Saturday, December 27, 2008

Steamed Chinese sponge cake

The first time I ever saw my mum making this sponge cake was for prayers at my father's grave. I remember her using an old brass hand held scale to weigh out the ingredients for the sponge cake and beat the eggs and sugar in a big aluminium cooking pot using a big spring whisk (7" dia. spring). The egg batter would then be steamed in a 14" dia. steaming tray in our big wok on the firewood stove at the back of our home. Having put the cake mixture to steam, she would lit a joss stick, and the cake would be done when the joss stick burned out!

My steamed sponge cake :
Ingredients :
6 eggs
120 g sugar
220 g flour (sieved)
130 ml ice-cream soda or 7 Up (aerated water)

Method :
1) Whisk eggs and sugar till thick and bubble less
2) Fold in flour. Then add in the aerated water
3) Pour into a 8" dia. bamboo basket lined with a piece of grease proof paper.
4) Steam over high heat for 30 minutes.

steamed Chinese sponge cake

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crispy Dumplings

Crispy dumplings (pix taken from "Delightful Snacks and Dim Sum" by Agnes Chang)

Dong zhi was yesterday, and together with tang yuan, I also made crispy dumplings and sui kow (soup dumplings) for the occasion.

Filling for the dumplings :
300 g minced pork
150 g prawns (diced)
1 tbsp shredded carrots
3 dried Chinese mushrooms (diced finely)
1 tbsp spring onions (diced)
1 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper to taste
dash of sesame oil

20 - 30 pcs dumpling skin
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup water

Method :
1) Combine the ingredients for filling. Mix in one direction until well combined.
2) Wrap some filling in dumpling skin, and shape into dumplings.
3) Heat up cooking oil in a non-stick pan, arrange dumplings on top and fry on low heat until base of dumpling is golden brown. Add water, cover and cook until water is dry. Serve with sliced ginger and black vinegar.

As compared to the crispy dumpling I made yesterday. What a great difference....sigh..

NB : Found the original recipe in Agnes Chang 'Delightful Snacks and Dim', but have modified the recipe to suit my children's taste buds. I cooked half of the dumplings in a soup stock to make sui kow (soup dumplings)

Dong zhi - glutinous rice dumplings

Yesterday was the dong zhi festival or the winter solstice festival (
As is the tradition, I marked the occasion by making tang yuan (glutinous rice flour balls). Made the flour balls by kneading glutinous rice flour together with water, and then making into little balls which i filled with sugarcane candy (pian tang), and then cooked in a sweet broth of water, sugar and pandan leaves, and of course, not forgetting, the slice of ginger!

Tang yuan for Dong zhi

Tang yuan is normally eaten by Southern Chinese, and Northern Chinese eats dumpling to mark the festival. So in honor of the occasion I also made pan fried dumplings, and sui kow (soup dumplings) served with wanton noodles.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I took a trip back to my old hometown .........(Part two)

And, of course, a trip back to my old hometown would not be complete without the food ..... had wanton noodles, toasted bread with kaya and iced milk tea, and of course, the "Kow Po special" (ABC with peanut butter ice cream) at Kow Po Ice Cream Parlor. Only remembered that I should have taken pictures after I finished eating, but it has been so long since I had them, so the moment the food were placed in front of us, we dug in..

(Note to self : On my next trip, I must remember to take pictures before I eat them)

Then of course, I had to ta-pau some foods back to sustain myself until my next trip.......

Fried taufu balls stuffed with minced pork and Chinese chives. A local speciality of the Guangxi people, which I have yet to find in any other places that I have been . Can only be made with the local taufu balls because they are soft and big enough to be stuffed. It used to be the size of tennis balls but too bad they have reduced the size!

Apom balik. Sadly it turned soft and soggy after the journey home. Can be found everywhere, but I think the ones in my old hometown are the best.

Steamed dumplings - a rice flour dumpling stuffed with shredded yam bean, dried mushroom, wood fungus, and dried shrimps, seasoned with a heavy dash of pepper. Yummy....

And, of cos, my stash of Sempalit roasted groundnuts. Can hardly find Sempalit roasted groundnuts in Kuala Lumpur (so far seen them in only 2 places - a stall in KL Chinatown and Thean Hou temple).

I took a trip back to my old hometown.....(Part One)..

The old hometown looks the same, and yet...Been many years since I have been back there.
My family moved away from there in 1986, and since then I have been back only a couple of times.

The old pre-war shop house where I grew up. Below was a coffee shop, and we stayed upstairs. It is now a clothes shop.
Horrors of horrors, they have replaced the wooden shutters on the windows with glass, and the air-conditioners. Haiyah..... Sure spoils the look of the place. Wish they would implement a law legislating against this!

The back lane of my old home. Glad to note that they have cleaned up the rubbish. It used to be a nightmare walking through the place, especially after a public holiday, when the garbage disposal truck took a break.

The local market. Downstairs is a wet market, and upstairs is a hawker centre.

My former primary school which dates back to the colonial era. The old wooden block that I studied in has been replaced by the concrete building on the left. Facing the school field is the old assembly hall. Luckily they have left the classrooms in the background intact. Fond memories...

As with every place with Chinese, there is always the temple. Every lunar new year eve, at midnight, the place would be brightly lit and crowded with the townspeople praying for a bountiful new year. Can remember watching Chinese opera on the makeshift stage during the annual festival in June, I think. As a grand finale, the 'toong chi' would go into a trance, and pierce needles through their cheeks. The chief 'toong chi" would be carried on a chair of knives, and they would take the gods on a parade through the town. The residents would place tables with offerings at the front of their homes for the gods.

The local Hindu temple. During the temple's annual festival, they would have a chariot pulled by cows, and go round the town. The faithful would follow barefoot behind the chariot.

The road leading to the Chinese village. Went through this place quite often to visit my cousins who stayed in the village.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pancakes with shredded chicken

Pancake with seafood (pix from Joy of Making Dimsum)

Pancake with shredded chicken (pix from Joy of Making Dimsum)

Dear FM,
Now that finals are over, thought you might be interested in trying out this recipe. Reminds me of the California Rolls that we used to make.
Actually, its a combination of 2 recipes, one is a pancake with shredded chicken, and the other seafood in an omelet roll. Think it will be interesting to combine the two recipes, though I have listed the ingredients for both the shredded chicken roll and also the seafood roll for you.
Going to make this for dinner tonight. FJ will love it, as she loves pancakes!

