Aug 31, 2008

Lil girls' night out

School holidays just started and Melody's already had it all planned. She will be going to one of her classmates' home for a slumber party and will be back on Tuesday morning next week. Together with two other classmates. The parent of the host will drop by to fetch her. Looks like she's all packed and ready to leave.

And I promised her some cupcakes for her friends and their family.

This is what I woke up early to bake this morning..Dessicated Coconut with Nutella Chocolate cupcakes..topped with fresh cream that is tinted pink and flavoured with cherry oil.

now I have some peace at home to start repacking my stuff. Carpenter Chan told me he will be coming on Wednesday to fix up the new cabinets in my master bedroom. And here I go again, packing stuff into boxes and moving it into another room.

And when he has done his job, its another day or 2 that I have to spend moving it back!

Thankfully, this will be the last till I saved up enough to re do the rest of the house!

Aug 26, 2008

A Child's Play

Melody ask me to help her to bake some cupcakes to bring to school. For Teacher's Day celebration today. So I baked 10 Nutella Cupcakes last night. Waited for her to come back from my mom's place and taught her to cut fondant and decorate each one for her teachers.

This is what she did:

I hope the teachers enjoy the cakes. She had reserved one for her Principal too! Good Girl!

Aug 22, 2008

And the Truth shall set you Free

I know many of my friends never caned their children. Scolding them is all they ever do. Maybe a whack on their tiny backs and a slap on their palms. I grew up knowing how a cane feels and hurts. As a child, my mom would caned me if I don't keep my toys or if I fail a test. And then I behaved. And never to repeat the same mistake again. When I became a parent, I wondered if I should cane my kids if they are naughty.

Well, I did buy canes. And most of the times I just waved it at them to show my anger if they were naughty. I would use it on the floor..whacking it as hard as I can. The thundering sound it makes is enough to frighten them. They usually behaved.

However, there was one occasion..some years back. When Melody was only in Primary 1. Something happened and she came home with a big lie. I don't remember the details of this story. All I remember was what I did and what happen after that. She had lied about someone and told more lies to cover the first lie she told.

So here I was, asking her what happened. And she lied. So I ask her to stick out her hand, then I caned her palm of her hand with the cane. She cried. Because it was painful.

Then I repeat my question again. Hoping that she will tell me the truth. Again, she told another lie to cover the first one. And again, I caned her. This went on for at least 3 to 4 times, until I told her this

If you keep lying to me, I will keep caning you. Until you tell me the truth of what happened.

Then finally, she told me the truth. Then I stopped caning her. By then, her palm was red and swollen. My heart broke in several places that day. Seeing my girl in tears and in pain. It reminded me of the days I was caned as a child too. How painful it was.

But as the old saying goes.."Spare the rod or Spoil the child". I had to do this to make her understand.

And I reinforce the purpose of caning by telling her this:

When you tell the truth, the Truth will set you Free. Free from pain, from tears. All I want from you was the Truth. Even though you did something very wrong, I will always forgive you. But when you tell a lie, you must tell many more lies to hide it.

Then she wailed even louder by now. And in between her sobs and cries, she said : "Mummy, sorry..I won't do it again"

Then I took her in my arms, hugged her and wipe the tears from her eyes. Apply cold ice on her palm and slowly rub it. And I reassured her that I still loved her very much despite being naughty.

Some 4 years have past, to date, Melody never told a lie again. No matter how big or how small it was. If she is wrong, she would tell me "Mommy, sorry".

It was a painful experience for her. But she learnt it for life. She is a better child now. When my friends and students met her, all commented that she is so well behaved. What they don't know is

Kids are kids..lies and being naughty is by nature. Comes in a package. No way you can return to God and ask for a refund or a new kid. You have to nurture them, teach them the right way to go. No matter how painful it is.

Aug 15, 2008

As I lay me down to sleep

As I lay me down to sleep
I pray dear Lord, my soul to keep
If I should go before I wake
I pray dear Lord, my soul to take

A poem that was crafted on a wooden plaque, my late cousin Michael Lam gave it to me many Christmases ago. I kept that with me for many years until I got married and had a home of my own.

And I hung this wooden plague in one of the rooms. And when we moved house, it followed us to our new home too. And again, wiping away dirt with a damp cloth, I would again hung it up in the room.

And so often it reminded me to pray for my family, for their safety, whether its at home or when they are at work, at school or on the roads outside. That our dear Lord would keep them safe from harm. And should they leave me suddenly, God will bring them home with Him.

