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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sundae




                       Sundae came into our lives in 2005 and is a Labardor.  Initially every morning we open the front door with the thought what has she done this time. Being a 5 month puppy, she was always up to mischef and the thing she loves the most was digging holes and you can find her nose and her feet covered with sand and from the onset we tried to train her but to no avail as next morning, you will definitely find a hole or she will shred our morning newspapers so much so that my neighbour used to retort, "That not only is Sundae reading the newspapers before us but that she was also diggesting it!"

                     Sundae is now 5 years old and have matured over the years and we now open our front door every morning without any thought as to what she had done in the night.  She is very loving and never leaves the side of my hubby.  She only leaves him to be my shadow every evening as she knows who feeds her.  I always use to say that she has a built in alarm in her body as every day, without fail, at 5.30 p.m. she will either bark for her food or if I am asleep she will lick my face to wake me up so that she can have her dinner.

                       We tried from the time she was young to train her to go to the garden to answer nature's call and every hour or so I will open the gate for her to go to the garden and it is not always that there is a need for same.  Then my daughter told me to watch for any sign from her indicating that she wants to do same and true enough I spotted this.  Whenever she wants to answer nature's call, she will kiss any of us in the hall and immediately head for the front door and when we open the door she will run to do her thing.  Initially when we want to go to town for an errand and open the door so that she can be outside but our dear friend refuse to budge then we leave her in the hall and do our errand, our hearts in our mouth as we were worried that she will do her thing in the hall but everytime we come back, our hall is "save" and when we open the door, she will go out and do her business.  Such a clever dog!!! She has bought our hearts and I always say that pets ask only to be fed and loved and in return gives you loyalty and unconditional love. 

                 Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bringing up the girls - A tribute to my mother in law

          My mother in law brought up my girls beautifully all by herself without the aid of a maid.  Thirty years ago it was the norm for mothers in law to take care of one's children; having a maid in those days was  probably unheard off unless you had the fortune to be born to a rich family, and she taught discipline to, first her own children, and subsequently all the children that she brought up.  In those days children were seen and not heard, something sadly lackly in present times.  She trained all the children, her own first then the grandchildren to eat whatever was placed on the table; picky children was definitely not found in her household.  She taught them well particularly her own children; they were trained to make their own bed when they got up in the morning and to this day, my husband makes the bed and in the old days the bedsheets were the type which you had to tuck in at all the 4 corners and my husband always make the bed so beautifully; straight and tucked in properly and kept our home spick and span, toilet included; garden was swept morning and evening.

          My children slept with my mother in law.  I remember they told me that, should they kick her while sleeping, she will pinch their legs lightly so much so that they out grew that habit in a short while, haha good training mum.

          She not only was good in training the childen, she was a fantastic cook especially during festivals or when guests visited, she prepared alot of delicious food and beautifully presented too. I was very fortunate that I was able to learn quite a bit of Peranakan cooking also known as Nyonya cooking is a mixture of Malay and Chinese cooking which when combined is a unique blend of both worlds which makes Nonya cooking one of a kind. I am not a Nonya but have grown to love the food as Peranakan cooking is spicy and definitely not bland.

          Not only is she good in cooking, keeping the house clean and neat but she was also very handy with her hands; she can do light electrical works, sewing beautiful dresses for my children, curtains, bed sheets, etc, making a fish pond with cement and tiles, making a dog cage, etc, etc.

          For all that you have done for us, I salute you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inner Healing

  

            My 3rd blog; how appropriate for me to address the issue of pain as the number 3 has always meant something special to me. Some form of pain is something that everyone goes through at some point in life, nobody can escape from it and the emotional pain of carrying that burden is sometimes too deeply rooted and etched in the deep recesses of our mind. 

