Roasted almond muar chee

Roasted almond muar chee

Muar chee is a Chinese snack available throughout Malaysia in many places – hawker centers, night markets and so forth. This chewy yet crunchy cubes are made of glutinious rice flour, then steamed or boiled before getting a good coat of ground peanuts, brown sugar and toasted sesame seeds.

Some recipes call for the use of lard to give it that extra fragrance and flavour while some utilize coconut milk instead of just water in the dough. Both make this already yummy and utterly delish snack even more decadent so I decided to adapt the recipe to suit whatever I already have in my cupboard.

The result, as Nil puts its, is yummylicious and just like how he declared the siew yoke we had for lunch – UTTERLY SINFUL! Before you think it’s tough making these, it isn’t. In fact, it’s quite easy – just toss some glutinous rice flour together with water, boil the little balls and coat them in copious amounts of ground almonds and sugar. 🙂

Try not too eat too much of this or make it too sweet unless of course you fancy a trip to a dentist like this Frisco Dentist! It may just be a good idea though – I’d like to go for my regular scaling again!

Roasted almond muar chee
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia’s muar chee recipe here

Ingredients

(A) Dough
Glutinous rice flour
Warm water

(B) Coating
Roasted almonds – coarsely ground
Cane sugar

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with warm water gradually to form a dough. Add more flour or water if necessary to achieve the right texture (not too dry and/or not too sticky).
  2. Fill a pot with boiling water and when ready, roll the dough into tiny balls – size is up to you – and drop them into the water to cook.
  3. Once the balls are ready (they’ll float), remove and toss into the mixture of roasted almonds and cane sugar. Don’t forget to roll them around to give them a good coating of nuts and sugar.
  4. Serve as is or cover with cling wrap to prevent them from drying out and hardening.
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This time, it’s blue.

Stash No 3 - 6 yards of 100% cotton fabric from Ebay

Before I get to the real subject at hand, I need to ask – are external (and/or portable) hard disk better than flash memory stores? My external hard disk is nearly full and my flash memory drives are, well, full as well. So which is preferable?

While my current project is in the works – I’m awaiting for some dye-setting solution to come since one of the fabrics bleeds a little and I don’t fancy my ivory borders turning lilac or lavender (light purple) – this came in the mailbox. YAY for the postman! I ordered these a while back since someone on Facebook remarked that I don’t seem to have any fabrics in cold colours. Now I just need to complete my stash with some green! LOL.

The fabrics are one yard each and of course, 100% cotton from a variety of producers/designers. I actually love the Japanese/Asian print even though Nil finds it a bit tad too much – it goes perfectly with the blue and violet co-ordinates. I’m planning to do a strip pattern with these colours but the fabric set isn’t complete – am in the middle of expecting another two to three yards in purple co-ordinates to come in the mail.

Anyway, I won’t get started on these fabrics until I reach Singapore so chances are it’ll just be sitting in my stash till then. Won’t even think about the quilt top pattern in detail and such. 8)

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So much to do!

If only life was like a diet, then I could pop a diet pill and be done with stuff!

But unfortunately I can’t. Now that the move is pretty much imminent, there are just about a ton of things to do and worry about without having well-meaning people instruct us on how and what to do. Geh.

First there are the tickets back to Singapore for the three of us. No point in getting a return just to save money when Nil can’t exactly go on holiday right after starting work so it’s definitely a one-way. Since they need a definite date of birth for Eva, we can’t even do the booking – online and such (NOT via a travel agent). We are exploring the option of just putting in the current estimated due date instead of an actual one so Nil is working on that.

There of course there are things like getting the paperwork done for Eva so she can actually leave the country with us. Our passports are in order (OF COURSE) but for her, we’ll need to make a couple of trips to the French consulate in Geneva to get our family booklet chopped so she can be a French citizen and once that is ready, she’ll get her own passport and such. All this will take a number of weeks but the officer at the consulate has assured us that the time frame we’ve given her is doable. Nil plans to zoom off to the consulate immediately after the birth (or at least upon getting the papers) to hurry things along and we’ve been coaxing our little one to make an appearance come first week of July to give us a little bit more time. So I’m looking at travelling during my confinement period – sorry Mum but these are important things!

We’ve already notified the agency regarding our tenancy agreement so that’s one problem solved. Then there is matter of informing the canton of our departure – there will naturally be some paperwork to do because of the permits, and taxes. Of course there are other things like finding a new home for our gerbils (we have already – just need to send them there), cancelling the bills, insurance, closing the bank accounts and so forth. These are not very high on our list because they can be done quickly and almost immediately. But it’s still annoying.

