Monday, October 29, 2012

The Kitchen Juggler's Croissant For Tea

    Making a flaky croissant with perfectly structured layers is one of the ultimate satisfaction in the art of bread and pastry baking. The inside should stretch as it is pulled apart followed by the instant aroma of the buttery and sweetness of this lovely pastry that fills the air much faster than the steam that emits from between the buttery layers of the flaky crusts.
         There are many croissant recipes but I prefer this becaue it proves faster and it calls for a fewer ingredients. The folding part is 3 times single fold (if you’re unfamiliar with the rules of folding pastry, you can refer to this site:  

         I do however,  make a book fold to my dough just to get that extra layers.  You can always experiment with the folding part to see the result you’ll get.

Flour  500g
Sugar  50g
Salt  12g
Yeast  20
Water  300g
Butter for folding  300g OR 250g margarine

        Mix the dry ingredients together and put it in a mixer. Add a bit of water to it. Using a dough hook, knead at medium speed and slowly add water to it. Once all the water has been added to the flour, increase speed and knead the dough for about 5 to 7 minutes. Rest dough in chiller for at least half an hour.

       Take the dough out and expand it into the best square shape possible enough to fit in the butter. The dough should be able to wrap the butter from all sides. Then chill it again for half hour. Once the dough is taken out, the folding procedure begins.

       Make 3 simple folds but remember to chill the dough at least half an hour in between each fold.

       After folding 3 times, take out the dough from the chiller and flatten to about 3 mm thickness. Cut into triangular shape.  Gently stretch each piece to lengthen it. Then, on a flat surface place the wider part facing you and the point away from you.

       Start shaping the croissant by rolling from the wider to the pointed end. You can either have straight croissant or a curved one by gently pressing the both ends together. Leave to proof for an hour and brush with egg wash. Bake for 180C until their colour turn golden brown.
   The best way to eat them is with the purest, creamiest butter while they’re still steaming hot. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


Bread week was one of the weeks I looked forward to when I was at the Pastry Academy. The sweet aroma of freshly-baked bread that fills the air never failed to tantalize my palate any time of the day.

       Making this baguette was very exciting because we had to get the ingredients ready a day ahead - the bigga - and that was the first time I learned and used bigga. Perhaps this explains why this baguette is much lighter compared to the previous recipe. It has the irregular holes with a crispy crust. You should be able to break chunks off easily with your hands. 

Bigga: 1 day ahead
250g flour
150g water
2g yeast
Mix all three ingredients in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap tightly. Leave overnight.

500g bread flour
15g salt
2g yeast
350g water
5g improver

      First, mix the flour with water. This is what is called 'autolyse'. Leave it in bowl tightly wrapped for 20 minutes. Then, dump everything in a mixer and knead on medium speed around 10 minutes. Proof the dough for 45 minutes.

      Flatten the dough on a floured workspace. Stretch and fold from each side (4 stretches and fold altogether). Cover with cling wrap and leave to proof again for 45 minutes.

      Next, divide the dough into approximately 370-390 gm each. Round each dough and again, cover with cling wrap. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

      The next step is shapint the baguettes. Flatten the dough, and roll it (like rolling a swiss roll, but press as each roll is complete). Roll the ctlindrical dough with your hands to reach the diameter and length that you desire.

      Spray with water and leave to proof for 30 minutes. Using a very sharp knife, make a few diagonal incisions on top of each loaf. Spray again generously and bake in a preheated 230C combi oven or 210C normal oven.

      This recipe takes that 'extra' effort but rest-assured, the result is worth every drop of sweat that comes along in making it!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Salam Hari Raya - Arabian Nights Cookies

        Hello and Happy Ramadhan. The excitement of Eid has begun as Ramadhan reaches its final week. The colours of Eid can be seen everywhere...from the malls, mosques, clothes, bazaar and of course the food.

        On the first few days of Eid, tables are always laden with food. I always head for the cookie jars first, carefully trying to select the tastiest ones. Many times, I was deceived by the colourful and fancy appearance of the cookies. I remember those days when cookies were simpler and require less ingredients.

        Still, they were delicious. I myself, never fail to make and sell cookies each year. I would always try to create new recipes and new looks to get not only delicious but strikingly attractive cookies. Ironically, I myself would fill our cookie jars with simple and traditional cookies, sometimes with a different twist.

        Let me share with you one of the simplest Raya cookies that has always been the family's favourite- The Arabian night cookies. 

        Firstly, beat 300g ghee oil, 150g butter and 450g fine sugar until well mixed. Then add 900g of flour. Divide into 3 portions. Add a colour that you desire into each portion and knead thoroughly. Take a small amount of dough of each colour and roll into a ball.

