a totally cool building for their youth ministry and a church too. I would love to be there even if I’m not a believer.

Re: Ken and Lynn thank God for the Woods

And it’s not just because we’re nature lovers either!

Dear John, Becci, EJ, Ariel, Caleb and Micah,
Thank you so much for all your hospitality this weekend!
Thank you John, for sharing your insights on the Word, as well as your love and passion for God and His work.
We noticed that John is most alive when he is speaking about God and can only imagine the deep love and passion he has for our Lord.  We pray that God will continue to bless you as you do His work here on earth and that you might always abound with a great passion for Him and continue to inspire others as you have inspired us over this short weekend.
By the way, Ken finished the book you blessed us with on the bus and waits with bated breath for the one you will pen yourself. No pressure! =D
Thank you Becci, for your hospitality and thoughtfulness.
We are so blessed by you. For always being there to fetch us around, for waking up early to prepare breakfast, and the wonderful meals that we shared with the family.
Ken is more than willing to cook for all of you should you all come to Boston or Singapore. His menu is rather limited however, so I hope you all like rice…
The goodie bag you blessed us with at the end of the stay says so much. You didn’t have to do that, we weren’t at all expecting it, and yet you put so much thought into it.
Thank you!
Thank you EJ for the sacrifices made.
In particular, for accompanying us out to the grove(?) on Sunday instead of spending time with Mallory. (Sorry Mallory!)
We know how difficult that must have been… Thank you!
Thank you Ariel for always being there as well, trying to drag a few more words out of us while you make conversation.
I’m sorry we’re so difficult to drag words out of. Thank you for sticking to the mammoth task. (It builds character…)
We noticed how mature EJ and Ariel were about always making themselves available and spending time with us transients instead of with their friends.
What made it all the more amazing was when John shared that this idea of hosting internationals was from EJ and Ariel to begin with!
They took the initiative, made it happen, and then committed their time and effort to making it great! Thank you both for that!
Thank you Caleb for giving up your room!
That couldn’t have been easy. I’m sure if I was in your position, my parents would have had to drag me kicking and screaming out of it.
The room was in perfect condition when we got there so I’m certain that didn’t happen with you! =D
We’re sorry we didn’t have more time to get to know you better.
You totally seem like a really cool guy and you’ve got this mischievous smile that we’re sure is a hit with the ladies.
Thank you Micah for being so cool over everything.
We’ve noticed that in almost everything, in every way, Micah just takes it in his stride.
And totally adorable to boot!
So, yes. We’ve been blessed.
Blessed by an amazing family who, by the way they live their very lives, have shown us how we might be salt and light in this world.
When we got married, we chose a verse from the Bible to remind us of our commitment to Him who made us and saved us.
Your lives have reminded us of this commitment, and inspired us as well.
Joshua 24:15
Thank you.
God Bless,
ken & lynn

Nonya in Spring

A Foodbuzz 24×24 submission

I find it an obligation, no doubt a pleasant and willing one, to learn and familiarise myself with Peranakan cuisine when I married a wonderful man from that culture. The first time his auntie invited us over for a meal, I didn’t realise that I was in for a shock. Knowing that I was an aspiring homecook, she rambled a string of ingredients (Her Peoh, Buah Keluak, Belacan, Assam paste, Buah Keras…) that went into those wonderful dishes and my head throbbed. She was after all, speaking in a combination of the Malay Language & Hokkien, which I know very little of and I was lost in translation. But goodness! What a lot of ingredients that go into those dishes! However, that does not deter me from wanting to learn. I want to join the ranks of the women in that family who could prepare scrumptious Peranakan cuisine. Of course, I realised later too, that those ingredients do have English names attached to them. What a relief!

The family is coming to visit us in June (we are from Singapore and now in Boston for the husband’s studies) and I thought it timely to assemble a list of dishes that I could whip up for them during their short stay with us. The plan is simple. I would test the recipes in my kitchen and the hubs would be the food taster, giving me his honest feedback.  I though it fantastic as well to invite some of our friends over for Peranakan cuisine, with the blessings of Foodbuzz!

The theme of this dinner is Peranakan (obviously), with a little adaptation from this nonya (that’s what the woman is called in that culture). And since it’s spring, I promise that the dishes would be full of colours and finger-licking-good!

