Dec 24, 2007

First of first

Like they say, "there is always the first time in everything". This Christmas was the first time for me not to do any roasts for the family party. Actually, we didn't do any last year too. Because my mom was recuperating at home after her surgery. This year, the tables were turned..I was recuperating from surgery. And my uncle Andrew didn't host it at his place this year. Uncle Daniel is hosting it at his place.

So I ended up doing what my relatives loved..CAKES. This year I decided to decorate it with the Christmassy theme. This is what I made yesterday. The cake was baked earlier in the morning and decorations done much later when the cake has cooled.

Although I know that my mom would rather be expecting a Roast Honey Plum Pork Loin or a Roast Beef or a Roast Leg of Lamb..

Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Jolly, Healthy New Year!

Dec 23, 2007

Dashing thru the snow...

There is no SNOW in Singapore. We are in the tropics. But I thought this title sounds kind of nice for my post today. As I closed this year in a dash. Literally! I have been extremely busy, clearing a back log of baking classes I had promised to do for my students. If not of my mountain climbing last month, I would have time to bake for charity which was on my top list of things to do this Christmas. Looks like I have to do that next year with Chinese New Year instead.

Its been an eventful year for me, 2007. Seeing myself in a company with friends and leaving it in 6 months later. And back to square 1 where I started off with my home grown website and forum, Kitchen Capers. In these 6 months, I learnt much about working with others, with friends and with myself. How much to expect or not expect, the boundaries one need to know one can do and cannot do.

But at the end of this journey, I am thankful that God gave me new strength and courage to move on. And I have decided to revamp Kitchen Capers and to make it a company instead of just a hobby and past time forum. Benny has given me his support. Each day he gives me assurance and encourages me to carry on my dream.

I like this quote from John Scully, the ex CEO of Apple Computers, Inc. He said :


Yes, this year..the journey I have made is my REWARD. Skills I learn that are invaluable and that no money can buy and no one will show you or teach you how. A journey I have to take on my own and the courage of reaching there.

Above all, I am truly thankful of friends who stood by me in my time of need, my loving hubby, Benny who saw me going thru the ups and downs this year and ever so supporting. And my family who supported me in spirit and in kind.

Its been a Dashing year for me..literally dashing through the snow!!

Nov 19, 2007

Climb every mountain

I thought I have done with mountain climbing. To me, mountain climbing is not only a sport but something very difficult. No, no, I am not into mountain climbing. Never climb one in my life. Maybe one day I will. The so-called mountain climbing I am talking about is surviving a medical illness or surgery.

Early this month, on the 1st November 2007, I was admitted to Changi Hospital at 2am on 1st November due to severe stomach pains. I had a very high fever the night before. There were no symptoms of any ill-health. So I thought it was just fever for a cold. The next thing, I am in the hospital. The doctors had to run several tests on me to find out the cause of the pain. It was so painful that I was perspiring in cold sweat. Leaving me so weak that I couldn't even stand up properly. I felt like fainting.

After a series of blood tests, urine tests and a final CT Scan, they say "Oh Mdm Choong, I think you got acute appendicities". It was only until 8pm on 1st Nov that I was wheeled in for the surgery. Imagine going on without any painkillers from 2am, 1 November till 8pm same day!

by then, this was how I felt like...

I quickly sent a sms to my friend, Sheryl and ask her to inform the folks at my forum. Soon, I started to get more sms from well meaning friends, biz associates who wrote to say " Gina, don't worry, we will pray for you. "

It was during the surgery, the doctors found that my appendix has ALREADY RUPTURED! And pus flows out and started to infect the surrounding area.

After the surgery, I was still experiencing the pains. And the pain wasn't on the appendix but the packets upon packets of drips I had. Then the food I have taken before going to the hospital was stuck in the intestines and unable to pass out. So they inserted a long tube thru my nose, pass my throat and straight into my gut and stomach to extract some 2 litres of smelly poo, secretions.

The pain was unbearable, there were moments I felt like dying..
But when I thought about how my mom at her ripe old age of 70 plus could survive hers, I think I can do better.

So I pushed on..the nurses could not give me anything orally or I will throw up. The only way in, was through the drip and both hands are 3 drips on each side. I look like a Frankenstein's monster strapped to the table for experiments!

