Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Tissot - neither an electronic nor a mechanical fault

Have got a reply from the service centre, and the verdict is that it is neither an electronic nor a mechanical fault, so what is it. To quote their reply, " I hope you understand that your watch's defect is due to wear and tear, since nothing can last forever and your watch has been running non-stop for 3 and 1/2 years", which I feel doesn't explain anything, but only sidestep the issue. But isn't a watch supposed to run non-stop until the battery wears out.
According to them, the lifespan of the watch depends much on the habit of the wearer. So what would be the habit of a wearer to extend the lifespan. Isn't the ordinary mundane life of an everyday housewife suitable for their watches. In fact I only wear my watch when i go out for the day, which is seldom. Otherwise, it is left on my dresser.
I have been advised that a battery needs to be changed every 18 mths, even if it is still running. So what is the life span of a quartz battery. As with most people, I believe we would not change a watch battery if it is still running, or do someone beg to differ.
Anyway, it is a case of once bitten twice shy, and would i ever buy a watch from the Swatch group stable, the answer is a definite NO.
Or to quote hubby ,"Put it down to bad luck." Afterall out of the hundreds of watches at the dealer, I had to choose this one.

Baking lessons with Andrea - Oreo Cheese Cake

The other cake that Andrea made was an Oreo cheese cake, haha a cake for Oreo cookie lovers. Had to use a 7" sq cake tin as I did not have a 7" dia. round cake tin. Quite an easy cheese cake to make, as there is no baking involved.

Ingredients for the biscuit crust :
1 roll of 150 g Oreo cookies (keep 2 aside)
70 g of unsalted butter (melted)

Method :
1) Remove centre filling and set aside) and crush the cookies. (easiest way is to place in a plastic bag and whack with a rolling pin)
2) Mix crushed cookies with melted butter and press into the baking tin. Chill for 1 - 2 hrs in fridge.

Ingredients for cheese filling :
250 g cream cheese
120 g fine sugar
2 pcs of Oreo cookies (remove filling and crushed)
Oreo biscuit filling from above
150 g whipping cream (whipped slightly)
1 1/2 tbsp gelatin powder
80 ml milk

Method :
1) Double boil milk and gelatin powder until dissolved.
2) Cream cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in the Oreo filling and the 2 crushed biscuit, and the whipped cream. Mix well
3) Add in gelatin mixture and mix well.
4) Pour mixture onto biscuit crust, smooth top and chill in fridge for about 3 hours.

Pipe whipped cream rosettes and place an Oreo cookie in centre as decoration. We did not have any whipped cream left, so we left the top plain.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Baking lessons with Andrea - Peach Jelly Cake

Andrea was home for the summer holidays, and wanted to try her hand at baking. So last weekend she made a Peach Jelly cake and an Oreo Cheese Cake. She did the actual baking like measuring out the ingredients and doing the mixing and baking, while I just help out by telling her what to do and the method. The cakes turn out rather nice and successful especially for a newbie at baking. We also tried our hands at making a key lime pie, but the lime filling did not set very well, though the sweet pie pastry tasted very nice. I am going to use the sweet pastry to make egg tarts this weekend. Have yet to try out my new pastry cutter which have been lying in my drawer for a few years.
We decided to use sponge mix, as it was the easier and fail proof method. Baking sponge cakes using sponge mix is fail proof, but it tastes rather bland unless I make up the cake with whip cream or chocolate ganache or like here where we use agar-agar and peaches.

Ingredients for the sponge cake :
250 g sponge mix
5 eggs (grd A)
3 tbsp cold water
60 g melted butter

Method for sponge cake :
1) Whip sponge mix and eggs until creamy. Add in cold water. Continue whipping until thick and fluffy.
2) Fold in melted butter.
3) Pour mixture into 9" dia. cake tin, and bake in 180 deg C oven for 35 mins until done.
4) Cool, and cut into two layers. Use 1 layer only.

For the agar-agar layer :
290 ml fresh milk
20 g sugar
2 tsp agar-agar powder

2 egg whites
30 g sugar

Method :
1) Put agar-agar powder, sugar and fresh milk to boil.
2) Beat egg whites and sugar until fluffy, while still beating add in the agar-agar mixture.
Cool slightly.