        Bake in a preheated oven 180C. While the cookies are still hot, roll them onto fine sugar. Place each in a paper cup and store in a tight container. 

       These lovely colourful cookies are not only eye-catching on the table but taste great as well!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bread Pudding

I recently had a class on 6 types of pudding. One of the puddings that my students loved was the bread pudding. 
        Regardless of its simplicity in ingredients and appearance, it is to me one of the best warm desserts that goes perfectly well with a cup of steaming hot coffee. Preparing this old-fashioned dessert means your leftover bread slices will not go to waste.
        In fact, if you find it hard to finish a loaf of bread before it's expiry date, freeze it until you are ready to make this scrumptious bread pudding. 

Ingredients and Preparation

Bread pudding :
1 loaf of bread (or any bread of the same weight. If you're using baguettes, slice thinly)
Butter to spread on bread
125g butter (cold and cut into small cubes)
2 tbsp flour
500ml fresh milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp of brown/muscovado sugar
Raisins (if desired)

        Toast each slices of bread until light brown. Butter each slice of bread. Then tear them into medium-sized pieces. Place half of the amount of bread (no need to arrange in any order) in a baking dish.
        Sprinkle some raisins and place the rest of the bread pieces. Whisk all other ingredients except butter, then pour onto the bread. Top with raisins and butter. Sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake for 40 minutes or until the middle part is not wobbly. 

Sauce :  

1 can of evaporated milk
3 cups fresh milk
2 cups water
3 eggs
1/3 cup corn flour
few drops vanilla essence

        Whisk or blend all ingredients in a blender and heat in a pot while stirring at all times. When the sauce thickens, turn heat off. Cool and chill. 
        Serve the pudding warm with the chilled sauce. Topped with fresh/whip cream and fresh strawberries. Heaven!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Destructiveness Of A Fixation With Skinnyness

I think the media is largely to blame because of this! Women look at the various magazine covers and wish to look like the cover girls they see. "Oh! I wish I was that slim", "Oh! I wish I had her abs", and so on.

       What they don't realize is the work that goes into that magazine cover. Most mag covers are air-brushed so the model looks 'perfect'. And many times, to look as 'fit' as they do, the models have to do all kinds of 'tricks' to look so 'perfect'.

       And these tricks can sometimes be dangerously unhealthy and should never be adopted long term to have that perfect bikini body! Even bikini models have an off and on season. Even they don't adopt those crazy plans all year round! Imagine cutting out fruit totally for weeks or even months!

       That can't be healthy! Loading up on proteins and cutting out carbs is also unhealthy for long term! These are some of the 'tricks' these models employ to look 'perfect'.

       The only way to be healthy is to eat a healthy diet and exercise consistently. And please, drop the 'diet' mentality! By diet mentality, I mean : "I will strict in my diet until I lose this X pounds/kgs, then I can go back to 'normal eating".

       Nah-uh! This will never work! What will work is adopting a healthy lifestyle; which means eating healthy everyday of your life and exercising regularly and consistently!

       Which brings me to the 80/20 rule. Eating like a rabbit all the time can get boring after some time. So, the 80/20 rule means : eat healthy like you should 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, you can eat the calorie dense food that you like an enjoy like ice-cream, cookies, potato chips, pizza, burgers and the like.

       But remember, watch your portion sizes ALL the time, no matter what it is you're eating. That's important too. Sure, you can eat unhealthy foods 20% of the time, but that's no licence to lose control and go crazy! Or you'll do more damage than good.

       The reason for the 80/20 rule is : you do need to cut yourself some slack sometimes. Or your body will rebel and you'll binge, which will be even worse for you and your body. And you should not think of food in terms of good food and bad food.

        Just healthy and not so healthy food. It's all a question of balance.

        And once you've reached your goal of a fitter and healthier body. You still need to maintain your weight loss. Which is why, once you go back to your 'normal eating', the weight will come back. Which is why, you must remember : a healthy lifestyle is for life!

        Which brings me to my next point. You need both cardio (running, cycling, jogging, swimming, walking, etc.) and strength training (crunches, sit-ups, leg-lifts, lifting weights, etc.).
        Cardio is to exercise your heart and lungs and burn fat. And the strength training is to maintain and increase your muscles; which in turn will help you burn even more calories, even when you're sleeping!

         And even when you think you've reached your goal and are already as 'perfect' as all you can be, you still have to maintain your new-found figure! Continue with the healthy diet and exercise! And remember the 80/20 rule! Or your new healthy eating habits will feel like a prison! And exercise!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creative Sewing Projects

Hello to all ehomemakers readers. For this post I would like to share about several interesting webs regarding sewing projects.