First up is a plate of finger food – boxing chicken. It is given that name because it does look like a boxing glove. Children love this dish as they can hold the wing at the boney end and bite. To achieve the look, hold the wing bone and make a cut on both sides nearest the bone. Then pull down the skin towards the meaty part and wrap the skin over the meat to make it look like a boxing glove. You should marinate at least an hour before. Usually this is deep fried but I prefer to roast it in the oven (save space for the stovetop!).

The main dish for this dinner is Popiah or spring roll. It is a great dish as you can do your own roll at the table, choosing the ingredients that you want in your spring roll, making it a personalised one indeed. It can be both enjoyable and torturing at the same time, especially for those who find it challenging to fit the filling snuggly as they roll  it.

That being said, the preparation can be a chore since the ingredients involve quite a few items. The main filling is made up of shredded turnip and carrots (test your knife skills!), brown fermented soya bean and minced pork. Just a little information on turnips that might be useful for us. When choosing turnips, look for smooth skin. They should feel firm and heavy with crisp green tops. Turnips are, generally, white at the bottom with a light purple blush on the top. Those that are small have the sweetest, most tender flavor. The larger the turnip, the more woody it tends to be. Besides these, other ingredients that go into Popiah include lettuce, bean sprouts, garlic, Chinese sausages, crab meat, coriander, eggs and sweet flour sauce. Are you overwhelmed? This is not all. For the shells or popiah skins, you can either choose to buy them at supermarkets or make them youselves, But I must warn you, it’s not easy!

After giving a short demonstration on how to wrap the ingredients, the dear friends had a go at it. Some were a natural in wrapping, others more inept and created quite a design. “Hey! Yours look like a squarish envelope!” “Doesn’t matter. There’s no hard and fast rule to wrapping!” Definitely, just as long as the roll is made and we are contented with it, who cares?

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We all needed a break after the two dishes and decided to play a game of Dominion. In the midst of playing, the silent air of contemplation was interrupted by uncontrollable burping.

Now, it’s time for dessert!

And it has to be Cendol! Oh! How the husband and I miss this dessert! While this can be commonly sold in dessert stores, coffee shops and food courts back home, we hardly see it here. Cendol is a Malay dessert that traditionally consists of green mung bean jelly droplets flavoured by pandan leaves, swimming in slightly salted coconut milk and drizzled with palm sugar syrup. Later, when fridges became available, it evolved into ice cendol. Shaved ice was added to suit the tropical weather. More colourful variations are seen these days with new additions such as azuki beans, creamed corn and grass jelly and hey, that’s the way I like it!

So begins my adventure in creating this dessert. Back home, pre-made green mung bean jelly droplets are available at supermarkets  but this is obviously not the case here. Thankfully, it is not too difficult to make and even if you do not have the cendol-making frame to form the droplets, you can substitute using a slotted spoon. Having made these, allow your creativity to take charge and create your own version of cendol! Just remember to keep the three essential ingredients – mung bean jelly droplets, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. While we do not have shaven ice here, what I did was to prepare the cups of cendol and put them in the freezer for about 2-3 hours to allow the coconut milk mixture and syrup to freeze a little (though not entirely). When you are ready to consume it, use the spoon to mix the contents and you will get the effect of the shaven ice.

When the friends were served this dessert, a guessing game ensued. “What did you put in?” “What’s this green thing?” Is this grass jelly?”

I love it when friends use their senses to identify the ingredients in their food. And I must say, some of them did really well!

Last but not least…

… how can anyone resist macarons? Though it is not part of Peranakan cuisine, surely I can tweak the flavour to add a Peranakan twist to this French cookie!  And yes, you’ve guessed it! I’m making Cendol flavour, largely from coconut milk and coconut gel. And since I absolutely adore red bean paste, I added that as well. Then, I decided to get a bit more creative and added strawberries too! Oh! The many different flavours and colours you can play with macarons!

The night was complete with wonderful company and delicious home-cooked Peranakan cuisine. The husband and I had a great time sharing the culture with our friends and it was a night to be savoured. It was an immense pleasure to prepare the dinner and I dare say that I have a little more knowledge on the cuisine upon researching on it. Thank you, Foodbuzz, for this wonderful opportunity!