Ingredients for the pancake batter :

300 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50 g sugar
2 eggs
350 ml water

Method :

1) Mix ingredients for batter into a smooth batter. Let it stand for 30 minutes.
2) Heat up non-stick pan and oil with some margarine. Add in a scoop of batter and cook pancake until brown on both sides.
3) Fold pancake into a cone shape and fill up with filling.

Ingredients for filling with shredded chicken :
100 g shredded chicken
100 g shredded cucumber
100 g shredded lettuce
100 g sliced tomatoes

Ingredients for seafood filling :

shredded cucumber
shredded carrot
shredded lettuce
enoki mushroom

salad dressing ) mix together
mayonnaise )

Method :
Place seafood filling on pancake. Add in the salad dressing and mayonnaise. Roll into cone shape. Serve with mayonnaise.

BTW, i found the two recipes in Joy of Making Dim Sum by Patsie Cheong. Have got many interesting recipes in there. Another recipe you would be interested will be the pan fried dumpling. Saw the pix of the dumpling you made. Looks delicious!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flirty flowers - Knitting pattern for a child's cardigan

another old knitting pattern...too long to type out here and i don't have one of those modern scanners/printer to convert into a word document to edit

after 21 years, the cardigan still looks good.

I fell in love with this knitting pattern when I saw it because of the embroidered flowers on the cardigan. Knitted it for Niece Andrea 21 years ago. I knitted in "Robin Bambino" yarn, and embroidered the flowers in normal acrylic yarn.

Friday, December 12, 2008



Niece Andrea gave me this recipe, which she found in a book that she borrowed from the British Council. A very simple recipe which we have made many times for parties and fund raising events.

Ingredients :
125 g butter (lightly salted)
45 g cocoa powder
2 eggs
230 g fine sugar
60 g self raising flour
90 g walnuts (lightly chopped)

Method :
1) Line base of 20 cm square cake tin.
2) Melt butter, then add in cocoa powder until well blended. Set aside.
3) Beat the eggs. Add in sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy.
4) Stir in the cocoa and butter mixture.
5) Fold in flour, and then fold in the walnuts.
5) Pour mixture into cake tin, and bake in preheated oven at 180 deg. C for 30 - 35 minutes, or until just cooked through and springy to the touch.
6) Cut into small squares when cooled.

NB : Brownies are at their best when moist, so be careful not to over bake them. They can be a bit sweet, and normally i reduce the amount of sugar to about 180 g.

Pan mee/min fun kuih

Min fun kuih with fried ikan bilis and meat sauce

Had min fun kuih for lunch, and this time I made sure I took a pix before the noodles got eaten! Only 2 bowls because CK and FJ are not awake yet, and I will cook theirs when they wake. Min fun kuih are best eaten hot!

Thursday, December 11, 2008 driving me crazy....

My internet connection is driving me nuts again. Take for example, Tuesday, was doing something on my computer, when suddenly, the ADSL light on my modem went off again, the 2nd time in 3 weeks. Then there are the almost daily occurrences of 'timed-out error' and "page failed to load" appearing on the screen.
Every time this occurs, I would call customer service, go through the whole rigmarole again and again. Each time, some one would pick up the call, i would relate my problem, "adsl light blinking", "timed out error", "connection not stable", blah..blah.... and the voice at the other end would go through the standard questions again "have you tried making a direct connection"?, " are the other lights on the modem on", blah...blah... and I would answer "yes", "yes".... Then they will tell me to switch off my modem, wait for 15 seconds, switch on again....and they will reset my modem, and if the problem persist to call them again!
When I call them again...problem still persist and insist they open a report - they will say "ok, please take down this report no...-------, and wait for 48 hours , at which stage i will give a big gasp (FJ and CK will be making fainting motions beside me), and insist they fix it pronto.
The next day, at 9.00 am..i call them again...their reply, "Madam, we are looking into it. No updates on your problem yet. Please wait for the technicians".
So, I stay at home, and by 12.00 pm the van is at my door. In they come with their modem (it is always my modem that is at fault), come in, look at my phone wiring and say " wiring not done correctly, too many extensions, (2 phones, 1 modem), too long"blah... blah...anything but their connection, and when I insist that there is nothing wrong with the wiring, they will reluctantly take out their modem, hook it on, and hey...the ADSL light is also it is back to their office again to remedy the connection or whatever they do, and then a couple of hours, my streamyx connection is back on again until the next time...sigh...

home style pasta (pan mee or min fun kuih)

Some people call it pan mee, some call it min fun kuih. Personally, I think if it is rolled into strips it should be call pan mee, and if it is torn into pieces then it should be call 'min fun kuih'. It's one of FJ's favourite, and whenever, we eat out at hawker centres, this would be the dish that she would order. Despite eating it ever so often outside, every few days she would request that I make it for lunch.

Ingredients for the pasta :

300 g flour
15 g cornflour
3/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp cornoil

Method :

1) Dissolve salt in water. Add solution to flour, cornflour and oil. Knead dough until smooth.
2) Place dough in plastic container, cover and leave to rest for about 2 hrs.

Ingredients for soup :

160 g ikan bilis (anchovies)
120 g shallots (sliced)
5 dried Chinese mushroom (soaked and sliced)
2 litres water
1 bunch choy sum (Chinese mustard greens)
1 ikan bilis stock cube

Method :
1) Fry shallots until golden brown and crispy. Drain. Fry half of ikan bilis until crispy. Drain.
2) For the soup : Bring water to the boil. Fry remaining ikan bilis and add to the water. Add in stock cube and sliced mushroom. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3) Cook the pasta : Bring soup to boil. Flatten the dough and tear out pieces and add to soup. Add in the vegetables when pasta is cooking.
4) Serve the pasta in individual bowls, and garnish with the fried shallots and ikan bilis.