My sms were sharp, short..half the time I had to type using one finger..the rest will be swollen.

I come home, now, safe and sound. Showing evidence of the pain I have been thru, the amount of tiny holes on both my hands, arms, blue-black marks from blood tests etc.

Well, another mountain climbed. Another great testimony for God's glory of how He has watched over me in my time of pain and need.

Oct 20, 2007

Flowers for my mom

My mom's birthday is on the 5th December. But we decided to bring forward the celebration today as she is going for surgery next weekend(27 October). She wanted to enjoy good food now or she will not be able to eat many things after the surgery.

We took her out for a chinese restaurant for dinner. My sis ordered a 3D fancy cake for her. Its shaped as a Hamburger. Its very cute.

I baked a Dried Cherries Yogurt Sponge cake today. And covered it with fondant. I hand crafted each flower and leaves in sugar paste and decorated the cake like a gift box that was covered with flowers, vines and leaves. And had it bow-tied with a pretty purple ribbon.

my mom was surprised with the special cake. She said it was very pretty and could not bear to slice it up. So we ate the hamburger cake instead.

She will save it for tomorrow..hopefully to have it with her younger sister,(my aunt Aileen).

here's the flower cake I made. My mom will be 73 years old this Dec 2007. Here's to many more years to!

Here's the 3D Hamburger cake my sister ordered for her

Mom blowing out the candles

My dad and my mom..

back to School!

I've been extremely busy lately. I was commissioned to teach Baking in a secondary school for 4 days. I had to wake up at 6am, prepared and leave the house by 6:30am. And to reach the school by 7:15am each day. My class starts at 7:45am and ends at 1:45pm.

It was tiring, but it was fun. Although there are planned topics that I need to cover in 4 days, I approach my class with a different style of teaching. I gave my students alot of freedom to try out recipes by giving them some ideas. And to make use of the limited baking tools they had in the school.

The classes are DIY or Do-It-Yourself. My students are between 15 to 16 years old. Some of them have never bake before. While a few had. I was told and pre-warned that I will have some naughty ones in my class. But in 4 days, they proved to me that people can change overnight!

This was what I taught for 4 days:
Day 1 : Cookies and Brownies
Day 2 : Fruit Tarts and Sausage Rolls, with a Field trip to Breadtalk to see how bakery works and to Phoon Huat which was a retail shop for baking equipment and ingredients.
Day 3 : Victoria Cream Cake, Peach Gateau cake, Swiss Roll, Vanilla sponge cake
Day 4 : American Apple Pie, Apple Crumble Pie and English Cherry Pie

here are some photos which my 'assistant' took for me on the first day.

dear me, I need to get rid of my extra pounds!

This is of my 'monkeys' in the class. He is hyperactive, noisy just like a monkey. But he became my best student.

Now you can see his face. Cheeky sometimes. But a sweet boy. He was so proud of himself when I told him that his Peach Cream Gateau cupcake is very pretty for someone who has never baked before. Then he got too cheeky and stuck a chocolate stick into the centre of the cupcake!

Here's another girl trying to pipe cookies. They are taught 3 types of cookies : piped cookies, cookie cut outs and hand-rolled cookies.

some of the cookies they baked.

Fruit tarts they baked.

This is Andrew. Sweet young man. Full of life, passion. He loves to bake, wants to know everything. And wants to learn the old fashioned way before machines and appliances became popular. He would whip up all the cream, eggs, etc, etc. He was always seen in his pose...

Peach Cream Gateau cupcakes my "monkeys" made.

My 'boys' ...

I will be doing another class at another school at the end of October.
Overall, it was an enjoyable for me too. I made many new friends in this class.

Sep 25, 2007

My brother, Woon Ping

I remembered vaguely one day while I was still in school. My neighbour came to school to get me. So that we could visit my mom who was hospitalised. I didn't remember the details. All I knew was my mom lost her baby thru a miscarriage. A baby boy. My only brother.

I remembered my mom crying and my dad consoling her. Then she got better, the doctor discharged from the hospital. My mom got on with life, and went about doing things she loved doing most. At that time, my 3rd auntie just had a baby. My uncle and aunt asked my dad for a good Chinese name for their son. My dad gave them the name which was intended for my brother.

