Monday, September 24, 2007

too sweet cake

This is the cake which mummyji baked on sunday. It looks vaguely like a wedding cake, no? Mummyji's been telling everyone she's practising for the babes' wedding.. much to their chagrin, squealing, "What?! Mummy, we're not getting married now, we're still kids!" Hahaha, ok, ok, Mummyji's simply practising to bake both of them their birthday cakes.
Mummyji bought this heart-shaped pan last month to bake special cakes for the special ones in her life, so the babes' birthday cakes had to be heart-shaped, no?
And since both of them are in their anti-pink, eew-so-girly phase, the frosting could never be pink, much as mummyji wanted it. It wouldn't really do to have a blue heart, so mummyji decided on a white background with blue trimmings.
The cake was baked using a sponge recipe, with cocoa paste added. The middle sank somewhat, and mummyji sliced the cake into 2 layers and sandwiched them with melted chocolate/butter/whipped cream. The rest of the whipped cream with icing sugar went to coating the exterior. Then Mummyji whipped up some buttercream icing tinted it blue, then piped it along the bottom edge and top outline as trimmings. The result? An almost-wedding cake! Quite messy cos it was actually melting..
and quite disappointing too, cos all that icing it was engulfed in made the cake really really hyperglycemic sweet.
Lesson learnt? Mummyji shall coat the birthday cake with chocolate ganache, and possibly decorate with white chocolate trimmings. No point making a fanciful-looking one with all those super-sweet icing which we all scraped off before eating the cake.
But, mummyji has to say, it is rather pretty to look at, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ramadan, continued

Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear Signs for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present at his home during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. He wants you to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.

-Qur'an, Al-Baqara, 2:185

Going without food or drink from dawn to dusk requires good discipline and a strong will. Mummyji's proud to say that the babes possess both. Sure, they complain a little, "why is it that the other religions do not fast like us, mummy?", and sometimes, after a long day in school, "Mummy, I'm hungry..."
But not once, not at all, have they whined to be allowed to break fast before it is due.

The thing about us fasting is that we get to look forward to and plan quite elaborately for the meal at Iftar. We, or at least mummyji and daddyji do, browse through cookbooks and websites in search of new recipes to dish up. We pamper ourselves after a day's fast, have a good meal at Iftar, simply because we have the means to do so. And it is in fasting that we are able to reflect upon the hunger we experience, and compare ourselves to the impoverished ones. We must not forget that for these people,hunger is a way of life, and not just for a month. They eat what they can get, with probably not that much of a choice, to fill their rumbling stomachs.
And so we must appreciate that we have been blessed with a good life and give thanks to Allah. For all the luxuries we enjoy, we are grateful and should never waste.

And perhaps mummyji shouldn't be so uptight about loading the babes with enough calories at Sahur to last a whole day. Perhaps mummyji should just let them eat what they think they can hold, instead of insisting they finish a whole muffin or a whole pack of noodles, only to have them leave behind half, or worse, throw up the entire meal.
After all, Mummyji's read recently that human beings are able to survive a whole month without food, but only a week without water. We do not need to wait that long to break our fast, so perhaps Mummyji should just relax and let the babes experience the hunger, and pray that they will, in their own time, reflect upon how blessed they are.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The month of Ramadan is upon us. It is already day 6, and mummyji's really feeling the toll of awakening at 4.30am.
The trusty alarm clock is set at 4.45am, but now, we have the overzealous new maid, who has taken upon herself to overtake the timepiece to knock relentlessly on the boudouir's door till she sollicits a loud "OK! OK!" from mummyji/ borrow a phrase from the legendary ah beng, "Wah biang ay!!!" Another 15 minutes of snooze time would be cool, but no, the ever-ready FDW is out there, every morning at 4.30am, a-knocking, so since the MIL's already down there clanging away, preparing the FIL's meal, mummyji trudges down too, with eyes barely opened.....
The babes have yet to acclimatise their digestive systems to ingest food before dawn though. Think it might take them another week or so, from past experience.
Mummyji had a what she thought was brilliant brainwave yesterday - to bake a nutritional, jam-packed-with-goodness muffin that the babes can eat at Sahur.
So mummyji got busy in the kitchen after maghrib and baked a batch of chocolate-carrot wholemeal muffins...with the intention of filling the babes with all the goodness and nutrients of carrots and eggs, all that energy provided by chocolate, and the slower glycemic release of the wholemeal flour, so that the day's fast will be more bearable and they'll have more stamina.
With much cajoling, alas, the babes only managed to swallow half a muffin each. Well, Mummyji gave both of them a stern talking to on the drive to school... after all, what's the point of dragging your sleepy bottoms down to the dining area just to simply stare at the food in front of you?
Might as well make the most of it while you are already up, right?
sigh, anyways, Mummyji's not about to give up yet... these babes just need more coaxing and prodding.