NB : By the way, FM, if you can't find ikan bilis at where you are, you can omit the ikan bilis and add in slivers of chicken or pork. You can also cook a meat sauce with minced meat, sliced mushroom and wood ear fungus. Stir fry the mushroom and wood ear fungusm then add in the minced meat. Add in oyster sauce, pepper, black sauce and salt to taste. Thicken with corn starch.
Again, no photo is available as the pasta gets eaten before I get around to taking a shot. FJ thinks I am weird sometimes for wanting to take a shot of the food I make!

it's the holidays...

Yes, have been lackadaisical in posting on my blog. It is the school holidays, and FJ and CK are home, which means that they are glued to the computer, and that leaves very little time for me to use the computer. We have two computers, but somehow, that is not enough. When they wake up, first thing they do would be to log on to their computers. Not that, I am not guilty of that too!

During the holidays and weekends, the only chance I have of getting to use the computers is to wake up early! But then, I don't have much time in the morning being busy with my daily house chores. By the time I finish my chores, they are awake, and demanding their time on the net. Of 'cos I can demand to use the computer, but somehow, they will have a mournful look when they are not facing the computer. Withdrawal symptoms, I think!!!

Looks like I will have to get another computer, but then, when they are in school, one of the computers will be idling there!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

washing the car

As I type this, the neighbour or rather the neighbour's maid is washing the family car again. What I fail to understand is why do they have to wash the car almost everyday. After all, the car will get dusty again once it is driven out on the road. Is it because water is free or is it because they have a maid and, of course, since the maid's wages have been paid, you have to work the poor maid to the bone... !!!???

Staying in the tropics, it rains quite often, and the rain does a good job of washing off the dust. OK, if one has to wash the car, do it fortnightly or if you have to, maybe once a week, but to do it is a plain waste of precious water!!!!

I have got to admit that I hardly washes my car. I only washes it when it gets really dirty as in i can draw pictures in the dust on the car body and that is every few months! Dirty windscreen in the meantime. Hardly ever, since the attendants at the petrol station are rather helpful and cleans it when I am there. Every few days, i just take out the carpets, give it a brisk shake and I am done with my car cleaning chores!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Recycling for a good cause

I met an old friend at a political rally last weekend (yes, you read correct, I was at one such rally). Actually I went because the politician had helped at another cause that I was involved in(, so my friends on the committee requested my presence.
This old friend is a member of Tzu Chi, and they are raising funds for a new building. Someone has donated the land, and now they need money to build. Members help by contributing money. A simple way is just to contribute Rm10/- monthly. Have agreed to join and to contribute RM10/- per month. RM10/- is not much, but I suppose if everyone just contribute RM10/- per month, within a short period they will be able to raise the money.
Another way they have come up with to raise funds is to collect junk for recycling. On the 3rd Saturday of every month, they have a Recycling Collection Centre near where I live. Members are encourage to help out and to bring recyclable stuff like paper, plastics, etc...
So come the 20th of this month, I will be lugging all my recyclable stuff to the Collection Centre. Presently, I bring all the stuff to the 2nd hand dealer where I get paid a small sum, but since this is for a good cause, I am going to bring them here.

PS : The collection centre is located near the CIMB Bank, Phase 1, Taman Seri Gombak, Selangor, and is opened on the 3rd Saturday of each month.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Simple chicken soup

Dear FM

Came across a chicken soup recipe in the papers yesterday, and it sort of reminded me of the soups that new mothers take to boost their health, but of course for new mothers they add in plenty of ginger and DOM.

I used to make a simple version with less DOM and ginger, and I think it would be a very simple and nutritious soup for you to make. The other day, you were complaining to me that sometimes you can't think of what to cook for dinner.

Well for the soup you need :

1 chicken whole leg, cut into bite size
1 egg
3 Chinese mushroom, soaked and sliced
1 thumb size piece of ginger, sliced thinly
sesame oil
1 rice bowl of water

Method :

Heat up sesame oil, fry ginger until fragrant. Add in mushroom, fry for a few minutes. Add in egg and fry until fragrant. Add in chicken pieces, stir fry for few minutes, then add in water. Cook until chicken is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, November 21, 2008


New at this stuff. Wasn't sure what a meme was, so I wikied the word like every self-respecting web addict would do. In brief : . A meme (pronounced /miːm/)[1] consists of any idea or behavior that can pass from one person to another by learning or imitation.
Please proceed if interested....otherwise click the little "x" at the top right hand of this page

– Name: Mum (thats what my children call me), Mrs...... (what everybody call me). Seems to have lost my name when I became a wife and mother.
– Birth date: 13 April
– Birthplace: a small town (so small you may not find it on the map) in Pahang, Malaysia.
– Current Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
– Eye Color: black
– Hair Color: Black (saw some white strands this morning)
– Height: 5' 3" (last time I checked was when I was in school)
– Righty or Lefty: Righty
– Zodiac Sign: Aries (or according to my heritage - Boar, pig, Elmer Fudd)

– Your heritage: Chinese born in Malaysia according to my passport (immigrant according to the clowns of a MP at Parliament)
– The shoes you wore today: no shoes, I wore Bata slippers today
– Your weakness: shoes and bags
– Your fears: alone in my old age
– Your perfect pizza: the one I bake myself.. cheese, ham, pineapple (lots of that), peppers
– Goal you’d like to achieve: at the present ..none

– Your most overused phrase on AIM: Yo
– Your first waking thoughts: do I have to get up now?
– Your best physical feature: remind me to ask my other half
– Your most missed memory: if i missed it already, how do i tell it here

– Pepsi or Coke: neither, I prefer 7-Up
– McDonald’s or Burger King: McDonalds because it is everywhere unlike Burger King which is more expensive and only found in upmarket areas
– Single or group dates: too old for dates
– Adidas or Nike: neither as very expensive here as compared to Reeboks
– Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: neither
– Chocolate or vanilla: Vanilla
– Cappuccino or coffee: neither as I am a tea drinker, but if I have to I prefer cappuccino