My cousin was named Wong Woon Ping. But because his dialect was Cantonese, the chinese words for Woon Ping became Mun Pun.

I grew up knowing this since young. For many years, I doted on my 'adopted' brother, Woon Ping. I would spend all my weekends with him. As we stayed in different homes. My dad would drive me to his place at Chuan Hoe Avenue. We became inseparable. Almost like blood siblings. I adored him alot. We would watch Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny together, eat our meals together. We played together and I would tell him stories all the time.

Woon Ping would tell me everything..more than what he would share with his mother. When he did well in school, I was the first to know. If he failed his mathematics paper, I would come and rescue him from my aunt, who would be waving a cane at him.

We were so close that we are often mistaken as siblings rather than cousins. He would address me as Second Sister. Because my elder sister was Big Sister.

I remembered when he first met his one true love, he would ring me and tell me about it. And he told his girl friend about me. I was worried that she would mistook our unusual relationship.

When my daughters were born, Woon Ping adored them the same way I did with him. He would spend time with my eldest daughter, Natasha. He would tell her stories and make her laugh.

Now Woon Ping is all grown up..and a father to 2 young boys. But when I looked at him, his boyish nature still shines thru. And I remembered him always as that little boy I carried on my back for many years. A game that only Woon Ping and I shared..I was to be his horse because he wanted to be a knight in shiny armour.

Thanks to Woon Ping or Mun Pun as he is called now..for those wonderful and most cherished memories of my childhood.

This picture shows my mom carrying Woon Ping..

Sep 16, 2007

little gifts from little hands

I started my 2 daughters young. To learn to make gifts for friends and familly. I remember when I was at their age, I did the same too. But it wasn't my mom who taught me to do them. The tradition starts from me. As years past, my younger cousins follow suit. Here are some of the things they have made.

Natasha made these for Teacher's day for Sunday school

Melody did this for Auntie Cindy from Sunday School

Melody made these herself when she was 5 years old. For her teachers in kindergarten

I will need to find all the others which my cousins made for me on my birthday and post them later

Sep 13, 2007

Young Bonnie and Clyde

I used to love to watch old movies with my dad. There was one movie I loved as a young child called "Bonnie and Clyde" played by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Bonnie and Clyde are real life people who turn out to be bank robbers. But Hollywood made it more of a sweet funny romance, drama movie than anything else.

Since my blog is about things of's my version of young Bonnie and Clyde.

young Bonnie was me, back in the late 1960s with my cousin, Hwee who was a year younger than me. We grew up together. Playing all kind of stuff. Hwee was much into swords and guns. So I grew up more tomboy-ish than anything else. I was never into Barbie dolls.

What a surprise!

Noelle was my cousin's little girl. When she turn 1 year old, her mother ordered a Hello Kitty birthday cake for her. I think this was some years back. Noelle is now in kindergarten. As usual, the parents took photos of their kids. But I like to take candid photos instead. Here's some I took and later compiled for the family. It was the little captions of text I wrote for each photo.

Sep 9, 2007

Nature at her very best

Last week, we went to Cameron Highlands. And visited the rose gardens, vegetable farms, bee farm and also ate fresh fruits, vegetables. Here are some of the breath-taking shots from outside our hotel room's window.

At 8am, morning mist is starting to clear up.

By mid day, mist is gone.

We visited a vegetable farm. Here's the patch for cabbage

And these are a row of cherry tomatoes

And passion fruits, still green.

**side note**
I have to put a watermark to all my photos now. As I start seeing my own photos in other's blog claiming it as theirs! I have also seen my photos being use in some cafe or eating places in Singapore. Without asking for permission to use them.

Sep 3, 2007

I love to HUG, anyone, anything?

Jing Jing, our sheltie puppy, is fond of hugging something to sleep. Last night, I managed to capture this on my digital camera.

seen here, she is hugging a chair and resting her head on the legs of the chair...

and this was taken a few months ago...she is hugging the computer table.

And this is her favourite toy : Franklin the tortoise

Gifts from little hearts

My 2 daughters, Natasha and Melody made chocolates filled with butterscotch. And had it wrapped in gold foil paper. I helped them to mould a chocolate wood log and assembled this for them to give to my sister.

and I re did the cake I made for my give it a more leather skin look-alike..