Then one day some 2 months ago, I had a terrible back ache and I went to the next room and ask my hubby to give me a neck massage. He left this room where the wooden plague was hung. It was the 2nd room in our house. Hubby slept in this room while I slept with Melody. After which I told him its very late (past midnight), he should be in bed. And he went back to the room, turn off the TV, and the lights. As he sat down on the bed, suddenly there was a loud thundering sound..BANNGGGGG!!

I run out of my room and into his..he turn on the lights..and guess what..the whole wall cabinet that was above the TV came crashing down. It hit the bed missing him only less than 1 inch. Almost in shock, he and I, it woke up the whole family.

See this photo..where I have marked out a red box with a X..that's where the cabinets used to be. In front of the TV, that's where he was sitting just 10 minutes before it crashed down.

At that moment, I could only think of one thing and that was to say to God : Thank you for keeping him safe again.

It left us still in shock and unable to sleep. But we are still ever so thankful that God answered our daily prayers to keep us safe from harm.

Have you prayed lately, my friends? Did you ask God for good weather so you can go to the beach? Or ask God to let you pass your exam paper with flying colours? Or ask God to 'speak' to your boss so you have a good raise this year?

I have. And I prayed everyday. And my prayer is always the same.

Health for everyone I know
Safety for my family because I cannot see the future. I prayed that God watches them for me and keep them safe from harm.
That I can help someone in a small way, whenever I can.

If you have not been praying..its about time now..

Let's pray...

Aug 12, 2008

Remembering uncle Daniel

Just out of the blue, I was thinking of dear uncle Daniel Chen. Who passed away in January 2006. After a long illness, he finally went back to God. I remembered he came back to Singapore with Auntie and visited us for a month. He shared many testimonies about life and about with God.

Before he left for home in USA, I wrote him a very long letter. About 6 pages. Though many parts of the letter are private to all, some are worth sharing with everyone.

Uncle served in the chinese church in USA for several years. He was an inspiration to many chinese immigrants who re settled in USA.

Uncle Daniel,

The Lord is my Shepherd. I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED.
So any more, He is blessing me with abundance.
And any less, He is teaching me to be contented with what I haave.

I wanted to tell you this:

1. That your life with Christ has impacted my life with Christ from a very young age.
2. That your love for me has taught me to love everyone without cause
3. That your many testimonies over the years has helped me to keep track of myself and my walk with God
4. and when I think that God is impossible to get along with, or my prayers seem to go unanswered, I see God making a miracle with your life.


This photo is taken by his daughter, Jenny. Seen here is Jenny's son, Nathan.

The spirit of Giving : Teaching a child to give

I used to serve in my church's Sunday School for some years. Until the birth of my children. I stopped. But I still shared my insights on how I teach my own kids about giving tithes and giving to the less fortunate.

This is an article I wrote several years ago at a Christian forum. Sharing it here with everyone:

We know all about giving tithes to God and giving to His ministry. It is easier to tell an adult why we need to give. And also easier to explain.

But to a child, explaining sometimes does not work. For a child does not see the world in our adult way. Until we learn to see it their way, it is difficult to teach a young child to walk in God's paths.

I shared this yesterday in Sunday School. And everyone knod their heads and agreed. So often, we give our kids money to give to often do we ask them to take from their piggy banks or pocket money to give to God?

When my daughter was 2 years old(now she's 3 years old), I would take a plastic bag and ask her to pick out her best and favourite toys to give to Sunday School. At first, she was reluctant as these were her favourites. I started this small, with 1 or 2 of her favourites. Yesterday, she took out a big Robinson's shopping bag and put all her favourite Winnie the Pooh toys into it. She said.."give to Jesus". When she sees that the other children in SS screamed with delight in her toys, she feels really good inside. I told her that Jesus loves a cheerful giver.

This is the way to start out when they are young. With my oldest daughter now 11 years old, I did the same with her too. Now she gives her time to church by ushering and also by giving her pocket money to overseas ministries.

Start them when they young..but it is not easy to preach the Gospel in adult forms to a child. That is why I find the Children's Ministry such a challenge in my walk with God.

God Bless all..

Aug 11, 2008

Most Blessed wishes to..

...Kitchen Capers! From a fellow KC member who was staying in USA. She wanted so much to visit me and meet me in person. She is here for a week to visit her families in Singapore. And bought me gifts from USA.