– Smoke: No
– Cuss: Once a while especially when driving
– Sing: if a hear a familiar song on the radio
– Take a shower everyday: at least twice a day, this is the tropics
– Do you think you’ve been in love: if like what they write in the romance novels answer is no, but if you find that you prefer to be with this person than with anybody else, than yes.
– Want to go to college: No
– Liked high school: Ok
– Want to get married: Already married
– Believe in yourself: If I dont believe in myself, who will believe in me
– Get motion sickness: sometimes and when I have to circle many times to look for a parking space
– Think you’re attractive: Ok, I guess, at least I wont scare anybody away
– Think you’re a health freak: not really
– Get along with your parent(s): quite well with my mother, but my father died when i was six for me to comment
– Like thunderstorms: don't mind, but hate it when my internet connection gets disconnected
– Play an instrument: No

LAYER SIX: In the past month…
– Drank alcohol: No
– Smoked: No
– Done a drug: does glucosamine and panadol counts.
– Made Out: too old for that
– Gone on a date: with the kids tagging along, yes.
– Gone to the mall?: Yes, just went today (shopping addict)
– Eaten an entire box of Oreos?: No, only had 2 pcs
– Eaten sushi: Yes, I love sushi
– Been on stage: No
– Been dumped: No
– Gone skating: No, fear of falling
– Made homemade cookies: No, prefer baking cakes to cookies
– Gone skinny dipping: Does bathing count
– Dyed your hair: No
– Stolen Anything: No

– Played a game that required removal of clothing: too staid for that
– Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: No
– Been caught “doing something”: "doing something" what
– Been called a tease: Never
– Gotten beaten up: No
– Shoplifted: No
– Changed who you were to fit in: No

– Age you hope to be married: Married
– Numbers and Names of Children: wanted 2, but ended up with 3
– Describe your Dream Wedding: Never thought about that, since I dont really like to dress up, or all that "yam seng" stuff at Chinese weddings
– How do you want to die: peacefully
– Where you want to go to college: No
– What do you want to be when you grow up: am grown up now (I think so)
– What country would you most like to visit: Canada (my daughter is there)

– Number of drugs taken illegally: None
– Number of people I could trust with my life: 5 (my husband, 3 children and my brother)
– Number of CDs that I own: not counting (too difficult as they are all over the place)
– Number of piercings: None
– Number of tattoos: None
– Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper?: few times
– Number of scars on my body: a couple
– Number of things in my past that I regret:
some, but not counting (what is done is done)

Ok, all done. Not going to proof read, in case there is anything I regret putting down.

The original idea can be found at : (hope I got the details correct, still not very sure of copy/paste)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My mother's story

Mother's grandfather was a merchant in China during the Ching Dynasty. He was the god-brother of the Governor of Guangdong, and was thus able to move freely between Guilin and Guangzhou to ply his trade, and one of his most lucrative trade was opium (shame to admit it, but it was then). With his earnings, he bought parcels of paddy land in his village and harvested by the peasants. However, this good life was not to last very long, as he died before 60, leaving a wife and concubine, 3 sons (who had never worked a day in their life) and various family members. To survive, the land were gradually sold off. When all the land were sold, my grandfather and his brothers had to leave their village to find work. My grandfather went to Medan, Indonesia, but was not successful so he returned to China.

My paternal grandfather and father were at that time working in Malaya. In order to obtain an introduction to work in Malaya, my mother's father decided to marry her off to my father. So at the age of 13, my mother was married off by her family, and on the introduction of his now son-in-law, my mother's father came to Malaya, where within no time he acquired a concubine despite having a destitute family waiting in China.

Rich families in China at that time had bought maids to look after the household, as was the norm in my mother's family. But my father's family were not well off so had no maids. Overnight, by welcoming my mother as their new daughter-in-law, they acquired a maid in my mother. My mother had to look after her mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law, who were not much younger than her, and also her husband and father-in-law if they were around. My mother had to take care of the house including drawing water from the well for their baths while all this able-bodied persons just sat around without lifting a finger to help.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In praise of my mother

My parents were immigrants from China and I am a first-generation born Malaysian. Both of them were born in a village (can't remember the name of the village, but it is about 30 minutes drive from Jiangmen, Guangzhou, China). My father came to Malaya during the '30s and returned to China to marry my mother. Theirs was an arranged marriage, and my late mum was a child bride at age 13. Barely in her teens, she had to take care of a mother-in-law and 2 sisters-in-law. By 15, she was a young mother taking care of her 1st born in war torn Hong Kong. War had come to China shortly after her marriage, and my grandmotherwith 3 young ladies to protect from the invaders, decided to move to Hong Kong believing that it would be safer there, but then Hong Kong was also invaded.
After the war, they returned to China, where my mother had two other daughters, but sadly both my sisters died at infancy. Life was tough because of the political unstability in China at the time, and money had to last until the next arrival of money from my father and grandfather in Malaya, which was rather erratic. There were no mail or telegraphic transfer at that time, and they had to rely on messengers who travel by boat between Malaya and China.
After the fall of the Kuomintang, came the peasant revolution in China. My mother being from the landowner class (even though they no longer own land then) were made to work in the fields by the peasants, and were severely punished for every error. My grandmother suffer the most when they placed a corpse face to face on top of her as punishment for buying more than the approved amount of food for her family and still behaving like the landed class . After toiling for a few years, the peasants decided they had been punished enough and freed them. Many wealthy landowners died because they could not stand the torture, and my mother were certainly glad they were no longer landowners then.
My grandmother died soon after the torture stopped, and my mother migrated to Malaya in 1957, but sadly she left a life of toil in China only to toil in Malaya. By then my father was diabetic and had TB, and my mother was widowed a few years after coming to Malaya. Having 2 young children to take care of, my mother became a shop keeper, and ran a coffee shop in the small town that I grew up. With the little income from the coffee shop and a monthly remittance from my grand-aunt who worked as a nanny for a wealthy family in Singapore, my mother managed to bring up her two young children (me and my brother) and educated us until we completed our secondary school education.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Caramel custard layer cake

caramel custard layer cake

Nice tasty cake, which I never get fed up of baking. Looks difficult but once you get down to it, is relatively easy to bake.

