Thursday, December 30, 2010
Come weekends, things turn for the better. I am always busy exploring the Enlgand countryside with my family together in our little Poppy. Oh btw, Poppy is our new additional, a red mini cooper, my dream car.
Ok, enough of showing off!
Many friends have emailed or Facebook-ed me to ask if the snow in London is as bad as it has been report in the papers... well, I leave you to figure out from this pic.
Before I go, wish everyone who is still holding on to the handle of my Happy Cup, have a very warm and wonderful 2011 ahead!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
After all we have been thru you will see why London ain't a bad place after all - it has milder weather compared to some part of UK and European countries. We get the best (probably, since i have yet to travel to all European cities) chinese food, and the variety of food offered in London Supermarket is unbeatable! The most important of all, we have no language barrier here - when everyone and everything here is in English. Imagine my anguish when I was seated in a restaurant in Munich staring at all the German text... not to mention signages in tube station and everywhere else.
Another thing that helped to settle us is that we have stopped living out of serviced apartments. Yeah, after over 3mths, we have moved into our 'own' place. I say 'own' cos it is not really our own, but a rented place but it is good enough to make us feel back home again. We spent much time and efforts (+ financial damages) to decorate the place... now we are proud to have our HOME!
Thanks to all the advices when I whined painlessly - because of your sharing, I was able to reflect and mull over my circumstances. My family and I are now playing happy tourists every weekend visiting the beautiful countrysides in England. We have a long list to go thru, and not sure when we can move on to explore the Scotland... haha, slowly we will get there, maybe next summer!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Can't believe my last post was almost a month ago!
Quite a few things happening in the last 1 mth. We have moved into a new place... this time is for good, I suppose, since we have the lease signed for 1 year. I tend to get very excited whenever I come to the topic on this house, but I shall save that for the future post. :-)
With the shipment delivered to my place just few weeks before Sheen's birthday means I am able to keep up with the tradition of baking him a birthday cake!
This is the first time I was absence at his birthday celebration but was glad daddy took some pix so that I can share the joy!
Sheen with his best friend Ahmed.
Sheen with his classmates! There are 22 in the class, 21 nationalities... how diversifed!
Jubilant Sheen with his birthday present!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
All i need to do is to heat up a wok, add 1 tsp of oil to fried the veg for 5min, then add sauce and noodle and dry until they are heated thru.
- noodle :egg, sweet chilli, beehoon
- stir fry sauce :black bean, sze chuan, sweet and sour, chinese style
- vegetables: mushrooms, chinese veg, etc
Jason thinks this is a great idea... and I suspect I am going to have to content with the similar noodle in days to come. Agh.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The pack come in 500gram bags and almost contain every thing you need. I simply added olive oil and water then knead by hand... just follow the instructions on the back and you can't go wrong.... or so I thought.
First the instruction say rub oil with mix until it "resembles fine bread crumbs", - well, I am sure i measured the amount of oil correctly but I never get to that stage. In any case, i am skeptical about the purpose of this step. In the science of bread making - the oil will coat prohibit the formation of the glutten. I dun recall having adding oil as the first step in making bread back at home but who cares, i continue with step 2 even though is it far from fine bread crumbs.
Next, the instruction says to knead for 10min. Ok fine. Then cover and wait for 1 hour. I do not know if they mean 1 hour for the 16C weather in London - my bread didn't rise sufficiently until 3 hours later. Even then, I had to place the dough next to the electric heater.
Once it is proofed, I briefly knead againm and leave the dough to rise AGAIN for another 30 minutes!!!! Nope, 90min to be exact.
By the time, the bread is baked, I was dead tiring. Fortunately the effort was worth it - the bread is light and soft. It is deliciously tasty with the bits sun dried tomato and flavour of olive oil.
The only problem is that the loaf doesn’t keep fresh for long. 24hour is the max. After that the bread is dense and heavy like Lady Gaga's makeup!
Until my shipment of all the baking equipments arrive, I will stick to the Tesco 95 pence loave which is fresh, soft, and effortless!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
After dinner last evening, we strolled to the nearby supermarket, and saw this Tesco Finest* Meal Deal for Two which only cost us £10. Pretty good deal - we can pick 1 Main, 1 Side, 1 Dessert & 1 Drink and the drink includes wine :-)
May I present the dinner menu:
The food is fresh, and honestly, as good as what we get from some restaurants. I got everything heated and served on the table within 20min!
This is going to be a perfect choice for us as the dusk getting earlier and temperature dips faster than you say cold. Like the squirrel stocking up the accorns for winter, I see us stocking up these ready meals hahaha!