More recipes will be posted.

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Bitter chocolate almond tart

I’m really enjoying baking now. This interest is escalated by the recent attempts at macarons. Oh, the wonders and science of baking! It got me more and more intrigued.

This morning, I decided to bake this beautiful tart. I have to bake this because (1) it is an art and a beauty to behold; (2) it’s relatively easy and it has to do with meringue; and (3) I need to bring this as a pot-luck dish for today’s gathering.

I need to remind myself that I should bake only until I have done my morning transaction in the lavatory. Oh! At times I felt them urging to meet the T. bowl but the tart is not ready to come out of the oven! Sorry, it’s a bit gross.

Anyway, the final product should look way better than this. If you see carefully, the initial outer part of the filling was arranged neatly with the sliced almonds but subsequently, it proved too much for my patience and ….anyway, this is my best effort and I’m contented.

Question: Why does the filling tear away from the crust after is has been taken out of the oven and cooled?

The church was packed today and I must say, the service was grand with full orchestra and choir. Didn’t capture that (too shy). The sermon was simple yet powerful – the story of how one would die to save a much less deserved person. It really happened in real life, in Boston and of course we also know that the Lord did that as well for all of us.

We were also greeted with a piece of good news. A finally got the bling bling from R! Yay! She was so happy that she went around sharing with her friends. Yup…good news should be shared and we were all so happy for them! And of course, all sorts of celebration are accompanied by food, glorious food! Erm, this is for Easter.

Anyway, happy Easter and know that Easter is not about bunnies and eggs. =p

This recipe is taken from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow and is meant for a 9-inch round tart. However, I have only a 10-inch round tart pan and had to do some cosmetics job so that the shell would be sufficient in the end.

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=)

Love it when the weather’s wonderful.
The Gingerbread buddies become playful.



And had our fill at Figs.
42 Charles St
(between Chestnut St & Mount Vernon St)
Boston, MA 02114

More photos here.

Comfort Meatballs

A plate of pasta with meatballs is the solution to a hungry stomach after a run and swim. We have planned to run with the Kahs along Charles River and it was an absolutely wonderful day at 13 deg C. The Kahs are good pacers but the Queks were too tired to run a longer distance and we stopped at 1/2 of what they ran.

This recipe is taken from Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Cooks. As she has mentioned, these meatballs are not quite the same as those of the regular Italian ones which have more of a breadcrumb/parsley/Parmesan flair. These ones are more in the comfort food/meatloaf category. The taste is definitely different and I’m surprised by the addition of distilled white vinegar in the sauce.

Well, the meatballs satisfied our ravenous appetite and my friends wanted the recipe. So, I guess this is one dish that I would keep!

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International Sunday

And we thought that there would be much leftovers but… the Asian desserts were all snapped up by the end of the coffee hour. Awesome!

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Busy Sat

Our target for the day is to complete baking and making 3 items for tomorrow’s International Sunday in our church.

Joy and How had graciously offered to help and I roped in the hubs to prepare the night before.

When we think of International Sunday and the stuff to serve for tea break, I naturally thought of pineapple tarts, peanut cookies and Kueh Lapis Nonya. Pineapple tarts are my favourite during CNY and peanut cookies are easy to make while Kueh Lapis Nonya reflects Peranakan culture.

I got to share with the couple on how to bake those goodies although this is the first time I’m doing the Kueh Lapis Nonya. It was rather fun doing the demonstration and instructing though I could further hone my skills in that aspect. Thankfully, the couple was keen was to learn and the whole process was made smooth by the hubs offering to wash the dishes. The whole afternoon was spent on baking them and it was laborious indeed. But, it’s job done and that’s what’s important.

Dominion dominates

Ken and I finally acted on inviting some friends to our place for Dinner and Dominion. We had wanted to make it a point to practise hospitality to new-found friends and we had an interesting night, so much so that I could not sleep well since my mind was all still very much alive after the game.

For dinner, sis’ attempt at Soy Sauce Chicken (after she craved mom’s version) gave me the idea to cook it too for our guests. I had made this dish a day earlier (and obviously consumed it) but found that the flavour is richer after a day. I also tried using the gravy from the dish in cooking and prayed that it would turn out fine. It was wonderful. =) I love this hassle-free dish since all I need to do is to dump the ingredients in and then the chicken, after which I just have to wait for the guests to arrive before serving – cold or at room temperature.

