January 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
Hello, sorry I haven’t been around much, intended to blog several times over the past 2 weeks but turns out I couldn’t get around to doing it.
So it’s about half an hour to the 3rd of January, I’m going to do my Christmas/Year-end/NEWYEAR! entry as one mega combo before old news becomes ancient news.
This Christmas I mean, last Christmas, with NTU giving me the best present in form of the latest-exams-I’ve-ever-had-in-my-life, I didn’t really have time to prepare anything for anyone as I do in normal years. So I’m SORRY.
Only a small handful got my shortbread cookies. SO YOU GUYS ARE THE BLESSED ONES.
I was very excited to use my new cookie cutters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to use a single new one and ended up recycling my old star cutter. The bunny, bear and kitty are new, with the kitty being excitedly purchased from a heavenly shop stocked floor to ceiling with cutters in Lucerne, Switzerland. The other two are from Daiso.
But anyway. Shortbread is a finicky sort of dough (Almost 2 full packs of butter go into that lump of dough you see up there. And very little flour.) that doesn’t hold well with moulds, that’s why they’re most often done as rectangles or squares (ie Walkers shortbread). Last year I used a particular recipe that was very crumbly. This year I tried a new one and it was so moist and sticky that it was difficult for the exact opposite reason. Hence the stars were about the only shape it could vaguely hold together long enough to be baked in.
As you can see I valiantly attempted to get them to be gingerbread shaped as well. The few I managed to peel off the table and pop into the oven mostly ended up with sad fates (amputated, decapitated, etc…) before they could even begin to cool. I think only one person even got a gingy-shortbread this year.
Okay, WordPress has actually amazed me by making everything I typed over the past half hour magically disappear. So I don’t really want to repeat it. But it was a summary of life in 2010.
I shall just move on and say that 2010 was an intense and amazing year of traveling, spending a lot of time talking to God alone in Europe, reflecting on life, what I want, where I want to go, what I want to be, and expanding my mind in many ways. I have met many wonderful people, worked with many lovely ones I never got to work with before, and have had so many milestones that it would be hard to think of the most significant moment I had in 2010.
Most people envy me for having traveled 7 months of my year away, but it has been a period of growth, and the return has been nothing short of challenging. Here as we enter 2011 I’m finally settling BACK to the Singapore life, but with bigger dreams and higher hopes.
It’s going to be my best year yet.
April 19, 2010 § 1 Comment
So we missed our flight to Madrid on Saturday because of the epic volcanic ash situation here in Europe.
It’s not as major news back home I know, save for the stranded passengers in Changi and fully booked hotels. But here in Europe virtually every airport is closed and seems set to stay that way till Monday morning at the very least. It’s not visibly crazy here in little Lugano or anything, but the news network coverage in this region definitely gives it more airtime than its probably receiving back in Singapore.
STILL. It meant we didn’t fly into Madrid, and therefore had to cancel all our connections and accommodations for Madrid and Barcelona. Hopefully all the money we already put down will be refunded.
We had actually been monitoring the situation on Friday when all the airports started closing down one by one. At that time Milan Malpensa (MXP) (where we were flying from) had indicated that the airport would be closed till 2pm on Saturday. Our flight was at 7ish, so we were still safe. Got to commend Malpensa and Easyjet for having very good, up-to-date tracking systems for checking flight statuses. (Crisis management!)
Woke up on Saturday and was about to leave for Milan some time past noon when MXP officially announced the continued closure of the airport and Easyjet promptly updated that our flight was most affirmatively cancelled.
SO. We had to find something else to do for the weekend. Fortunately for us we have a great floormate/neighbour who can acquire any movie you could possibly desire in less than a minute. (He has a premium megaupload account.)
We spent our Saturday watching Star Trek 8, and part of Star Trek 4. And the first episode of The Pacific which I FNALLY got to watch and zomg I hearts many. THIS is the kind of production I would absolutely adore having the opportunity to work on.
Vita Humpa from Czech Republic. Don’t be fooled by the harmless nerdy image portrayed here. He’s only wearing specs to watch the movie. The rest of the time he’s a walking, beer guzzling ball of wit and dry humour who is great fun to have around. Hehe.
So that was our Saturday. Grabbed some extra ingredients for a second round of devilishly awesome oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies to make myself feel better and baked them after church today while we watched Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel.
My gosh, it’s one of those films that probably deserves a cult following at some point in time. It’s British humour and really one of those daft, irreverent things sort of like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that you’ll either love or hate.
But this entry isn’t about the film but the amazing cookies, so I decided to shoot the baking process more thoroughly today since I had the luxury of time. Measurements here are done by guessing mostly because of the lack of proper baking equipment. And yes I had to cream the wet ingredients with a fork by HAND because we obviously don’t have a stand/handheld mixer here.