3) Place sponge cake into a 9" dia. spring form tin.
4) Pour agar-agar mixture onto sponge cake. Place cake into refrigerator to set.

For the Peach Layer :
400 ml water
125 g sugar
20 g instant jelly.
1 can peaches
Method :
1) When agar-agar mixture has set, score surface with a fork.
2) Arrange peaches on top of cake.
3) Boil instant jelly, sugar and water until clear. Cool slightly
4) Pour instant jelly mixture on top of the peaches, and leave to cool and set in the fridge.

You don't necessarily have to use peaches. You can also use fruit cocktail or canned pineapples.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Baked this chocolate chip muffins last week. The teddy bear guarding the muffins is Cookie, and is FJ's favourite bear. Bought it from Bata a few years ago, when they had a fund-raising campaign in aid of the National Cancer Society. Her biggest regret is that I only bought one of the bears, as they came in a few different colours. Seeing that she loved it so much, I went back to Bata to try to purchase the whole range, but by then they had already sold out the bears. Have tried to get another one from Ebay, but so far have been unsuccessful. I supposed those who purchased the bears fell in love with it and was not willing to dispose of it.

My recipe for the muffins :

100 g butter
100 g fine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
120 g flour
1 tsp baking flour
1/2 tsp sodium bicarbonate
60 g ground almonds
50 ml fresh milk
20 g cocoa powder
100 g chocolate chips
2 eggs (grade A)

Method :
1) Sift flour, baking powder and ground almonds together. (the original recipe calls for hazelnuts, but i only had almonds so used that instead.)
2) Cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
3) Add in eggs and beat well after each addition. (to prevent eggs from curdling add in a tbsp of flour into the butter mixture)
4) Fold in flour. Add in milk, cocoa powder and chocolate chips, and mix until well combined.
5) Put mixture into paper cups and bake in oven at 180 deg. C for about 15 mins.

I don't like the taste of sodium bicarbonate in cakes so I normally reduce or omit it altogether.
I once saw Nigella Lawson on tv using an ice cream scoop to scoop out the batter for cup cakes, and it was certainly easier that way to fill the paper cups, and you can get any equal portion for each paper cups.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cooking lessons for FM-Hard boiled eggs and the potato salad

Still on the hard boiled eggs.
Today we add in some potatoes to make egg and potato salad.
Boil a couple of potatoes and eggs. When cooked, cooled and then peeled of the skins. Cut the cooked potatoes into bite sized chunks. Also cut the cooked eggs. Place into bowl, add in mayonnaise and pepper. Mix well and place in fridge for 1 - 2 hours.
If you have any left-over roasted chicken or ham, shred them and add into the potatoes, and you have a meal for one. Alternatively, you can also add in cooked shrimps, which I think FJ will enjoy as she loves shrimps.
Haha, mummy is teaching you to use a lot of mayonnaise . Beware, though, as mayonnaise is rather fattening because of the oils. For a more healthy version, omit the mayonnaise and use french dressing. I remember seeing lite mayonnaise in the shops, but I wonder how lite they are.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cooking lessons for FM - Hard boiled eggs and making an egg sandwich

FM will be leaving for N.America next month to further her studies. It is a big step for her and an even bigger step for me to let go of my baby so that she can be independent and learn to survive on her own. Like mothers the world over, I will worry and be wondering whether she is eating well and keeping warm. Probably, once she settles down to university life in N America she will enjoy life away from home, but will I be able to adapt to life without her at home! Luckily, there is the internet and web cam and life chat and budget IDD available, so at least i will be able to keep in touch with her.
Since she entered college last year, and knew that she would be traveling and staying on her own abroad, she been telling me she intended to learn to cook but my dear daughter have yet to ever find the time.
So to my beloved daughter, what are you going to do? The other day you were asking me how to boil a hard-boiled egg. You can fry an egg but you do not know to boil one! In case, you are wondering, you do not add the egg to hot water as the egg would cracked due to the extreme change in temperature. Anyway, I am wondering here how many have made the mistake of boiling an egg by adding it to hot water.

