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This is Why I Don’t Bake

11 Feb

I have a Kenwood Rapid Bake machine sitting on my lower kitchen counter and all these years, it’s used more as an extension of the upper counter to put things than to bake. It was a house warming gift when we moved in ages ago rather than a purchase on my part. As I’m really hopeless when it comes to being adept in the kitchen, the appliance hardly saw any action all these years.

Somehow over the weekend–out of the blue–I decided to bake a cake! I don’t know why but there was an unexplainable urge. Not from scratch but to use the machine which I thought was a brilliant idea.

Apparently my bread maker can also bake a cake at setting number seven. So I did some homework to make sure this idea was feasible before I even began.

To make things easy, I bought the easiest box of cake mix that called for just eggs, milk and butter to add to the mix. I can do that, right? Yep.

So Sunday morning was the big bake day! Everything went into the bread maker’s pan and all I had to do was even out all the ingredients and let the machine mix ‘em up and bake. Easy…

But when I put the pan into the machine and switched on the main power before pressing the ON button, nothing happened! Oh no!!! Has the machine kaput? It’s been left unused for so long. Why didn’t I think of testing the machine first before embarking on this ambitious attempt?

As for the mixed ingredients, what a waste if I left it unbaked; so I transferred the mixture into another pan and baked the cake the conventional way. In the oven…

After 30 minutes, the cake was done and it actually turned out pretty good for my first attempt after so long. A little crusty on the edges but moist on the inside.

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The butter cake which turned out good!

Later as I was cleaning the counters, I was mulling over what I should do with my bread maker. Do I still leave it as an extension of the counter or get it fixed? Then when I was putting the cable away, I discovered another power button! Hey… I didn’t see that earlier!

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Somehow I missed this!

I plugged the machine in again, switched on the main power and flipped this newly discovered button and voila, my bread maker came alive! Hahahaha… what a major dork I was.

I simply did not realize there’s a power button hidden behind and thought the worst of my bread maker. Now you know why I don’t bake or fuss around in the kitchen that much. I hardly know my appliances!

But having said that, I think I’d want to bake another cake again just to try the Kenwood Rapid Bake in the cake mode setting number seven.

Where’s the Fish? Part 2

7 Feb

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So on Tuesday when we were out with our friends for dinner, there was the ‘Yee Sang’ dish to toss right before the rest of the other dishes were served. But no raw salmon topping on it! Again, where’s the fish? We had slices of abalone instead…

With the Lunar New Year celebration coming to an end soon, I guess we won’t be tossing anymore ‘Yee Sang’ because there’s no more dinners to attend except the final one – the family Chap Goh Meh dinner on Saturday night.

Chap Goh Meh literally means the 15th night of Chinese New Year and it’s the last day of the festive period and celebration. For some (like my side of the family), the dinner on this night is equally important as the Reunion Dinner. So we will, as always, have a final family dinner at home to mark the occasion.

And most likely no ‘Yee Sang’ although there will be a steamed fish on the menu. Looks like we will have to wait until next year for a ‘Yee Sang’ topped with raw salmon.

Where’s the Fish?

4 Feb

We are midway into the Lunar New Year celebration. During this time, eating sumptuous Chinese meals and tossing the ‘Yee Sang’- a must, with friends and family is nothing out of sorts. After all, it’s a good reason to catch up.

However I’ve noticed this time, the few ‘Yee Sang’ that we have had are presented very differently despite the description stating ‘Yee’ meaning fish.

Typically, there would be raw salmon or even just jellyfish as the main topping but so far, the four times we’ve had this festive dish, we had four very different versions!

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Top (left): with abalone; Top (right): with Iberico ham and bottom version was all fruits!

It’s very interesting though these new flavours I must say. In the past, regardless of how many times we’d do the dish during this festive time, it was always only the salmon or jellyfish choices. But how times have changed! Four occasions, four different versions.

Both of us have never tasted these new combinations especially the last three – an abalone version, a crispy fish skin version (unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this version on my phone), an all-fruit version and the most recent, an Iberico ham version!!! So where’s the fish?

Tonight as I will be attending a dinner with another group of friends at a Chinese restaurant, let’s hope there will be some good ol’ salmon ‘Yee’ in the ‘Yee Sang’ that we will have. Otherwise, another new combination to add to my list!

May Our Fortunes Rise and Expand

31 Jan

Yesterday our office reopened and we’re back to work. Year in, year out, we always reopen the office on the 6th day of Chinese New Year except there was one year, a friend told us the 5th day was even better to start work. That was the only time we did that.

Usually during the Lunar New Year period, work is very disrupted because the flow of things are not smooth. Our supporting vendors (for print jobs) would not be taking anymore orders when the date draws closer to the Reunion Dinner night. They would be clearing the existing ongoing projects before closing a day or two earlier for the all important dinner.

Sometimes we do this too, closing earlier, when we have to return to hubby’s hometown for the dinner with his family. An earlier departure would mean a shorter drive thus avoiding the exodus for the long drive ahead. Then during the 15 days of the celebration, we would close for the first five days while some vendors are taking longer breaks than most, things cannot progress further.

Thankfully, workload upon return is typically not too heavy because either everyone’s still on leave or clients who are back to work early do understand that during the Lunar New Year, not much can be done; so there’s no urgency to get things completed within a tight deadline.

Also during this time, there’s a lot more lunches and dinners to attend. So there goes the 16/8 diet. Typically these sumptuous meals will include the ‘Yee Sang’ dish to toss, a must have during the festivities for good luck and prosperity. Either with clients, friends or family, the ‘Yee Sang’ tossing ritual is a very noisy affair.