      These are the useful lists for anyone who has a keen passion in sewing. The tutorial and tips given by these great homemakers are really useful and could be our inspirations to enhance our own sewing projects.
      Besides sewing classes, I regularly refer to these blogs and website for extra and up-to-date information. Sewing is all about creativity. The more you sew, the more creative you will become.

      One of my favourite websites is The owner, Mdm Joanne, is such a creative person and full of unexpected ideas. My advice to any beginner is to follow her web and facebook as you will learn a lot from her and also to practice what the projects she recommends as this will enhance your sewing creativity.

      One of the link that I would like to share is

      The project is easy yet unique. probably you could generate some income from the zipper bag ;-). 

The following websites are also useful. Take a look and enjoy the tutorials!!!

4) -for quilt lovers
5) - great for fresh ideas!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Marble Pudding

       Pudding has always been a great cold dessert that is easy to prepare and very economical to the household budget.

       The best time to eat this chilled, smooth and rich custard-like mixture is during breaking fast. The silky smoothness that slides down you throat will satisfy your sweet tooth immediately.

       This marble pudding recipe can also be used to make puddings of other flavours - chocolate, vanilla, orange, peach etc. The most important thing is not to boil the jelly strips too long so as not to reduce the water too much. 

       The ingredients you need are a packet of jelly strips, a liter of water, a liter of fresh milk, a can of evaporated milk, 2 cups of sugar, a cup of custard powder, a tablespoon of cocoa powder mix with a tablespoon of hot water, 30 grams of melted butter, few drops of vanilla essence and 3 large eggs. 

        In a large pot, boil the jelly strips, sugar and vanilla until the jelly strips dissolve. In the meantime, mix the egg and custard powder with milk. Then add the egg-custard mixture into the jelly pot stirring continuously. Keep on stirring until the mixture thickens. Turn off heat. Keep on stirring the mixture and after 5 minutes add the melted butter and mix well. Take one third of the mixture and add the cocoa paste. 
        Use a 9 X 9 or 10 X 10 inch square tin as the mold. Begin with a scoop of vanilla mixture placed in the middle of the tin. Then on top of the vanilla mixture, place half scoop of the chocolate mixture.

        This is to create a zebra-marbled effect. Continue with this step until all mixture has been used. Shake the tin lightly to level the pudding mixture. Chill for at least 2 hours. Serve plain or with fruits. 
        This pudding can also hold its shape in a fancy mold. You can also use small dessert cups or aluminium cups as the mold. That would be great for tea and celebrations. Have a great pudding! 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello eHomemakers..!!!

       Sewing is my passion. I found my real hobby just after my marriage. My mother was a sewing and crocheting artist. She used to teach crocheting and sewing clothes.

       Watching her amazing works, I developed similar interests ever since. Years passed by. In 2008, I went to further my studies in USM, Penang and set up a small kiosk that catered specifically to the students.

       It was named ‘Balqis House’. I spent my mornings studying and in the evening I baked bread and other homemade food to sell. I put a lot of effort to nurture my business. After I got married in 2009, I regained my passion in needle crafting and I began to develop an interest in sharing my passion and skills with other women.
       I worked for 2 years after I graduated but I realized then that my job was not fulfilling enough for me. I finally made up my mind to resign and started my needle crafting business under Balqis House. 

       I came across ehomemakers and I found motivating stories of women’s success. From that moment, I found my true self working at home by teaching needle crafting to people.
       Thus in 2011, I officially changed my website to fully art, craft and sewing web oriented. Besides receiving orders from customers, I am also active in giving handcraft and sewing lessons.

       I am very happy when I can help a lot of people through my free class program and TEKUN program to help women in need. A few of my customers have benefited from these programs. One has moved back to Indonesia and set up her own business there. Another one has set up a sewing service center in Kuala Kangsar and another one also began a sewing center in Puncak Alam.

        In 2012, I feel overwhelmed when eWA (e-Usahawan Wanita Malaysia), WENA (Association of Bumiputra Women Entrepreneur Network of Malaysia), and some of NGO organizations invited me to coorperate with them.

        To me, it is such a warm welcome to Balqis House to introduce my classes and charity projects. Classes include quilting and patchwork, sewing projects, crochet, beading, and ‘hantaran’ arrangement.

      A profuse thanks to ehomemakers for giving me the opportunity to write in this blog. Hopefully, my experience could be shared and benefited by all readers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grass Greener On The Other Side?

