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.