Daughter, in case you want to know :

Boiling a hard boil egg :
Put the eggs in pan of cold water, and bring it slowly to the boil. Simmer for at least 15 mins. If you can pick it up with a pair of chopsticks, it is cooked. Dunked the eggs in cold water so that the egg yolks will not have black ring outside it. Then peel the eggs. (CK, if you are also reading this and wondering why you cannot peel an egg properly without spoiling the egg white, give it a brisk knock all over so that egg shell is cracked all over, before peeling it).

For egg sandwich :
Mashed the peeled eggs with a fork, add in salt and pepper (and CK, remember to go easy on the salt), and mayonnaise. Spread on bread, and you have an egg sandwich.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

still griping about it

Yes, I am still griping about it. I still find it hard to accept that a Tissot watch which is supposed to be known for it quality would have moisture sipped into it after just 3 1/2 yrs. The service centre informed me that it would be due to an aging rubber gasket but i find it unacceptable that a rubber gasket would deteriorate in such a short period. The rubber gasket on my pressure gasket works just find after five years despite being subject to high heat and regular usage.
Was so disappointed that I emailed to Tissot, Switzerland to voice my disappointment but have yet to receive a reply.
Was at the shops looking at some new watches. The watch dealer recommended Tissot again, haha.. and was rather surprised when told of my experience. A Tissot is not supposed to have moisture sipping into it after just 3 yrs.
Another dealer suggested that i could have bought a fake watch, but then I did not buy it from a shop in Chinatown but from an authorised agent in Bukit Bintang Plaza. Come to think of it, I did sent the watch together with the warranty card back to The Swatch Group, KL for adjustment of the bracelet when i had it. I supposed at that time they would have noticed if it was a fake or not!
Anyway, saw some nice GC watches, but have yet to decide on the purchase, as once bitten twice shy, i am rather scared of swiss watches. Besides, the watches were selling rather cheaply, and being a layman i definitely do not know how to tell an original from a fake.
Saw some very cheap watches (RM10/-). Think I should follow some of my friends who buy these Rm10/- watches, and chucked them away once they stopped. Can have a new and fashionable watch every month.
Come to think of it, for the amount I paid for my Tissot I could have got 42 watches for 42 months (ie the time I have the Tissot) and still have spare change!
But to quote the watch dealer today ,"why buy a Mercedes, when a Kancil will do just as nicely! You buy the quality, mah!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

first the sewing machine, now my tissot watch

The past few months have made a big hole in my pocket, as one after another the things at home seem to need replacing or repairing! First to go was the sewing machine, but then after 19 years of quite heavy usage, I cannot complain. Replaced 1 Singer sewing machine with a newer model just before the New Year. The next to go was the Ariston washing machine, but I am not complaining either as the machine had served me quite faithfully for 18 years. One week later, the CCD on my Kodak CX6330 camera spoilt after just 4 years, and time for a replacement as I sort of cannot do without my camera. Bought 1 Olympus FE310 to replace my Kodak. Then my Kingston flash drive could not read after just 1 month, and it was back to the dealer again. Just got a free replacement drive today. Then the Instant water heater also gave up, but then after 18 years, I am not complaining either.
Then came last Saturday. As I was just preparing to go out discover my tissot (Belle) watch of just 3 1/2 years (to be exact I bought it on 18/1/05) was not working. Thought maybe was the battery, as after all the battery had never been replaced. So first thing today, hubby sent it back to the agent, ie Swatch Malaysia for a battery replacement only to discover that the problem was worst than a flat battery. Apparently, moisture had seeped into the circuit, and it would cost me RM210/- to change the circuit. Now the million dollar question, how could moisture have seeped into the circuit. I have never gone swimming with it( i dont know how to swim), taken a bath with it or got caught in the rain while wearing it. Wear and tear of the rubber gasket was the explanation from the agent, but after only 3+ years. My old Orient lasted me 14 years, and all I had to do was change the battery every 1 or 2 years. My intention was to purchase a Japanese model to replace my old Orient watch but I was persuaded by the dealer to buy a Swiss made Tissot watch, because of their reputation and quality, and the promise that a Tissot would last me a quite a while, but looks like I have been severely misleaded. A very disappointed me will have to hit the shops to shop for another watch, as I feel weird without a watch on my wrist, and I am definitely going to follow my instincts about buying a Japanese brand (like Seiko which was my original choice in 2005), and this time I am not going to listen to whatever the watch dealers tell me. In fact,I think I will walk out if the dealers should try to persuade me to buy a Swiss made watch.
Anyway, the children should be happy about it, as i sort of hinted that I that a Longines would be a welcome 60th birthday gift, haha. Now they can save their money, as I doubt i would want to own a Swiss made watch ever again. Feel very let down and disappointed.