People in general always want what they don't have. And in a way, I'm no different. As a dialysis patient, I had to have surgery on my left arm to insert a fistula, which in layman's terms means that one of my main arteries in my left arm is 'joined' to a main vein in my left arm to my heart so that through this, the dialysis machine can get to circulate my blood to clean it. I'm sorry I can't explain any better, but that's the gist of it.

       This surgery has left a very obvious and ugly scar on my upper left arm. As a result, I can't wear anything sleeveless anymore because it's way ugly. Neither can I wear halter necks, spaghetti straps or anything  shoulder-less.

       So, when I see an attractive woman with a halter-neck dress or blouse, for instance, I can't help longing to wear something similar but I never can now because my scars are just too obvious.
       I also find myself longing for the kind of life I'll probably never have now. A life of international travel, being a hot-shot executive, having a five figure a month income, well, you get the picture.

       Now that I have a fixed dialysis schedule, I'm finding it harder and harder to find a job. This is because I can only work part-time because 3 afternoons a week, I have to go for my treatments.

       To an average employer in this country, that means taking half-day leave for 3 days a week, or having MCs (Medical Leave) 2 afternoons  a week and that is unacceptable. Added to the fact that there are many fresh grads out there, with normal bodies that can work full-time, so, my chances of landing a job are even slimmer than before.

       I do have some assistance to pay for my treatments, which isn't cheap. I also have a very small disability pension but that doesn't include my meds and injections. Meager as my income is, I still have to bear the costs of my medication and hormonal injections myself.

       These injections encourage my body to produce red blood cells, a function usually carried out by my kidneys. Since my kidneys aren't working, I need 4 jabs a week to make enough red blood cells.

        As you can imagine, I still live with my parents. How can I not? I can't work normal hours and I only have a pittance to live on. Of course I know some people who have it worse than me.

        They don't even have a pension (little as it is in my case), and they don't have parents who'll take them in because their parents have already passed on, they may have little children dependent on them. Yes, I know, I have to count my blessings.

        But it's still hard to deal with sometimes. Especially when you're surrounded by wealthy neighbors and you know your ex-classmates are doing much better than you are. But you know what?

        Dwelling on these things will only depress you. I can only live my life one day at a time. I've started sending short stories to publishers. I hope to be able to generate enough income through my writing soon.

        This blog of mine is for me to get into the habit of writing so I can write something publishable someday. Other than that, I've decided to sell my cross-stitch pieces here :

         I'm always cross-stitching something or other. Except these days, I'm more busy reading. I've read that the more good books you read, the more it'll rub off on you, and you indirectly become a better writer.

         I am just a mere mortal woman. I can only do my best to get through life despite my limitations. I know some people are more capable than me but you can only play with the cards you're dealt with.

         Self-pity will only make things worse. It will eat you up inside. So, I can only trust God and live my life one day at time. I know that there are some things I can never do, now that I'm on dialysis.

         Why not a kidney transplant? If only it were that simple! As I've mentioned in my previous blog, in this country, if you've gone through a successful kidney transplant, you will be considered a 'normal' person and all financial aids will stop. And a transplant is not the be all and end all.

         You still have to spend an obscene amount of money on anti-rejection drugs. Nope! I know some people will opt of a transplant but I'm content the way I am.

         At least I'm getting some financial aid. And I now have time to indulge in writing. I really hope to be a published author someday............

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Kitchen Juggler: Classic Mini Pavlova

       After contemplating whether to use up the leftover egg whites either for a pudding or any cookie-like dessert, I finally settled for the latter. Why? Because this recipe is super easy and the last piece is normally fought over. So I can be sure that none will be wasted.

       This is one recipe I have been using to make either a gooey or crispy-dry mini pavlovas. Baking in a very high temperature in a short time will produce pavlovas that are moist, gooey and sticky on the inside.

       On the other hand, low-medium temperature and longer time are needed to produce dry and crispy pavlovas. However, if you oven is pretty dodgy (like mine sometimes) I suggest that you watch the pavlovas closely while they bake. 

       What you need are 3 egg whites, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of  cornflour, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 3/4 cup of caster sugar. Since I'm making dry mini pavlovas, I'm going to set the oven at a low-medium heat (140C).

       Prior to beating the egg whites, ensure that your bowl is grease proof because even a slight trace of oil or yolk will ruin the meringue.

       The egg whites and salt should be beaten together until soft peak form. Then, add the caster sugar gradually, still beating well at this point. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.

       Meanwhile, mix together the granulated sugar, lemon juice and cornflour before lightly folding it into the meringue. Using a large wooden spoon, make large dollops on a prepared tray lined with parchment paper or silpat. Leave enough space between the pieces. 

       Bake for 30-40 minutes, let cool in the oven for the next 20 minutes. Once cool, you can slice it, fill some whip cream in between with some fresh strawberries.