Actually from this stash, she also gave me a Cupcake cookbook..forgot to add to the lot for a good photo.

She said Thank you to me, for keeping KC alive, for preserving our Asian heritage thru cooking and baking. And my endless energy to encourage everyone to bond with family and friends.

This is what she got for me...

Thank you SN, for your encouragement too. Its everything I wanted and more. Thank you too, for letting me know I have done the right thing to carry on letting KC run for life. As there were moments I wondered if I should shut down KC as the costs of running it is high.

Aug 6, 2008

Melody's Rainbow Tang Yuan

Melody started going into the kitchen to want to learn to bake when she was barely 3 years old. That was when my mom was alot healthier, stronger and she was mixing the kueh bangkit dough(coconut cookies). My dad had that early moments video taped but I haven't figure out how to upload it online. Its so funny now to watch her hovering around the table and asking my mom this:

"po po, I want to make kueh bang tek" She couldn't pronounced very well back then.

Then at home, she wanted to make Tang Yuan with me. So I created this recipe just for her little hands and named the dish

Melody's Rainbow Tang Yuan

It is also a wonderful time to bond with your child. So I hope all you moms and dads out there do something with your little ones..before they grow up.

Aug 5, 2008

Eat my words...

Yes, I know I told everyone that when you bake a cake, try not to add less sugar. If you need to go on a diet, either don't eat any sweet pastries or eat less. And one should never reduce sugar in a cake recipe. Looks like I have to eat my own words now!

I tested another chiffon cake with goji berries. I soaked the dried fruit in a cup of warmed milk. Then had it briefly chopped in a food processor. And even added less sugar. The cake was still a tad too sweet.

Otherwise, flavour-wise, its delicious. It really smells very nice and after baking, the cake turn orangey brown. The texture was extremely soft and light. And I was just over eager with it and try to cut it before its completely cooled..leaving my cake to collapsed under the pressure of the bread knife.

Here's my tried and tested recipe and may I suggest that you add less sugar too. :)

Ingredients A
80g plain flour
100g goji berries
80ml low fat milk
4 egg yolks

Ingredients B
4 egg whites
80g fine sugar

1. Warm milk in a sauce pot till bubbles appear on the side of the pot.
2. Turn off the heat, add goji berries to soak in it for about 15 mins.
3. Briefly blend it in a food chopper.

4. beat egg yolks in a big bowl and add goji berries juice into it.
5. Stir to mix evenly..then add flour. Fold it till well combined.
6. Whip egg whites in a mixer till foamy..then add sugar to whip till soft peaks.
7. Fold in egg whites with the goji berry batter until its well combined.

8. Pour into tube pan and bake at 160C for 40 mins.
9. Remove from the oven and invert the pan.
10. When its completely cooled, remove the cake from the pan. Slice and serve.

Aug 3, 2008

Comfort food, anyone?

I don't know what Comfort Food means to you. Come to think of it, I don't think I really know what Comfort food really means. But after meeting this lady in 2005, I would like to think that Comfort food means this.

Read her story, retold by yours truly:

Innocent plate of rice cooked in a delicious creamy soup, top with chicken, broccoli, mushrooms and mozzeralla cheese and baked till the cheese melts. To many, this is fast food, junk food, food we eat when we are too lazy to cook a full meal. But to someone, this was comfort food. Something he loved to have, wants to have, but could never afford to have.

The story was told to me by a single mother raising her son all by herself. She told me that for years, her son would come back and tells her that his friends wanted to go Swenson's (a restaurant in Singapore that serves ice cream and western cuisine) for baked rice. But he could not afford to go. Because all he has in his pocket was enough coins for a bus ride home and a simple meal in the school's canteen.

So this loving mother would save every coin she had, put it into a piggy bank she has set aside for rainy days. And every month, she will pour it out on the bed and counted. She would then walk past Swenson's to find out how much does a plate of Baked Rice would cost. And prayed that the restaurant won't raise their prices.

After a year of saving, she took out the coins and exchanged it in a bank into dollar notes and one day, on his 8th birthday, she said to him :

"Boy, today is your birthday. Mommy wants to give you a present. Let's change now, and I will show you what it is"

The young boy was delighted, of course. Then when they reach the restaurant, he was in disbelief that mommy meant that the present was to eat at the restaurant.