The recipe is adapted from Rasamalaysia but I find you have to play with the amount of dark soy sauce, depending on the type you have and that using rock sugar is pertinent. I have a bottle of very rich dark soy sauce, thanks to the recent purchase at NYC and found the sauce too rich and salty  and had to increase the amount of water. As usual, when cooking, taste, taste, taste is a safe bet. I also added hard-boiled eggs and fried firm tofu.

The night was fun and I’ve got a recipe book on Macarons from my guests! They must have known that I wanted to make macarons and cookbook is always welcomed! Is this a sign that I must work on macarons soon?

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Dumplings with love

With much minced meat came dumplings. The Gingerbread group hosted a Dumpling-making and cookie-baking session on a cold Saturday winter evening. When is Spring approaching??!!

It was real fun and a great bonding session with our friends. Dumplings are really filling and the dish is really a good idea for a meal if you are too lazy to think of what to cook. I had my shot on sharing with them on how to make the Strawberry-heart sandwich cookies and loved the experience! Maybe I should switch to teaching baking. Hmm…

Too much eating! I need to run!

More pics here.

TGIF

It’s Friday and we absolutely loved it! Now that Ken is having his hols, we can really hang out together more. Today, we checked into the Tays for most of the day.


This is the dreaded T – Green line (train) that we are at the mercy of. It is so old that it breaks down every now and then and it doesn’t come on time. Sometimes, jogging is faster than taking a T.

S has asked me to bake log cakes for the leaders in PSIF and I thought it would be a good chance to learn from her. Remember, mine failed twice? I was disheartened of course but it’s always good to NEVER GIVE UP!

There were food trucks near their place and how convenient! I thought the concept was rather cool; how nice if we could have more food trucks back home or maybe own one? Kekekkeek…

        

      

After lunch, we got down to business. We baked 9 small log cakes altogether and I had my hands on them too. It was successful! The sponge cake was soft and the rolling was good too! OK, I was encouraged! The hubs, while we were baking, had been sitting quietly at a corner, reading his newly acquired book which he devoured in a matter of hours. The real fun for him came when KK came back with a new board game (co’s gift to him) and then a game of WII for the 3 of them. As usual, I’m not good with computer games. In fact, I don’t play computer games. But I’m contented with watching them play.

We proceeded to the Kah’s to watch the film ‘The Ultimate Gift‘ at their cool movie theatre at the condo. It was really heart-warming and I really ought to do some reflections soon.

“Love is a treasure for which we can never pay. The only way we keep it is to give it away”
The gift of love.

Gingerbread House Party

We had gingerbread house party yesterday! Erm…naturally it’s about building gingerbread house!

We teamed up again with Mark to plan this activity and there was another purpose too – it’s a farewell party (sorta) for Terry. It’s a bit sad for us that he’s leaving. He’s a real seeker for the Truth and asked very relevant questions concerning the faith. We were sad to see him go. It’s inevitable and all we could do was to arrange for someone in his home country to do the follow-up. Thank God something was being done.

I love the activities that A had thought of thus far. In her words, she felt that those activities would draw people together and hopefully feel His love through His people. I concurred, recalling how I was first introduced to the faith as a youth and the many activities I went for with my brothers and sisters-in-Christ in the Youth Fellowship and through them, I grew too. I pray for the same experience for these people.

As part of the planning team, we arrived about 2.5 hours earlier to prepare the food -simple finger food like cookies and salad. Using ready-made mixes was really time-saving but having said that, I’m not an advocate! =p The decoration and Terry’s card were all done within the few hours too. It’s good to have helping hands!

So, I had my first experience building gingerbread house using graham crackers, store-purchased frosting and candies. Ken and I didn’t complete our house since we had to go back first (we were at the mercy of public transport). But I’m sure the people had fun.

On a personal note, I was terribly upset with my cake. It was a fudge cake, for goodness’ sake but when we ate it, it was hard! I forgot to bring it out of the fridge for it to thaw! To me, that was a disaster and I wasn’t happy. Ken knew it and was honest with me and asked if I was angry for my personal glory. I guess if I had to be honest with myself, I would have to admit that was partly it. Well, I tried my best. I just had to remember not to commit the same error again and most importantly, it was not I that matter or what I have created; it’s the Lord and His people that matter most. I must decrease and He must increase!