       Store them in an airtight container if you're serving them much later. Happy baking!


Monday, April 30, 2012

Have You Forgotten To Have Fun Recently?

To most people, I am more of a serious person than a fun person. I spend more time cleaning the house, doing work, running errands than having fun. To most people, these are hardly fun activities. 

       These days, I hardly have weekends away from the computer doing work. I think I have genuinely forgotten how to have fun? And that is pretty contradictory to my advice in my blog post below on stressing less? 


       I am having more fun than ever in my life doing the most mundane (to most people anyway) things. 

       When I clean the house, I see it as exercise for the day and working off the unwanted calories. I see it as beneficial for my health and well being. 

       When I do work, I do it with passion and excitement. I work long hours but I love the thrill of satisfaction. 

       When I run errands, I do that in between meeting friends I have not met up with for a long time. Or I choose to run errands together with my husband. So I get to hang out with him as I am checking off my list of errands. 

       What I am trying to get at is: make your own definitions on life. Have your own rules. Don't need to always listen in entirety to other people's "noise" and what they think is right or wrong, good or bad, fun or not fun.
       You may choose to listen but tweak it in accordance with your own rules. If you work on pleasing everyone, you will not please anyone. So just please yourself for now.

       You will then start having fun. Doing even what most people deem as mundane affairs. 

       Play by your own rules, today. 


How To Have A Positive Attitude Everyday

I am in Beijing now with husband for work. It is starting to get warmer in Beijing and I notice that people are more outgoing more smiley and more colourful in their dressing. 

        There is definitely more positive glow on everyone's faces as we move into better weather period. Everyone just seems to have a more positive attitude generally. It must be the better weather and the anticipation of more outdoor activities like picnics and hikes, which have brought on general positivity and beautiful colours. Anticipation of better days gives positive glow. 

        Which got me thinking. How does a person always bear anticipation of better days no matter how sucky life can be at times? 

This is a list I have created especially for you: 

1.     Start each day with a positive smile. No matter what happens. If you start each day with a positive attitude, you will anticipate a better day ahead. You will thus work on creating a better day for yourself. 

2.     End each day with a positive smile. No matter what happens. If you end each day with a positive attitude, you will anticipate a better day tomorrow. You will thus psyche yourself up to creating a better day for yourself tomorrow. 

3.     Always try to finish off the most important things you have to do for the day (keep this at a list of 7) and save the remaining ones for the next day. You can never ever finish everything in a day so why stress over it. 

4.     If you really must do more than 7 important things a day, don't try to finish them all in one go. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, have a nice cup of tea. Sooth your nerves before you do a task. 

5.     Make a long-term life plan for your personal development and growth as a human being. Give yourself 5 goals for now. Don't be too hard on yourself for a start. For example, if you want to become a better guitar player, work on it. Don't just talk about it and keep it as a project on the shelf. Practise on your guitar for an hour everyday. You will get better. If you want to do charity work, work on it. Go look for a charity whose mission you share a belief in. And start doing volunteer work one day every other week. 
       If you smile more, stress less and have a life plan to work towards, I think you are off to a good start in having a positive glow everyday. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Self-Control and Self-Consciousness

If you've been on dialysis for as long as I have, pretty soon, you'll start to get sick of the routine and start to get some sort of a death wish.

      I'm not saying all dialysis patients have a death wish but I certainly did. I started drinking water, tea, coffee, juice, soups whenever I wanted too, without care of how much fluid I was ingesting.
      After years of tight fluid control, suddenly, I began thinking in a "Damned if I do and damned if I don't" kind of way. In other words, I started getting sick of watching normal people chug down ice-cold drinks and the like and started feeling this way : "Why can't I do it too?!".

      Of course, as a dialysis patient, the cardinal rule is : watch your fluid intake, keep it down to less than 500ml if you can! But after doing this for so long, I guess I began to rebel. I started thinking : "Must I go through life thirsty and longing to drink more?".

      Bad idea! Pretty soon, my pulse started racing and my blood pressure started dropping towards the 3rd hour of dialysis every time. And I mean every time! It got so bad that my blood pressure would even drop to 60/20ish! Now, that's bad! I mean,

      I was literally courting death. I felt bad too, when this happened. At these times, I was extracting 3 to 4kgs per treatment. Sometimes, I didn't even manage to extract all that I should because I felt so unwell.

      My friends, the nurses, were justifiably worried about me. They warned me that if I continued this way, my fistula (the part of my arm that enables dialysis) could stop working altogether or my heart could eventually fail. I could even die but what happens if I don't die but keep dying. I would suffer an agonizingly slow death.