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Getting the chopsticks ready over the abalone Yee Sang before we tossed ’em high!

We had our first ‘Yee Sang’ during the Reunion Dinner with the family and today, with our design team later. So toss ‘em high we shall to symbolise our wishes for our fortunes to rise and expand for the Year of the Rat. Huat ah! Ong ah! Heng ah!

Smooth Sailing

28 Jan

The weekend passed by quickly and this morning we said our goodbyes to the parents and left at 8.45am. In anticipation of heavy traffic ahead, I packed lots of snacks and drinks to keep us fueled. But we were in for a surprise, it was smooth sailing!

It took us the normal two and a half hours to reach Ipoh, which was good. But we joined a long slow crawl after Ipoh. A quick check on Waze showed an accident further up. Oh dear.

Nonetheless it’s an okay pace because half the journey was completed already. Even if we arrived home by two, we’d still have done it in good time.

Reunion Dinner 2020

24 Jan

This is it! This evening the family sans our two girls will gather for the all-important Reunion Dinner. We chose to eat at a restaurant instead of dining at home, slaving over the stoves preparing the dishes.

A time for reflection: I would like to approach the year with more positivity, less pain and less judgemental so that life would be happier and more meaningful. Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous Year ahead, Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

Preparations for the Lunar New Year

17 Jan

The Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is one week away, omg! This time, I really take the cake leaving it until the very last minute to prepare to usher in the Year of the Rat. What a champion.

According to the Chinese zodiac, the Rat is the first animal in the 12-year cycle and 2020 is the year of the Male Metal Rat. Do find out what the Metal Rat Year means for you if you believe in Chinese horoscope as it differs for all Chinese zodiac signs. For me, well… good fortune will smile upon me if I put family and friends first!

On the homefront, the customary red cloth at the entrance of the house will be put up this weekend (told you it’s very last minute!) and the customary gifts finally prepared. This year the Reunion Dinner will be with my Mom and my sibling’s family before we head North the next day to hubby’s side of the family. And for the second year in the row, both our girls will not be present for the festive occasion.

Progress After the Food Trail

10 Jan

We have dived straight into our 16/8 diet this week and pleased to say we are holding up okay. There’s no withdrawal symptoms from the change in pattern nor from the diet that now consists of minimal meat/protein, some carbo and lots of fiber.

I have gone back to my usual tea only in the morning before the salad lunches and healthy home-cooked dinners at home, all within the eight hours window to eat and no further intake during the 16 hours except for one night where we had fruit cake and tea at a friend’s.

I am also mindful to move to burn some calories but exercising has been a challenge when every evening I’d sit at my little corner to work on my carvings. I’m not too worried though because this would be resolved once we go back to playing golf.

But of late, the endometriosis attacks have been rather frequent and the pain level ranges, it’s unbearable and hard to do much. The night when we were at the airport, I had to take my painkillers twice in a span of three hours apart because the pain was simply horrible. There’s no words to describe this. Sigh…

Other than this problem of mine, I’m glad to say the both of us have adjusted after the food trail, with our weight almost back to pre-M1’s arrival.

The End of the Food Trail

7 Jan

M1 has arrived safely this morning after a long but on time flight. So the adventures of her food trail officially ended on Sunday with an early dinner before leaving for the airport that night. With the end of the food trail, this means no more constant heavy meals for us except for several upcoming Chinese New Year-related dinners with friends that have been pre-arranged earlier. We have gone back to the 16/8 diet routine immediately, kicking it off with a salad lunch yesterday.

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Bak Kut Teh with two sides was a good farewell dinner choice

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Contrasting the meat-based dinner, lunch the next day was just fiber and more fiber

The big question I’m sure that must be on everyone’s mind, did I gain weight? Of course I did! How could I not when the eating window was switched to 16 hours and the non-eating window reduced to eight hours or less, three quarters of which was being asleep. So essentially there was very little time in between for a meal to be fully digested before the next meal.

There were nights when I fretted to step on the bathroom scale knowing the numbers I’d see would not be pleasant. But I took it in stride because I knew the situation was temporary and it won’t last long.

There were several times when the weight climbed steadily upwards, it was rather horrifying. However the numbers fluctuated when we ate less; I even managed to squeeze in a couple of salad lunches to lessen the guilt. Thankfully, yesterday morning when I stepped on the bathroom scale, the final result was somewhat comforting for I had expected it to be more. I gained only a kilo (2.2lbs) which wasn’t too bad considering it did spiked up more than that!

I’m sure within a week, this gain would be erased and the 16/8 continues until when Chinese New Year comes around, a new round of festive eating to indulge in!

Now We Wait

6 Jan
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We thought it was rather cute to stand in front of KFC’s Fun Land signage at KLIA.

Last night, we sent M1 off. The two and a half weeks of wonderful quality time together has come to an end, so has the gastronomic food trail too. She had a long ‘To Eat’ list and we got most on it covered. But towards the last few days, hubby and I surrendered and was glad her friends took her out for a couple of dinners giving us a breather.

Now we wait, having heard from her this morning when she arrived in Incheon Airport on time and departed for Narita two hours later. Soon we will hear from her when she arrives in Narita to complete her second leg. After that we will have to wait until the wee hours of Tuesday morning (or Monday past midnight) when she lands in Portland to hear from her again. Long wait. Long trip.

No tears this time and like I said, acceptance. And quietness all over again at home. Sigh… best if I channel my focus now towards preparing for Chinese New Year.