           I am no stranger in this department.  I have carried and "nutured" this pain deep inside me for more than 3 decades that it feels, at most times, impossible to shake it off, you dont know how to let go much as you want to.  In order for me to survive I threw myself literally into doing something that gave me ultimate joy so that for a short span of time, I could forget all the unwarranted unhappiness and my passion in baking was my life line but somehow the pain managed to stay rooted in my mind and much as you want to let it go and let the inner wounds heal; it only goes away fleetingly and then like a bad penny, it resurfaces and will gradually seep into your being and fester in you, again and figuratively eats your guts that at times it seems physically and mentally impossible to heal but in order to restore a sembalance of inner peace in my life, I owe it to myself to, try to, just let go and let the healing process begin and take full circle. The change must begin from within in order for one to make peace with oneself and subsequently, being whole again.  I have kept the pain alive for so long that it is time that I let  it go. I taught myself over the years that for me, I should condition the thought that my happiness should never be totally dependent on anyone but myself  and once I am able to accept that thought, the process of healing would, undoubtedly, start. I was very fortunate that I had my husband, who is my soul mate, and my children lending me their moral support for I dread to think what would have happened if I didnt have same.

                      till the next post, xoxo Ophelia

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My memorable cake for Teacher's Day

          Going down this path brings back so much happy memories. Now I take you along my memory lane that cross a span of 21 years. I came home tired after a hard day's work of meeting a dead line to file some papers in Court and having done that, I gave a huge sigh of relief; glad that all things necessary had been done, just happy to pack my things, head back home with hubby and having dinner together with our kids. We were having dinner at the dinner table [those days we used to eat together as a family at the dinner table.  These days some ppl eat in front of a telly, glued to the black box or on a lap top and losing out on bonding time, talking and listening to the family], then my 10 year old girl dropped a bomb shell on me that jolted me and made me sit upright!!! The girls in her class discussed what they wanted to do for Teacher's Day the next day and they wanted a cake for their beloved teacher, Mrs Foo, and they all suggested that I did same as they knew that I dabble with baking, being my testers at some point of time and they would each bring some finger food.  I gagged at it at first as I could not take leave the next day to rest as I had another dead line to meet but when I saw the disappointment on her little face and then hearing both my girls chipping in, "Mum we have both finished our home work and we will help you as we know you are tired". Hearing that statement all my feelings of tiredness flew off the window and I resolved, with their help of course, to bake something which would make them proud of me esp my 10 year old as it was for her beloved teacher, already I had a few ideas, although limited ones, floating in my mind, haha as I only started real baking 5 years ago and I cant even call that 5 years experience in baking as I was still, very much, a novice in baking and still had so much to learn before I can come full circle. After discussing with my girls and getting their consent, the three of us started donning an apron each and started the ball rolling. I could see that my girls were enjoying themselves tremendously and making a little mess of things, I smiled inwardly and told myself, it didnt matter, this was in a way a special bonding with them and spending quality time and something that would probably be etched deep into the recesses of their mind and something they would remember when they started their own little family, I smiled at that thought.  I decided together with my 2 girls that I would bake a sponge in a square low tin and then I would cut it into stripes and spread a little butter cream to stick them together and then rolled them into a round circle until I have a circle that was 10" in diameter.  So we set about this task and once it was completed I made a jelly, I think it was pink in colour as it was more than 21 years ago and it was a pity that I dont have a picture of that cake. I  wet the 11" tin as we were taught in our baking class that it would Then be easier to unmould the jelly then poured the jelly into the wet tin. Then I lay 3 long cake knives underneath the cake and with the aid of my girls, I would not have been able to accomplish this task alone; each carrying simultaneously and gingerly, we slowly inserted into the warm jelly, at the same time not daring to breath as we were afraid that the cake will unloosen from its round shape and float up and if that happened, I am dead as it was already 10 p.m., time for my kids to go to bed as next day was a school day as they were in the morning session. I held the cake down for sometime and then slowly released some pressure gradually and fuyoh the cake Did Not float!!!!!! Happiness was apparent on all our 3 faces. I left the cake on the table to cool, before I can put it in the fridge, not daring to shake it and keeping my fingers crossed. Then I did the massive clean up and strangely enough I didnt feel tired; probably buoyed with the thought that I was able to produce a cake in a short space of time with the help of my precious girls.

