Monday, September 22, 2008

warm soup for cold nites

FM dear,
I think there is nothing like a big bowl of warm soup for cold wintry nites. A bowl of hot chicken soup really warms the body, but today i am suggesting a bowl of vegetable soup.
Take the easy way out by opening a can of tomato soup. I doubt you would have the time or energy to make a pot of soup stock from chicken or pork bones. I would not either, as i think for a student living away from home, time and costs saving is important, and who would want to waste time slaving away in the kitchen just to rustle up a meal for one.

Peel and cut into chunks 1 or 2 potatoes, 1 carrot, onion , tomato and some cabbage leaves. Fry some bacon strips and onions. Add in carrot, tomato and potatoes, and stir for about 3 mins. Bring the tomato soup to boil. Add in the vegetables. Boil over low heat for about 15 mins, then add in the cabbage. Continue boiling. Meanwhile, cook a handful of pasta in a pan of boiling water. Drain, and add to the tomato soup, and you have a tasty bowl of soup for 1.

Butter a couple of buns with garlic butter, and toast for some nice garlicky buns to accompany your soup.

Friday, September 12, 2008

my first oven

Baking has always been a passion of mine, and is something which I enjoy all the time. The first cake that i ever baked was queen cakes in home science class. Another cake that i learn to bake in home science class was a Victoria sponge cake, i.e a simple sponge cake using only eggs, sugar and flour, and sandwiched with jam.
My first oven was like a metal black box(butterfly brand) that you place over a charcoal or gas stove, but i never managed to bake any cakes as i did not know how to manage the oven temperature which is crucial for baking cakes. I only managed to bake simple cookies in that oven, and even that I was not very successful. So i used to envy my friend's mother who could bake lovely cookies and cakes using the simple black oven.
My next oven was a gas oven which my brother bought for me as a birthday present. In it I use to bake basic butter cakes or cookies. When niece Andrea was small, she enjoy blowing out birthday candles, so whenever I bake a cake I would have to place some candles on top of it for her to blow before I would be allowed to cut up the cake.
When i got married and moved into my own home, my first purchase was a Zanussi gas oven. It has since been replaced with a Europa gas oven. But I only use the gas oven for baking cakes and not roasting meats as I hate cleaning up the splatter after roasting. For roasting chicken or cha siew, I would rather use a turbo broiler, even though I may not get as nice roasts as in an oven. Or, I would use a small electric oven which i guess is easier to clean than the gas oven.

Monday, September 8, 2008

strawberry mousse cake

strawberry mousse cake for FJ's birthday n to celebrate cookie ii homecoming

I have not bought a birthday cake for quite a while, and every year for the children's birthday, i would bake a special cake for them. For FM, it will be a chocolate cake, CK likes an orange flavoured cake, while for FJ who loves strawberries, it has to be a cake with a strawberry flavour. After so many years, it has become a challenge to come up with new cakes, so before their birthdays come around, i will go through my recipe collection or go online to search for new types of cakes. Once i baked a cake and tried using sugar paste, but the children did not like the taste. So now it is mostly whipping cream, ganache or jelly. I would like to try marzipan, but it is so expensive!
We postponed celebrating FJ's birthday this year because of the missing bear, and she was in no mood to celebrate. After finding Cookie II last week, I baked this cake for FJ as a belated birthday cake.
The actual cake is a raspberry yoghurt cheese cake which I found online at , but I changed it to a strawberry mousse cake, and left out the cheese part.

Ingredients :
1 slice of 9" dia. chocolate sponge cake (as the base)

Strawberry mousse:
2 tbsp gelatin powder
110 ml water
150 g strawberry jam
1 tsp strawberry paste
150 g strawberry yoghurt
250 g non dairy whipping cream

Method :
1) Double boil the gelatin, water, and strawberry jam until dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
2) Whip whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add in yoghurt and gelatin mixture. Mix well.
3) Place sponge cake in 9" dia. spring form cake tin.
4) Pour mousse on top of spongecake, and chill.

Topping :
100 g strawberry jam
20 g sugar
200 g water
2 tbsp gelatin

Method :
Double boil all the ingredients till dissolved. Chill to room temp. and pour on top of mousse.
Chill for a few hours before serving.

I only had 1 tbsp of gelatin left, so I halved the ingredients. That is why I only had a thin layer of topping on top of the mousse.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

internet connection driving me bonkers

Have not been able to post anything the last few days as the Internet connection was not stable. Been like this for quite a while, but most of the time if i reset the router by switching off and on again the modem, it would stabilise and I cant recall the many times I have complained to tmnet. Every time I complained, the excuse was that my connection was the problem, in the sense that I was running the modem and telephone on parallel lines, and that I need to split from the incoming socket, whatever they meant, and refused to look into the matter further. Fed up of their excuses, hubby decided to rerun and change the telephone cabling. Well the problem persisted and this time i did not even had an Internet connection, so had to call telekom again, and insisted that they looked into the problem again. Stayed home to wait for them, but nobody turned up. While waiting, the connection came on again!
Well, got the connection up and running again, not that good either, but hopefully, i can stay connected!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

rice cooker

Dear FM
I heard from your dad that you have checked out the price of the rice cookers in Canada, and that they are rather expensive (about CAD40/-) as compared to here, where we can get a rice cooker for less than RM100/-.
So I suggest that you do not buy a rice cooker, but use a microwave oven instead since there is a microwave oven available. Just buy a heat roof casserole, which I think would be cheaper. Actually for one person, i think it would be much easier to cook rice in a microwave, since you can just cook a small amount, say about a cup of rice, unlike in the rice cooker, where you would need to cook more. Then you would end up eating overnight rice all the time, or maybe frying rice.
Cooking rice in the microwave is rather easy. Just wash a cup of rice, place in the casserole with adequate water to cover the rice. Soak for a while to let the rice soften, and then cook in the microwave on high for 10 mins. Of cos, this would depend on the microwave. Some would have a present program for cooking rice. Just extend the cooking time if rice is not done yet. Let it stand for a while, and then fluff up the rice with a pair of chopsticks. You can also steam the rice, like what your grandma did way before electric rice cookers became popular and affordable.
Your daddy says that you can also cook the rice over the stove, as that is what he did when he was studying abroad, but personally i think it is rather tedious, as you would need to watch over the rice. If you are not careful, you may end up with burnt rice, which means wastage!