Mummyji's always seem to be researching more recipes, food joints and food than ever during Ramadan. Anyways, while shopping for sugar-less mooncakes for the Gong-gongji a couple of weeks ago, Mummyji chanced upon a chinese stall which was halal-certified. The main outlet is in AMK Hub, and they produce freshly-baked chinese pastries. Mummyji was quite over the moon to see "Gai zhai bang" on the shelf. There was also a century-egg-bean-paste cake, portugese egg tart and pineapple tarts.. and last but not least, an incredibly drool-worthy black sesame cookie, sold in pretty bottles. The slightly-salted cookie literally melts in the mouth, and the lovely scent of black sesame simply invites one to pop another cookie again.... and again...and again.....hmm, simply heavenly!!(... the stomach rumbles and growls as mummyji hallucinates the fragrance of black sesame paste...)

It really is good to see chinese food joints catering to muslims. Malay- prepared "chinese" food is just not the same. And that is why too, Mummyji applauds the existence of Banquet foodcourts in Singapore. What a great difference is the Char Kway Teow fried by a certified halal chinese hawker stall, as compared with that cooked by a malay food stallholder. And where else can one find a decent bowl of halal fishball meepok? Nowhere but in Banquet....Hotel fare is just not the same.
Mummyji can never forget the time when she ordered a plate of wan ton mee from a malay stall, as shown on the signboard, only to be served a dismal plate of egg noodles with a stalk of vegetable and some shreds of chicken flesh. When questioned, the stallholder merely shrugged and said, the noodles are wonton noodles what, there is no wanton, that is just a picture!...??!! What's up with that??!!
Needless to say, we've never patronised the stall again. In fact, it's not even in business anymore the last time we passed by... Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Here are some ginger cookies that mummyji and the babes baked last sunday. Mummyji made some glace icing, separated into 4 bowls of blue, orange(or copper as stated on the bottle of colour paste), pink and white, for the babes to go wild and decorate the cookies as they pleased.
They're not too fastidiously designed, but the taste is good! The cookies had a good crunch, a mild ginger taste and the lemon in the icing ensured that it wasn't too overcloyingly sweet. They were well worth the effort, considering the temptations we had on so many occasions to lick our icing-smudged fingers!

On a more serious note, to mummyji, this is a month of self- reflection and self-restraint. As mummyji's already written last ramadan, the restraint of thoughts and words are indeed more difficult to practise than not drinking or eating. Every curse that is muttered whenever any assinine driver irritates mummyji is immediately followed by a feeling of guilt and silent apologies to the Almighty. It is tough, but mummyji's a stubborn one, so she's gonna strive on, by the grace of Allah.