       If my fistula failed, I might have to go on to CAPD and that's really bad news. I've heard that patients on CAPD can never shower again but have to clean themselves with a damp cloth to avoid getting the stomach area wet (to avoid serious infections) and I can't even stomach that (pun intended).

       CAPD means having a surgical insert in your stomach lining. You then have to do some kind of fluid exchange for around 30 minutes, 4 times a day everyday! To me, this is worse than being on hemodialysis (what I'm currently on, which means : you drop into a dialysis center 3 times week for a 4 hour treatment through the fistula in your arm).

       Obviously, I was in a very bad and risky place! I realized that I have to go back to being disciplined with the  way I was ingesting fluid aka. drinking. I have a digital weighing scale at home that I constantly use to check on my current weight.

       In this way, I keep an eye on my weight so I don't go beyond 3kgs. If I was really thirsty but was approaching the danger zone, I would just suck on an ice cube, but I can't do this too often either because each ice cube was 30mls of water, so I only do this if I'm really thirsty.

       So far so good. I've been weighing in at less than 3kgs for around 2 weeks now. I've resolved to be disciplined and vigilant about my fluid intake for the rest of my life. I have no choice as I'd rather die than go on CAPD. Hemodialysis is way better. At least I still have some measure of freedom with it!

        So, this is my 'new' resolve! I did have some iced-tea earlier today but I immediately weighed myself and I'm approaching the 2kg mark, so I'll have to watch it more carefully today. Don't want to go beyond 3kgs. So, I'll keep weighing myself and trying, keep trying to keep my weight gain to below 3kgs......

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Super Excited With My New Business Venture!

I'm always cross-stitching something or other. And I have a few finished unframed pieces in my collection. Today, I decided to photograph them and post them online for sale! This is my new business venture!

Check it out here! 

I hope you will like my work and order something! I will be posting new pieces as I complete them!

Hope to see you there!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Bali Escapade

         Hunting for local food has always been an important activity during my travels. I simply refuse to dwell on food calories when I'm away.

         My eating and sleeping schedules would go haywire. But luckily, the recent trip to Bali was with just friends. So my kids were not there to witness the mommy-breaks-the-rules-so-why-can't-we activities. 
         The scenic Bali island offers Balinese specialties that are simple yet delectable. One thing I savoured most was their soto ayam (Indonesian chicken soup). That one medium-sized bowl of broth was so complete and satisfying that other foods served there seemed unappealing.

         Though I was pretty startled at first when I noticed just how much things were thrown into the soup (fried sliced potatoes, tomatoes, shredded chicken, vegetables, eggs, tofu etc), I then realized that they had actually perfected the soup.

         My friends and I could not help smiling when we saw the neat petal-shaped piece of brown paper used to serve the rice (I wonder if other customers did pay attention to these details). The pergedils (beef patties) were moist and beefy (unlike some that are totally bland and starchy).

        The vege dish was as tasty as well. One minus point came from the drinks. I found the coffee too sweet and had this funny aftertaste. 


       Okay, that is not me in the picture. But it was perfect for this shot when the sun was about to set at Jimbaran beach. Sunset-viewing in Bali is a "must-have" itinerary not only for honeymooners, but for other nature lovers as well.

       We ourselves marveled at the beautiful golden glow across the sky. A stunning view, three cups of steaming hot local coffee and a plate of crunchy salted peanuts were all that we need to celebrate this joyous reunion of good old friends.

       When the whole area was lit by oil lamps, magic and romance instantly filled the air. There are not enough words to describe such mesmerizing view. 
       Till now, I find the pleasantly pungent aroma of our coffee and the sweet smell of sea breeze still linger on!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Kitchen Juggler's Blackforest Cupcake

      Making a decadent cupcake requires just a little effort, in fact, it is pretty effortless I should say.
      These little cuppies are always able to delight the friends of my teenage daughters who regularly drop by after school. Instead of making a huge 9-inch blackforest gateau, I would opt for a dozen of these babies instead because I do not want leftovers piling up in the chiller! 
      The fastest way is to get a packet of chocolate sponge mix and just follow the directions on the packet. A 200g of sponge mix is more than enough to make a dozen of medium to large cupcakes. When you have the batter ready, fill up the cups up to two-thirds full. Bake as directed.
       Normally, the temperature I set for this cake is around 180-190C. Once the cake is done, let them cool.
        In the meantime, get the filling and topping ready. For the filling, pour a can of red cherries in a pot, and add 2  tablespoon sugar, a teaspoon of lemon or orange juice, a teaspoon of gelatin. Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes. Then heat the pot and let the liquid reduce by half.
        Remove from heat, and mashed the cherries so that the filling can pass through a large round nozzle.
        For the butter cream, mix 150g of softened butter, 100g of icing sugar, few drops of vanilla essence. Whisk until fluffy.
        Using a nozzle with a round tip or a filling nozzle to inject the cherry filling into the cupcake. Using a star nozzle (or basically any pattern that you desire) pipe some cream around the edges of the cupcake.
       Then place some cherry filling in the centre to cover the hole made earlier. Grate some chocolate (or you can use chocolate rice) and sprinkle on top of the cupcake. 
       If you're not a fan of sponge cakes, any chocolate butter cake recipe will do. Happy trying!