          Next day I got up very early in the morning as I had to unmould the cake and pack it in a box for my girl to take it to school with the instructions, the nite before, that it had to be kept in the canteen fridge which would probably cause a ruckus among the girls during recess, as the jelly will melt if left outside in the hot blistering heat. With bated breath I slowly and gently unmoulded the cake onto a cake board and slowly it triggled down; happiness apparent on my face for a split second then when it came down entirely; oh dear I saw a 3" gapping hole at the extreme top right hand corner caused by air pocket. Temporarily, my mind went blank, as usual I was flustered; I could only think about my little girl. Then out of the blue came my solution, I rushed to the pantry and brought out a small tin of Del Monte diced fruit cocktail, opened it and drained the juice out of the fruit cocktail and filled the gaping hole and  Then voila, I was struck bythe sheer beauty of it, in fact it was more appealing this way than in the original version that I intended to present the cake  with nothing much to stand out except for the flat plain jelly. The fruits looked so pretty with its varied colours; luscious orange from the diced peaches, red from the cherries, cream from the pears and grapes; such a pretty sight. I quickly tied the box and put it in the fridge; smiling to myself and keeping this little secret from my girls as the spotaneous joy from her looking at the fruits would be contagious with the rest of her class and they would all probably clap their hands and wait in anticipation to eat eagerly the fruits of our labour, haha.
           I then proceeded to work with a light heart and a bounce in my steps and eagerly waiting to return home to see my kids and listen attentively to their non stop pop. When I came back, both my girls rushed to me and gave me a big hug and a wet kiss each; my youngest esp overjoyed at the celebrity status they both earned in school as they both proudly said they helped their mum to make this cake. I was glad but frankly if you now ask me to reproduce that gaping hole in the cake, I dont know whether I can do it again for, haha it was a fluke shot :) :) :)  or if need be, I would use a sharp knife and gingerly cut a hole. One of the reasons why I wanted to blog on this was a week ago I saw one of my younger girl's classmate in her face book and I quickly click to be added as her friend. Her class mate told me she was in raptures when she saw my Request and promptly added me on her face book then to cap it all, she told me that she will never forget the fruit cake I made and had a photo of it somewhere at home, she is in Australia now doing her Masters and would probably return in December for a short break.  I asked her whether she could look for it when she came back and post it on fb in order for me to tag on it and save it on my album. I dont really know whether the picture she has, is this cake that I am bloging about and if so, I would insert the image when I have same :) :) :) though have to wait until end of the year to know whether that picture has been thrown away or misplaced. Keeping my fingers crossed. 
                 Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia
                   

Monday, October 18, 2010

My first blog on my all consuming passion "Baking"

          I have Always wanted to create a blog where I can, in the quiet of the nite, shift through my memories, express my thoughts and let my fingers do the walking and let it take me where ever it wants to lead me And it is only fitting that I start my maiden blog on my all consuming passion a passion that withstood the test of time and apart from my family, fills me with immense joy that is dependent entirely on No One But Myself and which over the years of constant practice can finally be translated into an exquisite cake that befits a king.


                          Tutti Fruity Chocolate Mousse cake which has two contrasting textures; the cherry jello is chewy while the Chocolate Mouse is silky and smooth.  Enjoy each lingering bite and sensational taste that can only materialise from cakes baked with Love and lots of Passion complete with the finest ingredients that will leave you Craving for more.





                           Tiramisu made with dollops of Love & Passions, Mascarpone Cheese & lots of Kahlua, my personal favourite.  Indulge in this cake which should leave you craving for more as it is definitely Love at first Bite!!! This is one of my signature cakes that sells extremely well that my customers and friends keep coming back for Repeat Orders.  The texture is so heavenly; silkly and spiked with a beautiful combination of Kahlua & Coffee syrup which is like a Marriage made in heaven.