Ingredients :
A :
60 g sugar

95 g fine sugar
220 g milk (use UHT milk)
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp custard powder

90 g self-raising flour
10 g cocoa powder
50 g fine sugar
35 ml corn oil
2 egg yolks (Grade A)
95 ml water

5 egg whites (Grade A)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
4 tbsp fine sugar

Method :
1) Melt sugar (A) to form caramel. Pour into cake tin. (alternatively you can melt it directly in the cake tin). Set aside to let it cool.
2) Mix together ingredients (B) and pour onto the set caramel.
3) Beat ingredients (D) until fluffy. Meanwhile, mix together ingredients (C) , then fold in the beaten egg whites (D)
4) Pour Mixture (3) on top of mixture (B) from step 2.
5) Put the cake tin into a bigger baking tray and fill the baking tray with hot water. (3 cm)
6) Bake at 175 deg C for 50 - 60 minutes. Remove cake from oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before removing from the cake tin.

NB : In case, you are wondering won't the custard and the cake mixture get mixed together, don't worry, it won't. The first time i saw this baking demonstration, I was wondering if the two mixtures would be mixed together, but was duly assured that it would not! This cake tastes very nice when chilled. Use 100 g of SR flour and 1/2 tsp of vanilla and omit the cocoa powder if you prefer a plain cake.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

warming up the car engine?????

Just came in from outside where I was once again blasted for a full 10 minutes with exhaust fumes. One might think that I am staying right in the middle of the city, but then that is not the case, as I am staying 10 km away from the city in a leafy suburban housing estate, and I was standing in the compound of my house.
The noxious blast came from a neighbour's car. I just cannot understand why some people needs to warm up their cars before driving...we are talking about later models and not a 30 - 40 yr old model. ...and the car is not left idle but is driven for many hours daily. This is the same guy who left his car engine running with his toddler and pregnant wife standing behind the car.

Much has been written about carbon footprints and how we should try to reduce our carbon footprints and save precious petrol, and on the other hand there are people like this who insist on warming up their cars a few times daily (!!!), and starting the air conditioning 10 mins before to cool down the car before driving off, or leave the car idling with the air-conditioner on to cool down.

Out of curiosity, I once ask a neighbour why they had to warm up the car for so long as the exhaust fumes was getting into my home..and the answer I got - " so that Minyak lagi sedap" (so that the petrol would be more tasty) - , and I was thinking, "are they going to drink the oil"!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

knitting pattern - child's cardigan

A cardigan that any fashionable little miss or mum would be proud of. Kept this pattern because i wanted to knit it for FM but FM grew up before I managed to learn to knit in 2 colors.

Sorry, can't remember where I found this pattern since it was published more than 20 yrs ago, but most likely could have been from Family Circle or Woman's Weekly.

didaskaleinophobia - maybe I have it

Today I discovered this message on FJ's MSN. "didaskaleinophobia- maybe I have it". Big words for a 13 yr old. Could not understand the word so did what everyone would do in this age -I 'Googled' the word.

'disdaskaleinophobia according to ( means a phobia for school.

Now why would a child who has never missed a day of school other than for illness has this - only reason i can fathom is because of the events of the past few days has affected her quite badly and crushed her spirit.

It is hard sometimes for a young child to understand why when adults refuse to listen and react negatively.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

regurgitating everything....the vengeful teacher

Had thought of the consequences if FJ were to complain to the Asst Headmaster, ....after all we were dealing with a teacher who berates her students as urban animals and useless just because the students do not plant trees(???), spent all their time in front of the tv and the computer and did not get up at 4 a.m(???) to pray.....
Well, FJ's action has come back to haunt her. FJ just got the total marks for Civics, and only got 63, which meant a 'C', the only C among her grades. Under the present system for Civics marks are given for Folio (class project) and also Personal Conduct (behaviour???), though goodness why is it that way, and why should it be awarded by a teacher who only teaches her for 40 minutes a week unlike her class teacher, who teaches her for longer period a week. Should not marks for Conduct be awarded by her Class teacher, who would be able to make better judgement based on the time spent with the child. But then, that is the education system. So are students at the mercy of the Civics teacher? Seems to be so..FJ's has never skip any class nor played truant, does her homework diligently (I make sure of that)....only fault is that she dared to question the teacher and to refer to the Asst Headmaster!
FJ barely got any marks for her Folio and Conduct, despite spending so much time and effort to complete her Folio project. I am not being biased when I say that FJ really spends a lot of time on her Class project! This is the child who will spend hours researching and searching for suitable pictures and information from the Net and then printing them out. She will also spend hours colouring any pictures to her satisfaction which is a long time since she adores art.
As a mother, I feel sad and angry about the whole episode, but have advised FJ to put it behind her.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

dreams of the everyday housewife..........

When I was thinking about starting a blog, I was looking around for an ID for myself and could not decide. Then one day, I happen to be interviewed by some media people from the local papers who wanted to know my occupation, so I replied "Homemaker". Well, they replied "Orh, housewife" in a rather superior manner. I corrected them and repeated "No, HOMEMAKER", but they insisted "HOUSEWIFE" and that it was the term used for stay-at-home mothers in the papers.
Back home later that afternoon, the Glen Campbell started rattling in my head, in the way, that sometime you get a song in your head that can't seem to go away!
Decided that "Everyday Housewife" would be my ID, next was the title for my blog. 'Dreams of the Everyday Housewife' was already taken (maybe many others had that Glen Campbell song running in their head), so decided on Notes.
Actually, this blog is like a sort of personal challenge. I wanted to see whether I would have the perseverance to start a blog and whether I would be able to keep it going with interesting items so that readers would keep returning...which I think is the greatest challenge. After all, how many would be interested in a blog by a middle-aged lady blogging about cooking, knitting, and her everyday life and comments. But of 'cos, first I would have to direct people to my blog, so one day, I discover the 'help' button, and clicked on it..never realising that a whole new world awaits me ...the world of Blogger Help Share Group , and since then have been returning almost daily to it. Met up with a whole community of fellow bloggers who have been giving helpful and encouraging comments. you all wonderful people out there : "A WARM THANK YOU and NICE MEETING YOU"