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ready Aim Fire vs Ready Aim Ready Aim vs Ready Fire Aim

Following on my post below "Ready Aim Fire", I would like to discuss the above categories of approaches towards acting on one's project. 

      Sam (below) has now started researching ideas for his cooking school project. Yaye! He is really excited and looks forward to the launch of his cooking school. 

      Fast forward another 10 years. Sam is still planning his cooking school project! Sam has so unfortunately fallen into the category of people who think that they are taking the Ready Aim Fire approach but instead are really taking the Ready Aim Ready Aim approach. Let's discuss the differences. 

      Ready Aim Fire: this means that you are quick to seize on the opportunities that come your way. But you don't just seize them blindly.
     Once you see an opportunity, you get ready by doing market research and studying your competition, you aim by planning and conceptualising your project and then you fire by launching your project eventually.
      You may not always succeed as life is just oh-so-unpredictable. But your chances of succeeding are definitely higher than a person like Sam who is always in the Ready Aim Ready Aim mode. What does this mean? 

       Ready Aim Ready Aim: you act on the opportunities that come your way. But you don't just seize them blindly. Once you see an opportunity, you get ready by doing market research and studying your competition, you aim by planning and conceptualising your project and then you go back to doing MORE RESEARCH and then you do MORE PLANNING AND CONCEPTUALISING.
       You never fire and launch your project. You are always stuck in the researching and planning mode! If this is what you are doing, you will never be able to make your idea a reality. Thus, when you have done your fair share of research and done enough planning, you should just go ahead and launch your project.
        You will never be able to do all the research and planning that you ever need to launch your project. Nothing is ever perfect. You just need to research and plan good enough. And then implement your idea. You will make mistakes along the way.
        You can then tweak your plan to avoid making the same mistakes. 
        However, please remember that you have to do your fair share of research and planning before you act on your idea.

        Don't slip into the Ready Fire Aim mode. This means that you seize an opportunity and act on it even before you do research and plan to assess if it is a viable opportunity. 
        You can't just get READY AND FIRE AIMLESSLY! You need to have a plan. You need to have a system in place! If not, it will be very hard to succeed because you will just be like a chicken running around without its head.

        Your ideas will be all over the place and it will be very hard to succeed even though you have acted on your ideas. You need A PLAN! 

        Get into your Ready Aim Fire mode today! And let me know how your projects go :) 



Ready Aim Fire!

Hi guys 

       How's everybody? Hope you guys are busying pursuing your dreams :)

       Anyway, following up on the thread below "The Key To Success", I would just like to add that I fully agree with Sheau Ching in that Action Speaks Louder than words. 

       Let's take Sam (fictitious and for purpose of this example) for example. Sam has been talking about his Project A (he dreams of starting a cooking school as he is passionate about cooking) for 10 years. He doesn't take action to pursue his Project A.

       Instead, he just talks about it and whines that he can't pursue it because he has no money. Can Sam succeed? Of course not! Not even on his passion when passion is just mixed with a dream. He needs to take action and start work on his Project A. He needs to start taking steps no matter how small to work towards fulfilling this dream of his. 
       How can Sam do this? He needs to stop talking and whining and just GET ON WITH his Project A. How much time has he already wasted TALKING AND WHINING? If he has no money, he can consider getting financing or round up a few potential investors to pitch his idea to them.

       Even if this does not succeed, at least he would have tried to make his Project A a reality. It is important to understand that an idea (no matter how brilliant) will always be an idea if one does not act on it. What's so good about an idea anyway if it does not serve a purpose it was meant to serve in the first place? 

       So please, if you have an idea, take action today! Ready. Aim. Fire! 


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When Cinnabon Is None To Be Found...

       Spending RM16 on 4 small pieces of cinnamon roll at Cinnabon is worth every bite.

       Unfortunately, they don't run a franchise here in the East Coast and I needed help with my intense craving for the fluffiest and moist cinnamon rolls with generous creamy topping, sprinkled with the crunchiest toasted pecans.

