Busy but good.

This blog is hitting a slowdown. I go through this every so often and this time around, it’s compounded by the fact that I’m coping with toddlerhood and pregnancy at the same time. By the time I do get around to having some “me” time, I prefer it away from the laptop and sadly, this blog. I’ve never seen this blog as a place to kill time but more to share my life with friends and family (this is why I tell people that the Internet is good for expats like myself). Unfortunately, “me” time these days goes by so quickly that I never have the time to share it with others.

So what’s new, you may ask. Nothing much, really.

Work is still work – now I’ve always seen myself as a mother first so my full time job is being a mum and not working at the office. I know some people balk at the idea of a woman wanting the life of a stay-at-home-mum but I have different priorities in life. Doesn’t mean that they are more important than other people’s priorities – just different. While others see career as important, I see family and time with family to be more important. I can’t say that I won’t miss the regular income but in the future, I’d like to see myself having the option of juggling both without feeling that I’m missing out on either in any way.

The shop is doing good considering the amount of time I invest in it. Since my pregnancy, my dyeing time has reduced considerably but I still make the effort to play around with my dyepots. Once it gets too cumbersome for a big belly, I’ll switch to my sewing. I’m not too sure if I’ll put up anything for sale since I have sewing WIPs as well like that almost-double-size quilt to finish up, Bub 2’s diapers to sew and gifts to finish/get started on.

I’m making good progress on my knitting projects as well. I’ve managed to finish most of my commissioned knitting plus some “pleasure” only projects. My other WIPs are making good progress and I hope to finish up my lacework shawl plus my entrelac stole in a few week’s time or at least once the commissioned knitting is over. I’d really like to get back to knitting socks but am going to shelf that plan until I clear up some pending WIPs. There is that lacework granny square project that I really ought to get back to – it’s a crochet project that has been in hibernation for at least a year now. I know, I know.

🙂

In the meantime, it’s back to juggling life plus extra bits like writing assignments on parenthood, pregnancy and oh, xbox 360 hdmi cables. Heh.

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Mak chook/Bubur terigu

Sorry, no pictures as I didn’t have time to take any while I savour the yummy creamy yet chunky dessert. Blame it on pregnancy cravings!

This is a common dessert in this region and you can find it in both Malay and Chinese cuisine although the taste may vary slightly. I used to buy this dessert from a stall just a stone’s throw away from my home but when the lady relocated and subsequently retired, there went my dessert. Sure, there were other sellers but the taste plus content wasn’t the same. I like mine with very little cream and absolutely no corn or other stuff. Just wheat grains will do it.

So after scouting around the internet while digging around for info on American steelspan steel buildings, I came across a few recipes and decided to adapt them to my liking. I ended up with a super thick dessert so future notes would be to use either a bigger pot or less wheat, perhaps 3/4 of a cup next time. The dried winter melon lend a lovely fruit flavour which is nicely balanced with the use of plenty of screwpine leaves. For a first try, this recipe is definitely a keeper but of course with some adjustments!

Mak chook/Bubur terigu

8 screwpine/pandan leaves
1 cup wheat (whole pieces of grain itself)
1/4 cup rolled oats (instant/slow cook)
6 pieces dried winter melon
1 medium-large piece honey rock sugar
Some coconut cream
Some water

Method

  1. Wash and soak the wheat grains in cold water for 10 minutes.
  2. Prepare the screwpine leaves by washing them and then splitting them lengthwise into half before tying it in a knot.
  3. Fill a good sized pot with some water and boil the leaves in the water. Add the winter melon, rock sugar and rolled oats before turning down the heat to a simmer.
  4. Add the wheat grains after they are ready and simmer for two to three hours until the wheat grains are soft (and broken up – this is optional, I prefer my dessert with some bite to it).
  5. When ready, drizzle over some coconut cream and enjoy. Good warm or cold!
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Knit: Gemstone Annis

Knit FO: Annis

Gemstone Annis
Pattern | Annis by Susanna IC
Yarn | Simple Scarves Handspun in Gemstone
Needles | 4.5mm & 7mm circular needles

I actually finished this a few months ago but never found the time to block and later, photograph it. Other knitting projects and what-nots are to blame! Heh.

The last time I worked on this colourway and fiber was nearly a year ago when trying to spin up some single ply laceweight yarn for the shop. The resulting yarn was lovely, squishy and springy; the colours were to die for as well – combination that would serve well for a shawl. But because I had too much yarn in stash, it went for sale in the store until early this year when I decided to pull it off the shelf and use it for myself.