Meanwhile, am still puzzling out HTML, and how to cut and paste that Ad-Sense Code on to my page! Somehow, can't get it to the right place on my template. Then, my challenge is how to persuade you guys to click on the Ad's....but then that is a story for another day..... be continued on another day

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mee Bandung

Remember the Mee Bandung we had at the restaurant, (cant remember the place, since its been a few years). Ever since then, CK has been hankering for Mee Bandung, and been pestering me to cook it for him. Been searching for a mee bandung recipe and online, there are so many versions all claiming to be the authentic 'Muar Mee Bandung'. Bought a box of 'Knorr' beef stock cubes last week as I wanted to make lasagne(yes, finally made that lasagne yesterday!), and there was a simple recipe for Mee Bandung on the box!
The recipe was so simple that I think you can attempt it in your little kitchen, but then, you may not be so keen on it since you are not such a keen fan of tomato sauce, unlike FJ.
Anyway, will list the recipe here just in case.
Ingredients :
1 tbsp cooking oil
4 pips of garlic, chopped finely
6 shallots, chopped finely
2 red chillies, sliced finely ( i did not have chilies so i used chilli sauce, haha)
250 g chicken (cooked and shredded)
250 g prawns, shelled
2 stalks of lemon grass (serai), diced
1.5 l water
1 1/2 beef stock cube
1 cup tomato sauce
4 eggs,lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
600 g yellow noodles (i used spaghetti, as i don't like the boric acid in yellow noodles)
2 cups choy sum
2 cups bean sprouts

Method :
1) Heat oil and fry the onions and garlic. Add in chillies and serai, stir fry. Add in water and the beef stock cube. Bring to boil, then add in prawns, tomato sauce and the salt and pepper.
2) Switch off the fire, then slowly add in the beaten eggs.
3) Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil. Blanch the choy sum, bean sprouts and noodles separately.
4) Place noodles in individual bowls. Add in choy sum, taugeh and the shredded chicken. Then add the soup.

FM, simple isn't it! Maybe you can cook this for your friends.....or reduce the quantity for a meal for one. I did not measure out the water, and I used less eggs, so the soup was a little bit watery. FJ liked it, probably because of the tomato sauce.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ikea - inexpensive kitchen tools

Come early September, I would be waiting eagerly for the arrival of a certain catalogue, and guess what is it. Yes, the Ikea catalogue. I enjoy browsing through the catalogue looking for new kitchen stuff, especially for inexpensive kitchen tools. In fact, CK (the anti-shopping guy) always complain when I drag him shopping at Ikea because he know he will be there for many hours,so I would treat him to Ikea 's curry puffs just to console him! These are some of the inexpensive kitchen tools I got from Ikea. There are more, but am going to leave that for another day. These are my 3 favourites.
A citrus fruit squeezer for less than RM5/- . Better than the conventional juice squeezer. Cut off the top of a lemon, just turn it, and you have lemon juice. Very handy when I just want a little bit of lemon juice for my salads, etc. Then I store the lemon in the fridge to be used another day.

3 small knives for less than RM 10/- . Yellow one, i used for paring fruits and vegetables. The blue one, I used for de-veining prawns, and the red one I used for removing cakes from cake tins, because it is thin and fine enough to go around a cake tin without spoiling the cake.

A pair of whisks for less than RM 5/-. The bigger whisk for whisking eggs and making batter, while the smaller one is very handy for making sauces and gravies.

4 handy and inexpensive kitchen tools for less than RM20/-, but which I find very useful in my kitchen.

regurgitating everything....updated

Well, FJ came back from school today...good news is everything settled, though not exactly to her satisfaction. The teachers came to a consensus that so long as the students answered with the key words from the textbook, the answers is acceptable, so now they have to mark all the answer papers again. As for FJ, she only got 1 extra mark, since she answered in her own words, and did not include the key words from the textbook.
Was the effort worth it? I suppose so... but then the jury is out. Probably by going all the way to the Asst. Headmaster, FJ has most likely antagonise the teacher concerned. All I can hope is that FJ will not get this teacher in her class next year. Otherwise, FJ will be picked on or maybe just ignored! But then, looking back, all this would have been avoided, if the teacher concerned had kept an open mind and listened and explained to FJ instead of telling her to go away and challenging her to see the Asst. Headmaster, which I strongly feel is intimidation as she was most likely thinking that FJ would not have wanted to approach the Asst. Headmaster!

Friday, October 31, 2008

regurgitating everything....latest update

Latest update from FJ. The civics teacher today turn down her request a not so nice manner too...told FJ to get away from her, which I think speaks for the type of teacher she is. Also challenged FJ to complain to the Asst. Headmaster, which i find pretty unacceptable because i feel it is something minor, so why should she need to refer to the Headmaster. Doesn't the headmaster have other more important issues to attend to then to mediate in a dispute over some marks. I suppose it because FJ is just a Form 1 student, that she can be intimidated by the teacher, but timid her, has managed to take the issue this far.
Well, the other civics teachers agree that FJ's answers are acceptable, but they being colleagues are unwilling to get involved!
Have advised FJ just to let it go, but then to be disappointed at this young age about the education system and her teachers, who she expected to be more approachable and open-minded!

....regurgitating everything..will be continued as FJ is going to take up the teacher's challenge and will go to see the Asst. Headmaster on the matter.

Knitting Pattern - Child's sweater

Patterns for sweaters for spring dating back to 1988 from "Sandra". Love this 2 patterns because they are so easy to knit. I knitted the yellow sweater in pink for FM, and a friend knitted the purple sweater for her daughter. The two child models looked so adorable, and I think I fell in love with the patterns because of them!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

regurgitating everything....update

FJ was unsuccessful in her appeal today. Went to see the teacher who set the questions...teacher agreed with her, but were unable to revise the marks.. reason being that he was not her civics teacher, and did not assess her answer papers. So now she has to go back to her civics teacher, i.e the one who assessed her answer paper, to appeal again. Have doubt that FJ will succeed, seeing as the teacher has already rejected her request in the first place...which i feel is pretty unfair!
The tactic now is to get the consensus from all the civics teachers in the school, I mean the agreement of all the teachers that you do not need to regurgitate the answers word for word in a civics test, and then tell the teacher concerned that. All the trouble just for a few marks, but to FJ it is a matter of proving herself correct, and an A or a B...