Steamed tau sar pau

FJ likes eating tau sar pau, so i normally keeps a pack of tau sar in the freezer and pau flour at hand for times when she have the urge for tau sar pau. I prepare a batch and freezes part of it ready for hunger pangs. Just take out of the freezer, steam them again and hey presto, you have got pau to eat.
I don't like making my own tau sar as I find the process too tedious so I buy them from bakery supplies shop for about RM3/- for 500 g which is enough to make about 25 pau. Tried making tau sar, but find the result not worth my effort. First you have got to boil the beans, grind them and then fry them slowly with oil in a wok.
Pau dough can be made quite easily in a kitchen machine, but if you dont have one, you can also use a food processor or knead the dough by hand.
I use the recipe from At Home With Amy Beh 2, as I find the quantity and method quite easy to work with. As with most of recipes, I follow it through once, and then I will adapt them to suit me.
Generally, most of the times, I will reduce the sugar and try to take short cuts. Sometimes it works but of cos there are also disasters.

My Tau sar pau :

Ingredients for the pau dough
500 g pau flour
2 tsp double action baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100 g castor sugar dissolved with 100 ml lukewarm water (sugar can be reduced t0 90g)
50 g shortening
1 sachet instant yeast (11 g) dissolved with 150 ml lukewarm water, a little flour and sugar, set aside until frothy.

Filling :
500 g tau sar (divided into 25 equal portions)

Method :

1) Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into bowl.
2) Add in shortening, sugar mixture and yeast mixture. Knead well using the dough hook until mixture turns into a smooth dough.
3) Cover dough and leave aside to prove until double in bulk (about 45 mins).
4) Punch down the dough and divide into 25 pieces.
5) Flatten each piece of dough and wrap in a portion of the tau sar.
6) Place on a piece of greaseproof paper.
7) After wrapping up all the pieces of tau sar, place pau in steamer and steam over rapidly boiling water for about 10 mins.

When I am in a hurry, I just place all the pau ingredients into a mixing bowl, and knead. Use fine sugar instead of castor sugar. It works just as well, and is much cheaper than castor sugar. In fact, I do not use castor sugar even for cakes, as I find them too expensive as compared to fine sugar. In the old days when they do not have fine sugar, I would use normal sugar and grind a batch in my food processor to save costs. The dough can also be used for making char siew pau or vegetarin pau. A friend even makes rendang chicken pau!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hitachi washing machine.

Finally after 1 1/2 mths, the shop delivered the stand for the washing machine. My old front loading machine kaput after 18 yrs of hard work, and I bought a Hitachi 12 kg washing machine from my regular shop. Decided on a 12 kg because of the amount of daily laundry. The old machine was rather small (only 5 kg), and sometimes i had to do a few loads which was not very efficient.
Little did i realise that when i decided to purchase the machine of the problems i would faced.
It being such a long time since i bought a new one, i did not realise that machines came with a stand until my good friend told me. Well, u might wonder what the stand is for. It is to raise up the machine, so that the legs do not get wet and rusts, and also so that rats and cockroaches do not get into the machine, at least that was what i was told.
Contacted the shopkeeper, and also Hitachi to inquire whether a stand was included in the whole package.
What was most disappointing was the reply I got from Hitachi. Apparently, since I did not purchase the machine from one of their distribution partners such as Sen Heng , I could not deal directly with them but had to go through the shop where I bought it from. Emailed them through the address published on their website, but I did not even get a reply to my email. So what is the use of the email address on the website. The shop where I bought it from was also having problems supplying me the stand, and gave me different replies every time I called. On my 2nd call to Hitachi,( by the time my patience was running out), managed to contact a lady who was not much help either except to confirm that the machine did come with a stand, and suggested i go back to the shop again and ask them to contact their salesman who supplied the machine.
I just wonder what sort of system of customer service that Hitachi have. At the end of the day, the machine carries the Hitachi brand and customer support should be provided irregardless of where the machine was purchased from.
As i am a regular to the shop, the owner decided to keep his good name and ordered another machine, and give the stand to me first.
Well, would i ever purchase any Hitachi equipment again. In fact, before this I was thinking of getting a Hitachi fridge, but now it is a case of once bitten, twice shy and I will be looking at other brands instead. Maybe Hitachi should learn a tip or two from the Customer Service Manager from Kenwood Kitchen Appliances who went out of his way after work to deliver a K-beater with no extra delivery charges when my k-beater broke and I could not go to Subang to get 1.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tale of the water heater (now they call it a shower system)