       But since Cinnabon wasn't within 100 km drive I had to head into my kitchen and start whipping up things to soothe my desperate craving. The rolls turned out to be awesomely tender and tasty! And I'm sharing this with all you bread-cravers out there!

       In a mixing bowl, put 500g of bread flour, 10g salt, 15g yeast, 60f sugar, 150g milk and 2 large eggs. Use a dough hook and knead until a ball of dough is formed.

      Then add in 100g butter. Knead again and when all of the butter is incorporate. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. 

       On a flour-dusted work surface, knock back the dough and roll it into a cylinder. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough into a rectangular shape. Spread the cinnamon filling generously onto the dough and start rolling. Cut into the desired thickness and let proof for at least 45 minutes. Glaze with egg wash and bake at 190C for 15-18 minutes. 

     While it's still hot, glaze it with cinnamon topping- beat 100g butter, 100g cream cheese (room temperature), 300g sifted icing sugar and few drops of vanilla.

     Sprinkle with the nuts that you like (walnuts will do for me) and there you go...tender, warm and delicious homemade cinnamon rolls!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Key To Success

I HAVE been giving talks on writing, working from home, and building home-based businesses for several years now. Often, I get e-mail from people who have attended the talks. Some are doing well after taking the plunge to try something new. They heeded the advice given them and kept improving their skills and knowledge until they knew how to handle new challenges.

However, a large majority have not taken a single step towards what they had so wanted to do. A woman met me in a car park recently, and said: “Your talk was good but a home-based business is not for me. I am too old to try new things.

“Also, I don’t want to work so hard when my kids are still young. I don’t have a tertiary education like you, so everything takes more time. I don’t have the business skills and I am scared to do anything new!”
Just before she closed the door of her BMW, she threw in one last sentence, “And I don’t have money for the capital!”

I was rooted to the ground after hearing so many “I can’ts” from her in one breath. The woman was in her thirties.
She was not the only one who has given me a list of “I can’t”. Young people gave a common reason: “I am too young, I don’t have the business acumen” even though they were told that they could learn by doing and through seminars.

Retired people told me they were too old to try new things, forgetting that the founder of KFC started his fast food business when he was in his seventies! Some people believed that they don’t have the energy, while others thought that their personal and financial situations were not conducive for them to try anything new.

In contrast, those who are doing well are the ones willing to learn from others. They don’t give up easily. When difficult situations arise, they solve their problems with a positive attitude. Those who are religious also believe that bad things happen for a reason. If they have to face difficulties, it is because their God wants them to learn, 
experience, and think in order to train them for something bigger.

A home-maker friend who didn’t have the confidence to do event management was asked to volunteer and organise an event for the disadvantaged. She met the disabled, patients with chronic illnesses, and poor people who have the odds stacked against them.

This is what she had to say after the event: “It’s so inspiring to hear what some of these people are doing. The beauty of it is that every one of them is not complaining about his or her situation. They have chosen to be optimistic, despite facing difficulties on a daily basis. Some people I know are much better off in life, but they do nothing except whine about what’s not right in their lives.”

After the event, she chucked out her “I can’ts” and tried her hand at writing, even though it was something she had not done before. She is still learning, but I know she will go far because of her attitude.

People who keep saying “I can’t” should be reminded of 12-year-old Mohd Haziq who was born a paraplegic. Although he does not have the use of his lower body, he excels in football, swims, scoots around on his skateboard, using his arms to navigate his way around, and lift himself up. He bathes, dresses himself and gets ready on his own to go to school.

In Ghana, Emanuel Yeboah, who was born with one leg, was abandoned by his father at birth. His poverty-stricken mother raised him with great difficulty. Ten per cent of Ghanians are disabled, making disability a serious problem in the country. Disabled people are ridiculed and humiliated by the public.

As a child, Emanuel climbed coconut trees, fetched water and helped his mother around the house. He was excluded from basketball games in school, so he worked and earned money to buy a basketball. He negotiated with his friends that if they wanted to borrow the ball, they had to include him in the game.

After his mother passed away, the teenager decided to learn to ride a bicycle. He applied to a foreign foundation for a new bike to ride across Ghana to raise awareness about discrimination against the disabled. Eventually, he won a triathlon in the United States and learnt to make prosthesis to help other disabled people in Ghana. Emanual went on to receive international awards for changing the Ghanian perception of the disabled and giving them a chance at education and sports.

Ghanians were mesmerised by his courage. People who are better off than him asked: “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

His friend commented in the documentary about him, “When you do something from your heart, you will do it well.”

This can-do attitude determines the success of many people I know, whether they are baking cakes from home, translating for overseas clients or writing for a publication.

- by Chong Sheau Ching