..regurgitating everything ..../to be continued...

regurgitating everything....

Last, Friday, FJ was very upset when she came home from school...reason being that the teacher who marked her civics paper for her year end exams penalized her and marked her answers wrong because it was not word perfect, in other words she had not memorized the answers word for word from her textbook. I wonder what are being taught in schools today.. students are not taught independent thinking but instead are expected to regurgitate everything word for word from the textbooks! I can understand if it was the Moral paper, where one have to memorize the 36 Moral rules, so in other words, does it mean that a person who fails the moral paper is immoral...and one who is able to regurgitate the 36 rules are a very moral person! I wonder....
CK being the protective big brother, he is, is going to accompany FJ to see the teacher who set the questions for the civics paper, and they are going to argue out that FJ should at least get a few marks for getting the answers correct even though it is not in the prescribed format as in the text books.
...regurgitating everything continues ..once i get the latest report from CK and FJ when they returns from school today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knitting Pattern - Child's sweater

the sweater that i knitted for FM in '93

This pattern was published in 'Sandra" in 1988. I knitted it for FM in 1993 when she was 3, but living in a tropical country she never really wore it. FJ wore it once though when she went to Genting Highlands. 'Jaeger' yarn is not available here, so FM's sweater was knitted in "Robin" 'Bambino' DK yarn.

Instructions for the sweater to fit a child 4 yrs and 8 yrs, chest measurements 58 cm and 68 cm. Figures in brackets are for the larger size. If only one set of figures, it applies to all sizes.

Materials : Yarn Jaeger, quality 'Matchmaker' 2 DK, 100%wool, 250 g
One pair 3 mm and 4mm needles, 3mm double pointed needles

Basic pattern using 4mm needles : number of sts. multiple of 11+2 edge sts.
1st row : K
Row 2 and 4 : P
3rd row : edge st., *P2 tog twice, yarn over needle (yo), K1, yo, k1, yo.k1, yo, P2 tog. twice, rep from *, edge st.
These 4 rows form pattern.

Tension : 22 sts and 33 rows to 10 cm

Rib pattern : using 3 mm needles, *k1, p1, rep from *

Method :
Back : Cast on 66 (76) sts, and work 4 (5) cm in rib, increasing 13(14)sts evenly on last row=79(90) st. Continue in basic pattern. When work measures36(42)cm, shape neck. On next RS row, work 28(33) sts. in pattern, turn and leave remaining sts. on a holder. Complete these side first. At neck edge, cast of on every alt. row 4 sts once and 2 sts. once.
When work measures 38 (44) cm, cast of remaining sts for shoulder. With RS side of work facing, slip first 23 (24) sts on holder for centre back neck, rejoin yarn to remaining sts, and work pattern to end,complete to match first side, reversing shaping.
Front : proceed for back, except neck. When work measures 33 (39) cm shape neck. On next RS row, work 34 (39) sts. in pattern, turn and leave remaining sts. on holder. Complete this side first. On neck, cast of every alt row 3 sts once, 2 sts 3 times,and 1 st 3 times. When work measures 38(44) cm, cast off remaining sts for shoulder. With RS of work facing, slip first 11 (12) sts on to holder for centre front, rejoin yarn to remaining sts and work pattern to end. Complete to match other side, reversing shaping.
Sleeve (both alike) : cast on 36 sts and work 4 (5)cm in rib, increasing 10 sts evenly on last row = 46 sts. Continue in basic pattern and increase 1 st at each end of every 6th row 5 times, then 1 st alt on every 4th and 6th row 8(12) times = 72(80) sts. When work measures 27(34)cm cast off.
To make up : Block pieces to measurements, cover with a damp cloth and allow to dry. Join all seams and set in sleeve to position. With the double pointed needles, pick up 90 sts evenly and work 2 cm in rib pattern.

I never could handle double-pointed needles comfortably, so I used a pair of 40 cm circular knitting needles for the neck.
Will upload the original pattern on another day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Collection of Matchboxes and the Trebor Cookie Jar

My collection of matchboxes

My late mum ran a coffeeshop in a small town in the '60s, and these jars were for displaying sweets and cookies on the counter. Instead of the plastic containers that we see on the counters at coffee shops today, then glass jars were used. One of the jar has the letter "T" on the lid for Trebor sweets, which were about the only sweets available then before the influx of the many brands of sweets we see today.
I started collecting matchboxes in the '80s, and when my collection got larger, my mum gave me this 2 containers to put them in, and I think it looks better in this containers then the common goldfish bowl! Thanks to my late mum for keeping this containers....
Lately, have not add much to my collection of matchboxes...bcos of the smoking ban in public places, most hotels and restaurants no longer place matchboxes on tables and in hotel rooms today. Only places I have been to obtain matchboxes were from some hotels in China... so now I collect toothpicks to remember the places I have been!
Among my collection of matchboxes are boxes from The Cave Disco (it was The place in the '80s), The Hilton (Crowne Mutiara now) and from many places which are now defunct. Some place are still around though, such as Hotel Malaya, and if i am not mistaken Hotel Waterfall in Penang which i stayed in 1981, which is like a long time ago....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Collecting recipes - Nestle Test Kitchen

a recipe for marbled agar agar from Nestle, from the '70s, and the estimated cost for the agar-agar was only $1.70 then!

I have always been very keen on collecting recipes. In the '70s, there were not many cookbooks available especially local publishers, and whatever were available were beyond the means of my schoolgirl allowance. So, when I wanted recipes, I would write to local food companies requesting for recipes, and generally the companies were rather obliging. One such company which I wrote to regularly was Nestle Malaysia, and each time I wrote in, they would send me a stack of their recipe cards. Thanks to my late mum, who kept them faithfully for me despite having to move house several times, the cards are still intact although a bit yellowed with age.

A recipe for Empress Chicken. Estimated cost -$3.90 . Today, RM 3/90 now won't even buy 2 pcs of chicken thighs.

2 sides of a Glossary of spices/herbs and vegetables - with the equilvalent in Malay and Cantonese.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crispy Spring Rolls

A favourite at family gatherings. The last time I made it was for FM's farewell party.