The self-striping effect was really unintentional as over the months, I have forgotten how the colours blend from one to the another. I suppose the fact that the shawl was knitted from bottom up helped to maintain the colour repeats. It makes for a very pretty shawl.

In terms of construction, the cast-on is pretty daunting and with so many stitches on the needle, I made a couple mistakes and had to rip and knit again. Stitch markers are handy for projects like this and for a good reason as well. All in all, the moment you start on the stockinette section, things move fast. The only portion that took me a while was the edging with the nupps – not a problem though as long as you don’t pull on the nupps too hard. I quite like nupps, actually – most knitters hate them!

Can’t wait to find the right moment and weather to wear it, especially with my new shawl pin!

Knit FO: Annis

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Mini chewy brownies

Mini chewy brownies

Because this house loves dark chocolate, every thing that has chocolate must only feature dark chocolate including brownies. And why not? It has less sugar and is healthier for you. Eva enjoys a good few bites and Nil? He can take a couple of squares in one sitting!

Now I accidently overbake this by an extra five minutes (thought the cake was a bit tad sticky/moist when I checked and I was busy with reviews on usp labs oxyelite pro) which resulted in a nearly cakey texture. It still went well with my colleagues and family but being a stickler for the right brownie taste, I’ll stick to the original time given. I supposed at the end of the day, it really depends on how you like your brownies – Eva, Nil and I love ours fudgy and moist.

The recipe calls for a square pan but I used a loaf pan and turned the remaining batter into mini muffin-styled brownies. Still tastes awesome and the mini versions can be easily turned into snacks or breakfast yums for Eva!

Mini chewy brownies
Adapted from Making Life Delicious’ recipe

1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
5 eggs
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup almond slivers, roughly crushed

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 170 C degrees and prepare a loaf pan (or muffin tray)
  2. Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a bain marie or microwave. Set aside once ready.
  3. In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. They are done when they reach the “ribbon” stage – see the original recipe link above.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the cooled melted chocolate (if the chocolate mixture is too hot, it’ll cooked the eggs so make sure it’s cooled first).
  5. Remove from the mixer and stir in the flour, salt, chocolate chips and nuts. Do not overbeat as this will result in a cakey, heavy cake.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until about 45 minutes. If you insert a toothpick, it should come out slightly moist. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan until it reaches room temperature. Once cool, cut and serve as is or with some ice cream.
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Mushroom-ham-cheese quiche

Mushroom-ham-cheese quiche

An awesome one pot meal, a quiche is very versatile. You can use just about anything you like from leeks to salmon, spinach to ricotta. I made a few different versions of this when I was in Switzerland – leek & smoked salmon is yummy – and for those watching their waistline, you can opt for low-fat yogurt instead of the original crémé fraîche called for in quiche recipes (some people use double cream and what-not…definitely not the best idea if you’re considering yourself for the candidacy of Best Creatine Body!). For this version, I’ve decided on twist to the classic quiche lorraine by adding some mushrooms to the mix.

The result is a very lovely earthy fragrant quiche that is great hot or cold! Eva couldn’t stop taking bites from our serving slices and I’m glad that I kept aside some to make into mini quiches (as seen above) just for her. I reckon it’ll do just fantastic for a quick lunch/dinner or even breakfast!

Mushroom-ham-cheese quiche

(A) Pastry
About 50 gms unsalted butter
Approx 1 cup plain flour
A dash of water

(B) Filling
500ml plain yogurt
4 eggs
Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cups)
Smoked pork belly – sliced thinly
Mushrooms – sliced roughly
1 medium sized onion – finely diced
1 clove garlic – finely diced
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C and prepare a pie pan (or muffin tray, depending on the size of the quiche).
  2. Mix all the ingredients for (A) – cut the butter with the flour until they resemble breadcrumbs before adding the water. Adjust the quantity of flour and water as needed. Once ready, place in the fridge to rest for about 10 mins
  3. In a pan, fry the onions and garlic with some olive oil until soft and fragrant before adding in the mushroom and pork. Cook for about five minutes until the mushrooms are slightly soft. Turn off the heat and put aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the yogurt until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add in about 1/3 of the cheese and stir well.
  5. Roll out the dough thinly – thickness is up to you; some people prefer a thinner crust, others a thicker crust. When ready, line the pan with the dough and trim off the excess.
  6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the surface before tossing the mushroom-ham over it. Pour the filling over – be careful not to let it run over the pastry. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cheese over the top.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is slightly dark golden brown. Serve as is or cold.
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