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
From Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (optional, didn’t use it as I didn’t have it)
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (‘defrosted’ it in the microwave for a bit)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks (chopped up 2 100g bars of milk chocolate and 1 bar of dark chocolate)
Getting Ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Ingredients! Salt, white sugar, brown sugar, expensive peanut butter that doesn’t seem too big here in Switzerland, three bars of Migros chocolate (2 milk, 1 dark), eggs, muesli (the recipe calls for rolled oats, but I just sifted out the raisin and fruit bits so they wouldn’t interfere with the taste), weird little packets of baking soda and vanilla essence. Vanilla essence is disgustingly expensive here. That one little sachet cost me 90 rappen (90 swiss cents). AND obviously it’s only 1 teaspoon’s worth.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. (Did this completely with a very tired hand holding a fork, sista!)
If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day. (Chilling the dough will give you more evenly shaped cookies.) If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.
So yes that was my Sunday. And here’s an extra picture of Vita and Marco having lunch.
(As you can tell for all of us, every day’s a pasta day. One day I’ll dedicate an entire entry to pasta. One day.)
So well. No Spain, but still a pretty interesting weekend here in USIHome.. No school this week so I’m going to go find stuff to do like draw or design and keep looking out for internships or something.
April 1, 2010 § 3 Comments
So generally we don’t do very much in Lugano. But the internet in our hostel died over the weekend so some of us actually ended up going out (WOW!).
Visited the quiet town of Mendriso and didn’t do much, then took the Funicular (the little tram services that take go up the hills/mountains here) up San Salvatore (one of the little mountains in Lugano, only over 1000m above sea level).
Then sometime a couple of days ago I baked my favourite Dorie Greenspan Oatmeal Chocolate Peanut Butter Chipsters, yes the one I always bake in Singapore.
And even had time to design a little and play with vectors.
So overall it’s been a fruitful few days.
They ended up spreading out a lot more than usual. Might be because of the baking soda. They sell them in strange little packets here and I didn’t have proper measuring equipment so a lot of it was guesstimation. BUT they still tasted AS awesome even with the cheapest possible Swiss chocolate.
Funicular queue for San Salvatore. It was this long because it was the 120th anniversary of the Funicular I think, so it only cost 4CHF to go up (I think it’s normally about 20CHF)! Long queue and the funicular comes every 30 minutes but it was worth every bit of the 4CHF.
View of the surrounding landscape and Lake Lugano from the top of San Salvatore. These are some of the smallest heights in Switzerland, mostly around 1000m. Mount Pilatus that we went up in Luzern is more than 2000m above sea level. And Jungfrau, the highest point in Europe is about 3000m. Will be heading there with Sis when she comes up!
Yep, so that’s my fruitful, internet-less weekend for you. Working on designing though as usual many doubts plague my mind. Generally know where I want to go but am not sure how to go about getting there except just practicing now. But it’s not easy without a mentor and having to feel my way about on my own.
Will be going for the European Design Conference in May though! The 3 day conference tickets cost 168 euros (and this is AFTER student price + early bird discount mind you!), which Paypal kindly informed me was SGD$324 (faints). Things look so much cheaper in euros. But I’m writing this off as an investment and a good chance to go to Amsterdam (the conference is in nearby Rotterdam), one of the stronger places in Europe for design.
The designer dream feels so far away right now, but I’ll get there some day…
P.S. For those who have noticed (probably no one), my portfolio is up and clickable on the sidebar… (Yes I finally went and bought lizzaeh.com) My goal? To improve so much till I can replace as many of the existing pieces there by the end of the year.
January 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Say hello to bread & butter pudding!
We went to visit our grandma and my aunt gave us 2 huuuuuuuge loaves of bread that we didn’t know what to do with, so I attempted to alleviate the bread surplus by trying out a bread pudding recipe.
It was a surprisingly easy recipe. Some spices, sugar, milk and egg in a mixture poured over butter dipped pieces of bread and sprinkled with raisins.
The variations in the recipes available online are quite extreme, so I modified and moderated everything a little and came up with something not too sweet but still tasty – the only thing missing was the vanilla custard to serve it with.
I mostly used these two recipes as reference. Jamie Oliver’s and this other one from Nibbledish. As you can see, Jamie’s recipe calls for 9 eggs compared to 3 in the other recipe. (Is that how he put on so much weight?) I went with about 4 or 5 eggs and left out the double cream (dyk double cream has a fat content of 48%?!!!! I try to substitute it as much as possible). I used off-the-shelf low fat milk that we’re used to drinking in Singapore (those watered down versions of HL and Marigold, yes) instead of the full-cream that the recipe asks for.
I guess that’s why mine turned out tasting less full and less rich than bread pudding should be. But as it is loads of butter and eggs are involved and the calorie count is an unimaginable number I’ll rather not think about. Don’t be fooled by the fact that its ‘just bread and some cream’. You have no idea what makes that cream taste oh so gooooooood….
Good way to deal with expiring bread or the sudden influx of bread into one’s household.