My 18 yr old National instant water heater (before they change their brand name to Panasonic) was not heating as well as it should be.
So time to head to the shops again. There were many models available and equally as many opinions. Intended to purchase a Panasonic, as it looks rather modern and was quite slim looking compared to the other models. But found out that the lever switch was rather fragile, and unlike other models did not have any tanks inside, but only copper tubes, so might not be so efficient and water may not be that warm.
Other choices were from Joven, Cornell, EuroUno and Singer. The Singer heater costs (RM50/-)more compared to Joven and Cornell. The shopkeeper wanted Rm250/- for both the Joven 520 and the Cornell. Didn't quite like the EuroUno, so that was out.
By then was down to 2 choices - Joven and Cornell. The Joven was slimmer and smaller (less than A4 size paper) but the Cornell looks more like a shower heater (or rather what I have been used to). Much deliberations later, bought the Cornell.
The heater is up and running, quite warm even when switched to low. This is the first time I ever bought a Cornell product, and hope that it will lasts as long as my old National water heater

Monday, July 14, 2008

food saves the day

FM had to have a medical checkup for her visa application so we went to this clinic at City Sq. An x-ray was part of the procedure, we were told to proceed across the road to an x-ray clinic.
Went in and handed in our letter to the reception. Without even looking up or informing us on what we should do, the guy took our letter. Bewildered and not knowing what to do, we sat down and wait. About 5 mins. later, a man called FM's name and she went into the radiology room. After the x-ray, on inquiry, we were directed to a lady in a small room at the back, to ask on when the x-ray film would be available. Procedure done, we said our thanks and left. Disappointedly, we never receive any response such as a 'you are welcome' or a 'bye' from them. The whole experience was like visiting a govt. dept in the old days where the counter staff looks at you woodenly. As to it, we got a much friendly experience from our visit to the immigration department for our passport application.
From one square to another... We proceeded to Times Square for lunch. I rarely take KL taxis (scared, especially if I am alone), but that morning decided to take 1 as it was the simplest way to go from City Sq to Times Sq. Approached a taxi driver or rather he approached us, and he wanted RM20/- for the short ride to Times Square. Must be thinking we were not locals as we came out of the Crown Pricess. Told him to forget it, and walked further up the road to stop a taxi. The ride costs me RM 4/80, a quarter of what the first taxi driver wanted. No wonder, Malaysian taxi drivers have such a bad reputation.
Well, 2 rude experiences in just one morning.
Lunch was at Sek Hou, Times Sq. First time there, and decided to play it safe. FM had prawns with deep fried noodles in special sauce (looks and tasted like sang har sang meen), and I had la mian with chicken and mushroom in soup. Both was alright, though they could do with fresher prawns. Outlet looks like the typical outlet serving a combination of hongkie and local foods.
At least better than Food N Tea at the same place. Used to eat at Food N Tea, but did not enjoy our last two trips there, so decided to try another place. In fact was at Food N Tea last month, and the service was rather slow, and the red bean tongsui was not that fresh (a sour taste). Our food also took ages before arriving at our table.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Paddington House of Pancakes