When chatting with my colleague this morning, I suddenly recall this interesting conversation with Sheen when we first arrived -
Boy: why do we need to walk so much? can we take our car?
Ma: this is london, our car is in Singapore.
Boy: then why do we come here?
Yes, sometimes ma also wonder
why we leave our nice new car in SG while we have to depend on the unreliable tube here.
We left our spacious apartment behind to live in this tiny flat.
I ditch my nice and cosy office to be in a workstation.
J put his cushy well paid job on hold to be full time father.
i can go on and on... but what purpose will it serve?
I know I will probably be stoned to death by the English if they see how much all the complaints i have. To many colleagues, £2300-a-week prestigous address (never mind how small) & £22K international school is big deal.
But there must something more than that facade.
OK there is probably a couple good reason to come in the first place. I should go back to jog my memories of the initial dreams of coming here, and continue to chase that dream.
It hurts to think about what we are losing out in our home country but hurt only last as long as we allow them to. If you continue to drag the home cultue around, you cannot enjoy the new experience, like toilet paper stuck to the shoes, or so a wise man said!
For now I have to help myself to get out of that tailspin, and get my family to enjoy the ride with our spirit of adventure!
PS: do drop me a note or 2 if you have anymore wise advice!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Those who have been to UK will know how (in)efficient this place is. Initially we thought its just us moaning meaninglessly. But after meeting up like-mind expats community in London, I realise this is just some reality that we have to learn to cope.
Other than issues we need to overcome in the process of relocations, we are so excited about the country that we had all our weekends and hols all planned; On days I am working, I am busy chatting with the UK folks to find out good places to visit and eat. On days I am not working, my family and I are so busy exploring the city, inside and outside London.
To be honest, i barely cooking or baking these days. If not for the extra apples that we have hand picked from the fruit farm , i doubt i ever get down to have my first bake in London!
Fortunately it couldn't be any easier to make - I used the ready filo pastry (pix below) from Waitrose. Btw, my current apartment is just above Waitrose, so I have to ditch my fav Sainsbury for now!
There are other types of pastry like puff or shortcrust pastry which are more common, but according to the website, filo pastry is healthier with less fat/butter being used.
EASY APPLE PIE RECIPE
Recipe adapted from here.
Makes 1 6" pies
2 eating or cooking apples, (I used bramley) - removed skin and core.
4 sheet of filo pastry, thaw if necessary
55g butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.
- Core and slice apples
- Melt butter and brush the tins or moulds. .
- To make each pie, brush 4 of the cut pieces of filo with melted low-fat spread. Press the first sheet into the base of the tin, then arrange 3 more sheets on top, at slightly different angles, so that you get points of pastry around the edge of the pie. Alternatively, trim or fold in the sides.
- Arrange the apple slices in each pie and crimp the edges of the pastry to cup the fruit.
Mix together 2 tbsp low-sugar apricot jam with 1 tbsp unsweetened orange juice until you have a smooth syrup, then brush this over the fruit. ( i skipped this step as i am not keen to buy a jar of jam just to use few tsp but if you have it gives the pie a shinier look)
- Sprinkle some slivers of almond for texture.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Living in a new city is a new experience. Attending school in a new country is going to be another new experience, and one certain to enrich our life in different ways
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Since I moved here less than 6 weeks ago, I have received 3 guests staying over at my apartment. Thanks for your companionship and friendship, I love to host you and want my family to enjoy having you around as much you do.
However it is extremely important for me and my family to maintain some sanity as we see our lovely guests come and go. So if your family name is not Tan or Ling, the following house rule will apply. I humbly asked that you agree to the following T&C before you make any application:
- Unless you are someone who survive on air and water, pls do not apply if you have a daily budget of £2. While we are not looking for any financial benefits of your stay, we are not quite prepared to finance your holiday (i.e. 3 meals a day+free chauffering+whatever you have in mind).
- Though we are not running a B&B (Bed and Breakfast), we are more than happy to have you join us for some home-cooked meals. When you do get invited, you are not expected to bring wine or flowers, but it won't hurt if you offer to wash the dishes after the meal. Even a simple gesture of bringing the empty plates to the basin will be greatly appreciated by all of us at home. We have no maid. Period.
- You know, this is a home. Not a hotel. I do not mind staying up a little if you are arriving late. But what would you do if you have a guest who tells u she is arriving at 2am (and still subject to train delay), and it is a weekday night when you and your child need to leave home at 7am.