When they sat down, the waiter gave them each a menu to look at. There are so many good food to eat, so many choices. But the boy only chose Baked Rice. That's what he wants, he says to the waiter. And the waiter turn to his mom, and she said

"I'll just have water please. Thank you"

The boy knew that straightaway that mommy had saved all her pennies for this meal. In his heart, he was so touched, he cried.
And mommy said to him

"Boy, don't cry. Today is your birthday. Be happy and enjoy your meal. Mommy has already eaten a big meal at home"

After the meal, the bill was paid. They went home.

And the boy said to his mommy:

"Mommy, THANK YOU for this present. I loved it very much. And I will always remember this day. And I will tell all my friends that I had Baked Rice from Swenson's and everyone would envy me. Not because I ate there, but because my mommy brought me there."


Everytime when she passes by any cafe that sells Baked Rice, she is reminded of what her son told her. And she swears to want to learn how to cook baked rice for him again.

And so this was how I ended up teaching her Baked Rice. Well, not Swenson's style. My style and a fusion of her cooking skills. But most of all, her love and endurance is baked into every grain of this humble comfort food.

**names of the lady and her son are left out. Because they prefer to remain anonymous if I should ever retell this story again.**

My First cooking class

I remembered so clearly, this special private class I did with a family of Hakka sisters in December 2004. YL wrote to me via email when she was still working in Hong Kong, asking me if I could teach her and her 2 sisters how to cook all the traditional Hakka cuisine. Of course, I said YES, as always. YL was delighted and quickly informed her sister in Singapore where the class will be held.

It was a 2 day Marathron cooking class. Besides the traditional Hakka cuisine, the ladies also want to learn to cook some of Singapore's local seafood favourites. YL says that their mom was younger and could teach them, they didn't find a need to learn how to cook. Now that she's aging and tired, they didn't have the heart to ask dearest mommy to slave in the kitchen just to show them a few tricks.

So how could I refuse a request like that?

And so, here is what the sisters learnt for 2 days.

Day 1
Hakka Yong Tau Foo
Hakka Suan Pan Zi(Yam Beads)
Hakka Soon Pan(Soon kueh)
Hakka Ngor Hiang(Meat Roll)

extras because they craved for other cuisines too:
Teochew Stewed Duck

Day 2 menu : Singapore local favourites
Chilli Crabs
Black Pepper Crabs
Masala Vadai
Drunken King Prawns
Buttered Prawns
Thai Spicy Noodles(Glass noodles salad)

Sisters making everything from scratch.

YL trying her hans in making Hakka soon kueh the old fashioned way, by hand.

At the end of class, our bellies are stuffed and happy. There was just so much food we have cooked in 2 days that could feed 30 people.

In all, we cooked and ate 5 kg of Prawns, 5 kg of mud crabs, 3 dozens of soon pan, 1kg of soon pan zi and yong tau foo that could feed 10 persons.

Thanks to YL and YH, for wonderful memories and a jolly good time too!

Aug 1, 2008

Craving for cornflakes

An old recipe I had which uses Almond meal and rice flour. But I have decided to add cornflakes for that extra crunch

Almond Meal Cornflakes cookie


250g butter(leave it out to soften in room temperature)
200g almond meal(roasted almonds, blended into powder)
100g rice flour
1 egg
80g fine sugar
100g unsweetened cornflakes

1. Whip the butter with the sugar till creamy. Add egg and mixed well
2. Add almond meal and flour and mix well into a soft dough
3. Crush the cornflakes into smaller pieces and roll a small ball of dough in it.
4. Line a baking tray with baking paper or silicone baking mat.
5. Put the dough balls on it.
6. Baked in preheated oven at 180C for 15 mins or until golden brown.
7. Remove cookies to cool completely before popping it straight into your mouth!

A prayer for a friend

We don't get to choose the people we know each day or friends we wanna keep for life. Every day we meet people from all walks of life. Some are courteous while some are not. While many last for today, a few last for a lifetime.

Today, I want to say a prayer for a friend. Someone I know only recently. Someone who was supposed to work with me as my teaching assistant has now become my friend. In her darkest moments of her life, she felt the world has collapsed right in her face. She would have given up hope to live and to carry on, if not for her three lovely children.

Evening sun by the river.

To my friend, A, I say this prayer of hope to you. May you draw strength from above. And there is more to life than pain and sorrow.

What God Has Promised

God has not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives thro’;
God has not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.

God has not promised
We shall not know
Toil and temptation,
Trouble and woe;
He has not told us
We shall not bear
Many a burden,
Many a care.

But God has promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.

By Annie Johnson Flint