Ingredients for the filling :

1 carrot, shredded
5 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and sliced thinly
1 turnip, shredded
20 g wood fungus, soaked and shredded
2 tbsp dried prawns , soaked and drained
salt and pepper

1 pkt spring roll wrappers
egg white

Method :
1) Heat up wok with oil, fry the dried prawns until fragrant, then add in other ingredients. Fry till fragrant. Season with salt and pepper, and thicken with cornflour. Dish up and cool filling.
2) Place filling onto spring roll wrapper, apply egg white at edge and roll up.
3) Heat up oil in wok, and deep fry spring rolls until golden brown.
4) Remove and drain well.
5) Serve with mayonnaise or Thai chili sauce.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chocolate Marble Agar-Agar Cake

Chocolate marble agar-agar cake

Another recipe I found online at Baked it last weekend. FJ complained that the agar-agar layer was not thick enough, but i supposed that can be remedied by using a smaller cake tin. As advised I used a 10" x 7" cake tin.

Ingredients :
1 pc of chocolate sponge cake

Ingredients for agar-agar layer :
400 ml milk
50 g sugar
13 g agar-agar powder
2 egg whites
50 g sugar
1/8 tsp salt
30 g cooking chocolate(melted)

Ingredients for topping :
200 ml fresh milk
50 g hot water
1/2 tbsp instant jelly
50 g sugar
10 g cocoa powder
30 g cooking chocolate
1 tsp agar-agar

Method :
1) Cut cake to fit into cake tin.
2) Mix 50 g sugar and agar-agar powder together. Add in milk and bring to boil.
3) Whisk egg whites with 50 g sugar until frothy, and while beating, pour in the agar-agar from (2)
4) Divide agar-agar into 2 parts. Add in melted chocolate to one part, and mix evenly.
5) Quickly scoop white and chocolate portion alternately onto the cake. Keep aside till half-set.
6) Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Mix cocoa powder and hot water together until paste. Mix instant jelly, agar-agar powder and sugar together. Add in cocoa paste and milk. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time to prevent lumps.
7) Pour topping onto the semi-set agar-agar. Cool and set before chilling in the refrigerator.

Tip : When making jellies, mix the agar-agar powder or instant jelly with sugar together first before slowly adding in the liquids to avoid lumps when boiling the jellies.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home Made Egg Noodles

A recipe for home made egg noodles. Used to enjoy making the noodles, but have not made them lately because I did not enjoy cleaning the noodle machine after the task. The noodle machine need to be kept clean of floor remnants otherwise the rollers turn moldy.

Ingredients :
350 g flour
3 Grade B eggs
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt

Method :
1. Sieve flour into bowl.
2. Add in eggs, oil and salt.
3. Knead until smooth.
4. Cover and rest down for 30 minutes.
5. Divided dough into balls and roll out using the noodle machine.

A lot of elbow grease is needed if you are kneading the noodles by hand. I used the dough hook on my kitchen machine. First time, I tried it, I used the K-beater, and broke it in the process. Cost me RM70/- to replace the beater, which certainly made for very expensive noodles!
This is a recipe from 'Hongkong Delicacy'.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My teapot collection

Chinese teapots. Smallest one is an Ebay find. 2nd on the left is from Hongkong circa 1987. Only the tallest one is in use, and is for brewing hubby daily Pu-erh tea supply.

Teaset bought from a shop at The Peak, Hongkong in 2005

Very mini teasets. Set on the left is a gift from my friend Pat from her trip to Bangkok

Mini teaset from Hong Kong, circa 1987

Xisha teaset from Wuxi, China- from my holiday in 2007. Hope I did not pay too much for it.

A cheerful doll house set bought from Hot Market, KL for RM5/

A brass kettle (an Ebay find)

Doll house teaset bought from a roadside stall in Bangkok in 2006. I remember I was so happy when I found it, as I thought I would not be able to find any in Thailand!

The grand dame of them all. Almost 40 yrs old. A child hood gift from my brother(the best brother in the world). As a child, whenever i was ill, he would try to find me a small gift to cheer me up, which shows his niceness as he is only 2 yrs my senior.

Mini hand painted teapots from Riccardo, Southern Pottery

Cute little teapots. Brown teapot is gift from Jacobs Cream Cracker and is shaped like a cream cracker. Centre 4 teapots are finds from local gift shops. Teapot at the back right is sold as a sauce bottle, but decided not to use for soya sauce as flies keep getting into the spout.

I like collecting teapots and tea sets, and will try to buy a teapot or tea set from wherever I travel to. In Kuala Lumpur, I will look for teapots at chinaware shops, gift shops and also RM2 shops. I also look for bargains on Ebay, and have so far have come up with some gems. These are just part of my collection.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Orange raisin cake

A mixed fruit caked that I baked a few months ago

Orange raisin cake baked last week

I adapted this recipe from a recipe that i found in Creative Making of Cakes by Alex Goh. Original recipe was for a sultana cake, and is one of my favorite cakes. I have baked this cake countless times, but instead of just sultanas, I like to use a mixture of raisins, sultanas, fruit peel and cherries. I do not like the packed mix fruits available in the shop, but instead will buy them separately, and mix them together. For example, I like the taste of fruit peel, so I will add a bit more than is usually available in ready packed mix fruits.

Ingredients :
250 g butter
230 g sugar
5 eggs
1 tbsp glycerin (optional, as it is to keep the cake moist)
200 g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk powder
250 g raisins
60 g high protein flour
Peel and juice from 1 orange

Method :
1) Mix raisins and high protein flour. Sift flour, baking powder and milk powder together. Set both aside
2) Cream butter and sugar until white and creamy
3) Add in eggs, one at a time. To prevent mixture from curdling fold in a tabsp. of flour into mixture
4) Add in glycerin.
5) Add in orange juice and peel
5) Fold in flour, then add in the raisins from (1)
6) Bake in 9" sq. tin at 180 deg. C for 50 mins. Cool.

If I am baking a mixed fruit cake, I normally substitute the white sugar with brown sugar, and 1 tsp of rum essence (available in bakery shops) for orange juice.