With that, we left Van Bay house with much joy and a Christmas stocking from A and R. Hmm…what shall I ask Santa for this Christmas? =p hehehehe..

=)

Soon after moodiness engulfed me, I received comments and email from concerned friends, giving me useful tips to survive this period. Thank you, dear friends. I’m touched!

That same night, the Kahs called us and asked if we wanted to try out driving a mini cooper. It was A’s birthday and her hubby rented that car for her since it was her favourite and they thought of us! They wanted me to try driving here since I expressed fear in doing that; I still had not gotten used to left-hand-drive and the traffic here!

So, it was with great trepidation that I manoeuvred the machine and my first time driving an auto-car! The three passengers were ever so encouraging and guided me on the directions. So there you are, my first attempt at driving in the US and I made it! My goal? To drive out of the city and come back safely!

Loving the weekends

Weekends in Boston are totally different from those back home. Our calendars are full and we find ourselves busier, for the better.

We invited the two couples for dinner and of course, the game that gelled us – Dominion! I cooked wanton mee with char siew and prawn wantons with vinegar dressing. I think the latter was rather salty; I need to tweak the recipe. It was fun having them over and we could have played into the nights but being the kind souls they were, they decided that we should need rest since we are not night owls. Yea, we needed that as we had to get up early the next day for another adventure.

    

                    

So, the next day, we got up early to participate in Love Boston Day, an event our Church organised to involve us in the community. There were many areas that we could help out with and we chose to distribute food to the low-income people at Harvard Food Pantry. We had fun doing it and I learnt what ‘fennel’ is through it since I’m in charge of distributing this veg! It’s really a blessing to be able to render help to others; I felt our spirits were lifted too!

After that, we had lunch at Penang Malaysian Cuisine at Chinatown. Oh! The food here was delicious! Just like those back home!!!! We had Roti Canai, Char Kway Tiao, Bak Kut Teh, Yam pot with seafoof and Kang Kong balachan. Heavenly!!!!

         

This is Kenneth teaching Shanghainese Terry how to eat Roti Canai. Shortly after, 4 men and a woman went to the supermarket and purchased a trolley-load of food. For…?

It’s our turn tomorrow to cook for the people in PSIF…100 of them! Whoah! And we would have a chance to cook in a real kitchen, a professional one. =)

I so felt the warmth and God’s love from the fellowship of these people. It’s like back to the times when I was a youth and was attracted to the people in the Youth Fellowship. People were genuinely caring for one another. No farcade, no pretense. I really do think that we are living out The Fellowship of the Believers in Acts 2. We see people change as a result. More please! More of such love on earth!

Stay tuned!

Durian and Custard Puffs

Sarah, Amy and I planned to come together to have a bake-out session, making durian (eekk!) and custard puffs. How exciting! Since Amy was the only one with the oven that has a glass panel ( we need to see the progress of the choux pastry), we agreed to go to her place and to use the indoor swimming pool! Woohoo!

Getting ready.

Sarah getting the recipe out for us

Excited by the mixer

Spooning the batter

Looks promising

Savouring the fruits of the labour

The day ended with dinner at 88 supermart and then 3 games of Dominion at our place. We really have hardcore gamer friends =p. But it’s really fun to have them over for company. Can’t wait for next Friday for a time of Dinner and Dominion at the Queks! =)

Our first guests

Ken: R & A asked to meet up for dinner.
Me: Oh great! Hmm…do you think we should invite them to our place? I can make dinner.
Ken: Sounds good! I’ll reply them then.
Me: Ok. (Ponders) But where are they going to sit?
Ken: (Looks around) Oh yah!

So there, we wanted to invite guests over without realising that there were no extra chairs at the dining table nor extra cups for them. I was tasked to buy the cups and do the grocery and today we went shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond for the chairs! Yay! I love the store because there were things that I like to shop. And in the end, I bought a set of knives and 2 chairs. Hooray! The knives are good, much to my surprise!