I’ve already started packing up my stash and all – it’s almost done – and I’ll probably dismantle the wheel plus loom this weekend before packing it into a box. Nothing too problematic about that… I probably won’t be able to do the heavy packing and all considering my size now but hey, at least I’m getting MY stuff done. ^^

Still, it doesn’t stop me from wishing that I could just pop a pill and not worry about stuff at all!

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Steamed chocolate cake

Steamed Chocolate Cake

I usually bake my cakes and such but I wasn’t in the mood for working with a hot oven, with a big belly and all. So I thought I’d try something new like steaming up some desserts instead. Steaming desserts is more of an Asian technique rather than European (although I could be wrong) and as such, it is not uncommon to see steamed cakes available for sale in many Asian shops or markets.

I decided to try out a recipe I found online with some adaptations – I didn’t have any evaporated milk and I added a bit more cocoa powder plus sugar to make up for the fact that I wasn’t going to use any frosting on the surface. Just an added precaution, you could say. I am not very familiar with the texture or technique involved in making steamed cakes and when I was putting the liquids together (oil, milk, eggs and water), I was a bit tad worried about getting a too-runny cake batter. But at the end of putting everything together, it looked just about right.

I used a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe and lined it with greaseproof paper before pouring the batter in and then setting it on top of my steamer in my wok. Of course I was sure to test that everything fits right. No point in pouring the batter into the pan only to find out that you can’t cover your wok because the pan is too high or too big!!! After covering the wok to let the cake steam, the only thing left to do was to check every so often that there was enough water in the wok – the last thing you want is to run out of steaming hot water and end up burning your wok!

Texture- and taste-wise, this cake is ultra moist and fluffy, and not sweet at all (despite me adding in a little more sugar than called for in the recipe). There is a good deal of chocolate-y taste to it not to mention a slight tinge of vanilla fragrance but I might just add more vanilla extract next time. Also, I might try this again with melted butter just to see what effect it would have on the fragrance. But overall, it turned out well. Definitely a keeper! 🙂

Steamed chocolate cake
Adapted from Recipe for Keeps’ Steamed chocolate cake recipe

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup (heaped) brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda/soda bicarbonate
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl. Add in the sugar and stir to mix well.
  2. Add in the oil and mix well. Repeat with the milk and lastly the eggs before adding in the vanilla essense and boiling water. Stir to mix well. The batter shouldn’t be too runny but thick like regular cake batter.
  3. When ready, pour the mixture into a 9″ pan that has been lined with greaseproof paper or butter. Place on top of a steamer and steam over medium heat for 45 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, steam for another 5 minutes.
  4. Once ready, remove to cool and serve as is, with ice cream or decorate with ganache or a frosting of your choice.

Steamed chocolate cake

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WIP: Sample Log Cabin square

WIP: Sample Log Cabin squares for Quilt #4

It’s past Week 33 now and I’m almost ready for Eva’s arrival with the purchase of baby items (disposable diapers, baby wipes, stroller, car seat, etc) and nursing items (nursing bra, nursing top, nursing pads, etc) plus hospital stay stuff (nightie, going-home outfit for Eva, etc) completed – well, as complete as you’ll ever get considering that we’ll be moving to Singapore soon after her birth.

Packing-wise, I’ve started packing up my stash or at least organizing them neatly in vacuum-packed ziplock bags to save on the space. I reckon a couple of boxes every few days would suffice. As mentioned earlier, the knitting, crochet and spinning has stopped for now so soon the wheel and loom will be dismantled and packed up for storage.

The only hobby left which doesn’t put a strain on my big belly of 110 cm (and growing) is sewing. I’m awaiting the final addition to my current stash (once it arrives, I’ll grab a pic of it) but just so you know, I’ve already started piecing the blocks for Quilt #4 while watching some good ole’ Murder She Wrote episodes topped off with Mind Your Language – oldies are always goodies! It’s a super fun block really – didn’t know Log Cabin blocks could be such fun. 🙂

I’ve taken to putting the reds on one side of the blocks and the tans on another side before surrounding it with a white border. At the moment, I’m stopping at the end of the colour strips because I have yet to cut 160 strips of white cloth. Talk about lack of patience and such. But I’ll surely get to that in time…or when I do finish up these 40 log cabin blocks! *beams*