Had lunch at POHP, Midvalley yesterday. Decided to try out the place because of the name, Paddington sort of reminded me of Paddington Bear, and i am quite fond of pancakes.
As did not know what to order, decided to try their lite menu. Had the great American breakfast.
Well, if you are wondering what it is, haha..scrambled eggs with mozzarella cheese, some mushrooms, baked beans and a slice of ham on a piece of pancake. Paid an extra RM2/-, and it came with a mesclun salad and a lemon lime soda. The pancake was unlike any that i had ever tried (it looked like a piece of roti jala) and was quite bland and dry. Scrambled eggs was alrite, i guess, quite moist. I prefer my salad with at least a light vinaigrette dressing, but this salad came without any dressing! The lemon lime soda was just about the most sour lemon lime i ever tasted and I had to request them to dilute it before i could drink it.
Service : Quite slow, took more than 20 mins before we got our order despite there being less than 10 customers in the restaurant at that time
Staff : Not very helpful, as could not help with the menu, and we had to order blindly
Total bill for the three of us : Rm39.40, and i was also charged govt. tax, despite my queries that since July 08, outlets with less than RM1 mil. turnover was exempted from govt. tax.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

pandan layer cake

ah...finally got the image of my pandan layer cake uploaded.
Am quite new at blogging, and at uploading pictures but i believe if i prevail, i shall succeed!!

pandan layer cake.

Baked a pandam layer cake and it looks like this. Its one of my favourite recipes, and it rather easy to make. This time I used prepacked coconut extract for the pandan topping as they said it would make a better looking topping, but after tasting it I think i prefer the topping made from fresh santan brought from the market.
I used sponge mix as the cake is not so crumby and is easier to cut into layers. However, for sponge mix I think you would need a kitchen machine to beat it (i uses a Kenwood Chef) at a high speed for the mixture to be thick and creamy. I was never able to get the mixture to rise properly when I used a hand mixer, or maybe it's only just my hand mixer.
The recipe goes like this :
For the sponge cake : 250 g sponge mix
5 eggs (I used grade AA)
60 g melted butter and cooled(i prefer butter
to corn oil as it tastes better
Method :
1) Beat the sponge mix and eggs at high speed (approx 10 mins using the kitchen machine)until thick and fluffy.
2) Add in the melted butter
3) Pour into a 9" dia. lined (base only) cake tin
4) Bake at 180 deg. C for about 30 mins until a cake skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool.
5) Cut into 4 layers when cooled.

Ingredients for the pandan layer topping :
Santan (1 coconut ) mixed with water to make 1080 g
270 g sugar (reduce the sugar if you dont want such a sweet topping)
2 tbsp instant jelly
95 g hoenkwe flour (use white color)
1 tsp pandan paste
Method :
1) Mix hoenkwe flour with 200 g of above santan mixture
2) Mix sugar and instant jelly. Add the santan mixture.
3) Bring to the boil, and add the hoenkwe flour mixture while stirring all the time. When mixture starts to thicken remove from stove.
4) Keep mixture in a pot of hot water to avoid it setting too fast.

Assembling the cake :
1) Put 1 layer of cake into a loose-based cake tin. (It helps to wrap the cake tin in a piece of aluminium foil so that the mixture does not leaks out.
2) Pour in a portion of the above topping.
3) Repeat the above, finishing with the santan topping.( You have got to work fast as the topping sets quite fast)
4) Cool and set in the fridge.

Oops, could not upload the pix due to internal error. Will attempt to upload the image later. Still a newbie at this uploading stuff...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

looking for a knitting pattern

Got 600 g of yarn, 3 in black and 3 in grey, and 8 balls of 'Panda' brand 'angel' yarn which i think is a mohair mix, that i am trying to combine into a sweater for my daughter. Since I am not a every experience knitter and have not knitted for many years, difficult patterns are out. Well, looks like i will be knitting a ordinary pullover with different bands of yarn(will make her look like a jailbird) Or else maybe I will use the dk yarn for the band, and the mohair yarn for the main piece.
At first, I thought I could just use the plain coloured yarn, but i don't think i will have enough yarn for a pullover. Or maybe, i will just knit a vest for her.