 


                                        Trifle Cheese cake with peaches & strawberry jello - a gorgeous piece of cake that one can, not only indulge in but can figuratively feast with one's eyes as it is a beautiful piece of art, if I may say so myself and which took me some time to perfect.


            The circumstances that lead me to learning to bake cakes were two fold.  One, I wanted a way to destress myself from a stressful job and the other; well just read on.

             I bought a birthday cake for my daughter's 8th birthday for her and her younger sister to celebrate with their friends and after singing the birthday song, I proceeded to cut the cake and I could, feel 15 pairs of eyes at the back of me; feasting their eyes impatiently on the cake and waitng impatiently for me to finish cutting the cake.  I then sensed something was wrong as the children were not digging into the cake with the wild abandon that I expected.  I put a piece of it into my mouth and at once I knew that the cake was "off" and turning the piece upside down, I saw the culprit; a mouldy white fungus; yaks I nearly died!!!. I quickly packed the balance of the cake and with hubby in tow went to the confectionary and demanded to see the owner.  On reflection the fellow had a lashing befitting 20 years of working in the litigation dept of a law firm; something he would not forget in a very long time [psssh I am normally not quite so ferious but my killer motherly instinct came to the fore when things like these happen].  I told him in no uncertain term that he should know the shelf life of the cakes that he sells and not leave cakes for sale that were way, way past their prime as it would mostly, be children who eat them.  I still remember vividly, that guy didn't really get the point I was trying so hard to make. Instead he just told me that he would pay for the doctor's fee.  What I really wanted him to comprehend was "Shelf Life" and then again if ANY of the children did fall sick, could the pain and suffering be transferred to him??? How could I "face" their parents? 

                    I left the shop totally disgusted and vowed to myself that I would Never set foot on his premises again and there and then a germ of a seed was planted in my mind.  I told myself that I would learn how to bake Even if it takes forever!!!  It was so terribly hard for me to sacrifice some of my week ends going for classes and then practising same as,  initially, 3/4s of the time, my cake landed in the bin and if I were to throw it against the wall, It probably would have "bounced" back as they were hard And then trying to hide this fact from the watchful eyes of my MIL wasn't easy either as we were all brought up, never to waste food, but in the end, Perservance won because at the back of my mind I knew that if I kept on going, I would have something to do after retiring and that thought gave me courage and persistence.  I kept on going for more classes and practising more opening now and giving my cakes to one and all as they were now fit for consumption.





          Baked Banana Cheese Cake with chocolate ganache; simply irresistable and one of The best from my collection of cheese cakes



                              Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting; light and not so sweet.



                                  Pandan Kaya cake; cake itself is baked with fresh santan.








Chocolate Royal - a master piece. Cake has as its base Milk Couverture and Pralinosa (Hazelnut cream) which is double boiled & then combined with feuilletine [a product manufactured by Coco Berry, France which has a kit kat texture], the intermitten layers are 2 layers of almond sponge spread with ganache and then a chocolate mousse made with Bitter Sweet Belgium couvertures and finally topped with either a raspberry topping like the one in the picture Or for chocolateholic, a final topping of ganache made with bitter sweet Belgium couvertures and whipping cream. The texture of the cake is the feuilletine base is crunchy like a kit kat texture and the chocolate mousse like a premium Chocolate Ice Cream




Chocolate Mousse cake; texture of the mousse is velvety



                         Chocolate Moist cake but I prefer to coin it as "Black Beauty" as it is truly pitch black & gorgeous but most importantly, it is not very sweet.  I learnt this more than 15 years ago and till todate it still remains as one of my most popular cake and my daughter's favourite.

Feast on my cakes that would leave you craving for more; these are only a few of my cake. Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia