Monday, October 24, 2011

Marshmallow Jelly Cake

I've not baked a layered birthday cake for a long time.  The last I made was back in April, for my birthday (oops, not posted yet :P).  2 months ago, we celebrated DS2's 6th birthday.  Feeling lazy, I decided to just make him a jelly cake.  When it comes to jelly, my children will never say no.

This recipe was shared by Baking Mum back in 2006.  With no baking experience then, this recipe caught my attention immediately and I've made it on several occassions.  I've not made this in recent years but with a pack of marshmallow (intended for fondant making) that was sitting on the shelf for the longest time, a wise decision was made to clear it off.

If I were to make this for DD3, her choice of fruit will be strawberry.  For DS2, he loves pineapples so the answer is obvious.  With only raspberry and strawberry jello at home, I was praying really hard that my trip to the local supermarket wouldn't be a wasted trip.  Thankfully not many people appreciate pineapple flavour jello hahaha...

With my previous attempt on jelly cake, I didn't wait long enough for the filling to set and ended up with a messy looking cake.  So with this cake, I told myself to be patient and waited for 3 hours before pouring in the jello.  I've not been lucky with jelly cakes but I did better this time round.  Not too messy and only 1 pineapple floated up.  There's still room for improvement ;-)

Got the girls to help prepare the cake for their dearest brother.  They were busy rolling away the biscuits with my rolling pins.  DD3 tried all methods and finally decided that hitting the biscuit is the easiest.

Looking at the recipe, preparation of this cake is relatively easy.  Aunty A taught me to arrange the fruits on the fillings before chilling to prevent the fruits from floating into the jello layer.

Although I've made this a few times, I made a big blunder.  I didn't melt the marshmallow completely as it seem to take forever to melt!  I cooked it over the stove, stood there for almost 30 mins, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  But time is running out as I need to prepare dinner.  Seeing that 70% has melted, I turned off the fire and went on to prepare the cake.  Now that explains why the filling looks lumpy.  Maybe I'll cut the marshmallow smaller before I melt it?  Or melt it over double-boiler?

Since my kids love jelly, I doubled the recipe for the jelly layer and used up a pack of jello instead of 1/2.

Not the best looking cake but my kids are happy.  Definitely going to make this again.

200g digestive biscuits
80g melted butter

Marshmallow filling
150g marshmallow
280ml  UHT/full cream milk
200ml dairy whipping cream
2 tsp gelatin + 20ml milk

Jello topping
1 packet of pineapple Jello
400 ml of water
4 tsp of gelatin

  • Crushed digestive biscuits and mix well with melted butter. Press into a 8” tin. Arrange some cut pineapples on the biscuit base.  Refrigerate for later use.
  • Bloom gelatin with 20ml milk, let it stand for 5 -  10 mins.
  • Put ingredients for marshmallow fillings (including gelatin/milk mixture) into a pot. Boil over small fire until marshmallow are melted.
  • Cool marshmallow filling slightly and pour into the prepared baking tin with biscuit base.
  • Arrange cut pineapples on top and chill in fridge for 3 hours until slightly harden.
  • In the mean time, boil jello ingredients until dissolved.  Leave to cool slightly.
  • Remove cake from fridge and pour the slightly cool or cool Jello on it. Return to fridge to chill.
  • Cut into small pieces to serve.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tampines Eco Green - Part I

Some months ago, we read about this new park, Tampines Eco Green, on our daily newspaper and I decided that we should bring our kids there one day.

View from across the road.

Address: Junction of Tampines Avenue 9 and Tampines Avenue 12

An introduction to Tampines Eco Green.

Entrance to the park

The DOs and DON'Ts but not many abide to it as we saw a few visitors walking their dogs in the park.

This park uses recycled materials in its benches, signboards and bird hides.

Within a few minutes walk from the entrance, we saw a group of photographers , waiting patiently to capture their best shot.  We were trying to peep but couldn't as we didn't want to obstruct the photographers.  Seeing I have 3 curious kids, a kind man passed me a branch with two little creatures on it.

The attraction?  Rhinoceros beetles!!  This is an eye-opener for me as I've never since one like this before.  According to the man, male rhino beetles have horns, the females don't.

Here's the female rhino beetle.

Photographers busy at work (the man on the right was the kind man I mentioned).

It is easy to spot butterflies and dragonflies in this park!

More signboards in the park

Lovely flowers in the park, don't ask me what they are, I don't know.

DD3 got tired after walking and requested to be carried.

DS2 and DD3 behind a Bird Hide, trying to spot some birds but none in sight.

Daddy spotted a butterfly and was explaining to DD3 how butterflies feed themselves.

I like how they make use of the recycled materials to make directional signboards in the park.

DD3's sandal was slightly big and it dropped off when she was trying to catch up with her siblings.

Then she decided she should just walk barefoot and leave her sandals behind :-|

I don't own a DSLR but I'm happy my Canon IXUS95 is able to capture some nice shots.  Not too bad for a dummy camera ;-)

PS: I just bought my DSLR at the beginning of this month!! Yippy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Castella Cake/Kasutera

I must thank all my readers for leaving a comment here.  And I'm glad some of you broke your silence just to share your personal experiences. 

I am doing fine, so please don't worry about me. The reason I published the SAHM post is simply because sahms are often misunderstood by many. With my personal experience sharing, I hope to give working people an insight of the life of a sahm.  We might seem like we have lots of time, with no reports to run, no meetings to attend, and no deadlines to meet.  But we have our own commitments too.  I'm not upset over my friend's remark, just irritated.  I just want to remind her that life as a sahm is not what she thinks.  She is fortunate to have her parents taking care of her kids, and at anytime she needs to go on a date with her hubby, her parents are always there for her.  To me, I don't care a damn about how she lives her life and how blessed she is.  I just live mine the way I choose it, with or without support from relatives.  I've come so far all by myself, and I don't get demoralise with her remarks.  So, yes, I'm feeling good and definitely not going to get miserable over this :-)

Back to some "serious" postings.  This Castella Cake was a hit  back in 2009.  I've always wanted to try baking it but I've read and understand that this is a very delicate cake.  Being a beginner in baking, I procrastinated and finally found my guts to make it last Dec.

The texture is soft and light, however I wasn't able to achieve the "poreless" effect despite using low power on the mixer.

Not too well done on the skin too, the "pores" were too obvious.

Feeling adventurous, I made another batch using brown sugar.  Nice!  But again, still couldn't achieve the nice appearance.  Nevertheless, they tasted great and my kids love it.

Castella Cake (Japanese Honey Spongecake)
Recipe adapted from Baking Mum
Method adapted from Just Hungry with slight modifications

5 large eggs
170g granulated sugar (I reduced to 140g)
200g plain flour, sifted twice
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I omit)
100ml milk, at room temperature
4 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons canola oil

  • Cut the parchment paper so that it's large enough to fit the bottom and sides of the cake pan with a little excess. Fold it in until it completely covers the bottom and sides, leaving a it hanging over. (To make it stick to the pan, smear a little butter or shortening on the pan first.) Sprinkle a little sugar over the bottom, on top of the paper.
  • Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  • Heat up milk, add honey and mix well.  Set aside for later use.
  • Break the eggs into a big mixing bowl and whisk on lowest setting on your mixer. Add the sugar gradually. Start whisking this while holding the bowl over the pan of hot water. As soon as the mixture feels lukewarm to the touch, take it off the water and continue whisking. If it cools down again, put it back on the hot water pan to warm it up.  Beat till ribbon stage (pale and extremely thick, you should be able to write your initials on the surface of the batter with your whisk, and they should stay there for a few seconds before it disappears)
  • Add the flour in 3 - 4 batches and mix till there are no pockets of flour. Next add the milk/honey mixture, beat it well. Last, add the oil and make sure it is incorporated into the batter thoroughly (I used Baking Mum's method in this step).
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven of 170C for 10 mins, reduce heat to 150C and bake for another 35 mins or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.
  • In the meantime, mix together the 1 tablespoon of honey and a little hot water, to make a glaze.  As soon as the cake is out of the oven, brush the top with the honey-water mixture.
  • When the cake is cool enough to handle but still warm, lift it out of the pan, paper and all, and put into a plastic bag. Seal the bag and put into the refrigerator, for at least several hours. This step is critical to ensure the kasutera has a moist texture. If you let it cool to room temperature before putting it in the plastic bag, it will end up a bit dry.
  • To serve, use a very sharp knife to make clean cuts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Simple Milo Cake

I saw this really simple recipe and with a tin of Milo left untouched, baking this is a must.  Some forumers tried and said the taste was mild and made suggestions to add cocoa powder in addition to Milo.  I added cocoa powder and used chocolate milk.

Topped with some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, hoping to make the cake more flavourful.

Soft and moist but slightly chewy texture.  My kids love it and I hope you will too :-)

Simple Milo Cake
Recipe seen here, adapted from here


1 Cup Self raising flour
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup instead)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I omit)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp milo powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate milk
2 eggs

  • Beat all ingredients together till well mixed.
  • Pour batter into  7" x 7" pan (lined with parchment paper) and bake at pre-heated oven of 180 degrees Celsius for 30mins or till skewer comes out clean.

Friday, October 7, 2011

SAHMs = Tai Tai (太太)?

This was first drafted back in February 2010.  Yes, that is 1 year 10 months ago.  Being lengthy, it took me a  long time to organise my thoughts and when things got busier, I totally forgotten about this until I saw HHB's posting here.  What's past is past so I was hesitant if I should post this.  I mean, I tend to take things easier now, not as easily agitated as before.

With my recent encounter with a working mom who is also a weekend mom, I've decided to go ahead with my posting. I hope that through my sharing, working class people will know the life of a SAHM (stay-at-home-moms), typically those with no extra pair of hands.

We do not wish to be taken for granted, neither do we like to hear sarcastic criticism, especially from people who know us.  Being a homemaker is no easy feat, so please give us your support and encouragement.  Although we are not directly contributing to the society, we are contributing at home so that our offsprings will be able to contribute to the society when they grow up.

So please bear with me as this is definitely a lengthy post.

And I just updated this in my FB
"You need to BEEN THERE DONE THAT to understand the predicaments that SAHMs are going through, else shut your trap as no comments are appreciated."

Thoughts dated: Feb 2010 - Feb 2011
Put yourself in these situations:

  • Your two year old toddler is awake and she asks to be nursed.  You have another school going child to attend to.

  • You are almost late for school but the kids are playing and took forever to finish their breakfast.  After shower and all dressed up ready for school, while waiting for the lift at the lift lobby, one child needs to poo.

  • The dog is paper-trained but it is advisable to walk the dog at least twice daily as the nature of your dog is hyperactive.  Again, when you're all ready, your two year old toddler poops or refuses to walk the dog simply because she is very sleepy/cranky and wanted to take her nap.

  • A visit to the local supermarket for grocery shopping with a two year old in tow.  The cleaner with the cleaning machine approaches, creating a noise louder than a vacuum cleaner.  She freezes and refuses to walk until the machine is out of her sight and hearing.  Else she wants to be carried as she's afraid, and when she's in your arms, she clings on like a koala, without any moment of relaxation.  You have a full load of items in your shopping basket.

  • At the supermarket: your two year old is happily walking around helping you pick up fruits and vegetables.  A good educational trip but you have to ensure she doesn't drop the perishables, nor poke her fingers into cling-wrapped food, and be certain there are no extra food in your shopping cart.

  • You are at the supermarket and just when you finish making a payment, you child tells you she needs to go to the loo.  You have a trolley full of paid merchandise.

  • It is time to prepare lunch but your toddler needs a nap .  After putting her to bed, you are on 5th gear mode and work doubly fast to be on time to pick your son from school.  When it's time to fetch your son, your toddler is still napping.  You had to either carry the toddler up, praying that she continues to sleep or wake her up.  A cranky child awakes.

  • When your son returns from school, you are in the kitchen serving their lunch.  The 2 kids are left to play by themselves.  Peace.  Suddenly a child wails.  With your hands full of lather (or perhaps cleaning up the fish that you are planning to steam), she clings onto your thigh and wants to be carried.  Your dishes are half-done, meals uncooked.

  • Food is served.  Kids enjoying their food while you wash up the dishes in the kitchen.  You heard giggles and laughters, next comes the squabbles follows by a dropping bowl/spoon.  You walk towards the children to receive your welcome gifts.

  • Your eldest child is back from school. On most days, she stays back for lunch in school. She has 1 -  2 hours to complete her school work and learn her spelling (both English and Mother Tongue). Your toddler is asking for her nap again. When she naps, it's time to prepare dinner. When she wakes up, it's time for their 30 minutes (minimal) outdoor activities. Back from outdoor play, dinner after shower.

  • Your mobile phone rings.  You receive a call from your eldest child school.  Your child is either sick or there is no school bus for that day.  You have to lug 2 young children to your eldest child's school.  Worse if your toddler is taking her nap and you have to wake her up, cranky.  It is a mere 10 - 15 mins walk but with 2 shorter legs, it takes 20 - 25 mins.  Sometimes you tend to walk faster as you are hurrying, the poor kids have to run after you, panting.  Late dinner.

  • Fruits after dinner is a routine.  While kids are having their dinner, you wash up the dishes and the stove.  After brushing their teeth and sending them to bed, you take your 3rd shower of the day.  Then it's time to do the laundry.  By the time you are done with laundry, it is past midnight.

  • Sweeping and mopping the floor is a daily affair.  You allow the kids to mess up during play but when they are done, they need to pack up.  Reminders given but no action taken.  House is constantly is in mess.  Remedy, you help them to pack but the toys don't go back into the toy basket, they go into hibernation ie storeroom.

  • Your husband is on an overseas trip again but you have forgotten to think/miss him.  Totally completely exhausted by the end of the day.

  • You sleep 4 - 6 hours daily.

  • Your hair needs regular trimming (3 - 4 weeks) to maintain the style but to go to the hair salon, you need to lug either 1, 2 or 3 kids.  You end up visiting the hair salon every 4 -  5 months, and that is already a bonus.
Thoughts dated: Jun 2011

I'm not saying I'm a capable woman, neither am I a superwoman.  I am in this situation because I am a SAHM.  I'm left with no other options but since I'm one, I am trying my utmost best to be a good mother and a good wife.

As far as I'm concern, it is infuriating how people label SAHMs as 太太 (pronounced as tai tai) or "free" ie nothing better to do. I get loads of such comments from friends/acquittances/relatives.  Just a couple of months ago, I was sharing with a relative that DD1 had been eating gingerbread man, pancakes, mantou as meals in school.  She commented since I'm a SAHM, I should deliver homecooked lunch to school.  If she is a SAHM, she will definitely deliver meals to her children.  Blah blah blah....  Me being me, I rebuked and shut her off.

I'm sure every parent wants to provide the best for their children.  But if you are in a least favourable position, do you have the luxury to do that?  If you are not, you will have to seek the next best alternative.  For me, it will be educating DD1 that eating these on a daily basis may deprive her nutrient intake.  I cannot be sure if she listens but that is the best I can do, at least for now.

Although we have no nasty bosses, no reports submission, no lengthy meetings, no irritating colleagues, we still have our own deadlines.  SAHMs has no annual leaves, no off paid leaves, no medical leaves.  We do not have time to skive in our job, not to mention there is no proper lunch break.  I remember I used to go for coffee breaks with my fellow colleagues, including my boss.  Or gossiping about the latest artiste/celebrity at colleagues' workstation/cubicle, etc...

Of course, if you are talking about a SAHM who doesn't need to do marketing and cooking (these 2 are the main killer!), it is an entirely different story.  Even for a SAHM with a domestic helper/staying with parents/inlaws, I'm sure they are busy in other ways.  Some homemakers are busy chauffeuring their kids around, and this is definitely time-consuming.  And for some, they spend time on coaching and that is very draining too.

Finally, for those who know me in person, I know you are reading my blog.  I'm telling you this for the last time.  I'm offended, annoyed, irritated if you've labelled me as a 太太.  Don't start a conversation for the sake of having one.  Like what I've been telling my kids, if you have nothing nice to say, please keep your comments to yourself.  But of course, if you can do what I do and still have excess time for shopping or whatsoever gatherings, I'm giving you the entire right to label me as one.  Call me petty, I don't care.  Period.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kuih Kosui

Kuih Kosui or Kueh Kosui, how you spell it, they are the same.  Many left me comments in my earlier post, asking for the recipe but I was lazy to type out the recipe as it was scribbled onto a piece of A5 paper.

Thanks to Aspiring Bakers, I am finally able to post the recipe now.  Found my old photographs from the harddisk and went to dig out the recipe from a pile papers with handwritten recipes.

I love Kuih Kosui but there are some that leaves an aftertaste.  I attribute that to an overdosage of alkaline water (lye water).  Having tried out a few recipes, this is still the best as it can be eaten fresh from the fridge, no thawing needed.  What's more, no alkaline water used!

This is good, really good.  If you trust me, give it a try and let me know how this turns out for you. I gave some to SM and she texted me immediately when she popped one into her mouth, while driving!  Her mom loves it too :-)  She reminded me to pass her more if I were to make this again hahaha!

Kueh Kosui
Recipe: Courtesy of Aunty A

250g Gula Melaka
600g Water
some pandan leaves

300g water

250g Tapioca Flour

Grated coconut, steam with pinch of salt and let it cool before using

  • Put A into a pot and bring to boil.  Stir till sugar melts.  Leave to cool.
  • Put B into a separate pot to cook, bring to boil.  Leave to cool and blend to paste.
  • Mix tapioca flour with cold gula melaka mixture and stir well.
  • Add mee suah paste to gula melaka mixture, stir and mix well.
  • Steam empty pan for 5 mins.  Pour mixture into pan and steam for another 45 - 50 mins.
  • Set aside to cool to room temperature and cut into small pieces.
  • Coat with fresh grated coconut and serve (I prefer to chill mine and eat it cold)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nutella Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies

It is a chore talking to some people who do not know the predicaments you are in and yet act smart by giving all sorts of ideas/suggestions.  I thank you for your suggestions but I'll appreciate if you could just shut your trap.  Best appreciated if you could lend a listening ear, that's all I'm asking for.  I am a SAHM, you are not.  You have a helper, I don't.  So, we are in totally different situations.  Don't use your experience on mine, it doesn't work that way.

Alright, enough of my rantings.  2 more days to Children's Day and DD1 asked if I could bake some chocolate chips cookies for her to bring to school for their class party.  I wasn't sure as she has a few Muslim friends.  I explained to her, hoping that she can understand the difference between Halal and Non-Halal food.  Anyway, I promised her I'll do it for her, since she asked but just to warn her Muslim friends that these cookies are non-Halal.

With a big bottle of Nutella sitting in my fridge waiting to be expired, I googled for some cookie recipes and saw one by The Nesting Project.  Looks like a simple recipe so I went ahead with it but reduced sugar by a fraction.  While creaming the butter and sugars, I felt that the sugars seemed too much, what's more with the addition of Nutella.  So, with the mixed sugars, I removed 40g of it and they went into the bin.  I did a check on one of my oatmeal cookie and realised that the ingredients used are quite similar, but the sugar used were only 100g (I don't have sweet tooth).  Faint!  For this recipe I added 175g, removed 40g, total usage 135g.  Fingers crossed.

The final cookie tasted sweet, too sweet to my liking but my kids love it.  DD1 just couldn't stop eating!

I hope the children in school will enjoy them as much as DD1.

Recipe halved, makes 50 X 5cm cookies

110g unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar} mixed together and removed 40g from it
70g caster sugar          } next time can just omit caster sugar
35g nutella
1 large egg
110g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I omit)
130g rolled oats
100g chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth and creamy.
  • Add nutella, then the egg and beat well (if you are making full recipe, add egg one at a time).
  • Add in vanilla and mix well.
  • Add flour in 3 - 4 addition and beat until incorporated.
  • Stir in the rolled oats and chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
  • Using a cookie scoop, drop cookie dough onto the prepared baking tray.
  • Flatten the cookies slightly and bake the cookies for about 15 - 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.