If you think I am too petty or too mean to make these requests, I will gladly help you to book a hotel. I'll probably lose a friend or a relative, but whatever it takes to keep a sound mind!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Balti is actually the name of the cooking pot and serving dish. It is pretty much a British-style type of curry, meaning it is not spicy at all. Living out of a service apartment, I have the provided-Ikea pot as a substitute.
Instead of gathering all the spices, I used the ready-to-use Balti sauce that I picked up from my favourite supermarket (for only £1). It tastes pretty yummy with a right blend of sourness and slight spice! It is a very appetising dish.
I used chicken wing for the dish but any other meat like lamb or chicken breast works as fine - wing is cheaper, that's all. In my case, it costs about £3 to whip up a hearty and satisfying meal.
8 chicken wings
1 large lime
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 large yellow onions, chopped
1 night in advance:
Marinate the chicken in the lime zest and juice and yogurt overnight.
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok or pot and fry the onions until turn translucent.
- Toss in the marinated meat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over a moderate heat until cooked through.
- Pour in the jar of balti sauce.
- Perfect with naan bread, or basmatic rice.
Monday, August 23, 2010
If you have came to London before you know exactly how costly it is to eat out. However, it is fairly cheap if you can cook your own meals as there's an array of items that you can get cheaply from the supermarket.
Chicken wing is one of those good value; last week when I shopped at Sainsburys - i was surprised to see that the fresh (not frozen) chicken wing goes for just £1.70/kg. By comparison, the chicken breast is exorbitantly priced at £14/kg. I asked around, and found that the British does not like anything that has bone, never mind which taste better. Haha, that explained why even the KFC here has boneless chicken in their menu.
One man's poison is another man's meat, so i gladly buy what the brit doesn't want. The first thing came to mind as I was in the aisle was to cook Mary's Chicken and Ginger Stir-fry which i read from her blog recently.
It reminds me of my mum's 姜葱鸡(chicken with spring onion and ginger). Since the spring onion is quite ex (well, for that matter, all asian veg cost a bomb here), i skipped that, and just make do with the ginger. It is also costly but I reasoned that since it can be kept for at least a week or 2, it makes sense to buy ginger instead of spring onion if i can only choose 1.
The below here is what I did but i believe each of us have our own version.
The portion below feeds 2
8 pc chicken wings
1 yellow onion chopped
10 slices ginger, shredded
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine (or XO/brandy)
1. Stir fry ginger and onions in 2 tbsp of hot oil till fragrant.
2. Add in chicken pieces and fry for about two minutes.
3. Add in the rest of the marindae + 1 cup of water and let it boil for a while.
4. Cover and turn down fire and let it simmer for about 30min or till gravy thickens. Add salt to taste.
5. Serve hot with white rice and enjoy.
Friday, August 6, 2010
J also start to try his hand at cooking. This is the first meal he has made in his life. It's instant noodle cooked, drained and served with fried egg and fried sausage.
Sheen was astonished that dad can cook, and gave him 2 thumbs up! Way to go, J!
Monday, August 2, 2010
I baked these chocolate cupcake just before I left my matrimonial home.
After the packer's left, I found this box of Cake Mix which i deliberately kept with me. And I really wanted to bake it. Shoud be easy with cake mix, I thought. So I started to organise the stuff I need:
eggs - checked
corn oil - checked
mixing bowl - shipped.
muffin pan - shipped
Instead of the mixing bowl, I found a relatively big soup bowl. Not quite big as the mixing bowl should be, but I will make do.
Muffin pan. Just use the paper pleated cupcake case lah. Haha, no luck it is also shipped. After rummaging thru what's left behind are stuff that needs to be thrown or given away, I found a pack of silicon cases sitting neat and proper in a box! :-)
Happiness is when you get to bake at the end of a hard day work!
PS: I used nutelle for the frosting on top.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
When we arrived at London, we head straight to a hotel cos the serviced apartment which we wanted was not available yet. The problem with visitng London in summer is that the time is so right that you have to compete with a million others for everything. That includes accomodation. The suite is not avail, so it was another few days of camping in a tiny hotel room with 9 strewed luggages!
Finally we got the apartment we wanted.
This time round, we happily settle in the nice and cosy place. Also, there's enough room for my friend who will come visiting soon. Soon we discovered the internet in that apartment was not working, plus the washer which we have specifically requested for was conspiciously missing. After discussing with J, we decided it is time to move again.