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Quilt #3: Blocks & Squares

Quilt #3: Fresh from the oven

Quilt #3: Blocks & Squares
Width | Approx 127 cm
Length | Approx 183 cm
Pattern details | Cotton squares & strips from fabric from Mondial Tissue & other sources, alternate colour schematics
Batting | None
Backing | 100% wide width cotton fabric from Textile Ambience
Binding | Single fold tape from leftover fabric used in blocks

Yes, my blankets are getting bigger and bigger… 🙂

I love how this turned out – we picked a dark blue border material for the backing as well as the border. For a moment I was apprehensive because of how the red tone seemed more prominent than blue, but after putting on the border strips, everything just fell into place. Add that with the binding – I chose the red multi-coloured fabric my mother-in-law gave me and made the binding with the aid of a binding tape maker – and it turned out just right.

Instead of folding this and using it only as a lap or sofa blanket (I tried napping with this as a blanket and it’s warm enough…so luckily I didn’t put in any batting otherwise I would be steaming underneath it!), Nil thought that we would cover our sofa bed with this, and as you can see, it added plenty of colour and interest to a dull computer room. His inspiration? My mother-in-law. She does this with ALL the patchwork blankets and quilts that she has – covers sofas and chairs with them.

Anyway, now that this is done, I’ll back to cutting up strips for my next quilt. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete the squares before the birth. I plan to finish the whole blanket in Singapore but who knows? If I work fast, I might just be finished with it earlier! 8)

Quilt #3: Doubling as a couch "cover"

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Changes to come.

I’ve been spending the last few days churning out a lap blanket (which turned out to be large enough for two laps!!! LOL!), as well as slowly packing up my fibre & yarn stash. It’s a huge task considering that my belly is now 110 cm and my fibre & yarn stash is considerably large – including the shop store and all, well, lets just say that I probably have over USD500 (perhaps even more) worth of yarn and fibres. I’ve devised a little method of my own – pack up one to two boxes a day. I reckon that should make things more manageable and at least I won’t tire myself out unnecessarily.

As you probably have guessed over the few hints that I’ve dropped in the past few months or so, Nil and I will be moving back to Asia. He’s found a job in Singapore so once Eva is slightly over a month old, we’ll be flying there. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to the move with all the packing – we don’t have stuff like televisions and all but still, the thought of having to move/pack all our things, give up the apartment (we need to look for a new tenant because of how the rental system here works), and all is enough to make me sick with stress. As such, Nil has decided that he would do the worrying and all for the packing while I just concern myself with the pregnancy and Eva.

Still, I must be frank. Switzerland has spoiled me to a degree. The different culture and slow-pace here appeals to my nature. I am a family-oriented person who enjoys peace, and quiet – I hate crowds, I enjoy silence plus nature and well, I just don’t do well in the city despite coming from one major one like Kuala Lumpur. Back at home, I used to avoid crowded places like shopping malls and night markets. In fact, whenever I go to a shopping mall, it’s usually in the mornings when there aren’t many people (I avoid sales when crowds get crazily huge) and it’s always to the same few stores – books and all.

While going back to Singapore allows me and Eva to be closer to my family, I can’t help but feel the impending pressure of social expectations for me to ditch my baby with a babysitter and go back to work. While in Switzerland, no one expects a mother with babies to work full-time – it is generally acceptable to quit one’s job to be a stay-at-home mother here in Europe – people are supportive of stay-at-home wives and mothers. In Asia (and I mean Malaysia actually), people (my relatives to be exact) usually question such decisions and in some instances, they don’t encourage such things. A woman is expected to work full-time even though she has a young baby. Stay-at-home mums or wives are presumed to be uneducated and uncultured, at their husband’s beck and call (in other words, dependent on their partners), have no social lives and are unproductive individuals.

Despite the fact that I actually lead a pretty busy schedule with all the sewing, knitting and everything, people still ask me what I do all day long – some assumed that I’m very free while others think that I’m sponging off Nil. Maybe it would surprise them to know that I pay for my own hobbies and such. Still…imagine being away from a culture that is supportive of your choices to one that isn’t. It’s daunting.

Still in spite of all these changes to come, I’m beginning to accept that moving is best considering other factors. We’ll tackle those naggy people as a couple and family when the time comes. And before anyone would like to offer suggestions on what I can do in Singapore, don’t worry – I already have a plan. In fact, I have a few and they all involve me spending time with Eva AND making some money. 🙂

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