Now mummyji's looking forward to decorating the stairs and patios with her stash of candles and holders (mummyji has a candle fetish). Mummyji thought we'd not use those ubiquitous tacky chasing lights that almost every other muslim household dangle on their windows/balconies/parapet.... We'd use candles, and daddyji thought it a good idea too, so we got this neat 5-candle holder stand made of iron from Lim's, which we intend to display at the front patio...think we should start lighting up in a few days! Yay!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

mini cakes



Mummyji went on a shopping spree at vivo with the babes on Friday. We'd bought each of us something fashionable from Zara, ("a girl has to have fashionable stuff to wear, u know"... so proclaims the first-born, S), a pair of Converse each for the babes, gone on a sugar high at Candy Empire,wolfed down yummy Phish Food and Chocolate chip cookie dough at B &J's... then we walked into Giant to see if we could find S a replacement water bottle.. needless to say, we didn't, the babes are such snobs, but Mummyji found two 12-mini cup muffin trays and a long row of pretty green daisy papercases. And so it was the very next day, Mummyji baked these mini cakes.
The recipe which Mummyji improvised from chocolate brownies yielded 48 mini cakes, plus 4 regular-sized muffins.
1 1/3 cup flour, organic unbleached
1 tsp baking soda
100g butter, unsalted
3/4 cup molasses sugar, organic
2 eggs
100g dark chocolate, 74% cocoa
a dollop of greek yogurt
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven at 175degC.

Melt the chopped choc and butter in the microwave at high for 1 min, mix in the sugar till well blended. Mix in the eggs, then sift in the flour n baking soda, with a pinch of salt. The dough looked kind of dry and mummyji dropped in a dollop of yogurt (about 2 tablespoonfuls) in between adding in the flour.

Meanwhile S had helped mummyji lined the 2 trays with the mini papercases.
A tsp of dough was carefully dropped into each case, and the trays were baked for around 10 minutes.
The first batch was allowed to cool for a tiny while before mummyji lifted the cups out with the aid of a tiny fork, and quickly lined the trays again for Batch 2.

After the 2 batches had cooled considerably, Mummyji melted some white chocolate (about a 100g or so) with 50g butter.
White chocolate needs more care to melt, and quite a bit of stirring to get an even blend. A dollop was delicately smeared on the top of each little cupcake and with the back of the teaspoon, gently pressed then pulled up in the centre, so as to get a tiny peak.
The babes helped to drop the coloured sprinkles on the white choc tops before the choc cooled and hardened.
and voila!
This is going into Mummyji's repetoire of Hari Raya goodies-to-bake! Mummyji's gonna be doing more "research" and experiments for Raya... stay tuned!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

teachers' day

"Mummy, can you teach me to bake muffins for my teachers?" asked the first-born, S.
And so it was, that we baked some chocolate muffins last Thursday, for the school's teachers' day celebration the next day.
The baked muffins were cooled overnight and in the early hours of the next morning, before Mummyji(the inhouse barrista) made the breakfast cafe espresso, the muffins were stuffed delicately into pretty little cellophane bags with strawberry motifs (acquired from Daiso, the incredible store stocked with a fascinating array of merchandise, all priced at SGD2!).
Z claimed 2 packs for her teachers, while S brought 3... word has it that one of the teachers squealed with delight upon receiving her goodie pack and devoured the muffin soon enough.

Mummyji thought it befitting to send an sms to her old teacher, Sr P, to wish her a Happy Teachers' Day as well. A couple of weeks ago, Mummyji had brought a couple of blueberry muffins to Sr P's residence, but alas, did not get to meet her as she was attending mass. But Sr P had called Mummyji later on to tell her how much she enjoyed the muffins... ;p
and so mummyji sent her an sms, thanking God for having been blessed with Sr P as a teacher.. to which Sr P replied, "Believe me, it was a pleasure teaching u.." and Mummyji is so touched....

We've got our new maid for a week already, and so far, so good...
there was a weekend when we were maidless, and everybody chipped in to keep the house as clean as we could.. here’s evidence of Z cleaning up after dinner!

Mummyji tried out a minimal fuss dessert over the maid-less weekend. It’s a chocolate pudding of sorts, made with lavender-infused milk, dark chocolate of 70% cocoa, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and a sprinkle of Red Man’s halal gelatin powder.
This thick fragrant mix was poured into glasses in which a dollop of blueberry preserves had been added and chilled for some hours.
Just before serving, mummyji had broken up a tube of dark Toblerone and topped each glass with a piece. Yums!
Mummyji's thinking of adding in sweet pineapple chunkss, or mandarin orange pieces the next time...stay tuned!