We have equaly challenge with the current place - there's not a single powerpoint in the 2nd bedroom. I do not know how anyone can live with this! Haha, but we concluded that in London, dun expect 十全十美, so unit 110 is our home until our sea shipment arrives in a month's time when we have to move again!
Till then, I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything turns out well for us in the next couple weeks!
Friday, July 16, 2010
I had a darn busy day to bake but was too late to back out the promise, so I made a simple sponge cake with fresh mango filling which is Teng's favourite.
The rest of the decor was left to his parents, aka Icing Room! Look, they are having fun!
... and doing a pretty good job!
All kids love birthdays, don't they?
Happy Birthday, Kai Teng.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
It's been a while since I pick up this packet of lotus paste. I used to think that we use the same type of lotus paste for mooncake and for the pao but obviously I was wrong. So when I saw this packet that was meant for pao filling, I grabbed a pack... and it sat in my fridge until now I need to clear the fridge before we leave SG.
My sister and brother are taking their family over for a swim last evening, so the grand plan is to have the piping hot steam bun ready when they are back from the swim. Imagine holding the scorching hot bun when the body is shivering... Agh, good plan.
Only that I didn't get the timing right. The pao was over an hour late... and the first tray only ready when they are having dinner. Haha, just in time for dessert!
Luckily my family is always supportive and
finish up praise eveything that I make. I only keep 2 for my phototaking today (will be uploaded soon).
Basic Yeast Dough
Recipe Source: cookingmomster
500gm pau flour, sifted ( I use Blue Key Brand Pau flour )
6gm instant yeast (I used 11g)
50gm shortening (I used crisco)
1. Mix instant yeast in the water. Sprinke some flour (from 500g) over it. Wait till it is frothy (about 15min). The orginal method provided was to dissove the yeast with sugar and water. But I am a little skeptical so I followed the my same old method. Her method may also work, so it could be just a personal choice.
2. Mixed all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour the yeast liquid. Mix well with a spatula (or your hand). Slowly work the shortening into the dough. knead until it is smooth and elastic. I used a little more than 250g of water but it all depend on the type of flour and few other factors. So "feel" as you work the dough.
3. Leave the dough to proof until it doubles in size. Cooking Monster divide into small piece then proof. Again, I think it is a personal choice.
4. Deflate the dough and divide them into 40gm piece (you can get about 18 portions). Flatten it into a small round disc. Place some lotus paste onto the centre and pleat the top. Place each dough on a piece of baking paper. Set aside and let it prove again until double its size. Estimated about 10 minutes.
5. Steam pau with high heat (with rapidly boiling water) for about 15 minutes or until the pau is cooked. Serve hot.
- I added a few drops of Lemon Emulco (from Phoon Huat) to make it the bun pale yellow. This also gives a light citrus flavour.
- The lotus paste for pao is softer and "wetter" than those for the mooncake. It is not as sweet as the mooncake lotus paste.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I got down to make this right away and keep the jug in the fridge. It was amazing I managed to stay sober that afternoon!!!
You can also replace watermelon with rock melon or strawberries. Just don't use apple and banana cos they turn brown really quickly.
I love this drink - frothy and refreshing in a humid afternoon!
Watermelon Vodka Cooler
Makes 2 tall glasses
4 cups red watermelon cubes (without skin)
6 tbsp (90ml) vodka
2 tbsp fine sugar (I skip this)
Juice from 2 limes
1) Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2) Pour mixture thru a fine mesh sieve (this is to remove the watermelon fibre, you can skip this step if you dun mind some roughage in your drink)
3) Serve it very chill.
Friday, June 25, 2010
This afternoon I was longing for a warm mantou, and I knew I have a box of bun flour to use up before i move out. But. Where is the recipe?
I totally forgotten that my favourite recipes and folders have been cleared into boxes by now. Luckily I have few books which were intended to be remain in Singapore
Malaysian Baker, Kevin Chai, has a book where all the cakes can be whipped up without using any mixer. Though this is named Blueberry Cake, I think it is more like muffin than cake.
Source: Easy Stir n Bake Cakes, Kevin Chai
yield: I get about 5 muffins
100g plain flour
20g nestum (i used quaker oaks)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
80g castor sugar
80ml corn oil
150g blueberry filling ( I used 120g fresh blueberries)
100g canned pineapple (I omit this)
1) Combine flour, nestum, baking powder, baking soda in a mixing bowl.
2) Combine eggs, sugar and oil. Stir into flour mixture together with blueberries and pineapple (if using) until well blended. Pour mixture into small paper cup.
3) Bake in preheated oven at 175C for 25-30min. Leave it to cool.