The dinner with the couple went excellent, accompanied by Hainanese chicken rice, asparagus with lobster chunks in mayo and chocolate mousse cake from them. I love inviting guests over!

missing…

One of the few things that you miss when you are away is the company of friends and family members. At times, the excitement of being in a new place and the opportunity to pursue your own interest can’t beat the laughters and tears shared with the loved ones.

Thankfully, my dear colleagues have been in touch with us by sending us random emails updating their lives and today as I opened my mailbox, I was greeted by a long awaited letter. Yes, ZM, I’m waiting for this email!

I’m posting the pics of JJ and JL when they were younger (JL should look the same as the pic still?) even though the mommy is so protective of the photos. Anyway, only loved ones have access to this blog and so I took the liberty! Mommy, ok? Btw, the sister looks gorgeous! Really!

Bro & sis…

Binge session & meet-up II

Housewarming at the Sng’s and also a farewell lunch for us, all cooked by Joanne. I have respect for this wonderful lady because I feel she has the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman – supporting the man of the household, making sure the home is in good condition and taking good care of the son. This day, she cooked carrot cake and made chendol at my request and I must say they were really marvelicious!

This one year with the CG has been great although in the beginning stage we were unsure if we could fit in. God has ben great and prompted us to stay put. They have indeed been a blessing and I hope we have been also done our part to bless them in our small ways.

     
Some of the dishes Joanne cooked

Meet up with ex-colleagues

On leave!

I’m officially on leave as of today! Yay!

Felt a bit lost.

Oh well, there’s a lot of packing to be done.

Over the past few years, I have seen and worked with different kinds of leaders. Thankfully, there were more whom I could look up to as compared to those who were warming their seats. I. Will. Aspire. To. Be. A. Good. Leader.

These 2 2/3 years in HQ have been precious to me. I discover that I indeed prefer teaching to deskbound job and definitely the interaction with both students and teachers. It has been fun nonetheless in STB because of the caring and loving culture; the staff really look out for one another and we became friends rather than mere colleagues.

The period when the PD review was in progress was also one of the most memorable moments that a few of us shared. We were involved in some gound-breaking initiatives developments and worked real hard, sometimes way into the night. I have never read so much research papers in that short span of time but I really enjoyed writing that particular paper (only that particular piece which was my pride and joy). We were always going back to the drawing board after some of those dreaded meetings. Oh, of course, those drawings that we each came up with! And we really had a good laugh at ZM’s. That team was the best team that I have worked with over so many years of studies and work because we drew on each other’s strengths and we worked relentlessly until the concepts were approved by the deities.

Of course, we were under great leadership. I love the two-metre tall man to bits but am ever shy when I meet him face to face. He is very experienced and look into the interests of the teachers ( I guess it helps that the wifey is a teacher herself; she must have given much feedback to him). And of course, the dear woman who is also rather anti-social. She, well, fought for our welfare when we were working real hard and was involved in the writing of those papers. I love such leaders. And together, we made a great team.

So, my stay in TDD was filled with sweet memories. I am leaving them, friends whom I have gone through ups and downs and those whom we have shared much laughter with.

And yes, I am leaving with my colleague, my best friend and as we close one chapter of our lives, we are embracing the next with great anticipation.

Au revoir.

    

Tea with gals

Meeting up with the gals, the full strength today and I thought I should bake since they have not tasted my cupcakes before!

I made chocolate cupcakes with coffee buttercream icing. So mocha we had for tea today! I cut the amount of sugar for the cupcakes since I intended to add the chocolate ganache in it. Overall, I like the espresso smell! and thank you, dear hubs for washing up so that I could go out with the gals!

Free coffee @ Starbucks

A few days ago, I informed Angie about Starbucks’ giving away of free coffee if we bring along the tumbler. So today, both of us were well equipped with ours. The meeting was in progress but my mind was with Starbucks. Come on!

At 1pm, the meeting finally ended and by then, I was so tired mentally. Thinking about the number of emails not cleared discouraged me from stepping out of the building. Thankfully Angie, the ever so ON person reminded me of Starbucks and well, yes, ONE more hour to go! We could make it in time!

@ 1.35pm. We made it in time!

Angie & her orders

Coffee, frappe in progress...

@ 1.40pm We've got them!

 Thank goodness hubs came along and charted the way for us…the timid ones who dared not show the barista that we wanted 2 tumblers filled for each pax.